Mander (1991). The Importance Of The Negative View. (In the absence of the sacred.)

Mander, J. (1991). The Importance Of The Negative View. In In the absence of the sacred: The failure of technology and the survival of the Indian Nations. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

“Then Santa Fe psychologist and author Chellis Glendinning threw down the gauntlet in a 1990 Utne Reader article titled ‘Notes toward a Neo-Luddite Manifesto’:

“‘Neo-Luddites are twentieth-century citizens who question the predominant modern worldview, which preaches that unbridled tech- [page break] nology represents progress. Neo-Luddites have the courage to gaze at the full catastrophe of our century …. Western societies are out of control and desecrating the fragile fabric of life on Earth. Like the early Luddites, we too are seeking to protect the livelihoods, communities, and families we love …. Stopping the destruction requires not just regulating or eliminating individual items like pesticides or military weapons. It requires new ways of thinking about humanity and new ways of relating to life. It requires a new world view.'” (p 37-38)

“Meanwhile, industry, the media, and the government were all repeating the mantra that technology serves progress and that progress equals more technology.” (p 39)

“Saying no to a technology, _any_ technology, was (and still is) beyond us. Virtually unthinkable. It does not even occur to most of us that we have the right or ability to turn back a whole technology. No precedent and no support exists for it in our culture.” (p 41)

“As it is now, our spectrum of choice is limited to mere acceptance. The real decisions about technological introduction are made by only one seg1nent of society: the corpo- [page break] rate, based strictly on considerations of profit. This is clearly antithetical to the democratic process.” (p 41-42)

“Does a new technology concentrate power or equal- [page break] ize it?” (p 42-43)

“Of all the ideas generated at that meeting, the one that has stayed with me most powerfully was spoken by David Brower, then chairman of Friends of the Earth. ‘All technologies,’ he said, ‘should be assumed guilty until proven innocent.'” (p 43)

“The telephone system will foster national integration … [and] will reduce regional dialect differences.” (p 46)

“In his book _Technology and Social Shock_, Edward W. Lawless collects 100 cases from the 1950s to the 1970s in which a new technology produced an environmental, genetic, or public health disaster.” (p 47)

“Lawless also criticizes the media for being reactive and for failing to provide the public with adequate information prior to the introduction of [page break] a new technology. Like government agencies, Lawless says, the media tend to get involved only when a disaster is imminent or in progress. In addition, he says, the media tends ‘to overdo the bizarre or the scare aspects at the beginning of a case and seldom follows through to summarize adequately the resolution of an issue.'” (p 47-48)

“But while blaming government and the media, Lawless does not mention the corporations that have the most knowledge of technology’s impacts, and often act to suppress the information that will reveal negative possibilities.” (p 48)

“1. Since most of what we are told about new technology comes from its proponents, be deeply skeptical of all claims.

“2. Assume all technology ‘guilty until proven innocent.’

“3. Eschew the idea that technology is neutral or ‘value free.’ Every technology has _inherent and identifiable_ social, political, and environmental consequences.” (p 49)

“5. Never judge a technology by the way it benefits you personally. Seek a holistic view of its impacts. The operative question is not whether it benefits you, but who benefits most? And to what end?” (p 49)

“7. Make distinctions between technologies that primarily serve the individual or the small community (e.g., solar energy) and those that op- [page break] erate on a scale outside of community control (e.g., nuclear energy).” (p 49-50)

“8. When it is argued that the benefits of the technological lifeway are worthwhile despite harmful outcomes, recall that Lewis Mumford referred to these alleged benefits as ‘bribery.'” (p 50)

“9. Do not accept the homily that ‘once the genie is out of the bottle you cannot put it back,’ or that rejecting a technology is impossible. Such attitudes induce passivity and confirm victimization.” (p 50)

Selected References

  • Glendinning, C. (1990). Notes toward a neo-Luddite manifesto. Utne Reader, 38(1), 50–53.
  • Lawless, E. W. (1977). Technology and Social Shock. Rutgers University Press.
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