Marcuse (1991). The New Forms of Control. (One-Dimensional Man.)

Marcuse, H. (1991). The New Forms of Control. In One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society (Second edition, pp. 3–20). Oxon, UK and New York: Routledge.

“For ‘totalitarian’ is not only a terroristic political coordination of society, but also a non-terroristic economic-technical coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests.” (p 5)

“Such new modes can be indicated only in negative terms because they would amount to the negation of the prevailing modes. Thus economic freedom would mean freedom _from_ the economy-from being controlled by economic forces and relationships; freedom from the daily struggle for existence, from earning a living. Political freedom would mean liberation of the individuals _from_ politics over which they have no effective control. Similarly, intellectual freedom would mean the restoration of individual thought now absorbed by mass communication and indoctrination, abolition of ‘public opinion’ together with its makers. The unrealistic sound of these propositions is indicative, not of their utopian character, but of the strength of the forces which prevent their realization.” (p 6)

“We may distinguish both true and false needs. ‘False’ are those which are superimposed upon the individual by particular social interests in his repression: the needs which perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, misery, and injustice. Their satisfaction might be most gratifying to the individual, but this happiness is not a condition which has to be maintained and protected if it serves to arrest the development of the ability (his own and others) to recognize the disease of the whole and grasp the chances of curing the disease. The result then is euphoria in unhappiness. Most of the prevailing needs to relax, to have fun, to behave and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate, belong to this category of false needs.” (p 7)

“Here, the social controls exact the overwhelming need for the production and consumption of waste; the need for stupefying work where it is no longer a real necessity; the need for modes of relaxation which soothe and prolong this stupefication; the need for maintaining such deceptive liberties as free competition at administered prices. a free press which censors itself, free choice between brands and gadgets.” (p 9)

“Here, the so-called equalization of class distinctions reveals its ideological function. If the worker and his boss enjoy the same television program and visit the same resort places, if the typist is as attractively made up as the daughter of her employer, if the Negro owns a Cadillac, if they all read the same newspaper, then this assimilation indicates not the disappearance of classes, but the extent to which the needs and satisfactions that serve the preservation of the Establishment are shared by the underlying population.” (p 10)

“The people recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment. The very mechanism which ties the individual to his society has changed, and social control is anchored in the new needs which it has produced.” (p 11)

“The intellectual and emotional refusal ‘to go along’ appears neurotic and impotent.” (p 12)

“Today this private space has been invaded and whittled down by technological reality. Mass production and mass distribution claim the _entire_ individual, …. The result is, not adjustment but _mimesis_: an immediate identification of the individual with _his_ society and, through it, with the society as a whole.” (p 12)

“… advanced industrial culture is _more_ ideological than its predecessor, inasmuch as today the ideology is in the process of production itself.4 … [page break] … The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces ‘sell’ or impose the social system as a whole. The means of mass transportation and communication, the commodities of lodging, food, and clothing, the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become available to more individuals in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life. It is a good way of life — much better than before — and as a good way of life, it militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of _one-dimensional thought and behavior_ in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe.” (p 13-14)

[Per Bridgeman5 …]

“‘The concept of length is therefore fixed when the operations by which length is measured are fixed … In general, we mean by any concept nothing more than a set of operations; _the concept is synonymous with the corresponding set of operations_.'” (p 15)

“… ‘free’ are the institutions which operate (and are operated on) in the countries of the Free World; other transcending modes of freedom are by definition either anarchism, communism, or propaganda. ‘Socialistic’ are all encroachments on private enterprises not undertaken by private enterprise itself (or by government contracts), such as universal and comprehensive health insurance, or the protection of nature from all too sweeping commercialization, or the establishment of public of services which may hurt private profit.” (p 16)

“‘Progress’ is not a neutral term; it moves toward specific ends, and these ends are defined by the possibilities of ameliorating the human condition.” (p 18)

“Operationalism, in theory and practice, becomes the theory and practice of _containment_. Underneath its obvious dynamics, this society is a thoroughly static system of life: self-propelling in its oppressive productivity and in its beneficial coordination.” (p 19)

“The highest productivity of labor can be used for the perpetuation of labor, and the most efficient industrialization can serve the restriction and manipulation of needs.

“When this point is reached, domination — in the guise of affluence and liberty — extends to all spheres of private and public existence, integrates all authentic opposition, absorbs all alternatives.” (p 20)

Selected References

  • 4. Theodor W Adorno, Prismen. Kulturkritik and Gesellschaft. (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1955), p.24f.
  • 5. P. W Bridgman, The Logic of Modern Physics (New York: Macmillan, 1928), p. 5.
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