Lesson 8: Technology and International Corporations

Transnational corporationsOne of the goals of the Christian voice is to uncover the truth that society ignores. For instance, it should acknowledge the role modern technology and international corporations play in monetary wealth becoming the only standard of our culture. The public conversation overlooks how both have very quietly and perhaps even unconsciously so disarmed traditional values that only financial profit motivates anymore.

The technology study group in which my son and I participate has extensively examined how just about every public spokesperson throughout the 20th century promised that technology would solve all human problems. Most, in one way or another, claimed that the efficiency of modern problem solving made traditional caring values irrelevant. Consequently, the common good became inherently bound up with the growth of the market economy and dependent on the next technological advance or invention.

Our group predicted well over 50 years ago that this reliance on technology alone would eventually lead to our present situation: news programs becoming entertainment, science reduced to fundable research, sports adopting professional rather than recreational standards, the environment sacrificed for financial profit, money controlling politics, families subordinated to jobs, and industry replacing people with machines.

I worked up to the last, because public conversation steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that industry’s goal has long been darkened factories where the problems of human labor are minimized or eradicated. Just about every public figure still mouths the silliness that technology creates new and better paying jobs for which all people can train themselves.

That brings up the second major factor, the international corporation that has utilized the power of modern technology to the fullest. These companies that have amassed great power operate within a global economic system whose efficiency depends on overriding the ethical concerns of all local communities. An economic system only works if all parties accept the rules. Cultural varietals must be set aside. Consequently, traditional values are irrelevant.

Public conversation sometimes observes the capital of these corporations exceeds that of most small nations, but it seldom goes on to acknowledge that means they also have great influence on large nations. Public conversation often laments that money controls modern national politics, but it usually fails to mention most of this is the money of international corporations. Public conversation recently has warned that foreign nations interfere with our elections, but still seldom acknowledges we, too, have long been interfering in the elections of other nations and usually refuses to see the threat of international corporations interfering with ours.

Ironically, most of those currently mouthing slogans about putting the nation first are shareholders in international corporations. Although they talk against globalization, they obviously know they profit from it. The Christian voice must first acknowledge the role played by technology and international corporations, but it then must participate in the discussion of how we might deal with them.

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3 Enlightened Replies

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  1. John Myers says:

    Being involved with technology now for about 50 years in my life, I share the sentiments expressed in this lesson completely. I am blown away by how Fritz frames what society has been sold so succinctly. I would just add a few things we can look forward to, such as relationships being ported to machines. Relationships are hard, and technology offers many ways to play to our human desire to avoid something that is hard. The result will be an accelerating decline in birthrate.

    In his recent book ‘The Four’ Scott Galloway describes how Amazon, Google, Apple, and Facebook are changing our world in ways few think about. As you read about the DNA of these companies and what they have brought us, what they mean to bring us tomorrow, and how that fits into the motives of what had been the typical international corporation of the past, you realize we are witnessing an unprecedented time. The amoral decisions made by international corporations to exploit wealth creation opportunities with no regard to long term societal responsibilities was just the introduction.

    In many ways avoiding relationships between people is also reflected in the way of business moving forward. No one knows anybody along the way when a good or service is sold. I have no idea who will be working because automation will cover manufacturing, transit, purchase and delivery, and so many other areas of our current economy. Where will people work, how will they earn a living, and how will that affect our relationship with each other and God?

    I do not have answers, but I can see the path……..maybe I need to join the Amish…….

  2. LuAnn O'Connell says:

    And accelerating this the US has/is abandoning TR’s and others’ “trust-busting” & prevention policies allowing mergers that create larger and fewer corporations. This puts me in mind of J.R.R. Tolkien who showed the dangers of industrialization and technology through his creation of Middle Earth, in The Lord of the Rings and other works, where the unhealthy/evil societies of Mordor, Isengard & the Orcs focus on production and domination while the healthy societies of Middle Earth, hobbits and elves, remained community and handcraft based with the humans caught in between.
    Much to ponder here. We can opt out in part through where and how we choose to work, recreate and focus, but even then, I type this on a MacBook, googled a Tolkien reference, looked up the book you recommended on Amazon, have been on Facebook and used gmail and google docs today. 🙁

    • Fritz Foltz says:

      I always end up at the same place, finding myself enmeshed in the problem. And usually it involves technological systems. My only compensation is believing talking about the situation does enable us to handle it better. Some of my friends in technology studies have become fatalistic, thinking we are entrapped in the systems we have created. I find my Christianity offers hope that Christ puts my priorities back in order and allows me to maintain my humanity in the midst of it all.

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