Eyeless are we in Gaza, chained as slaves to the wheel
Of progress, with the threat of the bomb for our doom-seal.
The machine was supposed to lighten our work. A dream
That got lost like a little child in the traffic-stream.
Mr. Ford’s vision was every family a car.
But the ten-mile-an-hour crawl makes the dell just as far.
But the cruellest of all progress’ terrible hoaxes
Was taking music out of our fingers and putting it in boxes.
And now it is coming about that the minimum degree
For the most idiot occupation is a Ph.D.
The little children are forbidden to come to Christ,
For by another set of values their souls are priced.
The strangest of all things is that the treadmill and the doom-seal
Were brought into being and are maintained for the commonweal.
Samson, blinded, was chained to a treadmill by the Philistines. ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ is a quotation from Samson Agonistes by Milton. The. analogy with our own subjection to the machine is obvious. The real progress that technology has made has enchained us as slaves to productivity. Progress was a hoax in this sense but in others as well. Modern people tend to believe they are wiser, cleverer and better than those of the past, which blinds them to the values of the past and the lessons of history.
Francis, influenced by William Morris and others believed in the treasure of skill and creativity in manual occupations. We have lost even the ability to play instruments and sing, relying on canned music. This sort of passivity he saw as a real dehumanisation
He saw with remarkable foresight what was happening to market driven education. Instead of “suffer the little children to come to me” (Mt19:14) their education serves bogus social criteria.
Democracy supports its own destruction. We, like the poet, might marvel at the blindness.