The message is obvious: Although the book is jacqies in the French political and economic tradition and the cases cited are often relevant to contemporary French issues and personalities, its purview is meant to have universal application. In addition, Ellul has been active in the environmental jacquws and has worked to prevent juvenile delinquency and violence. Bronwyn marked it as to-read Dec 31, His tenor and methodology is objective and scholarly, and the perspective is a sociological one. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. They wanted the government to help make their lives rich and full.
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And it creates an artificial system which "eliminates or subordinates the natural world. As people begin to question the value of learning ancient languages and history, they question those things which, on the surface, do little to advance their financial and technical state.
According to Ellul, this misplaced emphasis is one of the problems with modern education, as it produces a situation in which immense stress is placed on information in our schools. The focus in those schools is to prepare young people to enter the world of information, to be able to work with computers but knowing only their reasoning, their language, their combinations, and the connections between them. This movement is invading the whole intellectual domain and also that of conscience.
I cannot think that choices of this kind are unimportant. The Reformation desacralized the church in the name of the Bible , and the Bible became the sacred book. Saint Steve Jobs . Since he defines technique as "the totality of methods rationally arrived at, and having absolute efficiency for a given stage of development in every field of human activity",  it is clear that his sociological analysis focuses not on the society of machines as such, but on the society of "efficient techniques": Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.
There can be no room for moral considerations in their use: Not even the moral conversion of the technicians could make a difference. At best, they would cease to be good technicians.
In the end, technique has only one principle, efficient ordering. Ellul explained his view in this way: "By anarchy I mean first an absolute rejection of violence. Jesus was not only a socialist but an anarchist — and I want to stress here that I regard anarchism as the fullest and most serious form of socialism. That is, being a Christian means pledging absolute allegiance to Christ, which makes other laws redundant at best or counter to the revelation of God at worst.
Despite the initial attraction of some evangelicals to his thinking because of his high view of Biblical texts i. Later, he would attract a following among adherents of more ethically-compatible traditions such as the Anabaptists and the house church movement.
Ellul identified the State and political power as the Beast in the Book of Revelation. He states that his intention is not to establish an anarchist society or the total destruction of the state.
However, Ellul does not entertain the idea that all Christians in all places and all times will refrain from violence. Rather, he insisted that violence could not be reconciled with the God of Love, and thus, true freedom. A Christian that chooses the path of violence must admit that he or she is abandoning the path of freedom and committing to the way of necessity. He tried to get some for them through an old school friend of his and claimed that this was probably the one time in his life when he was sufficiently motivated to commit an act of violence.
He did not go with the anarchists primarily because he had only recently met the woman that would become his wife and did not wish to leave her. It always contests political power. Those young men are heroes and fools both. They are repelled by the violence they see—the massive, enormous violence that cries to heaven. And they are right.
But seeing this highly visible violence, they forthwith make lambs, saints, and martyrs of its victims. For they close their eyes to what the enemy is really like, to his cruelty, his violence, his lies. They overlook his real intentions; they overlook the fact that he would use terrible violence if he won power.
Poor young men, totally unknowing, uncomprehending, blind, perceiving only what is happening now! Their admiration of the Nazis cost those people dearly. This is the kind of idealism that must be combated and radically condemned. Christian idealism which is always concerned with the moral goodness of the human world.
This leads to concepts of progressiveness and unreserved participation with good conscience in political or scientific action. But it is only gross, highly visible, undeniable violence that evokes this scandalized reaction. They deny the existence of masked, secret, covert violence—insofar as this can be concealed He rejected any attempt to reconcile them.
He believed that a Christian could choose to join a movement for justice, but in doing so, must admit that this fight for justice is necessarily, and at the same time, a fight against all forms of freedom.
Ellul believed that when a Christian decides to act it must be in a way that is specifically Christian. Rather, they must bring to social movements what they alone can provide. Only so can they signalize the kingdom.
So far as they act like the others—even to forward social justice, equality, etc. In fact the political and revolutionary attitude proper to the Christian is radically different than the attitude of others; it is specifically Christian or else it is nothing. He acknowledges that some have used this as an excuse to do nothing, but also points out how some death-of-God advocates use this to claim that "we ourselves must undertake to establish social justice".
Jesus Christ has not come to establish social justice any more than he has come to establish the power of the state or the reign of money or art.
Jesus Christ has come to save men, and all that matters is that men may come to know him. We are adept at finding reasons-good theological, political, or practical reasons, for camouflaging this. But the real reason is that we let ourselves be impressed and dominated by the forces of the world, by the press, by public opinion, by the political game, by appeals to justice, liberty, peace, the poverty of the third world, and the Christian civilization of the west, all of which play on our inclinations and weaknesses.
Modern protestants are in the main prepared to be all things to all men, like St. Paul, but unfortunately this is not in order that they may save some but in order that they may be like all men. This may be useful socially but it is not at all Christian in spite of the disconcerting efforts of theologies of revolution. Revelation demands this renunciation-the renunciation of illusions, of historic hopes, of references to our own abilities or numbers or sense of justice.
We are to tell people and thus to increase their awareness the offense of the ruling classes is that of trying to blind and deaden the awareness of those whom they dominate. Renounce everything in order to be everything. Trust in no human means, for God will provide we cannot say where, when, or how. Have confidence in his Word and not in a rational program. Enter on a way on which you will gradually find answers but with no guaranteed substance.
All this is difficult, much more so than recruiting guerillas, instigating terrorism, or stirring up the masses. And this is why the gospel is so intolerable, intolerable to myself as I speak, as I say all this to myself and others, intolerable for readers, who can only shrug their shoulders.
They would have formulated material goals in the economic, social, and political spheres. This would have stirred people up; this would have been the easy way. To declare, however, that the kingdom is not of this world, that freedom is not achieved by revolt, that rebellion serves no purpose, that there neither is nor will be any paradise on earth, that there is no social justice, that the only justice resides in God and comes from him, that we are not to look for responsibility and culpability in others but first in ourselves, all this is to ask for defeat, for it is to say intolerable things.
He viewed the power of the media as another example of technology exerting control over human destiny. He cannot remember them all, or coordinate them, or understand them; if he does not want to risk losing his mind, he will merely draw a general picture from them. And the more facts supplied, the more simplistic the image". They cannot even form a choice or a judgment in other areas or on other subjects. Thus the mechanisms of modern information induce a sort of hypnosis in the individual, who cannot get out of the field that has been laid out for him by the information".
And because rational propaganda thus creates an irrational situation, it remains, above all, propaganda—that is, an inner control over the individual by a social force, which means that it deprives him of himself". He wants to act for the sake of justice, peace, progress, but does not know how.
On the second visit he attended a Nazi meeting out of curiosity which influenced his later work on propaganda and its ability to unify a group.
As a dialectical contrast to "La Technique," for instance, Ellul writes Sans feu ni lieu published in , although written much earlier. He states that modern enslavement expresses how authority, signification, and value are attached to humanity and the beliefs and institutions it creates. This leads to an exaltation of the nation or state, money, technology, art, morality, the party, etc. The work of humanity is glorified and worshiped, while simultaneously enslaving humankind.
The more a society magnifies human greatness, the more one will see men alienated, enslaved, imprisoned, and tortured, in it. Humanism prepares the ground for the anti-human. We do not say that this is an intellectual paradox. All one need do is read history. Men have never been so oppressed as in societies which set man at the pinnacle of values and exalt his greatness or make him the measure of all things.
For in such societies freedom is detached from its purpose, which is, we affirm, the glory of God. If I am to continue to be a living human being, someone must come to free me.
In other words, God is not trying to humiliate me. What is mortally affronted in this situation is not my humanity or my dignity. It is my pride, the vainglorious declaration that I can do it all myself. This we cannot accept. In our own eyes we have to declare ourselves to be righteous and free. We do not want grace. Fundamentally what we want is self-justification. There thus commences the patient work of reinterpreting revelation so as to make of it a Christianity that will glorify humanity and in which humanity will be able to take credit for its own righteousness.
Bordeaux: Delmas, The Theological Foundation of Law. Marguerite Wieser. Garden City NY: Doubleday, London: SCM, New York: Seabury, Geneva: Roulet, Lausanne: Presses Bibliques Universitaires,
Born in Bordeaux, France, Ellul received a doctorate in the history of law and social science in from the University of Bordeaux. In he was appointed professor of social history at the University of Bordeaux, remaining there until his retirement in Although influenced strongly by his early reading of the Bible Marx, Ellul has been unable to synthesize Marxist doctrine with Christianity. These readings and experiences have influenced his later philosophy and writing. Ellul has taught and written extensively in his areas of specialization - Roman law, the history and sociology of institutions, Marxism, propaganda, and technique in society. He also served in the French Resistance during World War II, worked as a lay pastor, and has been active with various theological organizations, including the World Council of Churches. In addition, Ellul has been active in the environmental movement and has worked to prevent juvenile delinquency and violence.
The Political Illusion
And it creates an artificial system which "eliminates or subordinates the natural world. As people begin to question the value of learning ancient languages and history, they question those things which, on the surface, do little to advance their financial and technical state. According to Ellul, this misplaced emphasis is one of the problems with modern education, as it produces a situation in which immense stress is placed on information in our schools. The focus in those schools is to prepare young people to enter the world of information, to be able to work with computers but knowing only their reasoning, their language, their combinations, and the connections between them. This movement is invading the whole intellectual domain and also that of conscience.