Zitate von Herbert Marcuse

(19.07.1898 Berlin - 29.07.1979 Starnberg)

"Economic freedom would mean freedom from the economy - from being controlled by economic forces and relationships; freedom from the daily struggle for existence, from earning a living. Political freedom would mean liberation of the individuals from politics over which they have no control. Similarly, intellectual freedom would mean the restoration of individual thought now absorbed by mass communication and indoctrination, abolition of "public opinion" together with its makers." (p.4)
One-Dimensional Man. Boston, Beacon Press 1964.

An Essay On Liberation. Boston, Beacon Press 1969:

"How can [the individual] satisfy his own 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?" (p.4)

"This 'voluntary' servitude (voluntary inasmuch as it is introjected into the individuals), which justifies the benevolent masters, can be broken only through a political practice which reaches the roots of containment and contentment in the infrastructure of man, a political practice of methodological disengagement from and refusal of the Establishment, aiming at a radical transvaluation of values." (p.6)

"Such a practice involves a break with the familiar, the routine ways of seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding things..." (p.6)

"Prior to all ethical behavior in accordance with specific social standards, prior to all ideological expression, morality is "a disposition" of the organism, perhaps rooted in the erotic drive to counter aggressiveness, to create and preserve 'ever greater unities'." (p.10)

"Radical change in consciousness is the beginning, the first step in changing social existence: emergence of the new Subject." (p.53)

Eros And Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud. Boston, Beacon Press 1974:

"Free choice - a small selection between pre-established necessities." (p.85)

"The existing liberties and the existing gratifications are tied to the requirements of repression: they themselves become instruments of repression." (p.92)

"Work as free play cannot be subject to administration: only alienated labor can be organized and administered by rational routine." (p.218)

"Time loses its power when remembrance redeems the past." (p.233)

Aggressiveness in Advanced Industrial Society (1967)
From Negations: Essays in Critical Theory:

I have briefly restated Freud's conception inasmuch as I shall use it to discuss the depth and character of the strains prevalent in American society. I suggest that the strains derive from the basic contradiction between the capabilities of this society, which could produce essentially new forms of freedom amounting to a subversion of the established institutions on the one hand, and the repressive use of these capabilities on the other. The contradiction explodes - and is at the same time "resolved," "contained" - in the ubiquitous aggression prevalent in this society. Its most conspicuous (but by no means isolated) manifestation is the military mobilization and its effect on the mental behavior of the individuals, but within the context of the basic contradiction, aggressiveness is fed by many sources. The following seem to be foremost:

(1) The dehumanization of the process of production and consumption. Technical progress is identical with the increasing elimination of personal initiative, inclination, taste, and need from the provision of goods and services. This tendency is liberating if the available resources and techniques are used for freeing the individual from labor and recreation which are required for the reproduction of the established institutions but are parasitic, wasteful, and dehumanizing in terms of the existing technical and intellectual capabilities. The same tendency often gratifies hostility.

(2) The conditions of crowding, noise, and overtness characteristic of mass society. As René Dubos has said, the need for "quiet, privacy, independence, initiative, and some open space" are not "frills or luxuries but constitute real biological necessities." Their lack injures the instinctual structure itself. Freud has emphasized the "asocial" character of Eros - the mass society achieves an "oversocialization" to which the individual reacts "with all sorts of frustrations, repressions, aggressions, and fears which soon develop into genuine neuroses."

I mentioned, as the most conspicuous social mobilization of aggressiveness, the militarization of the affluent society. This mobilization goes far beyond the actual draft of man-power and the buildup of the armament industry: its truly totalitarian aspects show forth in the daily mass media which feed "public opinion." The brutalization of language and image, the presentation of killing, burning, and poisoning and torture inflicted upon the victims of neocolonial slaughter is made in a common-sensible, factual, sometimes humorous style which integrates these horrors with the pranks of juvenile delinquents, football contests, accidents, stock market reports, and the weatherman. This is no longer the "classical" heroizing of killing in the national interest, but rather its reduction to the level of natural events and contingencies of daily life.

The consequence is a "psychological habituation of war" which is administered to a people protected from the actuality of war, a people who, by virtue of this habituation, easily familiarizes itself with the "kill rate" as it is already familiar with other "rates" (such as those of business or traffic or unemployment). The people are conditioned to live "with the hazards, the brutalities, and the mounting casualties of the war in Vietnam, just as one learns gradually to live with the everyday hazards and casualties of smoking, of smog, or of traffic." [1] The photos which appear in the daily newspapers and in magazines with mass circulation, often in nice and glossy color, show rows of prisoners laid out or stood up for "interrogation," little children dragged through the dust behind armored cars, mutilated women. They are nothing new ("such things happen in a war"), but it is the setting that makes the difference: their appearance in the regular program, in togetherness with the commercials, sports, local politics, and reports on the social set. And the brutality of power is further normalized by its extension to the beloved automobile: the manufacturers sell a Thunderbird, Fury, Tempest, and the oil industry puts "a tiger in your tank."

However, the administered language is rigidly discriminating: a specific vocabulary of hate, resentment, and defamation is reserved for opposition to the aggressive policies and for the enemy. The pattern constantly repeats itself. Thus, when students demonstrate against the war, it is a "mob" swelled by "bearded advocates of sexual freedom," by unwashed juveniles, and by "hoodlums and street urchins" who "tramp" the streets, while the counterdemonstrations consist of citizens who gather. In Vietnam, "typical criminal communist violence" is perpetrated against American "strategic operations." The Reds have the impertinence to launch "a sneak attack" (presumably they are supposed to announce it beforehand and to deploy in the open); they are "evading a death trap" (presumably they should have stayed in). The Vietcong attack American barracks "in the dead of night" and kill American boys (presumably, Americans only attack in broad daylight, don't disturb the sleep of the enemy, and don't kill Vietnamese boys). The massacre of hundred thousands of communists (in Indonesia) is called "impressive" - a comparable "killing rate" suffered by the other side would hardly have been honored with such an adjective. To the Chinese, the presence of American troops in East Asia is a threat to their "ideology," while presumably the presence of Chinese troops in Central or South America would be a real, and not only ideological, threat to the United States.

The loaded language proceeds according to the Orwellian recipe of the identity of opposites: in the mouth of the enemy, peace means war, and defense is attack, while on the righteous side, escalation is restraint, and saturation bombing prepares for peace. Organized in this discriminatory fashion, language designates a priori the enemy as evil in his entirety and in all his actions and intentions.


Herbert Marcuse's Homepage - Filip Kovacevic's tribute to Marcuse features extensive excerpts from Marcuse's writings and many links to secondary essays on-line:

Dialectique: Herbert Marcuse bibliographie / Etude sur Marcuse - en français:

Theorists and Critics: Sarah Zupko's Cultural Studies Center features selections from Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man and a selection of secondary literature on-line:

Herbert-Marcuse-Archiv, Stadt- und Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt a.M.:

Die Berliner Blätter für Psychoanalyse und Psychotherapie haben eine Seite mit dem Titel "Aufgelesenes", wo, unter anderem auch Texte von Herbert Marcuse zu finden sind: