The following text has been automatically reproduced by an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) algorithm. It may not have been checked over by human eyes. For matters of precision please consult the original pdf.

35 Reviews


Assessing Marcuse
B. Katz, Herbert Marcuse and the Art of Liberation: An
Intellectual Biography, Verso, 1982, i4.50 pb
19.95 hc
More Marcuse literature. The process of recovery and
critical reassessment continues. Both these books contribute in some way to the development of a more informed
and theoretically sophisticated account and critique of
Marcuse’s life-work, by presenting it as a whole, in its
development. But they are very different; with sharply
contrasting strengths and weaknesses.

The less critical, but in many ways more interesting
of the two, is Barry Katz’s intellectual biography. Drawing
upon unpublished writings, personal interviews, and even
declassified US government documents, as well as published texts, Katz offers an overall philosophical interpretation of Marcuse’s thought in conjunction with an
account of the ‘historical contours’ of his life. He views
the evolution of Marcuse’s thought not only in its totality
but more or less as a totality, and so emphasises its continui ty, and the contextual backgrounds from which the
individual works emerged.

He sums up Marcuse’s life-work as “an attempt to articulate a dimension of life and a corresponding domain of
consciousness in which a frankly transcendent standard is
operative” (Katz, p.l1). And he argues that it is the area
of aesthetics that is of primary importance in this
attempt, as that realm in which such a standard is most
clearly accessible, and through which Marcuse believed
suppressed needs, faculties and desires can be most easily
(if contradictorily) liberated (Katz, p.12l).

The main interest of Katz’s book lies in this emphasis
on the aesthetic dimension of Marcuse’s thought, and in
the new material he introduces; most of which is to to do
with Marcuse’s interest in art. This material is basically
of two kinds. First, there is a fairly detailed account
(about 25 pages) of Marcuse’s work during the war and
immediately after in the Research and Analysis Branch of
the US Office for Strategic Services. He was engaged
there, in the main, in the analysis of the political tendencies of various groups and individuals in war-time
Germany, processing intelligence material for the denazification programme; working with such noted future academic colleagues as Paul Baran, Norman O. Brown, Stuart
Hughes, Leonard Kreiger, and Barrington Moore. Marcuse’s
nine year term in this kind of work (1942-1951), Katz
argues, was not, as has been suggested by H. Stuart
Hughes, a period of ‘intellectual latency’, but rather one
of ‘the development of advanced theoretical formulations’

(Katz, p.1l3). ‘An alternative philosophy of history, one
that measured the factical world by aesthetic norms and
technological potentialities’, was, he argues, by autumn

1945, ‘coming tentatively into focus’ (Katz, p.120).

Katz supports this contention by reference to an
unpublished work Marcuse composed at the very end of
the war on the avante-garde writers of the French
Resistance: ‘Some Remarks on Aragon: Art and Politics in
the Totalitarian Era’. This is the second kind of new material Katz uses. Throughout his exposition he refers to
generally little-known or unpublished texts on art like this
one, to elucidate and explicate Marcuse’s new theoretical
departures. In this way, he provides historical evidence to
support his theoretical argument about the primacy of
aesthetics in Marcuse’s thought. Other unpublished works
to which he makes reference are an unfinished manuscript
on Proust, written at the beginning of the war, and a
series of ‘Letters on Surrealism’, written in autumn 1972.

However, while Katz’s description of Marcuse’s work
in the OSS, and of his war-time manuscript, is interesting,
it doesn’t really seem sufficient to bear the theoretical
weight he wants it to carry, since the alternative philosophy of history he sees emerging at this time doesn’t yet
look to be qualitatively different from that which Marcuse
espoused in his ‘Frankfurt’ essays from the thirties. The
treatise on Aragon seems to contain some concise
formulations of themes which run throughout Marcuse’s
work from 1932 onwards, but not to represent any
particularly new departure. For example, the theme of
memory as a repository of repressed critical impulses (a
theme shared with other members of the Frankfurt School)
is explicitly stated there in its relation to the critical
function of art: ‘the political function of art is the
reawakening of memory, the remembrance of things past’

(quoted by Katz, p.125). But this isn’t really a new
position. What it does point to, though, and Schoolman
also makes this point, is the way in which Marcuse’s turn
to Freud is less a new departure in his thought than a
point at which its major themes are synthesised and given
an explicit anthropological foundation (Katz, p.146;
Schoolman, p.88). Though, as Schoolman persuasively goes
on to argue, it is a foundation that ultimately betrays the
critical moment it was elaborated to ground.

Despite its failure to link up Marcuse’s later thought
in any concrete way to his ‘Frankfurt’ period, or to
explore the extent of the continued influence of his
colleagues of that period on his work, the main
contribution of Katz’s book is its historical perspective.

Of particular note is the account of Marcuse’s D.Phil.

thesis on ‘The Artist-Novel’ (Kunstler-roman), and of his
subsequent immersion in Weimar cultural life in Berlin in
the twenties, and also the emphasis placed on this period
of Marcuse’s life generally for an understanding of the
recurrent themes of his thought.

In this respect, Katz’s book is a useful historical
counter-weight to the more detailed, analytical textual
exegesis in Schoolman’s long The Imaginary Witness. For,
despite his intention to provide ‘the first systematic and

comprehensive exposition and interpretation of Marcuse’s
entire life-work’ (schoolman, p.xii/xiii), School man effectively ignores this period of Marcuse’s life, when he was in
his twenties. (The thesis is very briefly dealt with, on
pages 327-328 (I), but by this time a distinctive, and fairly
contentious interpretation of the evolution of Marcuse’s
thought has already been established.)
schoolman emphasises the ‘humanism’ of marcuse’s
essays of the late twenties and early thirties which
attempted to formulate a form of Heideggerian marxism as
‘concrete philosophy’; arguing that ‘from the standpoint of
our own time’ these are Marcuse’s most important works.

In relation to these pieces, the ‘Frankfurt’ essays of the
thirties are presented as the result of ‘a sudden, sweeping,
and brutal purge of Marcuse’s intellectual history’

(schoolman, p.43). The basis of this dramatic and undoubtedly overstated claim is the idea that, in the face of fascism, Marcuse ‘abandons the individual’ as a possible
source of poli tical opposi tion, and thereby himself
becomes, in one sense, ‘as much a victim (of fascism) as
the victims left behind’ (schoolman, p.81, parentheses
added). The rationalistic framework of Critical Theory to
which Marcuse turns, schoolman argues, denies all theoretical validity to the ‘individual liberal subject’ – which
schoolman calls ‘the true subject of politics’ (schoolman,
p.81, p.208).

Now, while it is undoubtedly true that the advent of
fascism was a decisive element in the formation of
Critical Theory, and that the latter tends to reduce individual subjectivity to its objective de terminations, though
not, I would argue, to the extent schoolman believes (his
approach to it is itself reductive), it doesn’t seem to me
that the earlier essays exhibit anything like the political
potentiality that School man ascribes to them. His own
summary of them both weakens the strength of his general
argument and points to the contradiction within it.

‘Ultimately’, he writes, they offer ‘no more than an abstract theoretical outline of the individual’s capacities for
radical thought and action and the barest proposals for
engaging such a person in the affairs of politics’

(schoolman, p.35, my emphasis).

As the phrase ‘such a person’ concedes, the ‘individual
liberal subject’, who misleadingly appears in this statement
simply as ‘the individual’, is a specific historical social
type, not an ontological given. Critical theory was concerned with the historical threat to this social type; it
didn’t exclude it from consideration, a priori, by virtue of
its philosophical framework.

Schoolman’s attachment to the early essays derives
from his understanding of them as implicitly concerned
with the practice of political discourse, and as implying
that ‘a liberal politics ••• serves as a stepping-stone
towards radical action’ (schoolman, p.13), (a position
Schoolman himself endorses, but which, I would have
thought, has little historical justification). Within this perspective, Marcuse’s book on Hegel’s ontology (1932) is
seen less as movement away from the individualistic standpoint of Heideggerian ontology towards a more materialist,
because more genuinely historical, conception of subjectivity – a transitional text – as it usually is, and more as an
attempt to chart historically the progress of the individual
liberal subject.

The Artist-Novel thesis is of interest here because it
involves a prior encounter with Hegel (mediated by the
Hegelianism of Lukecs’ Theory of the Novel), and because
it shows an early concern both with art, as opposed to liberal politics, as a repository of transcendent ideals and a
potentially liberating medium, and with the social specificity of critical tendencies – the artist as a specific social
type (Katz, p.43). Katz’s biographical approach provides
the real historical context of the ‘phenomenological’

essays. schoolman reads into them a political rationale
which, while perhaps not completely absent as a latent
tendency within their theoretical form, certainly distorts
their meaning. This is a pity, because their explicit con-

cern with historical ontology gives them a contemporary
relevance quite different from that which School man
attributes to them.

schoolman’s analysis generally is, as Martin Jay says
on the dust-jacket, ‘thorough and painstaking’ – so painstaking in fact that at times it reminded me of WaIter
Benjamin’s advice on ‘How to Write Fat Books’ – but its
general argument, as I have indicated, is highly questionable. The problem is that schoolman takes an independent
set of concerns to Marcuse’s writings. And he identifies·
any two-dimensional theory of subjectivity with a liberal
politics. Through this identification, a sustained immanent
critique of Marcuse’s main works is magically presented as
an argument for the radical credentials of liberal politics.

The genuinely dialectical aspects of Marcuse’s thought are
completely lost. And the theoretical inheritor of Marcuse’s
project is taken to be an interpretative social theory (for
which Charles Taylor is cited as the authority (schoolman,
p.352)1), rather than either a form of dialectical analysis
of social formations capable of providing theoretical resources for radical movements, or any form of historical
hermeneutics capable of ‘recalling and preserving historical possibilities’ (Katz, p.17!).

With regard to Marcuse’s transition from a phenomenological marxism, via Hegel, to Critical Theory,
Geoghagan’s brief but incisive account in Reason and Eros
(reviewed by steve Cook in RP33) is far more illuminating
than schoolman’s forced contrast. There, the sense in
which Marcuse’s Critical Theory might represent a real
philosophical transcendence of the idea of concrete philosophy is at least given due consideration. In contrast to
Geoghagan’s emphasis on the centrality of the dialectical
concept of essence to Marcuse’s understanding of the idea
of critical rationality, schoolman’s focus on the (mysterious) Hegelian universal as the ‘philosophical foundation’ of
Critical Theory cuts it off from both Marcuse’s earlier
and later works. For schoolman the Frankfurt Essays of
the thirties are not seminal but ‘transitionpl’ •.

It is in its critical analysis of Marcuse’s two best
known books, Eros and Civilisation and One-Dimensional
Man that The Imaginary Witness comes into its own. It
contains lengthy, detailed and clear expositions and
critiques of both books. And while its criticisms have been
voiced before, they are given a systematic presentation
that makes schoolman’s Chapters 3, 4 and 5 a useful
summary of objections scattered around elsewhere. The
treatment of Marcuse’s reading of Freud is particularly
incisive and convincing.

The gist of schoolman’s analysis is that in his desire
to bring out the socio-historical significance of Freud’s
metapsychology, Marcuse badly misunderstood Freud on
the question of the relationship between repression and
sublimation, and the nature of infantile sexuality; in such
a way that he unwittingly turned the metapsychology into
a form of behaviourist psychology. Against Marcuse,
schoolman argues that ‘the freedom that Marcuse infers
from his account of primary narcissism could only be won
at the expense of an inhibited mental development’

(schoolman, p.1l4); and that, in any case, sublimated activities offer potentially the highest source of gratification
(schoolman, p.l 05). And he locates the origin of Marcuse’s
errors in the framework of Critical Theory: ‘he had first
grasped the metapsychology through the categories of
technical reason’ (schoolman, p.258).

With respect to One-Dimensional Man, schoolman
takes the well-established line that it is one-dimensional
theory of human nature that underlies the theory of a
completely one-dimensional society. And he produces
counter-arguments against the one-sidednesses of each of
Marcuse’s individual analyses. Because of his overall interpretation of the evolution of Marcuse’s thought, however,
and its overstatement of first the break with Heideggerian
perspectives, and then the break between the idea of concrete philosophy and that of Critical Theory, schoolman
makes no connection between the one-sidedness and ab35

stractness of Marcuse’s treatment of technological domination and the possibility of residual Heideggerian tendencies in his thought, just as he fails to note the existentialist aspects of his reading of Freud. He also overstates,
to some extent, the one-sidedness of Marcuse’s position,
through a tendency to disregard his more dialectical
qualifica tions of his posi tion.

Regarding Marcuse’s late works, of the two books
Schoolman’s is once more the most contentious, at the
same time as being the most detailed; again, because of
its tendency to overstate discontinuities. While Schoolman
argues that Counter-Revolution and Revolt represents a
temporary return to the framework of the very early
essays, simply because it embodies a relatively complex

conception of subjectivity; Katz, more convincingly, finds
there Marcuse’s final formulation of Marx’s early conception of human species-being, ‘an ontology from which
Marcuse never departed’ (Katz, p.197).

In sum: Katz’s book is a good introduction to Marcuse,
as well as a useful source for more interested enquirers;
Schoolman’s more exhaustive (and exhausting) tome will be
of interest to those most explicitly concerned with
Marcuse’s politics, and his relation to liberalism. But it
too is a useful resource. It is clearly written and carefully, if at times oddly, argued. Both books offer a full
Marcuse bibliography, and Schoolman gives 19 pages worth
of secondary literature.

Peter Osborne

Reclaiming Rights
Tom Campbell, The Left and Rights: A Conceptual
AnalYSis of the Idea of Socialist Rights, Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1983, t,5.95 pm
There is a tendency on the left to treat rights as congenitally flawed: products of an alienated culture, and so destined to become redundant in a society which secures the
‘all-round’ development of its members. But there are reasons, largely practical, why socialists should not dismiss
rights as inherently bourgeois. When confronted with a
woolly ideal of a socialist future, even people not
enamoured with capitalism are likely to settle for the
tangible rights they already enjoy. And, should they
waver, others will soon remind them that the record of
so-called socialist societies is ground enough to cling to
the familiar. It is incumbent upon socialists, therefore, to
demonstrate that rights (however conceived) will not be
eroded in their projected community.

Tom Campbell makes a strong case for the need to
give rights a socialist connotation. His principal argument,
however, is suspect. His intention is to initiate a dialogue
between right and left through the provision of a common
political vocabulary. Once a measure of agreement has
been reached about the meaning of contestable concepts,
he believes, we shall be on the road to a peaceful resolution of political disagreements.

This is very cosy and rather silly. Social antagonisms,
it appears, emanate from an inability to communicate. The
philosopher, presumably is to perform a therapeutic function as he dispels linguistic muddles so that people may
understand one another.

I’m reminded on these occasions of Engels’ jibe at
Feuerbach’s philosophy of reconciliation:

But love! – yes, with Feuerbach love is everywhere
and at all times the wonder-working god who
should help to surmount all difficulties of practical
life – and that in a society which is split into
classes with diametrically opposite interests. At
this point the last relic of its revolutionary character disappears from his philosophy, leaving only
the old cant: Love one another – fall into each
others arms regardless of distinctions of sex or
estate – a universal orgy of reconciliation.

Surely the main reason why socialists should wish to
render the concept of rights intelligible is that we already


tread the same linguistic terrain as our opponents.

Competing images of society are constructed from a
shared conceptual armoury. Socialists may lament this fact
as evidence of the dominance of the dominant ideology;
they may yearn for their own exclusive linguistic
repertoire. But the political reality is otherwise. Social
conflicts focus upon a continuous struggle to attribute
different meanings to the common terms of political
discourse. The popular appeal of Thatcherism is due, in no
small measure, to the successful manipulation of words
like liberty, justice and rights into the homespun,
petit-bourgeois image of a nanny state which saps

Socialists have no choice but to be
conceptually agile: not to facilitate an anaemic
philosophical dialogue which deprives concepts of their
contradictory meanings; but in order to construct an image
of socialism which is sufficiently compelling to persuade
peole to move towards a practical resolution of those
social antagonisms in which conceptual disagreement is

The problem for socialists is to detach rights from the
rhetoric of bourgeois individualism in which they evolved
and are still largely embedded. Rights, in much current
usage, sanction the private pursuit of individual ambition;
they enshrine the claims of egoistic, acquisitive individuals
who compete for scarce resources within a coercive legal
framework. In normal usage, then, rights embody that separation of civil society from the state which socialism,
according to Marx, will transcend.

Campbell’s solution to the problem is first to attach a
more precise meaning to rights than many socialists and
non-socialists are inclined to do. Rights, properly understood, do not belong to the conceptual baggage by which
social practices are morally approved or condemned. They
should not be marshalled into vague demands for the social
implementation of universal human needs; there are plenty
of other concepts available for this task. Campbell opts,
instead, for a stricter, more descriptive meaning in which
rights refer to the discretionary and mandatory regulations
of each particular community. Rights, on this juristic interpretation, become effective within the context of rulegoverned behaviour (though the rules are not necessarily
coercive). They are really individual interests (though not
necessarily the interests of ato:nistic individuals) which
social regulations are intended to safeguard and promote.



Campbell’s attempt to clear the linguistic undergrowth
from the concept of rights extends over several chapters
of technical, and sometimes tortuous, argument. And, read
in isolation from the rest of the book, his neutral definition offers small comfort for socialists who prefer their
concepts sharpened for the political fray. Campbell, it
seems, is so concerned to open the channels of discourse
between ideological opponents that he fails to progress far
beyond the rather sterile, legalistic definition of H.L.A.

Hart and others. What, then, is the purpose of this sanitised version of an interpretation of rights which has not in
the past been used for radical social criticism? Is
Campbell, the consensus-minded philosopher, still writing
within the confines of a bourgeois strait-jacket?

Campbell, in fact, puts his definition to very good use
in the second part of the book which gives rights a specifically socialist content. He assumes that socialism, no less
than capitalism, entails a network of the kind of rights
stipulated by his formal definition. A socialist order,
though devoid of fundamental antagonisms, would nevertheless be framed by authoritative rules designed to protect and foster individual concerns or interests. What distinguishes socialist rights are less their formal structure
than the principles by which they are justified. Socialism
is intended to satisfy human needs in abundance. It is this
principle of need which, according to Campbell, shapes the
content of socialist rights and gives them a distinctive
flavour. For, within this normative canopy, rights would
enable individual energies to be discharged into creative
and co-operative activities rather than a destructive
scramble for limited resources.

Flesh is added to the argument in three chapters
which provide case studies of particular socialist rights:

first is a stimulating chapter on the right to free expression. The need-principle dictates a participatory democracy in which individual fulfilment is maximised through
an equal share in communal decision-making procedures.

Freedom of expression is an essential democratic right.

But, in contrast to liberal-democracy, the justificatory

principle of socialism entails various supplementary rights
to make concrete the ideal of open communication: rules
to ensure, for example, that everyone is both sufficiently
educated and informed intelligently to discuss and promote
communal goals.

Campbell also illustrates how the right to work is not
only an indispensable socialist right (which it cannot be in
a market economy) but assumes a specific economic and
political content. For, by the principle of need, individuals
should both engage in creative activity and help to determine the productive priorities of society. And, by the
same principle, welfare rights would no longer be
restricted to the basic requirements of socially deprived
minorities; but would encompass the routine necessities of
a worthwhile existence for everyone.

This is an original and provocative book which moves
far beyond the often tedious debate as to whether liberal
rights will be eliminated or preserved within socialism. My
reservations stem from Campbell’s desire to wear two
hats: that of the respectable philosopher who seeks to
forge a political consensus from conceptual clarification;
and the committed socialist anxious to explore the prospective character of a more rational social structure than
has hitherto prevailed. As academic therapist, he makes
the usual elitist claims on behalf of his profession; and
drives too firm a wedge between the form and content of
rights. When he considers how social conflicts might be
practically resolved, however, he constructs a model of
socialism which is both plausible and palatable; and is prepared to concede a change in the form, as well as content, of rights. The insistence that rights must be distinguished from their justificatory principles at least prompts
him to inspect, in unusually rich detail, the arrangements
through which the concerns of multi-faceted social beings
may be promoted. The book does demonstrate the sort of
institutions required to transcend the dichotomy of civil
and political society. Therein lies its great virtue.

Bob Ecclesball

After the Absolute
John Edward Toews, Hegelianism: The Path Toward
Dialectical Humanism, 1805-1841, Cambridge University
Press, 1981, 1:.25 hc
This is the first instalment of a projected two-volume
study of the origins and development of Hegelianism in
early 19th-century Germany. Whatever form its successor
may take, this book is greatly superior to its Englishlanguage predecessors, for Toews avoids a teleological
reduction of the development of Hegelianism to some form
of successful resolution in Marxism, and is hence able to
expand upon both the period and themes treated in, for
example, W. Brazill’s The Young Hegelians, G. Lichtheim’s
From Marx to Hegel, S. Hook’s From Hegel to Marx, D.

McLellan’s The Young Hegelians and Karl Marx. Toews
also deftly and, I think, brilliantly deploys an enormous
amount of historical investigation, an incisive sociological
imagination, and a clear, compelling philosophical account
to raise considerably the whole level of English-language
scholarship in this field.

This is possible, firstly, simply because Toews tells us

far more in detail about Hegel’s early followers than
previous texts have done, and hence avoids in particular
classifying all of the early Hegelians as ‘old’ and ‘Right’.

As a school, Hegelianism begins to emerge around 1816,
though the classical age of Left Hegelianism lasted only
from 1841 to 1844. Toews shows, however, that it is
completely false to see the intervening years only in terms
of a dogmatic or monolithically conservative or Right
Hegelianism. In the last decade of this period, it is true,
Hegel and his foremost followers became integrated into
the ideological and educational systems of the Prussian
state, and the principal focus of Hegelian philosophy was
upon the historical emergence of the modern state as the
ultimate form of ethical community. Yet many of Hegel’s
early students were also practical, ‘liberalising’ reformers,
and when the Prussia of the reform era (under Stein,
Hardenberg, and Humboldt) of 1807-19 gave way to
political repression in 1819-20, many of Hegel’s disciples
were in fact also arrested.

Some Hegelians did of course successfully assimilate
themselves to the new course of Prussia. But in opposition


to the romantic and increasingly reactionary nationalism
of, for example, Schulze and Henning, there also emerged
the far more critical notions of men like Eduard Gans and
Heinrich Leo, whose unwillingness to construe existing
laws as the absolute embodiment of actualised Reason produced, for example, a strong critique of bureaucratic
government as a form of absolutism and epitome of the
principle of hierarchy rather than the practice of Reason.

Here, as elsewhere, early Hegelianism recognised in the
doctrine of the identity of the rational and the real a
critical tool as well as a bulwark of the status quo.

It is one of Toews’ central contentions, too, that the
dividing line between many more radical Hegelians and
their more conservative fellow disciples often lay at the
gates of the university, or between the ranks inside it.

Those who succeeded in gaining permanent posts tended to
view Hegelianism as a doctrine of positive cultural assimilation (and who has not *ondered what Marx would have
wr i tten had he succeeded to a lectureship as planned?),
while those who became independent of the state educational system tended to become increasingly radicalised.

This is not for Toews an all-encompassing explanation but
rather a plausibly useful hypothesis which is supported by
an account of the nature of the educational system and
relations of state patronage, which is helpful in delineating the possibilities of personal as well as intellectual
alienation for would-be professional philosophers and

It was during the 1830s, and particularly after the
publication of Strauss’s Life of Jesus in 1835, that fundamental divisions among the Hegelians began to emerge.

Here Toews is most useful in emphasising the noncongruity
between Right/Old and Left/Young Hegelians. Neither
Gans nor F.W. Carove had been ‘right’ Hegelians, and the
principal opponents of the Young Hegelians were not ‘old’,
but rather men of the same generation, such as

Rosenkranz, Schaller and Erdmann.

Nor did Carove,
Richter, and Cieszkowsky (and the views of the latter on
the relation of theory and practice are often seen as anticipating those of Marx) particularly welcome the newer
Hegelians of the 1830s, for the latter tended not to wish
to reconcile man and God, but rather to commence from a
new ‘humanist’ starting point.

It is of course the origins of this humanism which has
most concerned those seeking to understand the Young
Hegelian connection with Marx, and if Toews makes no
strikingly novel discoveries in this well-charted domain,
both the generalities and details of his intellectual map
nonetheless usefully refine previous versions. Even in the
case of the best-known Young Hegelian (after Marx),
Feuerbach, Toews is able to clarify differences between
the humanisms of Bauer and Strauss, and thus to reemphasise the novelty of a sensuous ‘species-being’ as it
was conceived by Feuerbach.

The latter chapters on these subjects, however,
clearly have the character of an hors d’oeuvre whose subsequent main course (the politically complex and hence
less easily digested, if for most readers more appetising,
Young Hegelianism of the 1840s) promises to be far more
fulfilling. These chapters are thus disappointing if still
useful. We are told far too little about the social and political background to the rise of the Left Hegelian party of
1840-41 (which Toews treats in an ‘Epilogue’), and even in
the two preceding chapters on Bauer and Feuerbach there
is a sense of haste as well as of the (unspoken) presence
of the hidden interlocutor from Trier. This book nonetheless largely delivers what it promises, and if its author
can scarcely restrain his enthusiasm for further discussion,
that is no great fault.

Gregory Claeys

Report From Radical Readers
Fifty readers responded to the questionnaire sent out with
RP32, spread widely from Durban to Denver, from Nigeria to
Nottingham. To all respondents we are most grateful (even
to the Southampton reader who took Radical Philosophy to
demonstrate ‘that “radical philosophy” is a contradiction in
terms’). The aim of the exercise was to provide not statistical information, but insights into the extent to which the
magazine serves its readers’ interests. In summarizing the
response, therefore, in Manny Shin well’s evocative phrase, ‘I
shall be neither partial nor impartial.’

Several readers felt that some articles were not as
clearly written as they might be:

‘I still feel a number of the articles are too turgid and
inaccessible. ‘

‘Many of your contributors seem to prefer a style of
writing that tends to hide the meaning they are trying
to get across.’


‘I avoid reading articles written in an impossible style.’

This criticism is related to – or can be confused with another problem of concern to several readers: whe~her the
magazine is addressed to a broad educated readershIp or to
philosophy specialists:

‘There is a danger that the level of the articles and
material presupposes a degree of familiarity which by
implication excludes potential sympathisers.’

‘Too much like much of what is already available in
mainstream academic publishing.’

‘I teach philosophy, political theory etc to extra-mural
students but find that there are very few RP articles
1 can confidently recommend to them.’

Some readers noticed the tone, as well as the style and
level, of articles:

‘You are in great danger of becoming much too serious,
much too (in the bad sense) academic.’

‘There is much less humour than there used to be!’

There was also a gratifying warmth and encouragement from
almost all respondents – often those whose criticisms were


Download the PDFBuy the latest issue