Technology and Society: The Influence of Machines in the United States

By S. Mckee Rosen ; Laura Rosen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XX
RESISTANCE THROUGH GOVERNMENT

Political Interference

Government as a whole reflects the desires of major interests within a country. The laws which are passed frequently emanate from the ideas as well as the prejudices which have gradually gained acceptance among groups within the commonweal. Obviously, the better the organization of such groups, the more articulate and effective they become. It is their pressure coupled with the votes they can muster which determines the direction of legislation.

The powerful in all ages have sought to safeguard their interests through alliance with political authority. From the kingmakers of the sixteenth century to the more democratic lobbies of the twentieth century such a process has been prevalent in the Western World. But this is not peculiar to Western civilization alone. In India the Brahman caste stood in the way of the printing press until late in the sixteenth century. Permission to set up a press in Constantinople was likewise withheld until 1727, and even at that late date it was stipulated that texts of the Koran be written by hand.

Religious authority has frequently been among the forces opposing invention. Throughout history it has defended religious beliefs and institutions against the inroads of discovery. As the fate of a Bruno or a Galileo can well testify, scientific method and research were strenuously opposed by the medieval church. Martin Luther denounced the Copernican theory as "the work of a fool." 1 The publication of the first great encyclopedia by Diderot and his colleagues met with obstruction from French ecclesiastics of that day. Even in twentieth-century America the famous Scopes Evolution

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1
Hart, Hornell, The Technique of Social Progress, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1931, p. 258.

-402-

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