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Correspondence on the German Student Movement: Adorno-Marcuse, 1969

[Image 1. Anti war protests at the University of California, San Diego, 1970. Credits: Fred Lonidier]

FIELD republishes today this 1969 letter exchange between Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse on the German student protest movement. First appearing in the New Left Review in January-February 1999, these letters are too relevant to the present moment to be consigned to the place of memorabilia. In them, we sense the foundational common code of friendship that tied these thinkers together, despite profound theoretical disparities which their words suggest are irreconcilable. Today’s urgency to engage politically with pressing matters such as the cost of human lives for the maintenance of the status quo, the resurgence of neo-fascist rhetoric in the public sphere, and the United States’ military involvement in foreign affairs, make these authors’ exchange as relevant as it was almost four decades ago. Like “Teddy” and Herbert, today’s academics need to reconsider how to reconcile theory with the violence of police brutality, imperialist intervention in remote geographies, and the need for new forms of political contestation. Writing at times of vigorous student protest movements in Germany and California, Adorno and Marcuse exemplified different takes on the political responsibility of scholars, poles that appear still unaltered in today’s multifaceted attack on the autonomy and sustainability of public higher education around the globe. Their conversation is testimony to the propensity of academic labor to forget its inscription in the world and its indebtedness to it. The original New Left Review publication (I: 233, January-February 1999) can be found here: https://newleftreview.org/I/233/theodor-adorno-herbert-marcuse-correspondence-on-the-german-student-movement.

San Diego, November 2016.

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Desert Crossroads (2005)

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Rising Resistance to Corporate Globalisation and Deadly Borders

By o.r.g.a.n.i.c.November 2005

As xenophobic border regimes around the world rigidify, activist groups are joining forces to denounce them and the neoliberal economics on which they stand. Amidst a worsening climate of vigilantism, San Diego based anarchist collective o.r.g.a.n.i.c. report on recent antiborder actions in the towns, desert wastelands and graveyards along the US/Mexico border

You know that you live in the desert when your car collects a thick coat of yellow dust if it goes without a regular wash. Living in the area of the borderlands currently known as San Diego, you cannot help but notice this. The desert is like that: it plays a huge role in any story about the US/Mexico border area. Most of that border is embodied in a vast, hot, deadly desert. Day after day, people die trying to migrate across that line into the United States. Many people living in these borderlands continue to take action against the border as well as the ideas and individuals that seek to uphold it. There are endless groups that take these tasks upon themselves. Below are some stories and thoughts put together from members of one of these groups, the o.r.g.a.n.i.c. collective.

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Bring Out Your Fantasy

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In other eras and societies — the Great Depression, the Soviet Union — long lines signify scarcity or oppression. In the Bizarro World that is 21st-century America, it’s the opposite: Long lines are signs of abundance and hedonism. Much can be learned about a civilization from studying its queuing habits, and Comic-Con surpasses even the Disney theme parks in the sophistication of its crowd management and the variety of its arrangements.

– Bring Out Your Fantasy and Fuel the Culture