Politics as Radical Creation: Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt on Political Performativity

Christopher Holman

© 2013

Politics as Radical Creation examines the meaning of democratic practice through the critical social theory of the Frankfurt School. It provides an understanding of democratic politics as a potentially performative good-in-itself, undertaken not just to the extent that it seeks to achieve a certain extrinsic goal, but also in that it functions as a medium for the expression of creative human impulses. Christopher Holman develops this potential model through a critical examination of the political philosophies of Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt.

Holman argues that, while Arendt and Marcuse’s respective theorizations each ultimately restrict the potential scope of creative human expression, their juxtaposition – which has not been previously explored – results in a more comprehensive theory of democratic existence, one that is uniquely able to affirm the creative capacities of the human being. Yielding important theoretical results that will interest scholars of each theorist and of theories of democracy more generally, Politics as Radical Creation provides a valuable means for rethinking the nature of contemporary democratic practice.

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  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.9in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003395

  • PUBLISHED AUG 2013

    From: $62.25

    Regular Price: $83.00

    ISBN 9781442644885
  • PUBLISHED OCT 2013

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    Regular Price: $83.00

Quick Overview

Politics as Radical Creation examines the meaning of democratic practice through the critical social theory of the Frankfurt School.

Politics as Radical Creation: Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt on Political Performativity

Christopher Holman

© 2013

Politics as Radical Creation examines the meaning of democratic practice through the critical social theory of the Frankfurt School. It provides an understanding of democratic politics as a potentially performative good-in-itself, undertaken not just to the extent that it seeks to achieve a certain extrinsic goal, but also in that it functions as a medium for the expression of creative human impulses. Christopher Holman develops this potential model through a critical examination of the political philosophies of Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt.

Holman argues that, while Arendt and Marcuse’s respective theorizations each ultimately restrict the potential scope of creative human expression, their juxtaposition – which has not been previously explored – results in a more comprehensive theory of democratic existence, one that is uniquely able to affirm the creative capacities of the human being. Yielding important theoretical results that will interest scholars of each theorist and of theories of democracy more generally, Politics as Radical Creation provides a valuable means for rethinking the nature of contemporary democratic practice.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.4in x 0.9in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘Holman’s is a compelling and important project… with its timely rich analysis of the parallels between Arendt and Marcuse, Holman’s book is well positioned to inspire and propel forward such work.’


    Jennie Han
    Theory and Event vol 17:03:2014

    Politics as Radical Creation consists of rigorous interpretations of texts by Marcuse and Arendt, that bring out the richness of these texts and suggest promising possibilities for further connections between critical theory and Arendt’s political thinking.’


    Michiel Bot
    Political Theory June 2016

    “This is a thorough and well-written work of intellectual history that highlights connections rarely made between Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt.”


    Stephen Bronner, Department of Political Science, Rutgers University

    “This is a well-written, illuminating, and analytically-argued read of two of the twentieth century’s most penetrating thinkers that presents possibilities for a new type of political action—politics as performance.”


    Rick Matthews, Department of Political Science, LeHigh University
  • Author Information

    Christopher Holman is an assistant professor in the Public Policy and Global Affairs program at Nanyang Technological University.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: Marcuse, Arendt, and the Idea of Politics

    Chapter One: Marcuse’s Critique and Reformulation of the Philosophical Concept of Essence

    1. Culture and Bourgeois Freedom
    2. Critical Theory and the Ethical Imperative: Happiness-Reason-Freedom
    3. Hegel and the Dialectic of Negativity
    4. Essence and the Dialectic of Labour

    Chapter Two: The Dialectic of Instinctual Liberation: Essence and Non-Repressive Sublimation

    1. The Problem of Repression: Individual and Social, Basic and Surplus
    2. The Affirmation of Sensuousness: Primary Narcissism and Non-Repressive Sublimation
    3. Non-Repressive Sublimation and Non-Alienated Labour

    Chapter Three: The Problem of Politics

    1. Marx’s Political Ambiguity
    2. The Limits of Western Marxism
    3. Marcuse’s Reproduction of the Marxian Anti-Politics
    4. Administration as Domination and Liberation

    Chapter Four: Hannah Arendt’s Theory of Public Freedom

    1. Performativity and Essence: The Need for Radical Creation
    2. The Subject of Radical Creation: Politics and the We
    3. Agonism, Democracy, and Political Objectification
    4. Arendt and Revolutionary History
    5. The Institutionalization of the Revolutionary Impulse: The Council Tradition

    Chapter Five: Marcuse Contra Arendt: Dialectics, Destiny, Distinction

    1. Questioning Distinction: the Vita Activa and Marx’s Ontology of Labour
    2. Arendt’s Critique of the Dialectic: On the Need for Distinction
    3. Marcuse’s Critique of Non-Dialectical Dialectics

    Chapter Six: Marcuse: Reconsidering the Political

    1. The Theory of the Radical Act
    2. The Affirmation of Socialist Nature
    3. Politics and the New Left
    4. Spontaneity and the Council Tradition

    Conclusion: From the New Left to Global Justice and from the Councils to

    Cochabamba

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