Our Tech Society


The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul is a pretty good book. Here is the free pdf link: The Technological Society. Written over 50 years ago, Jacques Ellul somehow knew a lot of information about how our society now would turn out from technology like computers and the internet. I wouldn't be surprised is he was fed this information from people behind the scenes. The first half of the book at times is hard to get through, but the second half is good.

Here is some quotes from the book that I thought were good:
Ellul holds the Ameri­cans to be the most conformist people in the world
The world that is being created by the accumulation of technical means is an artificial world and hence radically different from the natural world.
The number of "technical slaves" is growing rapidly, and the ideal of all governments is to push as fast as possible toward industrialization and technical enslavement.
In a great corporation the workers are more than ever enslaved & scarcely in a position to act in a dis­tinctively human way
Man was made to do his daily work with his muscles; but see him now, like a fly on flypaper. seated for eight hours, motionless at a desk. Fifteen minutes of exercise cannot make up for 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 acids 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 blanch among sterile and blind stone facades. Cats and dogs disappear little by little from the city, going the way of the horse. Only rats and men remain to populate a dead world. Man was created to have room to move about in, to gaze into far distances, to live in rooms which, even when they were tiny, opened out on fields. See him now, enclosed by the rules and architectural necessities imposed by overpopulation in a twelve-by-twelve closet opening out on an anonymous world of city streets.

Every man is in this fix, not merely the proletariat, and nothing can be done about it. What was once the abnormal has become the usual, standard condition of things. Even so, the human being is at ease in this strange new environment, and the tension demanded of him weighs heavily on his life and being. He seeks to flee and tumbles into the snare of dreams; he tries to comply and falls into the life of organizations; he feels maladjusted and becomes a hypochondriac.
Technique has penetrated the deepest recesses of the human being. The machine tends not only to create a new human environment, but also to modify man's very essence. The milieu in which he lives is no longer his. He 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.
When a society becomes increasingly totalitarian ( and I say society," not "state" ) , it creates more and more difficulties of adaptation and requires its citizens to be conformist in the same degree. Thus, this technique becomes all the more necessary. I have no doubt that it makes men better balanced and "happier." And there is the danger. It makes men happy in a milieu which normally would have made them unhappy, if they had not been worked on, molded, and formed for just that milieu. What looks like the apex of humanism is in fact the pinnacle of human submission: children are educated to become precisely what society expects of them. They must have social consciences that allow them to strive for the same ends as society sets for itself. Clearly, when modern youth are fully edited in the new psychological technique, many social and political difficulties will disappear
The technique of so-called human relations, developed to adapt the individual to the technical milieu, to force him to accept his slavery, to make him find happiness by the "normalization" of his relations with his group and integrate him into that group to an ever greater degree-this technique is characteristic of the fakeries and shams with which men must be provided if the conflicts pro­voked by life in a technicized environment are to be avoided.
It is understood, of course, that the social order is everywhere essentially identical: the variation from democracy to Communism to Fascism represents a merely superficial phenomenon.