New Revolutionary Subjects: In memoriam Herbert Marcuse

Round Table
July 5, 2023 18:00 - 20:00
Vierte Welt Adalbertstraße 96, 10999 Berlin

Gianfranco Casuso, Robin Celikates, Alex Demirović, Verónica Gago, Sally Haslanger, Rahel Jaeggi, and Eva von Redecker discuss the need for a revolutionary subject and current candidates for this role.


Every revolution needs a steadfast subject setting it in motion. For a long time, the most promising candidate for this role was considered to be the social class that had nothing to lose but its chains, that as the subject-object of history, was produced, exploited, and oppressed by the very society its own labour maintained, and that did not fight for the redistribution of privileges in its favour, but – in the course of overcoming classes in general – for its own abolition. Herbert Marcuse, whose birthday is being celebrated for the 125th time this year, not only observed, like other representatives of Critical Theory, that the proletariat had failed to fulfil its intended role in the 1930s. Marcuse was uniquely perceptive for the other social groups that fought for social change: the social movements and those who were socially marginalized. Today, when the New Social Movements have already become a chapter in the history books, and when migrants and the precariat have not simply taken up the demanding role of the proletariat, we want to ask in Marcuse’s spirit: Who are the collective agents that want to and are able to respond to the crises of the present with a profound transformation of society?

The event is part of the International Critical Theory Summer School 2023.


Gianfranco Casuso is Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Humanities at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and director of the Research Group on Critical Theory at the same university. His teaching and research areas are political and social philosophy, the philosophy of economics, as well as theories of democracy, critical theory of society and modern philosophy with special emphasis on the philosophy of German idealism. He is currently working on the links between classical and contemporary critical theory and Latin American social and political thought.

Robin Celikates is Professor for Practical and Social Philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin and deputy director of the Centre for Social Critique. His current work mainly focuses on critical theory, civil disobedience, democracy, migration and citizenship.

Alex Demirović is a Senior Fellow at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung and an associated member of the Centre for Social Critique. He was Professor for Industrial and Organizational Sociology at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. His research focuses on marxist state theory, democracy and critical theory.

Verónica Gago is a professor of social sciences at the Instituto de Altos Estudios at the Universidad Nacional de San Martìn (UNSAM) and a researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Buenos Aires. Her research focuses on international social movements, feminism and the critique of neoliberal reason.

Sally Haslanger is Ford Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and teaches in MIT’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Her main areas of research include metaphysics, epistemology, feminist theory, ancient philosophy, and social and political philosophy.

Rahel Jaeggi is Professor for Practical and Social Philosophy and director of the Centre for Social Critique at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her main historical research is critical theory, her main systematic research social philosophy, social theory, social ontology and anthropology, political philosophy and ethics.

Eva von Redecker is a philosopher and author. Until 2019, she was deputy director of the Centre for Social Critique. Her research focuses on theories of social change, feminist theory, and the modern notion of property.


New Revolutionary Subjects: In memoriam Herbert Marcuse