Franklin (2004). Chapter 4 (The Real World Of Technology).

Franklin, U. M. (2004). Chapter 4. In The Real World Of Technology (Revised edition). Toronto: House of Anansi Press.

“Prescriptive technologies are a seed-bed for a culture of compliance.” (p 70)

“… since the time of the Industrial Revolution public planning and public resources have provided the infrastructures necessary for the expansion of new technologies and for the diffusion and use of the products of the new industries. This development forged increasingly close linkages between governments and technological growth and development. … The planning processes which have fostered the development and spread of technology have provided infrastructures that we now consider as a given, normal, and unquestionable part of the real world.” (p 71)

“All these infrastructures could have been designed differently if the first design priority had been human development rather than technological development.1” (p 71)

“Many technological systems, when examined for context and overall design, are basically anti-people. … [page break] … When students are seen as not sufficiently competent, it is likely to be computers that the school purchases rather than extra teacher’s time and extra human help. And when security agencies in this country feel that Canadian citizens harbour thoughts and might contemplate actions that the state doesn’t like, they don’t invite these citizens to discuss their grievances or alternate thoughts openly and on a basis of equality. Instead, telephones are tapped or files are assembled by purely technological means.” (p 71-72)

“Now, among all the infrastructures that port specific technologies and their industries, the infrastructures that support the preparations for war and violence are very powerful and deeply entrenched.” (p 72)

“… there is what Anatol Rapoport, former chair of the University of Toronto’s peace studies program, calls the ‘technological imperative.’4 In simple terms, it says that whatever can be done by technological means, will be done. The military environment, unconstrained by economic considerations or common sense, offers a particularly tempting field of opportunity for the practitioners of advanced technology.” (p 73)

“My second point is that once a country has embarked on developing an arms production system, it falls upon the government to provide the wherewithal over a long period of time. The development of a weapons system, from design to deployment, may take ten years or more. To keep such technological activities going, public funds have to be committed and expended. To keep the public funds flowing, justifications are needed. And this generates _the need for a credible long-term enemy_.” (p 74)

“… the enemy does not have to be the government or citizenry of a foreign state. There is lots of scope — as well as [page break] historical precedent — for seeking the enemy within.” (p 74-75)

“… planning becomes prophecy …” (p 76)

“_Military_ service from citizens is no longer a prerequisite for war. What is a prerequisite is the compulsory _financial_ service of all citizens, well before any military exchange begins.” (p 77)

“Planning protocols for prescriptive activities, whether they’re industrial, administrative, or educational, can be transferred from one application to another without regard to context.” (p 81)

“The environment in which we live is much more structured for the well-being of technology. It is a manufactured and artificially constructed environment, not what one might call a natural environment. While our surroundings may be a milieu conducive to production, they are much less a milieu conducive to growth.” (p 84)

“It seems such an egocentric and technocentric approach to consider everything in the world with reference to ourselves. Environment essentially means what is [page break] around us, with the emphasis on _us_. It’s _our_ environment, not the environment or the habitat of fish, bird, or tree.” (p 84-85)

“People are but one part of nature. This recognition is inconsistent with speaking about ‘our’ natural environment, which somehow puts nature into the role of an infrastructure, into the role of something that is there to accommodate us, to facilitate or be part of our lives, subject to our planning. Such a mindset makes nature into a construct rather than seeing nature as a force or entity with its own dynamics.9” (p 85)

Selected References

  • 1. E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful; Economics as if People Mattered (New York: Harper & Row, 1973); George McRobie, Small Is Possible (London: Jonathan Cape, 1981); Hazel Henderson, Creating Alternative Futures (New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1978).
  • 4. Anatol Rapoport, “The technological imperative,” in Man Environment Systems 16:2/3, 1986.
  • 9. Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980); Barry Commoner, The Closing Circle (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971).
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