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A character mask (German: Charaktermaske) in the Marxian sense is a character 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 concepts of mimesis (imitative representation using analogies) and prosopopoeia (impersonation or personification) as well as the Roman concept of persona, but also differs from them (see below). The notion of character masks has been used by neo-Marxist and non-Marxist sociologists, philosophers and anthropologists to interpret how people relate in societies with a complex division of labour, where people depend on trade to meet many of their needs.
Marx's own idea of character masks was not a cut-and-dried academic concept with a fixed definition.
- 1 Character masks versus social masks
- 2 "False awareness"
- 3 Levels of masking
- 4 Significance of character masks
- 5 Sources of the concept
- 6 Abandoning the concept
- 7 Marx's argument in Das Kapital
- 8 Engels on character masks
- 9 Marxist theories about character masks
- 10 Criticism and recent controversies
- 10.1 Dialectical difficulties
- 10.2 Soviet Union
- 10.3 The New Left and the Red Army Faction
- 10.4 Ten points of controversy
- 10.5 Humanism and anti-humanism
- 10.6 The sociological imagination
- 10.7 Sociobiology
- 10.8 Postmodernism
- 11 Unmasking
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
As a psychological term, "character" is traditionally used more in continental Europe, while in Britain and North America the term "personality" is used in approximately the same contexts. 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". Marx's metaphorical use of the term "character masks" refers back to carnival masks and the masks used in classical Greek theatre. At issue is the social form in which a practice is acted out.
A sophisticated academic language for talking about the sociology of roles did not exist in the mid-19th century. Marx therefore borrowed from theatre and literature to express his idea. Although György Lukács pioneered a sociology of drama in 1909, a sociology of roles began only in the 1930s, and a specific sociology of theatre (e.g. by Jean Duvignaud) first emerged in the 1960s. Marx's 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).
The nearest equivalent term in modern English for Marx's "character masks" is social masks. However, such a translation is not entirely satisfactory, for several reasons:
- A "social mask" is normally understood only as the mask of an individual, while Marx's concept of character masks has been applied by Marxists and non-Marxists to persons and politicians, groups and social classes, mass media, social movements and political parties, social institutions, organizations and functions, governments, symbolic expressions, historical eras, and dramatic, literary or theatrical contexts. In each case, the suggestion is that matters present themselves other than they really are.
- Marx's character masks are a specific kind of social masks, i.e. masks of people and things which represent a social, political, intellectual or economic function, within the given social relationships among groups of people. The category of "social masks" is much more general and inclusive.
- With Marx's character masks, it is understood that they are bound up with a specific type of society at a specific historical time, and with a specific theory of how the social relations in that society function. By contrast, the general concept of "social masks" assumes no specific theory, specific society or specific historical time; social masks of whatever form can be assumed to have existed forever and a day, and thus are treated as a more or less permanent part of the human condition.
Nevertheless, the Argentinian/Spanish sociologist Pablo Nacach has used the concept of "social masks" in a wider, critical sense.
There is a link between character masks and the concept of deliberate misrepresentation and hypocrisy. 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. Paul Ricœur explains:
What distinguishes false-consciousness from error or falsehood, and what motivates a particular kind of critique, of denunciation, is the possibility of signifying another thing than one believes was signified, that is, the possibility of the masked consciousness. These two words, "false consciousness," pertain usually to Marx... Consciousness, far from being transparent in itself, is at the same time what reveals and what conceals; it is this relation of conceal/reveal which calls for a specific reading, a hermeneutics. The task of hermeneutics... has always been to read a text and to distinguish the true sense from the apparent sense, to search for the sense under the sense.
The "false awareness" (falsches Bewusstsein) in the classical sense used by Friedrich Engels does not necessarily refer to "errors" in the content of awareness. It refers rather to an absence of awareness of what is really behind the ideas being worked with, how they have originated, or what the real role or effect of the ideas is. The first result of that is, that the ideologists believe themselves to be performing certain intellectual operations with regard to an issue, which, in reality, have quite a different significance than what they imagine. The second result is that their intellectual creations can then function as a mask for what is really at stake, precisely because the issue is portrayed in a one-sided or distorted way – without the ideologists being aware of how that works. The ideologists are aware and unaware at the same time. The problem, says Engels, is that they exaggerate the power of ideas, even to the point where ideas seem to be the cause of all that happens. This occurs especially if the intellectual productions occur at quite some distance from the practical context to which they properly refer, or if they concern specialized, highly abstract ideas which cannot easily be verified (this concept differs from the Marxism–Leninism ideology, where "false consciousness" is thinking which deviates from the political line of the Communist Party).
Levels of masking
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 social contradictions ("the bits that do not fit"). A purported "mystical truth" in this context is a meaning 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.
Terry Eagleton explains:
A dominant power may legitimate itself by promoting beliefs and values congenial to it; naturalizing and universalizing such beliefs so as to render them self-evident and apparently inevitable; denigrating ideas which might challenge it; excluding rival forms of thought, perhaps by some unspoken but systematic logic; and obscuring social reality in ways convenient to itself. Such `mystification', as it is commonly known, frequently takes the form of masking
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 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, 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 – as Marx says explicitly – a "mask". 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. 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
This implies another level of masking, because the economic character masks are then straightforwardly ("vulgarly") equated with authentic behaviour. 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 they do not. The theory is therefore (ultimately) arbitrary. Either things are studied in isolation from the total context in which they occur, or generalizations are formed which leave 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 to understanding.
Significance of character masks
Abstractly, the masking processes specific to 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, and work roles), 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 the general interest and vice versa. 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, the polity or the political class considers to be the general interest of society.
- relations of exchange in the marketplace, 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 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:
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 and Engels claim, it does not. 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 and ancient society. According to Marx, the labour market appears as the "very Eden of the innate rights of man", insofar workers can choose to sell their labour-power freely, but in reality, workers are forced to do so, often on terms unfavourable to them, to survive. As soon as they are inside the factory or office, they have to follow orders and submit to the authority of the employer.
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. Anthropologists, sociologists and linguists have sometimes studied "linguistic masking".
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;
- masking through the ("meta-theoretical") interpretation of the overall significance 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 highlighted as being more important than other related facts.
Sources of the concept
Marx's studies of Greek philosophy
The theatrical mask, expressing an acting role, was supposedly first invented in the West by the Greek actor Thespis of Attica (6th century BC) 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. Indeed, Marx's idea of character masks appears to have originated in his doctoral studies of Greek philosophy in 1837–39. At that 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.
Independently from Marx, the romantic novelist Jean Paul also used the concept, in portraying the human problems of individuation. In Jean Paul's aesthetics, the Charaktermaske is the observable face or appearance-form of a hidden self. It is Jean Paul's definition which is cited in the Deutsches Wörterbuch compiled by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm from 1838 onward.
Other early literary uses of the German term charaktermaske are found in Joseph von Eichendorff's 1815 novel Ahnung und Gegenwart, a veiled attack against Napoleon, and some years later, in writings by Heinrich Heine. Heine was among the first to use the theatrical term "Charaktermaske" to describe a social setting. Perhaps the concept was also inspired by Hegel's discussion of masks in his The Phenomenology of Spirit. In his Aesthetics, Hegel contrasts the fixed, abstract and universal character masks of the Commedia dell'arte with the romantic depiction of "character" as a living, subjective individuality embodied in the whole person.
In 1841, the German theatre critic Heinrich Theodor Rötscher explicitly defined a "character mask" as a theatrical role, acted out in such a way that it expresses all aspects of the assumed personality, his/her social station and background; successfully done, the audience would be able to recognize this personality on first impression.
Theatre and drama
The shift in Marx's use of the concept, from dramaturgy and philosophy to political and economic actors, was probably influenced by his well-known appreciation of drama and literature. 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.
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. It occurs again in his polemic against Karl Heinzen in 1847, called Moralizing criticism and critical morality and in part 5 of a satirical piece written in 1852 called Heroes of the Exile.
The 18th Brumaire
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 Napoleon abandoned one character mask for another, after dismissing the Barrot-Falloux Ministry in 1849. 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, Marx insists that:
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.
In 1861–63, the Austrian writer Alfred Meissner, the "king of the poets" criticized by Engels in his 1847 essay The True Socialists, published three volumes of novels under the title Charaktermasken. It is unclear whether Marx was aware of this, but according to Jochen Hörisch it gave the term "character mask" a certain popularity among German speakers.
Abandoning the concept
Character masks are 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, 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. English translators of other writings by Marx & Engels, or of classical Marxist texts, quite often deleted Charaktermaske as well, and often substituted other words such as "mask", "role", "appearance", "puppet", "guise" and "persona".
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. The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory likewise does not refer to it. 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. Likewise Fredric Jameson, the famous commentator on postmodernity, offers no analysis of the concept. There is no entry for the concept in James Russell's Marx-Engels Dictionary, in Terrell Carver's A Marx Dictionary or in the Historical Dictionary of Marxism.
Jochen Hörisch claims that "despite its systematic importance, the concept of character masks was conspicuously taboo in the dogmatic interpretation of Marx".
However, Dieter Claessens mentions the concept in his 1992 Lexikon, there is another mention in Lexikon zur Soziologie and the more recent German-language Historical-Critical Dictionary of Marxism has a substantive entry for character masks by Wolfgang Fritz Haug. 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". But since "character mask" is a technical term in theatre and costume hire – referring both to physical masks expressing specific characters (for example, Halloween masks), and to theatrical roles – it is not "specifically German", and most existing translations are simply inaccurate. However, Haug is correct insofar as "character mask" as a sociological or psychological term is rarely used by non-German speakers.
Marx's argument in Das Kapital
Marx's argument about character masks in capitalism can be summarized in six steps.
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, as a necessity to succeed in the activities. They have to act this way, because of the co-operative relationships they necessarily have to work with in the division of labour. People have to conform to them, whether they like it or not. If they take on a role, they have to fulfill the packet of tasks which is part of the job.
People 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. Consequently, they can learn to act spontaneously and automatically in a way consistent with these social relations, even if that is sometimes a problematic process.
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. They have to keep the two kinds of interests separated, and "manage them" appropriately in a "mature, professional" way. 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.
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. Human individuality is then conceptualized in terms of the relationship between buyer and seller.
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. 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.
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. 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". Discord between identity and function is tolerated only in contexts where it does not matter.
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, and the relationships between them, are endowed with human characteristics. They become "actors" relating in their own right to which people much adjust their behaviour, and they are also theorized in that way. This is a special case of anthropomorphism because it occurs within human relations, not in relation to an object external to them.
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.) 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, because the relationships between people are constantly being mediated by the relationships between things. It means that people are eventually unable to take their mask off, 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. As many philosophical texts suggest, by being habituated to a role, the role is internalized by individuals, and becomes part of their personality: they become the thing that they acted out.
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" leads to pervasive human alienation (the estrangement of people from themselves, and from others in contacts which have become impersonal and functional). 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. 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.
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.
The last step is 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 others 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; by this act, they also acquire more and more behavioural and semiotic flexibility, and develop more and more relational skills and connections. The necessity to work and relate in order to survive 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.
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. But that is a possibility which Marx did not comprehensively theorize in Das Kapital.
Engels on character masks
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. 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 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 to describe a false or inauthentic representation.
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.
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.
- The Marx-Studien published by Rudolf Hilferding and Max Adler referred to character masks as a theoretical category.
- The communist dramatist Bertolt Brecht made extensive use of neutral and character masks. 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).
György Lukács referred to the "very important category of economic character masks", but he never provided a substantive analysis of its meaning. He only referred candidly to his own "Socratic mask" in a 1909 love letter to a friend. In a 1909 essay, Lukács opined that "the bourgeois way of life" is "only a mask", which "like all masks" negates something, i.e. the bourgeois mask denies vital parts of human life, in the interests of money-making.
Lukács restricted the application of the idea to capitalists only, claiming that Marx had considered capitalists as "mere character masks" – 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. Capitalists became the "personification" of their capital, because they had money which was permanently invested somewhere, and which necessarily had to obtain a certain yield. 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.
Post-war Western Marxism
In the post-war tradition of Western Marxism, the concept of character masks was theorized about especially by scholars of the Frankfurt School, and other Marxists influenced by this school. Most of the Frankfurt theorists believed in Freud's basic model of human nature. Erich Fromm expanded it by developing the social-psychological concept of "social character".
- It also appears in Marxist-existentialist thought, such as in the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre. In his famous book Being and Time, Heidegger distinguished between the "they-self", i.e. the self that is just "being there", in common view, and the authentic self, the "self-aware" self who explicitly grasps his own identity.
- 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, or is unable to express adequately. Masking is nowadays acknowledged by behavioural scientists to be also a purely biological or psychophysical process in sentient organisms: neurologically, the subjective experience of some perceived stimuli by the organism is modified or distorted by the intervention of other perceived stimuli. It can have a critically important effect on the ability of the organism to make choices, orient itself, or display sensitivity. Reich's idea was developed further by Arthur Janov, where the primal scream breaks through the masks of the body and its behaviour.
- In the philosophy of the Marxist semiotician Roland Barthes, the mask features primarily as a "sign" with fixed meanings.
- The concept of character masks was used by Anglo-Saxon Western Marxist or post-Marxist thinkers like Perry Anderson, Werner Bonefeld, Paul Connerton, Michael Eldred, Russell Jacoby, Lawrence Krader, and Michael Perelman. János Kornai also refers to it. In Germany and Austria, the concept has been used in the Marxian tradition by Elmar Altvater, Ingo Elbe, Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Michael Heinrich, Robert Kurz, Ernst Lohoff, Klaus Ottomeyer, and Franz Schandl (as cited in the notes).
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 hermeneutic assumption is that these relations 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). If the "essential relationships" never became visible or manifest in any way, no science would be possible at all, only speculative metaphysics. It is merely that sense data require correct interpretation – they do not have a meaning independently of their socially mediated interpretation. In that sense, the mask presupposes the existence of something which for the time being remains invisible, but which can be revealed when one discovers what is behind the mask. It may be that the essence suddenly reveals itself on the stage of history, or more simply that the understandings which one already has, are altered so that the essence of the thing is finally grasped.
Frankfurt School analysis
Inspired by Marx's concept of character masks, the founder of the Frankfurt School, Max Horkheimer, began to work out a critical, social-psychological understanding of human character in the so-called Dämmerung period (in 1931/34). Horkheimer stated the Frankfurt School perspective clearly:
The equality of free individuals, which renews itself through the exchange, the labor of each as the basis of their possessions and power, in short, the principle of the bourgeoisie upon which rests its ideology, its justice, and its morality... reveals itself as a mere façade that masks the true relations.
The Frankfurt School, and especially Herbert Marcuse, was 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. The Frankfurt School theorists intended to show, that if in bourgeois society things appear other than they really are, this masking is not simply attributable to the disguises of competitive business relationships in the marketplace. It is rooted in the very psychological make-up, formation and behaviour of individual people. In their adaptation to bourgeois society, they argued, people internalize specific ways of concealing and revealing what they do, repressing some of their impulses and expressing others. If people are dominated, they are not dominated only by forces external to themselves, but by ideas and habits which they have internalized, and accept as being completely "natural". Max Horkheimer puts it as follows: "The principle of domination, based originally on brute force, acquired in the course of time a more spiritual character. The inner voice took the place of the master in issuing commands."
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, 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 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.
The struggle for identity
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).
- People may continue to function routinely ("the silent compulsion of economic relations"), sublimating, suppressing or masking the contradictions, perhaps in a schizoid way, as a zombie, as a psychopath, or by becoming withdrawn. In that case, Erich Fromm argues, human beings can become wholly conformist "automatons" ("the automation of the individual") in which a "pseudo self" replaces the "original self" – "The pseudo self is only an agent who actually represents the role a person is supposed to play, but who does so under the name of the self."
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".
Criticism and recent controversies
Much of the scientific controversy about Marx's concept of character masks centres on his 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). 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. 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. However, many authors have argued that this approach leaves many facets of capitalist social relations unexplained. In particular, it is not so easy to understand the interactions between individuals and the society of which they are part, in such a way, that each is both self-determining and determined by the other.
Marx's concept of character masks has been interrogated by scholars primarily in the German-language literature. Werner Sombart stated 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".
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." Those who supported the revolution and its communist leadership were politically defined as "proletarian" and those who opposed it were defined as "bourgeois". The enemies of the revolution had to be hunted down, unmasked, and forced to confess their counter-revolutionary (i.e. subversive) behaviour, whether real or imagined. It led to considerable political paranoia. Abandoning bourgeois and primitive norms, and becoming a cultured, socialist citizen, was "akin to learning a role". In the 1920s, the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP) adopted the slogan "tear off each and every mask from reality". This was based on a quotation from Lenin, who wrote in his 1908 essay on Leo Tolstoy as mirror of the Russian revolution that the "realism of Tolstoy was the tearing off of each and every mask"(sryvanie vsekh i vsiacheskikh masok). The communist authorities kept detailed files on the class and political credentials of citizens, leading to what historians call "file-selves".
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.
According to this interpretation, there was a "blind spot" in Marx's explanation of bourgeois society, because he had disregarded psychological factors. Moreover, Marxists had interpreted Marx's theory of the "personification of economic functions" as an alternative to psychology as such. Thus, equipped with a simplistic "reflection theory of consciousness" and an "objectivist concept of class consciousness", the Russian revolutionaries (naively) assumed that once the bourgeois had been liberated from his property, and the institutions of capitalism were destroyed, then there was no more need for masking anything – society would be open, obvious and transparent, and resolving psychological problems would become a purely practical matter (the "re-engineering of the human soul"). Very simply put, the idea was that "the solution of psychological problems is communism". However, Raymond A. Bauer suggests that the communist suspicion of psychological research had nothing directly to do with the idea of "character masks" as such, but more with a general rejection of all approaches which were deemed "subjectivist" and "unscientific" in a positivist sense (see positivism).
The USSR became increasingly interested in conceptions of human nature which facilitated social control by the communist party, and from this point of view, too, the concept of the unconscious was problematic and a nuisance: by definition, the unconscious is something which cannot easily be controlled consciously. However, psychoanalysis was considered bourgeois; this situation began to change only gradually Nikita Khrushchev had made his famous secret speech, in which he condemned the "personality cult" around Stalin (see "On the Personality Cult and Its Consequences"). The obligatory official broadsides against Freud and the neo-Freudians in the Soviet Union ceased only from 1972, after which psychoanalysis was to a large extent rehabilitated.
The New Left and the Red Army Faction
The New Left was a radical trend which began in 1956/57, a time when large numbers of intellectuals around the world resigned from the "Old Left" Communist parties in protest against the Soviet invasion of Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. These New Left intellectuals broke with the official Marxism–Leninism ideology, and they founded new magazines, clubs and groups, which in turn strongly influenced a new generation of students. They began to study Marx afresh, to find out what he had really meant.
In Germany, the term Charaktermaske was popularized in the late 1960s and in the 1970s especially by "red" Rudi Dutschke, one of the leaders of the student radicals. By "character masks", Dutschke meant essentially that the official political personalities and business leaders were merely the interchangeable "human faces", the representatives or puppets masking an oppressive system; one could not expect anything else from them, than what the system required them to do. Focusing on individual personalities was a distraction from fighting the system they represented.
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.
The positive utopian longing emerging in the 1960s was that of reaching a life situation in which people would be able to meet each other naturally, spontaneously and authentically, freed from any constraints of rank or status, archaic rituals, arbitrary conventions and old traditions. In their social criticism, the youth began to rebel against the roles which were formally assigned to them, and together with that, began to question the social theory of roles, which presented those roles as natural, necessary and inevitable. In particular, the women's liberation movement began to challenge gender roles as sexist and patriarchal. There seemed to be a big gap between the façade of roles, and the true nature of social relationships, getting in the way of personal authenticity (being "for real"). Official politics was increasingly regarded as the "masquerade" of those in power. To illustrate the spirit of the times, Anne-Marie Rocheblave-Spenlé who had previously authored a classic French text on role theory, in 1974 published a book titled, significantly, Le Pouvoir Demasque (Power unmasked).
The concept of "character masks" was by no means an unimportant political concept in Germany, since it was being used explicitly by terrorists in their justifications for assassinating people.
Ten points of controversy
Questions subsequently arose in New Left circles about ten issues:
- whether behaviour is in truth an "act" or whether it is "for real", and how one could know or prove that (the problem of authenticity).
- whether character exists at all, if "masks mask other masks" in an endless series
- 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, or whether it is a valid empirical description of aspects of real human behaviour in capitalist society.
- 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.
- 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.
- whether Marx's idea of character masks contains an ethnocentric or gender bias.
German sociologist Uri Rapp theorized that Charaktermaske was not the same as "role"; rather Charaktermaske was a role forced on people, in a way that they could not really escape from it, i.e. all their vital relationships depended on it. People were compelled by the relations of production. Thus, he said, "every class membership is a Charaktermaske and even the ideological penetration of masquerades (the 'class consciousness of the proletariat') could not change or cast off character masks, only transcend them in thought." In addition, Charaktermaske was "present in the issue of the human being alienated from his own personality."
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.
As the post-war economic boom collapsed in the 1970s, and big changes in social roles occurred, these kinds of controversies stimulated a focus by social theorists on the "social construction of personal identity". A very large academic literature was subsequently published on this topic, exploring identity-formation from many different angles. The discourse of identity resonated well with the concerns of adolescents and young adults who are finding their identity, and it has been a popular subject ever since. Another reason for the popularity of the topic, noted by Richard Sennett in his book The corrosion of character, is the sheer number of different jobs people nowadays end up doing during their lifetime. People then experience multiple changes of identity in their lifetime – their identity is no longer fixed once and for all.
Humanism and anti-humanism
Marx's "big picture" of capitalism often remained supremely abstract, although he claimed ordinary folks could understand his book. It seemed to many scholars that in Marx's Capital people become "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 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.
In the antihumanist version, the individual is viewed as "a creation of the system" or "a product of society" who personifies a social function. In this case, a person selected to represent and express a function is no more than a functionary (or a "tool"): the person himself is the character mask adopted by the system or the organization of which he is part. Hidden behind the human face is the (inhuman) system which it operates. In the humanist version, the process is not one of personification, but rather of impersonation, in which case the function is merely a role acted out by the individual. Since the role acted out may in this case not have much to do with the individual's true personality, the mask-bearer and the mask he bears are, in this case, two different things – creating the possibility of a conflict between the bearer and the role he plays. Such a conflict is generally not possible in the antihumanist interpretation ("if you work for so-and-so, you are one of them"), since any "dysfunctional" character mask would simply be replaced by another.
Louis Althusser's neo-Stalinism
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". 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". In the glossary of his famous book Reading Capital (co-written with Étienne Balibar), Althusser announces:
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.
Critics of this idea argue people are not merely the "bearers" of social relations, they are also the "conscious operators" of social relations – social relations which would not exist at all, unless people consciously interacted and cooperated with each other. The real analytical difficulty in social science is, that people both make their social relations, but also participate in social relations which they did not make or consciously choose themselves. Some roles in society are consciously and voluntarily chosen by individuals, other roles are conferred on people simply by being and participating in society with a given status. Some roles are also a mixture of both: once people have chosen a role, they may have that role, whether they like it or not; or, once habituated to role, people continue to perform the role even although they could in principle choose to abandon it. That is why both the humanist and the antihumanist interpretations of character masks can have some validity in different situations.
Marxism as a character mask?
Althusser's "totalizing perspective" – 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 – does not 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.
Specifically, in the bid of Marxist ideologists to grab state power, extract a surplus from the workers and manage the introduction of the "new order", armed with an ideological tyranny of categories, real human beings become expendable. 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. This is hotly disputed by many Marxists, who claim Marxism is something that grows out of their lives.
The sociological imagination
C. Wright Mills developed a concept known as 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 its application is overextended or overworked.
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.
Jürgen Ritsert, a Frankfurt sociologist, queried 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.
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) – scholarship has often flip-flopped rather uneasily between structuralism and subjectivism, inventing dualisms between structure and agency. The academic popularity of structural-functionalism has declined, "role definitions" have become more and more changeable and vague, and the Althusserian argument has been inverted: human behaviour is explained in terms of sociobiology. Here, "the person" is identified with "the physical body". This is 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 (except ourselves) are essentially, and mainly, animals. The treatment of humans as if they are animals is itself a strategy of domination.
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) and therefore, it is also no longer clear what it means to "mask" them, or what interests that can serve. Roles are constantly being redefined to manipulate power relationships, and shunt people up or down the hierarchy.
The postmodern concept of human identity – however it may be theorized – maximizes the flexibility, variability and plasticity of human behaviour, so that the individual can "be and do many different things, in many different situations", without any necessary requirement of continuity between different "acts" in space and time. The effect however is a lack of coherence; it becomes much more difficult to know or define what the identity of someone truly is. As soon as the self is viewed as a performance, masking becomes an intrinsic aspect of the self, since there still exists an "I" which directs the performance and which therefore simultaneously "reveals and conceals" itself. The corollary is, that it becomes much more difficult to generalize about human beings, since even at the most basic level the categories or units used to make comparisons remain vague. At most, one can objectively measure the incidence and frequency of different types of observable behaviour.
Aggregate human behaviour is then often 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. 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". Increasingly, information technology becomes a tool for social control. Some Marxists even refer to the spectre of totalitarian capitalism. 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.
Kurz and Lohoff
In their famous 1989 article "The class struggle fetish", the German neo-Marxists Robert Kurz and Ernst Lohoff reached the conclusion that the working class is ultimately just "the character mask of variable capital", a logical "real category" of Capital. The identities of all members of capitalist society, they argued, are ultimately formed as bourgeois character masks of self-valorizing value. In that case, people are valued according to the extent that they can make money for themselves, or for others.
Slavoj Žižek also attempts to create a new theory of masks, by mixing together the philosophies of Hegel, Karl Marx and Jacques Lacan with his understanding of fictional literature and political events. In Žižek's theory, just as an oppressive social reality cannot exist and persist without ideological mystification, "The mask is not simply hiding the real state of things; the ideological distortion is written into [the] very essence [of the real state of things]." Thus, the mask is a necessary and integral component of an oppressive reality, and it is not possible simply to tear away the mask to reveal the oppressive reality underneath.
In The sublime object of ideology, Žižek summarizes Peter Sloterdijk's concept of cynical reason:
The cynical subject is quite aware of the distance between the ideological mask and the social reality, but he none the less still insists upon the mask. The formula, as proposed by Sloterdijk, would then be: "they know very well what they are doing, but still, they are doing it". Cynical reason is no longer naïve, but is a paradox of an enlightened false consciousness: one knows the falsehood very well, one is well aware of a particular interest hidden behind an ideological universality, but still one does not renounce it.
Often the pretense is kept up, because of a belief (or anxiety) that the alternative – i.e. dropping the pretense – would have a worse effect, or seriously compromise cherished values or beliefs. To maintain and build a team spirit or morale, a way of working is insisted on which affirms shared beliefs, regardless of whether those beliefs correspond to reality or not, and regardless of whether members of the organization are aware of the discrepancies or not. The result, Žižek claims, is a "symbolic order" of "fetishist disavowal" in which people act morally "as if" they are related in certain ways – to the point where "the symbolic mask matters more than the direct reality of the individual who wears this mask." Using a basically Freudian theory, Žižek then aims to explain the psychological processes by which people are reconciled with the symbolic order, or at least make it "liveable" for themselves (see also Freudo-Marxism).
Frank Furedi suggests that the concept of denial, so central to Žižek's understanding of masks, really plays a quite different role in contemporary post-Freudian society: "In today's therapy culture, people who express views that contradict our own are often told that they are 'in denial'. It has become a way of discrediting their viewpoint, or shutting them up." If people disagree, or will not cooperate, they are not taken seriously in a dialogue, but instead accused of having a psychological problem which stands in need of professional treatment. Thus, a dissident is neutralized by being turned into a patient who is "unhealthy", and people are managed according to psychotherapeutic concepts designed to invalidate their own meanings. Furedi implies that yesterday's leftist concepts can be recycled as today's tools for psychological manipulation: an idea which originally had a progressive intention can evolve until, in reality, it plays the very opposite role – even although (and precisely because) people continue to sentimentally cherish the old idea. The point is not simply to interpret the processes by which oppressed people are reconciled with, or reproduce their own oppression (Althusser's and Bourdieu's structuralist theory of "ideological reproduction"); the challenge is to create new ideas which can free the oppressed out of their oppression. For this purpose, ideas have to be situated according to how they are actually being used in the real world, and the oppressed have to be regarded as active subjects who can change their own fate (not simply as the "clients" of officials, academics and professionals who monitor their behaviour).
Philip Rieff summarizes the main problem with, as well as the main achievement of psychoanalysis, from the point of view of freeing people from the masks that may oppress them:
Freud carried the scientific suspicion of nature into ethics. It was as if, after all the pronouncements of theology and philosophy, after all the indications of experience, we had scarcely begun to understand ourselves... [According to Freud] our inner nature – the ultimate subject studied by all the moral sciences – lies hidden. Against the conventional assumption that each knows himself best in his own heart, Freud supports the Nietzschean assumption that each is farthest from his own self, and must journey through experience in search of it. He surpasses even the Romantics in his deprecation of mere intellect.... To "know thyself" is to be known by another [i.e. by the psychoanalyst].
If it is true that "we do not even know who we are", then it becomes difficult to understand how people could free themselves from deceptive masks, and change the world for the better, unless they all get a massive dose of psychotherapy to "find themselves".
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. 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."
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 directly, they are in people's heads, actively created in their social relationships, and expressed symbolically.
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. In this sense, David Harvey writes that "Once its mask is torn off and its mysteries have been laid bare, it is easier to see what has to be done and why, and how to set about doing it." 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.
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 himself said he welcomed serious scientific criticism of his own contribution, he was not afraid of it. In the end, Marx argues, capitalism cannot be fully unmasked by means of pure scientific thought only. 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").
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. In trying to get on top of the relations they have created, human beings are themselves transformed. Scientific inquiry, Marx felt, should be an aid in the cause of human progress, to ensure that the new social order emerging will be a real open society. Human progress is achieved, to the degree that people abolish the oppressions of people by other people, and oppressions by the blind forces of nature.
- A famous anthropological essay on the idea of the "persona" is Marcel Mauss, "A category of the human mind: the notion of person, the notion of 'self'." in: Mauss, Sociology and psychology: essays. Translated by Ben Brewster. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. 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.
- 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, the function of the mask was impersonate a character. In post-Freudian psychology, by contrast, the mask is a metaphor for the external self, concealing the reality within (ibid., p. 151-152, 157).
- The neo-Marxists referring to character masks were especially those of the Frankfurt School, such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer. 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.
- 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.
- E.g. Lawrence Krader and David Graeber.
- 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.
- Edith Hall, The theatrical cast of Athens; interactions between ancient Greek drama & society. Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 31.
- George Lukács, "The Sociology of Modern Drama" (transl. Lee Baxandall), The Tulane Drama Review, 1965, Vol.9(4), pp.146–170.
- Elizabeth and Tom Burns, Sociology of Literature and Drama. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.
- 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 (see also Richard Nixon mask; 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.
- See e.g. Ingo Elbe, "Thesen zum Begriff der Charaktermaske" . Rote Ruhr Uni site.
- Pablo Nacach, Máscaras sociales. Las relaciones personales en el mundo actual. Madrid: Debate Editorial, 2008.
- See further e.g. Anne Duncan, Performance and identity in the classical world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Donald Rumsfeld: "Reports that say that something has not 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 do not know we do not know." – Department of Defense news briefing, February 12, 2002. Rumsfeld leaves out "the things we do not know that we know", perhaps "do not 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. Engels's German expression "falsch Bewusstsein" is correctly translated as "false awareness", not as "false consciousness".
- Paul Ricœur, "The critique of religion", in The philosophy of Paul Ricoeur. An Anthology of his Work. Boston: Beacon Press, 1978, p. 215. Cited in Richard Kearney, On Paul Ricoeur: the owl of Minerva. London: Ashgate, 2004, p. 27.
- Letter of Friedrich Engels to Franz Mehring, 14 July 1893
- Terry Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso, 1991, pp.5–6.
- Karl Marx, Value, Price and Profit, part 9.; Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), part 2 (emphases added).  Cf. the Resultate manuscript in Capital, Volume I, Penguin edition, p. 1064, where Marx uses the word "vertuscht" ("covered up").
- Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin edition, p. 956 (translation corrected according to the German edition).
- For a commentary by a Marxian economist, see: Duncan K. Foley, The strange history of the economic agent.
- Franz Leopold Neumann, The democratic and the authoritarian state: Essays in political and legal theory. Free Press, 1957, pp. 61–62.
- 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.
- Leo Löwenthal, Literature and the Image of Man. Sociological Studies of the European Drama and Novel, 1600–1900. Boston: Beacon Press, 1957, p. 170.
- Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, part 1, in: Marx/Engels Selected Works, Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1969.
- 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.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin ed., p. 280.
- 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.
- "Western Theatre", article in Encyclopædia Britannica.
- 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.
- Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader. Norton 2nd ed., 1978) . See Wolfgang Fritz Haug, "Charaktermaske", p. 442. See also: Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx", 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.
- Commentary in: 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.
- See Jean Paul, Vorschule der Ästhetik, in Jean Paul, Werke (ed. Nortbert Miller), Volume 5. München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1963, para. 56, p. 208.
- Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, Deutsches Wörterbuch..
- Joseph von Eichendorff, Sämtliche Erzählungen, Vol. 1: Ahnung und Gegenwart. Berlin: Deutscher Klassikerverlag, 2007, chapter 11.
- Roger F. Cook, A companion to the works of Heinrich Heine. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2002, p.63. See e.g. Heinrich Heine, "Zweiter Brief" aus Berlin (1822), in: Werke und Briefe in zehn Bänden. Berlin und Weimar, 1972, Vol. 3, pp. 510-536 ; Heinrich Heine, Sämtliche Schriften (ed. Klaus Briegleb), München: Hanser Verlag, 1963, Vol. 1, p. 68.
- In the section of the Phenomenology on "the spiritual work of art", paragraphs 742–744. 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" . 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.
- G.W.F. Hegel, Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art (transl. T.M. Knox), Vol. 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), part 2, chapter 3 "the romantic form of art", p. 576-577.
- Heinrich Theodor Rötscher, Die Kunst der Dramatischen Darstellung. In ihrem organische Zusammenhang entwickelt. Berlin: Verlag von W. Thome, 1841, p. 355. Cf. Münz, op. cit., p. 21.
- 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.
- 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.
- "Circular against Kriege", Part 4, April–May 1846, in: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 35. 
- October 31, 1847, in: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 6, p. 312. 
- Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 11, p. 657, note 155.
- The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, first published in Die Revolution (New York), 1852, chapter 4. .
- G.W.F. Hegel, The philosophy of right, § 344.
- The 18th Brumaire, Part 1.  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. 
- Friedrich Engels, "The true socialists", Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 5, p. 540.
- Alfred Meissner, Charaktermasken (3 vols.). Leipzig: Grunow Verlag, 1861–63 (Republished in 2011 by Nabu Press, a publisher without an address).
- Jochen Hörisch, "Schlemihls Schatten – Schatten Nietzsches. Eine romantische Apologie des Sekundären", Athenäum 5: Jahrbuch für Romantik 1995, pp. 11–41 at p. 40., revised version in Jochen Hörisch, Kopf oder Zahl – Die Poesie des Geldes. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp 1998. .
- 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. 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). See also Perelman, Marx's crises theory: scarcity, labor and finance. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1987, p. 95)
- Tom Bottomore et al. (ed.), A dictionary of Marxist Thought, Basil Blackwell 1983 (rev. edition 1991).
- 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.
- James Russell, Marx-Engels Dictionary. Brighton: Harvester 1980.
- Terrell Carver, A Marx Dictionary. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987.
- David Walker & Daniel Gray, Historical Dictionary of Marxism. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 2007.
- 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.
- Dieter Claessens/Karin Claessens, Gesellschaft. Lexikon der Grundbegriffe. Reinbek: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, 1992, p. 44. Compare also Wissenschaftslexikon .
- 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.
- Haug, "Charaktermaske". See also Wolfgang Fritz Haug, "Charaktermaske". In: Martin Papenbrock, Kunst und Sozialgeschichte: Festchrift für Jutta Held. Pfaffenweiler: Centaurus, 1995.
- Wolfgang Fritz Haug, "Charaktermaske", p. 436-437.
- There is no entry for the term "character mask" in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is a specialist term in acting theory: see Ozdemir Nutku, "Style in acting" (Ankara: Teyatro Keyfi, 2002) .
- Michael Heinrich, "Replik auf Martin Birkner 'Der schmale Grat'", in: grundrisse. Zeitschrift fur linke theorie und debatte, no. 1, 2002.. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Marx/Engels Werke, Band 18. Berlin: Dietz, 1962, p. 274.
- See Ottomeyer, Ökonomische Zwänge und menschliche Beziehungen: Soziales Verhalten im Kapitalismus. Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1977, p. 83.
- Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, chapter 2 . 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.  See also Wolfgang Fritz Haug, "Das Verkaufsgespräch. Charaktermaske von Käufer und Verkäufer". In: Joachim Dyck (ed.), Rhetorik in der Schule. Kronberg: Scriptor Verlag, 1974, pp. 196–203.
- For a commentary, see e.g. Lawrence Krader, "Dialectic of Anthropology" in: Lawrence Krader, Dialectic of Civil Society. Amsterdam: Van Gorcum, Assen, 1976.
- 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.
- Marx/Engels Werke (Berlin), Vol. 15, p. 464. As cited by Urbanek, p. 200. Russell Jacoby, Social amnesia (1975). Transaction publishers, 1997, p. 70.
- See e.g. Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, chapter 48: "The Trinity Formula" (Penguin, 1981, p. 953).
- Lawrence Krader, "Marxist anthropology: principles and contradictions." International Review of Social History, Volume XX 1975, pp. 255–256.
- Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, first manuscript, section "Estranged Labour" . For a commentary, see e.g. Bertell Ollman, Alienation: Marx's Conception of Man in Capitalist Society. Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1976
- See further e.g. Ernest Mandel, Delightful Murder: A social history of the crime story. Pluto Press, 1984; Linden Peach, Masquerade, crime and fiction. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006; 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, pp. 252–253.
- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, ed. C.J. Arthur, 1970, p. 116.
- Sheila Fitzpatrick, Tear Off the Masks!: Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.
- See, for example, Engels, "Modern literary life", Mitternachtzeitung für Leser, No. 51-54, March 1840, and No. 83-87, May 1840 . Also "Marginalia to Texts of our Time", in: Rheinische Zeitung No. 145, May 25, 1842. Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 2.
- For a polemical use of the concept of character masks, see: Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Sponti als Charaktermaske. Marxistische Streit- und Zeitschrift, issue 1, 1982.
- Engels, Revolution and Counterrevolution in Germany (1851), chapter 3, translation corrected according to the German original.; Engels, On the history of early Christianity (1894–95)
- Franz Mehring, Karl Marx: The Story of his Life. London: Routledge 1936, p. 243.
- 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.
- The modalities of distancing are explored in: Helmut Lethen, Cool Conduct: The Culture of Distance in Weimar Germany. Robert Boyers, The Legacy of the German refugee intellectuals. Schocken Books, 1972, p. 251.
- György Lukács, History and class consciousness. London: Merlin, 1971, p. 81, note 11; 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.
- György Lukács, "My Socratic Mask. Letter to Charlotte Fereczi, January 1909". In: Arpad Kadarkay, The Lukács Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995. pp. 57–62.
- György Lukács, Soul and form. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1974, p. 56.
- Lukács, "Reification and the consciousness of the proletariat", section II, in History and class consciousness.
- 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. Cf. Helmut Dahmer, Libido und Gesellschaft, 2nd edition. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982, p. 319.
- Haug, "Charaktermaske", p. 446-447. Haug borrows this insight about Lukács from Matzner. 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. See: Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx", in: Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2009. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010.
- See e.g. Paul Connerton, The tragedy of enlightenment: an essay on the Frankfurt School. Cambridge University Press, 1980, chapter 3.
- Erich Fromm, Escape from freedom. New York: Avon books, 1965, p. 304-305.
- 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.
- Martin Heidegger, Being and Time. New York: State University of New York Press, 1996, p. 121.
- Wilhelm Reich, Character Analysis. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1949. Cf. Helmut Dahmer, Libido und Gesellschaft, 2nd edition. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1982, p. 318.
- David Wiles, Mask and Performance in Greek Tragedy: From Ancient Festival to Modern Experimentation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 116–124.
- On transcendental realism, see: Roy Bhaskar, A realist theory of science (2nd ed.). Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester Press, 1978.
- Cf. Herbert Marcuse: "The transcendence leading from facts to essence is historical. Through it, given facts are understood as appearances whose essence can be comprehended only in the context of particular historical tendencies aiming at a different form of reality". Negations. Essays in Critical Theory. London: MayFlyBooks, 2009, p. 53.
- Gunzelin Schmid Noerr, "Zwischen Sozialpsychologie und Ethik – Erich Fromm und die 'Frankfurt Schule'," in: Mitteilungen des Instituts für Sozialforschung, Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt, Heft 11. September 2000, pp. 7–40. Cited according to the version in the online Erich Fromm Archive, p. 5.
- Max Horkheimer, "Montaigne and the Function of Skepticism" (1938). In: Horkheimer, Between Philosophy and Social Science : Selected Early Writings Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. MIT Press, 1993, p. 295.
- Max Horkheimer, "The revolt of nature" (1947). In: Max Horkheimer, Eclipse of reason. New York: Continuum, 2004, p. 72.
- Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialektik. In: Gesammelte Schriften 6, Frankfurt: 1997.
- 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.; 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; Jürgen Ritsert, Schlüsselprobleme der Gesellschaftstheorie: Individuum und Gesellschaft – Soziale Ungleichheit – Modernisierung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2009. 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.
- See e.g. the writings of Erich Fromm. The concept of "identity crisis" was originally made popular by the post-Freudian psychologist Erik Erikson.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, chapter 28, Penguin edition, p. 899.
- Erich Fromm, Escape from freedom, 2nd edition. New York: Avon Books, 1965, p. 229-230.
- See Capital, Volume I, chapter 25 and 26.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sheila Fitzpatrick, Tear Off the Masks!: Identity and Imposture in Twentieth-Century Russia. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005, p. 13.
- Fitzpatrick, p. 13.
- Fitzpatrick, p. 65 note. See V.I. Lenin, "Leo Tolstoy as mirror of the Russian revolution" (Proletary, No. 35, September 11 (24), 1908), in: Collected Works, Vol. 15, Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1977, p. 205.
- Fitzpatrick, p. 14.
- 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.
- Raymond A. Bauer, The new man in Soviet psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952, p. 67, p. 90 and p. 180.
- Miller, op.cit., chapter 8, p. 146 et seq.
- "'Charaktermaske' bei Marx Larven der Bürger entlarven." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 19 July 1995, Nr. 165, p. N6. Also e.g. "Wir fordern die Enteignung Axel Springers. SPIEGEL-Gespräch mit dem Berliner FU-Studenten Rudi Dutschke (SDS)". In: Der Spiegel, issue 29, 10 July 1967. 
- 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.
- Fredric Jameson, "On Goffman's Frame Analysis," Theory and Society 3, no. 1 (Spring 1976), p. 122.
- R.W. Connell, "The concept of role and what to do with it". In: R.W. Connell, Which way is up? Essays on sex, class and culture. Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983, pp. 189–207.
- David Caute, The year of the barricades: a journey through 1968. Harper Collins, 1988.
- Anne-Marie Rocheblave-Spenlé, Le Pouvoir Demasque. Paris: Editions Universitaires, 1974.
- Ulrike Meinhof, "Armed Anti-Imperialist Struggle (and the Defensive Position of the Counterrevolution in its Psychologic Warfare Against the People)". Semiotext(e) magazine, ed. by Sylvère Lotringer, Schizo-culture issue 1978. Reprinted in Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer, Hatred of Capitalism: A Reader. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2001.
- This and some of the other issues are referred to by Christoph Henning, "Charaktermaske und Individualität bei Marx", in: Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2009. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2010.
- See e.g. Character Mapping (resource on Scribd). See also e.g. Richard D. Hodgson, Falsehood disguised: unmasking the truth in La Rochefoucauld. Purdue University Press, 1999.
- Jan Willem Stutje (ed.), Charismatic Leadership and Social Movements: The Revolutionary Power of Ordinary Men and Women. Berghahn Books, 2012. A special conference on "Charisma and social movements" was held by leftists at Groningen University in the Netherlands on 6 & 7 November 2008.
- Walter J. Ong, Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture. Cornell University Press, 1982, p. 80.
- 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.
- Jeremy Varon, Bringing the war home. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, p. 239.
- 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.
- 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.
- See e.g. *Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (transl. Charles Lam Markmann) New York, Grove Press, 1967 reprint; T. Owens Moore, "A Fanonian Perspective on Double Consciousness". Journal of Black Studies, 2005, Vol.35(6), pp. 751–762; Marc Black, Fanon and DuBoisian Double Consciousness. Human Architecture: Journal of the sociology of self-knowledge, Vol. 5, Summer 2007, pp. 393–404.; Hamid Dabashi, Brown Skin, White Masks. Pluto Press, 2011.
- See e.g. Nina Lykke, Feminist Studies: A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology and Writing. Routledge, 2010, p. 93. See also Claudia Benthien and Inge Stephan (eds.), Männlichkeit als Maskerade. Kulturelle Inszenierungen vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. Böhlau Verlag, Köln 2003. Ruth Padel, I'm a Man: Sex, Gods and Rock and Roll. London: Faber and Faber, 2000, pp. 229, 239. See also Efrat Tseëlon (ed.), Masquerade and identities: essays on gender, sexuality and marginality. London: Routledge, 2001. The classic Freudian text is Joan Riviere, "Womanliness as a masquerade", in: Joan Riviere, The inner world and Joan Riviere, Collected Papers 1920–1958, ed. Athol Hughes. London: H. Karnac Books Ltd, 1991, pp. 90–101.
- Uri Rapp, Handeln und Zuschauen. Untersuchungen über den theatersoziologischen Aspekt in der menschlichen Interaktion. Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1973, p. 147. Referred to by Munz, op. cit., p. 26.
- Jean L. Cohen, Class and civil society: the limits of Marxian critical theory. Oxford: Martin Robertson, 1982 p. 156.
- See e.g. Donald Pollock, "Masks and the Semiotics of Identity." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 1, no. 3, 1995, pp. 581–97.
- Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Character: the Personal Consequences Of Work In the New Capitalism. New York: Norton, 1998.
- 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.
- Letter of Karl Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann, 11 July 1868. Marx/Engels Collected Works, Vol. 43, p. 67.
- For a commentary see e.g. Paul Blackledge, Marxism and Ethics; Freedom, Desire, and Revolution. New York: SUNY Press, 2012.
- Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, p. 37.
- 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.
- Louis Althusser, "Freud and Lacan" (1964), in: Althusser, Lenin and philosophy and other essays. London: NLB, 1971.
- Louis Althusser and Étienne 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. 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). 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. 
- 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.
- See Jean-Paul Sartre, Critique of Dialectical Reason, Vols. 1 and 2. London: Verso, 1991.
- See e.g. György Konrád and Iván Szelényi The Intellectuals on the Road to Class Power. Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, 1979 and Alvin W. Gouldner, The future of the intellectuals and the rise of the new class. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979. Similar theories of a new class were proposed by Michael Voslensky (Russia), 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.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. New York: Random House, 1989, p. 51. 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.
- Jon Elster, Making sense of Marx. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985, p. 13.
- 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.
- *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.
- Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, The new spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso, 2005, p. x. 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.
- See: "A biological understanding of human nature: a talk with Steve Pinker", 9 September 2002. 
- Staff reporter, "Foxconn chairman likens his workforce to animals", WantChinaTimes (Taipei), 19 January 2012.
- Manuel Castells, The Power of Identity. The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture, Volume II. Second edition, Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
- Theodor W. Adorno, Minima Moralia . London: Verso, 2005, p. 37.
- Pauline Marie Rosenau, Post-modernism and the social sciences: insights, inroads, and intrusions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992.
- Amalia Rosenblum, "Goodbye to privacy". Ha'aretz, 11 November 2010.
- See further e.g. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1991 and Christian Fuchs, "Towards an alternative concept of privacy". Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 9 No. 4, 2011, pp. 220–237.
- See e.g. George Liodakis, Totalitarian Capitalism and Beyond. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2010.
- Robert Kurz and Ernst Lohoff, "Der Klassenkampf-Fetisch. Thesen zur Entmythologisierung des Marxismus." in: Marxistischen Kritik Nr. 7, 1989.
- See e.g. Slavoj Žižek (ed.), Lacan: The Silent Partners. London: Verso, 2006.
- Slavoj Žižek, The sublime object of ideology. London: Verso, 1989, pp. 25.
- Slavoj Žižek, The sublime object of ideology. London: Verso, 1989, pp. 28–30.
- Slavoj Žižek, Ideology III: to read too many books is harmful. Lacan.com, 1997.
- Frank Furedi, "Denial", in: Spiked, 31 January 2007.
- Frank Furedi, Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age. Taylor & Francis, 2003.
- Philip Rieff, Freud: the mind of a moralist. London: Methuen, 1965, pp. 69–70, emphasis added.
- 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. 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.
- Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 90.
- Karl Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed., chapter 1, p. 117.
- David Harvey, The enigma of capital and the crises of capitalism. Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 260.
- Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 93.
- Marx & Engels, Preface to The German Ideology (1846).
- Marx, Grundrisse, Penguin, p. 705.
- Marx, Capital, Volume I, Penguin, p. 929. The concept of collapse is denied by many Marxists, but in the history of capitalism undeniably many countries have experienced such a collapse. This, however, did not lead automatically to socialism, and it did not prevent business from reviving after a few years. Capitalism can collapse, but it can also recover.
- Marx, Capital, Volume III, Penguin ed., pp. 958–959.