I am a firm believer that historical events must be considered as complexes of events.
Newtonian Physics accustomed us to thinking in simple terms of cause and effect – and this became a religious obsession. It takes no genius to see that the world is not so simple – but whenever I write about this, I get comments proclaiming the contrary, at great length. The world is basically simple (in moral terms), they say.
As I have said before, mass production produced mass man. I now want to elaborate on that.
The Greeks had a factory system, using slaves, to produce the Amphora (dated to around 4800 BCE) used to transport liquid commodities in the Mediterranean. But this technology did not take off until much later, about the time of the Industrial Revolution.
By then it had become a complex, consisting of the following:
- The Sailing Ship, that made world-wide trading possible. This in turn supported many industries for building, maintaining, and most importantly – manning them. The ships were mass-produced according to standard patterns and the sailors were mass-produced also. Their families did not live well, they barely subsisted – but that was enough for them to reproduce and create a population boom of ignorant people.
- Banking, providing the capital for many of these trading ventures. This is where capitalism got its start.
- Joint-stock companies, which also provided capital, but in a form (stocks) anyone could invest in. This made fraud hard to resist.
- Mass markets, where commodities could be traded (and speculated in). This allowed everyone to know the price of anything. This also applied to slaves – and to the labor market (for sailors, for example), where people became commodities.
The effect on people was the most important, and had side-effects no one anticipated. People were no longer interested in the common good, or in virtue – but only in quick money they could spend on luxury consumer goods.
They became labeled, in the 1930s: mass man - and this is what made Fascism possible. And added one more bullet-item:
- Mass media
The revolution that produced television and then the computer/software/internet/wireless (a complex in it itself) has produced a new breed of man we cannot understand, and may never understand – because they are against understanding, and everything else too.
A state I call negative being.