Standardised




Standardised                     -                      Bespoke
Machine                            -                      Human
Unit                                   -                      Individual
Large scale                        -                      Small scale
Efficient                            -                      Inefficient




[…] quantity will predominate over quality in individuals to the extent that they approach a condition in which they are, so to speak, mere individuals and nothing more, and to the extent that they are thereby more separate one from another […]

This separation turns individuals into so many 'units’, and turns their collectivity into quantitative multiplicity; at the limit, these individuals would be no more than something comparable to the imagined ‘atoms’ of the physicists, deprived of every qualitative determination; and although this limit can never in fact be reached, it lies in the direction which the world of today is following.

A mere glance at things as they are is enough to make it clear that the aim is everywhere to reduce everything to uniformity, whether it be human beings themselves or the things among which they live, and it is obvious that such a result can only be obtained by suppressing as far as possible every qualitative distinction; but it is particularly to be noted that some people, through a strange delusion, are all too willing to mistake this ‘uniformization’ for a ‘unification', whereas it is really exactly the opposite, as must appear evident in the light of the ever more marked accentuation of 'separativity’ implied.

It must be insisted that quantity can only separate and cannot unite; everything that proceeds from ‘matter’ produces nothing but antagonism, in many diverse forms, between fragmentary ʻunits' that are at a point directly opposite to true unity, or at least are pressing toward that point with all the weight of a quantity no longer balanced by quality […]

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 47-8

 


[…] according to the traditional conception, it is the essential qualities of beings that determine their activity; according to the profane conception on the other hand, these qualities are no longer taken into account, and individuals are regarded as no more than interchangeable and purely numerical ‘units'. 

The latter conception can only logically lead to the exercise of a wholly ‘mechanical’ activity, in which there remains nothing truly human, and that is exactly what we can see happening today. 

It need hardly be said that the ‘mechanical’ activities of the moderns, which constitute industry properly so called and are only a product of the profane deviation, can afford no possibility of an initiatic kind, and further, that they cannot be anything but obstacles to the development of all spirituality; indeed they cannot properly be regarded as authentic crafts, if that word is to retain the force of its traditional meaning.

There is thus no difficulty in seeing how far removed true craft is from modern industry, so much so that the two are as it were opposites, and how far it is unhappily true that in the reign of quantity the craft is, as the partisans of 'progress' so readily declare, a ‘thing of the past'.

The workman in industry cannot put into his work anything of himself, and a lot of trouble would even be taken to prevent him if he had the least inclination to try to do so; but he cannot even try, because all his activity consists solely in making a machine go, and because in addition he is rendered quite incapable of initiative by the professional 'formation' - or rather deformation - he has received, which is practically the antithesis of the ancient apprenticeship, and has for its sole object to teach him to execute certain movements ‘mechanically’ and always in the same way, without having at all to understand the reason for them or to trouble himself about the result, for it is not he, but the machine, that will really fabricate the object.

Servant of the machine, the man must become a machine himself, and thenceforth his work has nothing really human in it, for it no longer implies the putting to work of any of the qualities that really constitute human nature.

The end of all this is what is called in present-day jargon ‘mass-production’, the purpose of which is only to produce the greatest possible quantity of objects, and of objects as exactly alike as possible, intended for the use of men who are supposed to be no less alike; that is indeed the triumph of quantity, as was pointed out earlier, and it is by the same token the triumph of uniformity.

[René Guénon] 
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 58, 60-1




The conclusion that emerges clearly from all this is that uniformity, in order that it may be possible, presupposes beings deprived of all qualities and reduced to nothing more than simple numerical ‘units'; also that no such uniformity is ever in fact realizable, while the result of all the efforts made to realize it, notably in the human domain, can only be to rob beings more or less completely of their proper qualities, thus turning them into something as nearly as possible like mere machines; and machines, the typical product of the modern world, are the very things that represent, in the highest degree attained up till now, the predominance of quantity over quality. 

From a social viewpoint, ‘democratic' and 'egalitarian' conceptions tend toward exactly the same end, for according to them all individuals are equivalent one to another. 

This idea carries with it the absurd supposition that everyone is equally well fitted for anything whatsoever, though nature provides no example of any such 'equality’, for the reasons already given, since it would imply nothing but a complete similitude between individuals; but it is obvious that, in the name of this assumed 'equality’, which is one of the topsy-turvy 'ideals' most dear to the modern world, individuals are in fact directed toward becoming as nearly alike one to another as nature allows - and this in the first place by the attempt to impose a uniform education on everyone. 

It is no less obvious that differences of aptitude cannot in spite of everything be entirely suppressed, so that a uniform education will not give exactly the same results for all; but it is all too true that, although it cannot confer on anyone qualities that he does not possess, it is on the contrary very well to suppress in everyone all possibilities above the common level; this ‘levelling’ always works downward: indeed, it could not work in any other way, being itself only an expression of the tendency toward the lowest, that is, toward pure quantity […]

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 51-2




But alongside this convergence there has become visible the conditioning power of one and the same “system,” manifesting as the tendency to destroy all the higher values of life and personality.

The prevalent and determining trends are, and will be increasingly in future, the passive destructive processes from which can only arise a squalid uniformity, a reduction to types that lack the dimension of depth and any metaphysical quality, defining themselves at an existential level even lower than the already problematic one of the individual and the person.

Among other things, the machine itself may appear as a symbol, and everything that has taken form in certain sectors of the modern world in terms of pure functionality, especially in architecture.

The machine symbolizes a form born from an exact, objective adjustment of the means to the end, with the exclusion of everything superfluous arbitrary, irrelevant, or subjective. It is a form that precisely realizes an idea: the idea, in this case, of the purpose for which it is made. On its own plane, it reflects in a way the same value as the classical world knew through geometrical form, number as entity, and the whole Doric principle of “nothing in excess.”

[…] one can define a realism that signifies coolness, clarity, seriousness, and purity; detachment from the world of sentimentalism, of ego problems, of melodramatic tragedy, of the whole legacy of twilight romanticism, idealism, and expressionism: a realism that entails the sense of the vanity of the I and of believing oneself important as an individual.

Matzke wrote: “We are objective, because for us the reality of things is great, infinite, and everything human is too small, limited, and polluted with ‘soul’.”

The essential traits of the new attitude were well described as distance, otherness, loftiness, monumentality, a laconic quality, and the revulsion against all that is warm proximity, humanity, effusiveness, expressionism; the line of objectivity in figures, of coolness and grandeur in forms.

[Julius Evola]
Ride the Tiger, p. 31, 114-16




Roughly put, taking place in all areas of human life from religion and law to music and architecture, rationalization means a historical drive towards a world in which “one can, in principle, master all things by calculation” [Weber 1919/1946, 139]. 

For instance, modern capitalism is a rational mode of economic life because it depends on a calculable process of production. This search for exact calculability underpins such institutional innovations as monetary accounting (especially double-entry bookkeeping), centralization of production control, separation of workers from the means of production, supply of formally free labour, disciplined control on the factory floor, and other features that make modern capitalism qualitatively different from all other modes of organizing economic life. 

The enhanced calculability of the production process is also buttressed by that in non-economic spheres such as law and administration. Legal formalism and bureaucratic management reinforce the elements of predictability in the sociopolitical environment that encumbers industrial capitalism by means of introducing formal equality of citizenship, a rule-bound legislation of legal norms, an autonomous judiciary, and a depoliticized professional bureaucracy. 

Further, all this calculability and predictability in political, social, and economic spheres was not possible without changes of values in ethics, religion, psychology, and culture. Institutional rationalization was, in other words, predicated upon the rise of a peculiarly rational type of personality, or a “person of vocation” (Berufsmensch) as outlined in the Protestant Ethic

The outcome of this complex interplay of ideas and interests was modern rational Western civilization with its enormous material and cultural capacity for relentless world-mastery.

'Max Weber: 3.2 Calculability, Predictability, and World-Mastery', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy




[…] under liberalism, “culture" becomes a word that parasitizes the original, displacing actual cultures with a liberal simulacrum eagerly embraced by a populace that is unaware of the switch.

Invocations of "culture” tend to be singular, not plural, whereas actual cultures are multiple, local, and particular. We tend to speak of such phenomena as “popular culture," a market-tested and standardized product devised by commercial enterprises and meant for mass consumption.

Whereas culture is an accumulation of local and historical experience and memory, liberal “culture" is the vacuum that remains when local experience has been eviscerated, memory is lost, and every place becomes every other place.

A panoply of actual cultures is replaced by celebration of "multiculturalism,” the reduction of actual cultural variety to liberal homogeneity loosely dressed in easily discarded native garb. The “-ism" of "multiculturalism” signals liberalism's victorious rout of actual cultural variety.

Even as cultures are replaced by a pervasive anticulture, the language of culture is advanced as a means of rendering liberal humanity's detachment from specific cultures. The homogenous celebration of every culture effectively means no culture at all. The more insistent the invocation of “pluralism” or “diversity” or, in the retail world, “choice," the more assuredly the destruction of actual cultures is advancing.

[Patrick Deneen]
Why Liberalism Failed, p.89



Related posts:

The Common Man




It is this profound scepticism about the common man that is the common point in the contradictory elements of modern thought.
 
That is why Mr. Bernard Shaw wants to evolve a new animal that shall live longer and grow wiser than man. That is why Mr. Sidney Webb wants to herd the men that exist like sheep, or animals much more foolish than man.
 
They are not rebelling against an abnormal tyranny; they are rebelling against what they think is a normal tyranny - the tyranny of the normal. They are not in revolt against the King. They are in revolt against the Citizen.
 
The old revolutionist, when he stood on the roof and looked over the city, used to say to himself, “Think how the princes and nobles revel in their palaces; think how the captains and cohorts ride the streets and trample on the people." But the new revolutionist is not brooding on that. He is saying, "Think of all those stupid men in vulgar villas or ignorant slums. Think how badly they teach their children; think how they do the wrong things to the dog and offend the feelings of the parrot."
 
In short, these sages, rightly or wrongly, cannot trust the normal man to rule in the home, and most certainly do not want him to rule in the State. They do not really want to give him any political power. They are willing to give him a vote, because they have long discovered that it need not give him any power. They are not willing to give him a house, or a wife, or child, or a dog, or a cow, or a piece of land, because these things really do give him power.
 
[G. K. Chesterton] 
The Outline of Sanity, p. 181-2




The 'Gammon' is pilloried for his refusal to move with the times. At a deep level this is an attack on working class values - which run counter to the prevailing global agenda - although it daren't be openly characterised as such, at least not yet.