I’m taking advantage of my AWESOME NLT power to move the Sixties discussion with Carl, Ralph, Kate, Steve, and many others from the thread below to here.
1. Carl asked: Why did I say Marx would have predicted the "effectual truth" of the sexual/women’s liberation of the sixties? The good news: Women become free individuals just like men. The bad: Women are more or less compelled to become wage slaves just like men. The competitive logic of the market enters into every facet of relations between the sexes. Sex itself is commodified; the body becomes yet a natural resource to be used at will. The libertarian logic of "preferences" enters sexual life; sex is separated from biological imperatives, including what Marx called the "halos" that come from the illusions of love.
2. The best Sixties theorists, like Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse, loved to talk up "polymorphous perversity" as the alternative to "genital tyranny." Sex, freed from the imperatives of reproduction, could flourish as never before. Does that mean that we’ll we all about easygoing recreational rutting in all sorts of ways, that our whole bodies will so be AROUSED we won’t be able to calculate or consent? Or does that mean that our erotic instinct will mix with unfettered imagination to produce a new "art of life" (Marcuse) with unprecented flourishing of music, art, philosophy and the other features of high civilization? Like Marx himself, our New Lefties really thought that the conquest of scarcity by technology could free us from work and for joy. And like Marx himself, they were pretty confused about what that freedom will be like.
3. The Sixties also aimed to free sex from the constraints of love, while simultaneously teaching that love is all you need. How can love be separated from sex? Drugs!
4. On Sixties drugs: Doesn’t it seem that every work of art they inspired was curiously unerotic--nothing like the mechanical rutting of rock ’n roll criticized by Bloom? (Think the Beatles first--lots of that stuff really is beautiful and finely crafted.) LSD in particular seems to have produced a mixture of an incredibly inflated sense of oneself and a sort of loving pantheistic oneness. Drugs really are required to free the imagination from necessity and the obsessions of self-consciousness, and especially to separate good moods from the whims of other people.
5. Mood-altering drugs are bound to have a big place in our biotechnological future. More than we want to think, the soft drugs of the Sixties were the most effective feature of their liberationist utopianism.