Sunday, September 19, 2010

The FBI book reports on Marcuse

As part of our research into the history of the UCSD Philosophy Department, we requested and obtained, from the FBI and DOJ, the Freedom of Information Act file on Dr. Herbert Marcuse. We received in the mail a disc containing a 607 page pdf file; all of which were documents concerning Marcuse. A large portion of the file is in regard to the death threat that Marcuse received July 1, 1968 (more info here). The rest of the file is information regarding the tracking of and following Marcuse for several decades, from the 1940s until the 1970s.

Much of the file is in regard to surveillance of Marcuse's movements around the world, categorized under sub subjects as: "Anarchy", or "New Left Matter". The FBI received many complaints from San Diego citizens who felt that Marcuse was dangerous to society and should not be in a position to influence others. The FBI even received tips from Marcuse's La Jolla neighbors on his whereabouts and travel plans/patterns.

The FBI actually commissioned book reports to be done on several of Marcuse's published works. Below are the actual reports for "Reason and Revolution", "One Dimensional Man", and "Essay on Liberation" from Marcuse's file.

"Reason and Revolution"

"One Dimensional Man"

"Essay on Liberation"

There are many pages omitted in the Freedom of Information act file on Marcuse, that is, there are several documents not released to the public. Names of sources and many other people are also blacked out of the documents. This leaves the door open to many questions about who exactly was communicating with the FBI about Marcuse and what exactly is too sensitive to be released to the public. Another interesting note is that the file grew nearly forty pages from the day we first requested it to the day we actually received it; leading us to believe that the file on Marcuse, even now in 2010, is still growing.

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