Man and technics: Oswald Spengler
In this new and revised edition of Oswald Spengler’s classic, Man and Technics, Spengler makes a number of predictions that today, more than eighty years after the book was first published, have turned out to be remarkably accurate. Spengler predicted that industrialisation would lead to serious environmental problems and that countless species would become extinct. He also predicted that labour from Third World countries would increasingly outcompete Western workers by doing the same work for much lower wages, and that industrial production would therefore move to other parts of the world, such as East Asia, India, and South America.
According to Spengler, technology has not only made it possible for man to harness the forces of nature; it has also alienated him from nature. Modern technology now dominates our culture instead of that which is natural and organic. After having made himself the master of nature, man has himself become technology’s slave. ‘The victor, crashed, is dragged to death by the team’, Spengler summarises.
Finally, Spengler foresaw that Western man would eventually grow weary of his increasingly artificial lifestyle and begin to hate the civilisation he himself created. There is no way out of this conundrum as the unrelenting progress of technological development cannot be halted. The current high-tech culture of the West is therefore doomed, destined to be consumed from within and destroyed. A time will come, Spengler writes, when our giant cities and skyscrapers have fallen in ruins and lie forgotten ‘just like the palaces of old Memphis and Babylon’. It remains to be seen if this last, and most dire, of Spengler’s prophecies will also come true.