Our Anti-Human Moment

Rule by experts is anti-human

Quite a few years ago, I stumbled across a fascinating little book, written by one Matthew Crawford, which was entitled Shop Class as Soulcraft.  It contains the reflections of a man who, having earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago, decided to open a motorcycle repair shop. I found the book very compelling, with its ruminations on work that engages the whole person versus work that primarily involves trafficking in abstractions.

Anyway, the night before last Matt Crawford delivered the 6th annual First Things lecture at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.   The YouTube link is below.  Since very early in the pandemic, my own conceptual model about politics has been shifting quite a lot.  I have come to believe that perceiving the world as divided between left and right has less and less utility.  A better conceptual model, I now believe, is as a conflict of visions between the human centered (a.k.a. anthropocentric) and the technocratic (a.k.a. rule by experts and an impulse that is anti-human in its actual goals.). The reason I think this kind of understanding is better than old left/right semantics is because the dividing line between the technocrats and the pro-humans runs right through the middle of both major political parties in the U.S. Thus, I think it offers greater explanatory power for what has been happening in the west over the last 10 years or so.

Consistent with my own thinking about this, I will just observe that it is not for nothing that, everywhere one turns these days, some writer is quoting from C.S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man, or That Hideous Strength.

Crawford’s speech is entitled “Anti-Humanism and the Post-Political Condition”. It is very much worth watching and mulling over for a while. As a word of warning, though, it is informationally dense and I found that I needed to watch it without competing distractions in order to get the most out of it.   But it is well worth the time investment.  His speech starts at around the 7 minute mark and runs for 40 minutes or so.

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