“Hail, Caesar!” and phenomenological Marxism

Professor Marcuse, a tragically funny Hegelian-Marxist radical thinker and a self-styled revolutionary oracle, is a character in “Hail Caesar!”, the wonderful movie by the Coen brothers. He was an American German-Jewish philosopher who believed that the unhappy consciounsness, the downtrodden, the marginals, the wretched of the Earth, the pariahs, can save the world. Angela Davis was his student. I wrote my PhD thesis at the University of Bucharest focusing on the Critical Theory and its relationship with contemporary left-wing radicalism. In the times of Berni Sanders, the topic and the emotions do come back, as we see. Maybethey never died off. Marcuse ended his magnum opus, “The One-Dimensional Man” (1964), quoting Walter Benjamin: “It is only because of the hopeless that hope is given to us” (Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns die Hoffnung gegeben). Like Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, and Karl Lowith, he had studied under Martin Heidegger in pre-Htiler Germany. He was, to use Jurgen Habermas’s term, a phenomenological Marxist…




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