Left and Right

The West: An Elephant On Stilts?

Is the progressive view of history a mirage propped up on vulnerable infrascture?

There’s a scene in The Matrix Reloaded in which Councillor Hamann engages Neo in conversation and suggests that they take a walk down to the engineering level of the real world city, curiously named ‘‘Zion’’. Hamann explains to Neo that he enjoys walking in the bowels of the engineering district late of an evening because it reminds him of the raw mechanics which keep their rogue city functioning. It is here the air is purified and it is here that the water is processed, it is here that the electricity is generated.

Hamann, as man of authority and power within Zion, has to be conscious of the machines keeping the citizens alive in a way that the citizens themselves do not. Indeed, almost nobody even considers that the air they breathe is being ran through mechanical processes which can, and sometimes do, breakdown. Hamann somewhat ominously tells Neo that it is only when machines breakdown that people become conscious of them.

Similarly, we can think of a young lady enjoying caviar and champagne on the upper decks of the Titanic. She has the luxury of being entirely oblivious to the thought, skill and technical brilliance which went into keeping her ice-cream cold and her tea warm.

I have absolutely no idea how any of the technology I’m using to write this article works, non of it. Now, fair enough, I do tend to comedown on the ‘‘technophobe’’ side of things. I have no doubt that many readers could explain how the keyboard works or how Substack’s hosting works or the manner in which the content flows through the interwebs to and from Silicone Valley — if it even does that — but by and large this may as well be magic to me. I am not unlike the young lady on the Titanic who takes it as a given that she can order ice-cream while sitting in a giant metal tub floating (temporarily) on the Atlantic ocean.

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