Herbert Marcuse - One-Dimensional Man

New Left thinker Herbert Marcuse meanwhile raised the question of ‘whether it is possible to conceive of revolution when there is no vital need for it’. The need for revolution, he explained, ‘is something quite different from a vital need for better working conditions, a better income, more liberty and so on, which can be satisfied within the existing order. Why should the overthrow of the existing order be of vital necessity for people who own, or can hope to own, good clothes, a well-stocked larder, a TV set, a car, a house and so on, all within the existing order?’ In [80] capitalism would lead to immiseration and so it was the urban industrial proletariat was was destined to be the revolutionary class. However, in the affluent society, according to Marcuse, the two great historical forces of the modern world, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, ‘no longer appear to be agents of historical transformation’. The working class had, according to many who shared this view, ceased being revolutionary and instead were becoming reactionary and culturally conservative, while the identity movements along race, gender and sexuality lines were becoming more radical than ever. (Quoted in Angela, Kill All Normies, ZeroBooks 2018, pp.80-81.)

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