1D: One Dimension Self, Not the Boy Band

In the reading for class, “One Dimensional Man” by Herbert Marcuse, the author discussed the concept of having a one dimensional self and the influence of authoritarianism as well as the capitalist system. Dictionary.com defines authoritarianism as “favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom.” Marcuse discussed the various ways authoritarianism effect the control within society. Also in the piece, Marcuse discussed an inner and outer self and how the inner self is controlled by the media and mass production.

Marcuse mentioned, if I’m interpreting this information correctly (very sorry if I am not), that there was no authoritarian control. However, members of an authoritarian government found this authoritarian control through comfort. This comfort included mentioning of a good life and good things to members of society. People who practiced authoritarianism would tell individuals in a society about these comforts and state that if members of society went against these authoritarian thoughts, then their own personal life would be in danger.

Along with the ideas surrounding authoritarianism, Marcuse also brought up the idea of an inner and outer self. In the reading, Marcuse mentioned that the inner self is the seat of the imagination. He also mentioned how the inner self is colonized by our desires, which are originally created by the system. As mentioned earlier, Marcuse stated that the inner self is controlled through the media and mass production. To relate to previous readings, Marcuse’s ideas in this reading can also be tied to the Culture Industry reading that we had a few classes ago. In this reading, it was stated that according to the Culture Industry, culture/art are real; however, mass produced items are not real. This ties into Marcuse’s next point regarding the inner self. Marcuse states that we need an inner self to separate us from the Capitalist world. Also, we need an inner self to escape the Capitalist system. Items that are a result of a Capitalist society are items that are mass produced. According to the readings for this class so far, the items that are mass produced are not real; yet, the items that are individually produced (such as culture pieces and art) are real. Marcuse is stating that the Capitalist society is taking away from our inner selves, and we need to yet again regain our sense of inner self and individual creativity in order to escape the Capitalist society that has overtaken our inner self.


One Reply to “1D: One Dimension Self, Not the Boy Band”

  1. Yes, this is a great interpretation especially after your first read. I like how you focus on the idea of “comfort” as a system of social control. I think this was especially an issue after WWII because the US experienced (relative) prosperity and more people (white ones) had jobs that paid a family wage, home loans were almost free, the suburbs exploded, everyone had cars and life was stable (again, for whites). This Fordist model (paying workers enough to afford one of the mass produced cars they helped manufacture) was great but also bad because it demanded conformity (same cars, same houses, same family structures). The mass production of goods created almost a mass consciousness. It took the civil rights movement, women (as two groups that were kept from attaining this good life) and the hippies to bust through the system of comfort.

    I can’t help but wonder if the 1D argument makes sense today–as most people’s relation to the comforts of life are more tenuous than ever before. Even for college educated, privileged white people–most are saddled with student loan debt, diminishing job prospects (free lancing/contract work, etc). So, most are not deluded by creature comforts bc such comforts are not a given anymore.

    GREAT post! Let’s discuss with the class!


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