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?”]
I really should read Aramis.