This qual­i­fies in an inter­est­ing way what some peo­ple have seen as Latour’s tech­nocratism, his own “love of tech­nol­o­gy,” which is sus­pect to many intel­lec­tu­als (chiefly Hei­deg­ge­ri­ans, but not only them). Because what Latour loves above all is the tech­nol­o­gy that could exist, and the social inter­ac­tions that (can) help to bring it about. He’s not an apol­o­gist for the neolib­er­al order or the effects that tech­no­log­i­cal cul­ture has had, but he does insist on the real­i­ty of the net­works that sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy have cre­at­ed, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty of using them to dif­fer­ent ends than the ones they are cur­rent­ly used for. From this stand­point, he looks like quite a utopi­an thinker him­self. And while Nor­bert, like Latour, is reluc­tant to attribute the fail­ure of Aramis to leviathan-sized macro-actors (“Are you going to accuse the social sys­tem? Cap­i­tal­ism? Napoleon­ic France? Sin­ful man, while you’re at it?,” 197), there is more than a tinge of pathos in the fact that an inno­va­tion that would have helped solve eco­log­i­cal as well as trans­porta­tion­al prob­lems was scut­tled by tech­no­crat­ic man­age­ment. And while many of the expla­na­tions giv­en by the actors are as good as any a soci­ol­o­gist could come up with, some are a lot less enlight­ened — e.g. M. Chal­van: “‘Cars belong to indi­vid­u­als; every­one looks out for them. But Aramis would have been col­lec­tive prop­er­ty. The first time any­thing went wrong, peo­ple would have blown the whole thing up’” (71): a rare appear­ance of straight-up ide­ol­o­gy in Latour’s work. [Cf. also “The Fear of Mob Rule” in “Do You Believe In Real­i­ty?”]

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.