Marcuse the Lover

Vincent Lloyd’s “Marcuse the Lover” appears in Telos 165 (Winter 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

Why has Marcuse’s fame faded? I argue that the answer has to do with the way secularism and critical theory do and do not interact in the contemporary academy. We can read Marcuse as a critic of secularism, when secularism is understood as one of the ideas of the ruling class, taking its current form with the rise of identity politics in the 1960s and 70s. Marcuse criticizes the secularizing features of the Protestant Reformation, much like other recent critics of secularism. Further, he seeks to recover a deeper sense of freedom—what might be called a post-secular sense of freedom. In doing so, he appeals to the good, the true, the beautiful, and, in a way, to rightly ordered love. I read Marcuse fundamentally as a critic of idolatry, as a negative political theologian. His work suggests a promising path for conversations about critical theory and secularism to come together.

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From Eros to Eschaton: Herbert Marcuse’s Liberation of Time

Caroline Edwards’s “From Eros to Eschaton: Herbert Marcuse’s Liberation of Time” appears in Telos 165 (Winter 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

This article explores what Gershom Scholem has called Herbert Marcuse’s “unacknowledged ties to [his] Jewish heritage.” At the core of Marcuse’s vision of transformed, non-repressive social relations, I argue, is a struggle over time, which rests upon a distinctly Jewish approach to the twin questions of remembrance and redemption. One example of this approach is the temporal dialectic between alienated labor time and the timelessness of pleasure’s desire for eternity, which underpins Marcuse’s analysis in Eros and Civilization (1956). This dialectic rests upon Marcuse’s reading of the Freudian Eros-Todestrieb dualism, whose phylogenetic reading of patricide has been read by critics as reformulating the biblical rebellion against an authoritarian Yahweh.

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Herbert Marcuse on Jewish Identity, the Holocaust, and Israel

Zvi Tauber’s “Herbert Marcuse on Jewish Identity, the Holocaust, and Israel” appears in Telos 165 (Winter 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

The article focuses at three themes of Herbert Marcuse’s approach, views, and attitudes concerning Judaism, Jewish history and the State of Israel. Marcuse, whose research and philosophy only marginally addressed the “Jewish question,” never denied his Jewish origins, but at the same time he never used this objective fact as an exclusive or decisive argument to affect his views on various issues, not even regarding world-historical matters of particular relevance to the Jews. Even if generally, positively, Marcuse endeavored to constitute the Marxian Realm of Freedom, or at least strove to fathom scientifically why in the course of modern history, an authentic revolution for the liberation of man has failed repeatedly, his major, immediate, intellectual and socio-political concern was the struggle against the reemergence of an oppressive reign of horror, including a struggle against the possible recurrence of a genocide.

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Schmitt and Marcuse: Friends, Force, and Quality

Joseph Diaz’s “Schmitt and Marcuse: Friends, Force, and Quality” appears in Telos 165 (Winter 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

This article aims at exploring the potential for a politically operative theory of opposition to liberalism’s stultifying politics of process. Given their formal political positionality as critics of liberal neutrality, as well as their historically particular relationship to some of the most volatile politics of the twentieth century, Marcuse and Schmitt cannot but be brought into discourse with one another in the most pressing of times, for three reasons. First, by exploring the modalities of their respective criticisms, this article locates an enemy common to both thinkers in the neutralization of the political through the attempted elimination of the decision. Second, in using Schmitt’s framework of the friend-enemy distinction, further investigation into the potential complicities between anti-liberal thought illuminates the limitations of founding political friendship on mere enemy identification alone.

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Marcuse and “the Christian Bourgeois Concept of Freedom”

Vincent Geoghegan’s “Marcuse and ‘the Christian Bourgeois Concept of Freedom'” appears in Telos 165 (Winter 2013). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

Current talk of the post-secular necessarily invites analysis of the nature of the secular, particularly its historical genesis and subsequent development. The task is to reject what Charles Taylor in A Secular Age has termed “subtraction stories” of the emergence of secularism, involving simplistic assumptions about the inexorable evaporation and attenuation of the religious, and instead understand the complex constitutive role religion has played in the construction of the secular. Marcuse’s work is of interest in this respect because beginning with his 1930s analysis of what he terms “the Christian bourgeois concept of freedom” within the Protestant Reformation, he explores the ways in which he believes modern secular society emerged out of Christianity.

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Now Available! Telos 165 (Winter 2013): Marcuse after Secularism

Telos 165 (Winter 2013) is now available for purchase in our store.

To choose Herbert Marcuse and religion as the topic for a special issue might seem strikingly anachronistic. Formed by the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism, Marcuse worked in the OSS during the Second World War, and later, in his mature theoretical works, such as Eros and Civilization and One-Dimensional Man, he grew into the cultural critic who would become a prominent mentor of the student revolt of the 1960s, especially in the United States and Germany. This is a stirring narrative, no doubt, but does it not simply belong to another era? To be sure, historical distance is hardly an argument against intellectual inquiry, and one could certainly dedicate an issue to filling out a detailed account of how this philosopher became a public intellectual in the context of the upheavals of his age. Yet every historical study of the past also bears the marks of the present, including the question marks that punctuate our own, current queries in this issue of the journal. What does Marcuse have to say to us today? That consideration is always germane, but especially in Telos, which has set for itself the task of developing a critique of the contemporary.

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