‘The great refusal’ outlines the resurgence in critical theory in young intellectuals during the 1970s. Activists in the 1960s saw critical theory in Marxist terms, but the outlook of the working class had become compromised, and revolutionary consciousness could only come from outside that group. The young rebels of the seventies did not embody the utopian sensibility critical theorists spoke of, but they did evince a deep appreciation of subjectivity. From the end of the nineteenth century until the rise of Hitler, an intellectual avant–garde sought to assault the realistic purposes of art. The Frankfurt School sought to blend this critical reflection with the experiential intensity of aesthetics.