Herbert Marcuse’s influence on students and intellectuals in the Sixties is comparable to the influence that Slavoj Žižek enjoys today. Both have developed their critical theories through Marxist materialism, Hegelian idealism, and psychoanalytical theory of the subject. Both have produced polemical texts on liberal tolerance and the need for revolutionary violence, and both have invoked the idea of utopia against the ideology of there is no alternative to the market. The article situates Marcuse in today’s context of austerity rather than the context of rising affluence the “one-dimensional” “happy consciousness” was said to inhabit. Marcuse’s critique of a system that legitimates its power through the scarcities that constant exploitation and expansion breeds is especially relevant now that the logic of austerity envelops politics, society, and subjectivity. Making comparisons to Žižek, the article provides an overview of Marcuse’s ideas before considering their value in current circumstances. A case is made for why Marcuse is relevant today and why the call for the liberation of Eros remains pertinent.

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