Trapped in techno-scientism; is this hindering Manchester becoming an eco-city? | Platform

Trapped in techno-scientism; is this hindering Manchester becoming an eco-city? | Platform.

This is a provocative and very well written article by Nadine Andrews on the shortcomings of the dominant ideology, and hence strategies, here in Greater Manchester.  It does make sense to question the prevailing ‘rational-scientific’ approach to social and ecological challenges, since the very nature of the problems we face have their roots in the modernist expansion of technological, Promethean, capacity, which, in hand with a profit-seeking economic system, extends its reach over all aspects of human life, right across the planet.  That doesn’t mean advocating a return to some former ‘golden age’, or to ignorance and drudgery, but it does mean critically asking whether many of the vaunted ‘solutions’ to our economic, social and ecological ills are themselves part of the problem.  This means focussing first on the fundamental, contestable, and decidedly tricky questions of the kind of society we want to live in, how to live well, with dignity for all, without harming the planet?  Our pamphlet Living Well, looked at some of these questions from an internationalist perspective.

What do you think?

Mark H Burton

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4 Responses to Trapped in techno-scientism; is this hindering Manchester becoming an eco-city? | Platform

  1. brigittelechner says:

    Nature today is not only instrumentalised but also commodified – to an alarming extent. It is only a question of time that Nestle will succeed in its prolonged lobby to commodify water; some highly polluted cities such as Delhi already sell canisters of clean air.

    This is the modern condition for sure. But the denial of the intrinsic value of nature goes back to biblical days when god allegedly gave human beings dominion over it. The tragedy is not that science and technology have put human society at the top of the food chain. Tragedy arises from the fact that decision-making bodies, institutions and events are embedded in a patriarchal capitalist social system which predicates outcomes that trash nature and alienate humans who are part of it. Manchester is no exception. I cannot think why anyone would pay heed to promotional sound bites put about by the tourist board or Inward Investment consultants.

  2. Dave Bishop says:

    I agree with the author that there is no viable technological fix for the ecological problems that we face and that the dominant ideology, that humans must have ‘dominion’ over nature, is at the root of those problems. Neverthless, I think that we should be careful not to dismiss science (as opposed to “techno-scientism”) completely. Reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s book, ‘The Sixth Extinction’ (Bloomsbury, 2014) recently, it suddenly struck me that the extinction event that we are currently living through, in the ‘Anthropocene’, is being intensively studied by representatives (i.e. scientists) of the causal agent! This is the first time in the history of life on earth that such a thing has occurred.
    Because we now no exactly what is happening to the biosphere, we all have a responsibility to save it – and much of this burden falls squarely on the shoulders of decision makers.

  3. mike reardon says:

    I think ther crux is in the last full paragraph .In some ways the article links to the talk George Marshal gave during Mcr Science Festival. Just how do we help people to identify and seek change (individually and collectively) without indulging in large scale rationalist, evidenced ,polemical debates that just leave most people cold and their behaviour unaffected.The dilemma facing the ‘left’ for so long.

    And how can we ‘tell’ the poorest people in Manchester that they bear some responsibility for the historic emissions and other devastations arising from first wave industrialisation and globalisation that in their time exploited them and damaged their lives (and continues to leave a profound legacy)? Even Naomi Klein doesn’t really give a satisfactory answer to that question.

    No easy answers.What is the story we tell about Mcr and its people that helps them to seek alternatives to sterile neo liberal and growth based politics? And also addresses real immediate, pressing concerns about poverty, exclusion, child abuse, racism and zero hours exploitation. The grand arc of this piece, so poetic and intrinsically correct, seems to me not to provide the story board we need.

    • Thanks Mike. I agree that we need a more persuasive narrative about the kind of alternatives that we DO need. Look out for our Viable Economy pamphlet that will be posted shortly on this site. Your constructively critical comments on that will be most welcome.
      Mark Burton, for Steady State Manchester.

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