Marcuse and the Problem of Repression

Authored by: Brian O’Connor

The Routledge Companion to the Frankfurt School

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138333246
eBook ISBN: 9780429443374
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter examines Marcuse’s efforts, principally in Eros and Civilization, to employ a revised version of the Freudian notion of repression in the interpretation of historical social experience. Particular attention is given to Marcuse’s original ideas of “surplus repression” and scarcity as domination. It is argued that Marcuse offers several diverging lines of thought about repression and emancipation. In some places, Marcuse accepts Freud’s claims about the necessity of repression, while in others he offers reasons for the elimination of all repression. The chapter offers no view on whether Marcuse is entitled to read Freud as he does. Rather criticism will be concerned with the coherence of that reading within the terms of the emancipatory social theory it aims to be.

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