Reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
"Food is no less a weapon than tanks, guns, and planes" --Franklin D. Roosevelt

Marcuse & the Internet


I'm packing up a bunch of my books to take upstate, and I keep getting distracted from packing by actual books. Flipping through Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud (1955), I found passages that could have been written now, and about the Internet. 

From the Preface :

The traditional borderlines between psychology on the one side and political and social philosophy on the other have been made obsolete by the condition of man in the present era: formerly autonomous and identifiable processes are being absorbed by the function of the individual in the state -- by his public existence. Psychological problems therefore turn into political problems: private disorder reflects more directly than before the disorder of the whole, and the cure of personal disorder depends more directly on the cure of general disorder. The era tends to be totalitarian even where it has not produced totalitarian states. Psychology could be elaborated and practiced as a special discipline as long as the psyche could sustain itself against public power, as long as privacy was real, really desired, and self-shaped; if the individual has neither the ability nor the possibility to be for himself, the terms of psychology become the terms of the societal forces which define the psyche. (p. xvii, 1962 Vintage paperback)

. . . and from the Introduction. . .

However, intensified progress seems to be bound up with intensified unfreedom. Throughout the world of industrial civilization, the dominion of man by man is growing in scope and efficiency. Nor does this trend appear to be incidental, transitory regression on the road to progress. Concentration camps, mass exterminations, world wars, and atom bombs are no "relapse into barbarism, " but the unrepressed achievements of modern science, technology, and dominion. The most effective subjugation and destruction of man by man takes place at the height of civilization, when the material and intellectual attainments of mankind seem to allow the creation of a truly free world. (p. 4)

Marcuse died in 1979.