We have built the wrong world!
The general picture of technology is wrong, that’s for sure. Thus we think of any idea of a future which diverts from the current ever-expanding concrete, smoky megalopolis as a step backwards to some kind of pre-1800 rustic mire of dirty bodies and bland lives. Technology is natural! Any technological advances are a basic outcome of any human collective. The human brain is technology (in an evolutionary, not intelligent design sense that is). Thus it’s instinct is to make better use of things in the immediate environment to better its chances.
However, although during the last 200 years the never-see-before rapid advances in technology have happened simultaneously as the rapid urbanisation of the human race, as they moved to the ever-growing concrete landscapes, it is not technology itself which has deigned this type of world; it is an outcome which is particular to the system we have chosen. We have built the wrong world!
The majority of environmentalists know this also (although they still rightfully try to educate about the needless overuse of technology, as a consumerist-based society causes a needless exhaustion of resources – needless except as a, so far, unrivaled method of control for the ruling class to pacify the masses) yet the prevailing outside appearance of environmentalism is of smelly “hippies” who’d rather live in mud huts miles away from civilisation.
Although I feel that Slavoj Žižek may having wrongly presumed that most environmentalists want rid of our highly technologicalised world (although, never daring to question the reasoning of someone with a far greater intellect to my own, Žižek’s point here might not be to awaken environmentalists from a dreamy nostalgia of a past humanity at one with nature, but to try to re-educate the masses on their perception of what it might mean to be an environmentalist), he is right when he says we should live ever-more in technology instead of retreating from it, as we look for a solution to looming climatic catastrophe. By this he doesn’t mean that we should spend ever-more time resuming current trends such as socialising via social networking sites, buying more and more prepackaged goods, as these are technological advances specific to late capitalism and Žižek argues in favour of communism. He means that technology will be vital for survival; a planet of 7 billion humans retreats from it at its peril.
Nevertheless, those who put their entire faith behind technology without challenging power (a point well made by writer and activist George Monbiot on televised channel 4 debate on climate change) promote an equally dangerous idea as those who want to humanity to turn its back on the technological advances it has made. If power is not challenged – and not just challenged but eradicated in its current form, given the vampire-like capability of capitalism to suck the strength from any hopes and progressive movements and turn them into its own – then the technological advances capable of saving us from the deadly threats to all of us, waiting in the 21st century, will not be equally spread in anyway whatsoever, and the current methods of control which are so utterly destructive will simply continue to exhaust and crumble the planet.
The philosophy of Europe/The West of yesteryear has been imperially spread to build the wrong world. It must be the wrong one seen as, what seems to be the majority of us from the industrialised nations are attempting to immerse ourselves in the practices of other philosophies in attempts to cleanse ourselves of the stress and fear that living under the current system entails.
The popularity of Zen and Yoga is perhaps the best example of this, but even the infamous GAP year, mainly undertaken by middle-class young adults, references a discontent with this system, even as many generate a false positivism which attempts to convey that this isn’t the case; experiencing ‘different cultures’ and ‘different ways of living’, no matter to what extent they are now merely facades/veneers under which the western philosophy now prevails, before ‘settling down’ into the repetitive ‘grind-down’ of urban/suburban living. But this is usually the resort of a middle-class ‘smiley/happy’ clan who pretend to be living differently/experiencing what makes ‘life worth living’ whilst resuming a lifestyle which is the opposite of this. The rest of us just blast our bodies with alcohol or other intoxicating substances to make the western way of living a little more bearable.
It is true that a common complaint is that “technology is wearing us down”. But it is the way in which technology is delivered to us that wears us down. All the technology around us is shaped and moulded by late capitalism, from the news we receive to the cheaply produced mp3 player we throw away after 6 months because the buttons no longer work. Modern communication is blended with commercialisation – a theme greatly touched on by the anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters, which has greatly informed me over the past 3 years. There was a time not too long ago when it was very obvious that technology was making our lives better and taking humanity to further stages of advancement. This is not obvious any longer; expeditions to the moon now seem to have just been a competition between the capitalist west and the Soviet Union to see who was the best, like two school kids who somehow managed to get hold of half the world. The Capitalist west won, and whether it was fairly or unfairly achieved is irrelevant, because version 2.0 of the system has convinced the world that there is no alternative to it. This model of capitalism – Neoliberalism – is based on global free trade, a commercialisation which leaves nothing out, not public services, not information, not communication, nothing is safe from the market. Some people – people who must be so insensitive to what’s happening around them, they must have skin tougher than a Komodo Dragon’s – may have no objections to this. But I look around and I see a mess.
Thus, under this system, even if solutions to the energy crisis are discovered etc, technology will only serve to hasten the destruction that this system – often described as a dead entity which feeds off the living and gives nothing back to it in return – has be reaping on the planet with increasing rapidity for the past 250 years. Capitalism has to die, it’s gone on too long and its killing us and the planet (and god knows how many times I have written this before, but it’s worth saying over and over again). Technology would not die from the result of an emancipation form the power of the capitalism, perhaps it may actually go back to helping us out again