Politics as Radical Creation examines the meaning of democratic practice through the critical social theory of the Frankfurt School. It provides an understanding of democratic politics as a potentially performative good-in-itself, undertaken not just to the extent that it seeks to achieve a certain extrinsic goal, but also in that it functions as a medium for the expression of creative human impulses. Christopher Holman develops this potential model through a critical examination of the political philosophies of Herbert Marcuse and Hannah Arendt. Holman argues that, while Arendt and Marcuse's respective theorizations each ultimately restrict the potential scope of creative human expression, their juxtaposition - which has not been previously explored - results in a more comprehensive theory of democratic existence, one that is uniquely able to affirm the creative capacities of the human being. Yielding important theoretical results that will interest scholars of each theorist and of theories of democracy more generally, Politics as Radical Creation provides a valuable means for rethinking the nature of contemporary democratic practice.
Introduction: Marcuse, Arendt, and the Idea of Politics Chapter One: Marcuse's Critique and Reformulation of the Philosophical Concept of Essence * Culture and Bourgeois Freedom * Critical Theory and the Ethical Imperative: Happiness-Reason-Freedom * Hegel and the Dialectic of Negativity * Essence and the Dialectic of Labour Chapter Two: The Dialectic of Instinctual Liberation: Essence and Non-Repressive Sublimation * The Problem of Repression: Individual and Social, Basic and Surplus * The Affirmation of Sensuousness: Primary Narcissism and Non-Repressive Sublimation * Non-Repressive Sublimation and Non-Alienated Labour Chapter Three: The Problem of Politics * Marx's Political Ambiguity * The Limits of Western Marxism * Marcuse's Reproduction of the Marxian Anti-Politics * Administration as Domination and Liberation Chapter Four: Hannah Arendt's Theory of Public Freedom * Performativity and Essence: The Need for Radical Creation * The Subject of Radical Creation: Politics and the We * Agonism, Democracy, and Political Objectification * Arendt and Revolutionary History * The Institutionalization of the Revolutionary Impulse: The Council Tradition Chapter Five: Marcuse Contra Arendt: Dialectics, Destiny, Distinction * Questioning Distinction: the Vita Activa and Marx's Ontology of Labour * Arendt's Critique of the Dialectic: On the Need for Distinction * Marcuse's Critique of Non-Dialectical Dialectics Chapter Six: Marcuse: Reconsidering the Political * The Theory of the Radical Act * The Affirmation of Socialist Nature * Politics and the New Left * Spontaneity and the Council Tradition Conclusion: From the New Left to Global Justice and from the Councils to Cochabamba Works Cited