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New Left Review I/56, July-August 1969


Herbert Marcuse

Re-examination of the Concept of Revolution

The concept of revolution in Marxian theory telescopes an entire historical period: the final stage of capitalism; the transitional period of proletarian dictatorship, and the initial stage of socialism. It is in a strict sense a historical concept, projecting actual tendencies in the society; and it is a dialectical concept, projecting the counter-tendencies within the respective historical period, in as much as they are inherent in this period. These tendencies and counter-tendencies are manifestations of which Marxian theory and practice themselves are essential elements. Marxian theory itself is a power in the historical struggle, and to the degree to which its concepts, ‘translated’ into practice, become forces of resistance, change and reconstruction, they are subject to the vicissitudes of the struggle, which they reflect and comprehend,but do not dominate. ‘Re-examination’ is therefore an element of the concept of revolution, part of its internal development.

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