Response# 10

Langdon Winner’s “Do artifacts Have Politics?”

I picked the first paragraph on page 129, but the part that really stood out is located at the end of that paragraph where it says:

“The roots of unavoidable authoritarianism are, he argues, deeply implanted in the human involvement with science and technology. “If man, by dint of his knowledge and inventive genius, has subdued the forces of nature, the latter avenge themselves upon him by subjecting him, insofar as he employs them, to a veritable despotism independent of all social organization.”

In “Do Artifacts have Politics?”  Langdon Winner breaks down the concept of artifacts having political qualities into two parts, the first being power and authority can be obtained based off how one manipulates “the design or arrangement of a device or system,” once it has served its original purpose. The real intent of that technology can be masked to represent something else as Winner puts it, it has a range of flexibility, the second part is the opposite that power and authority are established because of the technology’s lack of flexibility. In order for the technology to function it requires and relies on a hierarchical relationship among a super-ordinate person, and a subordinate. In the second argument, Winner used the work of Friedrich Engel’s “On Authority” to further evaluate why certain technology requires a hierarchical relationship. Between Winner’s “Inherently Political Technologies” and Engel’s “On Authority” which begins on page 128 that is where I found a connection.

I linked this to Paul Mason’s “The End of Capitalism has Begun” because Mason describes a world where the new economy would be know as post-capitalism, where the work amount is reduced, there is an open access and sharing of information, and the removal of the influence and say of the market is replaced with more influence of everyday people. I linked this in a way as a response to Mason’s new political theory that even in this post-capitalism would  it might be difficult to achieve because  you will have some sort of authoritative and subordinate relationship especially over the technology people would create, and eventually the old ways of capitalism would seep back into how people operates things, and instead of the problem being related to the large industries, it will be among those same influential everyday people Mason spoke about. I think this connects well because in the midst of technology whoever creates it or controls it determines how it will effect the society and that means a person or a group of people have control which means they have power. Winner uses Engel’s example of the laborers and the cotton-spinning mills as an example of that.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Response# 10

  1. Abigale says:

    First of all, I want to commend you for breaking down that difficult passage. It shows that you have a thorough understanding of the piece. I like the connection you made between both articles. I totally agree with you. I’m assuming that you’re general message was the idea that power is never lost, but merely transferred, even within groups made to fight against capitalism? I hope I got that right. Good job!

  2. I have to say that this is a very thorough and thought-out post. I really like that you broke down the quote you chose and explained it, it displays your level of understanding which is admirable. I also like the connection you made between both passages, it was very clear and well written. Overall, I love the composition of this piece it is very organized and concise. Great Job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *