In 1959, Harold Rosenberg wrote the essay "The Orgamerican Phantasy," published in The Tradition of the New. Rosenberg's essay criticized the "post-radical" self-absorption of several of the same authors -- William H. Whyte, C. Wright Mills, and Vance Packard -- that Herbert Marcuse would subsequently praise in the Introduction to One-Dimensional Man for the "vital importance" of their work. In Vance Packard and American Social Criticism, Daniel Horowitz discussed Rosenberg's attack on Packard. Curiously, though, I can find no discussion that connects Rosenberg's criticism of Packard et al. to Marcuse's admitted admiration of and reliance on their work.
Tellingly, all of the authors discussed by Rosenberg in his essay cited Thorstein Veblen. In addition to the three also cited by Marcuse, Rosenberg also discussed David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd and Auguste C. Spectorsky's The Exurbanites. Rosenberg, however, didn't mention the common Veblenian legacy.
Possibly a short passage could be written to tell me why I should care about the work of Harold Rosenberg and about this essay in particular. A title such as "The Orgamerican Phantasy," makes me inclined to turn away from the writer.
Harold Rosenberg: This gives me reason to look at the work.
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