Herbert Marcuse; Democracy; Political Philosophy; Social Theory; The Internet; Arts and Humanities Education
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Herbert Marcuse was a philosopher and social theorist who wrote extensively about the dynamics of social change in the technologically advanced societies of the Western world. Motivated by the desire to see humanity develop societies that would allow for individuals to live a free and happy existence, Marcuse critiqued the existing societies of his time. Although Marcuse’s main work, One-Dimensional Man, is over forty years old, it can continue to offer us new insights today. I believe that Marcuse’s thought offers a powerful framework for analyzing our contemporary society. In this project I distill this framework, what could be called the ‘Marcuse-spectacles’, and use it to illuminate structural forces in our society that lead to the triumph of conformist ways of thinking over critical ways of thinking. This newfound understanding is then applied to specific ways of combating the withering of a sphere for public discourse, a pillar for a healthy democracy. Topics discussed include Internet freedom and the importance of the humanities to democracy. I argue that reading Marcuse not only reveals to us something that lay before us unseen, but that what is learned is of great importance if you value a flourishing democratic process.