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New Left Review I/45, September-October 1967

Herbert Marcuse

The Question of Revolution

First Question: It is said that Marx’s concept of revolution, will not stand up to the new facts of industrial society. It has become an anachronism; it no longer has any constituency. The working class, in Marx’s opinion the historical subject of all future social upheavals, has dissolved itself as a class; the desire to establish a qualitatively different social order has given way to the need for better working conditions, more leisure time and more material goods. In these circumstances, the old theory of revolution, which articulated the economic misery of one class and taught the oppressed to speak, has become impotent and unrealistic; it has turned its back on reality. Anyone talking of revolution nowadays is surely contributing to a mystification?

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Herbert Marcuse, ‘The Question of Revolution’, NLR I/45: £3

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