Lewis Mumford on the Evolution of Technology from Eotechnic to Paleotechnic and Neotechnic
Excerpts from the book, Technics and Civilization
The Eotechnic Phase
"Looking back over the last thousand years, one can divide the development of the machine and the machine civilization into three successive but over-lapping and interpenetrating phases: eotechnic, paleotechnic, neotechnic. The demonstration that industrial civilization was not a single whole, but showed two marked, contrasting phases, was first made by Professor Patrick Geddes and published a generation ago. IN defining the paleotechnic and neotechnic phases, he however neglected the important period of preparation, when all the key inventions were either invented or foreshadowed. So, following the archeological parallel he called attention to, I shall call the first period the eotechnic phase: the dawn age of modern technics. ...each of these phases... forms a technological complex. Each phase... has its origin in certain definite regions and tends to employ certain special resources and raw materials. Each phase has its specific means of utilizing and generating energy, and its special forms of production.
Almost any part of a technical complex will point to and symbolize a whole series of relationships within that complex.
Speaking in terms of power and characteristic materials, the eotechnic phase is a water-and-wood complex: the paleotechnic phase is a coal-and-iron complex, and the neotechnic phase is an electricity-and-alloy complex.
The dawn-age of our modern technics stretches roughly from the year 1000 to 1750. [...] This complex reached its climax, technologically speaking, in the seventeenth century, with the foundation of experimental science, laid on a basis of mathematics, fine manipulation, accurate timing, and exact measurement.
...it came to a delayed fruition in the America of 1850.
With respect to human culture as a whole, the eotechnic period, though politically a chequered one,... was one of the most brilliant periods in history. For alongside its great mechanical achievements it built cities, cultivated landscapes, constructed buildings... .
Noting the underlying unity of eotechnic civilization, through all its superficial changes in costume and creed, one must look upon its successive portions as expressions of a single culture.
The eotechnic period was marked first of all by a steady increase in actual horsepower. This came directly from two pieces of apparatus: first, the introduction of the iron horseshoe, probably in the ninth century... . Second: by the tenth century the modern form of harness, in which the pull is met at the shoulder instead of at the neck, was re-invented in Western-Europe-- it had existed in China as early as 200 B.C.-- and by the twelfth century, it had supplanted the inefficient harness the Romans had known.
...the greatest technical progress came about in regions that had abundant supplies of wind and water. It was along the fast flowing streams, the Rhone and the Danube and the small rapid rivers of Italy, and in the North Sea and Baltic areas, with their strong winds, that this new civilization had its firmest foundations and some of its most splendid cultural expressions.
Water-wheels for raising water in a chain of pots and for working automatic figures were described by Philo of Byzantium in the third century B.C.; and water-mills were definitely recorded in Rome in the first century B.C.
Unlike the elaborate sanitary facilities of Rome, the water-mill never fell into complete disuse. There are allusions to such mills, as Usher points out, in a collection of Irish laws in the fifth century... . Though first used to grind corn, the water-mill was used to saw wood as early as the fourth century... : by the time the Domesday Book survey was made there were five thousand water-mills in England alone-- about one to every four hundred people-- and England was then a backward country on the fringe of European civilization.
Grinding grain and pumping water were not the only operations for which the water-mill was used: it furnished power for pulping rags for paper (Ravensburg: 1290): it ran the hammering and cutting machines of an ironworks (near Dobrilugk, Lausitz, 1320): it sawed wood (Augsburg: 1322): it beat hides in the tannery, it furnished power for spinning silk, it was used in fulling-mills to work up the felts, and it turned the grinding machines of the armorers. The wire-pulling machine invented by Rudulph of Nurnberg in 1400 was worked by water-power. [...] As early as the fifteenth century, water-mills were used for crushing ore. The importance of water-power in relation to the iron industries cannot be over-estimated: for by utilizing this power it was possible to make more powerful bellows, attain higher heats, use larger furnaces, and therfore increase the production of iron.
Only second to waterpower in importance was windpower. Whatever the route it entered, the windmill spread rapidly in Europe, and it was widely diffused by the end of the twelfth century. The first definite knowledge of the windmill comes from a charter in 1105 authorizing the Abbot of Savigny to establish windmills in the diocese of Evreux, Bayeux, and Coutances; in England, the first date is 1143, and in Venice 1332... .
The mill reached its greatest size and its most efficient form in the hands of the Dutch engineers toward the end of the sixteenth century, although the Italian engineers, including Leonardo himself, who is usually given credit for the turret windmill [or tower windmill], contributed their share to the machine.
This development of wind and water power did not reach its height in most parts of Europe until the seventeenth century: in England, not till the eighteenth century. [...] In the seventeenth century the most powerful prime mover in existence was the waterworks for Versailles [to feed the many waterfalls around the palace]... .
When the textile industries attained an unheard of volume of production in the eighteenth century it was by means of water-power, not the steam engine, that this was first achieved... . By the middle of the nineteenth century water turbines of 500 H.P. had been built. Plainly, the modern industrial revolution would have come into existence and gone on steadily had not a ton of coal been dug in England, and had not a new iron mine been opened.
The mystic identification with the life of the old forest, which one feels in the ballads and folk-tales of the period, expressed a fact about the civilization which was emerging: wood was the universal material of the eotechnic economy.
All the elaborate masonry forms were dependent upon the work of the carpenter: it was not merely that the piers themselves, in the later gothic construction, resembled tree trunks laced together or that the filtered light within the church had the dimness of the forest, while the effect of the bright glass was like that of the blue sky or a sunset seen through the tracery of branches [editors note: see Decline of the West and The Gothic Image for the comparison between the interior of the gothic cathedral and the forest at twilight]: the fact is that none of this construction was possible without an elaborate falsework of wood: nor without wooden cranes and windlasses could the stones have been conveniently raised the necessary heights.
In all the operations of industry, wood played a part out of all proportion to that played by metals... : it was not merely the direct use of wood, but its part in mining and smelting and forging, that was responsible, as I pointed out before, for the destruction of the forests.
As raw material, as tool, as machine-tool, as machine, as utensil and utility, as fuel, and as final product wood was the dominant industrial resource of the eotechnic phase.
If the twelfth century witnessed the introduction of the mariner's compass, the thirteenth brought the installation of the permanent rudder, used instead of the oar for steering, and the sixteenth introduced the use of the clock to determine longitude and the use of the quadrant to determine latitude... [editors note: the Sextant didn't appear until the 18th century]. Out of the needs of navigation came that enormous labor-saving device, the logarithmic table, worked out by Briggs on Napier's foundation, and a little more than a century later the ship's chronometer was finally perfected by Harrison.
At the beginning of this period sails, which had hitherto been used chiefly with oars, began to supplant them and wind took the place of human muscle for working ships. In the fifteenth century the two-masted ship had come into existence: but it was dependent upon a fair wind. By 1500 the three-masted ship had appeared, and it was so far improved that it could beat against the wind: long ocean voyages were at last possible... . [...] With growing confidence in his ability to steer, to make headway, to find his position, and to reach port, the sailor replaced the slow land routes with his water routes.
The fastest type of sailing ship, the clipper, was not designed until the eighteen forties, and it was not until the twentieth century that the triangular type of mainsail replaced the topheavy polygon on the smaller craft and improved their speed. [...] To speak of power as a recent acquisition of industry is to forget the kinetic energy of falling water and moving air... .
Far more significant for civilization and culture than progress in the metallurgical arts up to the eighteenth century was the great advance in glass-making.
Glass itself was a very ancient discovery... . ...openings for glass windows were found in the excavation of Pompeian houses. In the early Middle Ages, glass furnaces began to come back, first in the wooded districts near the monastaries, then near the cities: glass was used for holding liquids and for making the windows of public buildings. ...by the twelfth century glass of intense color was made, and the use of these glasses in the windows of the new churches, admitting light, modifying it, transforming it, gave them a sombre brilliance that the most ornate carving and gold of the baroque churches only feebly rival.
By the thirteenth century the famous glass works at Marano, near Venice, had been founded... . ...by 1373 there was a guild of glassmakers in Nurnberg... .
The development of glass changed the aspect of indoor life, particularly in regions with long winters and cloudy days. [...] ...high cost restricted glass to public buildings, but step by step it made its way into the private dwelling: Aeneas Sylvius de Piccolomini found in 1448 that half the houses in Wien had glass windows, and toward the end of the sixteenth century glass assumed in the design and construction of the dwelling house a place it had never had in any previous architecture. A parallel development went on in agriculture. [...] Hothouses, which used lapis specularis, a species of mica, instead of glass, were used by the Emperor Tiberius: but the glass hothouse was probably an eotechnic invention. It lengthened the growing period of Northern Europe, increased, so to say, the climatic range of a region... .
To have light in the dwelling house or the hothouse without being subject to cold or rain or snow, was the great contribution to the regularity of domestic living... . This substitution of the window for the wooden shutter... was not fairly complete until the end of the seventeenth century... . As early as 1300 pure colorless glass was made in Maurano... . In losing color and ceasing to serve as picture-- the function it had occupied in medieval church decoration-- and in letting in, instead, the forms and colors of the outside world, glass served also as a symbol of the double process of naturalism and abstraction which had begun to characterize the thought of Europe. More than that: it furthered this process. Glass helped put the world in a frame:... it focussed attention on a sharply defined field-- namely, that which was bounded by the frame.
The medieval symbolism dissolved and the world became a strangely different place as soon as one looked at it through glasses. The first change was effected by the use of convex lens in spectacles: this corrected the flattening of the human lens due to age, and the defect of farsightedness: Singer has suggested that the revival of learning might in part be attributed to the number of additional years of eyesight for reading that the spectacles gave to human life. Spectacles were in wide use by the fifteenth century, when, with the invention of printing, a great need for them declared itself; and at the end of that century the concave lens was introduced to correct near-sightedness.
...it was a Dutch optician, Johann Lippersheim, who in 1605 invented the telescope and thus suggested to Galileo the efficient means he needed for making astronomical observations. In 1590 another Hollander, the optician Zacharias Jansen invented the compound microscope: possibly also the telescope. One invention increased the scope of the macrocosm; the other revealed the microcosm: between them, the naive conceptions of space that the ordinary man carried around were completely upset: one might say that these two inventions, in terms of the new perspective, extended the vanishing point toward infinity and increased almost infinitely the plane of the foreground from which those lines had their point of origin.
In the middle of the seventeenth century Leeuwenhoek... became the world's first bacteriologist. He discovered monsters in the scrapings of his teeth more mysterious and awful than any that had been encountered in the search for the Indies. If the glass did not actually add a new dimension to space, it extended its area, and it filled that space with new bodies, fixed stars at unimaginably vast distances, microcellular organisms whose existence was so incredible that, but for the researches of Spallanzani, they remained outside the sphere of serious investigation for over a century, after which their existence, their partnership, their enmity, almost became the source of a new demonology. Glasses not merely opened people's eyes but their minds: seeing was believing. [...] Now the eye became the most respected organ. [...] The use of glasses in the following centuries magnified the authority of the eye.
The retort, the distilling flask, the test-tube: the barometer, the thermometer, the lenses and the slide of the microscope, the electric light, the x-ray tube, the audion-- all these are products of glass technics, and where would the sciences be without them?
There is one further property of glass that had its first full effect in the seventeenth century. One sees it perhaps most clearly in the homes of the Dutch, with their enormous windows, for it was in the Netherlands that the use of glass and its manifold applications went furthest. [...] Sharper eyesight: a sharper interest in the external world: a sharper response to the clarified image-- these characteristics went hand in hand with the widespread introduction of glass.
Glass and the Ego
For perhaps the first time, except for reflections in the water and in the dull surfaces of metal mirrors, it was possible to find an image that corresponded accurately to what others saw. [...] The most powerful prince of the esventeenth century created a vast hall of mirrors, and the mirror spread from one room to another in the bourgeois household. Self-consciousness, introspection, mirr0r-conversation developed with the new object itself: this preoccupation with one's image comes at the threshold of the mature personality when young Narcissus gazes long and deep into the face of the pool-- and the sense of the separate personality, a perception of the objective attributes of one's identity, grows out of this communion.
The use of the mirror signalled the beginning of introspective biography in the modern style: that is, not as a means of edification but as a picture of the self, its depths, its mysteries, its inner dimensions. The self in the mirror corresponds to the physical world that was brought to life by natural science in the same epoch: it was the self in abstracto, only part of the real self, the part that one can divorce from the background of nature and the influential presence of other men. [...] Indeed, when one is completely whole and at one with the world one does not need the mirror... .
...the isolation of the world from the self-- the method of the physical sciences-- and the isolation of the self from the world-- the method of introspective biography...-- were complementary phases of a single process. Much was learnt through that dissociation: for in the act of disintegrating the wholeness of human experience,the various atomic fragments that composed it were more clearly seen and more readily grasped.
The world as conceived and observed by science, the world as revealed by the painter, were both worlds that were seen through and with the aid of glasses: spectacles, microscopes, telescopes, mirrors, windows. What was the new easel picture, in fact, but a removable window opening upon an imaginary world? [...] Glass was in fact the peep-hole through which one beheld a new world. Through glass some of the mysteries of nature themselves became transparent. Is it any wonder then that perhaps the most comprehensive philosopher of the seventeenth century, at home alike in ethics and politics and science and religion, was Benedict Spinoza: not merely a Hollander, but a polisher of lenses.
The Primary Inventions
...the invention of the experimental method... was without doubt the greatest achievement of the eotechnic phase... . ...the relative impersonality of the new instruments and machines, particularly the automata, must have helped to build up the belief in an equally impersonal world of irreducible and brute facts, operating independently as clockwork... : the reorganization of experience in terms of mechanical causality and the development of cooperative, controlled, repeatable, verifiable experiments, utilizing just such segments of reality as lent themselves to this method-- this was a gigantic labor-saving device.
In mechanical invention proper, the chief eotechnic innovation was of course the mechanical clock. [...] The application of the pendulum to the clock, by Galileo and Huyghens, increased the accuracy of the instrument for common use. But the indirect influence of clock-making was also important: as the first real instrument of precision, it set the pattern in accuracy and finish for all further instruments, all the more because it was regulated by the ultimate precision of the planetary movements themselves. [...] To quote Usher once more: "The primary development of the fundamental principles of applied mechanics was... largely based upon the problems of the clock." Clockmakers, along with blacksmiths and locksmiths, were among the first machinists... . In sum, the clock was the most influential of machines, mechanically as well as socially; and by the middle of the eighteenth century it had become the most perfect: indeed, its inception and its perfection pretty well delimit the eotechnic phase. To this day, it is the pattern of fine automatism.
Second to the clock in order if not perhaps in importance was the printing press.
The printing press and movable type were perfected by Guten berg and his assistant at Mainz in the fourteen-forties. An astronomical calendar done in 1447 is the earliest datable example of Gutenberg's printing... . [...] The decisive improvement came with the invention of a hand-mold to cast uniform metal types.
...the printed sheet, even before the military uniform, was the first completely standardized product, manufactured in series, and the movable types themselves were the first example of completely standardized and interchangeable parts. Truly a revolutionary invention in every department.
Compared with oral communication any sort of writing... frees communication from the restrictions of time and space and makes discourse wait on the convenience of the reader-- who can interrupt the flow of thought or repeat it or concentrate upon isolated parts of it. [...] So print speedily became the new medium of intercourse: abstracted from gesture and physical presence, the printed word furthered that process of analysis and isolation which became the leading achievement of eotechnic thought and which tempted Auguste Comte to dub the whole epoch "metaphysical."
More than any other device, the printed book oreleased people from the domination of the immediate and the local. Doing so, it contributed further to the dissociation of medieval society: print made a greater impression than actual events, and by centering attention on the printed word, people lost that balance between the sensuous and the intellectual, between image and sound, between the concrete and the abstract... . To exist was to exist in print: the rest of the world tended gradually to become more shadowy.
But the printing press by itself did not perform the revolution: paper played a scarcely less important part. ...debts, deeds, contracts, news, were all committed to paper, so that, while feudal society existed by virtue of customs that were rigorously maintained from generation to generation, the last elements of feudal society were abolished in England by the simple device of asking peasants who had always had a customary share in the common lands for some documentary proof that they had ever owned it. Custom and memory noew played second fiddle to the written word: reality meant "established on paper." [...] Capitalism, by committing its transactions to paper, could at last make and preserve a strict accountancy of time and money; and the new education for the merchant classes and their helpers consisted essentially in a mastery of the three R's. A paper world came into existence... . As a space-saver, a time-saver, a labor-saver... paper had a unique part to play in the development of industrialism. Through the habit of using print and paper thought lost some of its flowing, four-dimensional, organic character, and became abstract, categorical, stereotyped... .
The primary mechanical inventions of the clock and the printing press were accompanied by social inventions that were almost equally important: the university, beginning with Bologna in 1100, Paris in 1150, Cambridge in 1229 and Salamanca in 1243: a co-operative organization of knowledge on an international basis. [...] In the sixteenth century two further social inventions were added: the scientific academy, first founded in the Accademia Secretorum Naturae in Naples in 1560, and the industrial exhibition, the first of which was held at Rathaus in Nurnberg in 1569, the second in Paris in 1683.
By means of the university, the scientific academy and the industrial exhibition the exact arts and sciences were systematically explored... . One further important institution must be added: the laboratory. Here a new type of environment was created, combining the resources of the cell, the study, the library, and the workshop.
More direct in its effect upon technics was the creation of the factory. Down to the nineteenth century factories were always called mills, for what we call the factory grew out of the application of water-power to industrial processes... .
The factory had finally a double role: it was an agent of mechanical regimentation, like the new army, and it was an example of genuine social order, appropriate to the new processes in industry.
The unison and cooperation produced by these various institutions, from the university to the factory, vastly increased the amount of effective energy in society... .
The clock and the printing press and the blast furnace were the giant inventions of the eotechnic phase, comparable to the steam engine in the period that followed, or the dynamo and the radio in the neotechnic phase.
Since invention is almost never the sole work of a single inventor, however great a genius he may be, and since it is the product of the successive labors of innumerable men, working at various times and often toward various purposes, it is merely a figure of speech to attribute an invention to a single person: this is a convenient falsehood fostered by a spurious sense of patriotism and by the device of patent monopolies-- a device that enables one man to claim special financial rewards for being the last link in the complicated social process that produced the invention. Any fully developed machine is a composite collective product: the present weaving machinery, according to Hobson, is a compound of about 800 inventions, while the present carding machinery is a compound of about 60 patents.
Weakness and Strength
Sombart marks the turning point of capitalism in the transfer of the center of gravity from the organic textile industries to the inorganic mining industries: that likewise marks the transition from the eotechnic to the paleotechnic economy.
Manufacture... organized and partitioned handwork carried on in large establishments with or without power-machines, broke down the process of production into a series of specialized operations. [...] This division was, in fact, a sort of empirical analysis of the working process, analyzing it out into a series of simplified human motions which could then be translated into mechanical operations. Once this analysis was performed, the rebuilding of the entire sequence of operations into a machine became more feasible. The mechanization of human labor was, in effect, the first step toward the humanization of the machine-- humanization in the sense of giving the automaton some of the mechanical equivalents of life-likeness. The immediate effect of this division of process was a monstrous dehumanization... . Marx has summed up the process admirably.
"[...] manufacture... transforms the worker into a cripple, a monster, by forcing him to develop some highly specialized dexterity at the cost of a world of productive impulses and faculties-- much as in Argentina they slaughter a whole beast simply in order to get his hide or tallow. Not merely are the various partial operations allotted to different individuals; but the individual himself is split up, is transformed into the automatic motor of some partial operation... ."
In sum: as industry became more advanced from a mechanical point of view it at first became more backward from a human standpoint. [...] It remained for the nineteenth century to accomplish this final degradation.
Culture and technics, though intimately related to each other through the activities of living men, often lie like non-conformable strata in geology, and, so to say, weather differently. During the greater part of the eotechnic period, however, they were in relative harmony."
The Paleotechnic Phase
1. England's Belated Leadership
By the middle of the eighteenth century... the external forces of nature were harnessed and the mills and looms and spindles were working busily through Western Europe. The time had come to consolidate and systematize the great advances that had been made.
...after 1750 industry passed into a new phase, with a different source of power, different materials, different social objectives.
2. The New Barbarism
As we have seen, the earlier technical development had not involved a complete breach with the past. On the contrary, it had seized and appropriated and assimilated the technical innovations of other cultures, some very ancient, and the pattern of industry was wrought into the dominant pattern of life itself.
Paleotehnic industry, on the other hand, arose out of the break-down of European society and carried the process of disruption to a finish. [...] A landless, traditionless proletariat, which had been stedily gathering since the sixteenth century, was drawn into these new areas and put to work in these new industries: if peasants were not handy, paupers were supplied by willing municipal authorities... . These new mill villages and milltowns, barren of even the dead memorials of an older humaner culture, knew no other round and suggested no other outlet, than steady unremitting toil. The operations themselves were repetitive and monotonous; the environment was sordid; the life that was lived in these new centers were empty and barbarous to the last degree. Here the break with the past was complete.
Here was something almost without parallel in the history of civilization: not a lapse into barbarism through the enfeeblement of a higher civilization, but an upthrust into barbarism, aided by the very forces and interests which originally had been directed toward the conquest of the environment and the perfection of human culture. Where and under what conditions did this change take place? And how, when it represented in fact the lowest point in social development Europe had known since the Dark Ages did it come to be looked upon as a humane and beneficial advance?
The phase one here defines as paleotechnic reached its highest point, in terms of its own concepts and ends, in England in the middle of the nineteenth century: its cock-crow of triumph was the great industrial exhibition in the new Crystal Palace at Hyde Park in 1851: the first World Exposition, an apparent victory for free trade, free enterprise, free invention, and free access to all the world's markets by the country that boasted already that it was the workshop of the world. [...] In the United States the paleotechnic regime did not get under way until the eighteen fifties, almost a century after England; and it reached its highest point at the beginning of the present century, whereas in Germany it dominated the years between 1870 and 1914, and, being carried to perhaps fuller and completer expression, has collapsed with greater rapidity there than in any other part of the world.
Without accepting any of the implications of Henry Adam's attempt to apply the phase rule of physics to the facts of history, one may grant an increasing rate of change to the processes of invention and technical improvement, at least up to the present; and if eight hundred years almost defines the eotechnic phase, one should expect a much shorter term for the paleotechnic one.
3. Carboniferous Capitalism
The great shift in population and industry that took place in the eighteenth century was due to the introduction of coal as a source of mechanical power, to the use of new means of making that power effective-- the steam engine-- and to new methods of smelting and working up iron. Out of this coal and iron complex, a new civilization developed.
In the economy of the earth, the large-scale opening up of coal seams meant that industry was beginning to live for the first time on an accumulation of potential energy, derived from the ferns of the carboniferous period, instead of upon current income. In the abstract, mankind entered into the possession of a capital inheritance more splendid than all the wealth of the Indies... .
4. The Steam Engine
In all its broader aspects, paleotechnic industry rested on the mine... .
From the mine came the steam pump and presently the steam engine: ultimately the steam locomotive and so, by derivation, the steamboat. From the mine came the escalator, the elevator,... and the subway for urban transportation. The railroad liewise came directly from the mine: roads with wooden rails were laid down in Newcastle, England, in 1602: but they were common in the German mines a hundred years before... . Around 1716 these wooden ways were capped with plates of malleable iron; and in 1767 cast iron bars were substituted. [...] The combination of the railroad, the train of cars, and the locomotive, first used in the mines at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was applied to passenger transportation a generation later. Wherever the iron rails and wooden ties of this new system of locomotion went, the mine and the products of the mine went with it: indeed, the principal product carried by railroads is coal. the nineteenth century town became in effect-- and indeed in appearance-- an extension of the coal mine... . To be cut off from the coal mine was to be cut off from the source of paleotechnic civilization.
The main lines of the invention [of the steam engine] were laid down before Watt came upon the scene. It was his mission, not to invent the steam engine, but to raise considerably its efficiency by creating a separate condensing chamber and by utilizing the expansive pressure of the steam itself. [...] His earlier steam engines were all pumps. Not until 1781 did Watt devote himself to inventing a rotary prime mover; and the answer to this problem was the great double-action fifty horsepower engine that his firm installed in the Albion Flour Mill in 1786, following the ten horsepower engine he first made for use in a brewery in London. In less than twenty years, so great was the demand for power, he installed 84 engines in cotton mills, 9 in wool and worsted mills, 18 in canal-works and 17 in breweries.
Incidently, the Albion Mills, designed by Rennie, were not merely the first to use steam for grinding wheat, but are supposed to have been the first important establishment in which every piece of the plant and equipment, axles, wheels, pinions, and shafts, was made of metal.
In more than one department, then, the 1780's mark the definite crystallization of the paleotechnic complex: Murdock's steam carriage, Cort's reverberatory furnance, Wilkinson's iron boat, Car-wright's power loom, and Jouffroy's and Fitch's steamboats, the latter with a screw propeller, date back to this decade. The whole technique of wood had now to be perfected in the more difficult, refractory material-- iron.
Twenty-four hour operations, which characterized the mine and the blast furnace, now came into other industries which had heretofore respected the limitations of day and night. Moved by a desire to earn every possible sum on their investments [i.e., the steam engine], the textile manufacturers lengthened the working day: and whereas in England in the fifteenth century it had been fourteen or fifteen hours long in mid-summer with from two and a half to three hours allowed for recreation and meals, in the new milltowns it was frequently sixteen hours long all the year round, with a single hour off for dinner. Operated by the steam engine, lighted by gas, the new mills could work for twenty-four hours. Why not the worker?
The industrial leaders not only accepted concentration and magnitude as a fact of operation, conditioned by the steam engine: they came to believe in it by itself, as a mark of progress.
...with the integration of the railroad system and the growth of international markets, population tended to heap up in the great terminal cities, the junctions, the port towns.
That purely physical massing of population to which Patrick Geddes gave the name conurbation, was a direct product of the coal-and-iron regime.
5. Blood and Iron
Iron and coal dominated the paleotechnic period. [...] ...the paleotechnic milieu... was... reduced, by reason of the soot and cinders that accompanied its activities, to its characteristic tones, grey, dirty, brown, black. The center of the new industrialism in England was appropriately called the Black Country... .
Iron became the universal material... .
In the very midst of celebrating the triumphs of peace and internationalism in 1851, the paleotechnic regime was preparing for a series of more lethal wars in which, as a result of modern methods of production and transport entire nations would finally become involved: the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, most deadly and vicious of all, the World War.
[gap, p. 166, talking about the properties of Iron]
6. The Destruction of Environment
The first mark of paleotechnic industry was the pollution of the air.
In this paleotechnic world the realities were money, prices, capital, shares: the environment itself, like most of human existence, was treated as an abstraction.
So this period was marked throughout the Western World by the widespread perversion and destruction of environment: the tactics of mining and the debris of the mine spread everywhere.
...the reek of coal was the very incense of the new industrialism. A clear sky in an industrial district was the sign of a strike or a lockout or an industrial depression. If atmospheric sewage was the first mark of paleotechnic industry, stream pollution was the second.
7. The Degradation of the Worker
Human beings were dealt with in the same spirit of brutality as the landscape... .
For a number of centuries the degradation of labor had been going on steadily in Europe; at the end of the eighteenth century, thanks to the shrewdness and near-sighted rapacity of the English industrialists, it reached its nadir in England.
By the middle of the eighteenth century the handicraft worker had been reduced, in the new industries, into a competitor with the machine. But there was one weak spot in the system: the nature of human beings themelves. [...] "By the infirmity of human nature," wrote Ure... , "it happens that the more skillful the workman, the more self-willed and intractable he is apt to become, and of course the less fit and component of the mechanical system in which... he may do great damage to the whole."
The first requirement for the factory system, then, was the castration of skill. The second was the discipline of starvation. The third was the closing up of alternative occupations by means of land-monopoly and dis-education.
...exclusion from craft apprenticeship, together with specialization in subdivided and partitioned mechanical functions, unfitted the machine-worker for the career of pioneer or farmer... . Reduced to the function of a cog, the new worker could not operate without being joined to a machine. ...the only things that kept them bound to the machine were starvation, ignorance, and gear. These three conditions were the foundations of industrial discipline,... even though the poverty of the worker undermined and periodically ruined the system of mass production which the new factory discipline promoted. Therein lay one of the inherent "contradictions" of the capitalist scheme of production.
It remained for Richard Arkwright, at the beginning of the paleotechnic development, to put the finishing touches upon the factory system itself: perhaps the most remarkable piece of regimentation, all things considered, that the last thousand years have seen.
Arkwright's great contribution to... the factory system... was the elaboration of a code of factory discipline: three hundred years after Prince Maurice had transformed the military arts, Arkwright perfected the industrial army.
At the opening of the the period, in 1770, a writer had projected a new scheme for providing for paupers. He called it a House of Terror: it was to be a place where paupers would be confined at work for fourteen hours a day and kept in hand by a starvation diet. Within a generation, this House of Terror had become the typical paleotechnic factory: in fact the ideal, as Marx well says, paled before the reality.
Industrial diseases naturally flourished in this environment.
...in so far as the workers were diseased, crippled, stupefied, and reduced to apathy and dejection by the paleotechnic environment they were only, up to a certain point, so much the better adapted to the new routine of factory and mill. For the highest standards of factory efficiency were achieved with the aid of only partly used human organisms-- in short, of defectives. With the large scale organization of the factory it became necessary that the operatives should at least be able to read notices, and from 1832 onwards measures for providing education for the child laborers were introduced in England.
...a new type of personality had emerged, a walking abstraction: the Economic Man. Living men imitated this penny-in-the-slot automaton, this creature of bare rationalism. [...] Outside the industrial system, the Economic Man was in a state of neurotic maladjustment. [...] ...jailer and prisoner were both, so to say, inmates of the same House of Terror.
8. The Starvation of Life
The essential pattern set by paleotechnic industry in England, with its great technical lead and its sedate, well-disciplined operatives, was repeated in every new region, as the machine girdled the globe.
Religion ceased in large groups to be the opiate of the poor... : and it would be more nearly true to say that opiates became the religion of the poor.
The rhythm of movement disappeared: within the factory the quick staccato of the machine displaced the organic rhythms... .
Home life was crowded out of existence; the very ability to cook disappeared among the woman workers.
This starvation of the senses, this restriction and depletion of the physical body, created a race of invalids.
In vain did the educators of the period... attempt to combat this desiccation of the mind and this drying up of life at the roots.
At the very height of England's industrial squalor, when the houses for the working classes were frequently built beside open sewers and when rows of them were being built back to back-- at that very moment complacent scholars writing in middle-class libraries could dwell upon the "filth" and "dirt" and "ignorance" of the Middle Ages, as compared with the enlightenment and cleanliness of their own.
9. The Doctrine of Progress
Man, according to the philosophers and rationalists, was climbing steadily out of the mire of superstition, ignorance, savagery, into a world that was to become every more polished, human and rational... . Tools and instruments and laws and institutions had all been improved: instead of being moved by instincts and governed by force, men were capable of being moved and governed by reason.
The laws of progress became self-evident: were not new machines being invented every year? Were they not transformed by successive modifications?
Assuming that progress was a reality, if the cities of the nineteenth century were dirty, the cities of the thirteenth century must have been six centuries dirtier: for had not the world become constantly cleaner? [...] The fact that the cities of the thirteenth century were far brighter and cleaner and better ordered that the new Victorian towns: the fact that medieval hospitals were more spacious and more sanitary than their Victorian successors: the fact that in many parts of Europe the medieval worker had demonstrably a far higher standard of living than the paleotechnic drudge, tied triumphantly to a semi-automatic machine-- these facts did not even occur to the exponent of Progress as possibilities for investigation. They were ruled out automatically by the theory itself.
Plainly, by taking some low point of human development in the past, one might over a limited period of time point to a real advance. [...] But if one compared the amount of destruction caused by a hundred years of the most murderous warfare in the Middle Ages with what took place in four short years during the World War, precisely because of such great instruments of technological progress as modern artillery, steel tanks, poison gas, bombs and flame throwers, picric acid and T.N.T., the result was a step backward.
Unlike the organic patters of movement through space and time, the cycle of growth and decay, the balanced motion of the dancer, the statement and return of the musical composition, progress was motion toward infinity, motion without completion or end, motion for motion's sake.
Life was judged by the extent to which it ministered to progress, progress was not judged by the extent to which it ministered to life. [...] What paleotect dared ask himself whether labor-saving, money-grubbing, power-acquiring, space-annihilating, thing-producing devices were in fact producing an equivalent expansion and enrichment of life? That question would have been the ultimate heresy. The men who asked it, the Ruskins, the Nietzsches, the Melvilles, were in fact treated as heretics and cast out of this society: in more than one case, they were condemned to an exacerbating solitude that reached the limit of madness.
10. The Struggle for Existence
This struggle for the market was finally given a philosophic name: it was called the struggle for existence.
IN his essay on population the Reverend T. R. Malthus shrewdly generalized the actual state of England in the midst of the disorders that attended the new industry. [...] In the course of the struggle for food, the upper classes, with their thrift and foresight and superior mentality emerged from the ruck of mankind. With this image in mind, and with Malthus's Essay on Population as the definite stimulus to their thoughts, two British biologists, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, projected the intense struggle for the market upon the world of life in general. Another philosopher of industrialism, just as characteristically a railroad engineer by profession as Spinoza had been a lens grinder, coined a phrase that touched off the whole process: the the struggle for existence and the process of natural selection Spencer appended the results: "the survival of the fittest." The phrase itself was a tautology; for survival was taken as the proof of fitness: but that did not decrease its usefulness.
This new ideology arose out of the new social order, not out of Darwin's able biological work.
The Malthus-Darwin doctrine explained the dominance of the new bourgeoisie, people without taste, imagination, intellect, moral scruples, general culture or even elementary bowels of compassion, who rose to the surface precisely because they fitted an environment that had no place and no use for any of these humane attributes. Only anti-social qualities had survival value.
11. Class and Nation
Just as Darwin had extended the competition of the market to the entire world of life, so did Engels and Marx extend the contemporary class struggle to the entire history of society.
Marx's original prediction that the class struggle would be fought out on strict class lines between an impoverished international proletariat and an equally coherent international bourgeoisie was falsified by two unexpected conditions. One was the growth of the middle classes and the small industries... . [...] The second fact was [nationalism]... . ...the national struggle cut at right angles to the class struggle.
The struggle for political power... became a struggle between states for the command of exploitable areas... .
"The present," exclaimed Ure in 1835, "is distinguished from every preceding age by an universal ardor of enterprise in arts and manufactuers. Nationals, convinced at length that war is always a losing game, have converted their swords and muskets into factory implements, and now contend with each other in the bloodless but still formidable strife of trade. They no longer send troops to fight on distant fields, but fabrics to drive before them those of their old adversaries in arms, to take possession of a foreign market. To impair the resources of a rival at home, by underselling his wares abroad, is the new belligerent system, in pursuance of whcih every nerve and sinew of the people are put upon the strain."
The intensity of these nationalist struggles... somewhat weakened the effect of the class struggles. [...] After 1850 nationalism became the drill master of the restless proletariat, and the latter worked out its sense of inferiority and defeat by identification with the all-powerful State.
12. The Empire of Muddle
The jockeying for profits without any regard for the stable ordering of production had two unfortunate results. For one thing, it undermined argriculture. As long as food supplies and materials could be obtained cheaply from some far part of the earth... no effort was made to keep agriculture and industry in equipoise. THe countryside... was further depressed by the drift of population into the apparently thriving factory towns.
The second effect was even more disastrous. It divided the world into areas of machine production and areas of foods and raw materials: this made the existence of the over-industrialized countries more precarious, the further they were cut off from their rural base of supplies: hence the beginning of strenuous naval competition.
...in the long run neither England nor the "advanced countries" could hold the lead: for the new machine system was a universal one.
The state of paleotechnic society may be described, ideally, as one of wardom.
The school was regimented like an army, and the army camp became the universal school... . [...] The drab prisonlike houses, the palisades of dull streets, the treeless backyards filled with rubbish, the unbroken rooftops, with never a gap for park or playground, underlined this environment of death.
13. Power and Time
With the enormous increase in power a new tempo had entered production: the regimentation of time, which had been sporadic and fitful now began to influence the entire Western World. The symptom of this change was the mass production of cheap watches: first begun in Switzerland, and then undertaken on a large scale in Waterbury, Connecticut, in the eighteen-fifties.
Mechanical periodicity took the place of organic... periodicity in every department of life where the usurpation was possible.
The spread of rapid transportation occasioned a change in the method of time-keeping itself. Sun time, which varies a minute every eight miles as one travels from east to west, could no longer be observed. INstead of a local time based upon the sun, it was necessary to have a conventional time belt, and to change abruptly by a whole hour when one entered the new time belt. Standard time was imposed by the transcontinental railroads themselves in 1875 in the United States, ten years before the regulations for standard time were officially promulgated at a World Congress. This carried to a conclusion that standardization of time that had begun with the foundation of the Greenwich observatory two hundred years before, and had been carried further, first on the sea, by comparing ship's chronometers with Greenwich time. The entire planet was now divided off into a series of time-belts. This orchestrated actions over wider areas than had ever been able to move simultaneously before. Mechanical time now became second nature... .
During the paleotechnic period, the increase of power and the acceleration of movement became ends in themselves... .
14. The Esthetic Compensation
...with the increase in the number of instruments, the division of labor within the orchestra corresponded to that of the factory: the division of the process itself became noticeable in the newer symphonies. [...] But in the orchestra the collective efficiency, the collective harmony, the functional division of labor, the loyal cooperative interplay between the leaders and the led, produced a collective unison greater than that which was achieved, in all probablity, within any single factory. For one thing, the rhythm was more subtle; and the timing of the successive operations was perfected in the symphony orchestra long before anything like the same efficient routine came about in the factory.
Here, then, in the constitution of the orchestra, was the ideal pattern of the new society. It was achieved in art before it was approached in technics. [...] ...what was lost in the other arts, what had disappeared almost completely in architecture, was recovered in music. Tempo, rhythm, tone, harmony, melody, polyphony, counterpoint, even dissonance and atonality, were all utilized freely to create a new ideal world, where the tragic destiny, the dim longings, the heroic destinies of men could be entertained once more. Cramped by its new pragmatic routines, driven from the market place and the factory, the human spirit rose to a new supremacy in the concert hall. Its greatest structures were built of sound and vanished in the act of being produced. If only a small part of the population listened to these works of art or had any insight into their meaning, they nevertheless had at least a glimpse of another heaven than Coketown's.
Naturally, human life as a whole did not stop short during this period. Many people still lived, if with difficulty, for other ends than profit, power, and comfort... . Perhaps most of the poets and novelists and painters were distressed by the new order and defied it in a hundred ways: above all, by existing as poets and novelists and painters, useless creatures, whose confrontation of life in its many-sided unity was looked upon by the Gradgrinds as a wanton escape from the "realities" of their abstract accountancy. Thackery deliberately cast his works in a pre-industrial environment, in order to evade the new issues. Carlyle, preaching the gospel of work, denounced the actualities of Victorian work. Dickens satirized the stock-promoter, the Manchester individualist, the utilitarian, the blustering self-made man: Balzac and Zola, painting the new financial order with a documentary realism, left no question as to its degradation and nastiness. Other artists turned with Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites back to the Middle Ages, where Overbeck and Hoffmann in Germany, and Chateaubriand and Hugo in France, had preceded them: still others turned with Browning to Renascence Italy, with Doughty to primitive Arabia, with Melville and Gauguin to the South Seas, with Thoreau to the primeval woods, with Tolstoy to the peasants. What did they seek? A few simple things not to be found between the railroad terminal and the factory: plain animal self-respect, color in the outer environment and emotional depth in the inner landscape, a life lived for its own values... . Peasants and savages had retained some of these qualities: and to recover them became one of the main duties of those who sought to supplement the iron fare of industrialism.
15. Mechanical Triumphs
The technical gains made during this phase were tremendous: it was an era of mechanical realization when, at last, the ability of the tool-makers and machine-makers had caught up with the demands of the inventor. During this period the principal machine tools were perfected , including the drill, the planer, and the lathe: power-propelled vehicles were created and their speeds were steadily increased... . [...] Iron production increased from 17,000 tons in 1740 to 2,100,000 tons in 1850.
Perhaps the greatest monument of the period was the Crystal Palace in England... . [...] This period of daring experimentation in iron structures reached its climax in the early skyscrapers of Chicago, and in Eiffel's great bridges and viaducts: the famous Eiffel Tower of 1888 overtopped these in height but not in mastery. Ship-building and bridge-building... required a degree of inter-relation and co-ordination that few industries, except possibly railroads, approached.[...] William Morris characterized the new steamships, with true insight, as the Cathedrals of the Industrial Age. [...] The steamer and the bridge were the new symphonies in steel.
In the back of all these efforts was a new race of artists: the English toolmakers of the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century. [...] Up to this time screws had been usually cut by hand: they were difficult to make... : no [standard] system was observed as to pitch or form of the threads. Every bolt and nut, as Smiles remarks, was a sort of speciality in itself. Maudslay's screw-cutting lathe was one of the decisive pieces of standardization that made the modern machine possible. [...] ...out of [Maudslay's] workshop, trained by his exact methods, came an apostolic succession of mechanics: Nasmyth, who invented the steam hammer, Whitworth, who perfected the rifle and the cannon, Roberts, Muirs, and Lewis. Another great mechanics of the time, Clement, also trained by Bramah [like Maudslay], worked on Babbage's calculating machine, between 1823 and 1842-- the most refined and intricate mechanism, according to Roe, that had so far been produced.
16. The Paleotechnic Passage
The ultimate outcome of this over-stressed power ideology... was the World War-- that period of senseless strife which came to a head in 1914 and is still being fought out by the frustrated populations that have come under the machine system. [...] Though for convenience I have talked of the paleotechnic phase in its past tense, it is still with us, and the methods and habits of thought it has produced still rule a great part of mankind.
But the truly significant part of the paleotechnic phase lay not in what it produced but in what it led to: it was a period of transition, a busy, congested, rubbish-strewn avenue between the eotechnic and the neotechnic economies."
The Neotechnic Phase
1. The Beginnings of Neotechnics
Now, while the neotechnic phase is a definite physical and social complex, one cannot define it as a period, partly because it has not yet developed its own form and organization, partly because we are still in the midst of it and cannot see its details in their ultimate relationships, and partly because it has not displaced the older regime with anything like the speed and decisiveness that characterized the transformation of the eotechnic order in the late eighteenth century. [...] Paleotechnic ideals still largely dominate the industry and the politics of the Western World... . [...] ...the paleotechnic remains a barbarizing influence.
To the extent that neotechnic industry has failed to transform the coal-and-iron complex, to the extent that it has failed to secure an adequate foundation for its humaner technology in the community as a whole, to the extent that it has lent its heightened powers to the minder, the financier, the militarist, the possibilities of disruption and chaos have increased.
But the beginnings of the neotechnic phase can nevertheless be approximately fixed.
Coming on top of the important work done by Volta, Galvani, Oerested, Ohm, and Ampere, Faraday's work on electricity, coupled with Joseph Henry's exactly contemporary research on the electro-magnet, erected a new basis for the conversion and distribution of energy and for most of the decisive neotechnic inventions.
By 1850 a good part of the fundamental scientific discoveries and inventions of the new phase had been made: the electric cell, the storage cell, the dynamo, the motor, the electric lamp, the spectroscope, the doctrine of the conservation of energy. Between 1875 and 1900 the detailed application of these inventions to industrial processes was carried out in the electric power station and the telephone and the radio telegraph. Finally, a series of complementary inventions, the phonograph, the moving picture, the gasoline engine, the steam turbine, the airplane, were all sketched in, if not perfected by 1900 [and to those of us living in the 21st century, the computer, internet, communication satellites, and cell-phone stand out clearly at the end of this development as its culminating achievements, along with nuclear power plants, bombs, and guided weapons].
7. The Paradox of Communication
With the invention of the telegraph a series of inventions began to bridge the gap in time between communication and response despite the handicaps of space: first the telegraph, then the telephone, then the wireless telegraph, then the wireless telephone, and finally television. As a result, communication is now on the point of returning, with the aid of mechanical devices, to that instantaneous reaction of person to person with which it began; but the possibilities of this immediate meeting, instead of being limited by space and time, will be limited only by the... mechanical perfection and accessibility of the apparatus. When the radio telephone is supplemented by television communication will differ from direct intercourse only to the extent that immediate physical contact will be impossible.
What will be the outcome? Obviously, a widened range of intercourse: more numerous contacts: more numerous demands on attention and time. But unfortunately, the possibility of this type of immediate intercourse on a worldwide basis does not necessarily mean a less trivial or a less parochial personality.
Nevertheless, instantaneous personal communication over long distances is one of the outstanding marks of the neotechnic phase... . [...] Plato defined the [ideal] limits of the size of a city as the number of people who could hear the voice of a single orator: today those limits do not define a city but a civilization. [...] The possibilities for good and evil here are immense: the secondary personal contact with voice and image may increase the amount of mass regimentation, all the more because the opportunity for individual members reacting directly upon the leader himself, as in a local meeting, becomes farther and farther removed. At the present moment, as with so many other neotechnic benefits, the dangers of the radio and the talking picture seem greater than the benefits. [...] There is... certainly nothing to indicate, as the earlier exponents of instantaneous communication seem pretty uniformly to have thought, that the results will automatically be favorable to the community.
8. The New Permanent Record
...the photograph gives the effect of repetition to what was, perhaps, a unique event, never to be observed again. In the same fashion, the camera gives an almost instantaneous cross-section of history-- arresting images in their flight through time. [...] To divorce an object from its integral time-sequence is to rob it of its complete meaning, although it makes it possible to grasp spatial relations which may otherwise defy observations.
In a world of flux and change, the camera gave a means of combating the ordinary processes of deterioration and decay... . The moving picture, carrying a succession of images through time, widened the scope of the camera and essentially altered its function; for it could telescope the slow movement of growth, or prolong the fast movement of jumping, and it could keep in steady focus events which could not otherwise be held in consciousness with the same intensity and fixity. Heretofore records had been confined to snatches of time, or, when they sought to move with time itself, they were reduced to abstractions. Now they could become continuous images of the events they represented. So the flow of time ceased to be representable by the successive mechanical ticks of the clock: its equivalent-- and Bergson was quick to seize this image-- was the motion picture reel [i.e., see Bergons on the 'cinamatographical mechanism of thought'].
Whereas in the eotechnic phase one conversed with the mirror and produced the biographical portrait and the introspective biography, in the neotechnic phase one poses for the camera, or still more, one acts for the motion picture. [...] Alone, he still thinks of himself as a public character, being watched... . This constant sense of public world would seem in part, at least, to be the result of the camera and the camera-eye that developed with it. [...] The change is significant : not self-examination but self-exposure: not tortured confession but easy open condor... .
It is no longer necessary to keep vast middens of material in order to have contact, in the mind, with the forms and expressions of the past. These mechanical devices are thus an excellent ally to that other new piece of social apparatus which became common in the nineteenth century: the public museum. They gave modern civilization a direct sense of the past and a more accurate perception of its memorials than any other civilization had, in all probability, had. Not alone did they make the past more immediate: they made the present more historic by narrowing the lapse of time between the actual events themselves and their concrete record. For the first time one might come face to face with the speaking likenesses of dead people and recall in their immediacy forgotten scenes and actions. Faust bartered his soul with Mephistopheles to see Helen of Troy: on much easier terms it will be possible for our descendants to view the Helens of the twentieth century. Thus a new form of immortality was effected; and a late Victorian writer, Samuel Butler, might well speculate upon how completely a man was dead when his words, his image, and his voice were still capable of being resurrected and could have a direct effect upon the spectator and listener.
At first these new recording and reproducing devices have confused the mind and defied selective use: no one can pretend that we have yet employed them, in any sufficient degree, with wisdom or even with ordered efficiency. But they suggest a new relationship between deed and record, between the movement of life and its collective enregistration... .
9. Light and Life
The glass technics, which had reached its first summit of mechanical perfection in the Venetian mirror, now repeats its triumphs in a hundred different departments: quartz alone is its rival.
Clerk-Maxwell's unification of electricity and light is perhaps the outstanding symbol of this new phase.
Now color, hitherto relegated to an unimportant place as a secondary characteristic of matter [secondary quality], becomes an important factor in chemical analysis, with the discovery that each element has its characteristic spectrum.
The imperceptible, the ultra-violet and the infra-red... , became commonplace elements in the new physical world at the moment that the dark forces of the unconscious were added to the purely external and rationalized psychology of the human world. Even the unseen was, so to say, illuminated... .
13. The Present Pseudomorph
There is... [a] difficulty in dealing with this phase: namely, we are still in the midst of the transition. [...] The fact is that in the great industrial areas of Western Europe and America and in the exploitable territories that are under the control of these centers, the paleotechnic phase is still intact and all its essential characteristics are uppermost... . In this persistence of paleotechnic practices the original anti-vital bias of the machine is evidence... . [...] What is responsible for this miscarriage of the machine?
The answer involves something more complex than a cultural lag or retardation. It is best explained, I think, by a concept put forward by Oswald Spengler in the second volume of the Decline of the West: the concept of the cultural pseudomorph. Spengler points to the common fact in geology that a rock may retain its structure after certain elements have been leached out of it and been replaced by an entirely different kind of material. Since the apparent structure of the old rock remains, the new product is termed a pseudomorph. A similar metamorphosis is possible in culture: new forces, activities, institutions, instead of crystallizing independently into their own appropriate forms, may creep into the structure of an existing civilization. This perhaps is the essential fact of our present situation. As a civilization, we have not yet entered the neotechnic phase; and should a future historian use the present terminology, he would undoubtedly have to characterize the current transition as a mesotechnic period: we are still living, in Matthew Arnold's words, between two worlds, one death, the other powerless to be born.
We have merely used our new machines and energies to further processes which were begun under the auspices of capitalist and military enterprise: we have not yet utilized them to conquer these forms of enterprise and subdue them to more vital and humane purposes.
The neotechnic refinement of the machine, without a coordinated development of higher social purposes, has only magnified the possibilities of depravity and barbarism.
['The present pseudomorph is'] has only a fraction of the efficiency that the neotechnic civilization as a whole may possess, provided it finally produces its own institutional forms and controls and directions and patterns. [...] Paleotechnic purposes with neotechnic means: that is the most obvious characteristic of the present order."