Sunday, 7 February 2016

THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOCRACY: HEIDEGGER AND THE RISE OF THE ROBOTS



Early in Martin Heidegger’s essay The Question Concerning Technology (actually a revised lecture), the author points out that to question technology as though that questioning itself was a technological exercise may betray the original sense of the word which funds technology, technique, technicality and others. This is not the place for detailed analysis of Heidegger, except to say that there is a distinct attitude throughout the essay that we have too much technology, are over-technologised. We will return to this.

Heidegger traces the word ‘technology’ (German; technologie) back to its Ancient Greek root; technē (τέχνη). The scope of the term for the Greeks was far broader than the rather narrow sense of scientistic manipulation of the external world we find in the modern term ‘technology’;

‘[T]echnē is the name not only for the activities of the craftsman but also for the arts of the mind and the fine arts. Technē belongs to bringing-forth, to poiēsis; it is something poetic.’

Technē is a far broader concept than the post-Enlightenment work the West has put it to. It includes within its horizon the broad, experienced, capable ethos of the famous Renaissance Man. We will not follow Heidegger further down the path he wishes to take; that is for another day. We note merely that technē is a powerful concept for Heidegger;

‘From earliest times until Plato the word technē is linked with the world episteme. Both words are terms for knowing in the widest sense.’

Technology, technique, technicality. For us, at this remove from Plato and on the other side of the Enlightenment, these words summon up the ability to create and maintain, to master the world by the application of scientific reason wedded with the apparatus of production. The words imply precision, science, measurement. They bring us into the world of the engineer. But what concerns us is not the literal engineer, the man of engines, but a more recent class of engineers, those who treat the political, cultural, social and media spheres as though they were machinery. These are the elites, the gauleiters, those men and – increasingly – women who have made a category mistake, who now believe that the affairs of people and nations can be manipulated, maintained and repaired in the same way as machines can, and using the same engineering skills. These are the technocrats.

The idea that citizens can and should have their lives run by an expert elite is not new. It could even be said to be the model of most societies history has so far produced. But what if the ruling elite had the wrong idea about what the technocratic approach is or ought to be? What if it had failed to heed Heidegger’s warning in The Question Concerning Technology? What if their attempts to maintain and engineer the people of the West were based on poor choices, incorrect working models, and a misunderstanding of, perhaps, a wise Greek word whose reputation needs rebuilding? What if the elites, the wisest of the tribe, have made a mistake? Or, worse, what if they have made no mistakes. What if their overall plan is going well…

Technocrats are defined by their adherence to the mechanical model. Again, the prevalence of this model and its presence everywhere in Western culture are a subject for fuller consideration, particularly with the possibility of the organic as a model to use in opposition to the tyranny of the mechanical, the leadership of the engineers. Stalin was nick-named ‘the engineer of human souls’.

Technocrats solve problems. They never pre-empt them and make politics, as Enoch Powell suggested, the provision of an end to preventable evils. Firstly, they cannot and would not know where to begin. Secondly, without the low-level rumble of ongoing ‘problems’, little mirages of apparent importance actually without worth and intended simply to distract and take valuable media time, their inabilities would be exposed. No, technocrats are the people you go to when there are problems to fix, and they know all about the problems, having caused them to begin with. So the technocrat has a goal; the answer.

The answer to a problem faced by a modern technocratic elite has a definable structure. The elites are often criticised for being thinkers and not doers, but they do act in the face of the crises they bring on themselves, even if their actions are deliberately designed to partially solve the current crisis whiloe creating various sub-crises to move onto in synchronisation with the press cycle.

And there are various structural elements, in the proper sense of ‘structural’, not the faddish version, to the workplace of the technocrats. The problems favoured by the elites have the following characteristics:

The problem will be self-imposed and sustainable. The European migrant problem is the most obvious current example. Government creates a dysfunctional situation the management of which will require more government. This management will be deliberate mismanagement, and this will create a new series of problems to be solved. It is a perpetual-motion machine. For now, at least.

The problem can be solved by the technocratic elite, and only by them. The only opinions required from those outside the elites are those which have been pre-approved and put into place via the media. The impossibility of anti-elite commentary, except from the marginalised, and the promotion of intolerance towards untrammelled free speech are also essential components for the problem-solving to continue its damaged course and decaying orbit. Also, the elites are able to boost their Progressivist and multicultural agenda by including, or appearing to include, minorities in their solving of the problem.

The problem must, ultimately, be synched with a Progressivist cause. So the mass migration into Europe is caused by poverty, climate change, white colonialism, never by poor governance, or a failure of Islam. This setting into place of the problem with the necessity of a firm adherence to various hallowed causes allows later options for attacking opponents of the solution to the problem, to which we now turn.

The solution to the problem will require new bureaucracy. This helps in the creation of unnecessary jobs, jobs a truly competitive arena would not sustain, jobs essential for maintaining the grip of the elites. Paying for these valueless posts also enables taxes to be kept artificially high to pay for an ever-expanding public sector, along with the generous pension arrangements put in place long ago, when there was money around. The money extorted also, of course, supports the political class, their lifestyles and their subsidies, expenses and perks.

Anyone opposing the solution to the problem – particularly those in the mainstream media – is to be placed in the pariah class, the control of which runs from insults and smears to potentially career-ending accusations of racism, sexism or homophobia. The media, in particular, must provide a lot of information, positively presented with a little permitted dissent for the sake of verisimilitude, and make sure that this information is both plentiful and constantly repeated. Media is all about time and space, and the elites wish to micro-manage both by deciding the ‘news’ agenda. Everyone must be onside. Technocrats cannot abide dissent any more than the mechanic can abide grit in her engine.

Finally, the solution to the problem should, ideally, be mismanaged to the extent that a supplementary problem will take its place. Flooding in Britain is an example of how the mismanagement of water in a famously wet country can be allowed to flood great, populated, ‘First World’ plains.

In the end, there are only two alternative endgames for the current technocratic elite. Either they have failed, and their incompetence has created a series of overlapping situations which will decimate and possibly destroy the Western world. Or, they have succeeded so far and there is to be more of the same. The possibility remains that the governments of the Western world are not incompetent; this is simply what competence manifests itself as to their understanding of what it is and should be to be human.

Is it possible that these Midwich Cuckoos, these Enlightenment freaks, are mentally unstable? The psychopathology of the Left is a topic for another day. Here, we merely note the possibility of the quasi-autistic nature of the Western ruling elites, their oddness, their unfittingness to be considered fully human, their sociopathic lack of compassion for people outside their favoured class. The elites of Europe may not be in the rudest of mental health, but it does not necessarily help the victim to diagnose his assailant as he is being beaten.

Something is beginning to become clear. Where we have criticised and ridiculed technocracy, perhaps applause would be more in order. Our assumption was that the elites wanted the best for people, but were just going about it in an immature and overly-idealist way. But what if the escalating crises worldwide – crises which may soon link arms – what if these crises were all put in place precisely to wage war against the people, the great bane of the lives of the technocrats? We recall those science fiction films in which the robots rise up and attack humans. What if they were there along, only they didn’t look like robots, but instead looked exactly like people?

 

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