How to topple ancient social structure?

Governments should fear air pumps and steam engines because they improve the efficiency of production. When efficiency is improved it makes profits higher and increases labor efficiency. When profit margins increase the people that owns the business can control the working class by spreading the wealth or appearing to be for the people. These “radical inventions” could also shift the power point. In the second half of Johnson’s book he talks about the slightly improved gunpowder that was shipped to the American colonies.

A techno-fix is the use of technology to make human lives easier. Techno-fixes have become popular with governments and elitists to make problems more acute. They have been used as a band-aid fix to look like a fix but not actually do much. Huesemann says that the techno-fix comes from the idea that nature and humans can continually be improved upon. Nature can not necessarily be improved.

2 thoughts on “How to topple ancient social structure?

  1. There is a somewhat counter-intuitive bit of economics at play in innovating technology to increase efficiency. In fact, greater efficiency is much more likely to reduce profit margin than increase it over the long run. Typically, a company that makes an existing process more efficient will continue to supply at marginal cost. That is to say they tend to reduce their prices and undercut their competitors to take a greater market share. The tradeoff of the lower profit margin is the higher volume of sales. Even more counter-intuitive is that in a perfectly efficient market there could be no profit at all because suppliers and consumers would be producing and consuming a good or service exactly at cost!

    Why would a government official use a techno-fix to pretend to solve a problem that in fact still exists? I can certainly see why they would do this in the short term – say in an election year – but how would they get away with it in the long run? It certainly seems a bad strategy. It also seems unlikely to provide them with riches (unless, of course, they are produces of the technology involved in the techno-fix)


  2. I believe another reason why governments and religion should fear air pumps and electrical machines is because it potentially takes away power that religious groups and governments had over the population. First off, the church had power over the population because they had easy access to educational works and fed information to the masses about how everything was created by a higher being. However, when people such as Priestly made discoveries that contradicted what the church was preaching, they felt like their power was threatened. The same thing happens with governments as knowledge can lead to revolts and revolutions as seen with the French Revolution.


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