The System is in Control
I am obsessed with trying to understand the world – which seems to most a strange obsession. I could even put it stronger than that – they think thinking about it distasteful, and obscene. And perhaps they are right – what is running the world is distasteful and obscene. And should therefore be ignored, as any other disgusting thing. Why make yourself dirty by thinking about it?
If I were being logical, I would now try to define just what I mean by The System. But this would be a waste of time. Anyone who is part of the affluent world knows what I mean. Any everyone not so blessed will soon find out.
Other thinkers, such as Lewis Mumford, have spoken of the Machine – which was a good start. More recently, with the advent of the Internet, we have been forced to think of The Network. Which is more or less they same as The System – but a network is not usually thought of as including the people in it.
The System does include the people in it – in a very strange kind of way. This strange connection is what I want to explore. How do we fit in here? Do we fit in at all?
The Big Break – for American society, and indeed much of the world – was WWII. The next fifty years would produce a society far different from than any before it. I lived through this transition – but, like everyone else, had no idea what was going on right under my nose. We were under the control of something else, and we moved according to its demands. And ended up in a very strange place – now.
We have no idea where we are – but, strangely enough, we think we know – and we think know everything. A very strange situation. And a very dangerous one, since we are under the control of forces we do not understand in the least.
Where did these forces come from? From the impact of powerful new technologies on us. I say technologies (in the plural) because there were more than one, and they occurred in different overlapping periods.
The most important was probably the evolution of Mass Communications – the Movies, the Radio, and Television. The second was the evolution of Rapid Transportation – the automobile and the airplane. Both involved greater speed - something people cannot resist.
This was capped by the latest – The Computer, whose impact we cannot begin to imagine. For two reasons – because nothing like it has happened before, and because our powers of analysis have been badly depleted.
The overall result? The System is in control. And we have only the vaguest idea what it is. But we can safely assume it is not Us.