Marshall Berman

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Marshall Berman
Born Marshall Howard Berman
(1940-11-24)November 24, 1940
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died September 11, 2013(2013-09-11) (aged 72)
Manhattan Valley, New York, U.S.
Occupation Professor of Political Science
Alma mater Columbia University (B.A., 1961)
Oxford University (BLitt, 1963)
Harvard University (Ph.D., 1968) [1]
Genres Marxist Humanism, philosophy
Subjects political philosophy, urbanism

Marshall Howard Berman (November 24, 1940 – September 11, 2013) was an American philosopher and Marxist Humanist writer. He was a Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The City College of New York and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, teaching Political Philosophy and Urbanism.


Born in the South Bronx in 1940,[2] and an alumnus of Columbia University, BLitt from Oxford University where he was a student of Isaiah Berlin. Berman completed his Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1968. He was on the editorial board of Dissent and a regular contributor to The Nation, The New York Times Book Review, Bennington Review, New Left Review, New Politics and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. masterpiece is All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience Of Modernity and others include THE POLITICS OF AUTHENTICITY, ADVENTURES IN MARXISM (2000) ON THE TOWN:A HUNDRED YEARS OF SPECTACLE IN TIMES SQUARE (2006.) His final publication was the Introduction to the Penguin Classic edition of The Communist Manifesto. Also in the 2000s an anthology, New York Calling: From Blackout To Bloomberg, for which he was co-editor, with Brian Berger, and also wrote the introductory essay. In Adventures in Marxism, Berman tells of how while a Columbia University student in 1959, the chance discovery of Karl Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 proved a revelation and inspiration, and became the foundation for all his future work. This personal tone pervades his work, linking historical trends with individual observations and inflections from the situation.Berman also was a participant in Ric Burns' landmark 8 part documentary NEW YORK.

He died on September 11, 2013 of a heart attack.[3][4]

Modernity and modernism[edit]

During the mid-to-late-20th century philosophical discourse focused on issues of modernity and cultural attitudes and philosophies towards the modern condition. Berman put forward his own definition of modernism to counter post-modern philosophies.

Others believe that the really distinctive forms of contemporary art and thought have made a quantum leap beyond all the diverse sensibilities of modernism, and earned the right to call themselves “post-modern”. I want to respond to these antithetical but complementary claims by reviewing the vision of modernity with which this book began. To be modern, I said, is to experience personal and social life as a maelstrom, to find one's world and oneself in perpetual disintegration and renewal, trouble and anguish, ambiguity and contradiction: to be part of a universe in which all that is solid melts into air. To be a modernist is to make oneself somehow at home in the maelstrom, to make its rhythms one’s own, to move within its currents in search of the forms of reality, of beauty, of freedom, of justice, that its fervid and perilous flow allows. (All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, The Experience of Modernity, verso ninth edition Pages 345-346)

This view of modernism is at odds with post-modernism. Paraphrasing Charles Baudelaire, Michel Foucault defined the attitude of modernity as "the ironic heroization of the present."[5] Berman viewed postmodernism as a soulless and hopeless chamber.


  • The Politics of Authenticity: Radical Individualism and the Emergence of Modern Society (1970) Reissued 2009 by Verso Press
  • All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity (1982)
  • Adventures in Marxism (1999)
  • On the Town: One Hundred Years of Spectacle in Times Square (2006)
  • New York Calling: From Blackout to Bloomberg (2007), edited by Marshall Berman and Brian Berger.
  • "Introduction" to "The CommunistManifesto" by Karl Marx, Penguin Books 2010

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Homberger. Eric, "Marshall Berman obituary: Author and academic who wrote insightfully on Marx, modernism and his native New York", The Guardian, Friday 27 September 2013
  2. ^ Seventy-fifth Anniversary Record - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  3. ^ "Marshall Berman, Author and Educator, Dead at 72 - ABC News". 2013-09-12. Retrieved 2013-09-16. 
  4. ^ In memoriam: Marshall Berman, 1940-2013
  5. ^ Michel Foucault, 1978, "What Is Enlightenment?" (translation by Mathew Henson, 1992).

External links[edit]