One-dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society

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Routledge, 2002 - Philosophy - 275 pages
One of the most important texts of modern times, Herbert Marcuse's analysis and image of a one-dimensional man in a one-dimensional society has shaped many young radicals' way of seeing and experiencing life. Published in 1964, it fast became an ideological bible for the emergent New Left. As Douglas Kellner notes in his introduction, Marcuse's greatest work was a 'damning indictment of contemporary Western societies, capitalist and communist.' Yet it also expressed the hopes of a radical philosopher that human freedom and happiness could be greatly expanded beyond the regimented thought and behaviour prevalent in established society. For those who held the reigns of power Marcuse's call to arms threatened civilization to its very core. For many others however, it represented a freedom hitherto unimaginable.

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Herbert Marcuse, One- Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society, 1964, Boston: Beacon
Review by Fayaz Ahmad Bhat
JMI University New Delhi, India
The book One-Dimensional Man worthy work of Herbert Marcuse critically examines both capitalist society and the society in former USSR i.e. presents Russia. Book highlights social repression in the both societies. Like Ralf Daren Doff, Marcuse held the view that there is integration of industrial working class into capitalist society, thus questioning Karl Marx theory of revolution.
Marcuse in his book One-Dimensional Man does not seem only concerned with economic factor in industrial society. Unlike Karl Marx he gives importance to other factors other than economy. This work was under way when cold was on its peak. This work of Marcuse had influence on students’ revolts in Europe.
Like Mahatma Gandhi Marcuse seems dissatisfied with the advancement of science and technology on grounds of exploitative character. Science and technology has produced such instruments which can wipe out human race. Production has helped capitalist society to become richer bigger and better, but spreads the danger. It is quite observable that capitalist societies, USA and its allies are on mission of democratizing world for maintenance of peace, but this is attempt to bring so called peace through constant threat of war. Marcuse way back in 1960’s writes about the undemocratic nature of so called democratic system. Which is always a tool of dominance in the hands of capitalists?
Main theory of the book is that modern industrial society has become one-dimensional not only due to the totalitarian, all surrounding exercise of power by the well-established capitalist class, but also succeed in absorbing contradiction in the society, in spite of multiparty system, freedom of speech, countervailing powers etc. Intellectual freedom is mandatory besides other freedoms in present industrial society. For Marcuse economic enslavement has resulted struggle for existence, from earning a living; politics on which individual have no control resulted enslavement of individual.
False needs to writer are what we can call social facts in Durkhmienian terminology. Such needs have social context and function which are determined by external powers. There are two needs one is false another true. It should be up to individual to identify false needs, but the fact is they are not free to answer as they are not free their answer can’t be their own. These false needs integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption through mass media.
Progress of Science and technology has become important tool of dominance in the hands of capitalists. He believed science and technology is serving interest of the capitalist class. Technology is capable of making administrators and organizers dependent on technology. Advanced industrial societies enhance development of production forces to large extent, new needs are created for growing number of people. This all does happen through certain institution
Marcuse in the book negatively examines the dynamics of “democratic unfreedom,”technological servitude in the guise of liberty. ( Doom) He also discusses artistic alienation, how the inherent properties of truth and protest found in artistic expression were made harmless or less powerful.
In first four chapters Marcuse shows how industrial society is able to absorb contradictions. It is able to maintain dominance in society through science and technology. After discussing political integration of industrial society, they try to conquest nature and man. Marcuse focuses on how the progress of technological rationality is liquidating oppositional forces.
Author on one hand acknowledged the fact that means of destruction have been generated by industrial society, but one the other believed capitalism will increase standard of the increasing part of population. When there is threat to life and existence of an individual development and progress are of no use

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About the author (2002)

Herbert Marcuse (1989-1979). Born in Berlin but forced to flee Germany in 1933; gained world renown during the 1960s as a philosopher, social theorist and political activist.

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