The End of History

It seems to me that the staff and all the contributing editors to Chronicles, working together for a year in paradisiacal California on a lavish grant from the MacArthur Foundation, could not possibly produce as pessimistic a work as The Technological Bluff by the French cultural critic and author of more than forty books, Jacques Ellul. For that reason, among many others, I commend it to the attention of our readers. (One of the other reasons is a delicious "Excursion on [Julian] Simon, The Ultimate Resource," beginning on page 20 and running through page 23: "I have seldom seen a book which is so absurd in the realm of economics . . . and technology. . . . We have here an absolute form of The Technological Bluff. . . . this so-called scientific thinking. . . . these pseudoscientific absurdities. . . . a good illustration of the technolatry that is supposed to be scientific and to be based on facts.")

Jacques Ellul is professor emeritus of law and of the sociology and history of institutions at the University of Bordeaux, his native city. The examples he uses to concretize his arguments are thus drawn from contemporary French society, yet those arguments themselves raise American echoes from as far back as Henry Adams ("The Virgin and the Dynamo"), the Agrarians of the 1930's (I'll Take My Stand), and the writings of Lewis Mumford, whose work Ellul...

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