In our present place and time, the ‘machine’ has become so much a part of our lives.
It is the machine which possesses skill and strength in place of the worker, is itself the virtuoso, with a soul of its own in the mechanical laws acting through it… The worker’s activity, reduced to a mere abstraction of activity, is determined and regulated on all sides by the movement of the machinery, and not the opposite. The science which compels the inanimate limbs of the machinery, by their construction, to act purposefully, as an automaton, does not exist in the worker’s consciousness, but rather acts upon him through the machine as an alien power, as the power of the machine itself (Marx in Seidman 1983: 137)
Reflections on the machine from the present
Amongst the affluent (with entry barriers ever-lowering) we have not just the machine of the workplace but the machine of leisure. This machinery is not forced upon us by necessity but is chosen. Elsewhere, the machinery of the assembly line plods on, as inane as ever it was.
We act through the machine, Continue reading
Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch is a second wave feminist classic. A Post Freudian account which argues that the development of a ‘female libido’ is the key to social liberation.
What insights does this iconoclastic work have to shine on the present?
As the prologue lays it out, the earlier – suffragette – wave of feminists had fought hard for civil rights of participation equal to those of men, and, according to Germaine, had largely won them, opening to women a world of possibility (equal access to the ‘ulcer and coronary’). And yet, this is still a ‘man’s world’ of hierarchical order and success or failure through competition and strain. She argues, therefore that fewer women than expected have chosen to enjoy such a ‘privilege’.
This is very different starting point to the contemporary focus on “patriarchy”, which it is said, either excludes or exploits women’s participation in society; but for Germaine, the reluctance of women to participate suggests a glimmer of hope for an alternative form of existence. It was the ‘chief function’ of this book to suggest a way to the alternative.