One-dimensional society revisited : an analysis of Herbert Marcuse's One-dimensional man, 34 years later

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Wilson, Allan R.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 1998
Using a page by page analysis of Herbert Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man, the author finds insight and empathy with almost all of the ideas in this 1964 book, written at the apex of the Cold War and the Space Race. Marcuse wrote that contemporary industrial society dominates life and repulses all alternatives, its "project" is to convert nature and people into "stuff", and its absorbs criticism by co-opting it from within. Although Marcuse did not forsee the collapse of European Communism, his writings about the domination of the industrial world are more prescient: the author finds the progress of free market capitalism has actually speeded up, with diastrous consequences for both the world's poorest people and its physical ecology. Using contemporary historians, critics and writers that can support Marcuse's analysis, as well as personal experiences and observations, the author cites sources that show 40,000 people die of starvation every day, that 90 million people are born every year, and about 1/3 of the world lives in a realm of exploitation and suffering. In addition, the environment is irreparably damaged, and capitalism may consume itself with automation and electronic finacial speculation. The author proposes a reasonable standard of living for individuals to solve the problems of poverty and environmental chaos, just like teachers are paid to educate children. There must also be a more independent source of information about this crisis, and that information should be brought into classrooms, and the largest corporations must be convinced that rectifying the situation, and paying for it, is in their best interests. The entire project that Marcuse was critical of must change toward the idea of finding ourselves in the service of others. To that end, schools should de-emphasize job training and concentrate on current events and consumer education, there should be more resources for the development of the arts, students should spend more time in school, and post secondary students should spend one academic year working in poorer countries. The cost of these changes should not be argued: there is adequate technology, expertise and wealth in society, what is lacking is the will.
iv, 213 leaves ; 28 cm.
Civilization, Modern -- 20th century , Dissertations, Academic