Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Proper Method to Cast Your Ballot is to Wear Flowers in Your Hair, Arranged Ever So Perfectly

I was supposed to explore this a long time ago, but later is better than never I guess.

Here's a summary (courtesy Christ in You Ministries) of some of the philosophy of Jacques Ellul:

Ellul's thesis is that the natural man is incapable of seeing the spiritual reality in which he is struggling (cf. I Cor. 2;14). He only sees the surface issues of social, political and economic problems, and he attempts to work and find solutions with the methods of technique, and in accord with moral standards. The world of modern society is not capable of preserving itself or of finding remedies for its spiritual situation. The more so-called "progress" man makes, the more he is aware of the inadequacy of human solutions, which all fail, one after another, and only increase the difficulties in which he lives....

Ellul's primary explanation of how necessity determines and dominates contemporary society was to attribute such to the methodology of "technique." He...notes that had Karl Marx understood this sociological factor, he would have posited "technique" as the thrust of his social dialecticism rather than material inequities....

Ellul's issue was...with a society necessarily caught up in efficient methodological techniques. Technology, then, is but an expression and by-product of the underlying reliance on technique, on the proceduralization whereby everything is organized and managed to function most efficiently, and directed toward the most expedient end of the highest productivity. Ellul's own comprehensive definition is found in the preface of The Technological Society: "Technique is the totality of methods, rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity."

According to Ellul, technique necessarily came into play at the Fall of man into sin....The industrialized technical employment of technique became a monster in the urbanized and technological society of the twentieth (20th) century, "the stake of the century" as Ellul termed it. Technique became the defining force, the ultimate value, of a new social order in which efficiency was no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity. Technique became universally totalitarian in modern society as rationalistic proceduralism imposed an artificial value system of measuring and organizing everything quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Like cancer in a living organism, the systematization of technique pervades every cell of our modern technical and technological society.

The subtle illusion of this invasive methodology of technique is that people view technology as the liberator of mankind, the operational instrument that sets them free from natural function. Quite the contrary, says Ellul, "technique enslaves people, while proffering them the mere illusion of freedom, all the while tyrannically conforming them to the demands of the technological society with its complex of artificial operational objectives."

However, when I heard Charles Colson referencing Jacques Ellul on the radio, Colson was not discussing technology, but politics:

Have we finally succumbed to what Jacques Ellul, the eccentric French Reformed thinker, prophesied in the 1960s—the politicization of all aspects of life? Ellul foresaw the Information Age and the media's need for a steady flow of information to feed the populace. Media would therefore gravitate to covering centers of power. Politicians would be willing accomplices, because they'd gain fame and clout. All of this has happened, creating what Ellul's prophetic book, The Political Illusion, predicted: the idea that every problem has a political solution. This, he warned, leads to increasing dependence on the state by ordinary citizens and decreasing citizen control of government.

[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

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