Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)

Ink portrait of Herbert, links to marcuse.org homepage

Detail of Herbert Marcuse lecturing in a crowd of students at the Berlin Free University in 1968 Portrait of Herbert Marcuse in 1970, with autograph Herbert Marcuse was born in Berlin in 1898. After writing his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Freiburg, he began work at the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research, a Marxist-oriented think-tank (as we might say today). He emigrated from Germany shortly after Hitler was elected in 1933, 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. In the 1950s he began a university teaching career as a philosopher, first at Columbia and Harvard, then at Brandeis University from 1958 to 1965, and finally (already retirement-age), at the University of California, San Diego. His critiques of capitalist society resonated with the concerns of the leftist student movement in the 1960s, and he became known as "the father of the new left." He had many speaking engagements in the US and Europe in the late 1960s and in the 1970s. He died while visiting Germany in 1979.

For biographical information about him, see:

Comprehensive Web Sites and Links Pages

Thumbnail of book jacket, Technology, War and Fascism

Other Sites of Interest and Sources of Information

In PrintThumbnail of book jacket, Der eindimensionale MenschThumbnail of book jacket, One Dimensional Man

Angela Davis speaking at a rally, probably in the early 1970s Herbert's Legacy

A professor's legacy is visible not only through publications, but in (former) students as well. Abbie Hoffman and Angela Davis, now Professor in the History of Consciousness program at UC Santa Cruz, are two of Herbert's best-known. Angela's autobiography (1988); 1997 NYTimes review of Jonah Raskin's biography of Abbie.

The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory since the 1980s

Numerous scholars were strongly influenced by members of the Frankfurt School (actually the Institut fuer Sozialforschung in Frankfurt; website with history in English) and consider themselves practitioners of Critical Theory. Juergen Habermas (b. 1929) is by far the best known (linkography by Antti Kauppinen, postgrad student of philosophy at the University of Helsinki; overview and resources by Steve Robinson, student at Michigan State University).

A younger generation of scholars who studied in the 1960s can more properly be considered "students" of Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School. In 1999 for instance, Detlev Claussen, Oskar Negt und Michael Werz, at the University of Hannover in Germany, began publishing a series called the "Hannoversche Schriften," which is devoted to the continuing influence of Critical Theory. The first volume, Keine Kritische Theorie ohne Amerika, was reviewed by Micha Brumlik in the FAZ in Dec. 1999 (archive copy).

Other famous Marcuses of Herbert's generationMax Marcuse at an advanced age. Note duelling scars, unusual for Jewish students.

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