Changing The Cogs
Activists and the Politics of Technology

Martin, Brian

Publisher:  Friends of the Earth and National University Campus Environment Group, Canberra, Australia
Year Published:  1979  
Pages:  84pp   ISBN:  0-909313-12-1
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX7346

What are the best ways to achieve beneficial change in society? Will widespread use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources bring about a good society? What technologies will be promoted by vested interests in government and big business?

Abstract:  Changing the Cogs discusses the relationship between technology and politics in modern society. Martin claims that many modern problems should consider a self-management and alternative lifestyle solution. According to Martin, we must reorganize the way we live in order to avoid environmental crises and even nuclear war. The social impact of technological innovation is explored throughout the book, as well as the role of private citizens in shaping the perceived needs of society.

The book is divided into four parts. The Introduction presents the idea of self-management as a way for individuals to make decisions for the good of everyone. The development of the self leads to development of whole communities that take the power away from the elite. Part 2 is called What Sort of Movement, and provides ideas for an activist movement that will make changes for the better. It teaches methods for making a difference. Part 3 is called Technology and the Structure of Society. This section talks about how society is shaped around the technology used. It would be impossible for self-management lifestyles to make an impact while technologies that produce pollution are still used. Part 4, Political Power and Technological Innovation, aims to inform activists about the opposing groups, and the strategies used by such opponents. There is a list of recommended further reading at the end.

Many problems in society are discussed in this volume and the solutions of a self-management system are analyzed in detail. Martin looks at social, political and economic implications of technological evolution. "Activists working for a self-managed society need to promote community intervention into, and eventually community control over, the process of technological innovation". This will protect the environment primarily, and will also put control over the future in the hands of the people.

[Abstract by Mia Manns]

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. What sort of a movement?
a. Structures or policies?
b. Building or destroying?
c. Democracy or Hierarchy?
d. Non-violence or violence?
e. Down-to-earth issues
f. The future of social change movements

3. Technology and the structure of society
a. The social and political origins of technology
b. The social and political consequences of technology
c. Organisations
d. Infrastructures
e. Ideas

4. Political power and technological innovation
a. Power-holders
b. Opposition and cooption
c. Where can pressure be applied?
d. Who will lead the way to change?

Recommended reading
Sources for quotes and graphics

Subject Headings