Marx’s Call for a World-Changing Philosophy: Herbert Marcuse’s Interpretation of Marxism

Interpreting Marx’s intention, Marcuse maintains that “far more was involved than the liberation and rational utilisation of the productive forces, namely, the liberation of man himself” (Reason and Revolution (RR), p. 435, emphasis mine).
Marcuse notes that “Marx’s conception of the ‘free’ proletariat as the absolute negation of the established social order belonged to the model of ‘free’ capitalism” (RR, pp. 435-436). He argues that history has taken a different course from that envisaged by Marx because of “the transformation of free into organized capitalism” (RR, p. 435). This movement away from unrestrained capitalism has, according to Marcuse, “transformed Marxism into Leninism and determined the fate of Soviet society .. its progress under a new system of repressive productivity” (RR, p. 435). He maintains that “The consolidation of the capitalist system was greatly enhanced by the development of Soviet society … (in which) the repressive and exploitative features of capitalist industrialization (were) … reproduced, on a new basis” (RR, p. 438).
While the “increasingly efficient organisation” of capitalism may have rendered revolutionary communism less effective, it has not, in Marcuse’s view, invalidated Marx’s insistence on the irrationality inherent in the productive forces of unrestrained capitalism” (RR, p. 436).
Marcuse insists that the revolutionary hope for the liberation of man  must not be surrendered: “the triumph of regressive and retarding forces does not vitiate the truth of this Utopia. The total mobilization of society against the liberation of the individual … indicates how real is the possibility of this liberation” (RR, p. 439).

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