Contrary to a dominant technological determinist approach, which considers technology as socially neutral and generally benevolent, and can at most recognize a good or bad use of any technology,8 the social shaping of technology pointed out above, the prevailing property relations, the exploitative character of any class society, and the relevant role of class struggle and the state imply a clearly non-neutral character of technology (see also mackenzie 1984; mackenzie and Wajcman 1985; noble 1977; 1995; perelman 1998; Bhandari 1999-2000: 61-7; evans 2001; liodakis 1997; 2003; Carchedi 2005; lebowitz 2006a: 40-41). There is a real question indeed concerning the use (good or bad, constructive or
destructive) of technology. However, it can be argued that the above mentioned factors and the overwhelming power of ruling classes, compared to dominated classes, play a most likely decisive role as much in the social shaping (the content of technology) and the rate or orientation of technological development, as also in the access to and use of any particular technology. Here, again, we should stress that this determination of both the development and use of technology cannot have the absolute character of an unequivocal dictat but rather that of a generation of a range of options. What is nevertheless crucial is that the specifically shaped productive and consumption needs of society, the already available means of production, and the character along with the main imperatives (aims) of the prevailing mode of production will most likely determine the generation itself of these options, concerning the course of development and the use of technology, as well as the real class-based options in any class society such as the today dominant capitalist society. as stressed, with regard to new technologies:
in the sense analyzed above, some particular technologies can be highly beneficial (or profitable) for some social classes, and most likely for the dominant classes controlling the production and use of technology, while detrimental for other classes. some technologies may contribute to the protection of, while others may be destructive for the natural environment, again with varying implications for different social classes. apparently, the socially non-neutral character of technology relates directly with the appropriateness of any particular technology for different social classes and societies with a different organization of production, or in other words with the historical and social relevance of particular technologies, an issue to be taken up again later in this chapter.