Spontaneous Combustion

The Eros Effect and Global Revolution

Edited by Jason Del Gandio & AK Thompson
Foreword by Peter Marcuse

Subjects: Sociology, Cultural Studies, Politics, Philosophy, Political Science
Series: SUNY series, Praxis: Theory in Action
Paperback : 9781438467283, 320 pages, May 2018
Hardcover : 9781438467276, 320 pages, October 2017

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Table of contents

Peter Marcuse

Jason Del Gandio and AK Thompson

Section I: The Eros Effect

1. Remembering May ’68: An Interview with George Katsiaficas
AK Thompson

2. Eros and Revolution
George Katsiaficas

3. From Marcuse’s “Political Eros” to the Eros Effect: A Current Statement
George Katsiaficas

Section II: Extensions and Elaborations

4. Eros in a One-Dimensional Society: Katsiaficas, Marcuse, and Me
Arnold L. Farr

5. Rethinking the Eros Effect: Sentience, Reality, and Emanation
Jason Del Gandio

6. Revolt as Reason, Reason as Revolt: On the Praxis of Philosophy from Below
Richard Gilman-Opalsky

7. The Eros Effect and the Embodied Mind
Jack Hipp

Section III: Case Studies

8. Kindling for the Spark: Eros and Emergent Consciousness in Occupy Oakland
Emily Brissette and Mike King

9. Eros Effect as Emergency Politics: Empathy, Agency, and Network in South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster
Gooyong Kim and Anat Schwartz

10. Climatology of the Eros Effect: Notes from the Japanese Archipelago
Sabu Kohso

Section IV: Rejoinders

11. Feminism and the Eros Effect
Nina Power

12. Waves of Protest, the Eros Effect, and the Social Relations of Diffusion
Lesley Wood

13. Eros Effect or Biological Hatred?
AK Thompson

Douglas Kellner


Provides answers to one of the enduring paradoxes of mass social change.


From the events of May 1968 to the Arab Spring and Occupy, we have seen social movements develop spontaneously around the globe propelling thousands and, at times, millions of people into the streets to demand an end to oppression.

"In order to make sense of such events, the authors draw on George Katsiaficas's conception of the 'eros effect,' which picks up and takes off from concepts developed by Herbert Marcuse. This effect describes moments in which the instinctual human need for justice and freedom undergoes a massive spontaneous awakening. Drawing on Marcuse, the concept foregrounds the instinctual foundation of the desire for freedom, in which a biologically-based pleasure drive—eros—is given free play." — from the Foreword by Peter Marcuse

However, even as the eros effect provides a valuable framework for understanding spontaneous global uprisings, Katsiaficas has acknowledged that the concept has remained underdeveloped. Spontaneous Combustion provides an introduction to the eros effect along with a series of elaborations, applications, and critical rejoinders concerning its implications. A truly interdisciplinary venture, the book features contributions from cutting-edge scholars and activists on the frontlines of today's struggles.

Jason Del Gandio is Assistant Professor at Temple University who teaches rhetoric and public advocacy. He is the author of Rhetoric for Radicals: A Handbook for 21st Century Activists. AK Thompson teaches social theory and is the author of Black Bloc, White Riot: Anti-Globalization and the Genealogy of Dissent.