Title page for ETD etd-05122008-083944

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Kirsch, Robert Emmanuel
Author's Email Address rekirsch@vt.edu
URN etd-05122008-083944
Title The Terrorizing Totality of the Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consummption
Degree Master of Arts
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Luke, Timothy W. Committee Chair
Natter, Wolfgang George Committee Member
Vazquez-Arroyo, Antonio Y. Committee Member
  • Marcuse
  • Market Populism
  • Hip Consumerism
  • Bureaucratic Society of Controlled Consumption
  • Camus
Date of Defense 2008-04-30
Availability unrestricted
As an advanced society of industrialized capitalism has an ever-tighter grip on our everyday lives, I ask if rebellion is possible in the current context.

To this end, I formulate a model of rebellion based on my readings of Marcuse and Camus; from Marcuse, the idea that a person can formulate a rebellious subjectivity through the consumption of art in the creation of the aesthetic dimension, and from Camus, an individual placing limits on what oppression he will take from an existing order and at what point she will say “no” to that order and giving a concurrent “yes” by acting in such a way that fosters Camus’ human community.

I argue after the Cold War especially, the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption closes down spaces for meaningful rebellion. As we have moved from hip consumerism to market populism, the goal of the existing order is for the citizens thereof to legitimate the order.

I analyze various groups to see if they are engaging in rebellion, such as Al Qaeda, Hamas, the Earth and Animal Liberation Fronts, and analyze their methods. I find that instead of labeling as terrorist or rebel, we should let the rebellious subjectivity guide our judgment of their actions.

Ultimately, I conclude that rebellion is still a possibility even in the encroaching totality of the bureaucratic society of controlled consumption, and that a preservation of the rebellious subjectivity can provide a basis for formulating a rebellious praxis not yet called into being.

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