Monday, July 25, 2016

The Technological Bluff

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I enjoyed The Technological Bluff by Jacques Ellul. Another good follow-up book to the Technological Society by Jacques Ellul. Here is the pdf link:  https://rekveld.home.xs4all.nl/tech/Ellul_TechnologicalBluff.pdf

Here are some quotes I thought were good:
The breaking of seasonal rhythms is a familiar problem. All organisms are at the height of their vigor and powers in spring and summer. In autumn and winter (until hibernation), all organisms lose their vital force. They are reduced, becoming less resistant and more fragile. Rural work follows the seasonal rhythm; there is less to do in winter.But industry, dictated by technique, which allows and now demands vacations, reverses the rhythm. Vacations and rest come during the "beautiful season," and there is more work in winter. This disturbs life's rhythm. Some functions are not discharged as well as they once were
Technical solutions bring with them the very evils they are supposed to remedy or produce worse ones in another area.
the world we now know bears no relation to the human world which up to half a century ago seemed to be eternal
Television replaces the missing collective culture that was created by a living group.
The idea that the computer is a creator of freedom is a myth pure and simple.
We are deluged today by a flood of data, by an uninterrupted flow of mixed material about everything and nothing
Television is a screen between us and reality. Viewers think of television as the screen on which reality projects itself
The living world is confused with the televised world.
Television acts less by the creation of clear notions and precise opinions and more by enveloping us in a haze.
Television puts us in a world of falsehood, trickery, and deception.
The computer is really so simple. It can help you a lot. You do not want to die an idiot
I am not sure what is Christian, but in any event the effect of the media on their audience, and children in particular, is certainly unlikely to involve the transmission of even a grain of truth.
People here are diverted from seeing reality. They constantly flutter around the many brilliant lamps and possibilities of escape.
The great design is, above all, that there should be no conflicts: not within an individual, not with neighboring groups, not with corporations where one works, not with political authorities. We have not yet arrived at this point, but when we consider how ardently people in the West enter into false conflicts (e.g., electoral), we have to think that we are close.
What, then, is required of people today? Essentially four things.Their first and chief duty is to work well, painstakingly, and punctually. The second is not to be bothered about collective matters, not to become involved, not to meddle, to leave things to those who are qualified to see to them: politicians to govern, the churches to dispense tranquillity, doctors and hospitals to see to the sick and elderly. Each one has a sphere – play, play, and we will take care of the rest. The third thing is to be a good consumer, to have good wages and to spend them, consumption being an absolute duty, the only imperative duty, for if people do not consume the pace will slow down, money will not circulate, and there will not be enough work. The final thing is to follow the opinions propagated by the media, to adopt the information and themes for reflection that are proposed, and not to seek further afield, since the information provided is sufficient, and occasionally a scapegoat will be found, a terrible enemy, though not too close or powerful, on which the crowd can vent its anger and show its independence of spirit. These, then, are the four duties of people today. 
In sum, the four requirements of the great design, which are well on the way to being met, will make it impossible for people to have an individual view of their own lives or of the reality of the world in which they live. Amid all the extolling of the world of communication and information, the great choice which is being made is that of ignorance. Such is the great design.
Everything is in place for us to live in blissful ignorance. We are diverted and distracted. As I have said, but need to repeat, the concern to focus our energies of dissatisfaction, of protest, of questioning on false targets is one of the major tasks of the numerous communication systems.

The choice of ignorance agreed upon between those who work the machine and have an interest in this ignorance and those who are part of the machine and have an interest in their own peace of mind or mental health has the remarkable effect of completely erasing responsibility from our society.
Then there are the "untouchables.” In our society we have two great classes of untouchables. There are the scientists, whose absolute autonomy is guaranteed by the omnipotence of sacrosanct science. Who would ever dare accuse a scientist? Then there is the political class.Though its members are divided into warring parties, they are all essentially at one in defense of their class status. So long as there is a political class in so-called democratic countries, there can never be true politics or true
democracy. 
for the only way to find a narrow passage in this enormous world of deceptions (expressing real forces) as I have attempted to describe it is to have enough awareness and self-criticism to see that for a century we have been descending step by step the ladder of absolute necessity, of destiny, of fate.

Following Hegel, Marx, and Kierkegaard, I have often said that we show our freedom by recognizing our nonfreedom. But this is no longer a philosophical or theoretical matter of the mind. It is no longer a matter of debate between the servile and the free will. Our back is to the wall. We must not cheat or think that we can extricate ourselves by talk. Seeing the Hydra head of trickery and the Gorgon face of hi-tech, the only thing we can do is set them at a critical distance, for it is by being able to criticize that we show our freedom. This is the only freedom that we still have if we have at least the courage to grasp it. Nothing is more certain.

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