Viewpoints on technology and society (Part Three)
By Mark Wegierski
The author had looked at "pre-technological" and "non-technological" outlooks in Part One; and "very optimistic" and "rather optimistic" approaches to technology in Part Two -- generally divided into "right"/"center"/"left" (R-C-L) modes. It is important to note that a person's explicitly-held ideology is not all-determining for their outlook on technological and ecological matters.
Technology as Generally "Bad" But Possibly Amenable to Human Control: (Rather Pessimistic)
R: Pessimistic variant of "postmodern" Right -- have little hope for the future, but continue their efforts nonetheless in the belief that something can be salvaged -- believe somewhat more in eternal recurrence, than in "negative teleology" (seriously question indeterminism) -- see technology, liberalism, Left-liberalism, and late capitalism as intertwined "late modern" system destructive of all genuine cultural particularities and human identities;
C: Very pessimistic liberals (they have to be extremely pessimistic to fit in this category, as liberalism is generally optimistic) -- have little hope for the future, but continue their efforts nonetheless (do not generally believe that most problems can be solved) -- wavering between teleology and "negative teleology" -- generally believe technology to be "fascistic," or tending to release irrational impulses or greed (as in consumerism);
L-Neo-Marxist: Technology generally seen as "fascistic"; giving up hope in classless, truly egalitarian society -- "everywhere they are in chains" -- wavering between teleology and "negative teleology";
Technology as Invariably "Bad" and Virtually Unamenable to Human Control: (Very Pessimistic)
R: Heidegger (especially in his later thought) sees technology as leading almost invariably to the dystopia of "the universal, homogenous world-state" (in Jacques Ellul's and George Parkin Grant's phrase), eliminating cultural particularities and all genuine human identities; escape by humankind from technology, or reconciliation of humankind and technology is all but impossible -- "negative teleology" of technological advance -- conservative response: existentialism -- "tend your own garden" -- look after "the little things" (i.e., particularities).
No Center position because no liberals can be this radical and pessimistic.
L-Radical Ecology: Technology invariably seen as "fascistic"; desire to return to simpler and more natural existence; commune-movements; deep-ecology; environmentalism; "green" trends; very radical -- all life on Earth is probably doomed unless the so-called "human infestation" or "cancer of humanity" or "human virus" radically changes its destructive ways -- some would advocate extreme interventions to reduce human population and consumption-habits -- strongly "anti-speciesist" -- human life is not considered inherently more valuable than that of any other species -- "negative teleology" of technological advance – sometimes carry out a radical response, so-called "direct action" (called "ecoterrorism" by their opponents).
Various viewpoints on technology and society have been laid out in this three part series, across multifarious ideological dimensions. The "question concerning technology" is indeed a highly complex one.
Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.