Skip to content

October 29, 2013

Critical Refusals: Radical Philosophy Review 16.2 (2013)

by Andy Lamas


The International Herbert Marcuse Society has cooperated with the Radical Philosophy Association to publish a special double issue of the Radical Philosophy Review in 2013.   Both of these issues (RPR 16.1 and RPR 16.2) present a number of special contributions (e.g., heretofore unpublished work by Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as selected papers (including a keynote address by Angela Davis) that arose from the “Critical Refusals” conference at the University of Pennsylvania, in October 2011, during the height of Occupy.   The first of these two issues was published in Summer 2013, and the second was published in Fall 2013.

The cover spread of RPR 16.2 (2013) is presented here: RPR 16-2 Cover spread–version 2

Radical Philosophy Review – Volume 16, Number 2 – 2013
Arnold L. Farr; Douglas Kellner; Andrew T. Lamas; Charles Reitz
Angela Y. Davis
Marge Piercy
Heather Love
Queer Critique, Queer Refusal
In a moment of widespread assimilation of lesbians and gays, there are also continuing exclusions—of poor queers, queers of color, undocumented queers, disabled queers, nonmonogamous queers, transgender people, and others. Herbert Marcuse’s reflections on sexuality, freedom, and negation are helpful in articulating a strategy and an ethics for a renewed queer criticism—one alive to both new inclusions and ongoing exclusions. Focusing on Marcuse’s concept of the Great Refusal, this paper considers the marginalization of gender and sexual outsiders as a political resource, the basis for a project of difference without limits.
Holly Lewis
The Dialectic of Solidarity – Space, Sexuality, and Social Movements in Contemporary Revolutionary Praxis
The common sense that queer liberation is based upon a linear or progressive trajectory fails to account for the complexities and contradictions surrounding the current demand for LGBT equality and its place within intersecting social movements. This article uses the history of Marxist praxis, including Marcuse’s contributions, to argue for abandoning linear and stagist assumptions of gradual change in favor of a dialectical approach toward the intersection of identity formation and social struggle.
Peter Marcuse
Occupy Consciousness – Reading the 1960s and Occupy Wall Street with Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse was concerned with many of the same issues that confront the Occupy Wall Street movement today. Change the militant “students” in the 1960s to the militant “occupiers” today, and his views on their philosophical bases and strategies for change remain similar. Militant protest is reacting to an aggressive, profit-driven system, reducing its subservient population to consumption-fixated one-dimensionality. The ideology-motivated militants cannot by themselves change things all at once, yet the ideological/psychological elements can lead the material bases of the struggle to produce radical change in one area at a time, suggesting an agenda akin to the “long march through the institutions” of the 1960s.
George Katsiaficas
Eros and Revolution
In his later work, Marcuse concerned himself with the nexus between social movements and unconscious dimensions of human nature. He understood Nature (including instincts) as an “ally” in the revolutionary process. In this paper, I seek to explore his insight through the concept of the “eros effect,” which I first uncovered while analyzing the global revolt of 1968. Forms of direct democracy and collective action developed by the New Left continue to define movement aspirations and structures. Although contemporary rational choice theorists (who emphasize individual gain as the key motivation for people’s actions) cannot comprehend instinctual motivations, a different understanding is central to my conception.
Michael Forman
One-Dimensional Man and the Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism – Revisiting Marcuse in the Occupation
A new wave of global protest movements offers the opportunity to reassess Marcuse’s work in the early twenty-first century. Before engaging with the Occupy movement and its analogs, it is necessary to scrutinize Marcuse’s assumptions about the affluent society. This examination suggests that the conditions of neoliberal accumulation diverge significantly from those Marcuse more or less took for granted as permanently stabilizing capitalist societies in the Global North. While much of what Marcuse offers retains relevance, its appeal to the new movements is not immediate because these can no longer take for granted the prosperity of the earlier era.
Francis Dupuis-Déri
Herbert Marcuse and the “Antiglobalization” Movement – Thinking through Radical Opposition to Neoliberal Globalization
There is at present a broad social movement opposing the advanced capitalist system and the politicians that support it. As in the 1960s, this political current is comprised of reformists (social democrats) on the one hand and radicals (anticapitalists and antiauthoritarians) on the other. In proposing a rereading of Herbert Marcuse, we hope to facilitate a better understanding of the frame of mind of the radicals participating in today’s movement against capitalist globalization. The limitations of Marcuse’s thought may point to the limitations of contemporary radicalism while highlighting its originality when compared to the protest movements of the previous generation.
Sarah Lynn Kleeb
The Violence of Tolerance – At the Intersection of Liberation Theology and Critical Theory
Utilizing insights from liberation theologians and critical theorists, this paper examines the intersection of tolerance and violence, as manifest in contemporary world events, particularly the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. Connecting Marcuse’s scathing critique of tolerance to first, second, and third forms of violence, elucidated by Dom Hélder Câmara, suggests that the modern conception of tolerance does little to hinder the violence of the state. Câmara asserts that reactionary violence is wholly dependent on the initial engagement of representatives of authority; Marcuse may have considered such reactions a refusal of blind tolerance and an assertion of agency in the face of repression.
Toorjo Ghose
Democracy by Day, Police State by Night – What the Eviction of Occupy Philadelphia Revealed about Policing in the United States
Examining the eviction of Occupy Philadelphia from city hall on November 30, 2011, this paper analyzes police tactics to address public protests in the United States. The results highlight three aspects of the police strategy deployed during the eviction: (1) a preconceived plan to manage protests, (2) the use of militarized tactics to implement this management plan, and (3) the imposition of a state of dissociative meditation triggered by the incarceration that followed the eviction. The strategy of management, militarization, and meditation (or the 3M strategy) demonstrates the Marcusean notion of repressive tolerance and characterizes the police response to public dissent.
Costas Gousis
Postcards from Greece! – Rethinking State Theory and Political Strategy of the Twenty-First Century
With a focus on the social and political conjuncture in Greece following interventions by the troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and European Central Bank, as well as with an analysis of historical trends in Greek capitalism, the end of the Metapolitefsi period, and the rise in authoritarian statism, I argue for a revival of Marxist state theory in understanding the current global crisis. I identify this moment in Greece as a battle for hegemony between the dominant narratives of disaster that perpetuate the vicious cycle of debt-and-austerity and an alternative, radical narrative of here-and-now.
Wolfgang Leo Maar
Beyond and Within Actual Society – The Dialectics of Power and Liberation
The materialist approach of One-Dimensional Man emerges in a later work in which Marcuse connects the notion of “new sensibility” to a “complex intermediary function of the intellect.” Revolutionary praxis “is not simply negation but contradiction,” and thus Marcuse’s “new idea of reason” constructs a liberating rationality upon a technological one. This is accomplished by moving from an abstract “concept” of possibility to the perception of possibility as a “social alternative.” Here I examine the “dialectical logic” of human rights, which critiques an unfree world and asserts itself as a political determinant dependent on the rupturing of established power.
Clayton Pierce
Educational Life and Death – Reassessing Marcuse’s Critical Theory of Education in the Neoliberal Age
Drawing upon Herbert Marcuse’s lectures and writings on education, I argue that foundational to his critical theory of education is a biopolitical project calling for the pedagogical production of new human beings under counterrevolutionary types of education. In the second section, I put Marcuse’s biopolitically rethought critical theory of education into conversation with W. E. B. Du Bois’s critique of caste education, as both share the demand for an abolition ethic to be the ontological grounding of the educational subject. Ultimately, I argue an abolition politics needs to be the basis for reimagining education in counterrevolutionary times.
Christopher Holman
Toward a Politics of Nonidentity – Rethinking the Political Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse
This paper will provide an immanent critique of the political theory of Herbert Marcuse. I argue that Marcuse’s politics are often inadequate when considered from the standpoint of his theory of socialism, the latter being understood as the realization of the negative human capacity for creation in all those fields within which the human being is active. Although Marcuse’s politics often reveals itself as instrumental and managerialist in orientation, I will argue that there nevertheless remains a certain countertendency in his philosophy, one which can be seen as affirming a negative and nonidentitarian politics of overcoming that looks always toward creation.
Nancy J. Hirschmann
Disability, Feminism, and Intersectionability – A Critical Approach
Critical theorists should turn to disability as an important category of intersectional analysis. I demonstrate this through one type of critical theory—namely, feminism. Disability intersects with all vectors of identity, since disability affects people of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, and classes. Gender and sexuality are particularly illustrative because disability is configured in ways that map onto negative images of femininity (e.g., weakness, dependence). Additionally, the ways in which feminist and disability scholars undertake analysis are complementary. And because these two fields are inherently interdisciplinary, dialogue between them can yield a richer notion of intersectionality within intersectionality.
Nathan Nun
Practical Aesthetics – Community Gardens and the New Sensibility
This paper argues that community gardens, in addition to being economically practical, offer a promising example of an environment that fosters the new sensibility. After exploring Marcuse’s new sensibility and his critique of aesthetic experience under capitalism, the paper turns to some empirical studies of the benefits of the aesthetic qualities of community gardening. These studies correspond to Marcuse’s proposition that aesthetic environments can play a role in challenging domination. The last section of this paper considers how those involved in the D-Town Farm in Detroit self-consciously assert the community garden as a political project that challenges domination.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: