“The constancy of the internal environment is the condition for a free and independent life.”

Claude Bernard


“The accumulation of machines transforms the economy.”

Jean Marchal


Losing access to water for 3 ½ days because of a burst pipe reminds you of how dependent one’s life is to many structural things of what we may call “the machine of life”. It also is a harsh reminder of the fragility of the everyday structure of life. Yeah. I have clearly understood that everything is connected with everything and is kind of banal to suggest everything is reciprocally dependent, but when it becomes reality it makes you reflect a bit more about the dependence of ‘things,’. You ponder just a bit more that everything is a piece, of a piece, and consequently, when one piece slips everything is modified and can actually threaten the whole structure and activities.

It was Marx who stated the more we advance into the new world, the more is economic life dependent on technical development. Life has almost become dependent upon the machines of life; kind of an insane skunkworks of progress. This gets exacerbated with the uncomfortable truth that as we, humans, derive our lives through increasing independence (skills associated with our economic progress) that farther our skills, focus and understanding draw AWAY from the machines of life. Our lives have become almost completely independent of the machines which, cruelly, are the origins of our independence. Yeah. Our own power and success and growth has no direct relationship with use of the machines. In an odd way machines offer the structural value from which we leverage our ‘transactional value’, but as we pursue our Life’s transactions, we have devalued the structure in place – until the structure is gone or broken. It is at that point that many of us, useless participants in the fixing or running of the structural machine, realize our value creation is threatened or modified and we are dependent upon (a) the machines and (b) the managers of the machines. Our relation with the machines of the world comes into a harsh light of reality and, well, its not pretty.

Everyday social and economic applications are made possible by technology, which is part of the machine structure, as well as the machine infrastructure in totality which makes life chug along. The machine is the most important unspectacular aspect of all of human’s activities including, but not exclusively, productive activity.

The machines, and the mechanization of life, are maybe not only the enablers of existence, but I imagine one could argue every advancement in the machine structure is existence itself – at least in most modern societies. Everything the machine structure touches transforms the humans and the human world. Machines and the machine structure have become a social necessity. but they also structure labor and has economic repercussions. The water flowing into every home and every apartment and every business is, well, planned, therefore, its lack of flow has become unplanned. Human freedom to pursue wealth and their lives really has no existence except to the degree that we are subject to the degree that machine conditions permit the means to be discovered. Which leads me back that ‘unplanned’ thought. To neglect the machine context of humanity is to live in a dreamworld, yet, we do so – all the time. Freedom is a condition of the machines. Yeah. Me. The guy who talks about humancentric and humans driving progress just said that. It is a bit humbling to be reminded that while many of us espouse that humans are at the center of all progress, that humans are often not the dominant variable in that progress and the reality is much of or existence can exist only in relation to not only other people, but the machine infrastructure. And maybe that is my point today. Water, computers, the internet, electricity … they provide us certain degrees of freedom to pursue many of the things in life. Let’s call them “the condition for a free and independent life.”  When they get modified, even maybe in some smallish ways, everything else gets modified – even us, even daily life. Ponder.

Written by Bruce