Most helpful positive review
Critical For Understanding Where We're Going!
on October 4, 2002
No one could accuse author and scholar Jerry Mander of sitting on the fence regarding his position concerning the so-called "Third Wave' of technological changes cascading through our society and culture. Indeed, this book has been described as a powerfully written broadside against the headlong rush into what Mander terms to be "Megatechnology", which is the combination of a number of particularly dangerous aspects of technological innovation, creating synergistic effect he believes will ultimately will be dangerous to us as individuals, consumers, and citizens. Many of the ideas he uses so effectively here were first broached in an earlier book, "Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television".
The author uses a variety of examples to show how the public has been deliberately manipulated and misled by a variety of boosters and cheerleaders for technological innovation, ranging from corporations, the media, academics, and even the government. This, he contends, has led to the emergence of several particularly dangerous predominant technologies such as television, genetic and molecular engineering, and computers. What is surprising is the amount of evidence Mander produces showing clearly adverse aspects of each technology, evidence which heretofore has been deliberately omitted from public scrutiny by the aggregated sponsors and cheerleaders of the technology, who obviously have a vested interest in stacking the deck in favor of their particular interest. While he sometimes strains the reader's patience with arguments that use of a technology such as computers benefits the rise of corporate globalism more than it does individuals, Mander still manages to prove why we must be more aware of the meaning of these technologies in terms of our own self-interest, and in the interest of the community at large.
At base, what the author is really arguing for is a return to greater personal responsibility through the restoration of more traditional attitudes and values about our connection to the wider community and to an ethic of social responsibility. To the degree we allow ourselves to continue to be isolated and segregated from the community and its human-oriented interests, the more we play into the hands of forces that wish to fragment this orientation in order to better control resources, social patterns, and participation in the global economy by more forcefully orienting us toward lives as material consumers. Indeed, Mander argues, every aspect of the so-called "New World Order" is designed to acquaint and socialize us into adopting a new orientation that defines citizenship ever more exclusively as enthusiastic consumerism.
If Mander sometimes seems a bit shrill and even romantic in his approach, urging us to return to more traditional orientations in small human communities, moving toward more sustainable lifestyles, he counters by reminding us that having the degree of faith evident in contemporary society regarding the outcome of the hell-bent thrust toward economic globalism is also quite a romantic orientation, especially given our almost medieval understanding of just what this new technologically-oriented corporate-ascendant society would look like, or what it would be like to have to live in a world where corporate economic imperatives significantly influence every aspect of our lives. Given the events of the last year with Enron, Tyko, Global Crossing, and other corporate conglomerates, who can have much faith in either their vision or their integrity? Thousands lost their life savings due to nothing less than unbridled corporate greed! This is hardly the pedigree one wants to recommend for our collective futures. We would do well to heed his warning and to each become much better informed. This book can help! Enjoy!