Page 14 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 11 (1952-1952)

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the western world for the most pa r t dominates world civilization,
although its dominance is being questioned by the peoples of the
We might well ask ourselves: What is the supreme enemy th a t
we must face in our time? I t is not Communism and it is no t
Capitalism. I t is the machine. The machine is our common enemy
today. We live today in the machine-system and the machine-
system demands automatic action. The machine is the antithesis
of all th a t is human. I t would dehumanize men; it would rob them
of their individualities, of their personalities, of their spirit. The
machine today is the common enemy of mankind. As idolatry
was not merely an act of worship bu t was a whole system of
life, and as the Church was not merely a place of worship bu t
was a whole system of living, so the machine is not merely the
specific machine in the factory or the particular machine th a t
communicates for us or th a t takes us from place to place — the
machine involves the techniques of our whole common way of
life today from the form in which we take our leisure amusements
to the very structure of Government. The machine is a s ta te of
Some years ago there was a play on Broadway called
R. U. R.
written by a well-known European dramatist, Karel Capek. This
play struck deep into the consciousness of th a t time for it stood as
a prophecy and a warning.
R. U. R
., standing for Russom’s
Universal Robots, pictured a thoroughly mechanized world where
men, in the name of cold efficiency, became soulless, spiritless
mechanisms — robots. These human robots had no hearts, no
feelings, no minds. They were merely the tenders of machines.
This represented the ideal fulfillment of the machine-system.
Another memorable play was produced by Eugene O’Neill and
was called
I t was short-lived because perhaps the Ameri-
can people could not take the play. The dynamo was set up as
on an altar. I t was worshipped. I t was the symbol of power. I t
was the symbol of our world where the people were reduced to
The novel called
by George Orwell, contained a new word,
the “unperson.” The unperson is the person who fits into the
machine of the state; he fits into the machine of industry; he fits
into the mechanisms of a mechanical world. George Orwell holds
up his book as a warning and says: “Remember, the eye of the
big brother is on you, and you must think his thoughts; you must
do his deeds; you must fulfill his will.”
Today the mechanization of our world with its dehumanization
of our Society is the greatest enemy we face. For the machine