Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)

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  • Socialist philosopher and German-Jew that fled World War II Germany and immigrated to the USA
  • Wrote One-Dimensional Man to explain why widespread communist revolution had not happened

One-Dimensional Man (1964)

  • Capitalism uses advertising, consumerism, mass media, entertainment industry as a means of social control- produces conformity in what people desire, think
  • Created a society of one-dimensional people that are driven to make more $ to acquire more goods- people’s self-worth tied to their material possessions:

“[People] recognize themselves in their commodities…They find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi stereo, split-level home [and] kitchen equipment.”

  • Gave people the illusion of success– rising prosperity masked fact that the capitalist system continued to exploit & oppress people; deny them true fulfillment
  • Capitalism hurt people by making them work longer hours at jobs they don’t like; hinders their ability to seek true happiness and think for themselves
  • Capitalism hurt wider society as poverty still prevalent, environment damaged, social conflict and crime increasing, more people turning to drugs & alcohol to escape meaningless lives
  • Capitalism effectively neutralized Marx’s source of radical change (workers) by selling them the illusion of success- chance for change lies in hands of society’s outcasts (e.g. persecuted ethnic minorities, unemployed).

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Economics Unit 4 – Free enterprise capitalism

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