Book Review: ‘Critique of Marcuse’

Mattick V. Marcuse

‘Critique of Marcuse’ by Paul Mattick. Merlin Press. £1.

This short—and expensive—booklet is a criticism of Marcuse’s assumption, in his One-Dimensional Man and other writings, that nowadays the capitalist class is able to manage the capitalist economy so as to avoid big slumps and at the same time to gradually increase working class living standards. Mattick repeats the arguments of his Marx and Keynes (reviewed in The Western Socialist, No. 2 1972) to the effect the government intervention can only temporarily postpone the crisis of capitalism.

On the political side, Mattick speaks of the working class as having ceased to be revolutionary; but when have the mass of workers ever consciously wanted Socialism as opposed to being merely greatly discontented with capitalism (as they were just after the first world war)? And he mistakenly restricts the working class to industrial workers only; other kinds of wage-worker, apparently, are to play only a secondary and subordinate role in the socialist revolution.

Nevertheless Mattick knows what Socialism is (a world, moneyless, Stateless society) and is one of the few besides ourselves who realises that free access is now technologically possible. He writes here:

Under conditions of abundance, such as characterise the industrially-advanced society, distribution could be free of all value considerations . . .

This places him well in advance of others in his political tendency, who have not yet abandoned the outdated suggestion for labour-time vouchers Marx mentioned nearly a hundred years ago. But then he has had the advantage of meeting our comrades of the World Socialist Party of the United States.

Adam Buick

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