The Price of Progress
Progress has made far more demands on us than it has ever given us. I am not a Luddite, demanding the abolition of Progress – but an old man, surveying the wreckage of his life and that of his people – wishing it could have been better – that we could have been more careful in our headlong rush to the future – where we gave everything and got little in return.
I can remember America in the Fifties where prosperity was taken for granted. But instead of keeping this, we threw it away for nothing. And we were helpless to do otherwise. Forces we had not the slightest knowledge of were in control instead. Including the blind belief in Progress.
We though this would make us all-powerful – when all it did was drain us of our power - literally, by wasting all our oil – and building more and more cars that ended up in in our junkyards.
In retrospect, we can see how this happened – and how we were powerless to stop it, because of our infatuation with the Automobile. We had to keep having bigger and better ones – after all, that was Progress! We could not look at this rationally, and analyze how much the Automobile was costing us – and what we were getting from it. Instead, we rushed on, never thinking of where we were going.
All this was largely covered up by the Cold War – an overriding preoccupation that ended up destroying America instead. This too, was considered Progress!
In summary – Progress became destructive, the opposite of what it was supposed to be – and no one noticed. This was the most amazing thing of all – nobody noticed!
The reason for this, it seems to me, is so simple it is unbelievable – people no longer existed, as people! We have no words to express what we have become – but we can clearly see what we have become everywhere in America – and more and more all over the world.
We can see this, but this perception leaves us speechless. Our minds – the language-based part of our minds, that is – is powerless to comprehend this. Even though the rest of our minds (the right-brain) can see it easily. This has been covered, quite well, in The Master and his Emissary - which I probably should read again.
But as I recall, Iain McGilchrist does not describe the impact of Technology as well as Lewis Mumford does in his books. And even he does not cover the impact of Television as well as Neil Postman. Who does not understand the impact of the Computer at all.
At one stroke, the Computer has dragged us out of Industrialization into something we do not understand in the least – but do have a word for – Globalization. Which is nothing but shorthand for total disaster. Industry did provide employment, but the Computer needs few people – and then only very specialized ones.
Naturally, we do not want to see this – and therefore do not.