Now, for the first time in English translation, The Obsolescence of Man, Volume II, in its entirety, by Günther Anders, first published in Germany in 1980, an indispensable “philosophy of technology” by one of the most insightful philosophers and social critics of the 20th century, more relevant now than ever, the result of over twenty years of considerations “On the Destruction of Life in the Epoch of the Third Industrial Revolution”, featuring essays on consumerism, automation, work, leisure, “meaning”, totalitarianism, conformism, mass culture, sports, religion, surveillance, fascism, ideology, history, science fiction, art, “happenings”, psychotherapy, drugs, and more.
A relentless denunciation of the concept of “progress”, tracing its ideological roots to Saint Augustine and then to Turgot, its use in the Enlightenment as a two-edged weapon of the rising bourgeoisie against the Ancien Régime, its golden age in the time of Comte, Darwin and Marx (reminding us that it was Marx who said, “every development in the means of new productive forces is at the same time a weapon against the workers”), its temporary eclipse amidst the world wars and genocide in the first half of the 20th century, and documenting its culmination as a philistine “password”, “myth” and “alibi” for generating conformist submission to technological disaster.
In this 2007 essay, Robert Kurz examines the question of theory and practice from the perspective of the “categorical” “critique of value-dissociation”, with extensive discussions of Marx, Engels, Bloch, Adorno, Horkheimer, Gramsci, Althusser, Foucault, Debord, Negri, and Holloway, and concludes, in the face of the prevalent urge for immediate “action” and the equally widespread denigration of theory, that “critical theory must consciously maintain a distance from all existing praxis”.
Excellent text examining the creation of the first police forces, which took place in England and the US in just a few decades in the mid-19th century. And explaining that they were not brought into being to prevent crime or protect the public, but primarily to control crowds: the working class, white and black.
A 2007 essay on nationalism, whose “most progressive” historical variant “in the human sense” stood for the defense of “old customs and traditions, communitarian institutions, egalitarianism [and] the rejection of the industrialization process”, a tendency that is currently “being jettisoned in favor of an extreme economic modernization” in which “local oligarchies that are intimately linked with world finance” dominate ethnic and regional separatist movements and the real historical foundations of “peoples” in the old sense have been suppressed and replaced with fake “nationalist paraphernalia, neo-folklore, flags, anthems … and subsidized culture”.
Unconscious objectivity - aspects of a critique of the mathematical natural sciences (excerpts) - Claus Peter Ortlieb
A mathematician takes a sceptical look at the mathematical basis of modern natural science both from an immanent perspective—with regard to its epistemological contradictions (e.g., the divergence of the experimental method from the requirements of a strict empiricism)—as well as from a historical perspective that situates its rise and development in the context of the emergence of capitalist society in Western Europe, and proposes that it, too, like Ptolemaic astronomy, is a transient phenomenon that might be succeeded by another “Copernican revolution in thought”, one in accordance with a different kind of socio-economic system.
Amadeo Bordiga examines the significance of sea power in modern imperialism after the decline of the land-based feudal empires of Europe, the rise of Portuguese imperialism with the conquest of the Indian Ocean trade routes in the 15th and 16th centuries, the decisive role played by naval supremacy in the World Wars, and its culmination in the contemporary nuclear aircraft carrier strike force, “the terror of the world”, as the global spearhead of the long reach of American imperialism, in this 1957 installment of “The Thread of Time” series.
In this revised and expanded version of a 2010 talk, Robert Kurz examines the continuing relevance, and the limitations, of the concept formulated by Adorno and Horkheimer in 1944—the “Culture Industry”—with discussions of “cultural pessimism”, the postmodern “cult of superficiality”, the role of technology in cultural change, the “abstract individual”, advertising, the Internet, “virtualization”, “interactive” media, exhibitionism and narcissistic self-promotion, the pseudo-“gift economy” of the Net, the impact of the current economic crisis on the culture industry, the “depletion of cultural reserves”, “estheticization”, and the impossibility of a separate “cultural revolution”.