Marshall Berman, 1940-2013

Corey Robin

Political theorist Marshall Berman, who was my colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, died yesterday morning.

When I heard the news last night, my first thought was the date: 9/11. There’s no good day to die, but to die on a day so associated with death—whether the murder of nearly 3000 people on 9/11/2001, most of them in his beloved New York, or the 9/11/1973 coup in Chile that brought down Allende and installed Pinochet—seems, in Marshall’s case, like an especially cruel offense against the universe.

For as anyone who knew or read him knows, Marshall was a man of irrepressible and teeming life. The life of the street, which he immortalized in his classic All That’s Solid Melts Into Air; the life of sex and liberation, which he talked about in The Politics of Authenticity (read the section on Montesquieu’s Persian Letters; you’ll never read that book…

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2 Responses to Marshall Berman, 1940-2013

  1. Randal Hepner says:

    Once again, thank you, Steve, for keeping me informed of what’s going on in the world, for reminding me of the beauty and thrill of reading Marshall Berman, in New York City, in the late 1980s, of meeting him and Stanley Aronowitz at the Socialist Scholars Conference at BMCC, of our life together at the New School and in Sunset Park. I will never forget Berman, or NYC, or you.   Respect, Randy



    • I recalled Sunset Park sometime over the last week, my apartment there and the ambiance of a Latino-Palestinian-Chinese-Gringo neighborhood. I now wished I had learned Spanish when living there. I made a feeble attempt. I once asked for queso de papa at the larger 4th Avenue deli. They asked for my order “en Español.” I complied. Their reply: “What? Speak English!!!!” It seems that my Spanish was about as elegant as Berman’s tee shirt. Experiences like this are what I miss now that I now no longer live in New York City!

      Take care!


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