Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kolvenbach and Technology

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach’s discussion of the Jesuit education ideals regarding service to faith and promotion of justice raises some difficult questions about the nature of justice itself. Kolvenbach shows the contrasting nature of progress and socio-economic status using the example of the Silicon Valley, where he was giving this discussion. He calls this issue “the digital divide.” This digital divide is described, “the United States struggles with new social divisions aggravated by ‘the digital divide’ between those with access to the world of technology and those left out.” As the technology all around us becomes better, faster, and more expensive, the gap between the rich and poor increases exponentially. It is hard for me to think about what my life would be like without the constant and distracting presence of facebook, or the convenience of having my cell phone, and yet some people live their daily lives without the use of a computers or phones or other luxuries that I tend to take for granted.
In class we discussed the methods of colonization as described by Ashcroft. One issue which came up was the idea of transculturation, which occurs when the colonizing party forces its customs on the indigenous people of the land which they are colonizing. This is similar to the Kolvenbach’s digital divide, except in this case, the culture of technology is that which is being forced upon American society. As is the case with transculturation in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the side affect is alienation. In the case of technology however, the alienation has nothing to do with pride or devotion to the old culture, and everything to do with economic constraints.
Kolvenbach seconds this idea by saying “with the collapse of Communism and the end of the Cold War, national and even international politics have been eclipsed by a resurgent capitalism that faces no ideological rival.” Here the technological advancement that exemplifies this resurgent capitalism is comparable to a religion being forced on an indigenous culture, and in both cases the collateral damage is made evident.

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