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Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy

Insurrection and Commonwealth


Charles Reitz

Critical pedagogy, political economics, and aesthetic theory combine with dialectical and materialist understandings of science, society, and revolutionary politics to develop the most radical goals of society and education. In Philosophy and Critical Pedagogy: Insurrection and Commonwealth, Marcuse’s hitherto misunderstood and neglected philosophy of labor is reconsidered, resulting in a labor theory of ethics. This develops commonwealth criteria of judgment regarding the real and enduring economic and political possibilities that concretely encompass all of our engagement and action. Marcuse’s newly discovered 1974 Paris Lectures are examined and the theories of Georg Lukács and Ernest Manheim contextualize the analysis to permit a critical assessment of the nature of dialectical methodology today. Revolutionary strategy and a common-ground political program against intensifying inequalities of class, race, and gender comprise the book’s commonwealth counter-offensive.
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Appendix No. 2: Engaging a Radical Past: Anti-Racism in Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854


← 218 | 219 →APPENDIX NO. 2


Anti-Racism in Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854← 219 | 220 →


← 220 | 221 →Anti-Racism in the Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854–64

History in the U.S. prior to the Civil War occurred on tumultuous political terrain that is still highly contested academically. One of its most controversial episodes is the struggle for a slavery-free Kansas. This essay1 will show how crucial aspects of this history have been marginalized and/or repressed in conventional scholarly accounts, and will build an interpretive framework with widened cultural and political scope. This will derive from its close examination of the unique contributions of three key social change agents: 1) Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune; 2) German 48er freedom fighters relocated to the Kansas Territory (K.T.) after 1855; and 3) a German 48er journalist working from London for Greeley, Karl Marx. Following the perspective of Frederick Douglass, discussed in more detail below, this essay acknowledges the abiding residual effects of racism among many (perhaps most) of the otherwise politically progressive whites of the day. Nicole Etcheson has recognized this explicit Kansas Free State capitulation to white privilege in her recent history of Bleeding Kansas.2 My studies however disclose the manner in which a variety of vanguard white radicals stood in alliance with the leading voices of radically egalitarian African Americans, anti-slavery Native Americans, and Kansas German-Americans engaged in the Free State struggle. By focusing on the emancipatory political praxis...

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