players for the professional teams; we’llnjust play with real universities. Downnhere, though, folks won’t buy thatnapproach: they want their colleges, bynGod, to compete with Valley State andnNevada-Las Vegas.nWell, call me an effete snob, but Inlike the Ivies’ attitude. The Harvard-nYale game seems to be no less hotlyncontested just because all the playersncan count to 11 with their shoes on. Asnsomeone once said, athletics are toneducation what bullfighting is to agriculture.n(That’s an analogy, son — like onnthe SAT, you know? Don’t worry ifnyou don’t understand it. What was thatnbench-press weight again?)nJohn Shelton Reed teaches for thentime being at the University of NorthnCaroUna at Chapel Hill. Henrecognizes that these opinions putnacademic freedom to the test.nLetter FromnWashingtonnby Samuel FrancisnAn Illusion of the FuturenBarely a week after, the TiananmennSquare massacre, Ronald Reagannshowed up in London to deliver himselfnof some post-presidential opinions. Asnthe nation’s newest elder statesman,nMr. Reagan received internationalnheadlines for his speech, which turnednout to be a long variation on his bestknownnline from Death Valley Days:nprogress is our most important product.n”His main theme,” reported ThenWashington Post’s David Broder, “wasnthat the new communications technologynis undermining authoritarian governmentsneverywhere, or, as he put it,n’the Goliath of totalitarian control willnrapidly be brought down by the Davidnof the microchip.'”nThe biblical source of Mr. Reagan’snmetaphor is suggestive, and the formernpresident is not alone in believing thatnthe post-industrial technology ofnmicrochips, lasers, satellites, personalncomputers, and biological engineeringnis closely connected with the Almighty.nThe most lyrical exponent of this newn46/CHRONICLESncreed is probably George Gilder, whontwo years ago in The American Spectatornwarbled rhapsodically of the hightechnUtopia that now slouches towardnBethlehem to be born.n”The Message of the Microcosm,”naccording to Mr. Gilder, is that technologicalnprogress not only improvesnthe material standards of human life,nbut also revolutionizes human relationshipsnaround the globe.nThe worldwide network ofnsatellites and fiber optics, linkednto digital computers, televisionnterminals, telephones andndatabases, sustain woridwidenmarkets for information,ncurrency and capital on line 24nhours a day. Boeing 747’snconstantly traversing the oceansnfoster a global community ofncommerce. The silicon in sandnand glass forms a globalnganglion of electronics andnphotonic media that leaves allnhistory in its wake. … In annage when man can inscribenworlds on grains of sand,nconventional territory no longernmatters.nMr. Gilder evidently believes that humannnature itself is about to play leapfrog.nNot only territorial conventionsnbut also most other institutions aroundnwhich human history has revolved arenon the way to obsolescence. “An onslaughtnof technological progress wasnreducing much of economic and socialntheory to gibberish. For example, suchnconcepts as land, labor, and capital,nnation and society — solemnly discussednin every academic institution asnif nothing had changed—have radicallyndifferent meanings than before andndrastically different values. . . . No onenshows any signs of knowing that we nonlonger live in geographical time andnspace, that the maps of nations are fullynas obsolete as the charts of a flat earth,nthat geography tells us virtually nothingnof interest where things are in the realnworld.”nThis is strange stuff coming from thenauthor of Sexual Suicide, a deeplynsceptical view of modern man’s attemptnto free himself But there seemsnto be even more in Mr. Gilder’s visionnof the new age than merely secularneconomic and political miracles. Technologynitself, in his view, appears to bennna manifestation of something beyondnthis world. “Listening to the technology,”nhe prophesies, “opens us to a newnsense of the music of the spheres, annew sense of the power of ideas, a newnintegrated vision of the future of humanity.nThe microcosm is a new continentnand its exploration brings richernrewards than were won by any earliernplanners. It is the authentic frontier,ninvisible and invigorating, and closer tonthe foundation of reality and the realitynof God.”nMany self-proclaimed conservativesnshare the same, essentially religiousnvision of a technological millenniumnemerging as part of a divine blueprintnfor mankind. Nor is this vision a particularlynnew one. In the 19th centurynalso, many observers slavered over thengadgets of the Industrial Revolutionnquite as ecstatically as any yuppie ofnthe 1980’s. The Victorian writernGharles Kingsley, for example, afternvisiting the Grystal Palace Exhibitionnin London in 1851, also was transportednby what he saw. “The spinningnjenny and the railroad,” he wrote,n”Gunard’s liners and the electric telegraph,nare to me . . . signs that we are,non some points at least, in harmonynwith the universe; that there is a mightyngood spirit working among us . . . thenOrdering and Creating God.”nImagine the surprise of such visionariesnhad they lived to see the kind ofncosmic harmony that the technologiesnof World Wars I and II brought about.nMustard gas and machine guns, nukesnand napalm might have cooled somewhatnthe incandescent fantasy of 19thcenturynprogressivists that God was onnthe side of the biggest steam engine.nKingsley, like Mr. Gilder and PresidentnReagan, seems to have missed the elementarynpoint that technology, regardlessnof how clever or helpful to humannlabors, doesn’t change the oil that lubricatesnthe human motor, and it doesn’tndisplace or diminish the apparently bottomlessnhuman capacity to thinknup wicked things to do with machines.nTiananmen Square is case in point.nNot only did the elder statesmen ofnBeijing discover some rather ungodlynapplications of tanks and machine guns,nbut also their secret police have cleveriynrigged up television cameras on streetnpoles to keep their eyes on any smallnknots of lesser comrades who might beninclined to express opinions about anyn