Machine Age in the Hills

Machine Age in the Hills

Machine Age in the Hills

Machine Age in the Hills

Excerpt

A MACHINE age twilight has settled over the coal hills of the South. There, during the past two decades, a region of small farmers was made momentarily prosperous by a sudden invasion of industry; then the wave passed, leaving them spoilt for the old way of life and helpless to face the new. Here, in miniature, is a cycle which technology seems to be working out in America at large.

We cannot forecast the effects of technology in all the interlocking industries of the United States. But in the coal fields we have an isolated social research laboratory where we can examine the already completed cycle from agrarian stability to industrial collapse.

In so doing we are struck by the persistence of the old patterns of bungling and bloodshed. This, we had thought, is a scientific age; yet we act as though no better tools than tooth and claw had ever been invented. Inside our laboratories we know how to apply the scientific spirit; but when we take the results of research into the marketplace we squabble over them in emotional unrestraint.

In this there is grave danger, since technology is an impersonal factor, not answering to emotional treatment. Its tendency is to put men out of work faster . . .

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