Jacques Ellul was a French theologian/sociologist & anarchist. He first became well-known to American readers when his book The Technological Society was published in English in 1964.
This book leveled a broad critique of technique, a term that means more than gadgets and machines -- as the English word technology means.
For Ellul, technique represented an entire way of life characterized by life fragmented so that efficiency ultimately rules over all ethical decisions.
Ellul warned that technique was having drastic effects on all aspects of modern life. His books, Anarchy and Christianity, The Politics of God and the Politics of Man are two examples of how his political and religious outlooks mutually reinforced one another.
Many Green Anarchists have cited Ellul's work on technique as influential on their thought.
J. Ellul, The Technological Society, Intro:
"The term technique, as I use it, does not mean machines, technology, or this or that procedure for attaining an end. In our technological society, technique is the totality of methods ralionally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity. Its characteristics are new; the technique of the present has no common measure with that of the past." (p. xxv)
"Capitalism did not create our world; the machine did. Painstaking studies designed to prove the contrary have buried the obvious beneath tons of print. And, if we do not wish to play the demagogue, we must point out the guilty party. 'The machine is antisocial', says Lewis Mumford. 'It tends, by reason of its progressive character, to the most acute forms of human exploitation.' The machine took its place in a social milieu that was not made for it, and for that reason created the inhuman society in which we live. Capitalism was therefore only one aspect of the deep disorder of the nineteenth century. To restore order, it was necessary to question all the bases of that society — its social and political structures, its art and its way of life, its commercial system." (p. 5)
In 1950, Ellul finished his manuscript La Technique ou l'enjeu du siecle (The Technological Society), his seminal analysis of the way technology shapes every aspect of society. As contemporary thinker, he was strongly influenced by Kierkegaard, Marx and Barth. After a live, in which he wrote close to fifty books, Ellul died in the summer of 1994, at the age of 82.
The team of ReRun Produkties visited Ellul in 1990. During five subsequent days, long interview sessions were held with him in his old mansion in Pessac. The Betrayal by Technology is one of the very few existing filmed recordings of Jacques Ellul speaking.