No one in power asked then, and no one’s asking now.
Date: December 19, 2022 12:12PM
Technology is not the absolute good that it’s been sold to us as. The system itself is irredeemable and must be taken out in toto while it is sick.
Electric toasters kill 700 people a year, so who is the real killer? Are electric toasters that much more convenient to justify 700 deaths a year? What is the price we put on technology’s clear human costs?
Like other electrical appliances, toasters have a risk of starting a fire. This can happen when you breifly leave the kitchen to go to the restroom or to get something.
Toaster timers can malfunction and not shut off. This can cause the toaster to overheat and start a fire if there are any flammable materials nearby.
Dropping a toaster into a bathtub can be lethal. What makes it so dangerous is the amperage, where 5 to 10 amps can kill a person, regardless of whether the voltage is only 60 V.
Tap water is filled with ions, which are conductors of electricity. And this is what most people use to fill their bathtubs. If they add epsom salts to the water as well, its conductive potency increases.
Electromagnetic Radation (EMF) radiation has recievied a lot of attention in recent years due to the adverse health affects it can cause. What most people do not realize is that today’s popular electronic devices are known to emit this type of radiation, including toasters.
Specifically, toasters emit Infrared Radiation (IR) from the coils to heat bread.
But can your humble appliances be plotting to kill you?
It is estimated that over 700 people worldwide are killed each year as a result of toaster fires and electrocutions. The dishwasher’s door gasket may be contaminated with fungus and black yeast. In fact, as many as 60% of all dishwashers may be contaminated. Responsible for over 1,000 fires between 2002 and 2009.
Toasters could kill tens of thousands of people a year, and someone sold on technology as an inherent good wouldn’t give a damn.
You know countless people that watch TV or play video games, not just as a secondary or even primary hobby, but as their singular pursuit outside the drudgery of making a dime.
It made me destroy every electronic device I own and go back to kerosene and candlight.
Personally, I can't think of any technology that has actually, really and truly, made my life more fulfilling.
Isn’t life just so easy with all these efficient, technological improvements in every facet of our existence from cradle to grave? No? Do you really mean to tell me that we’re more anxious, depressed, psychotic than our ancestors?
We don’t have to focus on mere survival like cavemen anymore, so we have “surrogate activities” that provide us with the sense of power that we need as humans. Yet technology abrogates these surrogate activities, leaving some of us programmed husks.
Our children have been biologically bombed by seed oils, microplastics, and literal poisons resulting in a generation of obesity, sexual maldevelopment, and mental illness. We have never been more socially, culturally, and politically sick in the modern world.
The continued development of technology will worsen the situation. It will certainly subject human beings to greater indignities and inflict greater damage on the natural world, it will lead to greater social disruption and psychological suffering, and it may lead to increased physical suffering even in "advanced" countries.
We attribute the social and psychological problems of modern society to the fact that that society requires people to live under conditions radically different from those under which the human race evolved and to behave in ways that conflict with the patterns of behavior that the human race developed while living under the earlier conditions.
Among the abnormal conditions present in modern industrial society are excessive density of population, isolation of man from nature, excessive rapidity of social change and the break-down of natural small-scale communities such as the extended family, the village or the tribe.
The difference, we argue, is that modern man has the sense (largely justified) that change is IMPOSED on him, whereas the 19th century frontiersman had the sense (also largely justified) that he created change himself, by his own choice. Thus a pioneer settled on a piece of land of his own choosing and made it into a farm through his own effort.
A human drive is the need for security. Our lives depend on decisions made by other people; we have no control over these decisions and usually we do not even know the people who make them.
Our lives depend on whether safety standards at a nuclear power plant are properly maintained; on how much pesticide is allowed to get into our food or how much pollution into our air.
Most individuals are not in a position to secure themselves against these threats to more [than] a very limited extent. The individual's search for security is therefore frustrated, which leads to a sense of powerlessness.
It is true that primitive man is powerless against some of the things that threaten him; disease for example. But he can accept the risk of disease stoically. It is part of the nature of things, it is no one's fault. But threats to the modern individual tend to be MAN-MADE. They are not the results of chance but are IMPOSED on him by other persons whose decisions he, as an individual, is unable to influence.
Freedom means having power; not the power to control other people but the power to control the circumstances of one's own life. One does not have freedom if anyone else (especially a large organization) has power over one, no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised. It is important not to confuse freedom with mere permissiveness.
As for our constitutional rights, consider for example that of freedom of the press. We certainly don't mean to knock that right: it is very important tool for limiting concentration of political power and for keeping those who do have political power in line by publicly exposing any misbehavior on their part. But freedom of the press is of very little use to the average citizen as an individual. The mass media are mostly under the control of large organizations that are integrated into the system. Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect.
In any technologically advanced society the individual's fate MUST depend on decisions that he personally cannot influence to any great extent. A technological society cannot be broken down into small, autonomous communities, because production depends on the cooperation of very large numbers of people. What usually happens in practice is that decisions are made by public officials or corporation executives, or by technical specialists. Thus most individuals are unable to influence measurably the major decisions that affect their lives.
Direct Calls to Action
We advocate a revolution against the industrial system. This revolution may or may not make use of violence: it may be sudden or it may be a relatively gradual process spanning a few decades. We can't predict any of that.
This is not to be a POLITICAL revolution. Its object will be to overthrow not governments but the economic and technological basis of the present society.
Modern man is strapped down by a network of rules and regulations, and his fate depends on the actions of persons remote from him whose decisions he cannot influence. This is not accidental or a result of the arbitrariness of arrogant bureaucrats. It is necessary and inevitable in any technologically advanced society. The system HAS TO regulate human behavior closely in order to function. At work, people have to do what they are told to do, otherwise production would be thrown into chaos. Bureaucracies HAVE TO be run according to rigid rules. To allow any substantial personal discretion to lower-level bureaucrats would disrupt the system and lead to charges of unfairness due to differences in the way individual bureaucrats exercised their discretion. It is true that some restrictions on our freedom could be eliminated, but GENERALLY SPEAKING the regulation of our lives by large organizations is necessary for the functioning of industrial-technological society. The result is a sense of powerlessness on the part of the average person.
The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system. This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity.
A technological advance that appears not to threaten freedom often turns out to threaten it very seriously later on. For example, consider motorized transport. A walking man formerly could go where he pleased, go at his own pace without observing any traffic regulations, and was independent of technological support-systems. When motor vehicles were introduced they appeared to increase man's freedom. They took no freedom away from the walking man, no one had to have an automobile if he didn't want one, and anyone who did choose to buy an automobile could travel much faster than the walking man. But the introduction of motorized transport soon changed society in such a way as to restrict greatly man's freedom of locomotion. When automobiles became numerous, it became necessary to regulate their use extensively. In a car, especially in densely populated areas, one cannot just go where one likes at one's own pace one's movement is governed by the flow of traffic and by various traffic laws. One is tied down by various obligations: license requirements, driver test, renewing registration, insurance, maintenance required for safety, monthly payments on purchase price. Moreover, the use of motorized transport is no longer optional. Since the introduction of motorized transport the arrangement of our cities has changed in such a way that the majority of people no longer live within walking distance of their place of employment, shopping areas and recreational opportunities, so that they HAVE TO depend on the automobile for transportation. Or else they must use public transportation, in which case they have even less control over their own movement than when driving a car. Even the walker's freedom is now greatly restricted. In the city he continually has to stop and wait for traffic lights that are designed mainly to serve auto traffic. In the country, motor traffic makes it dangerous and unpleasant to walk along the highway.
When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.
While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid long-distance communications . . . how could one argue against any of these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many advantages and no disadvantages. Yet as we explained, all these technical advances taken together have created a world in which the average man's fate is no longer in his own hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians, corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence.
Another reason why technology is such a powerful social force is that, within the context of a given society, technological progress marches in only one direction; it can never be reversed. Once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it. (Imagine what would happen to the system today if computers, for example, were eliminated.) Thus the system can move in only one direction, toward greater technologization. Technology repeatedly forces freedom to take a step back -- short of the overthrow of the whole technological system.
Note: The full text can be found online at: Industrial society and its future