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Herbert Marcuse Denounces the Vietnam War (May 22, 1966)

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You have probably noticed one group that is missing from this list of oppositional forces in the United States, namely, the working class.

This was not an oversight. We cannot say that the working class is part of the opposition to the war. You will have read that declarations have been made by the trade union leadership in America that are unusually approving of the war in Vietnam. [ . . . ] The working class in the United States is not part of the opposition; it is an integrated part of the system –integrated not only ideologically, but also on the material basis of increased productivity and a rising standard of living. Of course America is a class society and the real difference between those who determine our lives and those whose lives are determined by others, is much greater than ever before: Decision-making is restricted to a small group that is less controlled “from below” than ever before. But this class society is no longer a society of a class struggle in a traditional sense. The class struggle still exists of course, but it is a purely economic struggle for higher wages, shorter hours, better working conditions. The union politics are purely economic, not political.

Now to the opposing forces outside the United States. In my opinion, in Europe this presents a major problem, namely: Can American society serve as a model of what can be expected in the capitalist countries of Western Europe? Is an independent path still open here, the path of planned capitalism and worker self-administration, as is presented, especially in France, as the new strategy of the workers' movement? [ . . . ]

The final and, in my opinion, the crucial counterforce is the opposition in developing countries. Here, objectively if not also subjectively, the classical conditions for the transition to socialism exist. These are:

1. the misery of the direct producers as a class, as the agrarian, nonindustrial proletariat
2. the vital need for radical change of intolerable living conditions
3. the inability of the ruling class to develop the productive forces
4. the militant organization of the national liberation front, which represents a unity of national and social revolution

All of these forces work within the global system of imperial capitalism. The victory of these forces would in fact, as I have indicated, shake up the economics of the metropolis. [ . . . ]

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