Skip to content

COKETOWN AND THE CONTROL OF SCIENCE

February 15, 2013

LEWIS MUMFORD AND THE DEMISE OF ETHICS AT THE HANDS OF EMPIRICAL TRUTH

1) And Mumford postulates what I elaborate as the forced internalization of the “Country House” idolum or narrative-or semiotic stratum-by the inhabitants of Coketown; and Coketown is the Charles Dicken’s term for what Mumford describes as life in industrial hell, that already by 1922 was, from an ethical standpoint, most atrocious, in the subjugation of individuals to a life of constant, extrinsically stimulated appetite for the picturesque and the inane in the form of mass-produced objects, and material ease.

Sound familiar?

You bet; for it is the life that still today you live as livestock within the consumer society farm of Democracy as fraud: but to a degree Mumford, in the 20s and 30s could not have foreseen, because he tacitly assumed that some form of “intelligentsia” would survive.

But he was sadly wrong on that one.

And I use the year 1979 and the publication of La Condition postmoderne : rapport sur le savoir (Lyotard) as a kind temporal dividing line, more or less.

But Mumford, in his vision of the history of utopian thought, had already hit on the head when he wrote in 1922, “These utopias are all machinery: the means has become the end, and the genuine problem of ends has been forgotten”; just as Lyotard laid out before us a similar summary of the human condition in the Western world 57 years later.

And since the Industrial Revolution up until the present time, the true relationship between science and humanity is kept from public scrutiny, for it is not a pretty sight to behold.

And because there are, now, de facto interests on the part of dominating social groups who will most fiercely defend these interests as world society begins, finally, to evolve.

For it has always been science as human imposition over nature-and over other human beings-that has defined and determined world society since the Industrial Revolution; and it is what keeps social evolution in its rigid consumer society configuration now.

For its greatest current fault is the fault that has always been at the heart of the Country House ideal as the soul of individuals under the smog of Coketown; and it is the social ease of the Country House as ideal that is mercilessly preyed upon by the producers of material objects in these producer’s insatiable need for consumer markets.

But consumers are what Coketown uses science to found itself on, today and always; and consumers don’t  really have to be full and vitally free human beings-this is evident for everyone to plainly observe.

Consumer society does not really require happy, intellectually vital human beings living life itself as a vital plenitude; it only needs vitally and intellectually degraded human cows as consumers.

And we certainly do not live the “good life” in the way Mumford references Plato’s Utopia-and you know and have felt this, also.

Because life itself, for us in consumer society, has no purpose, really, accept for consumer flight into the future, with no other real goal or objective except that of consuming what is produced.

Just the way Apple, Google et al will have you believe; just the way your governments position you before the task of making a “better world for your children and their children.”

And you will never hear a bank and the financial, shareholder groups that control them, ever complain about this either.

And what is science itself but the supplier of technology that is-I hope you have noticed-the road itself into the future-where else?

And life today, people, is a most tawdry, insipid thing, if you don’t live in denial about it as a life of stimuli, distraction and banality.

But to save you from this, from the plane of moral intellectual truth, all you have is your job-the only thing that really makes this bearable.

And I point as accessories to this crime to academia and the social caste of science itself, for you-as an accessory-allowed this to happen.

And you, too, were bought off; and from intellectual you turned into nothing more than highly sophisticated technicians.

And utopias as ideals to be contemplated and, perhaps, striven for, have disappeared beneath the waves like Atlantis itself.

For life as a means with no real human objective to reach, is exactly how we live now, as if life were in fact a machinery utopia, here and now.

What more could you ask for?

And you don’t ask for anything more, which is exactly what Mumford was not able to foresee.

2) Empirical truth, it seems, can be purchased; and with more money you can develop and manufacture (and buy and sell) more powerful instruments of analysis that perhaps allow you to see further or deeper; and the use of such machines will also, ultimately, allow you to produce technology that will potentially allow for more machines, successively into the future.

But science, in its relationship with capital-the farmer of human livestock as consumer society-clearly attempts to monopolize its de facto power niche in this systemic sense by erecting the great firewall of the “initiated” and the sanctum sanctorum of peer review, which constitutes a kind of flank protection for the power of structural dominance by capital itself.

And of course Lyotard (and even Eisenhower!) laid out the dangers that because of the importance capital gives to technical dominance and the social system that this established, real intellectual oversight as ethical contemplation of the human condition is quite clearly beyond the reach of this scientific-capital establishment.

And science is to be understood as a most grave and far removed endeavor of only those with above average SATS who eventually gain the favor of mighty Universities and foundations.

But intellectual curiosity as a vital mode, is so much more than that!

And the great irony that I have come across is that the empirical truth that is got through research and scientific production, after it is in fact produced, is hardly at all used to make further-now more empirically solid-inferences.

That my simply anthropological reading and analysis of the Old Testament –as the anthropological artifact that it is-has allowed me to understand better human culture as a category or concept; and that at the bottom of it, as is always the case with literature and narrative of any kind, is human psychology.

And I feel, in this sense, much closer to someone like Mumford who was writing in the 20s and 30s (and beyond, also); or to Max Weber, Walter Benjamin, Upton Sinclair, Allport, or Niebuhr, than I do to that intellectual production that is, today, so grossly dominated by the science of consumer society and its capital.

And the big difference, as I have said before, between you and them is that you are not intellectuals anymore.

For you can’t afford to be, such is the pressure of technical dominance as the science of consumer society capital that bears down on you; and in that what is not understood as potentially useful, is not invested in or fostered.

And most importantly, in this sense, you do not really understand human psychology as well as you should.

And although I have had some help in the direction that I am lead to take, all the inferences and conceptual understanding that I have come to hold in regards to man, culture and society, is based on the understanding of an intellectual history that, even before WWII, already existed.

And as far as ethical and moral intellectual truth (that of course can only exist in relation to serious and rational contemplation of the human condition itself), I see that you don’t have very much to say.

And this is personally frustrating to me.

Advertisements
Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s