Marcuse Family website > Herbert Marcuse homepage
Herbert at FU Berlin, 1968 Herbert in the late 1970s (photo I. Ohlbaum)

Herbert Marcuse
(1898-1979)
Official Homepage

Marcuse family homepage: www.marcuse.org

webmaster: Harold Marcuse (Harold's UCSB homepage)
page created March 27, 2001, last updated 9/24/17


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Biography
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Film:
Herbert's Hippo
Publications
full texts:
  • One Dimen. Man
  • Repressive Toler.
  • Lib. fr. Affl. Soc.
  • End of Utopia
  • Books
    about Marcuse

    Unpublished Papers
    Haters Page

    News, Events and
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    Student Papers
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    & Activists
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    includes
    Encyclopedia Entries

    Site News (see also Old News page; current visitor statistics and brand new guestbook [9/24/2017] at bottom)

    • Sept. 24, 20172017 Five New Lectures Cover: The International Herbert Marcuse Society's 7th biennal conference is coming up:
      • Oct. 26-28, 2017at York University in Toronto: Conference website with program under the theme "The Dialectics of Liberation in the Era of Neoliberalism."
      • A book of five previously unpublished lectures will be distributed at the conference: Herbert Marcuse, Transvaluation of Values and Radical Social Change: Five New Lectures, 1966-1976, edited by Peter-Erwin Jansen, Sarah Surak and Charles Reitz; introduction by Terry Maley; commentary by Andrew Feenberg. Soon it will also be available on amazon for $20. Click on the images at right for details.
    • Sept. 18, 2017: I've fallen behind on updating recent publications, quite a few of which I've just added to the Books About page (and the Scholar-Activists page). Here are two examples:
      • 2016: Javier Sethness-Castro, Eros and Revolution: The Critical Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse (Leiden: Brill, 2016)2017 Five New Lectures  Contents ($28 on amazon)
      • 2016: Federico Sollazzo, "The Marcusean Inheritance as a Possibility Not Yet Realized: From a Pre- to a Post-Technological Culture and Society," in «Polis», special issue: "The Contribution of Critical Theory in Understanding Society," F. Sollazzo ed. 4(2016), pp. 25-48.
    • July 25, 2017: The guestbook provider since 2001, Sparklit, has cancelled the service. They provided me with aspreadsheet of the comments, which I've turned into a text document, which is a very interesting record of visitors to this site, interspersed with anecdotes by people who know Herbert. You can read them here compiled as a pdf: Guestbook entries 2001-2017.
    • March 28, 2017: A thought-provoking article draws on Herbert's ideas (e.g. Great Refusal) to formulate a conservative+liberal strategy for the anti-Trumpian movement: Charles Leadbeater, "The prophets of Trumpism: How the ideas of two pre-war intellectual refugees – the radical Herbert Marcuse and the reactionary Eric Voegelin – are influencing the new culture wars among Trump and his acolytes," in: New Statesman and Society (March 28, 2017).
      • Excerpt: "A true sense of order, Voegelin argues, comes from living with an open soul and a full spirit, not being part of a machine manufacturing false promises. If we cannot manage to create order from within, by returning to the life guided by the soul, we will find order imposed, more brutally, from without. Marcuse, likewise, thought that turning the Great Refusal into a creative movement required an inner renewal, a “liberation of consciousness” through aesthetics, art, fantasy, imagination and creativity. We can only escape the grip of the one-dimensional society, which reduces life to routines of buying and selling, by recognising that we are multidimensional people, full of potential to grow in different ways. It is not enough merely to resist reality; we have to escape it through leaps of imagination and see the world afresh."
    • Jan. 31, 2017: long time no updates, but not for want of important things to post. Most urgent as new social movements emerge to mobilize against the new US government's reactionary agenda, is on the BooksAbout page: Andrew LamasLamas, Great Refusal, thumbnail of book cover, Todd Wolfson and Peter Funke (eds.), The Great Refusal: Herbert Marcuse and Contemporary Social Movements (Philadelphia: Temple, 2016), 410 pages. ($40 at amazon, w/ contents and preview)(pdf flyer).
      • The cover shows a sculpture of Sisyphus by the contemporary British sculptor Jane McAdam Freud, a great-granddaughter of Sigmund Freud and the daughter of the painter Lucian Freud (JMF's wikipedia page).
      • Book mentioned and concept discussed over several paragraphs in the Jan. 20, 2017 New Yorker by Emily Eakin, "What Can Artists Accomplish by Saying No to Trump?" Eakin states: Marcuse "remains one of few contemporary thinkers to have articulated a political theory of refusal."
      • Book blurb: Herbert Marcuse examined the subjective and material conditions of radical social change and developed the “Great Refusal,” a radical concept of “the protest against that which is.” The editors and contributors to the exciting new volume The Great Refusal provide an analysis of contemporary social movements around the world with particular reference to Marcuse’s revolutionary concept.
        The book also engages—and puts Marcuse in critical dialogue with—major theorists including Slavoj Žižek and Michel Foucault, among others. The chapters in this book analyze different elements and locations of the contemporary wave of struggle, drawing on the work and vision of Marcuse in order to reveal, with a historical perspective, the present moment of resistance. Essays seek to understand recent uprisings—such as the Zapatistas in Mexico, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy movement—in the context of Marcuse’s powerful conceptual apparatus. The Great Refusal also charts contemporary social movements against global warming, mass incarceration, police brutality, white supremacy, militarization, technological development, and more, to provide insights that advance our understanding of resistance today.
    • Sept 9, 2016: Harold uploaded and added English captions to the interview I did in February (aired June 6, 2016) for the Southwest German channel 3 SWR quiz show "I have a famous name" (14 mins): https://youtu.be/fxjqm1CBKUw (38 views on 9/8/16; 395 on 1/31/17).
    • June 8, 2016: a few items after a longer hiatus of not posting:
      • As the "Trump un-revolution" splutters on, elite invectives against Political Correctness are on the increase. Basically, in their view the marginalized should continue to "tolerate" the bigotry of the power holders. Over the next few months I'll be adding here some news articles I've been collecting that invoke Herbert's 1965 essay "Repressive Tolerance" in various ways:
      • In February Harold Marcuse (me) was interviewed by the German broadcaster Südwest Rundfunk (SWR channel 3) for their long running (since 1977!-dt. wikipedia) quiz-show-documentary series "Ich trage einen grossen Namen" (I bear a famous name). It aired on June 6, 2016. If you're interested, the the 15-min. clip is available on youtube (8 views on 6/8/16).
    • Aug. 18, 2015:1974 Paris lectures, table of contents In 1974 Herbert presented 7 lectures to students in Paris. The texts, transcribed from audiotapes with Herbert's annotations, are now available: Paris Lectures at Vincennes University, 1974: Global Capitalism and Radical Opposition ($20 on CreateSpace; same price on amazon)
      • Blurb: "This volume advances Marcuse scholarship by presenting seven newly discovered, hitherto unpublished, lectures to students at Vincennes University, a branch of the Sorbonne. Marcuse's critical analysis focuses on core features of American society, its political economy, its culture, and the potential attainability of a free socialist future. These 1974 manuscripts were found in 2014 in the Marcuse archive at the University of Frankfurt by Peter-Erwin Jansen. Jansen and Charles Reitz edited and annotated the lectures for publication. Commentary by Sarah Surak, Detlev Claussen, and Douglas Kellner illuminates the historical context of Marcuse's theoretical perspective and his relevance to contemporary movements for social change." (cover image)
      • Also added to Publications and BooksAbout pages.
      • Also new on BooksAbout: Shannon Brincat and Damian Gerber, "The Necessity of Dialectical Naturalism: Marcuse, Bookchin, and Dialectics in the Midst of Ecological Crises," in: Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography 47:4(Sept. 2014), pages 871–893. (pdf)

    Archived Old News Page (history of this site going back to March 2001)


    Frequently Asked Questions (back to top)

    1. Where are Herbert's Papers?
      • Herbert's letters and papers are held by the Marcuse archive at the Archivzentrum of the University Library in Frankfurt,Germany (Universitätsbibliothek). Peter-Erwin Jansen, the publisher of Herbert's papers in German, who lives in Frankfurt, can grant permission to scholars to see limited-access materials. (For more information on Peter-Erwin, see the Nachgelassene Schriften page.)
      • 2013 note: several important collections of primary and secondary materials are becoming available in the US (such as the manuscript of One-Dimensional Man at Brandeis), and we are seeking to establish an archive or study center here as well.
        Update 2015: Progress on creating an archive at Brandeis is well underway.
    2. How can I obtain permission to publish some of Herbert's writings?
      • Usually from the previous publisher. For hitherto unpublished materials, see the information on Herbert's son Peter's page; Peter is the literary executor.
    3. Do you have photographs of Herbert that Isolde Ohlbaum portrait of Herbert Marcusecan be used for a publication, conference announcement, etc?
      • Most photos on this site are scanned from various publications, or are from nebulous internet sources, and we cannot offer rights to them.
      • We do have a few photographs from the 1930s (such as the one in his biography, below, standing next to the old car in Santa Monica) and 1950s (see the header of the Books About page), as well as a number from his 1979 funeral and 2003 burial. There are also a few personal/family snapshots on the Sophie and Ricky pages, but these are not suitable for publications and we would probably not give permission. If you have further questions, ask me: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu.
      • Herbert among students, Berlin, 1968A note on the photo of Herbert among students at the Free University of Berlin at right: It was found in 2001 on the Copenhagen Goethe Institute website, from which it has since been removed. The Goethe Institute now has an image from a different vantage point. In 2011 an editor at Yale University Press tracked down the image owner:
        Ullstein bild: Bildnummer: 00003800 - Jung Datum: 01.01.1967 Bildgrösse: 3639x2784 Pixel
        The Ullstein caption dates it as "1967;" it may be May 1968 however.
      • Isolde Ohlbaum's portraits of Herbert are the best commercially available ones on the internet. (See image above right, in this page's header, and 2004 announcements.)
      • The UCSD library's collection has quite a few portraits and images of Herbert (278: most are newspaper clippings). They include 10 "informal" faculty portraits of Herbert in a suit in his office, taken by Gay Crawford on April 2, 1968. He's sitting (in his office presumably) in a shirt, tie and jacket. I like no. 8 with the mischevious smile best. A link for permissions accompanies the photos. The contact for permission to publish those photos (free for non-commercial uses) is:
        • Archives of Scripps Institution of Oceanography Library
          University of California, San Diego
          9500 Gilman Dr #0219
          La Jolla, CA 92093-0219
          Email: siolib2@sio.ucsd.edu
        • Other images are held by the
          Mandeville Special Collections Library
          UCSD Libraries 0175S
          9500 Gilman Drive
          La Jolla, CA 92093-0175
          Email: spcoll@ucsd.edu
    4. How did Herbert pronounce "Marcuse"?
      • I'd write it phonetically (in US-English) [mahr KOO zeh], with the emphasis on the middle syllable. That is the standard German pronunciation.
      • Yourdictionary.com has audio (I'd put a bit more "zz" in the final s), while Allrefer, Answer.com and Infoplease have pronunciation guides.
      • As a member of Herbert's son Peter's family, we grew up in the US with an anglicized pronunciation (which you'd hear on my answering machine, phonetically [mar "QU"SS] (with the 'cu' pronounced like the letter "Q") and the emphasis on the second syllable.
    5. Are we related?
      • Although Marcuse is by no means a common name, there are many thousands of us. Some years ago the city of Berlin had a web site listing the names of the city's Jewish citizens who were murdered under the Nazis. There were 144 "Marcuses" on it, only a few of whom were related to Herbert.
      • I don't do genealogical research, and don't have a reliable family tree to check. The best I can offer is the information on this site's page about Herbert's father Carl Marcuse. We know that Carl had siblings, but not who they were. We've been told that the sexologist Max Marcuse (1877-1963) was Herbert's cousin, whereas the literary scholar Ludwig Marcuse (1894-1971) was unrelated, as was the character actor Theo Marcuse (1920-1967).

    Title page of Herbert's 1922 dissertation on "the German artists' novel"Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin on July 19,1898. After completing his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Freiburg in 1922, he moved to Berlin, where he worked in the book trade. He returned to Freiburg in 1929 to write a habilitation (professor's dissertation) with Martin Heidegger. In 1933, since he would not be allowed to complete that project under the Nazis, Herbert began work at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, a Marxist-oriented think-tank (as we might say today).

    Herbert outside his home in 1937He emigrated from Germany that same year, going first to Switzerland, then the United States, where he became a citizen in 1940. During World War II he worked for the US Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA), analyzing intelligence reports about Germany (1942-45-51).
    In 1952 Herbert began a university teaching career as a political theorist, first at Columbia and Harvard, then at Brandeis from 1954 to 1965, and finally (already retirement-age), at the University of California, San Diego.

    Herbert at UCSD Herbert at a hearing where he testified in behalf of UCSD students. SDHS photo.
    from The Journal of San Diego History
    47:4(2001) (link)
    His critiques of capitalist society (especially his 1955 synthesis of Marx and Freud, Eros and Civilization, and his 1964 book One-Dimensional Man) resonated with the concerns of the leftist student movement in the 1960s. Because of his willingness to engage seriously with (and support) student protesters, Herbert soon became known as "the father of the new left" (a term he disliked and rejected). He had many speaking engagements in the US and Europe in the late 1960s and in the 1970s. He died on July 29, 1979, after suffering a stroke during a visit to Germany.


    The biographical timeline of the Berlin German Historical Museum's LEMO site
    was reworked by Peter-Erwin Jansen and is the most reliable.
    I've also updated the Wikipedia entry, which now links to A. Buick's excellent narrative biography,
    and Douglas Kellner's detailed intellectual biography.
    See also Theresa MacKey's excellent biography in the Dictionary of Literary Biography (2001).

    For more biographical information about Herbert, see: [back to navbar]

    • Herbert, with cigar, speaking to reporters in the 1960sshort biography Herbert's typescript CV, included in his 1922 dissertationgrandson Harold (the author of this page) prepared for a presentation at a screening of the documentary film Herbert's Hippopotamus in 1997 at UC Santa Barbara, where I teach 19th and 20th century German history.
       
    • His own typescript Lebenslauf (CV) that was included in his 1922 dissertation at the University of Freiburg. (jpg image; html version; html with English translation; image of title page of dissertation) [from photocopies I made at the University of Freiburg library in the early 1980s]
    • Available only on this site is a Sept. 1970 article by Michael G. Horowitz, "Portrait of the Marxist as an Old Trouper." This "personality profile" of Herbert was written by a former undergraduate student (1963-67) of Herbert's at Brandeis, after Herbert's April 1969 appearance at SUNY Old Westbury. Herbert during a May 1967 lecture at BrandeisIt was published in Sept. 1970 in Playboy  magazine. Highlights: short biography with details about why Herbert left Brandeis, and a description of a meeting with students in 1969.
    • ;-)  Of course you were wondering why he was called Marcuse? It's actually a Belgian-French abbreviation: "Mouvement autonome de réflexion critique à líusage des survivants de líéconomie" (Autonomous movement of critical reflection for use by survivors of the economy). See this anti-advertising manifesto [2006 version at web archive] by the "Group Marcuse," a group of politically engaged young sociologists, economists, philosophers, historians, psychologists and doctors (according to this review of their 2004 book De la Misere humaine en milieu publicitaire: Comment le monde se meurt de notre mode de vie [Human Misery in Advertising: How the World is Dying of Our Way of Life]).
      • November 2014: the group using this acronym is still active. Near Sivens in France, where a dam was to be constructed, protester Remy Fraisse was killed by a police flash grenade in October 2014. The project was scrapped on its lack of merits anyway. See MARCUSE, "Killing for Growth," Posted on anticoncept.phpnet.us. [Thanks to Jordan Levinson for the reference, July 2015]
    • This site's Links page has annotated links to the best (and worst) biographical sites and texts available on the web.

    A Film about Herbert (back to top) [back to navbar]


    Herbert, looking pensive with students in the background, 1970s


    Permission to publish Herbert's works (back to top)

    • Herbert's letters and papers are held by the Marcuse archive at the City and University Library in Frankfurt, Thumbnail portrait of Peter MarcuseGermany (Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek). Peter-Erwin Jansen can grant permission to scholars to see limited-access materials. (see Nachgelassene Schriften page)
    • Requests to publish any of Herbert's writings should be addressed to Peter Marcuse, Herbert's son, who is the literary executor of Herbert's estate, at pm35@columbia.edu.
    • see Peter's page for the required permissions text, and more information about him

    Other famous Marcuses of Herbert's generation (back to top) [back to navbar]Max Marcuse at an advanced age. Note duelling scars, unusual for Jewish students.

    • The literary scholar Ludwig Marcuse (1894-1971) was, as far as we know, at best a distant relative. See USC's Feuchtwanger library page about him.
    • The renowned sexologist Max Marcuse (1877-1963) may have been Herbert's cousin, according to archivist Haeberle at the Robert-Koch-Institut in Berlin, which maintains a very informative website about Max and other pioneers in the field.
      OCLC: Levy, Amihai.; Ohry, Abraham, "A forgotten giant: Dr Max Marcuse, one of the founders of the science of sexology," in: Adler Museum Bulletin Vol. 11, no. 3 (Nov. 1985).

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    page by Harold Marcuse
    begun in Nov. 1997 at history.ucsb.edu
    expanded and moved to marcuse.org
    in March 2001

    contact: marcuse@history.ucsb.edu

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    7700 on Mar. 27, 2002 [64/day]

    7,700=21 hits/day first year
    10,000 on 5/3/02 [62/day]
    27,000 on Mar. 27, 2003

    19,300=53 hits/day 2nd year
    32,000 on 5/30/03 [87/day prev. month]
    Herbert buried in Berlin, 7/18/03
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    Guest Book for Herbert Marcuse homepage

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    Guestbook Archive:
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    Sparklit Guestbook statistics, 2001-2017:
    In the 9 months from Sept 6, 2001 to June 6, 2002, the Guestbook had
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    On 10/12/02: 887 of 1866 views were unique (47.5%).
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