Link and Comments: Slate on Rejection of Modernity

Catching up on several items today. First, interesting article at Slate by Brad Allenby: The Return to Medievalism: Why is the world so troubled right now? Rejection of modernity and technology may be to blame.

This consolidates many of my own thoughts, and goes further, suggesting that the horrors of ISIS (or whatever it’s called) is part of the a broad issue (captured in my Provisional Conclusion #7): a rejection of modernity. What Alvin Toffler, decades ago, described as Future Shock: “too much change in too short a period of time”.

The Slate article notes several themes I’ve discussed here:

Accelerating technological, social, and cultural change undermines many strong beliefs and practices, which can be particularly damaging to individuals and weak institutions. Those who are unable to keep pace with, or accept the changes inherent in, such a world sometimes retreat to faith, which is an understandable response. Similarly, the ever-greater social and cultural complexity of an increasingly multicultural world may have the same effect, reinforcing the value of mythic cultural stereotypes and “golden ages” of the past as refuges.

And the irony that those who would reject modernity, or science, are happy to use the fruits of science to spread their anti-science word. That is, social media — using the internet, which depends on the network of orbital satellites that in turn depend on the conclusions of special relativity. The science they would deny.

Key quote:

We know from history that any technology significant enough to be interesting will also inevitably destabilize existing communities, institutions, power relationships, social structures, worldviews, and cultural assumptions. Because these psychological, social, and cultural verities are sources of comfort and identity for many people in virtually all cultures, technological change will only encourage a continuing retreat to fundamentalism.

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