Character mask

Character mask

A character mask (German: Charaktermaske) in the Marxian sense is a character masked or disguised with a different character. The term was used by Karl Marx in various published writings from the 1840s to the 1860s, and also by Friedrich Engels. It is related to the classical Greek concept of mimesis (imitative representation using analogies) and the Roman concept of persona,[1] but also differs from them.[2] The notion of character masks has been used by neo-Marxist and non-Marxist sociologists,[3] philosophers[4] and anthropologists[5] to interpret how people relate in societies with a complex division of labour. As a critical concept, bearing character masks contrasts with the concept of "role-taking" developed by social theorists such as George Herbert Mead, Ralph Linton, Talcott Parsons, Theodore R. Sarbin and Ralf Dahrendorf, as well as Robert K. Merton's idea of a role set, in the first instance because "social roles" do not necessarily assume the masking of behaviour, and character masks do not necessarily assume agreement with roles, or that the roles are fixed (see role theory).[6] Peter Sloterdijk comments:

"Besides the critique of mystified consciousness, Marx's theory harbors a second far-reaching variant of ideology critique, which has shaped the critical style of Marxism, its polemical sharpness: the theory of the character mask."[7]

The concept of character masks refers to the circumstance that, in human societies, people can take on functions in which they “act out” roles, whether voluntarily chosen, by necessity, or forced. In those roles, some or all of their true characteristics and intentions may be partly or wholly masked, so that they appear different from what they truly are - “public face” and “private thoughts, interests and emotions” diverge. Also, their activity may have broader social effects that they would rather not know about, which they wish to be unknown or presented in a certain light, or which they are unaware of, and therefore the effects are mentally disconnected from their real causes. Accordingly persons and their relationships may no longer be quite what they seem to be, and there is a difference between their personal and functional (or formal) relationships. Even if the “masking” is readily observable and known, so that a difference between the person and a functional role is self-evident, what the true character is, may remain unknown.

As a psychological term, "character" is used more in Continental Europe, while in Britain and North America the term "personality" is used in "approximately" the same contexts.[8] Marx however uses the term "character mask" analogously to a theatrical role, where the actor (or the characteristics of a "prop") represents a certain interest or function, and intends by character both "the characteristics of somebody" and "the characteristics of something". He was writing a century before role theory became an academically recognized subject in sociology.[9] That did not mean that the idea of roles did not exist in Marx's time; rather, it meant that a sophisticated academic language for talking about the sociology of roles did not exist, and therefore Marx borrowed from theatre and literature to express his idea.[10] His concept is both that an identity appears differently from its true identity (it is masked or disguised), and that this difference has very real practical consequences (the mask is not simply a decoration, but performs a real function and has real effects, even independently of the mask bearer).


Use of the concept

The concept of character masks has been applied by Marxists and non-Marxists to persons and politicians,[11] groups and social classes, mass media, social movements and political parties, social institutions, economic or legal relationships, organizations and functions, social systems, governments, symbolic expressions (including theories, works of art, advertising and ideologies), historical eras and epochs, and dramatic, literary or theatrical contexts. In each case, the suggestion is that matters present themselves other than they really are.[12]

There is therefore a link between character masks and the concept of hypocrisy.[13] Yet character masks need not be hypocritical, insofar as the motive for their use is genuine, sincere, principled or naive - or a product of (self-)delusion. People can also mask their behaviour, or mask a situation, without being aware that they are doing so, i.e. they may mask something to themselves, not just consciously but unconsciously (see false consciousness).[14] Masking need not involve deliberate lying or fraud. It may merely involve the projection of an image, shape or sound which the observer chooses to, or is likely to, interpret in a particular way (it could also be interpreted in many other, quite different ways). In fact, Marx suggests that insofar as people work in various roles and functions, a character mask can be a "normal" part of the role - just "part of the job" (see below).

There are numerous novels, thrillers, horror stories and biographies which explore the human character that exists "behind the mask" from various points of view; often the human character interpreted by the authors is a politician, hero, law enforcement officer or criminal who is found, for one motive or another, to exhibit a truly spectacular discrepancy between his masks, and who or what he (or she) really is - raising important questions about the sheer complexity of possible human behaviours and motives (if not excitement or moral outrage). There are also numerous books by religious authors[15] and psychologists[16] dealing with the way in which people seek to "cover up" the impact of a mistake, a sin, an injury or a trauma by carrying on a pretense which involves the masking of behaviour. However, while this kind of literature does illustrate that character masks of all kinds are a durable feature of the human condition - arising out of the great behavioural flexibility of the human species, acquired through a lengthy process of evolution - they do not necessarily have anything to do with Marx's critique of bourgeois society as a whole, and the character masks which Marx thought were specific to (or "characteristic" of) that society. The human practice of masking, whether for ritualistic, cultural or practical reasons, predates the origin of class societies by thousands of years, and therefore many kinds of masking cannot be attributed simply to class conflicts, commercial interests or legal imperatives; they reflect long-lasting cultural practices (see below).

Levels of masking

The substance of Marx's idea is, that people, their relationships and their worlds take on character masks, when people:

  • cannot stay consistent or survive without them.
  • are in truth not (yet) equal to the situation, or in a transitional phase.
  • have a special interest, incentive or stake in presenting themselves in a different way, at variance with the real situation.
  • pretend and act "as though" a characteristic applies, because they don't really know yet what the real motivation is, or hope to bring the characteristic into being.
  • in practical life are so used to regarding something in a reified way, that it becomes "normal", self-evident and a habit.
  • aim to dramatize, sanctify, justify or dignify something, even if it was only ignorance or innocence.

Things can get tricky, and life can be riddled with contradictions. To bridge a difficult moment or phase, people have to "act". They take on disguises, they hide their true character in some way, and they present themselves differently from what they really are. People can also become aware of a phenomenon before they know what it really is or means, what the implications are, or how to deal with it. They cannot "place" it. This could make them feel embarrassed, helpless or insecure, and they might initially just call it names which mask what is really going on. The masks they adopt as a behavioural response to an unfamiliar experience may provide confidence or forbearance where the situation itself gives no reason for confidence. Effectively, the significance is thereby either disregarded, downplayed, or assimilated to something else that is already familiar (see also cognitive dissonance).

Whether or not this involves deliberate deceit or a ruse, depends on the true motivation. It may not be easily verifiable - the actors may not be very aware of their own motivation. People have depend on others with trust, but that creates plenty scope for deception, insofar as people assume things that they really shouldn't in the situation (human gullibility). One of Marx's favourite relativizing motto's was "de omnibus dubitandum", i.e. one must retain a healthy sense of doubt about everything, so that one is not fooled by what seems to be totally obvious or self-evident. There may be more to it, than meets the eye. Indeed, the metaphor of individuals and groups - particularly intellectuals and political actors - who bear "masks", who "abandon their masks", engage in a "masquerade" or who are "unmasked", appears many times in Marx's manuscripts and correspondence.[17]

The "character masks of an era" refer, according to Marx and Engels, to its main symbolic expressions of self-justification or apologism, the function of which is to disguise, embellish or mystify ideologically the social contradictions in the real character of the era ("the bits that don't fit"), so that life can carry on anyway. A purported "mystical truth" in this context is a meaning (a "naming", a descriptive association or metaphor) which cannot be definitely proved, because it results from an abstractive procedure or cognition which is not logical, and cannot be tested scientifically, only subjectively experienced.

However, in the end Marx also argues that, insofar as capitalist class society is intrinsically a very contradictory system - it contains many conflicting and competing forces - the masking of its true characteristics becomes an integral feature of how it actually operates. Buyers and sellers compete with other buyers and sellers. Businesses compete about costs, sales, profits and much more, and they cannot practically do so without confidentiality and secrecy. Workers compete for job opportunities and access to resources. Capitalists and workers compete for their share of the new wealth that is produced, and nations compete with other nations. The masks are therefore not optional, but necessary. And the more one is able to know about others, the more subtle, ingenious and sophisticated the masks become.

One of the centrepieces of Marx's critique of political economy is that the juridical labour contract between the worker and his capitalist employer obscures the true economic relationship, which is (according to Marx) that the workers do not sell their labour, but their labour power, i.e. their capacity to work, making possible a profitable difference between what they are paid and the new value they create for the owners of capital (a form of economic exploitation). Thus, the very foundation of capitalist wealth creation involves a "mask".[18] More generally, Marx argues that transactions in the capitalist economy are often far from transparent - they appear different from what they really are. This is discovered, only when one probes the total context in which they occur. "What the money is for" may seem obvious at first sight, but it may turn out to be something quite different. Hence Marx writes:

”Vulgar economics actually does nothing more than to interpret, to systematize and turn into apologetics - in a doctrinaire way - the ideas of the agents who are trapped within bourgeois relations of production. So it should not surprise us that, precisely within the estranged form of appearance of economic relations in which these prima facie absurd and complete contradictions occur - and all science would be superfluous if the form of appearance of things directly coincided with their essence - that precisely here vulgar economics feels completely at home, and that these relationships appear all the more self-evident to it, the more their inner interconnection remains hidden to it, even though these relationships are comprehensible to the popular mind"[19]

This implies another level of masking, because the economic character masks are then straightforwardly ("vulgarly") equated with authentic behaviour ("there is no more to it, than meets the eye"). The effect in this case is, that the theory of "how the economy works" masks how it actually works, by conflating its surface appearance with its real nature. Its generalities seem to explain it, but in reality, when one gets down to specifics, they don't. The theory works, "except when it doesn't", and it is therefore (ultimately) arbitrary. Either things are studied in isolation from the total context in which they occur, or, generalizations are formed which leave very essential bits out. Such distortion can certainly be ideologically useful to justify an economic system, position or policy as a good thing, but it can become a hindrance, if we really need to know how the economy works - to know it, we have to be able to see what is behind the masks.[20]

  • For example, on 5 November 2008 (Guy Fawkes day), the British Queen Elizabeth II visited the London School of Economics and was given an academic briefing on the causes and implications of the credit crunch. According to Professor Luis Garicano of the LSE Centre for Economic Performance, she then asked: "If these things were so large, how come everyone missed them? Why did nobody notice it'?". Garicano answered her along the lines that "At every stage, someone was relying on somebody else and everyone thought they were doing the right thing."[21] In other words, everybody was "keeping up appearances", until a "financial tsunami" engulfed all of them.[22]

Significance of character masks

The use of masks in rituals or ceremonies is a very ancient human practice across the world,[23] although masks can also be worn for protection, in hunting, in sports, in feasts or in wars.[24] A spirit, if it exists in nature or in people, is itself unobservable, it "works through" something (a medium); it is the awareness of a meaning which can be only evoked, represented or expressed symbolically - with images, sounds, shapes and movements which make people feel that the spirit is there.[25] Masks have often been used for exactly this purpose.[26] Thus, people believed that the bearer of the mask made contact with the spirit it expressed (different cultures or religions have different stories about how exactly that works). That meant that a special power and status was attributed to the mask and its bearer; not just anyone could handle it, it was sacred. The spirit, the belief, the mask and the power were directly connected with each other.[27] Nowadays many people no longer believe this, but nevertheless they will still wear certain clothes, or go to a church, a concert or another place for the same purpose: to come into contact with a certain significance, to have a certain very personal experience. If they cannot reach it, they feel unhappy, uninspired or alienated, or they might just watch television.[28]

The oldest masks that have been discovered are 9,000 years old, being held by the Musée "Bible et Terre Sainte" (Paris), and the Israel Museum (Jerusalem).[29] Most probably the practice of masking is much older - circa 30,000-40,000 years - but insofar as it involved the use of war-paint, leather, vegetative material or wooden masks, the masks probably haven't been preserved (they are visible only in paleolithic cave drawings, of which dozens have been preserved).[30] At the neanderthal Roche-Cotard site in France a flintstone likeness of a face was found which is about 35,000 years old, but it is not clear that it was intended as a mask.[31] In the Book of Genesis, one can read how Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover "their nakedness" after eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Carnival of Venice dates back to 1268 AD.[32] The North American Iroquois tribes used masks for healing purposes (see False Face Society). Masks in various forms (sacred or playful) have played a crucial historical role in the development of understandings about "what it means to be human", because they permit the imaginative experience of "what it is like" to be transformed into a different identity.

The face often conveys a person’s intention or character most directly, but the masked persons can gain a certain power or advantage, because they can see through the mask, while remaining unseen themselves in some way. The use of masks therefore facilitates control by the actors over what people are able to see. Inversely, the attraction for the spectators may be that they don't see what they don't want to see, and see something else (that they do want to see).

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

"When there is a risk, there must be something that is unknown or that has an unknown outcome. Therefore, knowledge about risk is knowledge about lack of knowledge. This combination of knowledge and lack thereof contributes to making issues of risk complicated from an epistemological point of view." [33]

The mask as symbolic device expresses exactly this combination of "knowledge and lack of knowledge";[34] the real intentions or motivations that lurk behind the mask are uncertain to the spectator, precisely because of the disguise, even if it is believed or known that they must be there. A character mask however is not simply “a masking of the character who bears it”. In the technical sense used in theatre, it is a specific type of mask.[35]

Namely, it contrasts with a neutral mask,[36] which simply aims to remove one sense of character from the body of the actor bearing it - by hiding a part or all of the physical presence (the actors are present, yet absent; absent, yet present. They are there and not there at the same time; remote and close; themselves, yet strangers - evoking a sense of puzzle, suspense, intrigue, distance, anonymity, a mystery or a mystique). It might be thrilling and captivating, or it might be disturbing and offensive, depending on the context (in actor training, a counter-mask is sometimes also used: the actors are invited to imagine themselves in the opposite role to the ones they are supposed to play, to help define the meaning of their intended role with a clear contrast).

The specific function of a character mask in theatre is to transform the bearer into a different personage, or a different role – a new character is then fixed and defined by the mask, in a simplified and invariant way, and animated by supporting body movements. Various different character masks (or different “hats”) can in principle be worn by the same actor in succession, in which case the same actor acts out various roles.

The history of theatre shows that masks can have a variety of functions,[37] but the five relevant points are that:

  • Unlike neutral masks, which only remove character expression, or aim at no character expression (an impersonal expression), a character mask not only hides some or all of the true expression of the acting person, but in addition aims to express a completely different character, intention or feeling, in an invariant way.[38] The character mask therefore always has a double significance: negating one characteristic and creating another, i.e. hiding and positively expressing characteristics at the same time.
  • There is no real point in bearing the mask if there is no one else around, other than for protection or medical purposes etc. The mask assumes a social relationship of some kind, and it mediates that social relationship. It assumes that somebody is watching.
  • The important restriction of a character mask is, that the actor is identified by it as a character, and therefore has to act, and be able to act, according to that character. The character mask therefore provides less flexibility than the neutral mask, because if the actor behaves contrary to his character mask, or if he falls out of his role, the act is simply not convincing.
  • The disguise of the mask may also offer a certain freedom or behavioural flexibility to the bearers which they would not have without it; if they can consciously choose their mask, and change masks in a convincing way, this enlarges their behavioural flexibility.
  • Masks, which cover one meaning with a new meaning, mediate the co-existence of two opposites - identity and non-identity, being and non-being - or fix a transitional state between one form of being and another. The concept of the "mask" is therefore an eminently dialectical category.[39]

In Marx's social theory, the character mask personifies the economic, social, cultural, political or official function which a person or group (or a thing) performs in a particular role, usually in a way which obscures the real relationships involved. When commercial relationships invade every sphere of life in bourgeois society, he argues, people are necessarily forced to act in ways other than they really are, in varying degrees, and therefore are obliged to mask themselves. They may not physically bear any masks or veils, but nevertheless they constantly “act out” roles which the business of making money (or legal requirements) obliges them to do, possibly using various media and props. If they were unwilling to do so, with the appropriate attitude, transactions or functional obligations would fail, and they would not succeed in the marketplace, in public life, or in political service.

Specifically, they must adapt their own behavioural expressions to the behaviour and relationships of things traded in markets, and to abstract legal rules. To reconcile their true personality with their “political personality” or “business personality”, and reconcile personal interests with state or market interests, they have to mask off some or all of their personal motivations. Keeping personal motivations out of the business or official situation indeed becomes regarded as “normal”, “cultured”, “businesslike” and “civilized”. Indeed, people are admired when they can "naturally" fulfill a role, as if they are "made for the role". In that case, it appears that they have made life-choices which placed them in a role in which they can fully express who they are. Incongruence between authentic behaviour and an “act” may then become difficult to detect, and it may be sensed only as a kind of guile.

Abstractly, the masking processes in capitalist society mediate and reconcile social contradictions, which arise from three main sources:

  • relations of production (ownership relations governing the factors of production, defined by property rights), which create and maintain a class-divided society, in which citizens are formally equal under the law but unequal in reality; class interests are represented as common interests and vice versa.[40] The state formally serves "the general interest" of society, but in reality it mainly serves the general interest of the ruling class, and more specifically what the elite considers to be the general interest of society.
  • relations of exchange in the marketplace,[41] where buyers and sellers bargain with each other, and with other buyers and sellers, to get the "best deal" for themselves, although they have to cooperate to get it (they must give something to receive something). Supposedly this is a "level playing field" but in reality it is not, simply because some command vastly greater resources than others. The attempt is made to "personalize" otherwise impersonal or anonymous market relationships expressed by transactions.
  • the combination of relations of production and exchange, in the general process of competition, in which competitors have an interest in hiding certain information, while presenting themselves outwardly in the most advantageous way. Specifically, people are placed in the position where they both have to compete and to cooperate with each other at the same time, at a very advanced (or at least civilized) level, and to reconcile this predicament involves them in masking. This requirement exists in all kinds of types of society, but in bourgeois society it takes specific forms, reflecting the element of financial gain which is involved in the way people are relating or are related.

In the Communist Manifesto, Marx & Engels had stated that:

"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”.[42]

This "naked self-interest" seems to contradict the idea of "masking" in bourgeois society. Supposedly market trade creates transparency and an "open society" of free citizens. In reality, Marx & Engels claim, it does not.[43] The "nakedness" may not reveal very much other than the requirements of trade; it is just that the cultural patterns of what is hidden and what is revealed differ from feudal society and ancient society. Even in "naked commerce", the possible methods of "masking" what one is, what one represents or what one does, are extremely diverse. Human languages and numerical systems, for example, offer very subtle distinctions of meaning that can "cover up" something, or present it as different from what it really is.[44]

Sources of the concept

The theatrical mask, expressing an acting role, was supposedly first invented in the West by the Greek actor Thespis of Attica (6th century BC)[45] and the Greek Aristotelian philosopher Theophrastus (circa 371-287 BC) is credited with being the first in the West to define human character in terms of a typology of personal strengths and weaknesses.[46] Indeed, Marx’s idea of character masks appears to have originated in his doctoral studies of Greek philosophy in 1837-39, at which time the theatre was one of the few places in Germany where opinions about public affairs could be fairly freely aired, if only in fictionalized form.[47] Independently from Marx, the romantic novelist Jean Paul also used the concept, in portraying the human problems of individuation.[48] Perhaps the concept was also inspired by Hegel's discussion of masks in his The Phenomenology of Spirit.[49]

The shift in Marx’s use of the concept, from dramaturgy and philosophy to political and economic actors, was in addition probably influenced by his well-known appreciation of drama, including the plays of Goethe and Shakespeare (mentioned in Das Kapital), the novels of Miguel de Cervantes and Honoré de Balzac, Dante's and Heinrich Heine's poetry and, possibly, the Italian Commedia dell’arte (troupes of actors, each with a specific role, who travelled through Europe since the mid-16th century and improvised scenarios or skits on stage using masks).[50] Certainly, European writers and thinkers in the 17th and 18th centuries (the era of the Enlightenment) were very preoccupied with human character and characterology, many different typologies being proposed; human character was increasingly being defined in a secular way, independent of virtues and vices defined by religion (exemplified respectively by saints and sinners).[51] In the middle ages the Catholic church banned much theatre, in an effort to root out paganism; theatre (other than liturgical plays) was often regarded as sinful, and actors as deceivers - acting was viewed as a form of lying since the actors portrayed characters which they were not themselves - assuming a false identity.[52] In the renaissance, however, the court masque began to flourish. The growth of commerce and commercial calculation created a new level of human behavioural complexity and motivations, which could not easily be captured in terms of theological categories (or only in a supremely abstract way, rather remote from real life). Criticizing Hegel's philosophy of justice in 1843, Marx concludes:

“Religion is only the illusory Sun which revolves around man as long as he does not revolve around himself. It is, therefore, the task of history, once the other-world of truth has vanished, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which is in the service of history, to unmask self-estrangement in its unholy forms once the holy form of human self-estrangement has been unmasked. Thus, the criticism of Heaven turns into the criticism of Earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law, and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics."[53]

The first known reference by Marx to character masks in a publication appears in an 1846 circular which Marx drafted as an exile in Brussels.[54] It occurs again in his polemic against Karl Heinzen in 1847, called Moralizing criticism and critical morality[55] and in part 5 of a satirical piece written in 1852 called Heroes of the Exile.[56]

In chapter 4 of The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852), a story about the sovereign’s dissolution of the French legislative assembly in 1851 in order to reign as imperial dictator, Marx describes how Bonaparte abandoned one character mask for another, after dismissing the Barrot-Falloux Ministry in 1849.[57] In this story, character masks figure very prominently. Contrary to Hegel's belief that states, nations, and individuals are all the time the unconscious tools of the world spirit at work within them,[58] Marx insists that:

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language. Thus Luther put on the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped itself alternately in the guise of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, now 1789, now the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95."[59]

The concept is subsequently also mentioned five times in Capital, Volume I, and once in Capital, Volume II; here the reference is specifically to economic character masks, not political character masks. However, both the official Moscow translation of Capital, Volume I into English (essentially the 1887 English edition translated by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling), as well as the revised 1976 Penguin translation of Capital, Volume I into English by Ben Fowkes, deleted all reference to character masks, substituting a non-literal translation which is not accurate.[60] The translation by David Fernbach in the Penguin edition of Capital, Volume II is accurate.

Marx’s concept of character masks has therefore been little known in the English-speaking world, except through the translated writings of the Frankfurt School and other (mainly German or Austrian) Marxists using the term. Tom Bottomore’s sociological dictionary of Marxist thought has no entry for the important concept of character masks.[61] The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory likewise does not refer to it.[62] David Harvey, the world-famous New Left popularizer of Marx's writings, does not mention the concept at all in works such as his The Limits to Capital. There is no entry for the concept in James Russell’s Marx-Engels Dictionary[63] or in Terrell Carver’s A Marx Dictionary.[64]

However, Dieter Claessens mentions the concept in his 1992 Lexikon,[65] there is another mention in Lexikon zur Soziologie[66] and the more recent German-language Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism has a substantive entry for character masks by Wolfgang Fritz Haug.[67] Haug suggests that the conjunction of “character” and “mask” is “specifically German”, since in the French, English, Spanish, and Italian editions of Capital, Volume I, the term “mask”, "bearer" or “role” is used, but not “character mask”.[68] But since “character mask” is a technical term in theatre and costume hire, it is not “specifically German”, and most existing translations are simply inaccurate.[69] However, Haug is correct insofar as "character mask" as a sociological or psychological term is rarely used by non-German speakers.[70] Jochen Hörisch claims that "despite its systematic importance, the concept of character masks was conspicuously taboo in the dogmatic interpretation of Marx".[71] Thus, for example, although the concept was known from Das Kapital, it is never mentioned in the Marxist-Leninist dictionaries and lexicons of East Germany as a specifically Marxist category. Similarly, the concept does not occur in the Marxist literature of China and Japan.

Translation issues in Das Kapital

The relevant five passages[72] in Marx's Capital, Volume I, with the translation corrected to restore the original[73] literal meaning according to the German edition,[74] are the following (the page references provided in the notes are to the Penguin edition in English):

”However we may judge the character masks, with which human beings confront each other here [i.e. in medieval Europe], the social relationships of persons in their work appear in any case as their own personal relationships, and do not take the guise of social relations among things, the products of labour”.[75]

“Commodities cannot themselves go to market and exchange themselves of their own accord. So we have to consider their guardians, the commodity owners. Commodities are things, and therefore lack the power to resist human beings. If they are unwilling, one can use force; in other words, one can take possession of them. For these things to relate to each other, their guardians have to relate to each other as persons whose will resides in these things, mediating them, so that the thing belonging to the other is appropriated only with mutual consent, on condition that one’s own thing is parted with. The guardians therefore have to recognize each other as owners of private property. This lawful relationship, whose form is the contract - whether legally elaborated or not - is a relationship of wills in which the economic relationship is mirrored. The content of this legal relation, or relation of wills, is given by the economic relationship itself. The persons exist here only for each other as representatives of commodities, and thus as commodity owners. As we will find in the progress of our inquiry, the economic character masks of persons who encounter each other as their carriers, are only the personification of economic relations. Namely, what distinguishes the commodity owner from the commodity is the circumstance that every other commodity counts for each commodity only as the appearance-form of its own value. A born leveller and a cynic, the commodity is constantly ready to exchange not only soul, but body, with each and every other commodity... The owner makes up for this lack in the commodity of a sense of the concrete, physical body of the other commodity, by his own five and more senses (...) commodities must be realized as values before they can be realized as use-values. On the other hand, they must stand the test as use-values before they can be realized as values.(...) In their difficulties, our commodity-owners think like Faust: 'In the beginning was the deed'. Thus they act already before they have thought it out."[76]

" Next, let us see what the two forms [i.e. C-M-C and M-C-M] have in common. Both circuits display the same two antithetical phases, C-M, sale, and M-C, purchase. In each of both phases, the same two elements at stake confront each other, namely a commodity and money, and two persons in the same economic character masks, a buyer and a seller. Each of the two circuits is the unity of the same antithetical phases, and in both cases this unity is mediated through the intervention of three participants in a contract, of which one only buys, another only sells, and a third both buys and sells.” [77]

"The economic character mask of capitalists only fixes itself on a human being, because his money constantly functions as capital.” [78]

" The practical agents of capitalist production and their ideological word-spinners are just as unable to think of the means of production in separation from the antagonistic societal character masks which cling to them these days, as a slave-owner who cannot think of the worker himself as distinct from his character as a slave.” [79]

In Capital, Volume II, there is also the following passage:

" In a word, the various factors of the labour process – objectified and personal – appear from the start in the character masks of the era of capitalist production” [80]

In Capital, Volume III, Marx does not explicitly refer to character masks.[81] He only notes, that the theories of the political economists invert cause and effect, means and ends, as well as objects and subjects, which has the result that the capitalist system can no longer be understood in a theoretically integrated way, even though people experience it all in one go, as a total experience. Marx aims to show that this misapprehension is the natural effect of the observable form taken by business relations, which mask the real social relations involved. The overall result, he suggests, is a mosaic of eclectic, fragmented theories which mask the real essence of the matter - they suffice for pragmatic policy purposes perhaps, within the limits of their application, but are scientifically incoherent from the point of view of explaining the capitalist system as a whole.

Marx’s argument in Das Kapital

In the Preface to the first edition of Capital, Volume I, Marx noted explicitly:

" To prevent possible misunderstandings, let me say this. I do not by any means depict the manifestations [Gestalten] of the capitalist and the landowner in rosy colours. But persons are dealt with here only in so far as they are the personifications of economic categories, the bearers of particular class-relations and interests.” [82]

He goes on to explain why:

" My standpoint, from which the development of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he remains, socially speaking, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them.” [83]

Marx's idea is, that in order to survive at all, human beings necessarily depend on co-operative social relations; if they did not enter into these social relations, they would be dead as a doornail. According to Marx, what distinguishes a master-builder from a bee is that the master-builder has a conscious purpose for what he does, whereas the bee just follows a biological program.[84] So, in interacting, human beings somehow have to interpret or assume how their own purpose is related to the purpose of other people. By that very fact, social roles are conferred on them, whatever they might think about that. Another way of putting this is, that individuals can exist as individuals only in relation to other individuals, and, as they interact, they place each other in roles, whether consciously or unconsciously.[85] Marx’s subsequent argument about character masks in capitalism can be summarized[86] in six steps:

  • Roles: The first step in his argument is that when people engage in trade, run a business or work in a job, they adopt and personify (personally represent) a certain function, role or behaviour pattern which is required of them to serve their obligations; their consent to the applicable rules is assumed to succeed in activities. They have to act this way, because of the co-operative relationships they necessarily have to work with in the division of labour.[87] People have to conform to them, whether they like it or not. To work together, they have to work together. Subjectively they may know very well that this is the case, and they may indeed be required to know it in order to function; nevertheless, these social relationships are a real constraint, which they cannot simply “jump out of”. They are initially born into a world in which these social relationships already exist, and “socialized” into them in the process of becoming “well-adjusted adults” - to the point where they internalize their meaning, and accept them as a natural reality.[88] They are part of a class-divided social order already before they are able to know what it means. Consequently, they can learn to act spontaneously and automatically in a way consistent with these social relations, even if that is not always an unproblematic process (the cultural notions which different social classes regard as normal and appropriate may clash).
  • Interests: The second step in his argument is that in acting according to an economic function, employees serve the impersonal (business, legal or political) interests of an abstract authority, which may have little or nothing to do with their own personal interests.[89] They have to keep the two kinds of interests separated, and “manage them” appropriately in a “mature, professional” way – perhaps with a poker face.[90] In this way, they “personify” or “represent” interests, and who they personally are, may well be completely irrelevant to that – it is relevant only to the extent that their true personality fits with the role (“the right person for the right job”, or “the function creates the organ”). People are slotted into functions insofar as they have characteristics which are at least compatible with the functions. They always have a choice in how they perform their role and how they act it out, but they have no choice about taking it on. If they succeed in their role, they can advance their position or career, but if they fail to live up to it, they are demoted or fired. Capitalism is about making money, and to make money, people have accept and to take on certain roles; if they did not make money, they would become destitute, or be completely dependent on the charity of others or on social insurance. Human individuality is then conceptualized in terms of the relationship between buyer and seller.[91]
  • Masking: The third step in his argument is, that the practices just described necessarily lead to the “masking” of behaviours and personalities, and to a transformation of personality and consciousness.[92] It is not just that people can rarely be “all of themselves” while performing a specialized function in the division of labour, and must also express something new and different. There are also many competing, conflicting and contradictory interests at stake – and these must somehow be dealt with and reconciled by the living person.[93] Different interests have to be constantly mediated and defended in everyday behaviour, with the aid of character masks; these masks exist to mediate conflict. It means that people are obliged or forced to express certain qualities and repress other qualities in themselves. In doing this, however, their own consciousness and personality is altered.[94] To be part of an organization, or “rise to the top” of an organization, they have to be able to “act out” everything that it requires in a convincing way, and that can only happen if they either have, or acquire, real characteristics which are at least compatible with it. That requires not just an “acculturation” process, but also sufficient behavioural flexibility, intelligence, acumen and creativity - so that a person does not inappropriately “fall out of the role” (in the movies, this is called a blooper or an outtake). They actually have to “be” (personify) what the function requires, their identity and the function must match sufficiently. Discord between identity and function is tolerated only in contexts where it does not matter. The relations of production defining the distinctive mode of production of a society (organization, property rights, technologies) create types of character masks which have an historically specific meaning. The masks which are accepted and credible in one time or place, may not be in another.
  • Inversion: The fourth step in his argument concerns an inversion of subject and object. It is not just that the commercial relationships between things being traded begins to dominate and reshape human behaviour, and remake social relations. In addition, human relations become the property of things. Inanimate things (commodities, services, financial claims, legal entities), and the relationships between them, are endowed with human characteristics (or even a “soul”). They become “actors” relating in their own right to which people much adjust their behaviour, and they are also theorized in that way.[95] A symbolic language and way of communicating emerges, in which inanimate “things” are personified. A market (or a price, or a stock, or a state etc.) is said to “do this, or do that” - it gains an independent power to act. Marx calls this commodity fetishism (or more generally, "fetishism"), and he regards it as a necessary reification of the symbolizations required to traverse life’s situations in bourgeois society. It is necessary, because the relationships between people are constantly being mediated by the relationships between things, where any individual has little or no control over that. People have to accept that, and work with it, like it or not. If however persons are treated as if they are things, and things are treated as if they are persons,[96] then the effect of that is, that character masks may acquire greater weight, power and importance than the persons behind them. It means that people are eventually unable to take their mask off, as Marx himself suggests, even if they would like to, because the masks are controlled by the business relationships between things being traded, and by broader legal, class, or political interests. If they are actually unable to take the mask off, they have effectively submitted fully to the power of abstract, impersonal market forces and legal rules, or at least they accept, conform and obey these external requirements fully; it rules their minds.[97]
  • Alienation: The fifth step in the argument is that on the world’s stage, the “dance of masked people, and of the things they have endowed with an independent power to act and relate” - in a reified “theatre of life” where the essence of the matter differs from how it appears - leads to pervasive human alienation (the estrangement of people from themselves, and from others in contacts which have become impersonal and functional).[98] It durably distorts human consciousness at the very least, and at worst it completely deforms human consciousness. It mystifies the real nature, and the real relationships, among people and things - even to the point where they can hardly be conceived anymore as they really are. The masks influence the very way in which realities are categorized. People’s theorizing about the world also becomes detached from the relevant contexts, and the interpretation of reality then involves multiple “layers” of meanings, in which “part of the story” hides the “whole story”. What the whole story is, may itself become an almost impenetrable mystery, about which it may indeed be argued that it cannot be solved.[99] The real truth about a person may be considered unknowable, but as long as the person can function normally, it may not matter; one is judged simply according to the function performed - with the aid of character masks, the pretence is kept up. In what Marx calls “ideological consciousness”, interests and realities are presented other than they really are, in justifying and defining the meaning of what happens. People may believe they can no longer solve problems, simply because they lack the categories to “think” them, and it requires a great deal of critical and self-critical thought, as well as optimism, to get beyond the surface of things to the root of the problems.
  • Development: the last step is, that Marx argues that effectively capitalist market society develops human beings in an inverted way. The capitalist economy is not primarily organized for the people, but people are organized for the capitalist economy, to serve other people who already have plenty of wealth. In an increasingly complex division of labour offering little job security, there is more and more external pressure forcing people to act in all kinds of different roles, masking themselves in the process. Yet, by that very fact, they also acquire more and more behavioural and semiotic flexibility, and develop more and more relational skills and connections. They have to “be” many different things, to survive. The necessity to work and relate in order to survive – while producing a growing mass of capital wealth – thus accomplishes the “economic formation of society” at the same time, even if in this society people lack much control over the social relations in which they must participate. It is just that the whole development occurs in an imbalanced, unequal and uncoordinated way, in which the development of some becomes conditional on the lack of development by others.[100] Commercial interests and political class interests ultimately prevail over the expressed interests of individuals. In the periodic economic crises, masses of people are condemned to the unemployment scrapheap, no matter what skills they may have; they are incompatible with the functioning of the bourgeois system, “collateral rubbish” that is swept aside. Even highly developed people can find that society regards them as worthless – which quite often tends to radicalize their opinions (see extremism and radicalization).

A seventh step could in principle be added, namely a big crisis in society which sparks off a revolution and overturns the existing capitalist system. In that case, it could be argued, the false masks are torn off, and people have to stand up for what they really are, and what they really believe in.[101] But that is a possibility which Marx did not comprehensively theorize in Das Kapital. His experience as an exile was only as commentator on the revolutions of 1848 and the Paris Commune. He does not himself provide any clear picture of a society in which character masks would become unnecessary (unnecessary, because everybody would be able to be naturally themselves all the time).[102] In Capital he comments only that:

" The manifestation of society's life-processes, i.e. the material production processes, sheds its mystical blanket of fog [mystischen Nebelschleier] when, as product of freely-associated people, those processes are under people's conscious, planned control. For this, however, a material foundation of society is required, or a series of material conditions of existence, which themselves in turn are the naturally growing product of a long and tormented developmental history."[103]

In The Age of Extremes, the last sequel in a series of books, the eminent Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm describes the "tormented history" of the 20th century. It combined enormous economic and population growth with a never-ending succession of wars, plagues, upheavals and disasters. He bemoans the failure of prediction: how badly people have been able to understand their own future. Arguably, however, this pessimism is itself a "mask", since one can prove that at least some people accurately forecast each of the main historical events that happened;[104] the problem is not primarily with the forecasting, but whether the forecasts are taken seriously. If people think they will lose more than they gain if the forecast is true, or if it becomes known, they are likely to mask the forecast - i.e. a true, honest forecast may not be in their interest, or they just don't want to believe it because it doesn't suit them. They may not be in a position to act on the information or prefer to believe what is good for themselves, even if it masks the truth.

Engels on character masks

The "mask metaphor" also appears already in the early writings of Friedrich Engels, and his influence on Marx is often underestimated.[105] In 1894, Engels referred to character masks in his Preface to Capital, Volume III - when rebutting a criticism of Marx's theory by Achille Loria. This was 11 years after Marx died, and after a lot of effort to get Marx's manuscript to a publishable standard. Rather unkindly and cuttingly, Engels wrote:

"Italy is the land of classicism. Since the great age when it saw the dawn of the modern world, it has produced magnificent characters unequalled in their classic perfection, from Dante down to Garibaldi. But the period of subjugation and foreign rule also left its classical character masks, including the two especially finely carved types of Sganarella and Dulcamara. Our illustrous Loria embodies the classical unity of these two".[106]

Sganarella and Dulcamara were originally characters in the Commedia dell'arte [107] (Sganarelle is also a mistrustful bourgeois character - in Molière's 1660 play Sganarelle, ou le Cocu imaginaire - who believes his wife is cheating him, and Dulcamera is the itinerant medicine man - essentially a quack - in Gaetano Donizetti's opera L'Elisir d'Amore). Leaving aside Engels's personal attack, Engels's substantive sociological suggestion seems to be that:

  • in a society's progressive, constructive era, its best characters come to the fore, and no character masks are necessary for them.
  • when society degenerates and submits to intolerable conditions, it not only gives rise to all sorts of dubious, talentless characters who cannot lead the way forward, but also society's dignity can only be sustained by masking off the social contradictions.
  • based on comprehensive knowledge of a country and its national psychology, it is possible to specify the types of personalities who exemplify the nature of the era.

The problem with this kind of argument is just that, in defining the meaning of what is happening in society, it is very difficult to provide definite scientific proof that this meaning is the objective truth. It remains an interpretation, which may make sense of things at a certain level, without providing the whole truth. Engels's comment illustrates that the concept of character masks is not infrequently used in a polemical way.[108]

Engels, like Marx, also used the notion of a “mask” in the more general sense of a political “guise” or “disguise”, for example in several of his historical analyses about religious movements. Engels argues in Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany (1851) that:

"History affords us numerous examples where, in countries which enjoy the blessings of a State Church, and where political discussion is fettered, the profane and dangerous opposition against the worldly power is hid under the mask of the more sanctified and apparently more disinterested struggle against spiritual despotism.[109]

In his article On the history of early Christianity (1894–95), Engels suggests that:

"…the first risings of the oppressed peasants and particularly of the town plebeians… like all mass movements of the Middle Ages, were bound to wear the mask of religion and appeared as the restoration of early Christianity from spreading degeneration; but behind the religious exaltation there was every time a very tangible worldly interest. (…) In the popular risings of the Christian West… the religious disguise is only a flag and a mask for attacks on an economic order which is becoming antiquated. This is finally overthrown, a new one arises and the world progresses.” [110]

Friedrich Nietzsche's idea of character masks[111] and Alasdair MacIntyre's idea of "character" in his famous book After Virtue are similar to the use of the term "character masks" as ideal type, stereotype or archetype by Engels and Mehring in the 1890s - certain people or types personify the culture of an era by giving a particularly clear expression of what it is really about (see also stock character).

Marxist theories about character masks

In his biography of Marx, Franz Mehring refers to character masks, but more in the sense of Weberian ideal types or stereotypical characters.[112] The Marx-Studien published by Rudolf Hilferding and Max Adler referred to character masks as a theoretical category.[113] The communist dramatist Bertolt Brecht made extensive use of neutral and character masks, like Luigi Pirandello (who, however, joined Benito Mussolini's National Fascist Party).[114] In plays such as The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Good Person of Szechwan, the masks support what Brecht called "the alienation effect" (see distancing effect).[115] The imagery of masks was an important inspiration for surrealist art, from James Ensor to André Breton. According to Breton's first Surrealist Manifesto, surrealistic art excels when it "gives to the abstract the mask of the concrete, or the opposite." Karl Renner and Franz Leopold Neumann used the concept in the context of a sociological analysis of bourgeois law.[116] In a radical synthesis of Marx and Freud, Wilhelm Reich created the concept of "character armor". It refers to the total "harness" of physiological defences which mask off the pain of repressing feelings - feelings which the individual is not permitted to express in civil life (involving muscular rigidities, inability to feel much, dammed-up sexual energy, etc.).[117]

György Lukács referred to the “very important category of economic character masks”.[118] However he restricted the application of the idea to capitalists only, claiming that Marx had considered capitalists as “mere character masks”[119] – meaning that capitalists, as the personifications ("agents") of capital, did not do anything "without making a business out of it", given that their activity consisted of the correct management and calculation of the objective effects of economic laws. Marx himself never simply equated capitalists with their character masks; they were human beings entangled in a certain life predicament, like anybody else.[120] If Marx discussed capitalists purely in terms of their function, that was because individual differences were irrelevant to what the function required them to do - either they adapted themselves to the function, or failing that, could not function as capitalists. At most one could say that capitalists had more to hide, and that some had personal qualities enabling them to succeed in their function, while others lacked the personal prerequisites. According to Lukács, the character masks of the bourgeoisie express a “necessary false consciousness” about the class consciousness of the proletariat.[121]

In the post-war tradition of Western Marxism, the concept of character masks was theorized about especially by scholars of the Frankfurt School,[122] and other Marxists influenced by this school, though it also appears in Marxist-existentialist thought, such as in the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre.[123] Writing about the Marxist theorist Theodor W. Adorno, a leader of the Frankfurt School, Rolf Tiedemann comments:

Adorno regarded this concept [of character masks] as a central category of social theory: [Adorno said] "The task of a theory of society would be to advance from the immediate evidence [of antagonisms] to the knowledge of its basis in society: why human beings are still wedded to their roles. The Marxian concept of the character mask points to a solution since it not only anticipates that category, but has inferred it socially (Theodor W. Adorno, Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 8. p. 13)”.[124]

Adorno argues that Marx explained convincingly why the appearance-form and the real nature of human relations often does not directly coincide, not on the strength of a metaphysical philosophy such as transcendental realism, but by inferring the social meaning of human relations from the way they observably appear in practical life - using systematic critical and logical thought as a tool of discovery. Every step in the analysis can be logically and empirically tested. The assumption is only, that these relations cannot mean "just any old thing", because they require shared meanings in order to be able to function and communicate at all. These shared presuppositions have an intrinsic rationality, because human behaviour - ultimately driven by the need to survive - is to a large extent purposive (teleological), and not arbitrary or random (though some of it may be). The apparent "irrationality" of emotions and desires is in reality also strongly linked to human purposes, and therefore explicable. Feelings appear "unreasonable" only because it is unclear what role they play in human motivations - if one has never had a feeling, it is difficult to understand that feeling - but if an emotion or desire is considered "inappropriate", that does not of itself mean that it isn't part of the total behavioural strategy an organism with a nervous system has in coping with situations.

The human meanings are therefore not indeterminate, but determinate, being controlled by the real things which people have to do in life. To achieve a goal and get something done, people necessarily have to think in a certain way, or at least the possible variability of their thinking is usually limited (see also parametric determinism). If there is a very great difference between what they think and what they do, causing confusion, this can be solved by getting back to the related practical activities. Philosophy is thereby "sublated",[125] because the focus shifts from abstract generalities to explaining the meaning of specific practical activity.[126]

The Frankfurt School was especially interested in how capitalist market culture affects human subjectivities and personal life, and the ways in which it might distort the “authentic self” and estrange human relations. It asked question such as, "What human factors made Nazism possible?". In this way, the German Marxist scholars tried to focus problems of the human psyche, by relating them to the capitalist system which gives rise to them - a phenomenological “science of the human subject” intended to avoid both psychologism and sociologism.[127] They were also concerned with how people might rebel against or liberate themselves from the character-masks of life in bourgeois society, through asserting themselves authentically as social, political and sexual beings.[128]

  • This type of analysis suggests that human alienation is never complete, because in the end people cannot very well deny their true nature, no matter how cleverly they mask themselves or manipulate their behaviour. If there is too much “masking”, human processes become dysfunctional, and break down; in order to operate, the symbol systems ultimately do require shared truths which are the same for all, or are accepted by all. Nevertheless categories and distinctions can be contrived so that some are included, and others are excluded - creating "insiders" and "outsiders". This can make it much more difficult to understand the true significance of observable social phenomena, i.e. to understand the full story behind what one can see. The trick in capitalist society is just to understand the true motivation of others, while masking your own. But while part of reality is masked, the truth is usually bound to “leak out” in one form or another, anyway. The mask can hide the face, but it cannot hide the movements of the whole body – Michel Foucault in fact claimed provocatively that in contemporary Western culture, "the project of the science of the subject has gravitated, in ever-narrowing circles, around the question of sex." [129] Others nowadays argue the issue is not really about sex as such, but about gaining a meaningful, unmasked intimacy, or more generally, about gaining access to the other, and to what the other has.[130]
  • The “human drama of life” in a world of masks then concerns the issue of whether people can find a place in the world in which they can finally take their masks off, and be truly themselves (a comedy [131]), or whether they remain trapped and die in an estranged, inauthentic existence with their masks still on (a tragedy;[132] the intermediate variant is a tragicomedy). In this sense, "dramatizing" means acting out a human predicament to engender a sympathetic understanding of it, to illuminate "a world" in which people may live, so that a more objective, understanding appraisal of it is possible. In postmodern thinking, overcoming the limitations of individual understandings depends greatly on the willingness to "see it their way", or "stand in their shoes". If the mismatches (dislocations between person and position) result from “wrong” choices by the individual, the moral sentiment is to blame the individual, but if the mismatches arise from uncontrollable circumstances, the individual can hardly be blamed; in that case, the community or state of which he is part may be held responsible, or the mismatches may be regarded as accidents (or unsolvable "mysteries"). Consequently, the public cultural controversies of bourgeois society typically converge on the question of how much control people really can have, are allowed to have, or can be expected to have over their circumstances.[133] In liberal-democratic societies, it is primarily a debate about the limits and potentials for human freedom in civil society - and how much can be, or should be, tolerated; and about the entitlement to public funds by different individuals, organizations and groups of citizens ("why they should, or should not get the money"). Which positions seem credible, is influenced by the norms of social classes and distinctive groupings in society; since they can change, ideas of "normality" and "human rights" can also change. People have no excuse for not enjoying life, if the resources are available for them to enjoy it; if they do not enjoy it nevertheless, this is regarded as unreasonable and a personal failing (or even as "inhuman").
  • The “masking” of an alienated life, and the attempts to counteract it, are thought of in these Marxist theories as co-existing but contradictory processes,[134] involving constant conflicts between what people really are, how they present themselves, and what they 'should be according to some external requirement imposed on them – a conflict which is not simply puberal, but which persists throughout life, and thus involves a perpetual struggle from which people can rarely totally withdraw – because they still depend for their existence on others, and have to face them, masked or unmasked.[135] They have no choice about being affected by the struggle, only about what side they decide to take in it. Essentially it is a contestation of norms, which could be the norms of social classes, ethnic groups, some influential lobby, managers etc. Behind these norms, there are material interests (who gets the money, power, status and access to resources). The distinctive pattern of these contradictory processes is very much shaped by the overall culture of the epoch, based on the given trading practices, organizational forms, the stock of ideas inherited from the past, and the technologies used to produce things. It follows that different times call for different character masks.

To the extent that the commercial and public roles impose heavy personal burdens, and little space exists anymore “to be oneself”, people can experience personal stress, mental suffering and personal estrangement (alienation), sometimes to the point where they “lose themselves”, and no longer “know who they are” (identity crisis).[136] There are then five main possibilities:

  • People may continue to function routinely ("the silent compulsion of economic relations"[137]), sublimating, suppressing or masking the contradictions, perhaps in a schizoid way, or by becoming withdrawn.
  • People may learn flexibly to project many different "selves" to different people and in different situations, as in Robert Jay Lifton's protean self.[138]
  • People may mutate, change abruptly or re-invent themselves, letting go altogether of their old identity, and living according to a completely new identity, whether voluntarily or because they are forced to do so.
  • People may be unable to function socially anymore at all, because they cannot reconcile their own way of being anymore with what is required of them – and thus cannot “keep up pretenses”. Their self-contradictory situation may distort their consciousness so strongly, that normal (or acceptable) behaviour breaks down (a topic explored by Joseph Gabel, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari). This is likely to happen, especially if they are already vulnerable in some relevant way.
  • People can also take charge of their lives in the theatre of life, rejecting a victim role. If they are no longer afraid, despondent or downhearted, and don't allow themselves to be forced anymore into a role they hate, they can feel more free to discover the life they want themselves.[139] Or, they can engage in an identity politics to assert who they really are, rejecting requirements which conflict with what they consider to be their real identity. This "struggle for recognition" is analyzed in modern times for example by Axel Honneth, who, however, attributes identity problems to a reified intersubjectivity, rather than to the very structure of capitalist organization, as argued by Karl Marx and György Lukács, or to a master-servant relationship, as in Hegel.[140] Honneth implies that people cannot easily change the structure, but they can change themselves and the way they relate. And it does not help, if they believe there is a structure which doesn't really exist.

Ultimately, there exists no individual solution to such identity problems, because to solve them requires the positive recognition, acceptance and affirmation of an identity by others – and this can only happen, if the individual can “join in” and receive social acknowledgement of his identity. Marx himself tackled this problem – rather controversially – in his 1843/44 essay On the Jewish Question.


Some Marxists have politically lampooned the spectacle that, while some West European governments (such as the French) aim to prohibit Islamic women from wearing headscarves, niqāb and burqa (hijab), they are constantly "masking" what they do themselves, even although it may not involve a piece of cloth.[141] The suggestion is that officials "cannot see the wood for the trees", or that there is an exaggerated fear of not being able to see something. Others argue the fears are justified. For example, the Dutch media personality Theo van Gogh, always eager to "take the mask off everything" while reaching out to the Other, was murdered in Amsterdam in 2004 by Mohammed Bouyeri sometime after van Gogh screened a short film attacking the attitude of Islam towards women.[142]

Much of the scientific controversy about the concept of character masks centres on Marx’s unique dialectical approach to analyzing the forms and structure of social relations in the capitalist system: in Das Kapital, he had dealt with persons (or “economic characters”) only insofar as they personified or symbolized - often in a reified way - economic categories, roles, functions and interests (see above). Evidently Marx felt justified in this approach, because he considered that the capitalist market system really and necessarily required the reification of human relations in order to operate.[143] That stumped many readers.

According to Marx, the capitalist system functioned as a “system”, precisely because the bourgeois relations of production and trade, including property rights, were imposed on people whether they liked it or not. They had to act and conform in a specific way to survive and prosper, and could not very well jump out of the ways in which they were related. As the mass of capital produced grew larger, and markets expanded, these bourgeois relations spontaneously reproduced themselves on a larger and larger scale, be it with the assistance of state aid, regulation or repression.[144] However, many authors have argued that this approach leaves many facets of capitalist social relations unexplained.[145]

Marx’s concept of character masks has been interrogated by scholars primarily in the German-language literature (see references). Werner Sombart stated gruffly in 1896 (two years after Capital, Volume III was published) that:

"We want a psychological foundation of social events and Marx did not bother about it."[146]

The historian Sheila Fitzpatrick has recorded how, in the Soviet Union,

"The theatrical metaphor of masks was ubiquitous in the 1920s and '30s, and the same period saw a flowering of that peculiar form of political theater: the show trial."[147]

Those who supported the revolution and its communist leadership were politically defined as "proletarian" and those who opposed it were defined as "bourgeois". Abandoning bourgeois and primitive norms, and becoming a cultured, socialist citizen, was "akin to learning a role".[148] In the 1920s, the proletarian writers' association RAPP adopted the slogan "tear off each and every mask from reality". This was based on a quotation from Lenin, who had said that the "realism of Tolstoy was the tearing off of each and every mask"(sryvanie vsekh i vsiacheskikh masok).[149] The communist authorities kept detailed files on the class and political credentials of citizens, leading to what historians call "file-selves".[150]

Much later, in 1973 (16 years before Slavoj Žižek entered the intellectual scene) the German New Left critic Michael Schneider claimed that:

"The animosity towards psychology that marked the Stalinist era and determines the communist reception of Freud to this day is based primarily on the Marxist concept of the "character mask". The Leftist 'anti-psychologism' of neo-Stalinist and Maoist groups in Germany and elsewhere also seeks to condemn psychoanalysis time and again with the argument that Marx's concept of the "character mask" has superseded psychology once and for all. Such a vulgar anti-psychologism, however, mistakes the polemical nature of the concept. Marx used it primarily to attack bourgeois psychologism which sublimated the principle of homo homini lupus est [i.e. 'man is a wolf to man'] into an eternal verity of human nature."[151]

According to the German educationist Ute Grabowski,

“The ’68 student movement transformed the concept of character masks into a concept of struggle [Kampbegriff] - even although, originally, it was nothing more than a straightforward description of the inevitability of being driven into social roles together with other particular people, without being able to hold each of them individually responsible for that.”[152]

When in 1975 the German weekly Der Spiegel asked members of the Red Army Faction what the murder of the social democrat Günter von Drenkmann (a high court judge in Berlin) by the Movement 2 June[93] on 10 November 1974 had accomplished, they replied:

"You yourselves know that all the indignation about this attack on the Berlin judge is nothing but propaganda and hypocrisy, nobody mourns a character mask. This whole exercise was just a way for the bourgeoisie and the imperialists to send a message. The indignation was just a reflex action in one particular political climate, nothing more. Those who, without themselves being from the ruling elite, automatically identify with such a character mask of the justice system simply make it clear that wherever exploitation reigns, they can only imagine themselves on the side of the exploiter. In terms of class analysis, leftists and liberals who protested the Drenkmann action simply exposed themselves."[153]

Questions subsequently arose about ten issues:

  • whether behaviour is in truth an "act" or whether it is "for real", and how one could know or prove that.[154]
  • whether character exists at all, if "masks mask other masks" in an endless series.[155]
  • how people make other people believe what their real character is (see also charisma).
  • the extent to which masks "of some sort" are normal, natural, necessary and inevitable in civilized society (or given a certain population density).
  • whether there can be objective tests of character masks as a scientific concept, or whether they are a polemical, partisan characterization.
  • the extent to which the device of "character masks" is only an abstraction or a metaphor,[156] or whether it is a valid empirical description of aspects of real human behaviour in capitalist society.[157]
  • what is specific about the character masks of capitalist society, and how this should be explained.
  • whether the "masks" of a social system are in any way the same as the masks of individuals.[158]
  • to what extent people are telling a story about the world, or whether they are really telling a story about themselves, given that the mask may not be adequate and other people can "see through it" anyway.[159]
  • whether Marx's idea of character masks contains an ethnocentric[160] or gender bias.[161]

Jean L. Cohen complained that:

"...the concept of the character mask collapses the rationality of the system with the rationality of social action, deriving the latter from the former... only action according to interests (imputed from the systemic logic of contradiction even if this logic is constituted by class relations) is rational action. Accordingly, the very power of "class" to act as a critical concept vis-a-vis the logic of capitalist production relations is lost."[162]

Marx’s "big picture" of capitalism often remained supremely abstract,[163] although he claimed ordinary folks could understand his book[164] (he had tried to enliven the first volume with many examples and illustrations). Most people - other than academics, artists and bankers etc. - do not usually think that abstractly, because they see no point in it. In particular, it seemed to many scholars that in Marx’s Capital people becomes "passive subjects" trapped in a system which is beyond their control, and which forces them into functions and roles. Thus, it is argued that Marx’s grandiose portrayal of the capitalist system in its totality is too “deterministic”, because it downplays the ability of individuals as “active human subjects” to make free choices, and determine their own fate (see also economic determinism). The theoretical point is stated by Peter Sloterdijk as follows:

"As a theory of masks, [Marx's theory] distinguishes a priori between persons as individuals and as bearers of class functions. In doing so, it remains a little unclear which side is respectively the mask of the other - the individual the mask of the function, or the function the mask of individuality. The majority of critics have for good reasons, chosen the antihumanist version, the conception that individuality is the mask of the function."[165]

  • A humanist theory was in fact pioneered by the non-Marxist psychologist Carl Gustav Jung. In his psychological theory – which is not necessarily linked to a particular theory of social structure – the persona appears as a consciously created personality or identity fashioned out of part of the collective psyche through socialization, acculturation and experience. Jung applied the classical term persona, explicitly because, originally, it meant the mask which the actor bears, expressing the role he plays. The persona, he argues, is a mask for the "collective psyche", a mask that ‘pretends’ individuality, so that both self and others believe in that identity, even although it is really no more than a well-played role through which the collective psyche is expressed. Jung regarded the “persona-mask” as a complicated system which mediates between individual consciousness and the social community. But he also makes it quite explicit that it is, in substance, a character mask in the classical sense known to theatre, with its double function: both intended to make a certain impression to others, and to hide (part of) the true nature of the individual.[166] The therapist then aims to assist the individuation process through which the client (re-)gains his "own self" - by liberating the self both from the deceptive cover of the persona and from the power of unconscious impulses. Jung's theory has become enormously influential in management theory; not just because managers have to create an appropriate "management persona" (a corporate mask) and a persuasive identity,[167] but also because they have to evaluate what sort of people the workers are, in order to manage them (for example, using personality tests and peer reviews).[168]
  • In the antihumanist, structural-functionalist philosophy of the French Marxist Louis Althusser, individuals as active subjects who have needs and make their own choices, and as people who "make their own history", are completely eradicated in the name of "science".[169] In fact, Althusser recommended the psychological theory of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan in the French Communist Party journal La Nouvelle Critique specifically as a "science of the (human) unconscious".[170] In the glossary of his famous book Reading Capital (co-written with Etienne Balibar), Althusser announces:

"In Marxist theory, on the contrary, the real protagonists of history are the social relations of production, political struggle and ideology, which are constituted by the place assigned to these protagonists in the complex structure of the social formation (e.g., the labourer and the capitalist in the capitalist mode of production, defined by their different relations to the means of production). The biological men are only the supports or bearers of the guises ("Charaktermasken") assigned to them by the structure of relations in the social formation."[171]

In this quasi-religious reification of what Marx says[172] - which dominated Marxist theory for decades - abstract forces like "relations of production", "political struggle" and "ideology" are the active subject in history, and real people are not. The main reason is that people are being viewed "objectively" as a "tool" of Capital, as the personification of capitalist requirements, analogous to army personnel following orders. Althusser seems to have believed that, aided by the superior vantage point of Marxist-Leninist doctrine, he could raise himself subjectively far above the human world, in order to view that world from an extraneous, "objective" and super-human viewpoint. According to Anthony Giddens, the effect is that:

"...human agents appear in Parson's scheme, as in that of Althusser, as 'cultural dopes', not as actors who are highly knowledgeable (discursively and tacitly) about the institutions they produce and reproduce in and through their actions."[173]

Such a malformed "totalizing perspective"[174] - which, by destroying the dialectics of experience, cannot reconcile the ways in which people "make history" and are "made by history", and therefore falls from one contradiction into another - doesn't just destroy belief in the power of human action (because "the system" dominates everything); the super-human approach also invites the objection that it leads to totalitarianism.[175] Specifically, in the bid of Marxist ideologists to grab state power, extract a surplus from the workers and manage the introduction of the grandiose "new order", armed with an ideological tyranny of categories, real human beings become "expendable" and are trampled underfoot.[176] It is alleged to be a kind of "upward mobility" strategy utilizing sympathy for the oppressed and exploited, and social envy. This (fairly cynical) interpretation leads logically to the idea that Marxism or Marxism-Leninism is itself a character mask, by which leftists who are desirous of power and influence which they do not have, disguise their real motives.[177] This is hotly disputed by many Marxists, who claim Marxism is something that grows out of their lives.

In response to this kind of problem, many critics have tried to theorize human subjectivity in capitalist society more (the “human face” of capitalism) - sometimes using the concept of “character masks” - to shed light on how people personally experience the social contradictions and hypocrisies in capitalist society.[178] Here, the meanings which people actually have and use are a starting point for understanding the bigger picture. C. Wright Mills called this approach the sociological imagination, the idea being that understanding the link between "private troubles" and "public issues" requires creative insight by the researchers, who are personally involved in what they try to study. The analytical question for social scientists then is, how much the concept of “character masks” can really explain, or whether the concept is made to do “too much work” (i.e. that its application is overextended or overworked, as with Althusser).

For example, Jon Elster argued that:

"Capitalist entrepreneurs are agents in the genuinely active sense. They cannot be reduced to mere placeholders in the capitalist system of production. This view goes against a widespread interpretation of Marx. It is often said that he attached little importance to intentional explanation in economics, since the basic units of his theory are "character masks" rather than individuals. The capitalist, in particular, is only the "conscious support" of the capitalist process, and only enacts the laws regulating it. Even capitalist consumption can be seen as "capital's expense of reproduction". This is well in line with the view that the worker is the passive embodiment of his consumption bundle, rather than an active human being capable, among other things, of waging a struggle for a larger bundle. The conclusion often drawn from this argument is that the capitalist does not "choose" his actions, but is "forced" by his need to survive in the competitive market. I believe this way of stating the issue is misleading. "Choosing" only means comparing alternatives and picking the best of them. The choice may well be said to be forced if all alternatives but one are unacceptable, but it is no less of a choice for that. Rather, the relevant distinction is that between forced and unforced choice, for example between being forced to optimize and not being forced to do so. This distinction might for instance serve to distinguish between capitalists at different stages of capitalist development, as suggested by Weber."[179]

Jürgen Ritser queries the utility of the concept of character masks:

"…are there special concepts in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy which could mediate an application of the general concept of a specific historical totality to singular acts and particular act-meanings? Usually “Charaktermaske” (character mask) is mentioned as such a concept. (…) I do not think that “Charaktermaske” is one of the sought after decisive mediating terms.”[180]

Faced with the problem of understanding human character masks - which refers to how human beings have to deal with the relationship between the "macro-world" (the big world) and the "micro-world" (the small world)[181] - scholarship has often flip-flopped rather uneasily between structuralism and subjectivism, inventing all kinds of dualisms between structure and agency.[182] The academic popularity of structural-functionalism has declined, "role definitions" have become more and more changeable and vaguer (even in job designations), and more and more, the Althusserian argument has been inverted: human behaviour is explained in terms of sociobiology.[183] This is certainly closer to Marx's idea of "the economic formation of society as a process of natural history", but often at the cost of "naturalizing" (eternalizing) social phenomena which belong to a specific historical time - by replacing their real, man-made social causes with alleged biological factors. On this view, humans are essentially, and mainly, animals. Elias Canetti notes in this regard:

"A slave is not property in the sense that a lifeless thing is property, but as cattle are. (...) The desire to turn men into animals was the principal motive for slavery. It is as difficult to overestimate its strength as that of the opposite desire: to turn animals into men. (to this latter we owe not only major intellectual structures such as Darwinism and the doctrine of metempsychosis, but also popular amusements like the public exhibition of performing animals.) Once men had succeeded in collecting large numbers of slaves, as they collected animals in their herds, the foundations for the tyranny of the state were laid. Nor is there the slightest doubt that a ruler's desire to own a whole people like slaves or animals grows stronger as their number increase."[184]

Slaves on this view are essentially beings placed outside human society, not social beings proper, i.e. beings considered as not able or not permitted to relate in a human sense, and therefore fitted only for slave work.

  • In game theory, there are no human beings or animals, only actors, constraints, opportunities and interests which are abstracted, defined and grouped in certain ways according to assumptions; character masks are dealt with mainly in terms of information asymmetry and opportunism. The game theorists' idea of rationality is, that for any human activity, there are costs and benefits, and people will typically act to maximize the benefit that accrues to themselves, and minimize their costs (a type of utilitarianism). This assumption may not be completely true at all times, but as a statistical generalization it is regarded as sufficiently valid to enable successful prediction. Sometimes it is more beneficial and less costly to cooperate, at other times it is more beneficial and less costly to compete, or maintain a neutral, non-involved position.[185] The basic limitation of this viewpoint, often noted by juridical specialists, is just that cultured human beings have a multiplicity of interests at one and the same time, which interact simultaneously in ways which may not be so "rationally" explicable (unless one knows them personally really well). What people think the costs and benefits are, how they weigh that up, and how they respond to situations can be complicated, and involve sub-conscious, spiritual, emotional and social influences. Thus, while game theory can usefully shed light on what basic interests are involved, its picture of what the real human motivations are (or were) may be either too simple, or too complex. "Too simple", because vital parts of human character are ignored. "Too complex", because reasons are invented which are not really there.[186] This is acknowledged by many modern managers and politicians, who therefore sometimes hire in specialists in theatre, to explain or model the meaning of human situations.[187] In the United States, the actor Ronald Reagan became president, and Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California; evidently they had the "human skills" to perform the function convincingly. It suggests, that the concept of "character masks" is not at all an "out-dated, 19th century concept". Evidently people do feel a need for drama and narrative to understand the world, and understand themselves better - even if it's only a TV soap.[188] Without this playfulness, life becomes shallow and boring, but more importantly, people then no longer feel part of things, or don't believe anything much, which makes it difficult to get them to co-operate or compete. In turn, that makes it difficult to have control over them because they do not respond to anything much.[189] Identity management is already established as a multi-disciplinary field, but on 17 March 2011, it was reported that Centcom is paying a Californian corporation to develop an "online persona management service" allowing one US serviceman or woman to control "up to 10 separate (fake) identities based all over the world". The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake "online persona" must have a convincing background, history and supporting details; up to 50 US-based controllers will be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries".[190]
  • The more recent postmodern criticism of Marx’s portrayal of character masks concerns mainly the two issues of personal identity and privacy. It is argued that modern capitalism has moved far beyond the type of capitalism that Marx knew. Capitalist development has changed the nature of people themselves, and how one's life will go is more and more unpredictable. There is no longer any clear and consensual view of how “personal identity” or “human character” should be defined anyway (other than by identity cards)[191] and therefore, it is also no longer clear what it means to “mask” them, or what interests that can serve.[192] Roles are constantly being redefined to manipulate power relationships, and shunt people up or down the hierarchy. This is a postmodernist argument along the lines that "people are what they do", or "who they think they are", and that could change any minute.[193] Human behaviour is then explained either as a biological effect or as a statistical effect, estimated by probability theory. Some Marxists regard this perspective as a form of dehumanization, which signifies a deepening of human alienation, and leads to a return to religion to define humanity. On this view, people cannot manage the forces they have created, and need God (see further e.g. claims to be the fastest-growing religion). Modern information technology and the sexual revolution, it is nowadays argued, have radically altered the whole idea of what is “public” and what is “private”.[194] Electronic devices nowadays enable people to reach into the most intimate details of other people’s lives, with much greater efficiency, and on a much greater scale. Increasingly, information technology becomes a tool for social control; the powerful command information about others, while releasing only just enough information to impose their authority, and prove their own superiority. Some Marxists even refer to the spectre of totalitarian capitalism.[195] Human individuals then appear to be caught up in a stressful battle to defend their own definition of themselves against the definitions imposed or attributed by others, in which they can become trapped. It can lead to post-colonial research. People become very concerned about whether things are done in the right order, timing or sequence, or indeed whether their lives are lived in the "right" sequence of activities; after all, if things are done in the wrong order with the wrong timing, too much information may be released, or not enough information is released. For their own story to be convincing in life's theatre, the appropriate information has to be released at the appropriate moment. If the wrong information leaked out at the wrong moment, their lives could be disadvantaged or ruined (see also impression management).[196]

That means that “masking” processes begin to play new roles, very different from what Marx could conceive.[197] Computer programmers nowadays refer to "interfacing", "input-masking" and "error-masking", suggesting a whole new world of digital "masks" in cyberspace.[198] It is not just that employers and officials can bear “character masks”, but that ordinary workers are motivated to mask themselves and their activities against what they perceive as intrusion by businesspeople, officials and others who seek to acquire personal information about citizens, in order to control, police, exploit or manipulate their lives.[199] Thus, paradoxically, many people nowadays believe that the pursuit of liberty requires masking one’s activities, simply to maintain the personal privacy necessary to stay in control of one’s own life; the more possibilities that modern technology offers to share information, the more circumspect people become about giving information out.[200] It creates a new stimulus for the autonomist movement.[201] It can also lead to the panic or paranoia of conspiracy theory, where people no longer understand the real meanings and effects of human action, and believe their lives are being manipulated by unseen, hidden forces - without being able to find out who they are.

Scholars noticed that, in the end, Theodor W. Adorno - who had argued there are "no individuals" in modern society, only "persons" filling, and defined by, specific functions and roles in capitalism - became quite pessimistic about the prospects of human society. In 1963, Adorno wrote:

"The total effect of the culture industry is one of anti-enlightenment, in which, as Horkheimer and I have noted, enlightenment, that is the progressive technical domination of nature, becomes mass deception and is turned into a means for fettering consciousness. It impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves."[202]

In The principle of Hope, Ernst Bloch however remained hopeful.[203] Faced with the same situation, one was pessimistic, the other optimistic.


If one successfully unmasks something, one understands it for what it really is, and can handle it; inversely, if one understands something and can handle it, it is unmasked.[204] Yet, as Marx notes,

"…in the analysis of economic forms neither microscopes nor chemical reagents are of assistance. The power of abstraction must replace both.”[205]

Economic analysis not only studies the total social effect of human actions, which is usually not directly observable to an individual, other than in the form of statistics or television. The “economic actors” are also human beings who create interactions and relationships which have human meanings. Those meanings cannot be observed, they are in people’s heads, and actively created in their social relationships.

People can of course watch television, read a wikipedia article on their laptop, or flick magazines, where meanings are constructed ready-made for them (Adorno’s “culture industry”). They can get so used to doing this, that they think the meaning is “out there” rather than constructed in their own heads and bodies, and in their interactions with others. The meaning then seems to be a property of things, so they say: “things have meaning” (see also brainwashing). In reality, things have meaning, only because humans, or other sentient organisms, ‘’can and do give meaning to them’’. Because people have brains, they can figure out that meaning. And because they have free will (they can make their own choices), they can also assert their own meaning, even if only negatively (non-acceptance or non-compliance).

To seek to “unmask” the capitalist system, Marx argued, is a work of critical-scientific theory. It means ordering what we can observe, aided by theory and past experience, so that the real meaning of the system is understood as a whole, and the puzzle is solved.[206] The scientific goal is reached, when one can prove with satisfaction, that one’s definition is so good, that it can withstand the test of all relevant scientific criticisms. It is a big task. Marx warned his French readers that:

"There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.”[207]

Yet, since every meaning can always be challenged by another, and new meanings are formed, reaching the whole truth is really a perpetual task. Its result always has to be defended against competing claims. One can, in the end, only lay claim to the truth as one can know it, from one’s own standpoint. Marx said he welcomed serious scientific criticism of his own contribution, he was not afraid of it.[208]

In the end, Marx argues, capitalism cannot be fully unmasked by means of pure scientific thought only.[209] That is because its ever-changing repertoire of masks is part of the very nature of the system itself, and scientific discoveries can also be masked. They are masked, because scientific pursuits are influenced by property rights and financial interests. They can get stolen (or abused), although the theft may be represented as a "trade", where one party just failed to pick up the goods (in an unpublished manuscript, Marx refers specifically to the "theft of alien labour-time").[210] The idea is, "let other people do what they will to solve a difficult problem, and we will just skim off the result for ourselves". If people depend on its existence, or if it gets in the way of enjoying their lives, there is always another justification for exploitation.[211] Exploitation can occur under the motto of "love" and "peace".[212] In bourgeois theory, the "sanctity of private property" prevails, but in practice, as Marx argued at length,[213] it doesn't - what is sacrosanct is only one's own property, not someone else's. The right of a person to his own creativity and its results has to be continually defended, and this can involve the use of masking.

Capitalism unmasks itself in the course of development, when its internal contradictions become so great, that they cause collapse - impelling the revolutionary transformation of capitalism by human action into a new social order, amidst all the political conflicts and class struggles.[214] Scientific inquiry, Marx felt, should be an aid in the cause of human progress, to ensure that the new social order emerging will be better than the old one, a real open society. Human progress is achieved, to the degree that people really abolish the oppressions of people by other people, and oppressions by the blind forces of nature.[215]

See also


  1. ^ "The representations of [Greek] masks and theatre scenes during the 5th century BC show masks that covered the entire head. They were not much bigger than the human head, and had a very intense, concentrated, extroverted expression without pronounced facial features. The mouth was open; the eyeholes were round and small. During the 4th century the masks became more naturalistic following the aesthetics and art conventions of the era but kept the same intense, extroverted and enigmatic expression." Thanos Vovolis & Giorgos Zamboulakis, "The Acoustical Mask of Greek Tragedy". In: Didaskalia, Volume 7 Issue 1, Winter 2007.[1] See, for a recent discussion of the concept of persona: Marta Cecilia Betancur García (Universidad de Caldas), "Persona y máscara", Praxis Filosófica, Nueva serie, no. 30, January–June 2010: pp. 7-16.[2] Branislav Stevanović comments that the notion of persona “was a Roman phrase for theatre (or actors) - a mask. In the ancient times, it had not a sense of significant individualism but rather of functional character. According to T. Adorno and M. Horkheimer, Cicero's use of the term "sublimates the meaning of the character mask by which one shows oneself to others: it is the role which an individual, as a philosopher, plays in life, namely, the bearer of the role and, especially, dignity which, as an actor, [he] possesses."” - Stevanović, "Theoretical and valuable foundations of the right to civil disobedience". Philosophy, Sociology and Psychology, Vol. 4, No 1, 2005, p. 5.[3]
  2. ^ The Greek concept of prosopon, meaning "the face", literally is "that which is set before the eyes", and thus also refers to "a mask" (John Mack (ed.), Masks: the art of expression. London: British Museum, 1994, p. 151). In Greek theatre, "drama" meant an action or a deed which an actor represents on a stage. The audience was not held in suspense until the mask was lifted to reveal a hidden identity, but the function of the mask was impersonate a character; the spectator would see only the mask - the actor's own personality was effaced. Thus the mask defined the persona, and changes of masks by the actors were relatively rare. In post-Freudian psychology, by contrast, the mask is a metaphor for the external self, concealing the reality within (ibid., p. 151-152, 157). In classical Greek theatre, maskmaking was traditionally done by the skeuopoios (maker of attributes), but according to Julius Pollux, in the Hellenistic era of 'new comedy' the maskmaker was instead called prosopopoios. See David Wiles, The masks of Menander. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, p. 148. In his Onomasticon, Pollux itemized 76 satiric, tragic and comic masks (including 44 different types of character masks used in comedy - ibid., p. 69). See Julius Pollux, Extracts concerning the Greek theatre and masks, translated from the Greek of Julius Pollux. Andover: Gale ECCO, Print Editions, 2010.
  3. ^ The neo-Marxists referring to character masks were especially those of the Frankfurt School, such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. This is discussed furtheron in this article. For a non-Marxist approach to character masks, see Anthony Giddens, The constitution of society: outline of the theory of structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.
  4. ^ See: Alasdair Macintyre, After Virtue. University of Notre Dame Press, 2007, pp. 27-35, 109-110; Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason. Verso, 1988, p. 37.
  5. ^ E.g. Lawrence Krader and David Graeber.
  6. ^ George Herbert Mead, Mind, Self, and Society (1934); Ralph Linton, The Study of Man (1936); Talcott Parsons, “The present position and prospects of systematic theory in sociology (1945)”, in Parsons, Essays in sociological theory, rev. ed. NY Free Press, 1954; Talcott Parsons, The social system. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1951; Theodore R. Sarbin and & V.L. Allen, "Role theory". In: G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (eds.), Handbook of social psychology, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1968, pp. 488-567; Ralf Dahrendorf, Homo sociologicus. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968; Robert Merton, "The role set: problems in sociological theory", in: British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 8, 1957, pp. 106-20. In Parsons' sociology, the social structure is built up out of roles, namely, it is viewed as system of relationship patterns between social actors in their capacity as role bearers. A survey of role theory is provided in: Anne-Marie Rocheblave-Spenlé, La Notion de rôle en psychologie sociale: étude historico-critique. Paris: Presses universitaires de France Mayenne, 1962. [4] Adam Blatner provides a bibliography on role theory [5]. A Marxist critique is provided in: Frigga Haug, Kritik der Rollentheorie. Hamburg: Argument-Verlag, 1994. The legacy of role theory is explored by Jacques Coenen-Huther, "Heurs et malheurs du concept de rôle social", Revue européenne des sciences socials, XLIII-132, 2005. [6]
  7. ^ Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason. Verso, 1988, p. 37.
  8. ^ "...most Europeans prefer the word character (derived from the Greek word, meaning an engraving or imprinting, therefore something inner, permanent, and inborn). In contrast, Americans have preferred the word personality, which... derives from persona or mask." Gordon W. Allport, "My encounters with personality theory". Recorded and edited reminiscence at the Boston University School of Theology, October 12, 1962, transcribed by W. Douglas, p. 1. As cited by Christopher F. Monte and Robert N. Sollod, Beneath the mask. An introduction to theories of personality, 7th edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2003, p. 2. A Marxist interpretation of character is provided by Kit R. Christensen, The Politics of Character Development: A Marxist Reappraisal of the Moral Life. Praeger, 1994.
  9. ^ Elizabeth Burns, Theatricality: A study of convention in the theatre and in social life. New York: Harper & Row, 1972, pp. 125-126.
  10. ^ "The basic context of all these terms - persona, character mask, part, role - is the theatre, which is thus the prerequisite of any self-conscious theory of society. Without the communal fictive laboratory - the virtual world created by theatre - in which social subjects watch characters enact roles, they cannot gain sufficient perspective on their collective organism in order to analyse how it functions." - Edith Hall, The theatrical cast of Athens; interactions between ancient Greek drama & society. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 31.
  11. ^ See for example Ronald W. Clark, Lenin: the man behind the mask. New York: St Martins Press, 1989; Gary Allen, Richard Nixon: The Man Behind The Mask. Boston: Western Islands, 1971; Adam Robinson, Bin Laden: behind the mask of the terrorist. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 2001. Nick Henck, Subcommander Marcos: the man and the mask. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007.
  12. ^ See e.g. Ingo Elbe, "Thesen zum Begriff der Charaktermaske" [7]. Rote Ruhr Uni site.
  13. ^ See further e.g. Anne Duncan, Performance and identity in the classical world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  14. ^ Donald Rumsfeld explained: "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know." - Department of Defense news briefing, February 12, 2002. Rumsfeld leaves out "the things we don't know that we know", perhaps "don't want to know about ourselves" and therefore mask to ourselves - giving rise to the possibility of being "unconsciously conscious" or "consciously unconscious", a theme explored by Sigmund Freud and his school. See further: John Keegan, The mask of command. New York : Viking, 1987.
  15. ^ See e.g. Wayne Oates, Behind the Masks. Westminster Press, 1987; Eugene C. Rollins, The masks we wear. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2010.
  16. ^ Notably Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Carl Jung and Arthur Janov.
  17. ^ Rudolf Münz, "Charaktermaske und Theatergleichnis bei Marx". In: R. Münz (ed.), Das 'andere' Theater. Studien über ein deutschsprachiges teatro dell'arte der Lessingzeit. Berlin: Henschelverlag Kunst und gesellschaft, 1979, pp. 19-48.
  18. ^ "...the paid and unpaid portions of labour are inseparably mixed up with each other, and the nature of the whole transaction is completely masked by the intervention of a contract and the pay received at the end of the week." - Karl Marx, Value, Price and Profit, part 9.[8] "Since Lassalle's death, there has asserted itself in our party the scientific understanding that wages are not what they appear to be - namely, the value, or price, of labor — but only a masked form for the value, or price, of labor power." - Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), part 2 (emphases added). [9] Cf. the Resultate manuscript in Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 1064, where Marx uses the word "vertuscht" ("covered up").
  19. ^ Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin edition, p. 956 (translation corrected according to the German edition).
  20. ^ For a commentary by a Marxian economist, see: Duncan K. Foley, The strange history of the economic agent.
  21. ^ "The Queen asks why no one saw the credit crunch coming", Daily Telegraph, 5 November 2006.[10]"What I told the Queen is that the reason the situation got out of hand is that those working at every point in the lending chain were eager to continue doing the job they were paid to do: mortgage agents generating loan requests in exchange for a nice commission; banks granting the loans they knew they could package and pass on; rating agencies (those in charge of pulling the plug here) giving high ratings to products they could not understand on dubious assumptions based on 12 years of data; and, most worryingly, asset managers (pension funds etc) buying these securities because if they did not, they would underperform their peers and risk being fired." - Professor Luis Garicano, "I did not stammer when the Queen asked me about the meltdown", The Guardian, Tuesday 18 November 2008.[11]
  22. ^ In his spoken testimony on 23 October 2008 based on speech notes [12] to the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Alan Greenspan stated "We are in the midst of a once-in-a century credit tsunami". Candidly [13] he added in response to questioning that he had had an "ideology, a conceptual framework" which had been wrong. He claimed that "The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year because the data inputted into the risk management models generally covered only the past two decades, a period of euphoria." Leading German Marxist Elmar Altvater said: “There are loud laments about “wrong deregulation” from the most devoted neoliberals. They say these have unleashed such a “greed” which was even rewarded with wrong incentives. Greed could be a valuable explanation to some extent, although greed should not be defined as a psychological defect but as a feature of “character masks” “in the stock exchange game of the Bankocrats” (Marx).” (the reference is to Marx/Engels Werke, Vol. 23, p. 783). See Altvater, “The plagues of capitalism”, paper delivered at World Social Forum, Belém, February 2009. [14] See further Altvater, “Financial crises of the Twenty-first Century”, ‘’Socialist Register’’, Vol. 33, 1997. For an interesting and relevant scientific perspective, see: Karl E. Scheibe, Mirrors, Masks, Lies, and Secrets: The Limits of Human Predictability. Praeger, 1979; Donald MacKenzie, "The Credit Crisis as a Problem in the Sociology of Knowledge". American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 116, No. 6 (May 2011), pp. 1778-1841.[15]
  23. ^ Henry Pernet, Ritual Masks: Deceptions and revelations. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1992.
  24. ^ William Healey Dall, On masks, labrets, and certain aboriginal customs, with an inquiry into the bearing of their geographical distribution. Bureau of American Ethnology, Annual Report, 3, pp. 73-151. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1884. (reprinted 2010)
  25. ^ Joseph Campbell, The masks of God: Primitive Mythology. London: Secker & Warburg, 1960, p. 21.
  26. ^ One of the most famous anthropological studies of masks is by Claude Lévi-Strauss, The way of the masks. University of Washington Press, 1988.
  27. ^ See e.g. Robert A. Markman and Peter T. Markman, Masks of the spirit. Image and metaphor in Mesoamerica. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.
  28. ^ See the article on “Masks”, in: Massimo Pallotino (ed.), Encyclopedia of World Art. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964, vol. 9, col. 520–570; Herbert Inhaber, Masks from antiquity to the modern era: an annotated bibliography. Lanhan, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1997.
  29. ^ See further John W. Nunley et al., Masks: Faces of Culture. New York; Harry N. Abrams, 1999; Richard Weihe, Die Paradoxie der Maske. Geschichte einer Form. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2004. This section is inserted in the article because academics and translators dealing with this topic typically give insufficient attention to the relevant technical meanings involved in archaeology, theatre and drama.
  30. ^ A famous example is the images of the Trois-Frères cave (circa 15,000 years old). According to John W. Nunley, "The earliest evidence of masking comes from the Mousterian site of Hortus in the south of France. There the archaeologist Henry de Lumley found remnants of a leopard skin that was probably worn as a costume more than 40,000 years ago" - J.W. Nunley, Masks: Faces of Culture. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1999, p. 22. One of the oldest known cave drawings of a human face - 27,000 years old - was discovered in 2006 in the Vilhonneur grotto near Angoulême in France. See: Adam Sage, "Cave face 'the oldest portrait on record'", The Times (London), 5 June 2006. [16]).
  31. ^ See the web page [17] and Jonathan Amos, "Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire", BBC News, 2 December 2003.[18].
  32. ^ Jamie Ellin Forbes, "The resurrection of the beauty of Spring: Jeanette Korab at Carnevale de Venezia". Fine Art Magazine, Spring 2010, p. 21.
  33. ^ "Risk", in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  34. ^ See further Helga Drummond, The Art of Decision Making. Mirrors of Imagination, Masks of fate. John Wiley & Sons, 2001.[19]
  35. ^ See e.g. Sears A. Eldredge, Mask improvisation for actor training & performance: the compelling image. Northwestern University Press, 1996, p. 131.
  36. ^ John Wright, "The masks of Jacques Lecoq". In: Ralph Yarrow & Franc Chamberlain (eds.), Jacques Lecoq and the British theatre. Routledge, 2002, p. 71.
  37. ^ An analytical discussion of the use of masks in modern drama is provided by Susan Valeria Harris Smith, Masks in modern drama. University of California Press, 1984 (Marx is mentioned on p. 29).
  38. ^ A lively, succinct summary is provided in Elias Canetti, "The figure and the mask", in: Cannetti, Crowds and Power. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981, pp. 432-437. See further e.g. William Keith Tims, Masks and Sartre's Imaginary: Masked Performance and the Imaging Consciousness, Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2007.[20] and Paul Monaghan, "Mask, Word, Body and Metaphysics in the Performance of Greek Tragedy", Didaskalia, Vol. 7 no. 1, Winter 2007. [21]
  39. ^ See e.g. A. David Napier, Masks, Transformation, and Paradox. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.
  40. ^ Franz Leopold Neumann, The democratic and the authoritarian state: Essays in political and legal theory. Free Press, 1957, pp. 61-62.
  41. ^ Marx analyzes the social meaning of exchange relations in the Grundrisse, Penguin ed., pp. 242-245. Evgeny Pashukanis argues that "The egoistic subject, the subject of a right and the moral personality are the three basic masks under which man appears in commodity production." - Pashukanis, Law and Marxism: a general theory. Ink Links, 1978, chapter 6.[22]
  42. ^ Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, part 1, in: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969.
  43. ^ For a commentary, see: Elmar Altvater & Birgit Mahnkopf, "The world market unbound." In: Review of International Political Economy, Volume 4, Issue 3, September 1997, pp. 448-471.
  44. ^ Anthropologists, sociologists and linguists have sometimes studied "linguistic masking". See for example Franklin C. Southworth, "Linguistic masks for power: some relationships between semantic and social change", Anthropological Linguistics, Vol. 16, 1974, pp. 177-19 and R.D.V. Glasgow, Madness, Masks and Laughter: An Essay on Comedy. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Press, 1994. The "masking" of quantitative relationships takes three main forms: masking plain computational error; masking through a categorization of counting units which hides the real situation, or presents it in a certain light; and masking through the ("meta-theoretical") interpretation of the overall significance or meaning of a quantitative result. Data may be accepted as a valid result, but dismissed as irrelevant or unimportant in a given context, and therefore not worth paying attention to; or conversely, the importance of specific data may be higlighted as being more important than other related facts. It was probably the last variant which prompted Benjamin Disraeli's famous exclamation "Lies, damned lies, and statistics". These maskings may occur at the same time, and they may be related.
  45. ^ "Western Theatre", article in Encyclopedia Brittanica.
  46. ^ Wolfgang Fritz Haug, “Charaktermaske“, in: Wolfgang Fritz Haug (ed.), Historisch-kritisches Wörterbuch des Marxismus, Vol. 2. Hamburg: Das Argument, 1995, p. 438. Haug cites P. Steinmetz, “Afterword”, in: Theophrast, Charactere. Stuttgart, 1970, and G. Wilpert, Sachwortenbuch der Literatur, Stuttgart 1989. An English text is available online.[23]
  47. ^ Wolfgang Fritz Haug notes that Marx refers to “character masks” in his notebooks on Epicurian philosophy, written in preparation of his doctoral dissertation. In his notebook, Marx writes that "As in the history of philosophy there are nodal points which raise philosophy in itself to concretion, apprehend abstract principles in a totality, and thus break off the rectilinear process, so also there are moments when philosophy turns its eyes to the external world, and no longer apprehends it, but, as a practical person, weaves, as it were, intrigues with the world, emerges from the transparent kingdom of Amenthes and throws itself on the breast of the Worldly Siren. That is the carnival of philosophy, whether it disguises itself as a dog like the Cynic, in priestly vestments like the Alexandrian [see Alexandrian School], or in a fragrant spring array like the Epicurian. It is essential that philosophy should then wear character masks." (Marx/Engels Werke, Vol. 40, p. 214;Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 1; the English translation provided here is taken from Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader. Norton 2nd ed., 1978) [24]. See Wolfgang Fritz Haug, “Charaktermaske“, p. 442. Many years later, Marx recalled that he "was at one time greatly interested in the sophos as the mask peculiar to Greek philosophy (using mask here in the best sense)." - letter of Marx to Ferdinand Lassalle, London, 16 June 1862, In: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 41, p. 376.[25] This article borrows selectively from Haug's article, but goes considerably beyond it. See also: Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx"[26], in: Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2009. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010, which discusses various interpretations. The general intellectual milieu in which Marx developed his ideas is covered in: Warren Breckman, Marx, the young Hegelians and the origins of radical social theory: Dethroning the Self . Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  48. ^ Jochen Hörisch, "Charaktermasken. Subjektivität und Trauma bei Jean Paul und Marx." In: Jahrbuch der Jean-Paul-Gesellschaft, Nr. 14, 1979, republished in Jochen Hörisch, Die andere Goethezeit: Poetische Mobilmachung des Subjekts um 1800. München: Fink, 1998.
  49. ^ In the section of the Phenomenology on "the spiritual work of art". In a complex 1844 argument where Marx criticizes Hegel's Phenomenology, the suggestion is that contradictions of object and subject arise because philosophical thought masks important aspects of the issue to itself (see Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Third Manuscript: "Private Property and Labour" [27]. For a commentary on Hegels' masks in the Phenomenology, see e.g. Robert Bernasconi, "Persons and masks: The phenomenology of the spirit and its laws", in: Drucilla Cornell et al. (eds.), Hegel and Legal Theory. New York: Routledge, 1991, pp 78-94.
  50. ^ See further Rudolf Münz, "Charaktermaske und Theatergleichnis bei Marx". In: R. Münz (ed.), Das 'andere' Theater. Studien über ein deutschsprachiges teatro dell'arte der Lessingzeit. Berlin: Henschelverlag Kunst und gesellschaft, 1979, pp. 19-48. On Marx’s literary interests, see: Siegbert Salomon Prawer, Marx and World Literature. Oxford University Press, 1978 and Paul Lafargue, "Reminiscences of Marx", September 1890.[28]
  51. ^ See e.g. Mary Alice Budge, The rhetoric of operation: character masks in the fiction of Daniel Defoe. Phd dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1970, 226 pp. Marx observed wrily that "political economists are fond of Robinson Crusoe stories", and uses Defoe's Crusoe story in his analysis of commodity fetishism. Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 169.
  52. ^ "The Theatre", article in Catholic Encyclopedia.[29] Moshe Barasch, "The mask in European art: meanings and functions". In: Mosche Barasch & Lucy Freeman Sandler (eds.), Art the Ape of Nature. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1981, pp. 261-264.
  53. ^ Karl Marx, A contribution to the critique of Hegel's philosophy of right (1843-44), emphases added.[30] For a commentary, see: Arend Th. van Leeuwen, Critique of Heaven. Cambridge: James Clarke Company, 1972, and Leeuwen, Critique of Earth. Cambridge: James Clarke Company, 1974. For more recent research on this topic, see the works of Roland Boer [31]
  54. ^ ”Circular against Kriege”, Part 4, April–May 1846, in: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 35. [32]
  55. ^ October 31, 1847, in: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 312. [33]
  56. ^ The translation in the English version of Heroes of the Exile, part 5, is inaccurate [34]. The correct translation is: "Incidentally, [Heinrich] Heine discovered very soon that, although [Arnold] Ruge had no talent, he could nevertheless successfully bear the character mask, and so it came about that Friend Arnold gave Heine the idea for his Atta Troll." Compare the German original [35].
  57. ^ The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, first published in Die Revolution (New York), 1852, chapter 4. [36].
  58. ^ G.W.F. Hegel, The philosophy of right, § 344. Thanks to Andy Blunden for pointing this out.
  59. ^ The 18th Brumaire, Part 1. [37] For a commentary, see: Michel Chaouli, "Masking and Unmasking: The Ideological Fantasies of the Eighteenth Brumaire". In: Qui Parle, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1989, pp. 53-71; Bob Jessop, "The Political Scene and the Politics of Representation: Periodizing Class Struggle and the State in The Eighteenth Brumaire." Working Paper, Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, 2003. [38]
  60. ^ The academic interpretation of Marx’s text in the English-speaking world was for many years influenced by the anti-humanist Marxist Louis Althusser, who believed human beings are only the bearers (receptacles) of a structured totality of social relations – in conflict with Marx’s more subtle view, according to which people “make their own history”, including their social relations, although not under conditions which they choose themselves, but under given conditions (including social relations) transmitted by the past. The translator Ben Fowkes states that “The concept of an object (or person) as the receptacle, repository, bearer of some thing or tendency quite different from it appears repeatedly in Capital, and I have tried to translate it uniformly as ‘bearer’.” (Capital, Volume I, 1976 Penguin edition, p. 179). This interpretation by Fowkes owes much to the influence of Althusser, and causes many translation faults. The existing English translations of the passages on character masks are faulty, even where they refer to “masks”, because Marx intended specifically a character mask, and not a neutral mask, related to the representation of economic functions (or other functions) by a person. His idea is that functionaries not only hide part of themselves behind a mask, but also take on roles completely different from who they really are as persons. Michael Perelman comments: ""How are we to identify reality amidst the barrage of appearances that present themselves to us? People succumb to fetishistic ideas because of the nature of capitalist society. Thus, Marx rejected the biblical maxim that "man [necessarily] looketh on outward appearance" (I Samuel 16:7). (...) For example, Marx suggested, in anticipation of Jungian psychology, that agents in capitalist society adopt what he called "character masks" that determine their actual behavior. Unfortunately, the English translations obliterate this aspect of Marx's works..." (Perelman, Marx's crises theory: scarcity, labor and finance. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1987, p. 95).
  61. ^ See Tom Bottomore et al. (ed.), A dictionary of Marxist Thought, Basil Blackwell 1983 (rev. edition 1991). The entry on "fetishism", written by Norman Geras, does refer to "masks": "...the peculiar relationships of capitalism wear a kind of mask. This gives rise to illusions concerning the natural provenance of these powers. Yet the mask is no illusion. The appearances which distort the spontaneous perception of the capitalist order are real; they are objective social forms, simultaneously determined by and obscuring the underlying relations. This is how capitalism presents itself: in disguise." (p. 191).
  62. ^ See David Macey, The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory. Penguin Books, 2000. The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory does refer in passing to character masks, with reference to Dialectic of Enlightenment. See Fred Rush (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Critical Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 255.
  63. ^ James Russell, Marx-Engels Dictionary.Brighton: Harvester 1980.
  64. ^ Terrell Carver, A Marx Dictionary. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987.
  65. ^ Dieter Claessens/Karin Claessens, Gesellschaft. Lexikon der Grundbegriffe. Reinbek: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1992, p. 44. Compare also Wissenschaftslexikon [39].
  66. ^ Christoph Rülcker & Otthein Rammstedt, "Charaktermaske". In: Werner Fuchs-Heinritz, Daniela Klimke, Rüdiger Lautmann, Otthein Rammstedt, Urs Stäheli & Christoph Weischer, Lexikon zur Soziologie (4th edition). Wiesbaden: Vs Verlag, 2007, p. 111.
  67. ^ Haug, "Charaktermaske".
  68. ^ Wolfgang Fritz Haug, "Charaktermaske", p. 436-437. In the French translation of Capital, Volume I which Marx himself read and approved, the term "mask" (masque) is generally used rather than "character mask" ("masque de caractère"); the reason is not exactly clear. It may be that the term was not generally used at the time, or that the translator felt that it would not be clear to what exactly "caractère" would refer Cf. the MEGA II edition.
  69. ^ Münz notes (op. cit., p. 21) that in 1841, the German theatre critic Heinrich Theodor Rötscher explicitly defined "character mask" as a theatrical role acted out in such a way that it expresses all aspects of the given personality, his/her social station and background; successfully done, the audience would be able to recognize this personality on first impression. See: Heinrich Theodor Rötscher, Die Kunst der Dramatischen Darstellung. In ihrem organische Zusammenhang entwickelt. Berlin: Verlag von W. Thome, 1841, p. 355.
  70. ^ There is no entry for the term "character mask" in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is a specialist term in acting theory. "The discovery and playing of the correct mask is, then, the actor's fundamental task in approaching the style of a theatrical event. Whether the character is perceived of as "realistic" or is removed from a contemporary perspective by time or social environment, the task of coming to terms with it does not differ. In the theatre the one character is just as "real" as the other: both are a function of, and serve, the play's demands. The actor discovers the needs of the character mask, as determined by the circumstances of the event, in the text. The character's feelings are the actor's feelings, and the character's gestures are his gestures, in the sense that the actor is the material out of which these feelings and gestures are created. Thus, although an actor uses himself and plays from himself in creating a character, he does not simply project his own personality; he plays his character mask, but with absolute personal conviction. Just as no two actors are quite the same, so will no two masks ever be quite the same, although responding to the same demands." - Ozdemir Nutku, "Style in acting" (Ankara: Teyatro Keyfi, 2002) [40].
  71. ^ Jochen Hörisch, "Larven und Charaktermaske - zum elften Kapitel von Ahnung und Gegenwart", in: Jochen Hörisch,Die andere Goethezeit: Poetische Mobilmachung des Subjekts um 1800. München: Fink, 1998, p. 215.
  72. ^ The original quotes in German are also listed on the discussion page of the German-language Wikipedia article called "charaktermaske".de:Charaktermaske They were also cited in Rainer Paris, "Schwierigkeiten einer marxistischen Interaktionstheorie: Anmerkungen zu einem Programm der Vermittlung von Kritik der politischen Ökonomie und Interaktionstheorie", in: Hans-Georg Backhaus et al., Gesellschaft: Beiträge zur Marxschen Theorie, issue 7. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag 1976, p. 40 note 37.
  73. ^ Compare the translations for some of these quotes in Hans Ehrbar, Annotations to Marx's "Capital", May 2, 2010, Department of Economics, University of Utah.[41]
  74. ^
  75. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 170
  76. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 178-179 (emphases added). Cyril Smith shows in his essay "Hegel, Economics and Marx's Capital" (in: Brian Pearce & Geoff Pilling (ed.), History, Economic History and the Future of Marxism: essays in memory of Tom Kemp. London: Porcupine Books, 1996) that this passage refers directly back to philosophical statements by Hegel. [42]
  77. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 248-249.
  78. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 711.
  79. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 757.
  80. ^ Capital, Volume II, Penguin edition, p. 464.
  81. ^ In one place, David Fernbach translates the "mask" of ground rent as "guise", but this can be considered appropriate in the context. See Capital, Volume III, Penguin edition, p. 765. Thanks to Chris J. Arthur for correcting an error. Chapter 50 in Capital, Volume III is titled "The illusion created by competition" ("Der Schein der Konkurrenz"). The German word "Schein" has a variety of meanings in this context: appearance, pseudo-reality, sham, bogus, fictitious, dummy for the real thing, speciousness, phony, feigned, pretense. But it can also mean "the keeping up of an appearance", and in other contexts, "the shine".
  82. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 92. (translation corrected according to the German edition). Cf. Guglielmo Carchedi, “Two Models of class analysis - a review of E.O.Wright, Classes”, in: Capital & Class, No. 29, Summer 1986, pp. 195-215, reprinted in Erik Olin Wright, The Debate on Classes. London: Verso, 1990.
  83. ^ Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 92. See further Adam Schaff, Marxism and the human individual (introd. Erich Fromm, ed. by Robert S. Cohen). New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970.
  84. ^ Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin ed., p. 284. Ben Fowkes translated "Baumeister" as "architect" instead of "Master-builder", simply following the first English translation of Marx's book by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling. But Marx himself never used the term "architect" at all; this term first appeared in the original French translation, where the term "architecte" was used. Marx evidently did not object to this expression when he personally reviewed the French translation. Compare the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, section on Eastranged Labour, where Marx talks about bees, beavers, and ants.[43]
  85. ^ Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Neue Vorlesungen zur Einführung ins »Kapital«. Hamburg: Argument Verlag, 2006, p. 70. [44]
  86. ^ "Im Kapital hält Marx bereits im Vorwort fest, dass ihm bei der Analyse der kapitalistischen Produktionsverhältnisse die Personen nur als „Personifikation ökonomischer Kategorien“ gelten, später benutzt er dann den berühmt gewordenen Ausdruck von der „Charaktermaske“ - implizit enthalten diese (und eine ganze Reihe weiterer) Äußerungen eine fundamentale Kritik des „Subjekts“, ohne dass sie von Marx unter einen solchen plakativen Titel gestellt worden sind. Dieser Kritik des Subjekts folgt auch der Aufbau der Darstellung im Kapital: stets werden zunächst Formbestimmungen ökonomischer Kategorien analysiert und erst danach, auf dieser Grundlage das Handeln und zum Teil auch die Bewusstseinsformen der Personen." - Michael Heinrich, "Replik auf Martin Birkner 'Der schmale Grat'", in: grundrisse. Zeitschrift fur linke theorie und debatte, no. 1, 2002.[45] "We rarely find in Marx a definition of any problem, in the modern scholarly sense. Sociology and social psychology in most capitalist countries are obsessed with offering formal definitions which become ground for those endless discussions which appear currently in the textbooks of sociology and social psychology. In these controversies, commitments to a formally logical definition of a problem or question (for instance the definition of culture, democracy, ideology, social group, etc.) often results in mere defense and in innumerable opposing definitions." - Eduard Urbánek, "Roles, Masks and Characters: a Contribution to Marx's Idea of the Social Role", Social Research, Vol. 34, No. 3, 1967, pp. 529-563. Reprinted in Peter L. Berger (ed.), Marxism and Sociology: Views from Eastern Europe. New York: Meredith Corporation/Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1969. As cited in the latter, p. 170.
  87. ^ See Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, chapter 24, part 4. Compare Ilja Srubar, Phänomenologie und soziologische Theorie: Aufsätze zur pragmatischen Lebenswelttheorie. Wiesbaden: Vs Verlag, 2007, p. 301.
  88. ^ "The advance of capitalist production develops a working class which by education, tradition and habit looks upon the requirements of that mode of production as self-evident natural laws. The organization of the capitalist process of production, once it is fully developed, breaks down all resistance. The constant generation of a relative surplus population keeps the law of supply and demand of labour, and therefore wages, within narrow limits which correspond to capital's valorization requirements. The silent compulsion of economic relations sets the seal on the domination of the capitalist over the worker" (Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 899). See further on this topic, in an American context, e.g. Samuel Bowles (economist) and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America. Routledge, 1976 and research by Melvin Kohn. For an English study, see the classic work by Paul Willis, Learning to Labour: how working class kids get working class jobs. Aldershot: Gower, 1977.[46]
  89. ^ "The economic relationships of a given society come to the fore in the first instance in the form of interests". Marx/Engels Werke, Band 18. Berlin: Dietz, 1962, p. 274.
  90. ^ The term "poker face" was used by Klaus Ottomeyer in a commentary on Marx. See Ottomeyer, Ökonomische Zwänge und menschliche Beziehungen: Soziales Verhalten im Kapitalismus. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1977, p. 83.
  91. ^ Marx argues “It is… as absurd to regard buyer and seller, these bourgeois economic types, as eternal social forms of human individuality, as it is preposterous to weep over them as signifying the abolition of individuality. They are an essential expression of individuality arising at a particular stage of the social process of production. The antagonistic nature of bourgeois production is, moreover, expressed in the antithesis of buyer and seller in such a superficial and formal manner that this antithesis exists already in pre-bourgeois social formations, for it requires merely that the relations of individuals to one another should be those of commodity-owners.” (A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, chapter 2 [47]). Compare János Kornai, The socialist system: the political economy of communism. Princeton University Press, 1992, p. 251. The character masks of buyers and sellers are analyzed in Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Kritik der Warenästhetik: Gefolgt von Warenästhetik im High-Tech-Kapitalismus. Suhrkamp Verlag, neuausgabe 2009, pp. 89-98. English edition: Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Critique of commodity aesthetics. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1986, pp. 49f.[48] [49]
  92. ^ For a commentary, see e.g. Lawrence Krader, "Dialectic of Anthropology" in: Lawrence Krader, Dialectic of Civil Society. Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, Assen, 1976.
  93. ^ See further Michael Eldred, Critique of Competitive Freedom and the Bourgeois-Democratic State: Outline of a Form-analytic Extension of Marx's Uncompleted System. With an Appendix 'Value-form Analytic Reconstruction of the Capital-Analysis' by Michael Eldred, Marnie Hanlon, Lucia Kleiber and Mike Roth, Kurasje, Copenhagen, 1984. Amended, digitized edition 2010 with a new Preface, lxxiii + 466 pp.
  94. ^ Marx himself reflected on England in 1862: "To the continentals, originality or individuality are the features of the insular John Bull. By and large this image confuses the Englishman of the past with the Englishman of today. The rapid growth of classes, the exceptionally advanced division of labor and so-called 'public opinion' in the hands of the Brahmans of the press have, on the contrary, produced a monotony of character in which Shakespeare, for example, would not recognize his countrymen. The differences do not belong to individuals, but to their 'professions' and classes. Apart from their professions, in everyday life, one 'respectable' Englishman is so like another that even Leibniz would find it difficult to discover any difference, any differentia specifica among them. Banned from all political and social spheres, this highly esteemed individuality has found its last refuge in the whims and vagaries of private life, where it asserts itself from time to time sans gêne and with unconscious humour. And it is primarily in the law courts - these great public arenas where the whims of private life encounter one another - that Englishmen still appear as beings sui generis. Marx/Engels Werke (Berlin), Vol. 15, p. 464. As cited by Urbanek, p. 200. Russell Jacoby comments: "Already Marx used the term "character mask" to mean not that men and women were mechanically divided into role and authentic self, but that character was the precipitation of extra-individual social forces that penetrated the individual". Russell Jacoby, Social amnesia (1975). Transaction publishers, 1997, p. 70.
  95. ^ See e.g. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, chapter 48: “The Trinity Formula” (Penguin, 1981, p. 953).
  96. ^ Mark Neocleous discusses the legal aspects of the "personification" of capital in "Staging power: Marx, Hobbes and the personification of capital", in: Law and critique, Vol. 14, 2003, pp. 147-165. See further John T. Noonan, Persons and Masks of the Law - Cardozo, Holmes, Jefferson, and Wythe as Makers of the Masks. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976.
  97. ^ “The person… is made by a legal fiction, and becomes our second nature when there is nothing left to the individual but his formal character mask, when the exterior is so successfully internalized that there is nothing left but the shell, which becomes the content of the person. (...) The juridical person is not the human individual, but a part of that individual; again, it is a part played by the individual, the character mask. The outward character is internalized thereby; the result is nothing but that mask, the hollow husk, the external feature is the content." - Lawrence Krader, “Marxist anthropology: principles and contradictions.” International Review of Social History, Volume XX 1975, pp. 255-256.
  98. ^ Marx wrote in 1844: "What, then, constitutes the alienation of labor? First, the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor is therefore not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need; it is merely a means to satisfy needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that as soon as no physical or other compulsion exists, labor is shunned like the plague. External labor, labor in which man alienates himself, is a labor of self-sacrifice, of mortification. Lastly, the external character of labor for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own, but someone else’s, that it does not belong to him, that in it he belongs, not to himself, but to another. Just as in religion the spontaneous activity of the human imagination, of the human brain and the human heart, operates on the individual independently of him – that is, operates as an alien, divine or diabolical activity – so is the worker’s activity not his spontaneous activity. It belongs to another; it is the loss of his self." - Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, first manuscript, section "Estranged Labour" [50]. For a commentary, see e.g. Bertell Ollman, Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society. Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1976
  99. ^ See further e.g. Ernest Mandel, Delightful Murder: A social history of the crime story. Pluto Press, 1984. "An ancient manuscript by Aulus Gellius entitled Nodes atticae... contains the following line: "Treat your friends as if they were your future enemies." Thoroughly un-Christian, this sentence reveals part of the detective novel's time and space that, commensurate with the circumstances, has remained unchanged. Brecht, for good reasons a student of this type of literature, closely approximated the interchangeability of all people who have become faceless; and it is not always the bad guys who wear masks. The increasingly alienated world of masks spell good times for the detective pursuit as such, as well as for a micrology that smacks of criminalistic provenance. Therefore, even better literature deals more than ever with the process of unmasking." Ernst Bloch, "A philosophical view of the detective novel (1965)", in: Bloch, The utopian function of art and literature: selected essays. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988, p. 252-253.
  100. ^ "All conquests of freedom hitherto [...] have been based on restricted productive forces. The production which these productive forces could provide was insufficient for the whole of society and made development possible only if some persons satisfied their needs at the expense of others, and therefore some — the minority — obtained the monopoly of development, while others — the majority — owing to the constant struggle to satisfy their most essential needs, were for the time being (i.e. until the birth of new revolutionary productive forces) excluded from any development. Thus, society has hitherto always developed within the framework of a contradiction — in antiquity the contradiction between free men and slaves, in the Middle Ages that between nobility and serfs, in modern times that between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat." (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, ed. C.J. Arthur, 1970, p. 116, emphasis added).
  101. ^ *Sheila Fitzpatrick, Tear Off the Masks!: Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
  102. ^ The nearest Marx gets to such a picture is in his 1844 manuscripts: "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust, etc. If you want to enjoy art, you must be an artistically cultivated person; if you want to exercise influence over other people, you must be a person with a stimulating and encouraging effect on other people. Every one of your relations to man and to nature must be a specific expression, corresponding to the object of your will, of your real individual life. If you love without evoking love in return – that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent – a misfortune." - Karl Marx, "The Power of Money", in: Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 [51]).
  103. ^ Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 173, translation corrected, emphasis added. Richard Weihe claims that "The classless society for the first time brings demasking and liberation from the schematism of economic character masks." - Weihe, op. cit., p. 314.
  104. ^ The Dutch economist Dirk Bezemer >""No One Saw This Coming": Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models". (Munich Personal RePEc Archive. June 2009.  identified 12 reputable economists who publicly predicted the financial crisis of 2007–2010 on the basis of an economic analysis within an accurate time frame: Dean Baker (US), Wynne Godley (UK), Fred Harrison (UK), Michael Hudson (US), Eric Janszen (US), Steve Keen (Australia), Jakob Brøchner Madsen & Jens Kjaer Sørensen (Denmark), Kurt Richebächer (US), Nouriel Roubini (US), Peter Schiff (US), and Robert Shiller (US). Criticizing Hobsbawm, Perry Anderson claimed: "...among the effects of the 'social revolution' set in train from the sixties onwards were mutations in what Marx called the character-masks of capital itself. Never since the Gilded Age have financial buccaneers and industrial magnates stalked the earth with such giant strides, trampling over labour and swaggering through culture, from heights of power and wealth Gould or Morgan could scarcely have imagined." - Anderson, Spectrum: from right to left in the world of ideas. London: Verso, 2005, p. 306.
  105. ^ See, for example, Engels, "Modern literary life", Mitternachtzeitung für Leser, No. 51-54, March 1840, and No. 83-87, May 1840 [52]. Also "Marginalia to Texts of our Time", in: Rheinische Zeitung No. 145, May 25, 1842. Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 2.[53] In a satirical poem called The Insolently Threatened Yet Miraculously Rescued Bible. Or The Triumph of Faith (December 1842), Engels - who developed a lifelong antipathy to Christian religion -satirizes about Arnold Ruge, the editor of the Hallesche Jahrbucher, as follows: "Laugh, Prutz, oh, laugh! It’s very nearly Judgment Day And then the mask you wear, too, will be torn away." Engels wrote these pieces years before he met Marx for the first time, on 28 August 1844.[54] In The German Ideology (chapter 3, section C), Arnold Ruge is described as "the Dottore Graziano of German philosophy" who "imagined that he could continue as before to wave his clumsy arms about and display his pedantic-farcical mask".[55]
  106. ^ Friedrich Engels, Preface in Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin edition, p. 109.
  107. ^ According to David Fernbach, Capital, Volume III, Penguin edition, p. 109.
  108. ^ In one French translation of Engels's Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy, used by the Marxism Internet Archives, the term "masked character" is used in Part 4, even although it does not appear in the German original, in the English translation or in another French translation: "Mais alors que, dans toutes les périodes antérieures, la recherche de ces causes motrices de l'histoire était presque impossible, - du fait de l'enchevêtrement et du caractère masqué des rapports et de leurs effets, - notre époque a tellement simplifié ces enchaînements que l'énigme a pu être résolue. Depuis le triomphe de la grande industrie, c'est-à-dire au moins depuis les traités de paix de 1815, ce n'est plus un secret pour personne en Angleterre que toute la lutte politique y tournait autour des prétentions à la domination de deux classes : l'aristocratie foncière (landed aristocracy) et la bourgeoisie (middle class)."[56] For a recent polemical use of the concept of character masks, see: Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Sponti als Charaktermaske. Marxistische Streit- und Zeitschrift, issue 1, 1982.
  109. ^ Engels, Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany (1851), chapter 3, translation corrected according to the German original (the English translation deletes reference to “maske”).[57]
  110. ^ Engels, On the history of early Christianity (1894-95)
  111. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, all-too-human; a book for free spirits, Part II (translated by Paul V. Cohn) New York: Macmillan, 1913. [58]
  112. ^ "The Prussian State undoubtedly represented a disagreeable morsel for any human being to swallow, but for all that, it was not possible to make it palatable with caustic of mockery of the "Hohenzollerns by the Grace of God", of the three repeatedly appearing "character masks": the pietist, the non-commissioned officer and the buffoon, of Prussian history as "an unappetizing family chronicle", compared with the "diabolical epic" of Austrian history, and similar observations which at the utmost explain the wherefore, but leave the why of the wherefore completely in the dark". Franz Mehring, Karl Marx: The Story of his Life. London: Routledge 1936, p. 243. This comment referred back to a letter of Marx to Engels, 2 December 1856 [59]
  113. ^ Josef Karner [=pseud. of Karl Renner ], "Die Soziale Funktion der Rechts-Institute", in: Rudolf Hilferding and Max Adler (eds.), Marx-Studien: Blätter zur Theorie und Politik des wissenschaftlichen Sozialismus, Band 1. Vienna: Brand/Wiener Volksbuchhandlung, 1904, pp. 95, 98, 109, 119, 181 etc.
  114. ^ Brecht used masks in the following plays: The Measures Taken (1930), Man Equals Man (1931), The Seven Deadly Sins (ballet chanté) (1933, written with George Balanchine), Round Heads and Pointed Heads (1936), Life of Galileo (1938), The Good Person of Szechwan (1943), Antigone (1948), The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948), Mr Puntila and his Man Matti (1948), and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (written 1941, first produced 1958). Cited in Smith, op. cit., Appendix, pp. 190-193.
  115. ^ The modalities of distancing are explored in: Helmut Lethen, Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance in Weimar Germany. "Marx's theory taught Brecht how to differentiate between people and the social roles they are forced to play in the capitalist system. Again and again he tried to demonstrate how the social character mask (to use Marx's term) can be lifted from the man." - Robert Boyers, The Legacy of the German refugee intellectuals. Schocken Books, 1972, p. 251.
  116. ^ See Karl Renner, The institutions of private law and their functions. Transaction Publishers, 2010. Franz Leopold Neumann, The democratic and the authoritarian state: Essays in political and legal theory. Free Press, 1957, pp. 61-64.
  117. ^ Wilhelm Reich, Character Analysis. New York: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 1949. Cf. Helmut Dahmer, Libido und Gesellschaft, 2nd edition. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982, p. 318.
  118. ^ György Lukács, History and class consciousness. London: Merlin, 1971, p. 81, note 11. "Ökonomische Charactermaske" was translated as "economic persona". This is explicitly noted by Patrick Eiden-Offe, "Typing Class: Classification and redemption in Lukács's political and literary theory." In: Timothy Bewes and Timothy Hall, Georg Lukács: the fundamental dissonance of existence: aesthetics, politics, literature. London: Continuum, 2011, p. 71.
  119. ^ Lukács, "Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat", section II, in History and class consciousness. In the English edition, "mere character masks" ("bloße Charaktermaske") was translated as "nothing but a puppet".
  120. ^ For example, in Capital, Volume II Marx distinguishes clearly between "the capitalist simply as the personification of capital" and "as capitalist consumer and man of the world" (Penguin ed., p. 550). See also: Barbara Roos and J.P. Roos, "The upper-class way of life: an alternative for what?". United Nations University Working Paper HSDRGPID-68/UNUP-452, 1983.[60] Cf. Helmut Dahmer, Libido und Gesellschaft, 2nd edition. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982, p. 319.
  121. ^ Haug, "Charaktermaske", p. 446-447. Haug borrows this insight about Lukács from Matzner, who argues that "According to Marx, character masks involve both capitalists and proletarians in their alienated existence". See: Jutta Matzner, "Der Begriff der Charaktermaske bei Karl Marx". In: Soziale Welt. Zeitschrift für sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung und Praxis, Vol. 15, issue 2, 1964, p. 134. The article by Münz and the one by Matzner (largely a criticism of Ralf Dahrendorf) remain the most substantive scholarly articles on Marx's concept of character masks, although recently Christoph Henning provided a new interesting discussion. See: Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx", in: Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2009. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010.
  122. ^ See e.g. Paul Connerton, The tragedy of enlightenment: an essay on the Frankfurt School. Cambridge University Press, 1980, chapter 3.
  123. ^ Casimir R. Bukala, "Sartre's Phenomenology Of The Mask." In: Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, Vol. 7, October 1976, pp. 198-203. William Keith Tims, Masks and Sartre's Imaginary as cited above.
  124. ^ Rolf Tiedemann (ed.), History and Freedom: lectures 1964-1965 by Theodor W. Adorno. (Polity Press, 2006), p. 282, note 1. In his eighth lecture on 3 december 1964, on the topic of psychology, Adorno clarified that "By character masks I mean that, while we imagine that we act as ourselves, in reality we act to a great extent as the agents of our own functions." Ibid., p. 69.
  125. ^ Phil Slater, Origin and significance of the Frankfurt school. A Marxist Perspective. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1977, p. 28.
  126. ^ Compare the 8th of Marx's famous 1845 Theses on Feuerbach: "All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice." [61]
  127. ^ "The object of Adorno's critique is what he sees as the twin reductions of sociologism and psychologism. Sociologism reduces society to a surface phenomenon by failing to penetrate society's reign over the psychic structure of individuals; psychologism reduces social concepts and conditions to individual and psychological ones... both flatten out the society/individual antagonism, the former in favour of an abstract notion of 'society', the latter in favour of an abstract notion of the 'individual'." - Paul Connerton, The tragedy of enlightenment. Cambridge University Press, 1980, p. 53.
  128. ^ See for example the works of Herbert Marcuse.
  129. ^ Michel Foucault, The history of sexuality, Vol. 1, Vintage, p. 70. Andrew Parker claimed that "Western Marxism's constitutive dependence on the category of production derives in part from an antitheatricalism, an aversion to certain forms of parody that prevents sexuality from attaining the political significance that class has long monopolized." Social Text (Duke Univ. Press), No. 29, 1991, p. 28. Jens Braun discusses the character masks in Stanley Kubrick's film Eyes Wide Shut. See: Jens O. Braun, Maskengesellschaft und die Masken in «Eyes Wide Shut». Siegen: Universität Siegen, c. 2004. [62]
  130. ^ See e.g. Jeremy Rifkin, The Age Of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life is a Paid-For Experience. Putnam Publishing Group, 2000
  131. ^ In William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, the actors all abandon their masks at the end of the play. Slavoj Žižek comments on comedy: "Comedy is thus the very opposite of shame: shame endeavors to maintain the veil, while comedy relies on the gesture of unveiling. More closely, the comic effect proper occurs when, after the act of unveiling, one confronts the ridicule and the nullity of the unveiled content—in contrast to encountering behind the veil the terrifying Thing too traumatic for our gaze. Which is why the ultimate comical effect occurs when, after removing the mask, we confront exactly the same face as that of the mask. A supreme case of such a comedy occurred in December 2001 in Buenos Aires, when Argentinians took to the streets to protest against the current government, and especially against Domingo Cavallo, the Minister of Economy. When the crowd gathered around Cavallo’s building, threatening to storm it, he escaped wearing a mask of himself (sold in disguise shops so that people could mock him by wearing his mask)." - Žižek, "The Christian-Hegelian Comedy", in: Cabinet, issue 17, Spring 2005 [63]
  132. ^ Hegel argues in his The Phenomenology of Spirit (the section on "the spiritual work of art") that in tragedy, the hero falls apart into his mask, while in a comedy, the hero lets his mask fall. [64] For a discussion, see Robert Bernasconi, "Persons and masks: The phenomenology of the spirit and its laws", in: Drucilla Cornell et al. (eds.), Hegel and Legal Theory. New York: Routledge, 1991, pp 78-94.
  133. ^ See e.g. the writings of Richard Sennett. This has nothing to do with “Antonio Gramsci’s general concept of ideological hegemony”, but rather with what certain battles for ideological hegemony are actually about.
  134. ^ Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik. In: Gesammelte Schriften 6, Frankfurt: 1997. Part 3, section “law and fairness”, p. 306. Adorno acknowledges that individuals are not "mere character masks, agents of value" (loc. cit.).
  135. ^ This problem is discussed more in the German literature. See e.g. Ute Grabowski, Persönlichkeitsentwicklung im Beruf: das Problem des Kompromisses zwischen Persönlichkeit und Charaktermaske. Dissertation Berufspädagogik. Universität Flensburg, 2004; Chris Hartmann, Was ist Interaktion und wie "frei" interagieren wir? Über die Begriffe "Charaktermaske" und "Sozialcharakter". Seminararbeit Interaktion, Rolle und Persönlichkeit WS 2001/02, Universität Osnabrück, 2002, 51 pp. (available as e-book); Hans-Ernst Schiller, Das Individuum im Widerspruch. Zur Theoriegeschichte des modernen individualismus. Berlin: Frank & Timme GmbH, 2006; Franz Schandl, Maske und Charakter: Sprengversuche am bürgerlichen Subjekt. Krisis (Münster) No. 31, 2007, pp.124-172; Ernst Lohoff, "Die Anatomie der Charaktermaske: Kritische Anmerkungen zu Franz Schandls Aufsatz 'Maske und Charakter'", Krisis, No. 32, pp. 140-158; Martin Scheuringer, Ich und meine Charaktermaske. Es soll getrennt sein, was nicht in eins geht. Streifzüge (Vienna), No. 37, July 2006, pp.12-14; Volker Schürmann, "Das gespenstische Tun von Charaktermasken". In: Kurt Röttgers, & Monika Schmitz-Emans (eds.), Masken. Essen: Die Blaue Eule, 2009.[65]; Oskar Negt & Alexander Kluge, Public sphere and experience: toward an analysis of the bourgeois and proletarian public sphere. University of Minnesota Press, 1993; Klaus Ottomeyer, Soziales Verhalten und Ökonomie im Kapitalismus, Vorüberlegungen zur systematischen Vermittlung von Interaktionstheorie und Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie. 2nd ed. Giessen: Focus-Verlag, 1976; Klaus Ottomeyer, Ökonomische Zwänge und menschliche Beziehungen: Soziales Verhalten im Kapitalismus. Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2003; Rainer Paris, "Schwierigkeiten einer marxistischen Interaktionstheorie: Anmerkungen zu einem Programm der Vermittlung von Kritik der politischen Ökonomie und Interaktionstheorie", in: Gesellschaft: Beiträge zur Marxschen Theorie, issue 7, 1976, pp. 11-44; Klaus Ottomeyer, "Antikritische bemerkungen zur Rainer Paris." In: Hans-Georg Backhaus et. al., Gesellschaft. Beiträge zur Marxschen Theorie 8/9. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1976, pp. 335-349; Michael Schomers, "Interaktion und Handlungsziel. Kritik der theoretischen Grundkonzeption von Klaus Ottomeyer." In: Klaus Holzkamp (ed.), Forum Kritische Psychologie (Berlin) 6, AS 49, 1980 Berlin, pp. 101-155. Klaus Ottomeyer, "Marxistische Psychologie gegen Dogma und Eklektizismus. Antworten an Michael Schomers und die Kritische Psychologie." In: Klaus Holzkamp (ed.), Forum Kritische Psychologie (Berlin) 7, AS 59, 1980, pp. 170-207. Classic sociological works in English which touch on this issue are: Hans Heinrich Gerth and C. Wright Mills, Character and social structure: the psychology of social institutions. New York: Harcourt, 1953 (reprint 2010); Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday, 1959; (Presentation of Self in Everyday Life); *Anselm L. Strauss, Mirrors and masks: the search for identity (orig. 1959). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2002. See also: Bradbury, M., Heading, B. & Hollis, M. “The Man and the Mask: A Discussion of Role Theory”, in: J. A. Jackson (ed.), Role. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp. 41-64.
  136. ^ See e.g. the writings of Erich Fromm.
  137. ^ Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, chapter 28, Penguin edition, p. 899.
  138. ^ Robert Jay Lifton, Protean Self: Human Resilience In An Age Of Fragmentation. Basic Books, 1995.
  139. ^ The reactionary nature of the "culture of fear" which scares people into obedience, instead of encouraging them to do the best they can within their limitations, is an important theme in the writings of the sociologist Frank Furedi.
  140. ^ See Andy Blunden, "Hegel and the master-servant dialectic", April 2007 [66].
  141. ^ For the legal dispute, see e.g. Oliver Gerstenberg, "Germany: Freedom of conscience in public schools", in: International Journal of Constitutional Law Vol. 3, No. 1, 2005, pp. 94-106. Gerstenberg refers specifically to the concept of a "character mask". Olivier Besancenot stated that the French New Anticapitalist Party believes "Religious faith is a private matter that should in no way be an obstacle to the NPA’s fight for its fundamental principles of secularism, feminism and anti-capitalism.” - Tony Todd, "Far-left party reveals ‘veiled’ female candidate", France 24 international news, 12 February 2010 [67].
  142. ^ Iring Fetscher stated that "one cannot kill a character mask, but only a living person in his many-sided complexity... The terrorist who intends to kill a character mask outdoes with his crime the inhumanity of a system that he allegedly fights and wants to change." - Fetscher, Terrorismus und Reaktion. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1981, p. 41. Cited in Jeremy Varon, Bringing the war home. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, p. 239. See further: Fetscher, "Theses on terrorism today". Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Volume 3, Issue 3 & 4 1980, pp. 215-217; Fetscher, "Ideologien der Terroristen in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland", in: Iring Fetscher, Guenther Rohrmoser et al. Ideologien und strategien. Analysen zum Terrorismus, Vol. 1. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, 1981; and Fetscher, "Masken der Politik - Politik der Maske". In: Klaus Hoffmann, Uwe Krieger, Hans-Wolfgang Nickel (eds.) Masken - eine Bestandsaufnahme. Schibri Verlag, 2004.
  143. ^ A subsidiary motive may have been, that if Marx had made reference to specific individuals as exploiters and oppressors, he might quickly have become embroiled in court cases. Necessarily he had to "watch his language".
  144. ^ See Capital, Volume I, chapter 25 and 26.
  145. ^ See e.g. Michael Lebowitz, Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of the Working Class, 2nd edition. Palgrave Macmillan, 2003 and Marcel van der Linden & Karl Heinz Roth (eds.), Über Marx hinaus: Arbeitsgeschichte und Arbeitsbegriff in der Konfrontation mit den globalen Arbeitsverhältnissen des 21. Jahrhunderts. Hamburg: Assoziation A, 2009.
  146. ^ Werner Sombart, Sozialismus und soziale Bewegung im 19. Jahrhundert. Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1896, p. 72. As cited by Reiner Grundmann and Nico Stehr, "Why Is Werner Sombart Not Part of the Core of Classical Sociology?", in: Journal of Classical Sociology, Vol. 1 no. 2 July 2001, p. 261.[68]
  147. ^ Sheila Fitzpatrick, Tear Off the Masks!: Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005, p. 13.
  148. ^ Fitzpatrick, p. 13.
  149. ^ Fitzpatrick, p. 65 note.
  150. ^ Fitzpatrick, p. 14.
  151. ^ Michael Schneider, Neurosis and civilization: a Marxist/Freudian synthesis. New York: The Seabury Press, 1975, p. 33. Schneider’s theory was criticized by Klaus Ottomeyer in Anthropologieproblem und Marxistische Handlungstheorie. Giessen: Focus-Verlag, 1976, pp. 121-173.
  152. ^ Ute Grabowski, Berufliche Bildung und Persönlichkeitsentwicklung. Deutsche Universitatsverlag/GWV Fachverlage GmbH, 2007, p. 87. Similarly the German sociologist Hans Joas argued that “The expression character mask... is only an incidental metaphor, which has been over-worked by interpretations which attribute to it a systematic position in Marx’s thought." - Hans Joas, Die gegenwärtige Lage der soziologischen Rollentheorie. Frankfurt: Athenäum, 1973, p. 98.
  153. ^ “Wir waren in den Durststreik treten”, Der Spiegel, January 1975.[69] "The Rote Armee Fraktion coined the term Charaktermaske and applied it to one of their victims. Interestingly, the victim did not wear a Charaktermaske, he was one." - Richard W. Leeman, The rhetoric of terrorism and counterterrorism. Greenwood Press, 1991, p. 49. For more information, see: Joachim Bruhn, "'Charaktermasken abschminken': Abstrakte Herrschaft, bewaffneter Kampf, konkrete Leichen." In: Joachim Bruhn, Jan Gerber (Hg.), Rote Armee Fiktion. Freiburg: ça ira Verlag, 2007.
  154. ^ This and some of the other issues are discussed by Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx", in: Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2009. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010.
  155. ^ *See Character Mapping (resource on Scribd). Daniel E. Anderson claims that, with his classical symbolic status as the Greek god of the masks, it was part of the very essence of Dionysos to be masked and remain so; without masks, Dyonysos could not exist. Anderson, The Masks of Dionysos: A commentary on Plato's symposium. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993, p. 8.
  156. ^ See e.g. novels by Emile Zola, Money (L'Argent). New York: Mondial, 2007 and William Gaddis, J R. Harmondsworth: Penguin Classics, 1993. The power of metaphors in human thinking is dealt with in various books by George Lakoff. One Dutch scientific article exploring among other things the persuasive effect of the metaphor of "unmasking" is: Jan Bosman and Louk Hagendoorn, "Effects of literal and metaphorical persuasive messages", in: Metaphor and symbolic activity, Vol. 6 No. 4, November 2009, pp. 271-292.
  157. ^ Varon states: "...for Marx, the notion of a character mask is an analytic, not an existential construct. It describes people only with reference to their socio-economic roles, not in their totality." Jeremy Varon, Bringing the war home. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, p. 239.
  158. ^ See e.g. Erich Fromm, "Die Determiniertheit der psychischen Struktur durch die Gesellschaft". In: Erich Fromm, Die Gesellschaft als Gegenstand der Psychoanalyse. Frühe Schriften zur Analytischen Sozialpsychologie. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1993, pp. 159-219.
  159. ^ See further: Mary Anne Mitchell, The development of the mask as a critical tool for an examination of character and performer action. Phd dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1985.
  160. ^ See e.g. *Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (transl. Charles Lam Markmann) New York, Grove Press, 1967 reprint. A recent critique of the dehumanisation of Muslims and Arabs in American propaganda is Hamid Dabashi, Brown Skin, White Masks. Pluto Press, 2011.
  161. ^ See e.g. Nina Lykke, Feminist Studies: A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology and Writing. Routledge, 2010, p. 93. Reference is made to the "Marxian concept of character masks". See also Claudia Benthien and Inge Stephan (eds.), Männlichkeit als Maskerade. Kulturelle Inszenierungen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Böhlau Verlag, Köln 2003. In this work, masculinity is viewed as a character mask.
  162. ^ Jean L. Cohen, Class and civil society: the limits of Marxian critical theory. Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1982 p. 156.
  163. ^ Some Marxist writers suggest several "levels of abstraction" in defining character masks. See e.g. Geert Reuten & Michael Williams, Value-form and the State. The Tendencies of Accumulation and the Determination of Economic Policy in Capitalist Society. London: Routledge, 1989. "The bourgeois subject is then the economic character mask with abstract free will and the abstract right to existence. However, bourgeois subjects by themselves, as the bearers of abstract economic relations and free will cannot make concretely actual the rights to existence and property - just because their free will is abstract, that is, contradicted by their structural economic conditions of existence in competitive society. (...) The reproduction of labour power entails the reproduction of subjects which cannot be guaranteed within the abstract logic of competitive society" (p. 170).
  164. ^ Writing to Ludwig Kugelmann about the reception of Capital, Volume I by vulgar economists, Marx complained about "the depth of degradation reached by these priests of the bourgeoisie". Marx claimed "while workers and even manufacturers and merchants have understood my book and made sense of it, these ‘learned scribes’ (!) complain that I make excessive demands on their comprehension". Letter of Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 11 July 1868. Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 43, p. 67.[70]
  165. ^ Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, p. 37.
  166. ^ Carl Gustav Jung, Two essays on analytical psychology. Princeton, N.J : Princeton University Press, 2nd ed. 1977, p. 157.
  167. ^ "Savvy executives know the part, act the part and look the part. That's because they exude "executive presence," a broad term used to describe the aura of leadership." - Joann S. Lublin, "How to look and act like a leader", Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2011.
  168. ^ "…there arises the need for a special class of functionaries charged with controlling and directing collective labour… This is the management cadre, a salaried but educated stratum of functionaries with supervisory responsibilities. (…) They must functionally restore a degree of technical and ideological cohesion to the fragmented substratum of capital accumulation. (…) The cadres effectively integrate the various moments of alienation into an integral world of rules and norms, so that people subject to the dislocating effects of commodification and exploitation are surrounded by functionaries and organisations 'taking care' of their drives, aspirations, and fears. (…) The Ehrenreichs write that the professional-managerial class exists "only by virtue of the expropriation of the skills and the culture once indigenous to the working class." (…) The 'long march through the institutions', helped along by the popularisation of positivist and anti-voluntarist versions of Marxism such as Althusser’s, thus channelled the radicalised post-war generation into the expanding ranks of the managerial-technocratic cadre stratum.” – Kees van der Pijl, "May 1968 and the alternative globalisation movement – cadre class formation and the transition to socialism". In: Angelika Ebbinghaus et al. (ed.), 1968: a view of the protest movements 40 years after, from a global perspective. 43rd International Conference of Labour and Social History 2008. Vienna: Akademische Verlagsanstalt, 2009, pp. 192, 193, 194.
  169. ^ Miriam Glucksmann, Structuralist analysis in contemporary social thought. A comparison of Claude Levi-Strauss and Louis Althusser. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974, p. 112-113.
  170. ^ Louis Althusser, "Freud and Lacan" (1964), in: Althusser, Lenin and philosophy and other essays. London: NLB, 1971.[71]
  171. ^ Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar, Reading Capital. London: New Left Books, 1970. According to this view, in the capitalist system human beings are "forced to be its actors, caught by the constraints of a script and parts whose authors they cannot be, since it is in essence an authorless theatre." (p. 193). André Glucksmann mocked this idea in his article "A Ventriloquist Structuralism." (In: New Left Review, no. 72, March–April 1972, pp. 68-92). Anthony Giddens repeated the idea in his New Rules of Sociological Method (Hutchinson: London, 1976 p. 16), but as criticism of the structural functionalism of Talcott Parsons: "the actors only perform according to scripts which have already been written out for them". Some of Althusser's British followers proclaimed that "Ultimately, all capitalists and all workers are ever-always identical, bearers of the same "character masks". How they function as bearers depends upon the conditions imposed by movements in the totality itself" (Anthony Cutler, Barry Hindess, Paul Hirst and Athar Hussain, Marx's Capital and Capitalism Today, Vol. II, p. 242). Althusser continues to be regarded as "authorative" about Marx by Leftists in France, mainly because of his links with the French Communist Party (PCF), a party which has real, historical roots in the French working class - the PCF had circa 260,000 members in the 1960s. According to Michael Perelman, “the capitalist is, in Marx’s wonderful expression, merely the character mask of capital”. Perelman, “Articulation from feudalism to neoliberalism”, in: Africanus: Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 34 No. 2, 2007, p. 36. [72]
  172. ^ Marx and Engels insisted that "'History' does nothing... It is people, real, living people who do all that... 'history' is not, as it were, a person apart, using people as a means to achieve its own aims; history is nothing but the activity of people pursuing their aims" - The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and Company (1844), chapter 6. Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 4. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1975 (emphasis added).
  173. ^ Anthony Giddens, A contemporary critique of historical materialism: power, property and the state. Berkeley: University of california Press, 1981, p. 18.
  174. ^ In 1979, when Althusserian Marxism had reached its maximum academic influence, David Selbourne criticized "the metaphysical idealism of Marxist structuralism; the turning of the dialectic into an object of philosophical contemplation as by [Louis] Althusser and [Lucien] Goldmann, and the reduction of Marxism itself to a purely epistemological problem; or the psychologism of Lacanian linguistic analysis, (falsely) presented as a Marxist aesthetics". He explained: "The obsessive and hermetic preoccupation of western Marxism with 'problems of method' is also deeply revealing of the role of the 'Marxist' intelligentsia (as of any other) in the division of labour. It turns out to be not a concern with the prerequisites of a sound political, ideological or artistic practice, but a narrow and obscure scholasticism more familiar to students of the classical rhetoricians or the Church Fathers: vanquished by the empiricism of the scientific and industrial revolutions, but restored to intellectual life sometimes by a re-Hegelianized and sometimes by a neo-Kautskyan Marxism. The illusion of intellectual strength is grounded only in a sameness of idiom, which creates in turn an illusion of common purpose, but — because abstract and contemplative — without common work to a common end. Each, isolated with his own thoughts, increasingly alienated from experience and practice, bombards others who never truly answer, all speaking a repetitious and rootless language which has never been heard in real life. This illusion of strength has its correlative, to which I have already referred and to which I will return: a pig-headed underestimation, and even loss of recognition, of the superior strength of the bourgeois empiricist mode and its rootedness in working-class experience; a reduction of empiricism to 'mere impressionism', and a risible misjudgement of the balance of intellectual forces...". Selbourne, "Two essays on method", Critique: Journal of Socialist Theory , Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 77-78. Althusserian theoreticism was ridiculed by the historian E.P. Thompson in The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays. London: Merlin Press, 1978, but defended by Perry Anderson in his 1980 book Arguments within English Marxism.
  175. ^ See Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vols. 1 and 2. London: Verso, 1991.
  176. ^ See e.g. György Konrád and Iván Szelényi The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power. Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, 1979. Similar theories of a new class were proposed by Miklós Haraszti (Hungary), Milovan Đilas and Svetozar Stojanović (Yugoslavia), Jacek Kuroń and Karol Modzelewski (Poland). For a range of different theories, see Marcel van der Linden, Western Marxism and the Soviet Union. A survey of critical theories and debates since 1917. Haymarket books, 2007.
  177. ^ "Every profound spirit needs a mask: even more, around every profound spirit a mask is growing continually, owing to the constantly false, namely shallow , interpretation of every word, every step, every sign of life he gives." (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. New York: Random House, 1989, p. 51). This insight could be applied to Marx and Marxists. In his trenchant critique of Marxism, called The Imaginary Institution of Society (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1998), Cornelius Castoriadis did not go quite so far as to describe Marxism as a "character mask", presumably because then he would repudiate his own history. But more recently, Slavoj Žižek, in his afterword to Lukács' Tailism and the Dialectic (2002), fashionably criticizes the Frankfurt School for its tradition of "almost total absence of theoretical confrontation with Stalinism." The Frankfurt School, Žižek suggested, had maintained "the official mask of its ‘radical' leftist critique" and downplayed its affinity with liberal bourgeois democracy, as that would have deprived the critical theorists of "their ‘radical' aura." See: Žižek, "Georg Lukács as the Philosopher of Leninism", in: György Lukács, A Defence of History and Class Consciousness: Tailism and the Dialectic. New York: Verso, 2002, pp. 157-158. Herbert Marcuse and Friedrich Pollock however both wrote critical analyses of the Soviet Union, as recognized by Marcel van der Linden, Western Marxism, cited above. Almost a hundred years ago, Lenin had referred to "liberals that wear the mask of Marxism", in What is to be done? Burning questions of our movement (1902), section 3D.[73]
  178. ^ See e.g. Richard Sennett and Jonathan Cobb, The Hidden Injuries of Class. W. W. Norton & Company, 1993 and Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Holt Paperbacks, 2008; John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me: the definitive Griffin estate edition, corrected from original manuscripts. Wings Press, 2004.
  179. ^ Jon Elster, Making sense of Marx. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 13.
  180. ^ Jürgen Ritser, “Totality, theory and historical analysis, remarks on critical sociology and empirical research”. In: Iring Fetscher et. al., Social classes, action and historical materialism. Poznań studies in the philosophy of the sciences and the humanities, Vol. 6. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1982, p. 332.
  181. ^ *Christian Fuchs, Wolfgang Hofkirchner and Bert Klauninger, Vienna University of Technology INTAS Project "Human Strategies in Complexity” Paper, No. 8, delivered at the Congress “Problems of Individual Emergence”, Amsterdam, April, 16th-20th 2001.
  182. ^ See e.g. Perry Anderson, Arguments within English Marxism. Random House Inc., 1980. The sociological debate about structure and agency is reviewed by George Ritzer in Modern sociological theory. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
  183. ^ See: "A biological understanding of human nature: a talk with Steve Pinker", 9 September 2002. [74]
  184. ^ Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981, p. 444-445. Marx noted that in Roman times, the slave was described as the "speaking implement", the working animal as the "semi-mute implement" and the plough as the "mute implement" - Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 303 note. "The term nigger… implies part-animal status." - Kenneth Neill Cameron, Marxism, the science of society: an introduction. South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 1985. p. 141. Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), one of the first black poets to gain national recognition, famously wrote the poem "We wear the mask".[75]
  185. ^ See e.g. more recent research by Samuel Bowles[76] and Robert Boyd [77]
  186. ^ See further e.g. Susan P. Briggs and Scott Copeland, "Accountants - 'know thyself'". In: International Journal of Critical Accounting, Vol. 1 No. 4, 2009.
  187. ^ In the Ohio gubernatorial election, 2010, John Kasich hired an actor to star in a 30-second commercial that blamed Gov. Ted Strickland for Ohio losing 400,000 jobs since the Democrat governor took office. Made up as a working man with a burly build, plaid flannel shirt and white hard hat, the actor says contemptuously, “Re-elect Ted Strickland? Are you kidding me?”. Kasich won the election. See: Laura Bischoff, "Kasich hires actor to play worker in ad", Dayton Daily News, 7 October 2010. [78]
  188. ^ He Nian, director of the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center, said that Marx's Das Kapital was performed in 2010 as a musical at the Shanghai Majestic Theater. Zhang Xiang (ed.), "Das Kapital relaunched as musical manifesto for capital-obsessed China", Xinhua News (Shanghai), 24 August 2010.[79]"Japanese writer, translator, and civil servant Sakamoto Masaru (阪本勝) wrote a mammoth stage adaptation of Marx’s masterpiece (戯曲資本論, 1931) that was translated into Chinese by Fei Mingjun and published in 1949 as A Dramatic Capital (戏剧资本论). Sergei Eisenstein had also planned to make a film version of Capital on his return to the USSR in 1932, but this project never reached a conclusion." - "Das Kapital the musical!", Socialist Unity blog (London), 25 August 2010.[80]
  189. ^ See further Georg Lohman, Indifferenz und Gesellschaft: Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Marx. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1991; for more horrible examples of indifference, see Norman Geras, The contract of mutual indifference: political philosophy after the holocaust. Verso, 1998.
  190. ^ Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media", Guardian (London), 17 march 2011 [81].
  191. ^ Pauline Marie Rosenau, Post-modernism and the social sciences: insights, inroads, and intrusions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992.
  192. ^ Amalia Rosenblum, "Goodbye to privacy". Ha'aretz, 11 November 2010.[82]
  193. ^ " the postwar shift towards a less constrained and judgemental society — ”character-talk” in Stefan Collini’s phrase — dropped out of public discourse, except when considering someone’s suitability for high office." - Richard Reeves, "A question of character", in: Prospect, issue 149, 31 August 2008.[83] See further Bernard Rosen, Masks and Mirrors: Generation X and the Chameleon Personality. Preager, 2001.
  194. ^ See further e.g. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge, mass.: MIT Press, 1991.
  195. ^ See e.g. George Liodakis, Totalitarian Capitalism and Beyond. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010.
  196. ^ The most recent world controversy concerns the release of masses of "leaked" confidential government information by wikileaks, effectively lifting the mask off government activities. The severe response to the releases is described e.g. in the article on Julian Assange
  197. ^ In June 2011, fans of Eguchi Aimi, from the Japanese girl-idol popgroup AKB48, discovered that she did not actually exist; she was a purely digital image created on an internet video. - Danielle Demetriou, "How fake popstar Aimi Eguchi was brought to life", The Telegraph, 24 June 2011. [84]
  198. ^ There is nowadays a Cybersociology Magazine discussing the sociological aspects of a digital world.[85]. The University of Bedfordshire has staged a conference programme titled "Under the Mask" which explores the masks of gaming culture, including video games.[86]
  199. ^ See on this issue e.g. Wolfgang Sofsky, Privacy: a manifesto. Princeton University Press, 2008.
  200. ^ See e.g. Michael Perelman, Steal This Idea: Intellectual Property Rights and the Corporate Confiscation of Creativity. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
  201. ^ John Holloway (sociologist) theorizes: "Collectivities are formed on the basis of identity, on the basis of being, rather than on the movement of doing. This is the process of classification. Doing may well be part of the process of classification, but it is a dead doing, doing that is contained within an identity, within a role or character-mask: classification of doctors as a group, say, is based not on the weaving together of their doing, but on their definition as a certain type of doer, on the imposition of a character-mask as doctor." - Change the world without taking power: The Meaning of Revolution Today (Pluto Press, 2002), chapter 4, part 7.[87]
  202. ^ Theodor W. Adorno, "The culture industry revisited", in: Brian O'Connor (ed.), The Adorno Reader, Oxford: Blackwell, 2000, p. 238. As cited by Rowan G. Tepper, "Adorno’s Pessimism: Language and A Consideration of Two Critiques of Adorno’s Social Theory".[88] Adorno continued to make similar statements even after May 1968 in France.
  203. ^ Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope (3 vols.). Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1995.
  204. ^ Fritjof Bönold states: “Marx selber hatte den widersprüchlichen Begriff Charaktermaske verwendet. Er betont einerseits die Einprägung (Charakter) der gesellschaftlichen Verhältnisse in die Person, andererseits die Möglichkeit der Demaskierung.”["Marx himself used the contradictory term character mask. He stressed on the one hand the imprinting (character) of social relations in the person, yet on the other hand the possibility of unmasking."] – Bönold, “Zur Kritik der Geschlechtsidentitätstheorie”, p. 14 note 11.[89] See further his essay "Die (un)abgeschlossene Debatte um Gleichheit oder/ und Differenz in der pädagogischen Frauenforschung". In: Zeitschrift für Frauenforschung & Geschlechterstudien, Vol. 22, issue 1, 2004, pp. 18-30.
  205. ^ ’’Capital, Volume I’’, Penguin, p. 90.
  206. ^ "Our concern is... to discover and present the concrete forms which grow out of the process of capital's movement considered as a whole... The configurations of capital, as developed in this volume, thus approach step by step the form in which they appear on the surface of society, in the action of different capitals on one another, i.e. in competition, and in the everyday consciousness of the agents of production themselves." - Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed., chapter 1, p. 117.
  207. ^ Karl Marx, "Preface to the French edition" (1872) in Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 104.
  208. ^ "I welcome every opinion based on scientific criticism. As to the prejudices of so-called public opinion, to which I have never made concessions, now, as ever, my maxim is that of the great Florentine [i.e. Dante Alighieri]: Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti. [Go on your way, and let the people talk]." - Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 93.
  209. ^ "Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. If they were to knock this notion out of their heads, say by stating it to be a superstition, a religious concept, they would be sublimely proof against any danger from water. His whole life long he fought against the illusion of gravity, of whose harmful results all statistics brought him new and manifold evidence." - Marx & Engels, Preface to The German Ideology (1846).
  210. ^ Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin, p. 705.
  211. ^ For more about these issues, see the journal Mute: culture and politics after the net[90].
  212. ^ In a 1970 interview with Jann Wenner, John Lennon claimed that Mick Jagger had told him that the theme of "peace" currently made money, but Lennon claimed that he hadn't really made a lot of money out of it: "Mick said, "Peace made money." We didn't make any money from peace".[91] See: Jann S. Wenner, Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970. London: Verso, 2000. At the Live Peace in Toronto (1969) festival, Lennon performed the song "Money (That's What I Want)" among other songs. The album went gold in the United States but did not make the charts in Britain.
  213. ^ " soon as the question of property is at stake, it becomes a sacred duty to proclaim the standpoint of the nursery tale as the one thing fit for all age-groups and all stages of development. In actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part." - Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin ed., p. 874.
  214. ^ "The centralization of the means of production and the socialization of labour reach a point where they are incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated." - Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 929.[92]
  215. ^ Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed., pp. 958-959.

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