Counterrevolution and Revolt

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Counterrevolution and Revolt
Counter-Revolution and Revolt (first edition).jpg
Cover of the first edition
Author Herbert Marcuse
Country United States
Language English
Subject Capitalism, the New Left
Publisher Beacon Press
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages 138
ISBN 0-8070-1532-6 (casebound)
0-8070-1533-4 (paperback)
LC Class 79-179150

Counterrevolution and Revolt is a 1972 book by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse.


Marcuse writes that the western world has reached a new stage of development, in which "the defense of the capitalist system requires the organization of counterrevolution at home and abroad." He accuses the west of "practicing the horrors of the Nazi regime", and of helping to launch massacres in Indochina, Indonesia, the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Sudan.[1]

He discusses the problems of the New Left, as well as other topics such as the political role of ecology. Citing author Murray Bookchin's Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971), Marcuse argues that ecology must be taken "to the point where it is no longer containable within the capitalist framework" by "extending the drive within the capitalist framework." Marcuse offers a discussion of the role of nature in Marxist philosophy informed by philosopher Alfred Schmidt's The Concept of Nature in Marx (1962).[2]

Marcuse also offers a discussion of art, including literature and music, in relation to revolution. He cites Arthur Schopenhauer's observation, in The World as Will and Representation (1818), that music "gives the innermost kernel preceding all form, or the heart of things".[3]


Author Brian Easlea wrote that Marcuse "courageously" remarks that "Marx's notion of a human appropriation of nature is not altogether free from the hubris of domination". According to Easlea, Marcuse "explicitly adds to his decades of social analysis a dimension that had always been implicit: the male-female relation." Easlea argued that Marcuse's "condemnation of the established science and call for a new science would appear to be a condemnation of 'male' science and a call for a new 'female' science."[4]

The philosopher Charles Crittenden, writing in The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (1995), argued that in Counterrevolution and Revolt, Marcuse, in contrast to his previous works such as An Essay on Liberation (1969), retreated from advocating revolutionary violence and confrontation as a way of achieving social transformation, and instead recommends working for change within the system.[5] Andrew Light compared Marcuse's views to those of Murray Bookchin.[6]



  1. ^ Marcuse 1972. p. 1.
  2. ^ Marcuse 1972. pp. 29, 61-2.
  3. ^ Marcuse 1972. pp. 79-80, 100.
  4. ^ Easlea 1981. p. 25
  5. ^ Crittenden 2005. p. 555.
  6. ^ Light 1998. p. 374.


  • Crittenden, Charles (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926479-1. 
  • Easlea, Brian (1981). Science and Sexual Oppression: Patriarchy's Confrontation with Woman and Nature. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0 297 77894 3. 
  • Light, Andrew (1998). Light, Andrew, ed. Social Ecology after Bookchin. New York: The Guilford Press. ISBN 1-57230-379-4. 
  • Marcuse, Herbert (1972). Counterrevolution and Revolt. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-1533-4.