Earlier this month, a group of so-called eco-anarchists (keep in mind, though, that eco-anarchism is a fairly wide designation, comprising diverse lines of thought) has sent a letter to an Italian newspaper in which they claim responsibility for shooting Roberto Adinolfi, a senior executive of a nuclear engineering firm. The same group has previously attempted attacks on other nanotechnology and nuclear engineering targets. Further, the group claims to be uniting with other similar groups responsible for, among others, a bomb that wounded two academic researchers in the field of nanotechnology (the reference below points to a column about this by the brother of one of the affected scientists).
Since it’s already been covered pretty widely, then why do I mention it yet again? Well, I decided to take a look at the letter (the translated version since my Italian is virtually non-existent, think Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds). I’m not going to reproduce it in its entirety here, but rather look at a few quotes. Here we go:
Despite not liking violent-style rhetoric, it has been with a certain pleasantness that we armed ourselves, with pleasure that we loaded the magazine. Grasping the pistol, choosing and following the target, coordinating mind and hand were necessary steps, the logical consequence of an idea of justice, the risk of a choice and at the same time a confluence of enjoyable sensations. A little bit of justice, some lead in the leg to leave a lasting memory of what was to him a grey assassin.
Whut? You don’t like violence, but did enjoy arming yourselves and shooting a man?
In past centuries science had promised a golden era, today it is being carried out toward self-destruction and more total slavery. The science-technology pairing has never been at the service of humanity, in its deepest essence it shows the imperative need to eliminate everything that is irrational, to dehumanize, to annihilate, to effectively destroy humanity. Capitalism with the help of science tends to annul conflicts, individuals today are free to realize their subjective selves only through the consumption and production of goods. The machine orders, the human performs. Capital orders, the consumer consumes. Science orders, technology kills. State and science, capitalism and technology are only one thing, one single Moloch.
Science is neither good nor bad. It’s how it’s used. But, it could be that they used science as literary device here, denoting those in charge of scientific and technological developments. While the social and political system has an influence on how science is done (funding etc.), it seems to me that they’re moving a bit too fast here. Despite the sociopolitical influence, science is still (one of?) the best ways to understand the universe we live in, and our place in it. The same goes for technology. Sure, it has been used for less than noble purposes, but it has also done amazing things for the good of many. It’s not as black and white as they apparently think.
Increasingly close accords between states, diffuse capitalism, scrupulous science, criminal technology are inexorably killing the planet.
Along the same lines, a few paragraphs further:
Human beings are made of flesh and dreams. Our dream is that of a humanity free from every form of slavery, that grows in harmony with nature.
Okay. Yes, our impact on the planet is anything but positive. And yes, nature is important, even for those modern westerners (myself included). In fact, we’re just beginning to understand how important it really is. However, I’m not so sure whether the whole ‘back to nature’ idea is the best course. Do we really want to go back to an average human life expectancy of 30 or 40 years? Or to a world where most newborns don’t make it past their first birthday? Or to a society where diseases we can now easily handle become fearsome killers once more, and we are at constant peril of being eaten by big beasties? Of course, I’m exaggerating here (in case you hadn’t noticed). The point being that nature is partially ‘red in tooth and claw’. Science and technology are some of the things that have allowed man to thrive. Sadly, at severe ecological expense. However, this realization doesn’t necessarily warrant the jump to the conclusion that scientific/technological progress and an ethical, respectful treatment of our home planet and all things on it are mutually exclusive. They might not be. As such, ‘forth to nature’ sounds a lot better to me. Scientific and technological progress should not be halted, but integrated with nature. There is no reason to a priori reason assume this is impossible.
The last one:
If we were realists we would not take on such risks, we would live our existence producing and consuming, maybe being indignant. We are the crazy lovers of freedom and we will never renounce the revolution and the complete destruction of the state and its violence. In our anarchist and nihilist revolt, the hope of a future without borders, wars, social classes, economy, exploited and exploiter.
So, they admit to not being very realistic. Fair enough. As good anarchists should, they really don’t like the state. And assume that it’s destruction will result in a future without wars, classes, exploitation, etcetera. Not so sure about that. If we look at nature, we find hierarchies, fights and cheating in many organisms. And they don’t have a ‘state’. Can we really assume that man is that different from its evolutionary cousins and is just really righteous ‘on the inside’? Or is it more likely that the strong will take advantage of the weak in a stateless world, thereby perpetuating the exploitation? Don’t get me wrong, there are things wrong with the so-called system. Injustice, inequality, and so on are very real and that’s a truly sad realization most of us have when growing up. But will abolishing the state really solve this? Doubtful. Once again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a particular fan of state intervention in human life, but again, the jump to completely disbanding it seems an unwarranted (and/or premature?) stretch.
- At best, the above only scratches the surface of very complex issues. There is much more to say about any and all points mentioned. (Moral of the story: don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.)
- I condone nor condemn the general anarchist ideology. And while I condone critical (yet respectful) discussion, I do condemn the use of violence.
- Don’t try to extract my worldview from the above. At the moment it’s still undetermined and best described as a curious, mutable amalgamation of thoughts and ideas from (sometimes widely) diverging ideologies or worldviews.
- As always, feel free to weigh in. (But be nice…)
Corral, G. (2011). Stand up against the anti-technology terrorists Nature, 476 (7361), 373-373 DOI: 10.1038/476373a