I have asked myself “What is a machine?” And hit a blank wall. We don’t know what this is – even though we know one, instantly, when we see one. That is, whenever we see power in action. And we immediately want to be part of that action.
I have just defined The Machine by describing its effect on us. I don’t have to define Power, because we know instinctively what that is – and even know some of its dangers.
We know it is dangerous stuff, and should be handled carefully. This was obvious to the early Christians – and they went out of their way to avoid it. For them, being Pure was more important than being Rich.
In our time, however, the two have become confused, and our thinking has become muddled. Quite to our satisfaction. We like to think we can be Powerful and Ethical at the same time – easily. When this is certainly not the case.
I will take America as an example – since I am an American, even though I now live in Costa Rica.
Americans were thrilled when they became powerful late in the 19th Century, when they became a colonial power – with the acquisition of the Philippines from Spain. This was morally indefensible – and even militarily indefensible. But military Power translated easily into Economic Power – and the decline in Ethical Power was not noticed.
Americans no longer think of Ethical Power at all – and assume that it doesn’t even exist! I see the results of this all the time – with products and services that don’t work – and companies that don’t care – if they don’t work! I just put two new digital cameras in the trash this week.
On the other hand, ethical behavior is common in software development. Software companies are not, as a rule – but software developers have to be. Their success depends on other developers using their code and services – for free!
This has made the US the leader in Software Development. I am now learning the Microsoft .NET software platform that anyone can use. This benefits Microsoft, obviously – but everyone else also. It’s a win-win situation.
This is something new in the world – the realization that everyone can benefit from this kind of development!
In fact, I am taking a MOOC on this now – OxfordX: OXBSG01x From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development