Herbert Marcuse in the 21st Century III: Acid Communism

Eddie Ejjbair
3 min readOct 18, 2023

In an unfinished introduction to a book that would’ve been called Acid Communism, Mark Fisher speaks on Marcuse’s ‘declining influence’; due, he claims, to an attempt to revise the 60s, and suppress certain narratives that emerged out of it. ‘One-Dimensional Man’, he says, ‘has remained a reference point’ — possibly because it ‘emphasises the gloomier side of his work’ — whereas Eros and Civilisation, ‘like many of his other works, has long been out of print’.

This is why Mark Fisher proposes ‘Acid Communism’ — a concept he calls ‘a provocation and a promise’:

It is a joke of sorts, but one with very serious purpose. It points to something that, at one point, seemed inevitable, but which now appears impossible: the convergence of class consciousness, socialist-feminist consciousness-raising and psychedelic consciousness, the fusion of new social movements with a communist project, an unprecedented aestheticisation of everyday life

Acid Communism is an attempt to resuscitate the spirit of the 60s. This means rethinking the last sixty years, throughout which we’ve been inundated with ‘narratives that neoliberalism has woven’:

Moving far beyond the simple story that the “Sixties led to neoliberalism”, these new readings of the 1970s allow us to apprehend the bravura intelligence, ferocious energy and improvisational imagination of the neoliberal counter-revolution. The installation of capitalist realism was by no means a simple restoration of an old state of affairs: the mandatory individualism imposed by neoliberalism was a new form of individualism, an individualism defined against the different forms of collectivity that clamoured out of the Sixties. This new individualism was designed to both surpass and make us forget those collective forms. So to recall these multiple forms of collectivity is less an act of remembering than of unforgetting, a counter-exorcism of the spectre of a world which could be free

This last sentence refers to a passage in Eros and Civilization, in which Marcuse says a prosperous society must guard against ‘the specter of a world which could be free’:

the closer the real possibility of liberating the individual from the constraints once justified by scarcity and immaturity, the…

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Eddie Ejjbair

‘Gradually it’s become clear to me what every great philosophy has been: a personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir’