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Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a leading 20th-century New Left philosopher in the United States and a follower of Karl Marx. Marcuse's writing reflected a discontent with modern society and technology and their "destructive" influences, as well as the necessity of revolution. His application of the theories of Sigmund Freud to the character of contemporary society and politics was the subject of much research, scholarly and otherwise. He was considered by some to be a philosopher of the sexual revolution.

Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin on July 19, 1898. In 1922 he received his doctorate of philosophy from the universities of Berlin and Freiburg. Marcuse's distinctive intellectual heritage was based on the democratic and socialist philosophy originated by G. W. F. Hegel and developed by Karl Marx—combined with the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud. On this basis he took a stand against fascism, as it appeared in Europe from the 1920s until the end of World War II and as it appeared later in the allegedly fascist elements of advanced industrial society.

In 1934 Marcuse emigrated to the United States and joined the Institute of Social Research in New York City. In 1941 he became a U.S. citizen. Also in 1941 Marcuse published Reason and Revolution, a study of Hegel and the rise of social theory. Marcuse's intention was to draw a distinction between Hegel and the contemporary fascist interpretations of Hegel's theories.

Worked for U.S. Government

During World War II Marcuse served in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, which later became the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA]). He worked for the U.S. Department of State until 1950. For several years thereafter he was a member of the Russian Institutes of Columbia University and Harvard University. From 1954 to 1965 he was a professor at Brandeis University. He married Inge S. Werner in 1955.

Advocated Sexual Openness

Marcuse's Eros and Civilization (1955) presents a Neo-Freudian view of man. It argues for a greater tolerance of eroticism than that permitted by the status quo. The book argues that a tolerant attitude toward sexuality would lead to a more satisfactory life in a society devoid of aggression. Because of this book Marcuse is considered one of the philosophers of the "sexual revolution."

Attacked Industrial Advancement

Marcuse criticized the advanced industrial societies of the United States and the Soviet Union for constructing a civilization that requires ceaseless production and consumption of unnecessary goods and for perpetuating themselves at the expense not only of other nations but also of their own populations. In Soviet Marxism (1958) Marcuse views the Soviet Union as actually worse but potentially better than the United States.

One-Dimensional Man (1964) continues Marcuse's attack on advanced industrial society—especially that found in the United States. He writes that America's affluence is facilitated by self-serving technology—such as military defense—in which the only reason products are consumed is that they are available. As a result, humanity's authenticity is undermined, and its potential for aggression is elevated to the point at which nuclear holocaust is probable. One-Dimensional Manis a pessimistic work in which the United States emerges as the most dangerous nation on Earth. It was, however, an important work during the following decade of radical political change.

Advocated Revolution

In 1965 Marcuse joined the faculty of the University of California in San Diego. That year his controversial essay "Repressive Tolerance" appeared. It states that the United States is repressive, since dissent goes unheard and no alternative to the view of the Establishment is considered. Accordingly, in defense of tolerance it is correct to disrupt and obstruct Establishment spokesmen. At this time Marcuse collaborated on A Critique of Pure Tolerance (1965).

College campus uprisings, culminating in the revolt of French students in May 1968, rendered Marcuse open to attack. In July 1968 he disappeared from his home in California after reportedly receiving a threatening letter from the Ku Klux Klan. In October 1968 a campaign was launched to dislodge him from his teaching position. And in 1969 Pope Paul criticized his views on sex.

An Essay on Liberation (1969), written before the French student rebellion, is dedicated to the student militants. Clearly, Marcuse hoped that they might effect the revolution he deemed justifiable against the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of contemporary industrial society. He published Five Lectures: Psychoanalysis, Politics, and Utopia in 1970.

In 1972 Marcuse published Studies in Critical Philosophy, a study of authority; From Luther to Popper; and Counterrevolution and Revolt. Then, in 1978, he focused again on Marx in The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics.

Other articles and essays Marcuse wrote include: "Remarks on a Redefinition of Culture" Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1965); Negations: Essays in Critical Theory" (1968); "Art and Revolution," Partisan Review (1972); "Marxism and Feminism," Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (1974); "The Obsolescence of the Freudian Concept of Man" (published 1989); and "Philosophy and Critical Theory," Critical Theory and Society: A Reader (1989).

Shortly before his death in 1979, Marcuse reflected upon the inseparability of human beings and nature in "Ecology and the Critique of Modern Society," in which he stated that the natural environment must be shielded from capitalist—and Communist—destruction.

Further Reading

Sound recordings based on Marcuse's writings include: "Art as a Revolutionary Weapon," "The New Sensibility," "One Dimensional Man," and "Reason and Revolution Today" (all published by Pacifica Tape Library).

Marcuse is discussed in: Kurt H. Wolff and Barrington Moore, Jr., eds., The Critical Spirit: Essays in Honor of Herbert Marcuse (Beacon Press, 1967); Paul A. Robinson, The Freudian Left (Harper & Row, 1969); Paul Breines, ed., Critical Interruptions: New Left Perspectives on Herbert Marcuse (Herder and Herder, 1970); Alasdair MacIntyre, Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and a Polemic (Viking Press, 1970); Robert W. Marks, The Meaning of Marcuse (Ballantine Books, 1970); Maurice Cranston, ed., The New Left: Six Critical Essays (Library Press, 1970); Michael A. Weinstein, compiler, Identity, Power, and Change: Selected Readings in Political Theory (Scott, Foresman, 1971); Eliseo Vivas, Contra Marcuse (Arlington House, 1971); Maurice Cranston, Prophetic Politics: Critical Interpretations of the Revolutionary Impulse: Che Guevara, Jean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, Frantz Fanon, Black Power, R.D. Lang (Simon and Schuster, 1972); Jack Woddis, New Theories of Revolution: A Commentary on theViews of Frantz Fanon, Regis Debray and Herbert Marcuse (International Publishers, 1972); Paul Mattick, Critique of Marcuse (Herder and Herder, 1972); John Fry, Marcuse, Dilemma and Liberation: A Critical Analysis (Harvester Press, 1974); Sidney Lipshires, Herbert Marcuse: From Marx to Freud and Beyond (Schenkman Publishing Co., 1974); Gad Horowitz, Repression: Basic and Surplus Repression in Psychoanalytic Theory: Freud, Reich, and Marcuse (University of Toronto Press, 1977); Harold Bleich, The Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse (University Press of America, 1977); Gertrude A. Steuernagel, Political Philosophyas Therapy: Marcuse Recommended (Greenwood Press, 1979); Morton Schoolman, The Imaginary Witness: The Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (Collier MacMillan, 1980); Richard A. Brosio, The Frankfurt School: An Analysis of the Contradictions and Crises of Liberal Capitalist Societies (Ball State University, 1980); Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom from 1776 Until Today (Harvester Press, 1982); Barry Katz, Herbert Marcuse and the Art of Liberation (Schocken Books, 1982); Peter Lind, Marcuse and Freedom: the Genesis and Development of a Theory of Human Liberation (Croom Helm, 1984); Douglas Kellner, Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism (University of California Press, 1984); Richard Kearney, Dialogues with Contemporary Thinkers: the Phenomenological Heritage: Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas, Herbert Marcuse, Stanislas Breton, Jacques Derrida (Manchester University Press, 1986); Fred C. Alford, Science and the Revenge of Nature (University Presses of Florida, 1985); Timothy J. Lukes, The Flight Into Inwardness: An Exposition and Critique of Herbert Marcuse's Theory of Liberative Aesthetics (Associated University Presses, 1985); Mark Thomas, Ethics and Technoculture (University Press of America, 1987); Robert B. Pippin, Marcuse: Critical Theory & the Promise of Utopia (Bergin & Garvey, 1988); Ben Agger, The Discourse of Domination: From the Frankfurt School to Post-Modernism (Northwestern University Press, 1992); John Bokina and Timothy J. Lukes, eds., Marcuse: From the New Left to the Next Left (University Press of Kansas, 1994); Marsha Hewitt, Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis (Fortress Press, 1995); and Joan Alwy, Critical Theory and Political Possibilities: Conceptions of Emancipatory Politics in the Works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermas (Greenwood Press, 1995). □

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Marcuse, Herbert

Marcuse, Herbert 1898-1979

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Herbert Marcuse was a German American social theorist and activist who gained prominence in the 1960s as the father of the New Left. Born in Berlin to a prosperous Jewish family, Marcuse served in the German army during World War I and then studied in Berlin and Freiburg from 1919 to 1922. After working as a bookseller in Berlin, Marcuse returned to Freiburg in 1929 to study philosophy with Martin Heidegger. Although he was enthralled with Heideggers thought, he was deeply dismayed by his teachers political affiliation with the Nazis. Though his habilitation, Hegels Ontology and the Theory of Historicity (1932), was not accepted because of the rising influence of nazism, Marcuse joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research in 1933 and became associated with the neo-Marxist Frankfurt school of critical social theory. In 1934 Marcuse fled Nazi Germany and relocated to Columbia University in New York, receiving U.S. citizenship in 1940. He published Reason and Revolution (1941), which established him as an insightful interpreter of the Hegelian-Marxian tradition of dialectical thinking.

Wanting to aid the war effort against the Nazis, Marcuse joined the Office of Strategic Services as an intelligence analyst in 1943. After the war he worked for the State Department until he returned to academia in 1952 and eventually landed a position at Brandeis, where he taught from 1954 to 1965. In 1955 he published Eros and Civilization, which argues, contrary to Freud, that civilization is not inevitably repressive, but that the unconscious harbors an instinctual drive toward happiness and freedom that is evident in works of art and other creative cultural products. While a basic repression of drives is necessary for civilization, Marcuse criticizes contemporary societys surplus repression, especially its exploitive economic organization and unnecessary restriction of sexuality. He outlines an alternative form of social organization in which labor is non-alienated and sexuality is free and open.

In 1964 Marcuse published his most influential work, One-Dimensional Man, which argues that the technology and consumerism of advanced industrial society enables it to eliminate social critique and conflict by assimilating traditional voices of dissent, for example, the voice of the working class. The result is one-dimensional man, who cannot think critically about society because it integrates him by continually creating and satisfying false needs. Genuine social critique must therefore come from nonintegrated, socially marginalized voices. Marcuses supplemental essay, Repressive Tolerance (1965), argues that the liberal conception of tolerance blunts social critique by demanding tolerance for oppressive speech. He insists upon a discriminating tolerance that prevents certain forms of intolerance from being voiced. Although criticized by Marxists, One-Dimensional Man was a seminal work of 1960s radical thought, and Marcuse began publishing articles, giving lectures, and advising student protest groups all over the world. He influenced such activists as Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis, who was his student at Brandeis.

Marcuse died on a lecture tour in Starnberg, West Germany. Although his work has been criticized for its lack of empirical analysis, his provocative blend of Marxism and libertarian socialism has inspired much political activism and social critique.

SEE ALSO Davis, Angela; Frankfurt School; Repressive Tolerance

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bokina, John, and Timothy J. Lukes, eds. 1994. Marcuse: From the New Left to the Next Left. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.

Kellner, Douglas. 1984. Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Marcuse, Herbert. 1964. One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston: Beacon, 1991.

Pippin, Robert, Andrew Feenberg, and Charles P. Webel, eds. 1988. Marcuse: Critical Theory & the Promise of Utopia. London: MacMillan Education.

William M. Curtis

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Marcuse, Herbert (1898-1979)

MARCUSE, HERBERT (1898-1979)

Herbert Marcuse, an American philosopher of German origin, was born in Berlin in 1898 into an assimilated Jewish family and died in 1979 in Starnberg, Germany, where he had returned after World War II. He studied philosophy in Berlin and Fribourg, and his doctoral dissertation, Hegel's Ontology and the Theory of Historicity (1987), was sponsored by Martin Heidegger. He militated against social democracy, defended a critical Marxism, and participated, along with Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, in the creation of the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Marcuse left Germany for the United States and taught at different universities: New York, Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California at San Diego.

He had a Marxist training and in 1958 published Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis. He also harbored a passionate yet critical interest in psychoanalysis. These two facets of Marcuse contributed to his writing, where one can discern individual libidinal structures and economic, political, and social realities characterized by domination and alienation continuously coming into conflict. His best-known works were widely read by students in the United States and Europe in the 1960s. In Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (1955) and One Dimensional Man (1964), he denounced "repressive sublimation" in consumer society, where society caters to the individual's drives only to better control the individual. Ever the rebel, Marcuse also published Reason and Revolution (1941), An Essay on Liberation (1968), and Counterrevolution and Revolt (1973).

Roger Dadoun

See also: France; Marxism and psychoanalysis; Philosophy and psychoanalysis; Politics and psychoanalysis; Sociology and psychoanalysis/sociopsychoanalysis.

Bibliography

Marcuse, Herbert. (1941). Reason and revolution: Hegel and the rise of social theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

. (1958). Soviet Marxism: A critical analysis. New York: Columbia University Press.

. (1955). Eros and civilization: A philosophical inquiry into Freud. Boston: Beacon.

. (1964). One dimensional man: Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. Boston: Beacon Press.

. (1968). An essay on liberation. Boston: Beacon Press.

. (1973). Counterrevolution and revolt. Boston: Beacon Press.

. (1987). Hegel's ontology and the theory of historicity (Seyla Benhabib, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Nicolas, André. (1969). Marcuse, ou la quête d'un univers trans-prométhéen. Paris: Seghers.

Palmier, Jean Michel. (1969). Sur Marcuse. Paris: Union générale d'éditions. (Also published under the title Présentation d'Herbert Marcuse.)

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Marcuse, Herbert

Marcuse, Herbert (1898–1979) A German philosopher who was a member of the Frankfurt School in exile in the United States. Unlike others, he remained in America after the end of the war, and maintained a commitment to radical politics until the end of his life. He had a strong influence on the ideas of the student left in the 1960s.

His version of critical theory grew out of the mainstream of European philosophy: the work of Hegel, phenomenology and existentialism, and the meeting of these with some aspects of Marxism. His writings covered politics and aesthetics, as well as philosophical and cultural criticism, and were especially concerned with what he regarded as the totalitarian tendencies of modern societies. Capitalism had, as he saw it, transcended the economic condition that Marx analysed and the working-class had failed to develop as a revolutionary force. He hoped that those groups excluded from the system (for example Blacks, and for a limited period of their lives students), might provide a sense of opposition. His most important books were Reason and Revolution (1941), a presentation of a Hegelian, critical or ‘negative’ Marxism, and a vigorous critique of positivist philosophy; One Dimensional Man (1964), concerned with the ways in which modern capitalism restricts the possibility of opposition; and Eros and Civilization (1955), which appropriates some of the more metaphysical ideas of Freud, particularly his notions of the life and death instincts, into a critique of the way in which modern culture transforms and alienates desire. The best–though highly sceptical–examination of his thought is still Alasdair MacIntyre's Marcuse (1970).

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Marcuse, Herbert

Herbert Marcuse (märkōō´zə), 1898–1979, U.S. political philosopher, b. Berlin. He was educated at the Univ. of Freiburg and with Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer founded the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. A special target of the Nazis because of his Jewish origins and Marxist politics, he emigrated (1934) to the United States and became a naturalized citizen in 1940. Marcuse served with the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and later taught at Harvard, Columbia, and Brandeis before becoming (1965) professor of philosophy at the Univ. of California at San Diego. He is best known for his attempt to synthesize Marxian and Freudian theories into a comprehensive critique of modern industrial society. In One Dimensional Man (1964), his most popular book, he argued for a sexual basis to the social and political repression in contemporary America; the book made him a hero of New Left radicals and provided a rationale for the student revolts of the 1960s in the United States and Europe. His other works include Reason and Revolution (1941), Eros and Civilization (1955), An Essay on Liberation (1969), and Counterrevolution and Revolt (1972).

See studies by A. MacIntyre (1970), P. Mattick (1972), J. Woddis (1972), C. Fred Alford (1985), and P. Line (1985); R. Wolin, Heidegger's Children (2001).

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Marcuse, Herbert

Marcuse, Herbert (1898–1979) US radical political philosopher, b. Germany. Marcuse is noted for his critical reinterpretations of Marxism, and for his Freudian analysis of 20th-century industrial society. In the 1920s, he was a founder member of the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. Fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933, he settled in the USA and worked for the US government (1941–50). Marcuse's advocacy of civil resistance found favour with left-wing students of the 1960s. His works include Eros and Civilization (1955) and One-Dimensional Man (1964). See also alienation

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