RetroSociology Quote of the Day: Marcuse’s “One-Dimensional Man”

From Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man, where he argues that we must invent new definitions of the old liberties (economic, political, and intellectual):

[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 individual from a 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. The most effective and enduring form of warfare against liberation is the implanting of material and intellectual needs that perpetuate obsolete forms of the struggle for existence. (p. 4)

I particularly like the idea, connected I think to the century and a half old question about what Marx thought communism would look like, of economic freedom as “freedom from the economy”. It also ties nicely into Polanyi’s arguments about the historical construction of scarcity and the rational man motivated by hunger and gain.



  1. joshmccabe

     /  October 17, 2009

    Tell me more about the “historical construction of scarcity.”

  2. Ben

     /  October 18, 2009

    Wow Dan, you find some great quotes. Those Galbraith and Marshall ones last month were really interesting too. And this one does indeed tie in nicely with Polanyi.