The idea that we are ruled by a secret cabal; a hidden elite with intentions contrary to our own though it may be true is never-the-less irrelevant.
Humanity has already been taken over by something.
This something isn’t some evil super-villain with intentions and a manic laugh.
Humanity has been taken over by an abstract ideal. Something Jacques Ellul calles technique. The sense of the term as Ellul uses it isn’t just any old way of doing something; it is the best, most efficient way of doing something.
Technique has only one point of access. This doesn’t mean that only one entity can fill it. It means that there is always only one best way of doing an activity for any given situation.
In the world of economics, business and industry; in the very places we have as the foundations of our society there is an abstract principle ruling the people. If you are in a competitive environment and one of your competitors starts doing the activity according to technique then he will out-compete and eventually monopolize that activity.
This ruling principle (technique) holds dominion over the secret cabals whoever they are. They have to maintain power and what is power but being the most effective at exerting your influence. To maintain power the cabals need to apply technique to their means of maintaining power.
If as some believe the world is run by corporations such as coca-cola then the ruling class is utterly under the dominion of technique. There’s only one best way to produce and publicize brown, sugary liquid.
Anyway ruling classes come and go; but technique has been gaining dominance steadily (and since the scientific revolution exponentially) since man first smacked stone to stone.
Whole local populations have been torn apart to suit the whim of technique. It is more efficient to manufacture shoes in factories. So factories can sell shoes cheaper than the lonely shoe-maker.
What do you think happens to the shoe-maker when all his custom goes to the factory? He is displaced. He either goes to the factory where (if he is lucky enough) there is a job far more demeaning than his previous job for him.
But more likely than not there won’t be a place for him and his skills there. For technique has led to the production line, has led to the obsolescence of skill in production. Not only that but technique (the most efficient way of doing something) requires less man-power. So there will be people left with no place, no job and no home as an inevitable consequence of technique.
Technique and progress are interchangeable.
It is like man has forgotten the purpose of work. Work is for man. Now man works for progress. To achieve greater profits, to produce more and to produce more, faster.
The thing is progress don’t give a fuck whether it progresses or not. That’s the comic tragedy of it all.