Political Animal Magazine2019-03-27T14:53:23+00:00

SPOTLIGHT

Narcissism and the Idolization of Technology

December 20th, 2019|

By Glen Paul Hammond

It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another.” ̶ Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

As Marshall McLuhan pointed out in his book, Understanding Media, over a half-century ago, a characteristic of new and pervasive technologies is the numbness that accompanies them, a numbness that does not allow the society effected by it to objectively analyze its influence. In being overawed by the creation, McLuhan argued, man becomes mesmerized by what he called a technological extension of the self, falling into its trance, conforming to it rather than the other way around and, through our continuous embrace of it in daily use, allowing ourselves to become its servomechanisms (McLuhan, Understanding, 50-51). Technology, in this context, becomes a religion that demands sacrifice. Yet, through the lens of such unquestioning devotion, society exposes itself to the dangers of losing much more than it gains in the environments that these extensions create. In the case of the internet and its social media platforms, it is necessary then to acquire a greater understanding of the technology’s potential influences in order to, as McLuhan advised, mitigate its negative effects and bring it into orderly service (McLuhan, Understanding, 6)

In a warning about the social consequences of powerful mediums, the writer of Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, remarked that one of the greatest future threats to liberal democracy was society being caught unprepared by an advancing technology that changes social conditions, so that people find themselves “in a situation which they didn’t foresee and doing all sorts of things they didn’t want to do.” What Huxley articulated was the very essence of McLuhan’s exhortation on the power of media, except that McLuhan suggested that it was made all the more dangerous by an unawareness of the true message of any given medium. The University of Toronto professor explained that while the user of media is distracted by its content, he is more susceptible to the actual agent of its influence— the medium itself. Hence, McLuhan’s most famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.” (more…)

Alien Visitors and a Categorical Planetary Ethic

December 13th, 2019|

By: Dan Corjescu

Imagine this rather typical SF scenario: alien invaders arrive on Earth. They are vastly superior in intelligence, technology, and most importantly, in ethics. They quickly perceive that Earthlings are a dire threat to the Earth’s biosphere. They reason that they must take decisive action soon, or else the Earth will meet its biological death. What are they to do?

First, they take up a consequentialist position and reason that eliminating a significant portion of the human population would immediately alleviate Earth’s acute environmental problems while saving countless numbers of other species.

Second, they reason deontologically, according to a “planetary ethic”, that the biosphere of a planet and all the species that inhabit it are sacred and must be protected at all costs. If one species is destroying the biosphere, that species must be destroyed before it is further able to inflict greater and lasting damage.

However, some of the aliens see the problem with greater complexity. They try to work out a maximally “virtuous” solution that will both ensure the continuance of the human race and the flourishing of the biosphere.

Of course, in this tale, most humans would root for the third option.

The question for us then is how do we get there? (more…)

THEORY

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PRACTICE

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JUSTICE

Long Walk to Freedom: Xenophobia Continues Against African Migrants in Johannesburg, South Africa

By |October 4th, 2019|0 Comments

South Africans need to have a national dialogue about what it means to have immigrants in their midst and what part of this falls outside the country’s earlier vision of being a Rainbow Nation. South African cannot continue to preach the gospel of African Renaissance while it practices the talk of xenophobia

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ARTS & LETTERS

Woodstock Turns 50: Behind the Curtain with John Morris, Head of Production

By |August 15th, 2019|0 Comments

When you have a master or a leader, there’s always another master somewhere fighting them off or trying to contest them. The masters of other people can look pretty annoying to you, if not contemptible, irrelevant, reprehensible. I think about Beatlemania, where people were just horrified — What the hell is going on? These four guys with weird floppy haircuts. Or with Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, or any of the other rock stars. The disgust and terror that people have that others are caught up.

A Tribute to D.A. Pennebaker

By |August 8th, 2019|0 Comments

When you have a master or a leader, there’s always another master somewhere fighting them off or trying to contest them. The masters of other people can look pretty annoying to you, if not contemptible, irrelevant, reprehensible. I think about Beatlemania, where people were just horrified — What the hell is going on? These four guys with weird floppy haircuts. Or with Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, or any of the other rock stars. The disgust and terror that people have that others are caught up.

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