copy on the Official Herbert Marcuse website
Subjects: Capitalism | Democracy | Freedom | Law | Leninism | Marxism | Revolution | Russia 1917 | Socialism | Unsorted | USSR | War | Work
Capitalism [back to top]We are again confronted with one of the most vexing aspects of advanced industrial civilisation: the rational character of its irrationality. Its productivity and efficiency, its capacity to increase and spread comforts, to turn waste into need, and destruction into construction, the extent to which this civilisation transforms the object world into an extension of man’s mind and body makes the very notion of alienation questionable. The people recognise themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment. The very mechanism which ties the individual to his society has changed, and social control is anchored in the new needs which it has produced.
Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man: 9
Democracy [back to top]Dialectics of democracy: if democracy means self-government of free people, with justice for all, then the realization of democracy would presuppose abolition of the existing pseudo-democracy. In the dynamic of corporate capitalism, the fight for democracy thus tends to assume anti-democratic forms, and the extent to which the democratic decisions are made in "parliaments" on all levels, the opposition will tend to become extra-parliamentary. The movement to extend constitutionally professed rights and liberties to the daily life of the oppressed minorities, even the movement to preserve existing rights and liberties, will become "subversive" to the degree to which it will meet the stiffening resistance of the majority against an "exaggerated" interpretation and application of equality and justice.
Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain), 1969: 69-70
Freedom [back to top]At this stage, the question is no longer: how can the individual satisfy his own needs without hurting others, but rather: how can he satisfy his needs without hurting himself, without reproducing, through his aspirations and satisfactions, his dependence on an exploitative apparatus which, in satisfying his needs, perpetuates his servitude?
Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain), 1969: 14
The historical process has created the preconditions, both material and intellectual, for the realisation of Reason (Hegel) in the organisation (Marx), for the convergence of freedom and necessity. However, freedom which converges with (or is even absorbed by) necessity is not the final form of freedom. At this ultimate point, Hegel and Marx again agree. The realm of true freedom is beyond the realm of necessity. Freedom as well as necessity is redefined. For Hegel, ultimate freedom resides in the realm of the Absolute Spirit. For Marx, the realm of necessity is to be mastered by a society whose reproduction has been subjected to the control of the individuals, and freedom is the free play of individual faculties outside the realm of necessary labour. Freedom is 'confined' to free time - but free time is, quantitatively and qualitatively, the very content of life.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, 1958: 183
Law [back to top]It seems that the continued functioning of the society is sufficient justification for its legality and its claim for obedience, and "functioning" seems defined rather negatively as absence of civil war, massive disorder, economic collapse. Otherwise anything goes: military dictatorship, plutocracy, government by gangs and rackets. Genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity are not effective arguments against a government which protects property, trade, and commerce at home while it perpetrates its destructive policy abroad. ...there is no (enforceable) law other than that which serves the status quo, and that those who refuse such service are eo ipso outside the realm of law even before they come into actual conflict with the law.
Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain), 1969: 71
County Judge Christ Seraphim sat with his golden retriever, Holly, on the porch of his Spanish-style house on a pleasant East Side street [in Milwaukee] this afternoon and made some acerbic comments on 1,000 civil rights demonstrators who jived and strutted past his front lawn...
"I think they are disturbing the peace, don't you?" ... "They are loud and boisterous, are they not? I can't enjoy the peace and tranquility of my home, a home I paid a lot for."
As for Rev. James E. Groppi, the white Roman Catholic priest who commands the marchers, Judge Seraphim snapped: "He is a criminal, a convicted criminal, convicted twice by a jury for disorderly conduct."
The demonstrators finally moved out of earshot, and Judge Seraphim resumed, with a grateful sigh, his reading of A History of the Jews by Abram Leon Sacher, president of Brandeis University, but soon the marchers returned.
"These people," said Judge Seraphim, this time referring to his book, "were baked in ovens. But they maintained their dignity to the end. They didn't do much marching. They are the most law-abiding people in the world."
Herbert Marcuse, New York Times (5 September 1967), quoted in Marcuse, H., An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain): 75-76
Leninism [back to top]...while not a single [one] of the basic dialectical concepts has been revised or rejected in Soviet Marxism, the function of [the] dialectic itself has undergone a significant change: it has been transformed from a mode of critical thought into a universal 'world outlook' and universal method with rigidly fixed rules and regulations, and this transformation destroys the dialectic more throughly than any revision.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, 1958: 115
Marxism [back to top]Hegel could develop the principles of dialectic in the medium of universality, as a 'science of logic', because to him the structure and movement of being was that of the 'notion' and attained its truth in the Absolute Idea; Marxian theory, however, which rejects Hegel's interpretation of being in terms of the Idea, can no longer unfold the dialectic of logic: its Logos is the historical reality, and its universality is that of history.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, 1958: 119
Hypostatized into a ritual pattern, Marxian theory becomes ideology. But its content and function distinguish it from 'classical' forms of ideology; it is not 'false consciousness', but a rather conscousness of falsehood, a falsehood which is 'corrected' in the context of the 'higher truth' represented by the objective historical interest.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, (On Soviet Marxism), 1958: 77-78
Revolution [back to top]No matter how remote from these notions the rebellion may be, no matter how destructive and self-destructive it may be appear, no matter how great the distance between the middle-class revolt in the metropoles and the life-and-death struggle of the wretched of the earth - common to them is the depth of the Refusal. It makes them reject the rules of the game that is rigged against them, the ancient strategy of patience and persuasion, the reliance on the Good Will of the Establishment, its false and immoral comforts, its cruel affluence.
Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain), 1969: 16
...radical change depends on a mass basis, but every step in the struggle for radical change isolates the opposition from the masses and provokes intensified repression: mobilization of institutionalized violence against the opposition, thus further diminishing the prospects for radical change. ... Humanité wrote (according to the Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1968): 'every barricade, every car burned gave tens of thousands of votes to the Gaullist party'. This is perfectly correct - as perfectly correct as the corollary proposition that without the barricades and car burning the ruling powers would be safer and stronger…
Herbert Marcuse, An Essay on Liberation, Pelican Books (1973), Bungay (Great Britain), 1969: 71-72
...if the revolution does not from the beginning reverse the relationship between the labourer and the means of labour, that is to say, transfer control over to him, it does not have a raison d'être essentially different from that of a capitalist society. Abolition of private property in the means of production is thus substantially linked with transfer of control to the labourers themselves. As long as such transfer is not accomplished, the revolution is bound to reproduce the very antagonisms which it strives to overcome.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, 1958: 83-84
Russia 1917 [back to top]In the first phase of the development (from the October revolution to the 'elimination of the exploiting classes'), the functions of the state were: (a) 'to suppress the overthrown classes inside the country', (b) 'to defend the country from foreign attack', and (c) 'economic organisation and cultural education'. In the second phase (from the 'elimination of the capitalist elements in town and country' to the 'complete victory of the socialist system and the adoption of the new constitution') function (a) ceased and was supplanted by that of 'protecting socialist property'; functions (b) and (c) 'fully remained'.
Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Pelican Books (1971), London, (On the Bolshevik program of "development'.), 1958: 86
Socialism [back to top]
Nationalis [The copy archived at web.archive.org breaks off here.]