Oxen that rattle the yoke or halt in the shade, what is that you express in your eyes?
It seems to me more than all the print I have read in my life.
Leaves of grass, Walt Whitman
It should be added that the nightmare of this epoch is not in its being the “age of technics” but in its being the age of technology. Technology is not the consummation of technical development, but on the contrary the ex-propriation of humans’ different constitutive techniques. Technology is the systematizing of the most effective techniques, and consequently the leveling of the worlds and the relations with the world that everyone deploys. Technology is a discourse about techniques that is constantly being projected into material reality. Just as the ideology of the festival is the death of the real festival, and the ideology of the encounter is the actual impossibility of coming together, technology is the neutralization of all the particular techniques. In this sense capitalism is essentially technological; it is the profitable organization of the most productive techniques into a system. Its cardinal figure is not the economist but the engineer. The engineer is the specialist in techniques and thus the chief expropriator of them, one who doesn’t let himself be affected by any of them, and spreads his own absence from the world everywhere he can. He’s a sad and servile figure. The solidarity between capitalism and socialism is confirmed there: in the cult of the engineer. It was engineers who drew up most of the models of the neoclassical economy like pieces of contemporary trading software. Recall in this regard that Brezhnev’s claim to fame was to have been an engineer in the metallurgical industry in Ukraine.
The figure of the hacker contrasts point by point with the figure of the engineer, whatever the artistic, police-directed, or entrepreneurial efforts to neutralize him may be. Whereas the engineer would capture everything that functions, in such a way that everything functions better in service to the system, the hacker asks himself “How does that work?” in order to find its flaws, but also
to invent other uses, to experiment. Experimenting then means exploring what such and such a technique implies ethically.The hacker pulls techniques out of the technological system in order to free them. If we are slaves of technology, this is precisely because there is a whole ensemble of artifacts of our everyday existence that we take to be specifically “technical” and that we will always regard simply as black boxes of which we are the innocent users. The use of computers to attack the CIA attests rather clearly that cybernetics is no more the science of computers than astronomy is the science of telescopes. Understanding how the devices around us work brings an immediate increase in power, giving us a purchase on what will then no longer appear as an environment, but as a world arranged in a certain way and one that we can shape.
To our Friends, Invisible Comitee