Scientific Technology and National Supremacy Essay


  • Science, an instrument of nationalism
  • Definition of technology
  • Invention of fire
  • Advent of metal age
  • Invention of gunpowder
  • The Industrial Revolution
  • The immense progress in scientific technology in the post-war period impact of technology on society
  • The world at the threshold of nuclear war
  • The cause of backwardness of third world countries
  • The remedy
  • Machine age and death of craftsmanship
  • Samuel Butler’s view Machine, instead of becoming our servants have become master
  • New system of manufacturing, improving the standard of living
  • The responsibility of the inventors of machines

Curiosity and desire have led man to the peak of material progress. Discontent has always prompted him to change his environments and living conditions. Change is a fundamental law of life for no change no progress. The law applies to nations. The more the people of the world have tried to change and ameliorate and better their lot, the more they have succeeded. The magic wants behind the spectacular and sustained progress has been scientific technology.

Science has a great many things. It covers all the areas of our life social, political and economic. It has now become an instrument of nationalism. The more advanced and sophisticated a nation is in scientific technology, the more powerful it is. The ideas of science are creative because they have liberated the creative impulse in man in the shape of various technologies the curse of national supremacy in the US.A. and other developed countries lot of money is being spent on the growth of technical knowledge.

Before proceeding further, we must know what technology is or define the word. The dictionary meanings of technology are: the practice of any or all of the applied sciences that have practical value and / or industrial use: technical method (s) in a particular field of industry or art. In-depth study shows that the word technology has no fixed meaning as it has differed from time to time and place to place. When we survey the achievements of men in their historical perspective, we get a clear idea about technological development from the earliest days from crude to simple, from simple to sophisticated.

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In the context of the growing technologies during last three decades, the word technology: has come to mean: cheapest, quickest and easiest way of obtaining production and services under given economic, social and geographical conditions, and under particular societies’ historical background.

The first attempt on the part of the primitive men to come together for common defence against enemies and procure food by killing animals, led to the shaping of stone tools. This was the maiden technological development. Side by side various hunting and defence techniques were evolved. Like all beginning, the beginning in technology was simple and crude.

Equally important was the invention or, making of fire. It was by accident that the first man, perhaps ‘Jaju’ by name, rubbed two flints and produced the first spark of fire. The chance experiment was a great achievement leading to many other developments. But think of the great problem. It was more different to control it than to control the greatest conflagration of England in human history in which more than fifty thousand lives were lost.

With the advent of metal age more advances in technology, though still crude, were witnessed. Man shaped arrowheads, spears and swords for killing animals for food and self-defense. As men started leading settled life, he started to grow his food and invented rough agricultural implements. Social and economic needs diverted human attention to improve the living conditions. It was also the beginning of human civilization. Group rivalries led to the production of more fighting weapons.

The invention of gunpowder in the 13th century was a great breakthrough in technology leading to use of firearms. It was also the beginning of machine tool technology. It was followed by the technology of melting metals, their forging and moulding them into agricultural implements and weapons such as guns and crude cannons. This can be called foundry technology. The tools and weapons were rather simple and served the purpose for which they were made.

The Industrial revolution in the middle of the 19th century ushered in a new era in scientific technology in Europe. We can call it the dawn of the machine age for no industrialization is possible without mechanization. In fact the two go hand in hand. Machines, big and small, are the shrews of modern society. They have completely revolutionized our lives by supplementing human labour and efforts in the various fields – Agriculture, production and manufactures, transport and communications, printing and publication and entertainments and enjoyments.

The post-war period has seen immense progress and development in scientific technology. It is a plural and many-pronged term infact the nations have, now, entered the most sophisticated age of technologies. They dominate all the activities and pursuits of mankind. Not: only social and economic problems have been solved by technical knowledge and know – how but research is also being carried out in space and oceanic technology.
A few decades ago we used to hear about agriculture technology, industrial and production technology, electronic technology. transport and communication technologies, war technology, medical technology, social development technology and so on. Now the advanced nations are busy in carrying out intensive research in computer and robot technologies, atomic technology and space technology. The whole human life is now governed by technologies. Governments and corporations are spending millions of dollars on the development of new technologies.

The strength and supremacy of the leading advanced countries like America, Russia, China, and Japan are mainly due to their growing achievement in modern sophisticated technologies that have administered not only to their progress and bright future but have also started casting shadows on human existence for mancing every climax has an anti-climax. The fruits of technology are no longer received with unquestionable faith. There is a good deal of ambivalence and uncertainty about technology and its role in society, for technical fixes alone cannot solve complex social problems. Moreover, there is a widespread belief that technology is out of control.

Scientists with their childlike curiosity and sense of wonder have unraveled the secrets of nature, technologists have followed them scooping up the treasures unearthed for the whole of mankind to share. We derive the benefits of science through technology. We often hear the phrase the march of technology. It means that technological development is an evolutionary process.

Thus, we speak of new generations of automobiles, computers and other high technology goods. Again social changes are technologically determined. New technology changes the way society. functions. In other words society is largely a product of technology. The terms stone age; Bronze Age, machine age and computer age support this idea.

According to popular writer Alvin Toffler:

“Technology is a great political, economic and physical environments. It also explains the fact that national supremacy depends on technological progress and development of a country. In the western industrial countries and Japan, commercial forces constitute a prominent part of the environment in which technological changes have taken place. Both the governments and rich corporation have developed and are developing new technologies through constant research.”

They have built up great potentials in manufacturing and production technologies that are being refined and reinforced by computer technology. The natural result is: They are also the richest countries in the world, dominating in various social and economic fields. Their people enjoy the highest standard of living in the world. The supremacy they enjoy in the economic field is due to their technology of surplus’. They are also spending billions of dollars and yens on var technologies – mechanical, chemical and biological. These and the resultant, ‘surplus’ poses the greatest war threat to the world. The present cold war, Arms Race, Military pacts are the great portending dangers to the world peace as well as whole of mankind.
The whole world is like a big war camp with the war material strewed about only waiting for a little matchstick. Only a trifle cause may blow up the whole world. With their huge surpluses resulting from modern technologies, they have thrown the smaller nations into political conflicts or thrust wars on them.

There are also more subtle forces at work resulting from the very nature of industrial production and scientific values that under grid industrial society. The public has little influence on the government policy of spending heavy amounts on research and development of new technology: for material and war purposes. Moral values are shattering and big and powerful nations show no moral scruple in subjugating or overrunning the small ones, which are technological, backward. The worst victims are the Third World nations, which are economically dependent upon them.

“The technological revolution of the past few decades, thus, seems like a Faustian bargain to people – economic and material progress brought at the expense of growing, dependence on non-renewable resources of environments degradation, and of loss of control over many aspects seem to be quickly deteriorating as the world enters the final decades of the twentieth century”.

Moreover, the benefits of modern technological advances are to some extent, offset by serious, social and environmental costs such as pollution, urban congestions, energy shortages, population growth and growing social and economic problems like poverty, unemployment, urban decay, regional and racial strives, and break down of family structure.

No doubt technology has resulted in the specialization of production and rationalization of labour and thus has given the industrialized countries a plea for not transferring the new technologies to the poor and developing countries because they involve heavy finances and most upto day know-how. In this way the gap between the rich and poor people has become wider and led to discontentment and frustration. Technology is not transferable except between those who have similar and advanced technological capabilities. Thus technological supremacy knowledge, power, energy cannot be shared as it has become a part of nationalism and power politics.

Between the two power blocs hangs the fate of the Third World countries, which are scientifically and technologically backward. Poverty, educational backwardness, lack of ambition to progress and mutual distrust are the causes of their backwardness and exploitation by the powerful nations. The standard of living of their people is very low, even the lowest. Above all, lack of will on the part of the governments and the absence of corporate technology institutions have blocked technological progress.

Anyhow, to the Third World Countries technology or tech know-how seems to be the only cure for their economic development problems. Still the problem that. technology is uncontrollable and it will pose a great threat. The third world nations should now divert their efforts from acquiring weapons and war material (part of technological surplus) to acquiring industrial plants and machinery and equipment to boost up agricultural production. Still the differences of strong and weak, advanced and backward, prosperous and poor, supremacy and dependence shall persist.

Mutual co-operation, self-reliance and good will among the Third World Countries is the best remedy for the problems confronting them. Their motto should be: Technological change is not always detrimental in its social imports. But no technology, however appropriate, can by itself change the social and political structures that underpin many problems.

To sum up:

“Technological imperatives define only what is possible, not what is necessary; what can be done, not what must be done. The latter decisions are social in nature. Unfortunately, this distinction between possibility and necessity is lost on most contemporary observes; and with it, large measure of imagination and social vision”.

(David Noble)

Machine age and death of craftsmanship

Industrialization and mechanization, though much regrettable, are indispensable for progress. Infact industries are the backbone of national economy. No industrialization is conceivable without mechanization. If the third world countries want to progress and modernize their economy, they must invest in industries and acquire modern technologies by making their education system more science oriented.

The industrial revolution in its wake brought in many changes in social and economic life and style of living of the people all over the world. It has become platitude to say that we are living in the age of revolution .one of the greatest change brought about by industrial revolution is the displacement of human labour by machines – the growing offsprings of science. To borrow the analogy from the famous poem ‘charge of the light Bridage’ by Tennyson

“cannons on the left of them,

cannons on the right of them

cannons in front of them

And cannons behind them,

Into the mouth of death marched the six hundred”

We can now substitute the word ‘machine’ in place of Cannons and it spells the death of craftsmanship, honest labour and personal art.

Industries are said to be a spur to profit. The craze for profit is one of the evils of capitalism. Man, money, machinery, material method and marketing are the six M’s Industry. Man is the management factor whereas the others are production factors. Man has invented machines in order to save his time and labour and to escape from the drudgery of daily life. Machines big and small are constantly at our service. In fact our ears are baffled by the hum and rattle of machines round us. They are the power behind mass production – the new method of production.

Industrialization, Mechanization, large-scale economies, mass production, division of labour and specialization are the outstanding features of modern method of production. Machine age has given a deathblow to the older methods of manufacture. Formerly skilled workmen or craftsmen were held in great esteem. A craftsman often used to make or shape the whole of an article by himself. He put all his skill and experience into the work. He devoted his heart and soul to finish it and he has proud of the fruits of his labour. In fact his reputation, his standing among his fellowmen depended on his skill, (Craftsmanship) and character.

His reputation and respect rose and fell with the quality of his work. If any fault or defect appeared in his product, he was ashamed of it. Appreciation or applause, and not money were much sought for. He was admired and envied by his fellow craftsmen. There was something of the maker’s individually in it. Rich and the lovers of art patronized him. The articles so made had attraction and beauty of their own. The people of taste paid handsomely for them. The carpets of Persia, the pottery of China, the gaudy garments of Georgia, the engraved swords of Damascus, the carved and engraved pieces of India and the silver-wares of the middle ages – all the proud productions of the family craftsmen, are the things of the past the relics and the antiques for man of Machine Age.

A machine is a kind of device. Man – the inventor, initially creates it. Just like the body, the machine has got limbs or parts. Machines work with some kind of energy or operated by men. It sounds rather strange that they are reproductive, in the sense that machines have created more machines – the better ones. They have, if not abolished labour, have definitely replaced human labour. The inventive genius of man has created very huge and sophisticated machines — the wonders of the Machine Age.

Necessity is mother of invention. Industrial Revolution created a new social consciousness among the members of the society. Originally the rich, the will-to-do and the people of taste patronized the things produced by craftsmen. They were considered the privilege and proud possessions of the few. The growing awareness and social consciousness among the common men, created more demand for articles of daily use. Why should only the rich enjoy life and live in a reverie? The poor and the common men have also feelings and desires. They have also the right to eat, dress and live like others. Thus, they created greater demand that led to mass production which is impossible without mechanization, for only machines can produce things and commodities in large numbers to meet the popular demand.
Mass production did not only lead to manufacturing industry but also made things cheaper and easily available. These low priced commodities have a great demand. Things from small ordinary buttons, pen and pencils to complicated electronic goods; automobiles and designful multi-coloured cloths are produced over machines. Then come the huge sophisticated machines and plants that manufacture all these articles, foodstuffs, and medicines. All these are the victories of peace.

But machines also carry death warrant for thousands of human lives are lost in mechanical accidents and mishaps. The most inhuman use of machines is the production of war material. Guns, machines guns, rockets, tanks, war planes, bombs, poisonous gases, war ships, submarines, mines and other mysterious weapons are the worst creations of machines. They are silent agents behind the Arms Race. Thus machines have not only strangled craftsmanship but they have also endangered peace and made the future of mankind bleak. Right use and control of machines and machine production demand efficient and effective management. The work of the management is very complicated and difficult, covering the management of all factors of production and the six M’s.

No doubt the articles produced by machines are cheap and of high quality because price and quality are the greatest considerations for the consumers. But the articles so produced lack of individuality of maker. The craft-men used to put their heart and soul in the creation of the commodity or things. Indeed work is great blessing for man. It keeps him busy and makes him forgetful about the hurry and worries of life. For craft-man work was prayer.

Then man must work if he wants to put the body and the soul together. It may be painful but it is always rewarding, for there is that pleasure of pains and joy of accomplishment. The Machines made the work monotonous, unpleasant but also mechanical. They have killed the spark of creativeness in man; have made creativity dull for work is over boring and breaking for the people working in factories and workshops.

Machines are constantly eliminating human factor. They have over run the craft-men; made man lethargic and idle; invaded peace, humbled the labouring class; deprived man from the joy of accomplishment; abolished human drudgery but killed the artist in man.

They have also afforded food for the mind of the thinkers, writers and poets. “Man’s very soul is due to machines; it is a machine – made thing. He thinks as he thinks feels as he feels, through the work that machines have wrought on him, and their existence is quite as much a sine qua non for him, as his for theirs. This fact precludes us from proposing the complete annihilation of machinery, but surely it indicates that we should destroy as many of them as we can possibly dispense with, lest they should tyrannize over us, ever more, completely”, Writes Samuel Butler in his book “Erewhon”.

Continuing he says: “True from low materialistic point of view, it would seem that those thrive best who use machinery whenever its use is possible with profit; but this is art of machines they serve that they may rule. They bear no malice towards man for destroying whole race of them provided he creates a better instead; on the contrary, they reward him liberally for having hastened their development. It is for neglecting them that we incur their wrath..”

It is true that machines have been invented to be our servants; but unfortunately, they have become our masters and cruel taskmasters. They are to be attended and tended carefully, kept under proper temper, or they become angry; burst and spread destruction round them. Modern men at this hour are living in a state of bondage to machines. We are completely at the mercy of machines. We are ourselves creating our successors in the supremacy of the earth, daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their organization, daily giving them greater skill and supply, more and more of their self-regulating, self-acting powers which will be better than any intellect. The age of computers has confirmed the fact. March of progress is also the march of machines.

The new system of manufacture, however, is not an unmixed blessing. The output of large qualities of commodities has helped in improving the standard of living of the people all over the world. Machines have provided us with greater leisure to enjoy life. But at the same time, we do not know how to employ this spare time usefully. Indeed ‘work’ is a great blessing of Adam. Not only that we have become rather idle but we have also lost the pride of performance – the greatest consolation for the craft-man and the artisans.

The work for the machine workers has become less interesting to repeat the same operation again and again, an inescapable feature of mass production and division of labour.

Craftsmanship is a family occupation handed down from one generation to another generation. So there are still some good craft – men in different countries of the world. If life is to be pleasant and promising, it cannot be wholly mechanized. Man must not work only for wages but real joy of work and joy of accomplishment and achievement. Another ugly aspect of the machine age is replacement of labour resulting in growing problem of unemployment. The worse sufferers are those whose sole inheritance is labour, who have lost that inheritance, who cannot work and have to pass rocky days. In the ringing words of Charlotte Bronte:

“… So the unemployed underwent their destiny are the bread and drank the water of application”.

(Machine Breakers)

Man and machines have now become complimentary terms. The inventors of machines must not allow total death of craftsmanship, complete replacement of human labour, and kill joy of work. On the other hand we must subscribe to the view expressed by G.C. Thornley in his essay Mass Production that:

“We must all hope that means will be found to retain the advantages arising out of mass production, while at the same time giving the worker some of the pride and pleasure of the old craftsman”.

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