The Technician Class

As with most of issue 1.4, this article has been rejected by the majority of individuals belonging to Wild Will and should not be regarded as representative of the members’ views. For more representative writings, see the series “Foundations of Wildism.”

Summary-This article explains the concept of “the technician class” and the idea of “class” more generally in the context of wildist theory. It argues that class is defined by a population’s relationship to the mode of production and that it is a purely instrumental concept, meaning the significance of one or another class will vary based on political goals. Finally, it goes on to survey some of the specificities of the technician class and important elements within it, like the technocrats and the hackers.

Marxist theory posits the existence of two classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, and it defines those classes by the relationship they have with the mode of production. Wildist theory takes the same general approach to the concept of “class.” However, Marxists also attempt to explain history in terms of class warfare, and as a result they tend to think of classes as “real” entities rather than simply instrumental ones. Here wildists, with the majority of thinking men today, diverge from Marxist class theory.

Wildists regard “classes” as solely instrumental categories. For instance, the two classes of Marxist theory are valid insofar as they help explicate theory and goals and insofar as populations truly do relate to the mode of production in the way Marxist theory suggests they do. (The latter is a problem for contemporary Marxists who find that the theoretical significance of the “proletariat” has deteriorated because of new economic conditions.) This is similar to “subspecies” in biology, which are not considered to be “real” entities in nature, as species are, but which are useful for biological science nonetheless.

Wildists posit the existence of a “technician class,” or the population of individuals involved in the development and maintenance of technical infrastructure, including various kinds of engineers, scientists, CEOs, and some politicians. This class is significant because technicians are the most likely of any population to work to preserve technical infrastructure and to significantly contribute to its continued existence. As a result, conditions will be more conducive to wildist activity when popular tension against technicians is high and less conducive when it is low. Also, monkeywrenching that disrupts the activity of technicians is far more likely to achieve wildist goals than monkeywrenching that disrupts the activity of any other population, so the shared ideological concept of “the technician class” helps orient wildists and unify their focus.

Note that wildist theory has no parallel to the Marxists’ proletarian class. This is mostly for the same reasons the concept is of limited usefulness even to contemporary Marxists: economic conditions are quite precarious for most individuals in techno-industrial nations, so those not in a stable position of power are unlikely to be able to use their economic position as a political tool. (Also, the concept of the proletariat was arguably always a deficient one, as is evidenced by the way Communists relied heavily on peasantry every time their revolutions occurred in the real world.) Furthermore, it is not important that a particular population war with the technicians, only that there is popular unrest aimed at them. The goal, after all, is not to put a group of people into power, but to disrupt that process of gaining power entirely.

Nevertheless, wildists are likely to aim for people referred to as “indomitable spirts.” This is less of an economic concept, like class, and more of a biopolitical one. Aldo Leopold explained it when he said, “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” Indomitable spirits are those who cannot. They are individuals who because of their character and disposition, or their innate resistance to artificial[1] restrictions, are likely to be particularly dissatisfied with the industrial way of life. Of course, for practical reasons, among others, finding these individuals is not likely to be a scientific process, but a political one. In other words, it’s not a question of genomes so much as a question of their probable involvement with some aspect of society; and logically indomitables are more likely to occupy the margins of society and make up a great percentage of the criminal, excluded, and ill-adapted elements. Of particular note is the connection of indomitables to wilderness conservation, suited as the latter is to being an escape from the drearier aspects of industrial life. This, along with the way wilderness conservation roots individuals in values important to wildism, is why wildists focus so heavily on conservation as a site of struggle.

As a final but important note, we should be cognizant of some of the contours of the technician class, since it is by no means a monolithic population. Especially important are technocrats, like Bill Gates or Elon Musk, who are elite individuals among the already-elite technicians. This is in contrast to the lower rungs of the technician class, more and more occupied by most employed people in industrial societies. Indeed, as the automation revolution progresses, nearly all available jobs will be scientific and engineering ones, leaving most other than the third world as technicians. And of course this absolves none of them of responsibility, but it does dilute the power of the critique for practical reasons if nothing else. The end result is an increased emphasis on the technocratic elite, since many forced into technical jobs by economic necessity may actually dislike their new conditions. Consider the Luddites or the more recent taxi-driver riots in response to Uber.

This foreshadows a second important element of the technician class, namely, the traitors, referred to now as hackers or cypherpunks. Not all under these names are of interest to wildists, but many are, and they ought not be ignored. Cypherpunks, for instance, are almost wholly united by a commitment to privacy, something inherently at odds with the expansion of the public that has accompanied civilization since its beginnings, when it produced the very concept. In this way we might say that the cypherpunk commitment to privacy has inherent seeds of anti-civilization thought, regardless of what the cypherpunks themselves believe their conscious commitments to be. Furthermore, many become involved in hacker culture precisely because of their innate rebelliousness-their resistance to the artificial restrictions, which seem all the more objectionable to those who understand them.

In sum, the concept of “class” in wildist theory is merely instrumental and entirely unnecessary to explain its basic concepts. However, it is helpful in our political context to name those individuals most likely to protect, benefit, and further develop the technical infrastructure that sustains industrial society. This focuses wildist efforts on instigating popular tension against technicians, necessary for a political climate agreeable to eco-radical action. Finally, within the technician class it is important to emphasize the especially elite technocrats and the hackers who hold potential as an anti-industrial political force.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dreyfus, S., & Assange, J. (2012). Underground: tales of hacking, madness and obsession on the electronic frontier. CanonGate Books.

Jacobi, J. (2016). The foundations of wildist ethics. Hunter/Gatherer, 1(1), 6-55.

Kaczynski, T. J. (2010). Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore John Kaczynski, a.k.a “The Unabomber”. (D. Skrbina, Ed.) Feral House.

Marx, K. (1904). A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co.

 

 

[1] “Artificial” in the context of wildist theory means “made or controlled by humans or their technical systems.” This is in contrast to “natural” in the sense of “non-artificial,” which is of course different from the meaning of “nature” in the physical sciences, defined as material reality or the Cosmos. See “The Foundations of Wildist Ethics.”

2 Comments

  • Lone Raven says:

    What about paradigms NOT based on production, but that still have classes?

    Given that this was in part about a wildist theory of class, I was surprised to see no reference to the first two classes to be formed in human prehistory – namely the shaman whose rituals offered the first symbolising narratives and the warriors he enlisted to enforce his will. Or do you have reason to doubt the anthropologists who posit that development?

    • editor says:

      I don’t really think the concept of “class” is all that useful for analysis. That’s why the point of this article was to communicate that it was solely an instrumental concept, one-off, not very important to wildism. Some of the people in Wild Will have convinced me since writing this article that it shouldn’t have been published. But it’s generally considered bad manners to remove content once you’ve already put it online. I’d say you can safely ignore the ideas in this article.

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