The Pentagon of Power Quotes.

1. "On one hand the Christian missionaries sought to convert the heathen, by fire and sword if need be, to the gospel of peace, brotherhood, and heavenly beatitude; on the other, the more venturesome spirits wished to throw off the constraining traditions and customs, and begin life afresh, levelling distinctions of class, eliminating superfluities and luxuries, privileges and distinctions, and hierarchical rank. In short, to go back to the Stone Ages, before the institutions of Bronze Age civilization had crystallized. Though the Western hemisphere was indeed inhabited, and many parts of it were artfully cultivated, so much of it was so sparsely occupied that the European thought of it as a virgin continent against whose wildness he pitted his manly strength. In one mood the European invaders preached the Christian gospel to the native idolaters, subverted them with strong liquors, forced them to cover their nakedness with clothes, and worked them to an early death in mines; in another, the pioneer himself took on the ways of the North American Indian, adopted his leather costume, and reverted to the ancient paleolithic economy: hunting, fishing, gathering shellfish and berries, revelling in the wilderness and its solitude, defying orthodox law and order, and yet, under pressure, improvising brutal substitutes. The beauty of that free life still haunted Audubon in his old age."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

2. "In short, conquest is in no sense a necessary sign of higher human development, though conquistadors have always thought otherwise. Any valid concept of organic development must use the primary terms of ecology-cooperation and symbiosis-as well as struggle and conflict, for even predators are part of a food chain, and do not 'conquer' their prey except to eat them. The idea of total conquest is an extrapolation from the existing power system: it indicates, not a desirable end, accomodation, but a pathological aberration, re-enforced by such rewards as this system bestows. As for the climactic notion that "the universe will be man's at last"-what is this but a paranoid fantasy, comparable to the claims of an asylum inmate who imagines that he is Emperor of the World? Such a claim is countless light-years away from reality."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

3. "What is more, the whole apparatus of life has become so complex and the processes of production, distribution, and consumption have become so specialized and subdivided, that the individual person loses confidence in his own unaided capacities: he is increasingly subject to commands he does not understand, at the mercy of forces over which he exercises no effective control, moving to a destination he has not chosen. Unlike the taboo-ridden savage, who is often childishly over-confident in the powers of his shaman or magician to control formidable natural forces, however inimical, the machine-conditioned individual feels lost and helpless as day by day he metaphorically punches his time-card, takes his place on the assembly line, and at the end draws a pay check that proves worthless for obtaining any of the genuine goods of life. This lack of close personal involvement in the daily routine brings a general loss of contact with reality: instead of continuous interplay between the inner and the outer world, with constant feedback or readjustment and with stimulus to fresh creativity, only the outer world-and mainly the collectively organized outer world of the power system-exercises authority: even private dreams must be channeled through television, film, and disc, in order to become acceptable. With this feeling of alienation goes the typical psychological problem of our time, characterized in classic terms by Erik Erikson as the 'Identity Crisis.' In a world of transitory family nurture, transitory human contacts, transitory jobs and places of residence, transitory sexual and family relations, the basic conditions for maintaining continuity and establishing personal equilibrium disappear. The individual suddenly awakens, as Tolstoi did in a famous crisis in his own life at Arzamas, to find himself in a strange, dark room, far from home, threatened by obscure hostile forces, unable to discover where he is or who he is, appalled by the prospect of a meaningless death at the end of a meaningless life."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

4. "Primitive man's life in Hobbes' famous words, was short, brutish, and nasty; and this very savagery and anxiety became the justification for an absolute order established, like Descartes' ideal world, by a single providential mind and will: that of the absolute ruler or monarch. Until men were incorporated into Leviathan, that is, the all-powerful state through which the king's will was carried out, they were dangerous to their fellows and a burden to themselves."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

5. "Unfortunately the hostility that the European displayed toward the native cultures he encountered he carried even further into his relations with the land. The immense open spaces of the American continents, with all their unexploited or thinly utilized resources, were treated as a challenge to unrelenting war, destruction, and conquest. The forests were there to be cut down, the prairie to be plowed up, the marshes to be filled, the wildlife to be killed for empty sport, even if not utilized for food or clothing. In the act of 'conquering nature' our ancestors too often treated the earth as contemptuously and as brutally as they treated its original inhabitants, wiping out great animal species like the bison and the passenger pigeon, mining the soils instead of annually replenishing them, and even, in the present day, invading the last wilderness areas, precious just because they are still wildernesses, homes for wildlife and solitary human souls. Instead we are surrendering them to six-lane highways, gas stations, amusement parks, and the lumber interests, as in the redwood groves, or Yosemite, and Lake Tahoe-though these primeval areas, once desecrated, can never be fully restored or replaced."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

6. "Less than a decade after the explosion of the first atom bomb the megamachine had expanded to a point where it began to dominate key areas of the whole economy of the United States: its system of control reached beyond the airfields, the rocket sites, the bomb factories, the universities, to a hundred other related areas, tying the once separate and independent enterprises to a central organization whose irrational and humanly subversive policies ensured the still further expansion of the megamachine. Financial subventions, research grants, educational subsidies, all worked unceasingly for the 'Life, Prosperity, Health' of the new rulers, headed by Goliaths in brass armor bellowing threats of defiance and destruction at the entire world. In a short time, the original military-industrial-scientific elite became the supreme Pentagon of Power, for it incorporated likewise both the bureaucratic and the educational establishments."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

7. "Kings have always boasted that their slightest wishes were commands. The classic proof of their power and their success was their command of limitless amounts of food and drink, limitless quantities of clothes and jewels: the services of innumerable slaves, servants, and officials: limitless sensual stimulations, and not least, limitless opportunities for sexual intercourse, for even here erotic delight was measured in gross quantitative terms. The affluence that once was monopolized by the king and his court is now being held up as the ultimate gift of the power system to mankind at large."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

8. "This New World utopia, this promised land, was soon buried under the ashes and cinders that erupted over the Western World in the nineteenth century, thanks tot he resurrection and intensification of all the forces that had originally brought 'civilization' itself into existence. The rise of the centralized state, teh expansion of the bureaucracy and the conscript army, the regimentation of the factory system, the depredations of speculative finance, the spread of imperialism, as in the Mexican War, and the continued encroachment of slavery-all these negative movements not only sullied the New World dream but brought back on a larger scale than ever the Old World nightmares that the immigrants to America had risked their lives and forfeited their cultural treasures to escape."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

9. "Unfortunately, computer knowledge, because it must be processed and programmed, cannot remain constantly in touch, like the human brain, with the unceasing flow of reality; for only a small part of experience can be arrested for extraction and expression in abstract symbols. Changes that cannot be quantitatively measured or objectively observed, such changes as take place constantly all the way from the atom to the living organism, are outside the scope of the computer. For all its fantastic rapidity of operation, its components remain incapable of making qualitative responses to constant organic changes."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

10. "As respects its isolation and its indifference to the basic requirements of all organic activity, the pecuniary power complex discloses a startling resemblance to a newly discovered center in the brain-that which is called the pleasure center. So far as is known, this pleasure center performs no useful function in the organism, unless it should prove that in some still obscure way it plays a part in more functional pleasure reactions. But in laboratory monkeys this localized center can be penetrated by electrodes which permit a micro-current to stimulate the nervous tissue in such a fashion that the flow of current-and hence the intensity of pleasure-can be regulated by the animal himself. Apparently the stimulation of this pleasure center is so rewarding that the animal will continue to press the current regulator for an indefinite length of time, regardless of every other impulse or physiological need, even that for food, and even to the point of starvation. The intensity of this abstract stimulus produces something like a total neurotic insensibility to life needs. The power complex seems to operate on the same principle. The magical electronic stimulus is money. What increases the resemblance between this pecuniary motivation and that of the cerebral pleasure center is that both centers, unlike virtually all organic reactions, recognize no quantitative limits. What has always been true of money, among those susceptible to its influence, applies equally to the other components of the power complex: the abstraction replaces the concrete reality, and therefore those who seek to increase it never know when they have had enough. Each of these drives, for power, for goods, for fame, for pleasure, may-it goes without saying-have as useful a part to play in the normal economy of a community as in the human body itself. It is by their detachment, their isolation, their quantitative over-concentration, and their mutual re-enforcement that they become perverse and life-corroding."
- Lewis Mumford, The Pentagon of Power

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