Technological  Utopianism

Technological utopianism derived from the belief in technology -- conceived as more than tools and machines alone -- as the means of achieving a 'perfect' society in the near future. Such a society, moreover, would not only be the culmination of the introduction of new tools and machines; it would also be modeled on those tools and machines in its institutions, values and culture...More clearly, more methodically and more intensely than any other group, the technological utopians espoused positions that a growing number (even a majority) of Americans during these 50 years were coming to take for granted, or wanted to: the belief in the inevitability of progress and the belief that progress was precisely technological progress....The utopians were not oblivious to the problems technological advance might cause, such as unemployment or boredom. They simply were confident that advancing technology held the solution to those problems and to other, chronic problems, including scarcity, hunger, disease and war. In addition, they assumed that technology would solve the psychological problems that were increasingly worrisome, such as aggression, crowding, rudeness, and social disorder....Despite its basis in modern technology, technological utopia was not to be a mass of sooting smokestacks, clanging machines, and teeming streets. The dirt, noise, and chaos that invariably accompanied industrialization in the real world were to give way in the future to perfect cleanliness, efficiency, quiet and harmony...Connecting all sectors of the technological utopia would be superbly efficient transportation and communication systems, powered almost exclusively by electricity. These systems would enable widely dispersed citizens to live and work wherever they might choose. As one of them puts it, 'we have practically eliminated distances.' The specific means of transportation would include automobiles, trains, subways, ships, airplanes, even moving sidewalks. The means of communication would include pneumatic mail tubes, telephones, telegraphs, radios, and mechanically composed newspapers.

-- Howard P. Segal, "The Technological Utopians", in Joseph J. Corn (Ed.), Imagining  Tomorrow:  History,  Technology  and  The  American  Future (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986).
 
Representative Works:

Chauncey Thomas, The  Crystal  Button:  Or,  Adventures  of  Paul  Prognosis  in  the  Forty-Ninth  Century (1891)

Edward Bellamy, Looking  Backward,  2000-1895 (1895)

Albert A. Merrill, The  Great  Awakening:  The  Story  of  the  Twenty-Second  Century (1899)

Paul Devinne, The  Day  of  Prosperity:  A  Vision  of  the  Century  to  Come (1902)

Charles W. Wooldridge, Perfecting  the  Earth:  A  Piece  of  Possible  History (1902)

Edward Chambless, Roadtown (1910)

Herman H. Brinsmade, Utopia  Achieved:  A  Novel  of  the  Future (1912)

Harold Loeb, Life  in  a  Technocracy:  What  It  Might  Be  Like (1933) `

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