Over the years I've been reading many different view points concerning technology. The other day I ran across a clear and concise definition and view of technology by Derrick Jensen over at the Derrick Jensen Discussion Forum. Once again, It's given me a lot to think about!
Here is the post:
I was just fantasizing about being interviewed by Stephen Colbert (I'm not starting a rumor that I'm going to be on there: I was just fantasizing) and I came up with a couple of articulations I think are really good.
"He" was asking, "Won't technology save us?"
I've been asked this a thousand times, and I'm happier now with what came to me today:
Technology by definition leverages power. That's its purpose. I'm all for leveraging power in both large and small ways whenever appropriate, but we have to ask: Who already has more power to leverage? Who controls this technology, these tools for leveraging power? Who _develops_ these technologies, these tools for leveraging power?
Of course this is old news, especially to anyone who's read In The Absence of the Sacred, etc. But I get it to a deeper level than I've understood it before.
And then later in the "interview," "he" asked "Who cares if salmon go extinct? Who cares if the oceans die?"
And I was thinking about what Lundy Bancroft says in Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men about this. I quote it in Endgame:
“It is also impossible to persuade an abusive man to change by convincing him that he would benefit, because he perceives the benefits of controlling his partner as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many men initially take steps to change their abusive behavior but then return to their old ways. There is another reason why appealing to his self-interest doesn’t work. The abusive man’s belief that his own needs should come ahead of his partner’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when anyone, including therapists, tells an abusive man that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.”
Let’s once again explicitly make the connection to the larger scale. It is impossible to persuade the civilized to change by convincing them that they would benefit and simultaneously allowing them to remain within the framework and reward system of civilization, because the civilized perceive the benefits of controlling those around them (including humans and nonhumans; including the land, air, water; including genetic structures; including molecular structures) as vastly outweighing the losses. This is part of why so many of the civilized initially take steps—or at least mouth rhetoric and pretend to take steps—to change their abusive behavior but then return to their exploitative ways. There is another reason why appealing to the self-interest of the civilized doesn’t work (apart from the fact that the entire economic system, indeed all of civilization, is based on this limited and unsustainable sense of self which leads people to believe it’s in one’s self-interest to exploit others, indeed, which causes it to be, within this limited sense of self, actually in one’s self-interest to exploit others): the belief of the civilized that their own needs should come ahead of the landbase’s is at the core of the problem. Therefore when people, including activists, tell a civilized person—for example, a CEO or politician—that he should change because that’s what’s best for him, they are inadvertently feeding his selfish focus on himself: You cannot simultaneously contribute to a problem and solve it.
So I was thinking about that and came up with an answer that I think gets to the point. If someone asks, "Why should I care about whether salmon live or die?" an appropriate response is, "Why should I care whether you live or die?"
If someone is in Nazi Germany and doesn't care whether Jews, Slavs, etc live or die, then I see no reason why someone in the resistance should care whether that German lives or dies. If someone is an 1830s US and doesn't care (except for economic reasons) whether a slave lives or dies, I see no reason why someone who cares about people who've been enslaved should care whether that slave supporter lives or dies.
It seems pretty clear.
In some ways it's David Ehrenfeld's question, of when you make some impassioned defense of some creature and someone says "What good is it?" to ask "Well, what good are you?" It is the same question pushed out a little bit.