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Human development is thus, characterized by the appropriation and transformation of nature by human needs. The idea here is that human beings usually transform themselves according to the demands of the external world. In line with this argument, people do not engage in labor freely, but are rather forced by external forces to engage in labor. Marcuse perceives labor as a means of objectifying a person considering that people are always striving to engage activities that will profit them economically (ibid). As such, capitalism is seen as the primary cause of alienation in the society as it forces human beings to act.
The fact that people do not realize that labor and capitalism has enslaved them explains that they do not realize the need for change, thus making them one-dimensional thinkers. As such, instead of fighting against the alienation caused by capitalism and demanding social change, one-dimensional thinkers begin to identify with those who fuel such capitalism, thus becoming complacent in their alienated state. As Marcuse writes, “…the subject which is alienated is swallowed up by its alienated existence…there is only one dimension, and it is everywhere and in all forms…” (19). Fundamentally, the working class people are lured into a consumerism system in which labor is essential for production, their artificial needs are met, and these people are slowly integrated into the capitalist society. By ensuring that the workers perceive labor as beneficial and making sure that the worker’s artificial needs are met, the capitalist society eliminates the chances of opposition.
One of the catalysts of the kind of alienation caused by capitalism is technology. Marcuse argues that technology has revolutionized the mass media such that the capitalist system is able to infiltrate the social lives of its citizens (18). In essence, mediums such as radio and television have been used by the system to take capitalist ideas into the homes of citizens
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