Under surveillance: Herbert Marcuse and the FBI

Nature, Knowledge and Negation

ISBN: 978-1-84950-605-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-606-9

ISSN: 0278-1204

Publication date: 26 November 2009


This article is the first in a series that seeks to examine the Federal Bureau of Investigation’ (FBI) surveillance of social philosopher and activist Herbert Marcuse between 1943 and 1976. We intend to map in parallel lines local, national, and international media representations of Marcuse, scholarly analysis of Marcuse's writings, Marcuse's own correspondence, speeches, and texts in comparison with the presentations of Herbert Marcuse in the collected FBI documents. Our goal is to assess what the Marcuse's FBI files tell us about the FBI, Marcuse, the New Left, and U.S. society in the 1960s. In particular, close attention is paid to examining events described inside the FBI documents occurring in the mid-1960s when Herbert Marcuse was emerging as a self-proclaimed Marxist radical, a father figure to New Left and countercultural activists, an influential author, public speaker, and teacher, and was beginning to be perceived as a threat by the FBI to U.S. national security. We seek to clarify if FBI documents can provide information and insight to help illuminate and understand U.S. social and cultural history, in this particular case, to assess how FBI documents measure up against scholarship and perceived views of Marcuse and the 1960s. We are thus interested both in what we can learn about Herbert Marcuse's life and times from these documents and what FBI surveillance and documents tell us about the FBI and U.S. intelligence services.


Gennaro, S. and Kellner, D. (2009), "Under surveillance: Herbert Marcuse and the FBI", Dahms, H.F. (Ed.) Nature, Knowledge and Negation (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 283-313. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0278-1204(2009)0000026014

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