The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom

The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom

The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom

The Party of Eros: Radical Social Thought and the Realm of Freedom

Excerpt

The student of American intellectual history is plagued by the relationship of America to European thought. If one focuses exclusively on American thought, then a study tends toward the parochial. Conversely, if one treats American thought as an inferior derivative of European sources, one misses the unique features of the American experience and thus tries to fit themes of our intellectual development into theoretical structures formulated in significantly different historical and cultural contexts.

This study by no means escapes this dilemma. Its focus is on the way the thought of Sigmund Freud, no friend of America, has been used by three radical social theorists in the quarter century since the end of World War II. The temptation is thus to focus upon Freud and not the American thinkers who made use of his insights. Yet common sense and even a slight knowledge of the way ideas are transformed by diffusion through space and time reveals that there are many Freuds and many ways his teachings can be applied to social analysis, an area of concern in which Freud was only tangentially interested. The problem, however, does not end there. A minor, more submerged theme of this study is the fate of orthodox Marxist theory in postwar America and the effort to formulate a radical social theory, adequate to deal with unprecedented social and cultural developments, upon the ruins of the Marxist ideology which many considered to be morally and intellectually otiose by the middle 1940s.

There is finally American thought itself. It can be argued quite convincingly that American thought goes astray when it depends . . .

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