Subject: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Wed 18 Nov 2009, 4:48 pm
One-Dimensional Man was written in 1964 and can be seen as an analysis of highly developed societies. In it, Marcuse criticizes both communist and capitalist countries for their lack of true democratic processes. Neither type of society creates equal circumstances for its citizens. Marcuse discusses the factors which inhibit criticism and analysis of society. He draws on Marx primarily because his analysis focuses on how the economy limits potential of people.
Marcuse believes that people are not free because they function within systems such as the economy. If people were really free, they would be free from these systems. For example, people would only have to work as little as possible to provide for their needs, not an established amount of time. He states that only when people are free from these systems can they determine what they really need or want. Because we are not yet free, we have "false needs". These needs are exemplified by the range of choices which we are offered in our economy. However, each of these choices reinforces the social norms that now exists. Because each choice has the same result (reinforcement of social norms), there is no real choice. Marcuse says highly advanced societies are welfare/warfare states. Welfare states restrict freedom because they limit free time, access to necessary goods and services, and citizen's ability to realize true self-determination. The warfare state hinders a true analysis of society because it keeps people focused on fighting the "enemy" instead of focused on internal social problems.
Marcuse's analysis of highly advanced societies is accurate and useful. However, he does not provide realistic solutions to the problems he raises. His point seems to be that if societies can learn to use technologies in ways that benefit citizens, instead of restricting them, then the problems of humans will be solved.
Last edited by IP on Wed 18 Nov 2009, 6:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posts : 1611 Join date : 2009-10-19
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Wed 18 Nov 2009, 5:43 pm
and these profound excertps from an astute Amazon reviewer http://www.amazon.com/review/R3MM26TLHR7SK3/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
"It's fascinating when observing various societal/cultural trends, tendencies and practices, to go back and see how it corresponds with Marcuse's prophetic warning...and yes, that is meant quite literally: this book is no less prophetic than Orwell's 1984, and what's more, is far more chilling in its range and scope due to it's realistic exploration of cultural indoctrination, mass delusion and mass denial. In Orwell's novel, 1984, Winston Smith's world is controlled through ideology, yes, but the Big Stick of state violence looms above perpetually, ensuring the perpetuation of an automatized populace.
Marcuse's book, on the other hand, is an irrefutable postulation of the Big Lie, the comfortably horrific ease in which society has become fatally entangled within a stupor of brainwashed self deception, welcomed, enthusiastic exploitation, zombie consumerism run amok, repression and lunatic militarism."
"...the populace is strategically marginalized into apathy and indifference, out and away from the concerns of policy making decisions by vested interests who strive to make huge profits by 'dumbing down' standards of humanity, tricking the public into subsidizing high end military technology, and appealing to base attractions and distractions (greed, superficiality, apathy) in order to secure the compliance of a mass of stunningly indifferent, dumb people who are actively participating in their own degredation and ultimate demise, if only by their inability and/or unwillingness to acknowledge what should be flagrantly obvious."
Posts : 1611 Join date : 2009-10-19
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Wed 18 Nov 2009, 6:31 pm
And this from another perceptive Amazon reviewer: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2MMP59APQ9GB/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm/
"Marcuse was very perceptive about the nature of our technological society.Some of his ideas still have relevance today. He saw how the state and power elites were using technology to control people's lives. This has created a new form of totalitarianism. People are massively controlled and manipulated by technology.Our freedom today is to simply to walk about in our cages and choose the wallpaper. Marcuse points out that inner freedom or private space has been invaded and whittled down by technology reality. The media is especially at fault, and things are much worse than when he wrote in 1964. False needs are so pervasive that most people are not aware of the situation. Marcuse also shows how ideas and thinking processes are being used to limit our perceptions. Marcuse is heavy going, but he has many challenging ideas. My criticism of Marcuse is that he was a materialist himself, therefore could not offer a viable way out. He did not see that the real problem was a moral collapse, and this is destroying our materialist system from the inside.If Marcuse had a spiritual outlook, he would have found the answers in a new set of non-material values."
This is where Jacques Ellul wins-out, as he offers a spiritual outlook that usurps the materialist view.
Posts : 210 Join date : 2009-10-23
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Wed 18 Nov 2009, 10:03 pm
Found this talk on Adorno & One Dimension Man. I admit, I have not listened through the entire series, but it sounded worthy enough to add to this thread. Might serve to be a good overview of some of the relevant concepts.
However, one note, I don't think this guy realizes that Marcuse was "authorized" by the elites, which is why Marcuse and his theories were pushed so hard, as it facilitated societal "conditions" that could be responded to in specific preplanned ways.
Note: the "crisis of modernity" was created as a dialectic.
Posts : 261 Join date : 2009-10-24
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Thu 19 Nov 2009, 6:06 am
Thank you for the great information IP. This highly interests me and will be a book that I put at the top of my list. Between this and the Ted K information on technology you guys have provided some great info to think about and self philosophize with. If you know of any others that forecast where technology has and or will lead man please keep it coming. I think about this stuff quite regularly throughout the day as I am a network admin so this really hits home. I often curse my field for what it has done with technology but it also fascinates me and can be used as a means for good ends, education (namely information such as this, to educate myself to our predicament).
Posts : 112 Join date : 2009-10-25
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Wed 25 Nov 2009, 3:59 pm
One-Dimensional Man offers the reader a wide-ranging critique of both contemporary capitalism and the Soviet model of communism, documenting the parallel rise of new forms of social repression (both public and personal) in both these societies as well as the decline of revolutionary potential in the West. He argued that "advanced industrial society" created false needs, which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought. This results in a "one-dimensional" universe of thought and behaviour in which aptitude and ability for critical thought and oppositional behaviour wither away. Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse promotes the "great refusal" (described at length in the book) as the only adequate opposition to all-encompassing methods of control. Much of the book is a defense of "negative thinking" as a disrupting force against the prevailing positivism.
Marcuse also analyzed the integration of the industrial working class into capitalist society and new forms of capitalist stabilization, thus questioning the Marxian postulates of the revolutionary proletariat and inevitability of capitalist crisis. In contrast to orthodox Marxism, Marcuse championed non-integrated forces of minorities, outsiders, and radical intelligentsia, attempting to nourish oppositional thought and behavior through promoting radical thinking and opposition. He considered the trends towards bureaucracy in supposedly-Marxist countries to be as oppositional to freedom as those in the Capitalist west. Considered by some to be the most subversive book of the twentieth century, it was severely criticized by both orthodox Marxists and academic theorists of various political and theoretical commitments. Despite its pessimism, it influenced many in the New Left as it articulated their growing dissatisfaction with both capitalist societies and Soviet communist societies.
Consumerism as a form of social control
Herbert Marcuse strongly criticizes consumerism, arguing consumerism is a form of social control. He suggests that the system we live in may claim to be democratic, but it is actually authoritarian in that the few individuals are dictating our perceptions of freedom by only allowing us choices to buy for happiness. It is in this state of "unfreedom" in which consumers act irrationally by working more than they are required to fulfill actual basic needs, ignoring the psychologically destructive effects, ignoring the waste and environmental damage it causes, and also by searching for social connection through material items.
It is even more irrational in the sense that the creation of new products, calling for the disposal of old products, fuels the economy and encourages the increased need to work more to buy more. An individual loses his or her humanity and becomes a tool to the industrial machine and a cog in the consumer machine. Additionally advertising sustains consumerism, which disintegrates societal demeanor, delivered in bulk and informing the masses that happiness can be bought, an idea that is psychologically damaging.
There are other alternatives to counter the consumer lifestyle.
Anti-consumerism: a lifestyle that demotes any unnecessary consumption, and with that, demotes unnecessary extra work, extra waste, etc. But even this alternative is complicated with the extreme penetration of advertising and commodification because everything is a commodity, even the things that are actual needs.
Posts : 176 Join date : 2009-10-22
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Thu 26 Nov 2009, 10:41 am
"In Marcuse's analysis, public and corporate officials, and the mass media, utilize a "one-dimensional language" to smooth over social contradictions and problems, and thus restrict thought and public discourse to the terms and interests of the established society."
Subject: Re: Marcuse - One Dimensional Man Tue 01 Dec 2009, 9:53 pm
In One Dimensional Man (1964), he [Marcuse] elaborated on his social Marxism, showing how advanced industrial societies create false needs, integrating individuals into an unbreakable cycle of production and consumption and eradicating dissent through industrial management, advertising and a corrupted mass media; with the seductive power of capitalist toys, luxuries and affiliations, according to Marcuse the revolutionary potential of the working class had been eradicated and the allegedly impending "capitalist crisis" predicted by orthodox Marxists had been averted.