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

Diego Thompson
One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society
Herbert Marcuse
Marcuse’s why question: Why this author would claim that by the technological progress
humans could get a better future?
Answer: He believes that with the reconsolidation of philosophical and scientific values, and
human nature, the “end” of progress could bring liberation of the current forms of control.
Marcuse’s motivational mechanism: The end of the technological rationality and the false
consciousness about needs and our material-technological context. The optimal goal is the
replacement of false needs by true ones and the abandonment of repressive satisfaction.
Key concepts:
 Rights and liberties- Freedom of thought, speech and conscience were essentially critical
ideas, designed to replace an obsolescent material and intellectual culture by a more
productive and rational one (p. 1).
 Technological rationality- The apparatus imposes its economic and political requirements
for defense and expansion on labor time and free time on the material and intellectual culture.
The contemporary industrial society tends to be totalitarian. The power of the machine is
only the stored-up and projected power of man.
 The world work conceived as a machine and mechanized accordingly, it becomes the
potential basis of a new freedom for man (pp. 2-3).
 Current political tends- It asserts itself through its power over the machine process and over
the technical organization of the apparatus (p. 3).
 Human needs- They are preconditioned and they depend on whether or not can be seen as
desirable and necessary for the prevailing societal institutions and interests.
 False needs and repressive satisfaction- False needs are those which are superimposed
upon the individual by particular social interests in his repression: the needs which
perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, misery, and justice. Individual has not control of them and
they are determined by external powers. They create an impression of (repressive)
satisfaction that is false but that becomes true (pp. 5-11).
 “Introjection” and identification- The way by the individual by himself reproduces and
perpetuates the external controls exercised by his society (p. 10). That assimilation allows
the identification (mimesis) and the elimination of the alienation. The “false consciousness”
of their rationality becomes the true consciousness (p. 11).
 One dimensional thought and behavior- It is created by the false consciousness that the
way of life is much better than before. It is systematically promoted by the makers of politics
and their purveyors of mass information.
 Theoretical and practical Reason encourages a term of progress that can only be achieved
when material production (including the necessary services) becomes automated to the
extent that all vital needs can be satisfied while necessary labor time is reduced to marginal
time (pp. 12-16).
Role of social scientists- The operational research merely follows the process of reality
being part of progress and creating a mirror effect between the researchers and their subject
of study. Once that “unrealistic” excess of meaning is abolished, the investigation is locked
within the vast confine in which the established society validates and invalidates positions
(pp. 110-114).
New idea of Reason, progress and liberation- It is necessary the Theoretical and practical
rationale for transcending the technological reality (p. 231).
Further progress would mean the break, the turn of quantity into quality and it would open
the possibility of an essential new human reality (existence in free time on this basis of
fulfilled vital needs) (pp. 230-231). Technology may provide the historical correction of the
premature identification of Reason and Freedom (rational enterprise of man as a man, and
self determination by the individuals) (p. 234 and p. 251).
Liberation process
False consciousness
False needs
Unique dimension
values and