The author of this notice is Silviu Man.
VINTAGE BOOKS, ALBERT A. KNOPF, INC., 1964
(originally published in French as La Technique ou l’enjeu du siècle, Librairie Armand Colin, 1954)
CHAPTER 1 – TECHNIQUES
Technique (as J. Ellul uses the term – S.M.) is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for the given stage of development) in every field of human activity.
We must not think of the problem in the terms of a choice between being determined and being free. We must look at it dialectically, and say that man is in deed determined, but that it is open to him to overcome necessity, and that this act is freedom. Freedom is not static but dynamic; not a vested interest, but a prize continually to be won. The moment man stops and resigns himself, he becomes subject to determinism. He is most enslaved when he thinks he is comfortably settled in freedom.
SITUATING THE TECHNICAL PHENOMENON
The machine, so characteristic of the nineteenth century, made an abrupt entrance into a society which, from political, institutional and human points of view, was not made to receive it; and man has had to put up with it as best as he can. Men now live in conditions that are less than human. Consider the concentration of out great cities, the slums, the lack of space, of air, of time, the gloomy streets and the sallow lights that confuse night and day. Think of our dehumanized factories, our unsatisfied senses, our working women, our enstrangement from nature. Life in such an environment has no meaning. Consider our public transportantion, in which man is less important than a parcel; our hospitals, in which he is only a number. Yet we call that progress… And the noise, the monster boring into us at every hour in the night without respite.
Capitalism did not create our world ; the machine did it.
Technique integrates the machine into society. It constructs the kind of world the machine needs and introduces order where the incoherent banging of machinery heaped up ruins.
When technique enters into every area of life, including the human, it ceases to be external to man and becomes his very substance.
To progress, technique had to wait for the science.
Science has become an instrument of technique. […] In deed, our omnivorous technique may in the end make science sterile.
Junger’s principal argument against the illusion of technical progress : the more technique is perfected, the more it requires secondary manual labor; and furthermore, the volume of manual operations increases faster than the volume of mechanical operations. [See Fourastie’s argument, contrary to Junger’s : in fact, the technical progress coincides to economic progress].
Technique no longer rests in tradition, but rather in previous technical procedures.
In the scientific attitude, only that is knowable which is expressed (or, at least, can be expressed) in numbers.
Technique is nothing more than means and the ensemble of means.
What characterizes the technical action within a particular activity is the search for greater efficiency.
Two factors enter into the extensive field of technical operation : consciousness and judgement. This double intervention produces what I call the technical phenomenon. Essentially, it takes what was previously tentative, unconscious, and spontaneous and bring it to the realm of clear, voluntary, and reasoned concepts.
By consciuousness, the technician takes stock of alternative possibilities. The immediate result is that he seeks to apply the new methods in fields with traditionally had been left to chance, pragmatism, and instinct. The intervention of consciousness causes a rapid and far-flung extension of technique.
Technician is thus able to carry out the calculations that demonstrate the superiority of the means chosen over all others. Thus a science of means comes into being – a science of techniques, progressively elaborated.
Technique has evolved along two distinct paths : the concrete technique of homo faber and the magic.
Magic is the first expression of technique.
Technique is essentially Oriental : it was principally in the Near East that technique first developed, and it had very little in the way of scientific foundation. It was entirely directed toward practical application and was not concerned with general theories, which alone can rise to scientific movements.
In GREECE, a phenomenon that still astonishes istoricians occurred : the almost total separation of science and technique. […] The technical research was considered unworthy for the intellect, and that the goal of science was not application, but contemplation. […] The rejection of technique was a deliberate, positive activity involving self-mastery, recognition of destiny, and the application of a given conception of life.
There are five characteristics of ROMAN judicial technique :
1. it was not the fruit of an abstract thought, but rather of an exact view if the concrete situation
2. the search for equilibrium between purely technical factor and the human factor
3. it was directed toward a precise end : the internal coherence of society. This technique was not self-justifiying, it did not have as its raison d’etre its own self-development
4. continuity. It was constantly being readapted in accordance with a historical plan.
The Middle Ages created only one new, complete technique, an intellectual technique, a mode of reasoning : scholasticism.
The period which followed the Renaissance and the Reformation was much less fertile in invention than the period which had preceeded them.
The humanism, bound up with the idea of universalism, did not allow techniques to grow. Men refused to conform to any uniform law, even when it operated for their own good.
The revolution resulted not from the exploitation of coal, but rather from a change of attitude on the part of the whole civilization.
The close link between scientific research and technical invention appears to be a new factor in the 19th century. […] In the 20th century, this relationship resulted in the enslavement of science to technique. In the 19th century, however, science was still the determining cause of technical progress.
What distinguishes the 18th century is that applications were made for reasons of utility; soon the only justification of science was applicability. […] This philosophy was concrete; it was bound up to material results. What cannot be seen cannot be judged, and this explains the century’s judgement of history : that the foundation of civilization is technique, not philosophy or religion.
The optimistic atmosphere of the 18th century, more than this philosophy, created a climate favorable to the rise of technical applications. The fear of evil diminished.
This transformation of civilization can be explained by the conjunction in time of five phenomena :
1. the fruition of a long technical experience
2. population expansion : the growth of population entails a growth of needs which cannot be satisfied except by technical development
3. the suitability of the economical environment : the foundations of economic life must be stable so that primary technical research can be devoted to well-defined objects and situations. But at the same time this milieu must be capable of great change, so that technical inventions can be absorbed into economy, and research stimulated.
4. the plasticity of the social milieu – involves two factors : the disappearance of social taboos (e.g. the conviction that a natural hierarchy exists which nothing can modify) and the disappearance of natural social groups. After French Revolution, a systematic campaign was waged against all natural groups (e.g. the guilds, the communes, federalism) under the guise of a defense of the rights of the individual. The breakup of social groups engendered the enormous displacement of people at the beginning of 19th century and resulted in the concentration of population demanded by modern technique. […] It is too often overlooked that proletariat is the creation of the industrial machine.
5. the appearance of a clear technical intention.
The bourgeoisie were so well aware of the relation between economic success and the scientific foundations of that success, that they kept in their own hands, almost as a monopoly, the instruction which has the only means of access to the great schools and faculties that trained the technicians of science and the technicians of society.
In the middle of 19th century, Marx rehabilitated technique in the eyes of the workers. He preached that the technique can be liberating. This was doubled by a second historical fact, namely, the diffusion of the so-called benefits of techniques among the masses.
The technical movement in France was launched by the monarchy and took a scientific form : the academies and the research institutes propagated the new techniques throughout the country; and the nobles applied them, very often disinterestedly. In England, profit was from the very beginning the prime motive. And empiricism was the dominant factor because technique was more efficient.
CHAPTER 2 – THE CHARACTEROLOGY OF TECHNIQUE
There are four characteristics of the limitations of technique in the different societies that have preceded ours :
1. technique was applied only in certain narrow, limited areas;
2. technique was not considered nearly as important as it is today. Man did not hope for very much from it :
- for us, comfort is associated with the material life; it manifests itself in the perfection of personal goods and machines. According to Giedion, the man of the Middle Ages also were concerned with comfort, but for them comfort represented a feeling of moral and aesthetic order. Space was the primary element in comfort.
- this concept of comfort, closely bound up with the person, clearly takes death for granted, as man did himself ; man’s awareness of death likewise profoundly influences his search for an adequate milieu.
- the emphasis was rather on the application of old means, which were constantly extended, refined, and perfected.
- the deficiency of the tool was to be compensated by the skill of the worker. Professional know-how, the expert eye were what counted : man’s talents could make his crude tools the maximum efficiency.
3. technique was local : technique was an intrinsic part of civilization. It was a part of a whole, and it developed as a function of the whole and shared its fate. In the past, technique was not objective, but subjective in relation to its own culture.
- the consequence was an extreme local diversity of techniques for attaining the same result. No comparison or competition existed yet between these different systems.
- technical operations, like the instruments themselves, almost always depended on aesthetic preoccupations. It was impossible to conceive of a tool that was not beautiful.
- technical progress today is no longer conditioned by anything other than its own calculus of efficiency. The search is no longer personal, experimental, workmanlike; it is abstract, mathematical, and industrial.
- for true efficiency, not only the rational aspect of the machine be taken into account, but also its adaptation to the environment.
4. human being’s possibility of choice : there was an interaction of technical effectiveness and effective human decision.
In our civilization technique use is in no way limited. It has been extended to all spheres and encompasses every activity, including human activities. It has led to a multiplication of means without limit.
Two well-known, essential characteristics of today’s technical phenomenon : rationality and artificiality.
CHARACTERISTICS OF MODERN TECHNIQUE
1. AUTOMATISM OF TECHNICAL CHOICE
The human being in no longer in any sense the agent of choice. In reality, man doesn’t choose among possible techniques. He is a device for recording effects and results obtained by various techniques.
The replacement of the machines at the tempo of technical invention is completely impossible for capitalist enterprise because there is no time to amortize one machine before new ones appear.
Technical activity automatically eliminates every nontechnical activity or transforms it into technical activity. E.g. : politics. It was Lenin who established political technique.
The milieu into which a technique penetrates becomes completely, and often at a stroke, a technical milieu. There is no place for an individual today unless he is a technician. No social group is able to resist the pressures of the environment unless it utilizes technique.
Technique has arrived at such a point in its evolution that it is being transformed and is progressing almost without decisive intervention by man.
Technique sharply reduces the role of human invention. It’s no longer the man of genius who discoveres something.
When all the conditions concur, only minimal human intervention is needed to produce important advances. (research in smashing of the atom was at the same level in 1939 in Germany, Norway, the USSR, the United States, and France)
Only lack of means halts progress in certain countries.
Self-augmentation can be formulated in two laws :
1. in a given civilization, technical progress is irreversible;
2. the technical progress tends to act, not according to an arithmetic, but according to geometric progression.
Technical progression is of the same nature as the process of numbering ; there is no good ground for halting the progression, because after each number we can always add 1.
Only inventions perpetually more numerous and automatically increasing can make good the unheard-of expenditures and the irremediable consumption of raw materials such as wood, coal, petroleum and even water.
Human beings are, indeed, always necessary. But literally anyone can do the job, provided he is trained for it. Henceforth, men will be able to act only in the virtue of their commonest and lowest nature, and not in the virtue of what they possess of superiority and individuality.
In the future, man will apparently be confined to the role of a recording device; he will note the effects of techniques upon one another, and register the results.
In reality, is not the “wishes” of the “producers” which control, but the technical necessity of production which force itself on the consumers. Anything and everything which technique is able to produce is produced and accepted by the consumer. The belief that the human producer is still master of production is a dangerous illusion.
Technique is organized as a closed world. It utilizes what the mass of men do not understand. It is even based on human ignorance. As Charles Carmichel says : “The worker cannot understand the workings of modern industry”.
The technical phenomenon, embracing all separate techniques, forms a whole. As a corollary, it is impossible to analyze this or that element out of it – a truth which is today particularly misunderstood.
These techniques have as their goal the bringing to the individual of that which is indispensable for his satisfaction in the conditions in which the machine has placed him, of inhibiting in him the sense of revolution, of subjugating him by flattering him.
It is said that technique evolves with some end in view, and that this end is human good. But technique is totally irrelevant to this notion and pursues no end, professed or unprofessed.
There is no difference at all between technique and its use. The individual is faced with an exclusive choice, either to use the technique as it should be used according to the technical rules, or not to use it at all.
Jacques Soustelle’s remark in May, 1960, in reference to the atomic bomb : “Since it was possible, it was necessary”.
The instrument tends to be applied everywhere it can be applied. It functions without discrimination – because it exists without discrimination (e.g. techniques of police : to be sure of apprehending criminals, it is necessary that everyone be supervised).
Technique demands that everything it produces be brought into a domain that affects the entire public.
J.U. Nef has shown admirably that industrialization cannot act otherwise than to promote wars. This is no accident, but rather an organic relation. Technical progress favours war because :
a) the new weapons have rendered more difficult the distinction between offense and defense ;
b) they have enormously reduced the pain and anguish implied in the act of killing.
On other plane, the distinction between peaceful industry and military industry is no longer possible. Every industry, every technique, however humane its intentions, has military value.
4. THE NECESSARY LINKING TOGETHER OF TECHNIQUES
Each new machine disturbs the equilibrium of production; the restoration of the equilibrium entails the creation of one or more additional machines in other areas of operation.
5. TECHNICAL UNIVERSALISM
From the geographic point of view : technique is gaining ground, country by country, and that its area of action is the whole world. […] The Oriental, Russian and South American societies were by no means historically prepared, as was ours, to favor technical development.
War and commerce were the two great currents that have occasioned technical invasion.
There is no doubt that all traditional cultures and sociological structures will be destroyed before we can discover or invent social, economic, or psychological forms of adaptation which might possibly have preserved the equilibrium of these peoples and societies.
Technique cannot be otherwise than totalitarian.
Technique can be truly efficient and scientific only if it absorbs an enormous number of phenomena and brings into play the maximum of data. In order to co-ordinate and exploit synthetically, technique must be brought to bear on the great masses in every area. But the existence of technique in every area leads to monopoly.
Technique can leave nothing untouched in a civilization. Everything is its concern.
Our technique, which is destroying all other civilizations, is more than a simple mechanism : it is a whole civilization in itself.
Technique dissociates the sociological forms, destroys the moral framework, desacralizes men and things, explodes social and religious taboos, and reduces the body social to a collection of individuals.
Technical civilization means that our civilization is constructed by the technique (makes part of civilization only what belongs to technique), for technique (in that everything in this civilization must serve a technical end), and is exclusively technique (in that it excludes whatever is not technique or reduces it to technical form).
Civilization no longer exists of itself. Every activity – intellectual, artistic, moral – is only a part of technique. This fact is so enormous and unpredictable that we are simply unable to foresee its consequences.
Two cultures, of which technique is one, cannot coexist.
Technique is a means of apprehending reality, of acting on the world, which allows us to neglect all individual differences, all subjectivity.
Technique is no more than a neutral bridge between reality and the abstract man.
Everyone today has his own professional jargon, modes of thought, and peculiar perception of the world. The man today is no longer able to understand his neighbour because his profession is his whole life, and the technical specialization of this life has forced him to live in a closed universe.
6. THE AUTONOMY OF TECHNIQUE
Technique is autonomous with respect to economics and politics.
Technical autonomy is apparent in respect to morality or spiritual values. Technique tolerates no judgement from without and accepts no limitation.
The power and autonomy of technique are so well secured that it, in its turn, has become the judge of what is moral, the creator of a new morality. Thus, it plays the role of creator of a new civilization as well.
No technique is possible when men are free.
Technical autonomy renders technique at once sacrilegious (in the sociological sense) and sacred.
More than science, which limits itself to explaining the “how”, technique desacralizes because it demonstrates (by evidence and not by reason, through use and not through books) that mystery does not exist. Science brings to the light of day everything man had believed sacred. Technique takes possession of it and enslaves it.
Technique denies mystery a priori. The mysterious is merely that which has not been technicized.
The individual who lives in a technical milieu knows very well that there is nothing spiritual anywhere. But man cannot live without the sacred. Here therefore transfers his sense of the sacred to the very thing which has destroyed its former object : to technique itself. In the world in which we live, technique has become the essential mystery.
Technical men are always disconcerted when one asks them the motives of their faith. No, they do not expect to be liberated; they expect nothing, yet they sacrifice themselves and devote their lives with frenzy to the development of industrial plants and the organization of banks.
CHAPTER 3 – TECHNIQUE AND ECONOMY
There is only one way to ensure limitless possibilities. These possibilities have nothing to do with spontaneous human needs, but involve technical discovery and application, which create new products to replace the old, and also stimulates the need for these products.
It has long been recognized that technical progress is effected more rapidly in the creation of means of production. From this fact comes a kind of hypertrophy of machine-producing industries. (e.g. in American clothing industry producing 45 % more than necessary, shoe industry 100 % more than necessary etc.)
The formation of an economic technique: economic science is abandoning dogmatic positions and deductive methods in order to establish exact procedures.
Political economy is no longer a moral science in the traditional sense. It has become technique and has entered into a new ethical framework.
Microeconomics, far from being an element in the foundation of macroeconomics, or a complementary element to it, will be absorbed. It will lose its reason for existence to the extent that macroeconomics develops surer techniques.
Up to now, every man with a little education was able to follow the works and theories of the economists. To be able to follow them today, one would have to be both a specialist and a technician.
Economic life, not in its content but in its direction will entirely elude popular control. […] It is a grave illusion to believe that democratic control or decision-making can be reconciled with economic technique.
At one time statistical data were ridiculed on the ground that they were misleading. But this stage lies behind us, and nowadays a large measure of confidence rests in the precision of such data.
As far as technique is concerned, judgement is based solely on efficiency, and planning appears fully justified in this respect.
The plan, once adopted as method, tends perpetually to extend to new domains.
Anyone who claims that planning and the state are separable, or that local plans can be carried out, has forgotten that local plans must be guaranteed by the state or they come to nothing.
The planned economy seems to represent the most probable solution imposed by the economic technique and desired by the greater part of modern society, not only of men but of powers.
This progress restores to man the supernatural world from which he had been severed, an incomprehensible world but one which he himself has made, a world full of promises that he knows can be realized and of which he is potentially the master. He is seized by sacred delirium when he sees the shining track of a supersonic jet or visualizes the vast granaries stocked for him. He projects his delirium into the myth through which he can control, explain, direct and justify his actions… and his new slavery. The myth of destruction and the myth of action have their roots in this encounter of man with the promise of technique, and in his wonder and admiration.
There is no common denominator between the seven-hour day of 1950 and the fifteen-hour day of medieval artisan. We know the peasant interrupts his workday with innumerable pauses. He chooses his own tempo and rhythm. He converses and cracks jokes with every passer-by.
We cannon say with assurance that there has been progress from 1250 to 1950. In so doing, we would be comparing things which are not comparable.
Modern man never asks himself what he will have to pay for his power. This is the question we ought to be asking.
Technique always supposes centralization. When I use gas, or electricity, or the telephone, it is no plain and simple mechanism which is at my disposal, but a centralized organization. […] The technical “central” is the normal expression of every application.
Anyone who believes statesmen are malevolent in willing centralization demonstrates thereby only his own naïveté. The state is forced to realize the plan for exclusively technical reasons.
An economy completely founded on technique cannot be a liberal economy. Technique is, in reality, opposed to liberalism, a social form which is unable to absorb and utilize modern techniques.
Every mechanical technique supposes a corresponding organization. And organization is the diametrical opposite of free enterprise ; and the organizational state of mind is the diametrical opposite of the liberal state of mind.
Technique is inevitably opposed to the liberal economy because the end of technique is efficiency and rationality, and the end of liberalism is money profit.
When competition becomes established among several enterprises under a liberal regime, is in reality a competition of techniques in the microeconomic phase. […] It is not magnitude of enterprise which destroys the equilibrium, but technical progress. […] Competition is thus an incitement to such technical progress as will bring victory over the competitor. This means that competition tends to destroy liberalism.
The macroeconomy is only a framework and an element of an economic technique. It is different to free enterprise and to the concept of nation, which it destroys, not voluntarily but indirectly. It has no personal, private goal. It does not seek at all to modify a given social or economic reality.
The social complex, on contact with technique, becomes mass, rather than a community or an organism. Technique demands for its development malleable human ensembles.
Economic technique is inevitably antidemocratic. […] Men are unable to exert genuine influence on the direction of the economy.
Popular will can only express itself within the limits that technical necessities have fixed in advance.
Technique is boundary to democracy. What technique wins, democracy loses.
The life of the lord of the manor was in many ways closer to that to a serf than the life of a modern industrialist is to that of a worker. The serf and the lord shared the same nourishment and the same discomfort. There is certainly at least as much difference between the poor man’s cheap radio and the rich man’s Telefunken, or between a motor scooter and a Chrysler, as between a pine torch and a candle.
Italian economist Bertolino desiring to convince that technique is democratic : “Democracy is the adhesion of each citizen individually to the opinion of majority. This majority opinion becomes an irrefragable and indisputable line of conduct. The individual is duty bound up to look upon the line (economical or political) dictated by the majority as the best for society. The individual becomes democratic in this way.”
“Democracy consists in the practice of regarding and using certain goods in a common way. Democracy supposes that the individual transcends himself in order to realize social values with the others, and in the same way as the others”.
A workers’ committee cannot regulate the complexity of technical problems.
The human being is changing slowly under the pressure of the economic milieu; he is in process of becoming the uncomplicated being the liberal economist constructed.
The economic man was formulated in the second half of the 19th century by a twofold movement. The first was the absorption, to a greater and greater extent, of the entire man in the economic network. The second was the devaluation of all human activities and tendencies other than economic. Thence arose the validation of the producing-consuming part of man, while all his other facets were gradually erased.
The proletarian was alienated not only because he was the servant of the bourgeois but because he became a stranger to the human condition, a sort of automaton filled with economic machinery and worked by an economic switch.
For the proletariat, as for the bourgeoisie, man is only a machine for production and consumption. He is under the obligation to produce. He must absorb what the economy offers him. […] Money is the principal thing : culture, art, spirit, morality are jokes and are not to be taken seriously. On this point, there is once again full agreement between the bourgeoisie and the Communists.
Leisure was granted to man, but only the leisure of the consumer. Man’s primordial functions of creating, playing, judging disappeared in the rising tide of material goods.
Man is capital, and he must become perfectly adapted to this role. The actions proposed by technique to educate man for this role falls into two distinct categories :
1. the union of the two concepts, producer and consumer :
What technique envisages as needs is social needs as revealed by statistics. Technique can and will take into consideration only man’s social requirements. Of course no one denies the existence of individual needs. But when all human forces are attracted by the labor of satisfying social needs, when these forces include education, orientation, proper environment, hygiene, when at the same time the goods necessary to satisfaction of social needs are numerous and easy to come by while those satisfying individual needs are rare and hard to find, it is pure utopian abstraction to say that nothing prevents the existence of individual needs.
2. the necessity to act upon the individual in his capacity of producer so as to make him contribute his small share in carrying out the plan […] Roughly speaking, the problem here is to modify human needs in accordance with the requirements of planning.
The stage in which the human being was a mere slave of the mechanical tyrant has been passed. When man himself becomes a machine, he attains to the marvelous freedom of unconsciousness, the freedom of the machine itself. A spiritual and moral life is required of him because the machine has need of such a life : no technique is possible with amoral and asocial men. Man feels himself to be responsible, but he is not. He does not feel himself as object, but he is. He has been so well assimilated to the economic world, so well adjusted to it by being reduced to the homo economicus, in short, so well conditioned, that the appearance of personal life becomes for him the reality of personal life.
Man knows himself to be more and more free, for technique has eliminated all natural forces and in this way has given him the sense of being master of his fate. The new man being created before our very eyes, correctly tailored to enter into the artificial paradise, the detailed and necessary product of the means which he ordains for himself – that man is I.
CHAPTER 4 – THE TECHNIQUE AND THE STATE
Ancient techniques used by the state had one characteristic in common: all of them were limited both in their objects and in their means.
From the political, social and human points of view, this conjunction of state and technique is by far the most important phenomenon in history.
It is astonishing that we still apply ourselves to the study of political theories or parties which no longer possess anything but episodic importance, yet we bypass the technical fact which explains the totality of modern political events, and which indicates the general line our society has taken much more surely than some painful revival of Marx (who was not acquainted with the technical fact) or some spiritualistic theory.
The first cause of interrelation of state and technique : the rapid extension of techniques formerly employed only by individuals into domains which the state had never before penetrated. (e.g. transport, education, aid to the helpless and indigent etc.). […] Put another way, these techniques, because they were applicable to the masses, allowed individual persons to transform their sphere of activity from a private to a public one.
The second cause is directly related to the first : the application of techniques is extremely expensive. […] Technique, once developed to a certain point, poses problems that only the state can resolve, both from the point of view of finance and from that of power.
The third cause is the transformation of the role of the state and of its conceptions of its roles. […] Let us simply note, first, that the state seeks to organize national life and to govern its various collectivities, most often because natural communities have disappeared and it is necessary to create new ones. […] All kinds of theories appeal to the state to secure a greater degree of justice and equality. In all these ways the state assumes functions which were formerly the province of private groups. And in performing these functions, the state encounters techniques hitherto employed by individuals.
Technical development inevitably brings about state intervention in the economic world; and, reciprocally, when the state intervenes it finds a technical apparatus which it develops further.
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC TECHNIQUES :
1. private techniques are better perfected and better adapted than the techniques of the state. […] When the same problems are posed simultaneously to the state and to individuals, the individuals are usually the first to find the correct method and solution. […] The individual always lives a much more realistic and real life than a collectivity, especially the state. […] The state, on the other hand, acts on masses of men and on multiple problems and it is inevitably drawn to schematize and to deny the complexity of problems. […] The state rarely discovers and applies any true techniques, for the simple reason that it has too much power and too many financial resources for its agents to seek out economy of means – the first requirement.
2. techniques elaborated by the individuals were the result of specialization, which operated at first in the scientific domain but which was introduced into the technical world before long.
3. techniques created by private individuals, contrary to those of state, rarely slacken their pace.
When the state comes into contact with the techniques elaborated by the individuals, when it encounters a private sphere of public interest, it reacts by taking over this sphere as well as the techniques which brought about the mutation. (e.g. in French Revolution or the Third Reich).
One of the gravest symptoms of our times is that technique has little by little emptied socialism of any content. […] The financial system of the Soviets is based, to the extent of 80 per cent, on the difference between wages paid to the workers and the value of their product.
The state, by taking possession of all technical spheres and instrumentalities, becomes of necessity a capitalist state, substituting itself for private capitalists. […] We must expect this movement to gain greater and greater amplitude, for when the state has once undertaken some action, it generally goes on the end.
All organizations are founded on paper work. And when paper work transcends human capacities by virtue of sheer quantity and complexity, the problem of what to do about it arises. The machine is the solution.
Antoine Mas says that “the operations cannot be carried out except by breaking them down into homogeneous tasks and functions so that they can be committed to mechanical organs.”
Political motivations do not dominate technical phenomena, but rather the reverse.
Another consequence of the penetration of the state by techniques is that the state as a whole becomes an enormous technical organism.
No deliberate choice on the part of the state, no theoretical decision, has brought about this growth of technique; its causes were independent of the personal or collective. The modern state could no more be a state without techniques than a businessman could be a businessman without the telephone or the automobile.
The state is no longer the President of Republic plus one or more Chambers of Deputies. Nor it is a dictator with certain all-powerful ministers. It is an organization in increasing complexity which puts to work the sum of techniques of the modern world.
Where purely administrative technique is not the chief goal, government is no longer possible.
The conflict is not between politicians and technicians but among technicians of different categories. In the dictatorships, the politician aims, successfully or unsuccessfully, to comply with the demands of a political technique. In democratic systems, the politician complies only with the requirements of a technique for getting himself elected; he has an altogether inadequate grasp of the various technical services.
For the technician, the state is not the expression of popular will, or a creation of God, or the essence of humanity, or a modality of the class war. It is an enterprise with certain services which ought to function properly. It is an enterprise which ought to be profitable, yield a maximum of efficiency, and have the nation for its working capital.
Another element implied in the transformation of the state and the predominance of the technician is the progressive suppression of ideological and moral barriers to technical progress.
The state is no longer in a position to reject the most efficient means possible.
Georges Friedmann has shown in a completely nonpartisan way that the worker-slaves are reduced to the lowest possible human values when their functions are specialized to completely particular tasks. We see in this phenomenon of specialization what technique makes of man in the aggregate. For example, the precision of police mechanisms makes it possible to train a good policeman in a few weeks. But the man so trained has no knowledge at all of the techniques within which he works. Men are shifted unceasingly from job to job, never attaining a true calling; they are vocationally downgraded by technique.
Technique shapes an aristocratic society, which in turn implies aristocratic government. Democracy in such a society can only be a mere appearance.
It is precisely in democracies that propaganda machines proliferate. […] In the so-called democracies, propaganda must become more and more intense in order to dominate its rivals. It becomes thereby more and more insidious.
The state is no longer caught between political reality and moral theories and imperatives. It is caught between political reality and technical means.
We conclude that the political doctrine of today is a rationalizing mechanism for justifying the state and its actions and is the source of the dangerous intellectual acrobatics indulged in by official journalists and statesmen.
Doctrine in charged with the task of furnishing power with this semblance of justice.
Technique is a mass instrument. One can think of technique only in terms of categories. Technique has no place for the individual; the personal means nothing to it.
At present every time the democratic state exploits a given technique, it must begin all over again to justify itself, to debate the necessity of the proposed measure, and to question everything. In the long run it will have to capitulate, but in the meantime its scruples act as a drag on it, if not in the actual application of techniques (which would, in any case, be impossible) at least in its enterprise. In order to force the democratic state to come to any decision there must always be a “present danger”, some direct competition with the dictatorial state, in which action becomes a matter of life or death.
We are today in the process of transcending the traditional position [of law]. That is to say, law ensures order instead of justice.
A further consequence of the technicization of law is that the distinction between political technique and judicial technique disappears, for all practical reasons.
The technician is no longer burdened with absurd methods of procedure. His judgements become completely rational since he understands the social necessities and the economic situation and can take them into account in his calculations. But it should not be thought that the technician merely translates these necessities into law. Above all, he elaborates them, and they're essentially subordinate to him and his technique. This explains the enormous proliferation of laws. The technician analyzes and predicts; he cannot endure the indeterminate or tolerate any initiative which upsets order. […] Whatever a technician believes is true must be made into law. His analytic spirit leads him to perceive, understand, and affirm strictly localized truths; and thus strictly delimited, they then become the objects of law. There must be a law for each fact; whence the indefinite proliferation of the legal apparatus.
The modern proliferation of laws can also be explained by the legal technician’s complete antipathy to the notion of a doctrinal law, to a jurisprudence of “concepts”. […] Consequences : law becomes a mere instrument of the state; and, in the end, law disappears.
When law is detached from justice, it becomes a compass without a needle. The substitution of order for justice, useful though this may be for the purpose of making law technical, itself quickly becomes a contributory factor in this dissociation. For what does order signify? In effect, the same thing as efficiency. Law must assure order. Order is the application of the will of state. Law must be efficient. Efficiency is itself order. Once more we witness a general transformation of means into ends. Law thus becomes an activity without any end and without any meaning. It is efficient for efficiency’s sake; and individual laws are conceived solely with a view to being efficient.
Law no longer poses the problem of the finality of man’s functions. Law no longer coordinates man’s functions in their relation to justice. As soon as that function is keyed to technique, it becomes valid in and of itself. Everyone’s function, once it has become technical, finds in technique its meaning and validity; its proper results and destiny are of little importance. The law becomes a mere organizer of individual functions. It thus constitutes only a part of the larger science of social relations and connections.
REPERCUSSION ON TECHNIQUE :
There are four different forces which play the restraining role whenever a new cultural impulse occurs :
2. PUBLIC OPINION
Today public opinion is completely oriented in favor of technique; only technical phenomena interest modern men. […] What excites the crowd? Performance. Technique is the instrument of performance.
Every modern man express his will of power in records he has not established himself.
Man is scandalized when he is told that technique causes evil; the scourges engendered by one technique will be made good by still other techniques. This is society’s normal attitude.
Also, there is the deep conviction that technical problems are the only serious ones. […] The search for immediately practical, carrying the implication that history is useless and can serve no practical ends.
3. SOCIAL STRUCTURE
Traditional societies were centered upon human needs and instincts (for example, in family, clan, seignory). Modern societies, on the other hand, are centered on technical necessity and, derivatively, of course, on human adherence.
The basic effect of state action on techniques is to co-ordinate the whole complex.
Individual specialized disciplines – for example, those of the biologist, the engineer, the sociologist, the psychologist – are combined to yield new techniques such as psychotechniques and industrial relations.
The tendency is to eliminate from the legitimate concerns of the state all sciences that have no immediate practical application : history, philosophy, grammar and so on.
CHAPTER 5 – HUMAN TECHNIQUES
Today’s work is less fatiguing and of shorter duration, on the one hand, but on the other, is an aimless, useless and callous business, tied to a clock, an absurdity profoundly felt and resented by the worker whose labor no longer has anything in common with what was traditionally called work.
The important thing, however, is not that work is in a sense harsher than formerly, but that it calls for different qualities in man. It implies in him an absence, whereas previously it implied a presence. This absence is active, critical, efficient.
Man was made to do his daily work with his muscles ; but see him now, like a fly on a flypaper, seated for eight hours, motionless at a desk. Fifteen minutes of exercise cannot make up the eight hours of absence. The human being was made to breathe the good air of nature, but what he breathes is an obscure compound of acid and coal tars. He was created for a living environment, but he dwells in a lunar world of stone, cement, asphalt, glass, cast iron, and steel. The trees wilt and branch among sterile and blind stone façades. Cats and dogs disappear little by little from the city, going on the way of horse. Only rats and men remain to populate a dead world. Man was created to have room to move in, to gaze into far distances, to live in rooms which, even when they were tiny, opened out in the fields. See him now, enclosed by the rules and architectural necessities imposed by over-population in a twelve-by-twelve closet opening out in an anonymous world of city streets.
When psychological motivation is lacking, industrial production immediately falls. Man is able to endure famine, discomfort, and the most abnormal conditions; he can make intensive and lasting efforts, provided he is psychologically doped. Our society places him in a position in which he is always near the breaking point and demands just such effort of him.
People simply cannot admit that a great dam produces nothing but electricity.
MODIFICATION OF THE MILIEU AND SPACE
Man must adapt himself, as though the world were new, to a universe for which he was not created. He was made to go six kilometers an hour, and he goes a thousand. He was made to eat when he was hungry and to sleep when he was sleepy; instead, he obeys a clock. He was made to have contact with living things, and he lives in a world of stone. He was created with a certain essential unity, and he is fragmented by all the forces of the modern world.
Man has been liberated little by little from physical constraints, but he is all the more the slave of abstract ones.
Man as a worker has lost contact with the primary element of life and environment, the basic material out of which he makes what he makes. He no longer knows wood or iron or wool. […] This development has occasioned profound mental and psychic transformations which cannot yet be assessed.
Miss Beecher (1800-1878) wrote extensively education for women. She held that women’s domestic function was paramount and for this reason opposed female suffrage.
Solitude is no longer possible ; space is at such a premium that men jostle one another everywhere. […] Living and working traditionally meant open space, a no man’s land separating a man from his fellows.
Man has always known wide horizons. Even the city dweller had direct contact with limitless plains, mountains and seas. Beyond the enclosing walls of the medieval city, was open country. At most the citizen had to walk five hundred yards to reach the city walls, where space, fair and free, suddenly extended before him. Today man knows only bounded horizons and reduced dimensions. The space not only of his movements but of his gaze is shrinking. The paradox is characteristic of our times, that to the abstract conquest of Space by Man (capitalized) corresponds the limitation of place for men (in small letters).
MODIFICATION OF TIME AND MOTION
At most, life had been regulated since the 5th century by church bells ; but this regulation really followed a psychological and biological tempo. The time man guided himself corresponded to nature’s time; it was material and concrete. It became abstract (probably toward the end of the 14th century) when it was divided into hours, minutes and seconds.
THE CREATION OF THE MASS SOCIETY
The process of massification takes places not because the man of today is by nature a mass man, but for technical reasons. Man becomes a mass man in the new framework imposed upon him because he is unable to remain for very long at variance with his milieu.
The process of massification corresponds, moreover, to the disappearance with anything resembling a community.
It is remarkable that mass participation distracts the individual from his miseries and even dispels them. After all, the process of massification was itself the origin of man’s psychic difficulties!
If at present we desire to exert any influence on man, it is possible to do so only through the mass media and only to the degree that man is a mass man.
Unfortunately, it is a historical fact that this shouting of humanism [“a humanism which at least, is not confined to playing with ideas but which penetrates the facts”] always comes after the technicians have intervened ; for a true humanism, it ought to have occurred before.
To me it seems impossible to speak of a technical humanism.
The means of exerting action on men must answer to the following three criteria : generality, objectivity and permanence.
From the speech of Mme Montessori to UNESCO : “To secure peace practically, we must envision a humane education, psychopedagogy, which affects not one nation but all men on earth… Education must become a truly humane science to guide all men to judge the present situation correctly.”
Mme Montessori emphasized the fact that “it is necessary to free the child from the slavery of school and family” for him to enter the cycle of freedom proper to this technique. However, this freedom consists in a profound and detailed surveillance of the child’s activities, a complete shaping of his spiritual life, and a precise regulation of his time with a stop watch; in short, in habituating him to a joyful serfdom.
Compare Life magazine with the Soviet News and you will see that the “good of humanity” is conceived in almost identical terms in the United States and in the Soviet Union.
The key word of the new human techniques is, therefore, adaptation, and we shall come upon it repeatedly as we consider each of these techniques separately.
Education, even in France, is becoming oriented toward the specialized end of producing technicians; […] the intelligentsia will no longer be a model, a conscience, or an animating intellectual spirit for the group, even in the sense of performing a critical function. They will be the servants, the most conformist imaginable, of the instruments of technique.
The worker is bored, slowed down, and psychologically constrained. It is necessary to arouse in him reflective thought and to make him participate in the life of the entire plant. He must be made to feel a community of interest; the idea that his labor has social meaning must me instilled to him.
Until recently, very few designers and manufacturers of machine tools bothered much about the workers who were to use tools. It represents enormous progress for them to acknowledge that machines should be built with the workers in mind, that human being ought to be the departure. […] But the reduction of physical effort has only served to increase fatigue due to mental concentration, reflex attention, and dissymmetry of motion, factors which rapidly produce nervous exhaustion.
After it had been observed in certain industrial plants that the conditions of modern labor provoke psychological difficulties, psychologists were hired to act as “safety valves” for employee grievances and dissatisfactions. […] To let people talk does them good and quashes revolt. It is dangerous to allow the workers to talk over their problems among themselves. It is far more prudent to give them a safety valve in the form of a discreet company agent, a psychological technician, than to let them air their grievances in public.
Human relations in the industrial framework must correspond to the functions of the individuals engaged in the production cycle :
1. human relations must be restricted to the technical demands of their vocational role
2. human relations must be universal
3. rationality : emotion or sentimentality must not be allowed to disturb the mechanism
4. relations must be impersonal, established not on the basis of subjective choice and for personal reasons but on the basis of their optimum validity.
The greater the aggrandizement, the more society requires that countermeasures to be taken; but since the countermeasures are themselves of a technical nature, they allow the sphere of the mechanical to develop even further in a vicious circle.
It is the flimsiest make-believe to pretend that vocational guidance is in the service of human beings.
In isolation from certain other techniques, vocational guidance is useless. Put back into its true context, it becomes simply a means of subordinating man to the requirements of economic technique.
Propaganda is a union of two very different characteristics of technique which yield this new system of human technique. The first is a complex of mechanical techniques (principally radio, press, and motion pictures) which permit direct communication with a very large number of persons collectively, while simultaneously addressing to each individual in the group. These techniques possess an extraordinary power of persuasion and a remarkable capacity to bring psychic and intellectual pressure to bear. The second category consists of a complex of psychological (and even psychoanalytical) techniques which give access to exact knowledge of the human psyche. It can thus be motivated with considerable confidence in the results.
There is no such thing as purely objective information. To object that it was man’s fault that technique did not remain objective in tantamount to stating that it was man’s fault to be human.
The technique of measuring and producing such reflexes has been greatly developed. The reduction of political doctrines to programs, of programs to slogans, of slogans to pictures (the direct reflex-stimulating images).
Propaganda must become as natural as air or food. It must proceed by the psychological inhibition and the least possible shock. The individual is then able to declare in all honesty that no such thing as propaganda exists.
Hate and resentment can be exploited by propaganda. […] The will of self-justification, which is latent in every individual, can also be exploited. It involves the need for a scapegoat; but the individuals have difficulty finding a personal scapegoat. Propaganda offers them a collective goat to which are able to transfer evil and sin, thereby feeling justified, authenticated, and purified.
Morality makes headway. We no longer have to create for ourselves enemy to slay. We have enemies, ready-made for us by propaganda, whom it is lawful to kill.
Some effects of propaganda :
1. the critical faculty has been suppressed by the creation of collective passions. […] As Monnerot says flately : “There is no such thing as a collective critical faculty”.
2. a good social conscience appears with the suppression of the critical faculty. Technique provides justification to everybody and gives all men the conviction that their actions are just, good, and in the spirit of truth. The conviction is stronger because it is collectively shared.
3. propaganda technique, moreover, creates a new sphere of the “sacred”. As Monnerot puts it : “When an entire category of events, beings, and ideas are outside criticism, it constitutes a sacred realm, in the contrast to the realm of profanes”.
A second consequence of the application of propaganda techniques is the creation of a kind of manipulability of the masses. Monnerot : propaganda techniques “has for its object the production and cultivation among the masses of certain predispositions and a special facility for doing at a given moment whatever is strategically opportune. As political circumstances change, it is necessary at intervals to cultivate successive predispositions” […]. The use of certain propaganda techniques is not meant to entail immediate and definitive adhesion to a given formula, but rather to bring about a kind of long-range vacuity of the individual.
A third consequence of technical propaganda manipulations is the creation of an abstract universe, representing a complete reconstruction of reality in the minds of its citizens.
The essence of propaganda is to act upon the human subconscious but to leave men the illusion of complete freedom.
Propaganda is not the defense of an idea but the manipulation of the mob’s subconscious.
On moral plane, there is a fundamental identity [between dictatorship and democracy] when democracy achieves its ends through propaganda.
Man has had to work without stopping and under constant pressure; nervous fatigue has replaced muscular fatigue. When he leaves the job, his joy in finishing his stint is mixed with dissatisfaction with a work as fruitless it is incomprehensible and as far from really productive work. At home, he “finds himself” again. But what does he find? He finds a phantom. If he ever thinks, his reflections terrify him. Personal destiny is fulfilled only by death; but reflection tells him that for him there has not been anything between his adolescent adventures and his death, no point at which he himself ever made a decision or initiated a change.
The man of the technical society does not want to encounter his phantom. […] Technical civilization has made a great error in not suppressing death, the only human reality still intact. […] But amusement techniques have jumped into the breach and taught him at least how to flee the presence of death.
People go to the movies to escape and consequently yield to its pressures. They find forgetfulness, and in forgetfulness the honied freedom they do not find in their work or at home.
In motion pictures, however, the future is not involved. On the strip of the film, what ought to change has already changed.
The modern passion for the motion pictures is completely explained by the will of escape.
The efficient silence-filters, television and radio.
Propaganda, as it develops, tends to assimilate amusement, which either makes its appearance as an efficient propaganda medium, or, at a later stage, is exploited for purposes of human adaptation.
Sport is tied to industry because it represent a reaction against industrial life.
Sport is an essential factor in the creation of the mass man.
In sport, as elsewhere, nothing gratuitous is allowed to exist; everything must be useful and must come up to technical expectations.
In sport the citizen of the technical society find the same spirit, criteria, morality, actions, and objectives – in short, all technical laws and customs – which he encounters in office or factory.
Because it is first of all scientific, technique obeys the great law of specialization; it can be efficient only if it is specialized. In the case of human beings, efficiency has a double meaning. It means that technique must be applicable without raising storms of protest. And it means that it must not neglect the scientific aspect (which is the most important) of this specialization.
A further mistake of Nazism was to dress its techniques in a demoniac mask designed to inspire terror. Because the use of terror is also a technique, the Nazis made it an invariable accompaniment of all their other techniques, shocking the rest of the world by useless excess. We do better. We dress technique in the septic mask of surgeon. Impassivity is an attribute of the new god, as it was an attribute of the old.
The individual is broken into a number of independent fragments, and no techniques have the same dimensions or depth. Nor does any combination of techniques (for example, propaganda plus vocational guidance) correspond to any part of the human being. The result is that every technique can assert its innocence. Where, then, or by whom, is the human individual being attacked? Nowhere and by none. Such is the reply of technique and technician. […] Thus, since no technician applies his technique to the whole man, he can wash his hands of responsibility and declare that the human being remains intact.
Technicians are not very complicated beings. In truth, they are as simple as their techniques, which more and more assimilate them.
The technicians’ Myth is simply Man – not you or I, but an abstract entity.
Why indeed should the technician justify himself? He feels in no way guilty; his good intentions are as clear as their excellent results are undeniable. No, the technician has no need of justification. And if ever the slightest doubt were to penetrate his consciousness, his answer would be as clear as it would be staggering : The Man to whom I am working is Humanity, the Species, the Proletariat, the Race, Man the creature, Man the eternal, even You.
The abstraction, Man, is only a epiphenomenon in the Marxist sense; a natural secretion of technical progress.
An operational totalitarianism.
Man’s nature has already been modified; and it is to an already adapted individual that technique adapts mechanical apparatus. Such adaptation is becoming progressively easier, and even takes place spontaneously when the human techniques co-operate.
The more monumental and exacting the machine becomes (and by the machine I understand organization, too), the more indissoluble the complex man-machine becomes.
Up to present, adaptation has been the product of material interaction, which all this implies in laxness, misfitting, and excess. But the future adaptation will be calculated according to a strict system, the so-called “biocracy”. It will be impossible to escape this system of adaptation because it will be articulated with so much scientific understanding of human being. The individual will have no more need of conscience and virtue; his moral and mental furnishings will be a matter of biocrat’s decisions.
In the modern work the human being accomplishes nothing; at best he performs a neutral function during the “dead time” of the working day.
What we usually say is : “The worker must be freed from continual preoccupation with the tasks of his vocation”. I can easily see the good results of this liberation. But to call good the fact that the worker thinks and dreams about matters unrelated to this work while his body carries out certain mechanical activities is to sanction psychological dissociation between intelligence and action which our technical society tends to produce and which is possibly the greatest of human scourges. We thereby admit that, when all is said and done, the ideal state, higher than consciousness, is a dreaming sleep.
The dissociation of mental activity from physical actions probably results in a lessening of fatigue since there is no longer any need to participate or to make decisions. […] But the loss of creative power has disastrous psychological consequences. When the human being is no longer responsible for his work and no longer figures in it, he feels spiritually outraged.
Leisure, instead of being a vacuum representing the break with society, is literally stuffed with technical mechanisms of compensation and integration.
Leisure time is a mechanized time.
If the individual must be regimented into intelligent use of his free time, if he is obliged to spend this time learning how to be “human”, of what value are vacations and leisure?
THE TRIUMPH OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
Modern man (I do not speak of the theoreticians) represses his fear of the technical world and intoxicates himself with action, or, better, with the illusion of action. (e.g. the individual who engages in party politics, with its program of activities, meetings and fellowship, may well discover in it an answer to the problems of disequilibration).
Every technique, and above all every human technique, make a fundamental appeal to the unconscious.
Modern art expresses the subconscious precisely to the degree that the subconscious has been influenced by the machine. […] A major section of modern art and poetry unconsciously guides us in the direction of madness; and, indeed, for the modern man there is no other way. Only madness is inaccessible to the machine.
Robert Ley : “The only person who still remains a private individual is he who is asleep”.
The primary purpose of advertising technique is the creation of a certain way of life.
One of the great designs in advertising is to create needs; but this is possible only if these needs correspond to an ideal of life that man accepts.
Advertising goes about its task of creating a psychological collectivism by mobilizing certain human tendencies in order to introduce the individual into the world of technique.
Here we have the essence of the techniques of “humanization” : to render unnoticeable the disadvantages that other techniques have created.
In a simple machine, a sticking gear or an overheating rod calls the existence of the machine to the notice of its vexed user. A lubricating technique is needed which will make the machine function so smoothly that its presence is not felt. The ability to forget the machine is the ideal of technical perfection.
As Norbert Wiener puts it, present-day methods of communication exclude all intellectual activity except what is so conventional that it has no decisive value.
Only a collectivity can make itself felt in a world in which technique has given primacy to the quantitative that the qualitative.
Dr. Goebbels formulating the great law of the technical society: “You are at liberty to seek your salvation as you understand it, provided you do nothing to change the social order.”
Roger Caillois : the more restrictive the social mechanism, the more exaggerated are the associated ecstatic phenomena.
Technique also encourages and develops mystical phenomena. It promotes the indispensable alienation from the self necessary, for example, for the identification of the individual with an ideology.
Ecstasy is subject to the world of technique and is its servant. Technique, on the most significant level, integrates the anarchic and antisocial impulses of human being into society. These impulses take their influence and receive their diffusion strictly by virtue of the technical means brought into play.
The technical apparatus, in fact assures this [criticism, on the condition that it entail no serious consequences] by confining the most violent explosions of human ecstasy within itself and by satisfying without danger and at small cost to itself certain spiritual needs of the citizen reader.
A few printed pages out the deluge of printed matter will never make the butterfly a revolutionary.
The complete separation of thought and action effected by already discussed as it appears in other areas : the lack of spiritual efficacy even of the best ideas. The very assimilation of ideas into the technical framework which renders them materially effective makes them spiritually worthless.
Technique diffuses the revolt of the few and thus appeases the need of the millions to revolt.
Movements such as today’s existentialism, or eroticism in the form of the renovated Marquis de Sade or of the little pornographic reviews, are a sociological necessity to a technical milieu. The basic human impulses are unpredictable in their complex social consequences. But thanks to the “movements” which integrate and control them, they are powerless to harm the technical society, of which henceforth they form an integral part.
With the final integration of the instinctive and the spiritual by means of these human techniques, the edifice of the technical society will be completed. It will not be a universal concentration camp, for it will be guilty of no atrocity. It will not seem insane, for everything will be ordered, and the stains of human passion will be lost amid the chromium gleam. We shall have nothing more to lose, and nothing to win. Our deepest instincts and out most secret passions will be analyzed, published, and exploited. We shall be rewarded with everything our hearts ever desired. And the supreme luxury of the society of technical necessity will be to grant the bonus of useless revolt and of an acquiescent smile.
In our cities there is no more day or night or heat or cold. But there is overpopulation, thraldom to press and television, total absence of purpose. All men are constrained by means external to them to ends equally external.
A proliferation of means brings about the disappearance of the ends.
Looking at the future, many scientists claim that they will be in a position to develop certain collective desire, to constitute certain homogenous social units out of aggregates of individual, to forbid men to raise their children, and even to persuade them to renounce of having any. At the same time, they speak of assuring the triumph of freedom and of the necessity of avoiding dictatorship at any price. They seem incapable of grasping the contradiction involved, or of understanding that what they are proposing, even after intermediary period, is in fact the harshest of dictatorships. In comparison, Hitler’s was a trifling affair. That it is to be a dictatorship of test tubes rather than of hobnailed boots will not make it any less a dictatorship.
Societatea lichidă; libertatea de coteţ; omul UHT
Catherine Ester Beecher – A Treatise on Domestic Economy, for the Use of Young Ladies at Home, 1841
Enrico Castelli – Il tempo esaurito, Roma, Bussola, 1947
Georges Friedmann – La Crise du Progres, Gallimard, 1936
Anatomy of Work; Labor, Leisure and the Implications of Automation, NY, Free Press of Glencoe, 1962
Siegfried Giedion – Mechanization takes command, NY, Oxford U.P., 1948
Karen Horney – The neurotic personality, NY, W.W. Norton & Company, 1937
Robert Jungk – Tomorrow is already here; Scenes from a Man-Made World, London, R. Hart-Davis, 1954
Ludwig von Mises – Bureaucracy, New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1944
Jules Monnerot : Sociologie du communisme, Gallimard, 1949-1950
La Guerre en question --------||------------ 1952
Georges Navel – Travaux. Delemain et Boutelleau, 1945
John Ulric Nef – La Route de la Guerre Totale, Paris, A. Colin, 1949-1950
Armand Robin – La Fausse Parole, Ed. de Minuit, 1953
Roger Veillé – La Radio et les homes, Paris, Ed. de Minuit, 1952
Norbert Wiener – Cybernetics, NY, MIT Press, 1961
The Human Use of Human Beings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1
20 août 2008
The author of this notice is Silviu Man.