The Growing Power of the Device is Not the Only Responsible Influence


However, the growing power of the device is not the only responsible influence. The incorporation of a large section of the opposition into the apparatus (while retaining the title of opposition) has also long contributed to render critical rationality ineffective socially. The history of this process is well known and perfectly illustrated by the development of the workers’ movement. Shortly after the First World War, Veblen declared that “the American Federation of Labor is itself only one of the Established Interests, as ready as any other to fight for its share of privileges and profits. (…) The American Federation of Labor is a business that has its own established interests of raising prices and reducing supply, just like the others. ยป
Thorstein Veblen, Engineers and Capitalism, Paris – …This also applies to trade union bureaucracies in the most advanced European countries. The problem concerns not the political expediency and the consequences of such a transformation, but the functional modification undergone by the values of truth represented and put forward by the workers’ movement.
These values of truth once belonged to a large extent to the critical rationality that analyzed social evolution according to the blocked potentialities of the latter. Such rationality can only develop fully within social groups whose organization is not modeled on that of apparatus in its dominant form, or that of its organizations and institutions. The latter are indeed so impressed with the technological rationality that models the thinking and the interests of those who depend on them, that all transcendent aims and values are excluded. There is such a harmony between the “spirit” and its material incarnation that the mind can not be supplanted without questioning the functioning of the whole. The critical truths of a social opposition movement change meaning when this movement is incorporated into the apparatus. Ideas such as freedom, the production industry, the planned economy, the satisfaction of needs, are merged with the interests of control and competition. Tangible organizational success supplants the demands of critical rationality.
In Europe, the tendency of critical rationality to assimilate into the organizational and psychological patterns of the apparatus has led to a transformation within the very structure of social opposition. The critical rationality of his aims was subordinated by the technological rationality of his organization, purging it of the elements that transcended the established patterns of thought and action. This process seems to have been the inevitable result of the growth of the big industry and the army of those who depend on it. The latter could only hope to defend their interests if they were co-ordinated within large-scale organizations. Opposition groups turned into mass parties and their leadership into mass bureaucracy. This transformation however,

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