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September 06, 2005



I'm only commenting on your final paragraph. You seem to lay out three options for technology: 1. no new technology, 2. technology on your schedule, and 3. technology on someone else's/random schedule. Option 1 which you have (to me wisely) rejected is obviously no help in that the status quo is free to remain since new technology is one of the only ways out of the closed cycle of history (history cannot completely repeat itself when you introduce something truely new). Option 2 though seems like so much wishful thinking. If one had the power to manage a scheduled release of technology would one really be in need of liberation? Even those in power have a hard time controlling technological innovation, which is of course the whole point. Maybe it isn't particularly efficient but when you have no means of real power to act on your own you must rely on random events to help you since eventually they probably will. Is there another way (other than that oppressors can unilaterally remove themselves)? Or did you mean something not quite so cake and eat it too by your careful introduction plan?


I think that's a strawman, of a sort. I never said anything about the scheduled order of technological releases. Or perhaps I wasn't clear: by "someone else's schedule", I meant according to some other society's agenda, culture, interests, and philosophy. With a dollop of random chance.

As opposed to, of course, internally. Accoding to one's own societies agenda, culture, interests, and philosophy. Also with a large dollop of random chance, but chance within a particular social and cultural context.

So I'm not talking about the management issue here--I'm being deliberately agnostic on this point, and I should have been clearer. But as for liberation, well, remember the context of this post: DeLong's view that it is unambiguously good that everyone would get an imported stone axe. Thus liberating people internally: women, young. Clearly a management scheme has no bearing on internal liberation of this sort, and perhaps the opposite: they would not be liberated by this.

DeLong's point is that trade is usually sufficiently liberating that his cultural-anthropologist interlocutors are talking nonsense. My point is that liberation through these means comes at a price, not that internal management is itself liberating, which it may or may not be.

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