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Technological Progress Often Diminishes Human Potential


Traditional values have been sacrificed on the altar of the commodification of the world. Before the advent of the consumer society, our elders organized themselves in such a way that the gratuity, the gift, the service rendered without material counterpart constituted a norm serving as a foundation for the collective.
Help for the poor was often provided by the family, which took in members in precarious situations, for example. In the same way, the village festivals where one shared one’s harvests were part of the offering (or libation) or the display of one’s wealth through sharing. This notion of gift finds its most accomplished form in the gift of one’s life for the fatherland in case of conflict in particular.
The ideals on which the imagination of yesteryear was based were strong because they were sacred. However, as soon as we desacralize certain components of society, we inevitably destroy the notion of gratuity.
The gift is never totally free, there is always a moral counterpart, whether it takes the form of prestige, honor or a kind of increase in one’s capital of good deeds for which God keeps score.
The new imperatives of the market have played an opportunistic role since they have progressively captured value by monetizing acts that until then had only been performed in the form of a gift.
To introduce an intermediary is to allow oneself to be dispossessed of the wealth that one creates in an exchange, especially when this exchange is monetized.
Social links have always been based on mutual aid. When we destroy mutual aid by introducing the mercantile transaction, we consequently destroy the social links that may have existed until then.
As an example, we can cite the mutual aid of farmers, which allowed for the pooling of efforts and resources on small farms (particularly true in Asia). From the moment that mechanization of work is introduced by the introduction of machines (tractors, etc.), an anthropological change takes place: people no longer need other people, individualism is created. To accommodate this revolution in mentalities, religious dogmas were adapted so that they corresponded more to the zeitgeist (e.g. the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in 1962). Progressively, by modernizing people’s lives through technology, we are destroying what has made the human substratum over the last 10,000 years (the period of the invention of agriculture and the sedentarization that it induces).

Thus, it is always important to ask the cost/benefit question of any innovation. As nature abhors a vacuum, what we create necessarily produces destruction somewhere, and it is up to us to know if the gain compensates for the loss. The haste with which decisions with a significant cultural impact are taken is always disconcerting. How could we allow the destruction of part of humanity’s heritage (notably agricultural culture) without having thought critically about how to mitigate its effects? Technology and the market work hand in hand to destroy the social and human substratum without consideration of its sociological consequences. In the future, we must avoid subterfuge aimed at seizing the wheels of our deepest humanity in the name of productivity or efficiency.

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