More on Camping and Freedom

Speaking of the wish to escape to nature, I just found a passage I recently read in Adorno’s essay “Free Time” (1969) that points to the ways in which our desire for freedom is manipulated in our non-working time. In fact, Adorno refers specifically to camping:

Camping—an activity so popular amongst the old youth movements—was a protest against the tedium and convention of bourgeois life. People had to ‘get out’, in both senses of the phrase. Sleeping out beneath the stars meant that one had escaped from the house and from the family. After the youth movements had died out this need was then harnessed and institutionalized by the camping industry. The industry alone could not have forced people to purchase its tents and dormobiles, plus huge quantities of extra equipment, if there had not already been some longing in people themselves; but their own need for freedom gets functionalized, extended and reproduced by business; what they want is forced upon them once again. Hence the ease with which the free time is integrated; people are unaware of how utterly unfree they are, even where they feel most at liberty, because the rule of such unfreedom has been abstracted from them (190-91).

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