Lasch in his arguments in “The Degradation of the Human Arts” posits that technology and science is increasingly being used in society today with an aim of eliminating the human aspect of the labor force. Lasch seemingly suggests that society is actually heading towards a situation in which science and technology is used by a small majority to gain total control over the rest of the population. As proof, Lasch highlights the impact that technology and modernization has had on the workforce.
According to Lasch, Technology and modernization is meant to eliminate the skilled workers, and is meant to promote inequality, as well as the uneven distribution of political and economic power. Technology and innovation is therefore, meant to increase the control of those in power, while at the same time reducing the control the workers and the general public have over their own welfare. Proof that this control is wielded, by a small majority, Lasch claims, is provided by the minimal control that the workers using the technology and designers have over its use. The more dependent on technology a society becomes, the more control society relinquishes, hence the argument that the greater the use of science and technology, the lesser the control we have, is a valid argument.
Indeed, the increasing use of technology to gain control over the general population, as humans are becoming more and more dependent on technology. This dependence on technology is bound to focus power on the few who have control over the technology in question. Lasch cites the fact that mass production economies are no longer able to operate effectively, as proof of the emasculating effects of technology and how technology is increasingly becoming a source of power. Further, technology serves as a source of power by virtue of the fact that it offers greater control over certain aspects of the human life, amongst them being illness and health. Technology therefore, serves as a means for humans to overcome their limitations and achieve the main goal of innovation: total dominion over the universe. Lasch captures this quite aptly when he says “…..that man can free himself from limitations imposed by nature and achieve Godlike powers over nature through his own inventions” (Lasch 293). As proof of the fact that humans at the back of their minds are pursuing technological advancement for particular reasons, Lasch highlights the fact that technological innovations are created in a manner that is meant to eliminate the need for human input, and yet it is possible to create technological innovations that can possibly be used by humans to improve output.
Lasch’s arguments are valid, especially when one considers that at an individual level, more and more people are relinquishing control over their own personal affairs, hence granting greater control to the innovations, as well as the individuals behind the control. In real life, the advent of the microchips meant for identification. The recent passage of the Universal Healthcare bill and the potential ramifications of the implanted microchips to deny access to basic healthcare is proof of the fact that control can be exercised through technology.
Perhaps it is even plausible to argue that in future, a small group of people controlling technology could be in a position to control all aspects of an individual’s life based simply on the microchip technology, as it would allow for the verification of an individual’s identity, and access to all their personal information in real time, hence allowing for the targeting of any elements that might protest the concept of total control. Lasch is therefore right when he says “Much more than the profit motive, it is the ideology of total control that drives and perpetuates our technology.” As such, the ideology of total control is slowly being realized, as society is increasingly becoming reliant on science and technology, with increased use, signaling submission to this control.
Lasch, Christopher. Degradation of the Practical Arts.