This paper will explore the ideas of Herbert Marcuse’s one-dimensional man, and then apply it to study the state of activism and social movements within the modern-day Canadian society. Summary of the main ideas of one-dimensional thinking Herbert Marcuse’s work presents a wide-covering critique of the communist society system of the Soviet Union and the modern capitalism which is operational in many nations of the world. The work documents the parallel emergence of newer versions of social repression in the different reference societies, and also talks of the decline of the revolutionary prospects of the West (Luke, 2000). Marcuse presents the argument that the advanced industrial system offered artificial needs, which incorporated people into the current system of consumption and production, through the manipulative use of advertising, mass media, contemporary models of thought and industrial management (Luke, 2000).
The resultant situation is a one-dimensional universe of behavior and thought, where ability and aptitude for oppositional behavior and critical thought are suppressed until they wear out. Contrary to the climate promoted by the work, Marcuse projects a platform for “great refusal”, which is the only oppositional model that can adequately oppose the all-covering control methods (Girgus, 1973). Throughout the work, the author defends negative thinking as the force that can be used to disrupt the positivism in operation. Marcuse evaluates the ways in which the industrial workers of the system have been integrated into the capitalistic system and the new models that are used to stabilize the capitalistic system (Girgus, 1973). The discussion leads to the questions over whether proposals of the Marxian school, about the unavoidable capitalistic crisis and the revolution of the proletarian class. Different from the orthodox Marxist school, Marcuse calls for non-integrated minority forces, radical intelligentsia and outsiders that attempt to nurture thoughts and behaviors of opposition through the cultivation of radical opposition and thinking (Luke, 2000). He explores bureaucratic tendencies in Marxist countries as freedom opposing like those found in the West, which is capitalistic. Exploration of the one-dimensional nature of Canadian affairs and politics Two decades ago – during the 1980s – different studies held the idea that the emerging social movements of that time would re-orient the political outlook and the processes in operation in Canada. One example was the coming into implementation of the “section 15 of the Canadian Charter of rights and Freedoms” in 1985, which led to the shift in the approaches employed by Canadian gay rights activists. The lesbian and gay activists of the time changed their outlook from those that were liberation-oriented to the use of litigious strategies of activism (Smith, 2007). The implementation of policies like the Section 15 of the Canadian charter were expected to change the political outlook of Canada, but little was changed, due to its emphasis on sameness, which inhibited major changes in the way the Canadian society and politics were run (Smith, 2007). The lack of change, irrespective of the major leaps in policy can demonstrate the situation that Herbert calls the new forms of control, the closure of the political universe and the closure of dialogues platforms (Hoffman, 1972). This is arguably the situation, because enacting a