68 and the “Three M” (Marx, Mao, Marcuse)

Th e Socio-Philosophical Context of the Counter Culture of the Sixties and its Heritage

In this paper we examine how Marxism, Maoism and Marcuse’s highly influential work the One Dimensional Man affected the social and political movements of the sixties. Furthermore the leftist features of these movements of the West are scrutinized; and the meanings and interpretations of 68 as well as the controversial legacy of the counter culture flourished in the sixties are discussed. The sixties are still heavily debated among scholars, and although the evaluations differ vastly, it is important to further analyze the movements of the sixties from different points of view. From a critical perspective, we argue that Marcuse’s thesis that consumerism and capitalism are able to integrate and pacify social movements and counter cultural movements has been corroborated. Our main argument is, that besides the integration and the commercialization of the values of 68, the counter culture of the sixties had a lot of positive effects on our culture, we reject the idea that the events of the sixties had a solely negative impact in the development of Western culture. Through the analysis of the integrative tendencies of global capitalism, we have found that our culture can be described by the ’consciousness of the unchangeable’ rather than the ’happy consciousness’ of Marcuse: within global capitalism it seems to people that there are no alternatives for the apparent systematic problems caused by capitalism. Nowadays even the rebellious generation of the sixties emphasizes the pointlessness of any systematic resistance.

Released: Replika 110, 137–154.