Herbert Marcuse (1898 – 1979)


Herbert Marcuse was a German-American philosopher, sociologist and political theorist. He was a key member of the Frankfurt School and had the most direct influence on the sexual revolution. He was nicknamed the “Father of the New Left.” And for many young radicals of the time, Marcuse’s ‘Eros and Civilisation,’ published in 1955, formed the cornerstone of the sexual revolution.

He wrote excessively on sexual liberation and based his ideas on Freud’s theory of ‘polymorphous perversity’, which asserted that children were sexual from birth and receive sexual pleasure from all parts of their body until society represses them. However, whilst Freud believed sexual urges needed to be suppressed for the function of society, Marcuse thought that due to the level of affluence and civilization that society had reached, it could withstand the release of sexual passion. He espoused a sexual utopia based on sexual freedom and promoted individuals to fulfil their perverse sexual fantasies on the basis that such fantasies were grounded in childlike innocence.

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