In the 1960s Herbert Marcuse ascended to the unlikely role of Guru of the New Left. A philosopher by training who had become afﬁliated with the German exiles later known as “the Frankfurt School,” Marcuse had produced perhaps the best book on Hegel and Marx in his 1941 Reason and Revolution and an excellent philosophical interpretation of Freud in his 1955 Eros and Civilization.1 Reason and Revolution introduced Englishspeaking readers to the critical social theory and dialectical methods of Hegel and Marx, providing for later generations of critical social theorists and New Left activists the tools of dialectical thought and theory-informed practice
(or praxis, in a terminology that would become popular in the 1960s). Eros and Civilization in turn provided a splendid access to Freud’s thought and the ways that psychoanalytic ideas could be merged with critical social theory and emancipatory culture and practice. In an uncanny way, the text, with its emphasis on polymorphic sexual liberation, play, cultivation of an aesthetic ethos, and burning desire for another world and way of life, anticipated the counterculture of the 1960s which lived out many of the key ideas in Marcuse’s visionary text.