HerbertMarcuse, a major Frankfurt theorist, wrote his book One-Dimensional Man in the1960’s during at the height of the Cold War.
One Dimensional Man studied theemerging ideology of advanced industrial societies. The book One DimensionalMan was both influential and highly critical of modern industrial capitalismand as Marcuse believed, its subsequent exploitation of people and nature, aswell as its contribution to modern consumer culture and new forms of socialcontrol. One Dimensional Man offers an analysis of the new state of consumerismduring the 1960’s through a critical lens.
This essay will focus on One DimensionalMan as I explore his view that technological development, alienated labour andconsumerism have distorted affluent societies in creating false needs as wellas perpetuating unfairness through various mediums. OneDimensional Man, upon its publication had a great deal of penetration into society.It critiqued what Marcuse believed to be modern forms of domination.
The bookinfluenced people by showing the effects of capitalist consumer society and itsmain vehicle, technology. His theories were considered radical upon thepublication of the book particularly because it called for socialtransformation. He argued that human progress with a society was hindered by totalitarianismand even though individuals within a society were being told, and also telling themselvesthat they were free, this was just a façade. From the beginning it is clear heis critiquing societal order in an advanced industrial society. He poses a grimoutlook on what he calls one-dimensional thought, a way of consciousness that isaffirmative of the status quo and the ways in which a society has beenconvinced into buying material comforts and thus supporting the status quo.
Heargues that advanced industrial society created false needs that are superimposedon individuals. These false needs integrated individuals into the existingsystem of production and consumption via media, advertising, industrialmanagement, and contemporary modes of thought (Marcuse, H., & Kellner, D.2001). Marcuse makes this judgment of what is true and false based solely onthe fact that society created these needs so therefore they must be false.
Heargued that the creation of false needs, although unintentional, has the potentialto create conflict amongst those vying for them. It is important to point outthat needs are socially constructed according to Marcuse. However, he neveraddresses what the standards are for defining what is true and false.
He alsoargues that it is the individual who must ultimately decide this, but at thesame time, the individual does not have the mental capacity to do so (Marcuse,H. 1968).