Tools for changing institutions?

“Seeking salvation through tools alone is no more viable as a political strategy than addressing the ills of capitalism by cultivating a public appreciation of arts and crafts.”

Do you agree?

If so, are all tools that focus on individual self-empowerment while ignoring broader, social systematic problems missing the point? Are there tools that address broader “ills” in their design, or does a broader campaign always need to accompany a tool to make it a successful change agent?

2 thoughts on “Tools for changing institutions?

  1. I think the key for Morozov (and I agree with him) is that there is no magic bullet to solving social, political, and economic problems. We humans are always looking for the easy way out – diet pills, get-rich-quick schemes, and their ilk.
    Although he comes across as a bit of a hater, I’d like to think that it is not Morozov’s intention to totally dismiss the maker movement. He just wants to throw a little cold water on some of the more naive (or less charitably, opportunistic) members and leaders of that group. Per se, there is nothing wrong with learning how to build your own furniture. But as can be seen from Morozov’s praise for Bookchin, comprehensive problems require comprehensive solutions.
    So yes, there may be tools that can go some way to addressing such problems by very virtue of their design, their affordances, their patterns of use. But making such tools is but one small step toward the solution of wider problems. More depressingly, the extent of the problem may far overwhelm the positive contribution made by the tools or made by using the tools. The other question that remains is this – where do we start? If we know we must attack the complex problem by way of a number of separate but interdependent routes, what’s the strategy?

  2. Artifacts embody politics. Bookchin is right in that we cannot simply rely on tool choice to lead us to liberation, but tool choice still significantly matters.

    As society falls further down the technological rabbit hole the choice of tools for liberation will grow in relevance. The more we depend on technology, the more which technology we use matters more.

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