Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 10. 24 May 1972
The Technological Revolution
The Technological Revolution.
This is the cause of so much discord and despair in our society today. Lloyd Geering summed it recently when he said that man is becoming little more than a complex machine in a secular city. "We are being crushed by the sheer weight complexity and inhumanity of our technology", he said. "It will leave us little more than mechanised robots."
We are becoming victims and slaves of an industrial system which is predicated on the goal of growth and which is constantly inventing new products and processes and increasing the rate of change in order to achieve this goal. We are being increasingly encouraged to fulfil the needs of this system instead of vice versa. Mr Marshall has spoken several times in the past few months of the urgent need to increase productivity. At a speech in Rotorua he used the word "more" 17 times in just seven sentences. This is the constant, dangerous refrain of the new industrial state: more, more, more.
Throughout all industrial societies the quickening pace and growing complexity of life is resulting in the quality of human fellowship. The transient nature of modern life is resulting in the shortened duration of friendships and a loss in the quality of human fellowship. The transient nature of modern life is resulting in a declining sense of "place" and "belonging", with all the insecurities and strains on health that this involves.
Sociologists trace increased crimes of violence and anti-social behaviour to this disintegrating sense of community. They see hit-and-run sex as a desperate attempt to recreate affection in a highly transient environment. They see industrial unrest as a manifestation of the impersonality of the modern factory and plant.
Our political leaders should be looking at ways of reshaping the system that breeds these ills, not concentrating on sterile law and order policies with stiffer penalties and more policemen and on industrial policies with stiffer penalties for worker unrest.
The problem takes on new urgency when one realises that the New Zealand economy is in the process of transition from an agriculturally-based economy to an industrially-based one. The drift to the cities, especially those in the North Island is continuing apace, so we must move with speed We must somehow capture control of the basic change processes in the city environment, slowing down some of them while intelligently quickening others.
The American sociologist Alvin Toffler has suggested, for example, that New York should create a Department of Technological Assessment to worry about the impact of new technologies still on the horizon. This country needs a political party which will address itself to this urgent question. We need a new party to tame the new industrial state.