An in-depth examination of the relevance of Marcuse's writing for today's social movements
The Great Refusal
Herbert Marcuse and Contemporary Social Movements
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Edited by Andrew T. Lamas, Todd Wolfson, and Peter N. Funke, foreword by Angela Y. Davis
Herbert Marcuse examined the subjective and material conditions of radical social change and developed the "Great Refusal," a radical concept of "the protest against that which is." The editors and contributors to the exciting new volume The Great Refusal provide an analysis of contemporary social movements around the world with particular reference to Marcuse's revolutionary concept. The book also engages—and puts Marcuse in critical dialogue with—major theorists including Slavoj Žižek and Michel Foucault, among others.
The Great Refusal also charts contemporary social movements against global warming, mass incarceration, police brutality, white supremacy, militarization, technological development, and more, to provide insights that advance our understanding of resistance today.
Contributors include: Kevin B. Anderson, Stanley Aronowitz, Joan Braune, Jenny Chan, Angela Y. Davis, Arnold L. Farr, Andrew Feenberg, Michael Forman, Christian Fuchs, Stefan Gandler, Christian Garland, Toorjo Ghose, Imaculada Kangussu, George Katsiaficas, Douglas Kellner, Sarah Lynn Kleeb, Filip Kovacevic, Lauren Langman, Heather Love, Peter Marcuse, Martin J. Beck Matuštík, Russell Rockwell, AK Thompson, Marcelo Vieta, and the editors
"One of the great 20th century critical theorists of domination and liberation, Herbert Marcuse has an enormous amount to say to our time. The Great Refusal makes this abundantly clear. The contributors draw Marcuse's imaginative reworking of Hegel, Marx, Freud, and Weber into illuminating conversations with a diverse range of contemporary theorists and political movements. . .from those of the Zapatistas and Chinese factory workers to the Arab Spring and Occupy. This book is a treasure trove for scholars and activists alike."
"The book offers a timely addition to the study of contemporary social movements. It gleans insights from Marcuse and past collective actions to inform contemporary and future fights for social justice and autonomy.... (T)he book will be a valuable guide to inform both theory and praxis of social justice struggles."
"The Great Refusal is a fascinating collection of essays on different aspects of Herbert Marcuse's thought and its usefulness in interpreting and informing the struggles of contemporary social movements... it straddles the line between activist writings, the politics of resistance and radical philosophy.... To their credit, for the authors in this volume, what appears more important is what anyone could learn from reading Marcuse today.... What holds the chapters of The Great Refusal together is that they loosely examine the notion of the great refusal...and its contemporary relevance.... [T]he book is an intellectual rendezvous of activist insights into particular sites of struggle and Marcuse scholarship."
"Several anthologies of essays about [Herbert] Marcuse...have appeared over the decades. This one, The Great Refusal, is a sparkler, undoubtedly the best of the critical anthologies. Drawn from a symposium organized at the time of Occupy, it speaks to us vividly today, with mass movements erupting against the new Trump administration. It is at once more global than previous scholarly anthologies about Marcuse, it goes further in evaluating Marcuse alongside other theorists, and it is the first to go far in relating Marcuse's work to the Black Liberation Struggle."
Foreword: Abolition and Refusal • Angela Y. Davis
Andrew T. Lamas teaches urban studies and critical theory at the University of Pennsylvania and is on the board of the International Herbert Marcuse Society.
Todd Wolfson is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Rutgers University, author of Digital Rebellion: The Birth of the Cyber Left, and cofounder of the Media Mobilizing Project.
Peter N. Funke is Associate Professor of Politics at the University of South Florida.