Savior ex machina, or Chocolate Jesus 2.0 Tohle prosím taky zatím nevydávej, až udělá ten jeden článek, pošlu jí i tento

1. 12. 2021 / Karel Dolejší

Since 1917 some eight generations of fighter planes have followed each other as equipment of the US armed forces. However, during the same time the Americans were not sufficiently able to absorb one key doctrinal and institutional innovation, the German Auftragstaktik called in US documents “mission command”.

US armed forces have formally been struggling to adopt Auftragstaktik for some time. It is no trifle, even though its roots appear to stem from times of Friedrich the Great. It has been known for decades that the tactical superiority of the Wehrmacht against all allied armies till the very end of war had nothing to do with any technological lead. Hitler’s “Wunderwaffen” were almost useless (at huge cost) while the institutional culture of the German army accounted for the greatest advantage.

The German armed forces did not achieve their greatest successes when having better technical equipment than their adversary but when they drew from combination of Auftragstaktik, a peculiar doctrine of cooperation of arms and a thorough system of personal reserves created in the interwar period. Their equipment was often below average.

The above example demonstrates that it may be immensely easier to replace technological equipment in some organization than to push through a single change of organizational culture against bureaucratic resistance. Or in antediluvian language: a change of “production force” can quite well serve as a tool for the elimination of a change of the “relations of production”.

It is very well possible that the technological changes under specific conditions not only do not lead to social change, as the Marxists dogmatically put, but that they in fact enable one to bypass social changes very successfully for a relatively long time.

Of course, when further technological development becomes as immensely expensive as is in the current military where prices decisively outgrow the national product, the former technological lead reached in 80s of the last century by technological embargo (COCOM regime) still more markedly vanishes. At the same time, there is no credible chance for its restoration in our condition of advanced globalization with massively accelerated diffusion of technological innovations. Innovation in sphere of institutional culture can very soon become the only area where superiority over potential adversaries could be attempted.

The more general lesson is rather different: to rely automatically, that technological changes can keep social structures in an “animate”, non-petrified state as we usually suppose today might be an entirely erroneous attitude. The growing costs of technology can also serve as an excellent pretext for no innovation of institutions.

Those who connect their hopes for the future with social change should dispose of shallow technologism which with the appearance of convergence theories came to dominate Western and also Eastern futurology already at the turn of 60s -70s of the last century. The cult of technological development in the end does not exclude actual social stagnation.

And the other way around, real social change does not have to be brought by technological development. Sometimes this development creates the initial conditions, sometimes it is partly supportive, on other occasions the relation is neutral, and in other cases it opposes a change of the society.

As the first step in realistically considering social change we should stop deriving it slavishly from technological development. Without surrendering to Luddism and denying all technological advancement, we should realize social change is something that is in its essence at least relatively independent of technologies. On no account is it their byproduct, as “Marxists” and technocrats suggest.

The second step we must take is to recognize that real social changes often arise from a condition desperate and catastrophic by all canonical perspectives because all of the well-established ways of solving problems failed - when their untouchable cult melts as the chocolate Jesus in Tom Waits’ song.

(Translated by Michal Horák)



Obsah vydání | 18. 4. 2017