The Great Refusal Versus the Technological Imperative: The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object


One of Marcuse's most salient concepts, The Great Refusal nevertheless exhibits considerable internal tension as it hovers between its individualistic and collectivist conceptualizations. Central to this unresolved dichotomy is the concept of reification, which leads Marcuse to subsume individual experience beneath the umbrella of the abstract universal, following Marx. Yet the Great Refusal is purported by Marcuse to issue from a purely individual rejection of the capitalist system of domination. I explore these contradictions in light of Marcuse's critique of technology under capitalism, looking back to Condorcet and Torgot and the implied Myth of Progress these thinkers embrace, with a view to the implementation of a more satisfying articulation of what might be termed the "anarcho-psychological critique" of self and society.

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