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One Dimensional Man Essay, Research Paper

One Dimensional Man

Today technology has taken over just about every aspect of our daily lives. According to some this is a good thing because it makes our lives easier and more efficient. For others it is not so great for some of the same reasons that its proponents support it. Technology, and more specifically technological progress have lead us down a road full of contradictions, which is especially true in the area of liberty. It has programmed us to believe that there is another set of primary needs that join the likes of food, clothing, and shelter. If we continue down this road there will come a day when the wireless phone will join this list.

Has there been an increase in the scope of societies control over the individual by way of technology? I believe, as does Mancuse, that as opposed to controlling social forces by way of terror, which was used in totalitarian governments of the past, we now use technology. How is technology used to accomplish this? Technology promises greater efficiency and an increased standard of living. These are two things that cause us to become slaves, because things are never efficient enough and we always want more money. Therefore, we can begin to see how in our society the technical apparatus becomes totalitarian. Mancuse illustrates this point by explaining how technology determines not only the socially needed occupations, skills, but also individual needs and aspirations. It is one thing for socially needed occupations to be affected; however, when our private existence threatened the issue becomes totally different.

Does technical progress destroy the opposition between public and private existence? I would say that it most certainly does. Our private space has been attacked and arguably destroyed. Mancuse argues that due to the effects of mass production and scientific management we react in a mechanical fashion. This is perhaps most evident the way that technical progress manipulates our needs . Simply because progress is made, it does not mean that it has become a fundamental need. Mancuse breaks up our needs into both true and false. The false needs are the ones that are being imposed on the individual by particular social interests. One might argue that we should be able to distinguish between the two. However, this is very difficult when they are seen as desirable and necessary to the prevailing societal institutions and interests. As the title of the book suggests we are becoming, if we are not already, one-dimensional. We are losing our private self. We can only operate in a way that has been manipulated through the exploitation of technical progress.

How does technology promote social control? Social control is anchored in the new needs which it has produced. In addition to this statement we can also look to one of the greatest of all evils, the division of labor. The division of labor turns the individual into a mere cog in the great machine that is our society. There is no better example of the mechanization of the human being. There is no soul in this type of system, which means that there can be no true gratification. Furthermore, it creates a sense of everyone having to be the same, which is exactly how people are controlled. Any type of refusal to go along with the group is looked down upon, causing some to simply get back in line and others to feel impotent. This is further proof that we have lost our private space.

Is technology acting independently? Mancuse argues that one-dimensional thought is systematically promoted by the makers of politics and their purveyors of mass information. I believe that what Mancuse is trying to get at here and in the rest of the chapter is that this closing of a dimension is being done behind our backs. For example, the American Revolution occurred because of the colonists feeling that they were being treated unfairly. They knew that they were not properly represented in parliament so they reacted. In the case of losing a dimension things become much more abstract. We have been and continue to be duped by the makers of politics. Unfortunately, these people are not operating in a way that provokes revolution as opposed to the actions of Great Britain towards the colonies.

Overall, I believe that we as an industrialized society have tricked. Tricked into believing that we need certain things. Tricked into giving up our private selves. Tricked into allowing technology to dominate us. Most of us have truly become one-dimensional men. There is no longer a distinction between public and private because we all act the same. We are just parts of a machine that could not work without us, but we are blind to what has happened because it was all done in a way that does not provoke.


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