Faith, Patriotism, and the Administered Consciousness

After a week of contentious struggle in the U.S. Senate that left the nation not just red and blue, but black-and-blue, I harkened back to “the administered consciousness” (Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man) that mutes Cain’s question after he had slain his brother Abel: “Am I, or am I not, my neighbor’s keeper?” And “who is my neighbor?”

3 thoughts on “Faith, Patriotism, and the Administered Consciousness

  1. Yes, very good, the cross interrupts “one dimensional” thinking. I will need to meditate further on that. Slavjo Zizek, the prolific contemporary East Euro Marxist refers in his “The Monstrosity of Christ” the crucifixion as an event taking place outside of historical time. I believe Zizek is saying one dimensional thinking (species narcissism) is a human trait while living in historical time & becomes more pronounced in “modernity”. Zizek agrees that the crucifixion/cross allows us, as you say, “a way to a deeper & higher consciousness. Surprising for a Marxist.


  2. Thanks Gordon, I pulled out “One Dimensional Man” about 3 months ago for the same reason you did. I sensed that we were witnessing a culmination of what Marcuse was describing in ODM. My first glances were at his comments about how the system can absorb all critical responses to its shortcomings as a culture thus the “One Dimension” that man is now living in as an “administered consciousness”. I went La Jolla back in 1970 to listen to Marcuse lecture. I learned more in his one hour world history lecture than I knew up to that time. He changed my life. In about 1985 I had a conversation with Angela Davis at a St.Paul church where we compared notes about Marcuse. Of course she was as powerful as him articulating the issues about single dimensions. The thing Marcuse left his students in La Jolla with in 1970 was to read & reread, to the end of their days, Marx’s “The Economic & Philosophic Manuscript of 1844”. I would add that should include Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man”. In fact I’ve reread that more than Marx’s essay from 1844.


    • Gary, so glad to read your reflection. One Dimensional Man hit me the same way when I first read it. It’s ideas have stayed with me ever since. I never met Marcuse and wish I had. Angela David, BTW, was the speaker for son Douglas’ baccalaureate service at Vassar. I got to shake her hand. Marcuse had far-reaching influence on those who studied with him, and his social-cultural-political-economic critique goes the very marrow of what we are experiencing today in the U.S.

      I’ve been thinking today in a way he wouldn’t like, but is in the same vein. I’ve thought of the cross in relation to the one dimensional consciousness that seems so deep-rooted now. In Christian theology, it’s the vertical interruption of the crucifixion — the unmasking of one-dimensional consciousness — that breaks open a deeper and higher consciousness than species narcissism. The cross is God’s No and God’s Yes. As Koyama reminded his readers, only the God who says No worthy of a bow.

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