Does civilization become more open-minded with the progression of technology and culture, or is man hopelessly reduced to an inclination for destruction, no matter the window-dressings? Jonathan Swift's hardline prejudice against humanity is different from Ted Kuczynski's prejudice, who said that technology was to blame for man's ignorance and destruction because it inebriated him in a way that was unnatural and unnecessary. Swift doesn't blame man's issues on technology, but he also doesn't attribute him with the flexibility Kaczynski does. Thus, Kaczynski is inherently more optimistic because he believes people can be saved from themselves, so long as they turn away from the current modus of viewing technology, and Swift is more bleak, believing that no matter the technological progress, forms of governments, or breakthroughs in medicine, at base man is still a confused, destructive animal.
Swift's observation lies in a fundament of how power is domestically exerted. On the civilian front, power isn't so much as exerted--because you'd damage the product that you need to 1) protect you, 2) build your economy, and 3) build your ego through praise, history, and artifacts--but rather displayed. This display of power is political, which is why the fundament of domestic power is positioning rather than executing. Swift refers to the tribes within his own novels, and how the lowest form of animal is the graveling, sniveling favorite, "whose employment was to lick his master's feet, and drive the female Yahoos to his kennel; or which he was now and then rewarded with a piece of ass's flesh. This favourite is hated by the whole herd, and therefore, to protect himself, keeps always near the person of his leader." (p.454) The dynamics of modern individualism relinquish this very compulsion, as well as the reward system which incentivizes it, right? Wrong. This power play is still active because the whole concept of equality is a sham, both due to our natural constitution, and our fickle desires. Humans have never wanted true equality, nor have they ever been capable of true equality, which a simple investigation into Communism will demonstrate. This doesn't mean the other side of the coin is automatically true, that people should be prejudiced based on their fundamental traits, or that they enjoy it when they're the victims of prejudice. The sniveling, graveling minion acts out of fear, as Swift points out, not because he's fulfilling some kind of masochistic purpose or fetish, but because he's chosen not to be a bold individual. He can't even feed himself, which is why he's rewarded with a piece of "asses flesh." You may think we've evolved our power paradigm, but we've simply improved medicine, technology, and agriculture. The compulsion of the weak and strong still act along the same power lines, because some people are naturally stronger at politics and social leading (manifests in alpha behavioral cues), while others are naturally more submissive. There are shades of grey in between, but the point is that the social milieu may have changed for the better in terms of leisure and life expectancy, but that doesn't necessarily mean the fundamental power paradigm has improved. There are still users, manipulators, sociopaths, and enablers.
A simple exchange between the two on page 456 suggests the increasing credulity that comes with the progress of civilization, which is the polar opposite of the popular thought that civilization breeds intelligence:
ORWELL: It's called petrol. But don't you find that the mass of the people are more intelligent than they were, or at least better educated? How about the newspapers and the radio? Surely they have opened people's minds a little? There are very few people in England now who can't read, for instance.
SWIFT: That is why they are so easily deceived. Your ancestors two hundred years ago were full of barbarous superstitions, but they would not have been so credulous as to believe your daily newspapers."
You'd think that those who believe in barbarous superstitions would be less apt to recognize garbage laid before them, and in some instances, when the mind is completely shut off, they will. But, they lacked the naiveté that assumed the world is and should be an honorable and clean place. You'll be amazed what you can be convinced of when naiveté is in your toolkit. Not to say the barbarous superstitions are reasonable, but the acceptance of the dirty, effort-laden world developed a certain bullshit meter within them. They could still be bullshitted, but you had to work harder for it, which is different from nowadays, when the talking heads on television strongly influence opinion and decision-making processes almost immediately.
The broadening of technology, medicine and agriculture simply broadens civilizations access to resources. However, there's a modern disease spreading that says just because it's easy to use, anyone could've created it under the same conditions the actual creator was under. It's assumed that each of us--given the right opportunity--can produce the same caliber paintings, breakthroughs in engineering, chemistry, physics, etc., as those who've already produced them. Simply put, this is an untruth. Our civilization is predominantly comprised of users, exploiters and manipulators, with the creators, developers and adaptors comprising a small fraction. We assume they are the same category because of an addiction to human entitlement, and that we're all great by nature. However, this assumption serve one function alone: to nourish human civilization.
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