Bloch, Ernst (July 8, 1885, Ludwigshafen - August 4, 1977, Tübingen) By Perlea, Georgiana
Ernst Bloch was a German Marxist philosopher. Fleeing the Nazis in 1934, he lived in exile in Switzerland, France, Czechoslovakia, and the US. In 1949 he returned to a chair of philosophy in Leipzig (GDR) and, after the erection of the Berlin Wall (1961), in Tübingen (FDR). Bloch’s eccentric Marxism did not become popular until 1968. His The Spirit of Utopia (1923), an offshoot of Jewish apocalyptic literature cast in the poetic-aphoristic style of Expressionism, aimed extravagantly to weave the tenets of Marxism into a speculative cosmogony in the gnostic tradition. To Bloch, the Marxist call to overhaul society was a ‘concrete utopia’: a compelling expression of millennia-old messianic thought, which envisions the grand transformation, material as well as spiritual, as something to be not awaited but always attained. Utopia, be it Marxism or Anabaptism, is a finality that is present, yet still unrealized. Flamboyantly metaphysical and a lifelong Bolshevik, Bloch insisted that his monist cosmology supported Communism, specifically Leninism, against reformist diversions. This, he argued in The Principle of Hope (1977), is because Marxism, apocalyptic in outlook, is committed above all to actuating its promise.