Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial… (1964)
by Herbert Marcuse
No current Talk conversations about this book.
'(1) I ride in a new automobile. I experience its beauty, shininess, power, convenience--but then I become aware of the fact that in a relatively short time it will deteriorate and need repair; that its beauty and surface are cheap. its power unnecessary, its size idiotic; and that I will not find a parking place. I come to think of my car as a product of one of the Big Three automobile corporations. The latter determine the appearance of my car and make its beauty as well as its cheapness, its power as well as its shakiness, its working as well as its obsolescence. In a way, I feel cheated. I believe that the car is not what it could be, that better cars could 'be made for less money. But the other guy has to live, too. Wages and taxes are too high; turnover is necessary; we have it much better than before. The tension between appearance and reality melts away and both merge in one rather pleasant feeling.
(2) I take a walk in the country. Everything is as it should be: Nature at its best. Birds, sun. soft grass, a view through the trees of the mountains, nobody around, no radio, no smell of gasoline. Then the path turns and ends on the highway. I am back among the billboards, service stations, motels, and roadhouses. I was in a National Park. and I now know that this was not reality. It was a "reservation" something that is being preserved like a species dying out. If it were not for the government, the billboards, hot dog stands, and motels would long since have invaded that piece of Nature. I am grateful to the government; we have it much better than before ...
(3) The subway during evening rush hour. What I see of the people are tired faces and limbs, hatred and anger. I feel someone might at any moment draw a knife-just so. They read, or rather they are soaked in their newspaper or magazine or paperback. And yet, a couple of hours later, the same people, deodorized, washed, dressed-up or down, may be happy and tender, really smile, and forget (or remember). But most of them will probably have some awful togetherness or aloneness at home.'
Rough going for casual reading.
One Dimensional Man is an indictment of Industrial Society, ie the one you probably live in if you are reading this review. It is a criticism of the effects that Industrial Society and Capitalism have on man, the way he thinks, lives, and speaks. The general ills that are diagnosed include consumerism, social control via corporations or government, soft restrictions on freedom via brainwashing of a kind, environmental damage, and repression of creativity. He talks about history, technological rationality as a cause of the ills, as well as vague solutions of a socialist nature.
Much of what is said in this book does hold up to scrutiny - the complaints against the effects on man of technology, modern economies, and industry, seem to be valid and more in evidence now than when this book was written (though very few concrete examples of anything are given in this book).
My complaint however is that the book is not easy to read, and most of what has been written here has been put more plainly and/or concisely in other works written before (Orwell's 1984,and Hoggart's Uses of Literacy) or after (Kaczynski's Industrial Society and It's Future, and Lorenz's Civilised Man's Eight Deadly Sins). Marcuse has a very particular way of writing, and the easiest way I found to get my head around the meaning of the sentences was to imagine an impassioned and charismatic political demagogue reading them out loud at the top of their voice at a left-wing political rally, to determine which words in the sentence needed to be emphasized to illuminate the meaning. This is of course partly unfair as the arguments here are generally fair and rational, but the words have seemingly been chosen more to sound impressive than to effectively communicate ideas. The blame for this is partly his own, and partly the framework of political philosophy he was immersed in.
Though the book raises many important concerns over the effects that most modern societies have on man, and for this reason will be of interest to many readers, it is difficult to recommend when the main points are better expressed elsewhere.
Belongs to Publisher Series
Beacon Paperback (221)
Is replied to in
Has as a student's study guide
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (3)
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.
No library descriptions found.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)301 — Social sciences Social Sciences Sociology, Anthropology
Is this you?
Become a LibraryThing Author.
An edition of this book was published by Beacon Press.