Recently, he’s applied his science to come up with some novel ideas on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “In my view, it is a mistake to look for strategies that build mutual trust because it ain’t going to happen. Neither side has any reason to trust the other, for good reason,” he says. “Land for peace is an inherently flawed concept because it has a fundamental commitment problem. If I give you land on your promise of peace in the future, after you have the land, as the Israelis well know, it is very costly to take it back if you renege. You have an incentive to say, ‘You made a good step, it’s a gesture in the right direction, but I thought you were giving me more than this. I can’t give you peace just for this, it’s not enough.’ Conversely, if we have peace for land—you disarm, put down your weapons, and get rid of the threats to me and I will then give you the land—the reverse is true: I have no commitment to follow through. Once you’ve laid down your weapons, you have no threat.”
Bueno de Mesquita’s answer to this dilemma, which he discussed with the former Israeli prime minister and recently elected Labor leader Ehud Barak, is a formula that guarantees mutual incentives to cooperate. “In a peaceful world, what do the Palestinians anticipate will be their main source of economic viability? Tourism. This is what their own documents say. And, of course, the Israelis make a lot of money from tourism, and that revenue is very easy to track. As a starting point requiring no trust, no mutual cooperation, I would suggest that all tourist revenue be [divided by] a fixed formula based on the current population of the region, which is roughly 40 percent Palestinian, 60 percent Israeli. The money would go automatically to each side. Now, when there is violence, tourists don’t come. So the tourist revenue is automatically responsive to the level of violence on either side for both sides. You have an accounting firm that both sides agree to, you let the U.N. do it, whatever. It’s completely self-enforcing, it requires no cooperation except the initial agreement by the Israelis that they are going to turn this part of the revenue over, on a fixed formula based on population, to some international agency, and that’s that.”
Lived reality is spectacularly fragmented and labeled in biological, sociological or other categories which, while being related to the communicable, never communicate anything but facts emptied of their authentically lived content. It is in this sense that hierarchical power, imprisoning everyone in the objective mechanism of privative appropriation, is also a dictatorship over subjectivity. It is as a dictator over subjectivity that it strives, with limited chances of success, to force each individual subjectivity to become objectivized, that is, to become an object it can manipulate ...
Facts are deprived of content in the name of the communicable, in the name of an abstract universality, in the name of a perverted harmony in which everyone realizes himself in an inverted perspective. ...
Within a fragment set up as a totality, each further fragment is itself totalitarian. Sensitivity, desire, will, intelligence, good taste, the subconscious and all the categories of the ego were treated as absolutes by individualism. Today sociology is enriching the categories of psychology, but the introduction of variety into the roles merely accentuates the monotony of the identification reflex. The freedom of the "survivor" will be to assume the abstract constituent to which he has "chosen" to reduce himself. Once any real realization has been put out of the picture, all that remains is a psychosociological dramaturgy in which interiority functions as a safety-valve, as an overflow to drain off the effects one has worn for the daily exhibition. Survival becomes the ultimate stage of life organized as the mechanical reproduction of memory.
- Raoul Vaneigem, "Basic Banalities" [sorry for the obscurity]
The tendency toward psychological collectivization does not have man's welfare as its end. It is designed just as well for his exploitation. In today's world, psychological collectivization is the sine qua non of technical action. Munson says: "By building the morale of the troops, we are trying to increase their yield, to substitute enthusiastic self-discipline for forced obedience, to stimulate their will and their attention - in short, we are pursuing success." There he gives us the key to the kind of psychological action: the yield is greater when man acts from consent, rather than constraint. The problem then is to get the individual's consent artificially through depth psychology, since he will not give it of his own free will. But the decision to give consent must appear to be spontaneous. Anyone who prates about furnishing man an ideal or a faith to live by is helping to bring about technique's ascendancy, however much he talks about "good will." The "ideal" becomes so through the agency of purely technical means whose purpose is to enable men to support an insupportable situation created within the framework of technical culture. This attitude is not the antithesis of the humanistic attitude; the two are interwoven and it is completely artificial to try to separate them.
Human activity in the technical milieu must correspond to this milieu and also must be collective. It must belong to the order of the conditioned reflex. Complete human discipline must respond to technical necessity. And as the technical milieu concerns all men, no mere handful of them but the totality of society is to be conditioned in this way. The reflex must be a collective one. As Munson says "In peacetime, morale building aims at creating among the troops the state of mental receptivity which makes them susceptible to every psychological excitation of wartime." And this "receptivity" must also be installed in every other human group in the technical culture, and especially in the masses of the workers.
Psychological conditioning presupposes collectivity, for masses of men are more receptive to suggestion than individuals, and, as we have seen, suggestion is one of the most important weapons in the psychological arsenal. At the same time, the masses are intolerant and think everything must be black or white. This results from the moral categories imposed by technique and is possible only if the masses are of a single mind and if countercurrents are not permitted to form.
- Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society
« Older The Boy in the Moon | Chip Reese Cashes Out Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments