The Technological Society
The Technological Society


Jacques Ellul


1954 (French version); 1967 (English version)


Conditioning, Oligarchical control, Propaganda, Social engineering



The Technological Society is a book written by Jacques Ellul. It was originally published in France in 1954 as La Technique ou l'enjeu du siécle.

The book was brought to the attention of the English-speaking world indirectly by Aldous Huxley, who recommended the book above all when asked by prominent sociologists which books to read on scientific control.

Quotes Edit

On democracy Edit

On the facade of democracy Edit

"It is not conceivable that the normal operation of democracy would be acceptable to those who exercise this technical monopoly - which, moreover, is a hidden monopoly in the sense that its practitioners are unknown to the masses."

"Technique shapes an aristocratic society, which in turn implies aristocratic government. Democracy in such a society can only be a mere appearance. Even now, we see in propaganda the premises of such a state of affairs. When it comes to state propaganda, there is no longer any question of democracy." - p275[1]

On news propaganda Edit

"Men fashion images of things, events, and people which may not reflect reality but which are truer than reality. These images are based on news items which, as is the case in much of the world, are "faked." Their purpose is to form rather than to inform. Faking the news is systematically practiced by the Soviet radio, but the procedure is found to a lesser degree in all countries. All of us are familiar with the "innocent" fraud of the illustrated newspapers in which a photograph is accompanied by an ambiguous caption. A shipyard, for example, is indifferently described as a plant in one of the democracies, or in the Soviet Union, or wherever."
"This kind of thing represents the first step towards a sham universe. It is also indicative of an important element in today's psychology, the disappearance of reality in the world of hallucinations. Men will be lead to act on real motives that are scientifically directed and increasingly irresistible. He will be brought to sacrifice himself in a real world, but for the sake of the verbal universe which has been fashioned for him." - p371/p372[2]

On the irrelevance of politics Edit

On politicians Edit

"Popular will can only express itself within the limits that technical necessities have fixed in advance. Can the people select engineers? Or accountants, or organizers? Can they pass judgements about methods of work? If they could, it would amount to the system (which has actually been attempted) in which judges are elected by the governed, tax collectors by the taxpayers, generals by the the privates. Such a system would represent the only truly democratic method. Why is the democratic method not applied in the areas cited, whereas we do elect politicians. For the simple reasons that the functions of judge, general, and engineer are considered to be functions of technicians, but the politician is considered to be a nontechnical functionary: good for everything, good for nothing." - p209
"Consequently, the opposition between technicians and politicians places the politician squarely before a truly decisive dilemma. Either the politician will remain what he is in a democracy, in which case his role is fated to become less and less important in comparison to the role of technicians of all sorts (a state of affairs already evident in the financial sphere); or the politician will take the road of political technique, in which case the crisis of adaptation will inevitably arise. If the politician really wishes to continue to exist, he must choose the second solution as the only possible one. The existence of techniques in all other spheres forces him to this choice. Even so, little by little he is being stripped of any real power and reduced to the role of a figurehead." - p259

Links Edit

Google Books: The Technological Society

References Edit

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