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Jacques Ellul is meticulous and thoughtful, so this book is occasionally dense and hard to follow. In addition, most of the examples and allusions will strike modern Americans as dated and obscure. Nonetheless, Ellul saw long ago where moderns were headed. He saw that authoritarian use of modern technologies would mesmerize, stultify, and reduce humans to thralls, just as Orwell and Huxley, in far more hysterical prose, had dramatized. Orwell’s electronic miracles monitored citizens directly or indirectly. Huxley’s miracles were far more therapeutic or medical. But routine surveillance or treatment is inefficient and overwhelms any state that would depend on omniscience or envelopment. Ellul foresaw tools both electronic and human that would so condition subject-audiences that close monitoring and careful prescriptions would be unneeded. Ellul also argued that this “Brave, New World” could not but subvert democracy and decency. Once the will of the citizen is not his or her own, then democracy in any meaningful sense is at least devalued and perhaps transformed into reassuring internment. Perhaps Ellul’s most important insight was that the educated believed themselves immune to propaganda when, due to their proclivity for reading and watching news and other governmental outflow, such “intellectuals” were actually far more vulnerable than masses who did not receive propaganda as often.

SKU: 20174 Category: Tag:
Subtitle: The formation of men's attitudes
Author: Ellul, Jacques
Year: 1973
ISBN: 9780394718743
Pages: 320
Language: English
Publisher: Random House
Publisher's city: New York
Publication date:
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