A balancing impotence to technology

As our power over the natural world increases, so increases the fear and horror at masculinity and fighting spirit. Sure, warrior ethos is all well and good when we sent men out to the field with pikes, lances and perhaps even muskets, but as soon as we figure out how to make machine guns, mustard gas, high altitude bombers and nuclear weapons the warrior spirit seems to come at too high a cost. Civilization then directs its entire educational and cultural system toward the stamping out warrior masculinity: little boys must sit as silent and attentive as girls, they must be fitted with all manner of padding and protective gear to prove their fragility, they must be kept inside and away from kinetic activity, their schooling must be void of any of the Western classics (as these glorify war, fighting spirit, the sort of ideals that lead to conflict -like the value of the West). Boys cannot be allowed any sense of honor since this is just the sort of thing that leads to violence – and so they have to place no value on, among other things, their nation or feminine virginity.

We become not only horrified at masculinity but even our own power to decide, and so we long to outsource our decisions to Byzantine governmental structures, and perhaps even to machines.

Technology is a sort of exterior power, and we can only increase this power at the expense of certain sorts of interior power – spirit, self-determination, masculine thumos, honor, etc.. I prefer technology, as it’s all I’ve ever known, but it redraws the lines of the virtues in a way that other times would have found inhuman. For all that, the need for right reason in pleasure, difficulty, contingency and other persons still remains, though we don’t yet have a very good social sense of what this should look like.

1 Comment

  1. November 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Like other of your other recent posts, I find these brief thoughts intriguing. A few years back I took a graduate school course on “technology and power,” and it is fascinating how change in technical systems (technological orders) is frequently linked to political or ideological imperatives. “Risk management” was a recurring concept, with the idea that technopolitical systems seek to contain or displace risk by deploying technological fixes against man and nature, leading to a ruthless and at times destructive altruism. Modern political authority is a kind of exterior power, often linked to mechanistic ideologies. It’s kind of ironic in this respect that you link technology to the antimasculine spirit of modern civilization. In essence, we have handed all responsibility for violence we regard as necessary to our machines, political and literally mechanical, and trust in them to keep order. This, however, only creates new ideologies from which springs fresh will to violence in order to achieve utopian aims….

    Forgive me if I am incoherent.


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