Counterculture Essay

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All shared a hostility to the restrictions on freedom demanded by conventional political and cultural institutions.

In the context of the 1960s, the “natural” was often represented in terms of sexuality and the erotic and should be the basis for a non-repressive society and culture.

Norman Brown was probably the most radical in his critique of human society(not just bourgeois or socialist forms) and of the structure of the self. For Brown the underlying logic of existing forms of human existence had to do with the fear of death.

Culture itself was a function not just of sexual repression, but more fundamentally of our fear of death and the attempt to deny time.

An initial answer arrived early in the form of (1969) by Theodore Roszak, a young historian in the California state college system. Roszak posited a conflict between a youth culture, devoted to exploring new forms of social, intellectual and spiritual life the power of “the technocracy”, a form of life propelled by what he called “objective consciousness,” a philosophical descendent of the Cartesian split between self and the world.

At the core of the book was a series of chapters dealing with writers and thinkers such as Herbert Marcuse and Norman O.

Independent radicals such as poet and utopian thinker, Paul Goodman and maverick classicist Norman O.

Brown, not to mention the novelist and essayist, Norman Mailer, spent the first decade or so after the war rethinking forms of radical consciousness.

This convergence of Marxism and psychoanalysis also grew out of two unanswered questions: why had the working class parties in 1914 fought for their respective countries rather than refusing to take up arms against the capitalist powers and, second, why and how did Nazism and Fascism have the appeal they did, even to the working class?

The pioneering work here was often done by figures who fled the Nazis and came to America—Wilhelm Reich and also Erich Fromm, along with Theodor Adorno and, of course, Herbert Marcuse from the Frankfurt School in exile(based in New York and southern California).


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