Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I'm greatly enjoying what I've read so far of your blog entries, and may yet get around to commenting on them. Regardless, here's the assignment for the first graded blog.

The following extract is from Herbert Marcuse's One Dimensional Man (1964), which attacked "advanced industrial civilization" (both capitalist and communist) for making people one dimensional. It was an exceedingly important book for the "New Left" -- i.e., the intellectual component of the 1960s counterculture. The actual assignment follows the quote.

The distinguishing feature of advanced industrial society is its effective suffocation of those needs which demand liberation -- liberation also from that which is tolerable and rewarding and comfortable -- while it sustains and absolves the destructive power and repressive function of the affluent society. 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.

Under the rule of a repressive whole, liberty can be made into a powerful instrument of domination. The range of choice open to the individual is not the decisive factor in determining the degree of human freedom, but what can be chosen and what is chosen by the individual. The criterion for free choice can never be an absolute one, but neither is it entirely relative. Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.

Now, for the assignment. Use Marcuse's quote about advanced industrial society (technological society) to do one of three things.
1) Analyze or respond to some aspect of "Life in the Iron Mills"
2) Analyze or respond to some aspect of "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" (to be handed out on Wednesday)
3) Analyze or respond to some aspect of your own life, with some reference to "Life in the Iron Mills" or "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us."

p.s. You are by no means required to agree with Marcuse, or any other author we'll study. Hostile (but reasoned) responses are legitimate.

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