A poet looks at revolutionary politics

In  1968, the year of the student rebellions across the world, English poet Stephen Spender studied the events and made several observations about their significance and future import.

Spender quotes Zbigniew Brzenski, an influential American policy advisor in the mid twentieth century: Society “is being shaped to an ever-increasing extent by technology and electronics,and thus becoming the first technetronic society. This is at least in part the cause for much of the current tensions and violence, and largely the reason why events in America today do not fit established categories of analysis” (153-54). After that period, and perhaps as a result of it, politics turned selfish in the Unites States, and the profit motive became primary–even for formerly public services like hospitals and schools.

Brzenski goes on: “It will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date, complete files, containing even personal information about the  health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in addition to the more customary data” (154). Formerly the stuff of science fiction, the military and national security apparatus now routinely and thoroughly, collects and stores, according to recent work by courageous workers, invidious collection of electronic information, approved by a secret court.

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