Charles  Reitz Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Charles Reitz

Professor Emeritus, Philosophy and Social Science
Kansas City Kansas Community College

Charles Reitz is a radical social and political philosopher. His book "Ecology and Revolution: Herbert Marcuse and the Challenge of a New World System Today" argues the necessity of a new world system, the workforce as a resource with strategic power, education as sensuous living labor's enlightenment with regard to the human material condition, and social labor's ethical beauty as commonwealth.

Subjects: Education, Philosophy


Reitz is the author of several publications on educational and political philosophy with special interest in the life and work of Herbert Marcuse.

"Ecology and Revolution: Herbert Marcuse and the Challenge of a New World System Today" has just been published by Routledge. It is part of Henry A. Giroux's series Critical Interventions. Peter McLaren's series with Peter Lang Publishing included Reitz's book, "Philosophy & Critical Pedagogy: Insurrection & Commonwealth," released in 2016. Both of these volumes are intended to serve as a countervailing force to conventional political and educational theory. Like critical philosophy, critical pedagogy is centrally concerned with the alleviation of suffering, resistance to oppressive power, building a social and historical context for understanding, and agency for emancipatory social change. Reitz argues GreenCommonWealth as an attainable ecosocialist alternative characterized by racial equality, women's equality, the liberation of labor, the restoration of nature, leisure, abundance, and peace.

In August 2015 his edited collection, "Crisis and Commonwealth: Marcuse, Marx, McLaren," appeared with Lexington Books in a paperback edition with a foreword by Peter McLaren. This features the critical theories of Marcuse and Marx and extends them to an analysis of the intensifying inequalities symptomatic of our current economic distress. A new foundation for emancipatory practice is proposed―a labor theory of ethics and commonwealth. The collection appeals to the contemporary interests of college students and teachers in several interrelated social science disciplines: sociology, social problems, economics, ethics, business ethics, labor education, history, political philosophy, multicultural education, and critical pedagogy. It concludes with a manifesto for radical educators by Peter McLaren.

In 2013 he co-edited a Special Edition of the Radical Philosophy Review on Herbert Marcuse (with Andrew Lamas, Arnold L. Farr, and Douglas Kellner) including "Art, Alienation, and the Humanities: A Critical Engagement with Herbert Marcuse" (SUNY Press, 2000) which received a 2002 Critics' Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association; "Marcuse in America: Exile as Educator" in Fast Capitalism, online edition, issue 5.2, Fall 2009; "Herbert Marcuse and the Humanities: Emancipatory Education and Predatory Culture," and "Herbert Marcuse and the New Culture Wars," in Douglas Kellner, Tyson Lewis, Clayton Pierce, K. Daniel Cho, Marcuse's Challenge to Education (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009).

Other publications by Reitz explore the social and theoretical foundations of historical writing and curriculum formation, for example "Horace Greeley, Karl Marx, and German 48ers: Anti-Racism in the Kansas Free State Struggle, 1854-64," which appeared in the Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2008 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2009).


    PhD 1983 State University of New York at Buffalo

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Critical social and political theory; origins of inequality; education and reproduction of unequal social division of labor; ecosocialist alternatives to capitalist system.

Personal Interests

    German-English translations: more than a dozen brief translations of Marcuse's posthumous papers have been published in Douglas Kellner's series with Routledge, Collected Papers of Herbert Marcuse, Volumes. 4, 5, and 6.


Featured Title
 Featured Title - Reitz_Ecology and Revolution - 1st Edition book cover


Critical Theory and Authoritarian Populism

Opposing Authoritarian Populism: The Challenge and Necessity of a New World System

Published: Jan 14, 2019 by Critical Theory and Authoritarian Populism
Authors: Chapter 6 in collection edited by Jeremiah Morelock
Subjects: Philosophy

Racial animosity and anti-immigrant scapegoating are being orchestrated today by the troubled system of American/global capitalism as weapons of economic stabilization and social control. Political progress requires that we go on the offensive for race and gender equality, labor freedom, the restoration of nature, leisure, abundance, and peace.

SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory

Herbert Marcuse's Critical Theory as Radical Socialism

Published: Dec 14, 2018 by SAGE Handbook of Frankfurt School Critical Theory
Authors: Chapter 10 in volume edited by Best, Bonefeld, and O'Kane
Subjects: Philosophy

The trajectory of Herbert Marcuse's critical theory from the early aesthetic perspective of The German Artist Novel, through Reason and Revolution, One-Dimensional Man, An Essay of Liberation, and The Aesthetic Dimension, turning to his final writings on education and revolutionary ecological liberation.

Twenty-First Century Inequality & Capitalism

Accounting for Inequality: Questioning Piketty on National Income Accounts

Published: Nov 14, 2018 by Twenty-First Century Inequality & Capitalism
Authors: Chapter 10 in collection edited by Lauren Langman and David A. Smith
Subjects: Economics, Finance, Business & Industry, Sociology, Philosophy

Thomas Piketty’s study of capital and inequality, especially the distribution of the national income through a “capital-labor split,” is examined and compared with a model developed from data sets from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Piketty’s inclusion of executive supersalaries as labor income is questioned as over-estimating labor’s share of national income distribution and labor’s role as a causal factor in the intensification of inequality.

The Persistence of Critical Theory

The Dialectification of Science and Philosophy

Published: Apr 14, 2017 by The Persistence of Critical Theory
Authors: Chapter 3 in collection edited by Gabriel R. Ricci
Subjects: Philosophy

Natural history and social history (re)emerged in the 20th century as methodological guides that overcome the overly abstract qualities of positivism and deductivism in logic. These indicate an definitive trend toward dialectification in the study of nature, society, and thought.

Radical Philosophy Review V. 20 N. 2, 2017

The Critical University as Radical Project

Published: Apr 06, 2017 by Radical Philosophy Review V. 20 N. 2, 2017
Authors: Charles Reitz
Subjects: Education, Philosophy

Book review of Tanya Loughead's "Critical University: Moving Higher Education Forward."

Critcal Theory Research Network

Herbert Marcuse and the New Culture Wars: Campus Codes, Hate Speech, and the Critique of Pure Tolerance

Published: Dec 06, 2016 by Critcal Theory Research Network
Authors: Charles Reitz
Subjects: Philosophy

Marcuse believed that the doctrine of pure tolerance was systematically utilized by reactionary and liberal forces to abuse equality guarantees and derail or destroy the possibility of democratic egalitarianism.

Fast Capitalism 5.2 2009

Marcuse in America -- Exile as Educator

Published: Aug 13, 2009 by Fast Capitalism 5.2 2009
Authors: Charles Reitz
Subjects: Education, Philosophy

Key aspects of the development of Marcuse’s critical theory, hitherto quite under-appreciated, can be illumined by focusing on the theme exile as educator, and by stressing Marcuse’s emphasis on the intellectual’s emancipatory role as outsider.

Marcuse's Challenge to Education

"Herbert Marcuse and the Humanities: Emancipatory Education vs. Predatory Capitalism"

Published: Jul 21, 2009 by Marcuse's Challenge to Education
Authors: edited by Douglas Kellner, Tyson Lewis, Clayton Pierce, and K. Daniel Cho
Subjects: Education, Sociology, Philosophy

A critical discussion of Herbert Marcuse's view of the educative and political power of the humanities to enhance emancipatory cultural transformation. Revolutionary multiculturalism is proposed as an educational philosophy that can build radical social action for racial, gender, and economic equality.

International Herbert Marcuse Society

Herbert Marcuse and Multicultural Democracy in Arnold Farr’s Philosophical and Political Theory

Published: Apr 21, 2009 by International Herbert Marcuse Society
Authors: Charles Reitz
Subjects: Political Science, Education, Philosophy

Farr argues effectively that Herbert Marcuse’s political-philosophical vision and cultural critique continue to shed light on current debates on political and racial inequality, social control and conformity, and narrowly instrumental half-education.

Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2008

Horace Greeley, Karl Marx, and German 48ers: Anti-Racism in the Kansas Free State Struggle

Published: Jan 20, 2009 by Marx-Engels Jahrbuch 2008
Authors: Charles Reitz
Subjects: Philosophy

U.S. Civil War history is re-examined here in terms of three key elements of the Kansas Free State struggle: radical German immigrants to the American West (including those who joined the anti-slavery of John Brown); Horace Greeley's utopian socialism and support for the German vote; plus Karl Marx's relatively unknown writings on the Civil War in Kansas (sic!). A new context for understanding is thus provided.


Ecosocialism as the Aesthetic Form of Social Life

By: Charles Reitz

Arts News: Ecosocialism as the Aesthetic Form of Social Life


In a global society in which people are increasingly aware of the injustices and environmental carnage that pervades modern existence, thoughts of humanity’s promise relative to its current status can easily give rise to despair. The German philosopher Georg Hegel referred to this form of mental suffering as “unhappy consciousness” — the grim realization that although we can do better as a civilization, we are failing to do so.

This phenomenon functions as an important element in the ideas of Herbert Marcuse, a German American philosopher whose teachings were influential in the “New Left” political movements that emerged in the latter half of the 20th century. Although Marcuse is best known as a critic of capitalism and its attendant destruction, violence and inequality, his theories about the role art should play in a progressive, peaceful society remain timely and informative.

According to Charles Reitz, the author of “Ecology and Revolution: Herbert Marcuse and the Challenge of a New World System Today” (2019), “Marcuse emphasizes that aesthetic goals are among the most radical goals of socialism, beyond its minimum features of meeting human needs justly and fully.”

Reitz, a Kansas City-based social and political philosopher, has written extensively on Herbert Marcuse and radical social theory. He earned his doctorate in educational philosophy at the University of Buffalo in 1983 and served as professor of philosophy and social science at Kansas City Kansas Community College.

For as long as people have been expressing themselves through art, the things we create have served as an intersection for every other human endeavor. Politics, emotions, religion, nature, science, technology and ideas all find a voice in the arts. Ultimately, art is inextricably linked to the “unhappy consciousness” in that it represents either the anguish we feel in the face of our unmet potential or the hope that humanity can harness its powers benevolently toward a brighter future.

“Ecology and Revolution” is an exhaustively researched primer on Marcuse’s conviction that humans must radically transform their relationships with the earth and each other, and although the aesthetic form of socialism is only one aspect of the book, Reitz succeeds admirably in conveying the critical ways in which art can both catalyze and reflect social progress. He notes that “society can and should be a work of art featuring racial equality, women’s equality, the liberation of labor to creative work for the common good, and the restoration of nature, leisure, abundance, and peace.”

The premise of liberation from the shackles of capitalist brutality appears frequently in both Marcuse’s original sources and Reitz’s interpretations of them. Writing in chapter 1 of “Ecology and Revolution,” Reitz explains “Artworks alone . . . cannot fulfill the promise of liberation, yet in Marcuse’s view, the insights provided by study of the humanities are the intellectual precondition to any political transformation of alienated human existence into authentic human existence.”

For contemporary audiences, this is a valuable reminder that the work artists do deserves our time, effort and attention. Art that provokes outrage, inspires new ideas, or asks difficult questions is a precursor for the self-awareness and understanding humans need to close the gap in the “unhappy consciousness” between what is real and what is possible. As Reitz aptly notes, “Art’s critical task is the disclosure of the tragical-beautiful paradox in life, and this is the hallmark of its truth.”

Art need not be pleasant nor easy to process in order to tell us something important, and in fact, some of the most effective art of our times addresses topics like racism, greed, classism, sexism and mass consumption — the same barriers to a just society that Marcuse critiques in his 1977 book, “The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics”:

“If art were to promise that at the end good would triumph over evil, such a promise would be refuted by historical truth. In reality it is evil which triumphs, and there are only islands of good where one can find refuge for a brief time. Authentic works of art are aware of this; they reject the promise made too easily; they refuse the unburdened happy end.”

Ultimately, Reitz believes that the aesthetic form of ecosocialism — a world in which no one’s needs go unmet and all people are free to express themselves passionately and creatively through their art and labor — cannot be realized until human culture is “characterized by partnership power rather than dominator power.”

Until then, art remains a reminder of where we’ve been and where we need to go to finally escape the “unhappy consciousness” of our era.