There is only one God, and technologists are His prophets
August 1, 2013 § 10 Comments
The modern world is in significant part composed of vast human institutions staffed by technological and functional experts. Jim Kalb gives a compelling take on (among other things) why that is the case in his books.
But given a background of vast institutions staffed by technological experts, I am frequently puzzled by the starry-eyed idealism with which many folks approach them. This idealism manifests itself in viewing these human institutions as unmitigated goods or unmitigated evils. Some vast human institutions are given unwavering deference while others are treated with jaundiced suspicion: we live in a world of Good Institutions and Bad Institutions.
Which institutions are which depends on the individual and his tribal alliances, and many examples could be given of the Pure vs the Corrupt: the military vs the civilian government; the medical establishment vs the food industry; big finance versus organized labor; etc etc.
I suspect what we are witnessing is a kind of Manichean spiritual template impressed upon a naturalistic, modern, technocratic world view. A naturalistic world view crowds out the Divine; and when you crowd out the Divine, man will seek perfection in created things. Technocratic modernity builds a world made of vast institutions staffed by technocratic and functional experts. Because evil and corruption manifestly exist, though, the Good Institutions must be opposed by Bad Institutions in the anti-spiritual spiritual economy of modernity.
So some vast institutions become as pure as the whitest snow, trustworthy and good; while others are treated as if they provide no public good whatsoever, only serving the selfish interests of some oligarchical elite. When big institutions assert “trust me”, sometimes folks do and sometimes they do not, based on tribal alliegences. The military-industrial complex can’t be trusted when it says “we only kill bad people”; but calling into question the unmitigated good of biochemically altering billions of people through various vaccines is heresy. Trust doctors, but don’t trust generals. Or trust generals, but don’t trust doctors.
I would suggest that vast human institutions composed of technological and functional experts should be treated as what they are, though; not as tokens in a Manichean spiritual economy filling in after the death of God.