Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Marcuse and Morozov: 'One-dimensionality' and 'Technological Solutionism'
Evgeny Morozov is an author who just published his new book "To Save Everything-- The Folly of Technological Solutionism". Morozov is highly opinionated, he pushes arguments to the extreme, and he is probably to many both offensive and plainly 'loud'. However, he makes the case that some of the questions he raises are not raised by anyone today. The longterm consequences of the technologically based 'solutions' that we develop are never examined and discussed in the way they deserve according to Morozov. He makes the argument that we are on a dangerous track when we believe that by quantifying, tracking, capturing, gamifying human behavior we can also solve our societal problems. However, the most serious problem is not that we are actually already doing this, but that there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that this is not really problematic.
I am drawn to Morozov's book partly because I am working on a chapter about the notion of the 'one-dimensional man' by Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse was a philosopher and one of the founders of critical theory, and a serious critique of the modern Western society. The notion of the 'one-dimensional man' refers to the situation when society provides everyone (or a majority) with all that is needed and desired. All critique is absorbed by the existing structure, new radical cultural movements become fashionable and harmless, and after some time, no one can even imagine a different society (except for small variations). We are all seeing everything in the same way, we are becoming 'one-dimensional'.
So, two extraordinary and different thinkers can be read as having something in common, that is, a belief that our society is shaping us to not see and understand what is good for us. We have designed a 'system' that makes us products of our own ignorance.
Read the two books, but please keep an open mind, they may upset you...