The Perils Of Smashing The Past

Nathan Gardels in Noema Magazine:

“Move fast and break things,” the digital dictum of today’s Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could have been penned by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti and his fellow Italian Futurists. Their famous manifesto in 1909 glorified the velocity of all things industrially muscular, from cars to airplanes, that disrupted the time and space of stodgy old traditional societies. Like today’s radical technologists, they too envisioned a new transhumanism that would fuse man and machine.

I was struck by this parallel when visiting an exhibit of futurist art at the Palazzo Maffei last week in Verona. In their enthusiasm to smash the past, what the futurists didn’t see was how the broken social pieces would seek shelter from the storm by re-forming through identity politics that ended up in the fascist movements that fomented world war. That is something to ponder in our own fraught time of fragmentation.

As in Marinetti’s day, prodigious leaps in technology, science and productive capacity today herald a future humanity has only dreamt of in the past. Yet these great transformations seem to have triggered in their wake a great reaction among the multitude they have bypassed or threatened to uproot.

More here.