politics

one-dimensional thought

I have been reading Herbert Marcuse recently as I research for a forthcoming book that takes up the crisis of technology in our present age. I found this quite striking given the current political milieu we find ourselves in:

One-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. Their universe of discourse is populated by self-validating hypotheses which, incessantly and monopolistically repeated, become hypnotic definitions or dictation. For example, '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 services which may hurt private profit. This totalitarian logic of accomplished facts has its Eastern counterpart. There, freedom is the way of life instituted by a communist regime, and all other transcending modes of freedom are either capitalistic, or revisionist, or leftist sectarianism. In both camps, non-operational ideas are non-behavioral and subversive. The movement of thought is stopped at barriers which appear as the limits of Reason itself.

Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), pp. 1-18; Republished in "New forms of control," in Readings in the Philosophy of Technology (2nd ed.), pp. 34-42, edited by David M. Kaplan (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), p. 40.