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An extravaganza of socio-political and philosophical pessimism, this is a unique achievement which both adds to and stands apart from what is probably the most persistent strain in modern Western thinking. It has been most consistently covered up by the anti-technologists and/or the anti-utopians, people like Spengler, Seidenberg, Junger, Rousset. Published in France 10 years ago, this hammer-and-tong polemic has not been dimmed by the time lag, nor has the cool contempt of Professor Ellul's observations. A mammoth study, its analysis of the collectivist ethos, whether democratic or authoritarian, is the most comprehensive to date. Ellul defines technology as an autonomous fact, an historical process in which organizational means become ends in themselves, leading to standardization, individual repression, and a golden scientific age whereby man ""will be capable of 'happiness' amid the worst privation."" Ellul illumines the fundamental assertions of economics, psychology, government and culture, the uses of planning, automation, propaganda, biology and statist disciplines. He moves in and out of what he takes to be the various kinds of window-dressing of the age: Marxist materialism, free mart theorizing, revolutionary nationalism, voting blocs, public opinions, etc. It is a phenomenological approach. Some may regret the reductionism (absolute efficiency equalling absolute power equalling techniquel and it is unfortunate there's no rebuttal of such well known adversaries as Skinner and Lasswell. But his focus on l'univers concentrationnaire in-the-making shakes up complacency to its marrow.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1964
ISBN: 0394703901
Publisher: Knopf