Marcuse (Herbert, nicht Ludwig) war also einer der Helden der radikalen Linken, damals. Das New York Times Magazine schrieb 1968, Marcuse "may be the most important philosopher alive" und "for countless young people ... the angel of the apocalypse".
Aber was weiß man heute noch von ihm? Da hilft vielleicht der Blick in eine zeitgenössische Einführung in sein Werk. Robert W. Marks veröffentlichte 1970 The Meaning of Marcuse (New York : Ballantine), in der kein einziges Mal Marcuses Vorname vorkommt: den kannte ohnehin keiner. Sie fängt so an:
To understand Marcuse, this analogy may be helpful: A blackout occurs. An electrician is called and discovers at once that the trouble results from a faulty fuse. He then prepares a lenghty report, providing in learned detail the entire history of electricity, and a strong indictment of all theorists, from Aristotle to Mesmer, who have given faulty or incomplete accounts of the nature of electricity. He justifies this study on the grounds that the true nature of anything is not grasped until it has been placed accurately in its historical context. Then, in a digression on method, he explains that the concept of a fuse, by reason of the logic of nature, is meaningful only in terms of its negation, a nonfuse -- the absence of a fuse. You reply that this makes excellent sense, but you are already familiar with a nonfuse; and you remind him that because of a nonfuse you are now immersed in nonlight. The question which follows is: What to do about a nonfuse?
The electrician is dejected. It so happens that he has no replacement for a nonfuse. And he reminds you that, even if he did, what might be put in its place would sooner or later suffer the same fate as the original fuse, which by the negation of nature -- which is a polite way of telling you that you overloaded the lines -- a fresh fuse will again be negated, and the reality principle which contradicts the pleasure principle will once more plunge you into darkness.