Herbert Marcuse and the One-Dimensional Man


  • One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society was written by the philosopher Herbert Marcuse in 1964.
  • According to Marcuse, modern or “advanced industrial society” thought created what he called “false needs” among other problems.
  • Marcuse took umbrage with modern views on art, popular culture, government, mass-media, how technology is used, and shallow philosophy all used as forms of social control and domination of the individual.
  • Marcuse places Socrates as a martyr because he was executed for violating the codes of the Athenian state.  He draws attention to those who society abandons or scorns in order to avoid going against popular opinion or to maintain status quo just for the sake of itself.
  • One-Dimensional Man is interesting because it critiqued both the Soviet model of communism in addition to the American model of capitalism and free market economy.  He disparaged what he saw as problems that Western democratic nations bred: the confusion between true needs and wants and the conditioning of a consumerist society.  Marcuse claims that communism is no better at avoiding a constructed tyranny of the majority.
  • Marcuse complains about the public’s over-eagerness to accept what the government does and compares it to science.  He identifies the largest contributor in the acceptance of both in that either tend rarely questioned by the One-Dimensional Man because they are too complicated for him to understand and due to his conditioning he does not make the effort to.
  • A One-Dimensional Man is one who has been conditioned by the market to believe he needs things he does not, conditioned by the government to trust it based on nothing, and conditioned by society to believe these are not problems.

~Brett Wilson


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