Industrial Society and its Future
INDUSTRIAL-TECHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY CANNOT BE REFORMED
111. The foregoing principles help to show how hopelessly difficult it would be to reform the industrial system in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing our sphere of freedom. There has been a consistent tendency, going back at least to the Industrial Revolution for technology to strengthen the system at a high cost in individual freedom and local autonomy. Hence any change designed to protect freedom from technology would be contrary to a fundamental trend in the development of our society. ✲1
Consequently, such a change either would be a transitory one — soon swamped by the tide of history — or, if large enough to be permanent would alter the nature of our whole society. This by the first and second principles. Moreover, since society would be altered in a way that could not be predicted in advance (third principle) there would be great risk. Changes large enough to make a lasting difference in favor of freedom would not be initiated because it would realized that they would gravely disrupt the system. So any attempts at reform would be too timid to be effective. Even if changes large enough to make a lasting difference were initiated, they would be retracted when their disruptive effects became apparent. Thus, permanent changes in favor of freedom could be brought about only by persons prepared to accept radical, dangerous and unpredictable alteration of the entire system. In other words, by revolutionaries, not reformers.
112. People anxious to rescue freedom without sacrificing the supposed benefits of technology will suggest naive schemes for some new form of society that would reconcile freedom with technology. Apart from the fact that people who make suggestions seldom propose any practical means by which the new form of society could be set up in the first place, it follows from the fourth principle that even if the new form of society could be once established, it either would collapse or would give results very different from those expected.
113. So even on very general grounds it seems highly improbably that any way of changing society could be found that would reconcile freedom with modern technology. In the next few sections we will give more specific reasons for concluding that freedom and technological progress are incompatible. ✲2
(2) The author's idea of freedom in society is not one that we'll all agree to desire, nor is it clearly specified. Living without Big Brothers may seem appealing, but without more detail about such society it's hard to say.
(3)The big risk cited in ¶112 for a new society is not necessarily unacceptable.
(4) The author's view that technology and “free” society cannot coexist is questionable. Although he makes many remarkale observations, but i'm not sure most elite will come to the same conclusion as he.