Ellul's dyshoric view, or analysis, of the techniques is emphasized by his focus on the decline of morals due to these techniques, and technology. Ellul also concentrates on the consequences of having societyinvaded by technology. Specifically, Ellul focuses on the relationship between techniques (technology), and the Economy, the State, and humans. First, however, Ellul describes techniques in general and their characteristics.
In relation to the worker, Ellul sees an even bigger consequence of technology. Because of the rapid change in techniques, the "the technical operation still occurrs on the same level as that of the worker who does the work" (20). This is easy to understand; technology develops too fast for the worker to keep up-to-date.
Overall, Ellul describes the general consequences of technology in this chapter. In later chapters he will discuss specific consequences as related to important parts of the society.
According to Ellul, technology derives from the same means, both past and present. However, there are characteristics of the development. They are:
Techniques are developed to make life easier, and because of this, technology has made "comfort, rest, and physical euphoria" possible. (66) Technology has turned work into a virtue, instead of a punishment as it used to be considered. Also, the search for tools to simplify the job has replaced the desire for increased skill. (68) In other words, in the past the worker could compensate for the tools, but presently the deficiency of workers is evident.
In the production economic world technology plays the part of the inventor. It is technology that creates the new products that replace the old. (151) This causes economic life to be dependent on technology, since, as described earlier, technologies purpose is to make life easier.
This dependency on technology has one large effect. Technology creates a socioeconomic difference among humans. A "bourgesie" is created by the cost, and ability to keep up. Only those who can afford to implement the technologycan use it. So in a sense, "technology is the boundary of democracy" (209), since not every person is treated equally.
This effect in turn creates another. Technological advancement leads to concentration. Only the stronger, wealthier, or up-to-date thrive. These larger corporations engulf smaller companies to eventually form even biger conglomerates, controlled by a powerful few.
This works to the State's benefit. Because the State knows the technique works, and knows how to implement it, the increase in techniques empowers the State. (247) This is only possibly because private techniques eventually become public. (248)
It is hard to imagine negative effects on a sure thing. It is the humans that have most of the problems.
Ellul explains that we are becoming a mass society, which is distanced from living. We also live by the clock. The technology may be making life easier, yet we are being provided with more tasks due to the technology. When we have time to relax, we are turning to machines, such as television sets. Yet these machines have consequences as well. According to Ellul, we are being led into an "artificial paradise". (377)
The machines are also becoming part of our everyday world. Ellul believes that man and machine is merging. ( 410)
Ellul also goes on to state many things that sound absurd. But one reality is that society will be led by a few powerful people.
Again, we have to think of the time when this book was written. Ellul predicted many things, such as: artificial insemination, and "electronic banks". (432) These electronic banks could be considered our mainframe databases of today. It takes great insight to foresee the potential of technology.
Overall, Ellul's book provides a side of the technology story that is seldom heard. Most often all we hear is how the new technique (technology) will revolutionize our lives. As Ellul says in chapter one, technological progress is seen as unconditionally valid. We are letting ourselve be led around blind when we don't question everything. It takes an author such as Ellul to set us straight, and to help us consider both sides of the story. His gently pessimism intrigues the reader, and doesn't scare him or her away. Ellul does a good job of this, without condemning society in the progress.