I remember reading a couple of reviews about a documentary a while ago that depicted the everyday work within a nuclear power plant. The journalists praised the female director of this documentary for humorously portraying the male workers and their pathetic, albeit a little quirky, masculinity. The nuclear power plant itself was basically depicted as a dangerous plaything that only existed because men, as Nietzsche said, like danger and play. Unsurprisingly, the director then praised German chancellor Angela Merkel for her plan to shut down every single nuclear reactor by 2022.
Unfortunately, it cannot be said that alt-right et al. have a more rational view regarding technology and technological progress; with the future looking bleak, they romanticize the past instead. (It seems as if the only group left having a positive view on technology are a bunch of tumblr trannies with cyberpunk-fueled fantasies about implants and about having their brain transplanted into the “shell” of a young Scarlett Johansson.) Sure, not all of them go so far as to regularly quote Ted Kaczynski, but despite not agreeing about which period of the past they should romanticize the most (Sparta? Nazi Germany? The Bronze Age?), there seems to be an at least emotional consensus about technological progress having enabled women to go crazy. Without technology, their reasoning goes, females had to drop their stronk womyn act and instead rely on stronk men to protect them from spiders and bears.
Not even mentioning the more “libertarian” concerns about technology and surveillance now, one cannot help but think of Tibullus’ famous Tenth Elegy when being confronted with this pessimism in regards to the alleged consequences of technology: “Quis fuit, horrendos primus qui protulit enses? / Quam ferus et vere ferreus ille fuit! / Tum caedes hominum generi, tum proelia nata, / tum brevior dirae mortis aperta via est.” (“Who was he, who first forged the fearful sword? How iron-willed and truly made of iron he was! Then slaughter was created, war was born to men. then a quicker road was opened to dreaded death.”) Of course Tibullus quickly lets his poetic alter ego realize that we shouldn’t blame the inventor or the invention, and that war was not just born with the sword; and what Tibullus knew, Marx and Engels knew, either: “Every step forward in production is at the same time a step backwards in the position of the oppressed class, that is, of the great majority. Whatever benefits some necessarily injures the others; every fresh emancipation of one class is necessarily a new oppression for another class. The most striking proof of this is provided by the introduction of machinery, the effects of which are now known to the whole world.”
We do not have to become “Marxists” in order to know that if technological progress happens during the advancement of a struggling class, “its consequences are in most cases good”, e.g. they result in a higher life expectancy, better health care, clear drinking water, etc. If this progress happens during the downfall of this class and only comes into the hands of a ruling class that doesn’t have to face any resistance, its consequences will be mostly bad, e.g. result in surveillance, abolition of cash in favor of electronic money, fatherhood tests being made illegal, workers turning into parts of a machine (the most soul destroying probably the jackhammer), mass-immigration in countries that already suffer from unemployment being promoted, etc. Oscar Wilde put it best in his essay about The Soul of Man under Socialism: “All work of that kind (=that slaves had done before) should be done by a machine.” Leon Trotsky agreed: “The material premise of communism should be so high a development of the economic powers of man that productive labor, having ceased to be a burden, will not require any goad, and the distribution of life’s goods, existing in continual abundance, will not demand – as it does not now in any well-off family or ‘decent’ boarding-house – any control except that of education, habit and social opinion. Speaking frankly, I think it would be pretty dull-witted to consider such a really modest perspective ‘utopian.’” Nothing else is what Lenin summarized by saying that “Communism is Soviet power plus electrification of the whole country.” The Soviet power (Soviet meaning council) represented freedom (Marxism is a very cynical world view, but that’s another post…), but without electrification, back then synonym for an unbelievable ease of working conditions, freedom was illusory.
There are many good reasons to criticize Marxism (which I will do in later posts) and unlike South American Jesuits, I do not believe that Marxism is in any way compatible with Christianity. There are however, also bad reasons to criticize it and conspiratory things that are simply wrong. For instance, “orthodox” Marxism is not a moral enterprise, not a secularized Christianity. No priest ever said that Christianity is impossible without “electrification of the whole country” – but Communism without technology is. So don’t let us make the mistake Albius Tibullus warned us about more than 2000 years ago. It’s not the sword nor the inventor of the sword that is evil; it simply depends on in whose hand that sword is. If you are oppressed by a feminist, anti-Christian (but I repeat myself) ruling class, technology will be used for feminist and anti-Christian purposes. It is however not the technology that is the problem then but the evil ruling class…