Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Sorry this is a little late - i'm still playing catch up from registering late.

The idea of freedom is so abstract that it is hard to address in day to day life. In both One Dimensional Man and The Parable of the Sower the idea of freedom is dealt with in two very different manners. Both Marcuse and Butler have their own ideas of what freedom is and how it can be achieved. I think that, while I agree with neither definitively, they both have aspects that can relate to our society today.

Within the first chapter of One Dimensional Man Marcuse writes about the multi-faceted nature of freedom. To him there are a number of things that a person must have to achieve freedom. I find the idea of economic freedom that he mentions the most interesting. In our present society I think it is virtually and impossibility for this to happen. We live in a world where money is the ruling factor in most of our lives. You go to school to become educated, you become educated to find a better job, you get a job to support yourself, you support yourself to achieve what? Freedom? I think a lot of people have this notion that once you are technically on your own financially you have achieved some weird definition of freedom. But what kind of freedom is that really? Yes, you are free to live your life in a way you choose, but if money wasn’t a factor, would you really be working 40+ hours a week to put food on the table? If there was some way that you could feed yourself and your family, pay for the things that you need to survive, and still enjoy some simple pleasures without having a job that you didn’t necessarily want to go to everyday, wouldn’t that be a little bit closer to freedom than what we are actually living? This is why I am so intrigued by the concept of economic freedom. It seems like it would be an absolutely wonderful thing to be a part of, but in our society today it could never happen. This is something that I find very relatable about his whole book. Although his writing has a very negative tone I think that his point, being that we never will fully achieve freedom because of our societal restraints, is very applicable to society today. Marcuse seems very disappointed with society as a whole, and I think in a way I am a little too. (including myself at times) At some point we became too wrapped up in being products of the system, and that is something that we might not be able to change – or if we do want to change it, it would involve a lot of work.

Butler writes of freedom in a completely different sense. I think in most of her book she shines a more positive light on the subject of freedom. To Butler freedom is more of a choice. You have the ability to be free because you can make the choices to do so. As a whole I do not agree with this whatsoever. I think that a lot of the freedoms that Marcuse mentions that we lack (economic,political,intellectual) are such overpowering forces that even if we chose to do things differently, or to achieve freedom in a way we wanted to, it wouldn’t really happen. Yes it would be nice to wake up and make conscious decisions that pertain to your freedom, and I think in a way you can take small steps to do so, but overall you will be shut down. This is a very ideal situation, but definitely a pipedream that is just far too optimistic. A society like Butler describes in her book might have had a small glimmer of hope for change, but the seeds of indifference were planted long before the characters in the story existed. The change doesn’t lie within those characters, but those that made choices many years before them.

If there was a way to somehow combine the positive aspects of Butler, even if I do not necessarily agree with them, with Marcuse’s more realistic standpoint, I think it would encompass the solution to the issue of becoming free. If more people would choose to live differently (not be consumed by media and all the other overbearing forces) I think that a type of freedom could be obtained, eventually. It would be a long process, but definitely one worth pursuing.

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