Herbert Marcuse was born in 1898 into a Berlin Jewish family. He joined the Army and was a member of the Soldiers' Council that participated in the aborted socialist "Spartacist" uprising.
Marcuse's subsequent academic career in Germany was blocked by the rise of the Third Reich and he and other members of the Institute for Social Research, the Frankfurt School, went into exile.
Marcuse emigrated to the US, gaining American citizenship in 1940. He worked in the US Office of War Information (OWI) on anti-Nazi propaganda, then at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) -precursor of the CIA- and finally with the US Department of State as head of the Central European Section.
By 1952 however he was a political theorist teaching at Columbia. He wrote EROS AND CIVILISATION (1955) drawing on Marx and Freud to argue for social and sexual liberation.
In ONE DIMENSIONAL MAN (1964) he claims that the pressures of consumerism has led to the total integration of the working class into the capitalist system. The working class is no longer a subversive force. Revolutionary change will have to come from an alliance of radical intellectuals and socially marginalised groups.
Marcuse spoke at many protests and backed a range of new social movements. Indeed he soon came to be talked of as the "Father of the New Left."
He also wrote extensively about "mass culture." He suggested in particular that post war mass culture -with its "profusion of sexual provocations"- reinforces political repression. People are preoccupied with "unauthentic sexual stimulation." Their political energy is thus "desublimated" and they cease to act constructively to change the world around them,