I Wanna Be Literated #167

I Wanna Be Literated #167

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The Prospects of Industrial Civilization
by Bertrand Russell

My first impression when researching this book is finding out that even admitted Bertrand Russell “fans” don’t hold this book in very high esteem. Although better and more thorough analyses of this book exist, I still have to argue that there’s a lot to learn in the Prospects of Industrial Civilization. I do agree with critics that this probably should have been a longer book as Russell spends too little time on these topics and maybe jumps the gun in his arguments.

The Prospects of Industrial Civilization is Russell’s attempt to discuss the forces shaping the world which also seem to cause to its core struggles. In other words, back when this book was completed (the 1920s) there were forces at play which brought culture and industry into a clash. It’s fair to argue that with a drive for industrialization and efficiency there is less room for culture and personal development and self-determination and Russell here merely argues that a balance between the two would be required for a happy society. Of course he’s going to look at the Soviet Union and what we can learn from their “scientific” approach to nation-building which is purportedly “anti-capitalistic,” and it’s interesting to note that at this time in history Russell was still somewhat hopeful with what it would accomplish. Russell here also briefly weighs in on systems of education, justice, health, and power structures and compares and contrasts between America, Europe and Russia and approaches that benefit the society as a whole or the individual.

Again, the argument that this should have been a longer book is completely understandable, as Russell is often dealing with such broad subjects that it would have been really helpful if he really expanded on his thought processes, instead of how scattered and fragmented it is. However, this doesn’t stop Prospects of Industrial Civilization from being a thoroughly enjoyable and thoughtful book.


Get it here.

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