This Life

this life header ratta
"An important new book... Always lucid... Beautifully liberating... And his fundamental secular cry seems right: since time is all we have, we must measure its preciousness in units of freedom. Nothing else will do. Once this glorious idea has taken hold, it is very hard to dislodge... I was convinced, step by step, of the moral rectitude of Hägglund's argument even as I struggled to imagine the political system that might institute his desired revaluation of value."
James Wood
The new yorker
"A sweepingly ambitious synthesis of philosophy, spirituality and politics, which starts with the case for confronting mortality, and ends with the case for democratic socialism… Everything depends on what we do with our time together. This Life makes a forceful case for keeping that truth in mind."
Oliver Burkeman
The guardian
"A new philosophy for our time... I burned through this book so fast I forgot it was 400 pages. I even reread passages I enjoyed, because it was so engaging and thought provoking... My new favorite philosophy book."
Alex Bell
The Boston Globe
"Gives fresh philosophical and political vitality to a longstanding question: What kind of political and economic order can do justice to our mortality, to the fact that our lives are all we have?... This Life presents a vital alternative."
Jedediah Britton Purdy
The New Republic
"Brilliant...Exciting... Hägglund starts with Postone—who revolutionized our understanding of Marx—and does him one better... Socialists have a lot to gain from taking up Hägglund's invitation to think through their ultimate premises... One of his most impressive achievements is to bring to a new public agitating for freedom in our lives a bold project of exhuming from the grave an identifiably Marxist intellectual enterprise. At stake are the beliefs we all must share that humanity is one, the social life it has created for itself an affront to its destiny, and—theoretically as well as practically—it has a world to win."
Samuel Moyn
"What I found very attractive about Hägglund's book is his reinterpretation of Marxism for a secular age and secularized audience without losing Marx's vision of a broader spiritual liberation from modern forms of coercion."
Pankaj Mishra
The nation
"A magnificent case for democratic socialism that succeeds in wresting the indispensable slogan of freedom away from the publicists for liberal capitalism... Newfound philosophical rigor and existential urgency... Leftists should be grateful to Hägglund not only for recuperating the cause of freedom for the radical left but also for implying, through the existential register of This Life, that democratic socialism is properly the cause of everyone."
Benjamin Kunkel
Los angeles review of books
"One of the most important and ambitious books of the last several years."
Sean Illing
The ezra klein show
"Deep, critical, and lively... Lucidly written, and at times beautifully so... Hägglund wants to effect a revolutionary change in our understanding of value, in our economies and in our lives... The book's central contention is powerful."
Mark O'Connell
New Statesman
"Earnest and precise... huge intellectual range... beautifully clear. This Life requires no philosophical training or lexicon to follow it, only an interest in the meaning of this life... I found Hägglund's cherishing of mortal existence a cheering corrective to the sometimes joyless scientificity of the new atheism... Hägglund is surely right that it is our mortality, our miraculous existence as carbon-based matter turned all too briefly into conscious beings who can love and be loved, that makes us priceless to ourselves and to each other."
Joe Moran
Times Higher Education
"Really moving and actually soothing. It gave me some kind of inner peace to contemplate Martin Hägglund's arguments, partly because the arguments really are about how beautiful and precious and singular it is to have this life, to be alive as a human being on this planet."
Chris Hayes
MSNbc, with chris hayes
"Hägglund hopes to help people seize this moment of discontent with capitalism and ask some fundamental questions: How should we live and work together? What are the optimal ways we can organize society to enhance freedom and well-being — and avoid scorching the planet? That’s a good conversation to have."
Tom Krattenmaker
USA Today
"A breathtaking reconstruction of Marx as a thinker of freedom, re-grounding the conceptual priority of time and value within his critique of political economy... This Life may be the most important revival of Hegelian Marxism since Althusser's critique of that orientation... An intervention in intellectual history of the first order."
Nathan Brown
radical philosophy
"This Life is to be applauded. Its iconoclasm and sweep provide an example of what intellectual activity can and should look like in an era of emergency... The great virtue of the book: it provides a regulative ideal, and a reminder of what kind of world we are actually fighting for... We need a vision of justice that is plausible and compelling enough to organize our efforts. Hägglund’s book provides one. After a half century of anti-utopian suspicion, This Life calls us back to a nearly forgotten style of thinking and imagining... Hägglund is right that time is our most precious resource."
James Chappel
Boston Review
"By far the most profound, thoughtful, compelling, and insightful book I have ever read on the topic of immortality, and the problematic implications of the religious fixation on eternal life. For a secular person–or anyone who wants to understand the secular worldview–this book is essential reading... Hägglund plumbs its depths like no one has ever before. He does so artfully, theoretically, and with tremendous wisdom. This Life is a truly welcome addition to the secularist humanist canon."
Phil Zuckerman
Psychology Today
"Highly persuasive...The philosophical basis Hägglund offers for a future of progressive politics remains crucial... A distinct and important contribution to contemporary philosophy, This Life is a rare accomplishment. A book that is a rigorous as it is approachable, as incisive as it is patient. A veritable trove of ideas... A rewarding book that deserves exactly what it demands: close, engaged reading by a wide readership."
Tyler m Williams
Critical Inquiry
"Electrifying...Hägglund's work stands as one of the most morally and politically compelling intellectual projects of our time."
Conall Cash
boundary 2
"A powerful philosophical case... rigorous and thorough... crystalline prose and moving engagements."
William Egginton
the believer
"One of the most interesting and persuasive arguments Martin Hägglund makes in his wonderful new book, This Life, is that democratic socialism (not reformed liberalism, and not social democracy) is the only political form that recognizes spiritual freedom as an unconditional secular value... His framework tackles the difficult problem of wage labor under capitalism and gives us excellent answers in the direction of the revaluation of value."
Lea Ypi
The philosopher
"Offers perspective and purpose."
Emily Ratajkowski
"With tremendously widespread popularity, This Life has entered the public sphere in a way largely unprecedented for a work of Marxist theory. Yet, Hägglund's achievement is the sophistication of his engagement with Hegel and Marx scholarship... Hägglund's vision of freedom outflanks the political limitations of Pippin's Hegel and Postone's Marx, while retaining the power of their analyses."
Michael Lazarus
Historical Materialism
"Combines systematic ambitions with great intellectual clarity... With its defence of the integrity of secular life, convincing account of human distinctiveness and revolutionary critique of liberal democracy, Hägglund's book makes breakthroughs that should be of interest to anyone working in critical theory or European philosophy... This Life is oriented by Hegel, and extends and challenges the best current Hegel scholarship. It shares the commitment to rigorous argumentation but without partaking of the methodological and political conservatism characteristic of analytic philosophy... It is exciting to find a book with conclusions like these speaking to such a wide audience."
Mathew Abbott
marx and philosophy review of books
"Hägglund's This Life is one of the most sublime books I have ever read... It is a work of great erudition and originality; it is carefully and conscientiously crafted; it overflows with thoughtful insights, poetic passages, and sparkling prose. It is, quite simply, a masterpiece."
John Messerly
reason and meaning
"Hägglund's This Life is a gift. It is a book that will become an important touchstone for democratic and left politics, as well as our debates on the contradictions of capitalism."
Brandon M. Terry
los angeles review of books
"Martin Hägglund is that rarest of beings: a critical theorist who writes beautifully and has a real vision for the future... The vision of secular faith and democratic socialism sketched out is not only inspiring, but convincing... A truly magisterial work."
Matt McManus
areo magazine
"A book filled with insight... Hägglund has written an important work that pushes forward a secular, rational, and fulfilling view of humankind's place in the world. If the reader is up to the challenge of engaging deeply and historically about their life philosophy, this is a book that rewards that effort."
David Chivers
The Humanist
"A quietly devastating takedown of capitalism... A highly readable, accessible—yet profound—examination of what kind of society might enable life at its most fulfilling... The discussions and analyses, however complex, are written with a light touch and beguiling clarity which is both wholly absorbing and deeply relevant. The reader is complicit, a partner. It is a book to read slowly, and this reviewer is about to start reading it all over again."
Marina Vaizey
The Arts Desk
"A monumental achievement... Hägglund's revaluation of value is itself a powerful Polaris to help navigate the political projects that we set ourselves to embracing."
Michael McCarthy
"An important new book, which offers a bold and convincing re-articulation of Marx's key ideas... Rich and rewarding... Like all good works of philosophy, This Life forces us to recognize what should be basic insights, but have too often remained hidden."
Jacob Reynolds
"This Life has achieved a blockbuster status unusual for a work of philosophy... Hägglund's project is not only the renewal but arguably the pinnacle of a tradition of modern thought that runs from Kant via Hegel to Marx."
Knox Peden
SYdney review of books
"The beauty of Hägglund's book is that he does not stop where Spinoza does: freedom here leads to socialism, for freedom means collective freedom... Brilliant, inspirational, and should be read."
Adolph Alzuphar
"Part of what is so exhilarating about entering Hägglund's philosophical edifice is this paradoxical sense of divisive graciousness: at once rhetorically welcoming, politically radical, and logically stringent... This Life offers both a cogent case for secular socialism and a rousing call to keep faith with those ideals that, Hägglund shows, lie behind the horrors of capitalism as well as inspiring histories of revolutionary change."
Martin Rayburn
Parrhesia: a journal of critical philosophy
"A revolutionary work... Urgent, accessible, and moving."
Chris Steadman
"Outstanding... Few books speak more to the present moment than This Life...
Hägglund brilliantly shows that socially necessary labour time as the measure of value is specific to the capitalist mode of production, which is contradictory and can be overcome."
Peter Hudis
The international marxist-humanist journal
"Hägglund argues in wonderfully lucid sentences that socialism is a question of human-scale values... The style of Hägglund's thinking about socialism, its constant intimacy with basic existential concerns, represents a model for how a literary and philosophical perspective might illuminate some of the most pressing problems of our time."
Michael W. Clune
los angeles review of books
"A splendid primer on the importance of authentic freedom."
Yanis Varoufakis
author of Adults in the Room
"Book of the Year."
Robert Smith
the cure
"2021 was the year I found the time to read Martin Hägglund's masterwork of existential and political philosophy, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom. I found it a profoundly orienting and inspiring book, defusing at least for a moment my usual impulses toward darkly comic despair. Whether we will find a way to act upon its insights is another matter, but one can at least hope that Hägglund's relentlessly rigorous arguments for democratic socialism will someday win out. It is a book built to last as long as that might take."
Mark McGurl
Verso Best books of the year
"Arriving at a moment of widespread intellectual and political disorientation, This Life is a timely, profoundly ambitious attempt to fashion a new foundation for personal and collective existence. Hägglund argues that a return to Marx’s radical materialism does not have to signal a loss of spirituality or contempt for democracy, but something like the opposite: a truly secular faith in a redemptive realm of freedom."
Stephen Greenblatt
author of The Swerve
"Martin Hägglund is the most important young philosopher in America, whose work on time has already made an immense impression in academic circles. Now he has chosen to address a broad audience, in a work of immaculate clarity. When this powerful and moving book reaches a wide readership, it will, I think, have profound practical as well as theoretical consequences for the discussions that are raging on every side around questions of religious belief and the future of democracy."
Richard Klein
Professor Emeritus at Cornell
"This is a rare piece of work, the product of great intellectual strength and moral fortitude. The writing shows extraordinary range and possesses an honesty and fervor which is entirely without cynicism. Beneath Hägglund’s affirmation of secular faith and a life-defining commitment is a compelling reworking of the early Heidegger’s existential analytic, especially his understanding of finitude and ecstatic temporality. With the great difference that this is a distinctly leftist project, where secular faith leads to spiritual freedom which is understood as a Hegelian-Marxist affirmation of democratic socialism. Hägglund is a genuine moralist for our times, possessed of an undaunted resoluteness and a fierce commitment to intellectual probity. Maybe he’s the philosophical analogue to Karl Ove Knausgaard."
Simon Critchley
author of Tragedy, the Greeks, and us
"Martin Hägglund's This Life is unclassifiable. A work of great critical ambition that confronts religion and capitalism, freedom and mortality, threats on the planet, and the history of the left, it projects itself as a bold secular sermon and posits a radical morality for our times. Readers cannot remain indifferent: the notion of secular faith here presented will ruffle many feathers across the political spectrum. It is a work of literary criticism, with readings of Dante, Proust, and Knausgaard, and it is a work of philosophy, with readings of Augustine and Kierkegaard inspired by an original interpretation of Heidegger and, at its heart, it is a new thinking of existence in time. It is simultaneously a radical (and practical) case for democratic socialism, arrived at by a powerful juxtaposition of Karl Marx and Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also a work of what is sometimes called wisdom literature, speaking as it does with extraordinary directness and success to the general reader about the ever-timely question of how to live. It is a book against which alternative life projections must be measured. Balancing its bold universalism with a case in favor of modesty and sensitivity to the finitude of all human identities and projects, This Life is absolutely unique."
prize motivation
Winner of the rene Wellek prize