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Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 18:06:17 -0800
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From: David Weston <dweston@island.net>
Subject: Global Brain No.149: Technofix or Human Scale? by Kirkpatrick Sale.
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Technofix or Human Scale?

By Kirkpatrick Sale, Global Brain, no. 149, 14 January 1998

Human civilisation, particularly that of the West and more particularly still that of the United States, is at a momentous turning point. It is not in simply one or two dimensions that our world is changing, but in all of them, and synergistically. It seems clear that future historians will mark a new age beginning somewhere within our lifetimes.

The Question then is: 'What kind of new age will it be?' There are, in truth, only two answers to that.


It could be an age of bigness continuing certain obvious trends of the present towards large-scale institutions, multinational corporations, centralised governments, high-technology machinery, large cities, high-rise buildings, luxury cars, and all that is implied in the American (and European) ideology of unimpeded growth.

That would seem to have to entail the expansion of the present corporate-governmental alliance, leading to a fully mixed system of state and private capitalism, government regulation of scarce resources, increased corporate conglomeration, some greater degree of social regulation by the organs of government, further consolidation of political power within the executive branch, and corporate-government encouragement of the arts. ... BIG would be better, PROGRESS our most important product.

Essential to this future is a belief in ... technofix: that is, that our present crisis can be solved, or at least ameliorated, by the application of modern technology and its attendant concentrations of science, government and capital.

Human Scale

The other possibility for the new age to which we are moving lies in exactly the opposite direction: toward the decentralisation of institutions and the devolution of power, with the slow dismantling of all the large-scale systems that in one way or another have created or perpetuated the current crisis, and their replacement by smaller, more controllable, more efficient, people-sized units, rooted in local circumstances and guided by local systems.

In short, the human-scale alternative.