"In this society, the productive apparatus tends to become totalitarian to the extent which it determines not only the socially needed occupations, skills, and attitudes, but also individual needs and aspirations" (xlvii). Throughout One Dimensional Man, Marcuse talks of how society is engulfed in industry, so much that they are consumed with being consumers and they have no emotions, thoughts, or needs of their own. He discusses and longs for when society was once two-dimensional and individuals had thoughts, needs and goals that were not imposed upon them from an outside force.
Whitman lives in Marcuse's utopia. This is seen throughout  on page 17. Whitman does not trouble himself with worries of industrial needs. Since he doesn't have a full-time job in industry, he has the time to think as well as pursue his own needs and wants. He thinks freely and asks questions regarding life and purpose, "What is man anyhow? What am I? and what are you?". He "listens" to what the world is telling him and finds purpose in everything. People today would not think or behave like Whitman for several reasons including the fact that society is manipulated by industry. No one in today's society has the time to sit and "listen" and find the purpose in every being and aspect of life.
"In the verse and prose of this pre-technological culture is the rhythm of those who wander or ride in carriages, who have the time and the pleasure to think, contemplate, feel and narrate" (59). Whitman accomplishes and lives what Marcuse reminisces. Whitman is free regarding Marcuse's definition; free from society, free from industry, and free from manipulation. Whitman does not allow society to "narrate" his life for him. He goes against society's norms by choosing to be a nonconformist and does as he wishes, "I cock my hat as I please indoors and out". He is also able to think and feel on his own. He is not told what and how to feel by anyone else. For example, industry tells consumers that they need or want certain products. Whitman feels empathy and other emotions for people and nature, not material items.
"Complete automation in the realm of necessity would open the dimension of free time as the one in which man's private and societal existence would constitute itself" (37). Whitman may have embodied Marcuse's utopia in many aspects, but he lived in a two-dimensional society which was before the turn of the century, and therefore the Industrial Revolution. Whitman cannot be considered a role model in the aspect of "beating the system". Although, he does have some qualities that Marcuse would consider stepping stones to escaping the clutches of advanced industrial society's hold. Whitman's devotion to those around him, rather than strictly himself and material possessions, allows him to see "outside of the box". Whitman also identifies himself and is happy through others. People in today's society focus on home to make themselves happy; which can be used by industrial society to manipulate their needs.
The question of whether Whitman would remain free or fall under the spell of society if he grew up in the 20th century is difficult to tell. I think that Whitman would fall a victim to society by a slight degree, but not completely. Whitman is comfortable with himself and is happy with being an individual, "I exist as I am, that is enough, If no other in the world be aware I sit content, And if each and all be aware I sit content". Marcuse believes that "all liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude" (7). Whitman can be stubborn and his individuality could have possibly kept him from the manipulation of society in some aspects. With his love of life and nature, he would still see a purpose in everything. Even in the world that he lived in, he realized how difficult life was, "That life is a suck and sell, and nothing remains at the end but threadbare crape and tears". And yet, he still appreciated and enjoyed it.