WALL-E vs. the Jetsons: Materialism and Technological Progress

Jetsons, WALL-E, technology, progress, innovation, Jeffrey TuckerIn my most recent post at Common Sense Concept, I build on Jeffrey Tucker’s piece on the Jetsons and innovation, focusing on the bleak alternative to healthy modernization. As I argue, the society may very well result in the misaligned World of WALL-E.

For Tucker, the Jetsons represent a healthy view of technological progress — one in which the more important human struggles still remain largely intact, with the material stuff staying secondary:

The whole scene — which anticipated so much of the technology we have today but, strangely, not email or texting — reflected the ethos of time: a love of progress and a vision of a future that stayed on courseIt was neither utopian nor dystopian. It was the best of life as we know it projected far into the future.

Yet there is another possibility we all should be wary of.

Here’s an excerpt from my response:

This distinction about a society that “stays on course” is what separates the World of the Jetsons from the World of WALL-E, a realm in which humans assume the role of virtual robots, controlled by their possessions, consumed by their leisure, and subsequently doomed to an existence of myopic and self-destructive idleness.

Instead, the World of the Jetsons is one in which human potential is unleashed. There is a “love of progress,” but such a love is not detached from higher responsibilities and does not confuse or pervert the moral order. For the Jetsons, the stuff remains stuff and life moves on, whether that entails personal goals, family development, community engagement, or a relationship with God (one can only hope, George!).

So what separates the two?  If both worlds experience drastic technological improvements, what changes the people within them? How can we avoid the negative changes that we see in WALL-E?

The deeper distinction has to do with a society which confuses the fruit with the root (i.e. the materialistic one). Government certainly is not the end-all determiner of any given cultural path, but it does have an impact in the way it encourages (i.e. coerces) us into certain behaviors. Which view of government leads to the World of the Jetsons and which to the World of WALL-E?

For my thoughts (and a subtle Little Mermaid reference), read the full post.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/55298101778448384 Remnant Culture

    We have a choice between the World of WALL-E and the World of the Jetsons. My thoughts at @CommonConcept: http://bt.io/GtRD @AEIOnline

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/55704170593918976 Joseph Sunde

    My thoughts on WALL-E, the Jetsons, and materialism (with a Little Mermaid reference to boot): http://bt.io/Gtrp

  • Derron Williams

    I think this is bullshit, go lick a cock

  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/122709706732081152 Remnant Culture

    Struggle and tension are the very stuff of progress. Let’s not replace them with the stuff of stuff. http://t.co/9f5htCzu