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The destructive, manipulative character of the system makes it a totality of a type different from the true whole 28 IND1VIDUATION AS PRAXIS to be realized through praxis. The false whole is perverted, ambiguous, and disintegrative. These characteristics make it difficult both to comprehend and to negate (to turn into something it is not now, by realizing alternative possibilities inherent in it). In what sense is "the system" a false or perverted totality? The specific character of advanced industrial society derives from the conjunction of two systems or structures and the subordination of the second to the first: (1) the socio-economic structure of capitalism, which presupposes conditions of scarcity and whose characteristics include competition, private enterprise, the profit motive, class divisions, exploitation, and material inequality; and (2) modern technology as a system in which the rational, the functional, the aesthetic, and the instinctual or unconscious become fused.
Thus, even better than in the creation of bureaucracy, rationalization is exemplified in the transition from "mechanical" to "electronic" technology, to use McLuhan's terms. One particularly important aspect of this 6 See Herbert Marcuse, "Industrialization and Capitalism in the Work of Max Weber," Negations (Boston: Beacon, 1968). 29 CRITICAL INTERRUPTIONS transition is the development of modern design, where a system is created in which the aesthetic and the functional become identical (it thus makes art, which traditionally is not useful, obsolete).
Instead of a confrontation of the autonomous individual with society there is identification: The manifold processes of introjection seem to be ossified in almost mechanical reactions. 8 This transformation from confrontation to identification is possible because, as Marcuse argues in "The Obsolescence of Freudian Man,"9 the individual is no longer permitted to develop his ego within the sphere of the family before confronting society, and because the environment as a whole which, as "second nature," impresses itself upon the individual, tends to destroy integration.