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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  June 2009

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE June 2009

Subject:

FW: [ActionGreens] Three Luddites Talking (...about wireless technology)

From:

Larry Romsted <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 2 Jun 2009 11:19:49 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (634 lines)

All:

This email comes from the Action Greens list that I am on.  Might be of
general interest.

Larry


Subject: [ActionGreens] Three Luddites Talking (...about wireless
technology)

Ignore their collective knowledge and wisdom at your peril.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
http://www.counterpunch.org/chellis05292009.html

Counterpunch
Weekend Edition
May 29-31, 2009

On a Computer!
Three Luddites Talking ...Part One

By CHELLIS GLENDINNING, STEPHANIE MILLS and KIRKPATRICK SALE

Three elder critics of technological civilization got together in a rather
bizarre way -- via email.  Their mission?  To reflect on the anti-technology
movement of the 1970s-'90s and offer perspective to new generations growing
up in a cyber-world.  Ecologist Stephanie Mills is the author of six books,
including Whatever Happened to Ecology? and Epicurean Simplicity.  She lives
in Maple City, Michigan.

Psychotherapist Chellis Glendinning wrote My Name Is Chellis and I¹m in
Recovery from Western Civilization, When Technology Wounds, three other
books --- and hails from Chimayo, New Mexico.

Historian Kirkpatrick Sale lives in Coldspring, New York and Mount Pleasant,
South Carolina.  He has authored ten books, including Human Scale and Rebels
Against the Future.

Stephanie Mills:  The latest technological onslaught is proving to be more
complete and brutal than we could ever have imagined ­ you think?.

Chellis Glendinning:  I find it hard to conjure words to even speak of it.

SM:  I'd say this recent rampage is a function of the exponential growth of
populations and economies.  It has to do with globalization and the steady
increase in computational power.  It's what Jacques Ellul called technique,
which is intrinsically hegemonic.  This onslaught is the accelerating
momentum of technologies and instrumental mentalities that are exterminating
spontaneity, undermining love and common decency. It's a thief of time and
includes all the palpable and subtle violations of body, mind, and spirit
done in the name of science, government, enterprise, progress, and profit.
It's the ugliness of mass production and consumerism, the banality of
advertising.  Although it claims to do just the opposite, it's predicated on
disempowering and effacing persons.

And it means we're all stuck on the downside of The Golden Age.

CG:  I confess I've long held a secret longing for that Golden Age.  It's
curious how one can yen for not just the ancient days of land-based living
and communalism ­ but, good Lord, for the year 1969!  2000!  But I also mean
longing for some Golden Age in my own psyche ­ before initiation into the
dominant civilization.

Kirkpatrick Sale:  How so?

CG:  I see this onslaught as the final shattering and scattering of the
Whole.  It's that wrench between human and nature that occurred,  as you
Kirk propose in your book After Eden,  due to a violent planetary event some
70,000 years ago that instantaneously skewed climate.  The volcano that
turned skies black and chased temperatures down unfurled an icy world in
which humans were forced to become more aggressive and dominating just to
eat and stay warm. 

And as goes the outer,  so goes the inner.  The psyche that, by all
accounts, had been a worthy reflection of the unity of seasons, wind and
waters, soil and rock,  stars,  plant and animal life was shattered and
scattered too.  I see this breakage as the traumatic response ­ the
splitting and sending into unconsciousness those experiences the organism is
not designed to process, the seat-of-the-pants clawing for function and
meaning in what is left of the conscious mind.  And so the onslaught that
appears to us as the unending march of harsher forms of technological
systems, the grasping for control by global corporations,  the splitting of
community into those who have it all and those who have nothing -- this is
reflected in a parallel inner onslaught that manifests as the march of
abuse, a grasping for rationalization, and the splitting of psyche into
denial and numbing on one side and unspeakable suffering on the other.

As I've been able to heal the breakage from some of these onslaughts in my
personal history, I've found my longing for a Golden Age actually receding;
arising in its place is mindfulness of What Is.  What Is is a sad and broken
world barely hanging on after millennia of onslaught.

KS:  Thanks, Chellis.  And the subtitle of After Eden is The Evolution of
Human Domination -- domination over the entire globe and almost all its
species.  That is the onslaught.  It has been going on a long time, I argue,
but in the 20th century humans have certainly perfected it, extending
domination to every single corner of the earth and our Homo sapiens
population to more than 6 billion -- until no place is untouched by
despoliation. 

In the 21st century we will reap the whirlwind of that "perfection." Within
the next ten years and certainly in the next 20, human domination will
produce catastrophes that will put the future of human societies, and
probably that of most other surface species, in doubt. I need not list them
out for you, you already know them.  And you probably know that Edward
Wilson quote that sums it up: "The appropriation of productive land -- the
ecological footprint ‹ is already too large for the planet to sustain and
has likely stressed the earth beyond its ability to regenerate."

SM:  Could even the most prescient analysis of modern technologies have
predicted that 96% of the world ocean would become contaminated?

CG:  So, how could one predict the effect of a new technology before it's
deployed?
        
SM:  I'd say any prediction worth its weigh would consider the spiritual,
material, and unintended consequences of introducing a new technology to the
world. It would proceed from the kind of understanding Chellis articulated:
Life is Whole.  Respecting beings, places, and life ways would be a basis
for a worthy systemic analysis. And such an analysis would be inherently
conservative, assuming that technology ‹ from the fire stick to the silicon
chip -- is apt to do more harm to the Whole than good.  It would be more
concerned with the Whole than the parts and has to proceed from the premise
that death and pain, short life spans, and no bread without sweat must be
accepted.
        
Given all that history has shown us of the consequences of technology ‹ from
the atlatl spear to the A-bomb -- why have so few groups of human beings
managed to resist the incursions of technology?  Or be choosy about the
extent to which they¹ll employ a technological innovation?  Agrarian
Anabaptists, Christian Scientists, and Samurai are among the rare examples
of renunciation stemming from an unwillingness to sacrifice the spiritual
qualities of community life.  Evidently there is no separate salvation.
Individuals can refuse to use a given technology, but unless they live in
total isolation will have to engage with people whose psyches have been
shaped by a multitude of technologies.  And there is no escaping the
pervasive ecological effects.
           
CG:  I've been rereading Lewis Mumford, and beyond his scope of
comprehension and passionate language, what stuns me is his capture of the
underlying metaphor for mass technological society, the megamachine.  When I
first read his work back in the 1960s, I was catapulted from being lost in a
world made incomprehensible by a zillion quirky, nonsensical phenomena to
seeing the line-up of those zillion things in a mechanistic pattern of
production, dissemination, use, abuse, and discard.  I'd say that such a
viewpoint lays the basis for any decent systemic analysis of technology.
What does a new technology do?  How does it fit in?  Does it support a
dysfunctional system -- or help us break from it?  Mumford doesn't go into
the actual mechanisms that allow technologies to be developed and to
succeed.  Langdon Winner helps us understand those mechanisms that
government, industry, science, and capital use to bring about normalization
­ but, in our lifetimes, we¹ve had ringside seats to a transformation equal
in scope and impact to the Neolith.  Or the industrial revolution.

I've been watching with horror the infiltration of wireless contamination.
I've seen the ways multinational corporations entice a populace made lonely
and scared by life in mass society into believing that they cannot survive
without a gadget that a year before they could not imagine.  I've seen how
the old technologies that served similar purposes suddenly become
unavailable, are outlawed, or the means by which they function  impossible
to find.  How the industry sets up its hegemony via legislation giving carte
blanche to proliferate and profit.  How people are brainwashed into
accepting, even championing these technologies.  How the cancers and heart
attacks and immunological diseases that result are then accepted as separate
acts of individual fate rather than results of direct exposure to
electromagnetic radiation.  How, by dependence on these new technologies,
they become impossible to protest.

A decent analysis, I'd say, has to grasp such a process.  But, Steph, I
don't believe for a moment that a Life-Is-Short-And-Brutish analysis is the
universal picture. 

SM:  Oh?

CG:  Well, maybe in Europe where the climate was inhospitable.  Or maybe
because that's what industrial-revolution propaganda wants you to think.
But history abounds with examples of peoples living gracious and long lives
in places that the human species was suited to inhabit.

And that may be the point.

KS:  That is certainly the point: when the human species was born, on the
African savanna, life was pretty good;  we could live in harmony with the
rest of nature, and that¹s what I've been calling Eden. The only
technologies that humans devised for some 2 million years were fire and the
hand ax.  That's all.  Eden didn't need anything more.  And it was only when
we invented the spear and began roaming the planet that technologies got
complex and central to human survival.

SM:  OK.  So how do you see technology's place in today¹s world?

KS:  My analysis, especially of the computer revolution, always comes back
to capitalism.  It's that economic system that has led to Western
civilization's willingness to enslave ourselves to machines ‹ because some
people benefit enormously from it, while the costs are borne by other people
and the planet.  Add to that the fact that modern governments, existing
primarily to protect and enhance capitalism, maintain their power through
the use of technologies that control the populace -- by bread or circuses,
by war or schooling, by armies and police, all of which are enabled and
empowered by technology.  That is what we might call the stick part of
capitalism, while the riches-for-the-few is the carrot.

It's worked pretty well for five centuries.  But it's come to the point that
the technologies are destroying the earth.  I'm convinced that the
catastrophes of the next two decades will be so vast as to bring about a
world where life, if it survives, will be far simpler ‹ and the
technologies, too.  Then we will have come full circle to something like
life on the savanna.
 
SM:  So Š a systemic analysis of technology derives from nature.

CG:  A crucial point!!

SM:  Yes.  If a technology is elegant, biodegradable, made from renewable
materials and employs a minimum of muscular, water or wind energy, is
responsive, beautiful in its way, and challenging to the user in that it
develops the user's senses and strength -- it may comport with nature.
                 
A deep analysis judges technology morally -- from its conception and
intention to the totality of its consequences, knowing that all "raw
materials" once were someone¹s home or sustenance, that extraction and
manufacture at industrial scale reduce landscapes and their human beings,
that distribution, employment, and disposal of technologies change lives in
unpredictable ways.

CG:  The first really coherent analysis of technology was articulated as
all-out industrial expansion emerged from the accumulation of booty and
ambition of classical empire.  This was the Luddite analysis.  To my mind,
despite perspectives made by such visionaries as Lewis Mumford or Langdon
Winner along the way,the Luddites had it down.

They saw the friction edge between expanding-exploitative-mass society and
sustainable-human-scale-nature-based culture.  Aside from all the seeming
complexities, this is the bottom line of any politic in today's world --
whether it's expressed by an indigenous group fighting to protect
traditional lands from oil exploration, urban dwellers battling the city to
not mow down community gardens, a farmer shielding his crop from
genetically-engineered seeds, or citizens protesting yet another imperial
war.  And, as you say Steph, the best insight comes from intimacy with that
which we once and future are.

KS:  Stephanie¹s right: it's from love and knowledge of nature that any
sensible understanding must come.  Technology is essentially antagonistic to
nature ‹ that in fact is why it's created, to do something to or with nature
that wasn't there before, that wasn't natural.

CG:  Good point.

KS:  So the technology that does the least alteration of nature, the least
harm to other species and systems, and provides the greatest intimacy of
human with nature, is the best.  We could make a scale with that in mind,
and judge any technology by its place on that scale: speech and eyeglasses,
say, would rank low; nuclear bombs and coal plants, high.

I like to quote the British anarchist Herbert Read: "Only a people serving
an apprenticeship to nature can be trusted with machines."  And: "Only such
people will so contrive and control those machines that their products are
an enhancement of biological needs, and not a denial of them."  I hasten to
add that when I speak of knowledge of nature, I do not mean industrial
science, which argues that nature is inert and can be understood only to
enable humans to manipulate it.  I mean that sense of nature that Aldo
Leopold had in mind when he said, "A thing is right when it tends to
preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community, wrong
when it tends otherwise."

Part Two:

SM:  I got started in the anti-technology movement in the 1970s because I
longed for a congenial world.  I thought that others ‹ maybe even a majority
-- might hold similar ideas of what a congenial world would be; and that the
journey to a reasonably pleasant, dignified existence could begin with some
forthright criticism of the machines and practices making the world so
uncongenial.

I remember when Jerry Mander's Four Arguments for the Elimination of
Television inspired Diana Dillaway, a development director at Mother Jones¹s
Foundation for National Progress, to propose a conference that would
radically question technology.  Diana, Jerry, Lee Swenson, Toby McLeod,
Carole Levine, and I became the organizing committee for "Technology: Over
the Invisible Line?"  The fact that the event was a conclave‹all of us
stayed in one dormitory on the Mills College campus, took our meals
together, and held our discussions in the dorm¹s living room‹intensified the
camaraderie, the conflict, and the impact.  There were scores of
high-pitched dialogues between folks like Harriet Barlow and Murray
Bookchin, Oren Lyons and Winona La Duke.

Between that meeting in '78 and the Megatechnology conferences of the
mid-90s, most of my Luddism took the form of solicited responses arguing
against the cyber-technophiliac propositions floated by certain of the Whole
Earth Catalog/CoEvolution Quarterly¹s editors.  And in a long, losing
resistance to employing a computer.  Now I'm a one-woman rhetorical
anti-technology movement.  Every so often I go to a public meeting or write
an essay to suggest that technological development has been a horrible
mistake, taking away far more than it has given.  Lately Peak Oil has been a
platform for some of this talk.

CG:  I'm drawn to the deeper thinking of each movement I'm in.  The lesson
of Vietnam was not that that war was an unfortunate misstep in U.S. foreign
policy;  it was that the U.S. was engaging in wholesale imperialism.  The
point of the women's movement wasn't that women should get paid the same as
men;  it was that the whole society was based on dysfunctional values. So,
when I read Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry¹s
excavation of what lies behind the development of one modern technology hit
the spot.  I was able to use the principles he had revealed toward any other
technology, which at the time ­ 1979 -- was nuclear weapons.  In the 1970s
and '80s I was also suffering from illnesses I had acquired from birth
control in the form of synthetic hormones and plastic intrauterine devices.
Already I had explored the philosophies behind natural medicine and had come
to understand the societal dissociation that led to the development of an
approach so invasive and distrustful as allopathic medicine.  My greatest
influence, though, was Lewis Mumford.  I began reading his work in 1968 and
have kept at it ever since.

And so, eager to be involved, I tracked down Kirk at the Bioregional
Congress in Kerrville, Texas, in 1989.  I'd known Stephanie in the Bay Area
in the '70s.  My first anti-tech gathering was a 1991 session W.H. "Ping'
Ferry put together at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC.  It
included Dick Sclove, Ralph Nader, Joel Yudkin, Richard Barnet, Michael
Shuman, and others.  Out of that came a book, published by IPS in 1993,
Technology for the Common Good.  John Zerzan in Oregon became a friend early
on.  The effort was birthed by a growing web of interconnections --
anarchistic in nature,  fueled by passion and wild ideas ­ all of which
became formally solidified with the Megamachine meetings of the group that
founded the Jacques Ellul Society.

KS:  I had wanted to do a book on the Luddites as far back as the 1970s, so
I guess I had a sense then that technology was leading us in the wrong
direction ‹ and reading Lewis Mumford only confirmed that.  My Human Scale,
in 1980, was read as an anti-technology book by some, and attacked for that,
though in fact it was strongly ‹ rather too strongly ‹ in favor of
technologies like solar power and hydraulic windmill systems.  I went to
visit Mumford and wrote an article in The Nation about him for his 90th
birthday in 1986, so I was primed and prepared when the computer-internet
revolution took hold in the mid- 1980s and the Unabomber began to make
headlines.  Chellis's "Neo-Luddite Manifesto" in 1990 was the signal that
there was something that could be called a movement, and I got a contract to
do the Luddite book.  So it seemed to me that the perils of the computer
megatechnologies were beginning to be realized in wider and wider circles.
Realized‹and resisted.

SM:  The early '70s was a revolutionary-seeming time.  Anybody who got
harrowed by debating what was radical enough, as I did in defending ecology
against charges that it was a bourgeois shuck, was driven to a deeper
analysis.  It wasn't preposterous to call technology per se into question. I
think that much of why Luddism appeals to me is a matter of sense and
sensibility.  It argues for a return to a world that is not run on entirely
utilitarian and instrumental motives, a world where individuals can be what
they are and not have to adapt so completely to the megamachine.  This is
another way of saying that mass technology and capitalism are Moloch's glove
and hand.

It's also a reflection of how much of the world was yet to be subordinated
by technology, even as recently as 30 years ago.  No gene-splicing, no
nanotech, no continent-sized gyre of plastic in mid-Pacific.  Even though
climate change was up and running, its amplification and intensification  ‹
thanks in part to the increasingly hearty appetite for electricity; thanks
in part to the mass-media enhanced capacity for obfuscation‹does make that
bygone hope of restoring a livable, human-scaled life way seem innocent.  It
was perhaps naive.  But I couldn't think otherwise.

CG:  The thinking behind the movement was rooted in history and historic in
its own right.  Like feminism, it connected disparate phenomena.  It was
breath-taking!

KS:  And if there was going to be any reflection upon or slowing of the rush
into a machine-controlled world, it would have to come from the few people
who saw the dangers ahead.  I remember when Doug Tomkins got 50 of us
together in San Francisco in 1995.  Everyone was so smart and committed, and
it began to seem that we might be able to attract enough people that we
would begin to get a foot on the brake pedal.

SM:  Those were fun and challenging times, eh? -- although I'm not sure that
it ever was a movement in the conventional sense.  If nothing else it was a
relief from isolation and self-diagnosed paranoia to be with a great many
sensitive, intelligent, engaged people who were willing to look at the
proposition that technology per se is problematic; and that that might
someday impose what Andy McLaughlin termed "the requirement of agency,"
namely that we might have to propose actions.

It seems long ago and far away that there was the luxury to explore such
great big questions--and to take them and ourselves seriously.  Even though
there were as many ideas about original causes as there were compatriots,
the unifying sentiment seemed to be that we should not just passively accept
the aggrandizement of the megamachine but condemn it.

On the other hand, to be an avowed technology critic was and is to be a
"crank" -- and to have to put up with being marginalized while watching the
whole beautiful biosphere and all its peoples being reduced to slag.
Nevertheless being anti-technology definitely puts one on the side of
more-than-human-life, peasantry, and traditional subsistence peoples, all of
whom have demonstrated more staying power than the mechanists.

CG:  It was not so much a movement ­ but a gathering and a focus.  And yes,
it was far bigger than just us intellectuals.  As you say, it was made of
indigenous people who favored the old ways ­- and also of simple-living
advocates like the folks at Plain magazine,  of monkey-wrenchers and Earth
First!ers, as well as of all the activists fighting specific technologies
like nuclear and power lines.

A high point for me was the play we put on in New York in '95 to kick off
the "Technology and Its Discontents" conference -- what was it?

KS:  Interview with a Luddite!

CG:  I was the confused writer,  stymied by the fact that she now had to
submit her work by computer.  Stephanie was Dr. Erdkopf, the psychiatrist I
went to see about my conundrum.  And when she proposed I sleep on it,  Kirk
was the 19th-century Luddite who appeared in my dream to regale me with the
original struggle against the technologies that became the industrial
revolution.  Then he asked me what difference his comrades had made for
history,  and I had the unenviable job of finding words he could understand
to describe all the technologies that had since been deployed.  In the end
the Luddite from the past traveled with me into the present back to Dr.
Erdkopf's office.   And upon seeing her computer,  he takes a hammer ­ and
smashes it! 

The place was packed.  People came in from all over New England, and the
Village Voice did a cartoon to commemorate the conference.  When Kirk's
Rebels Against the Future came out, New York magazine did a major feature on
it,  and every time the Unabomber made news,  we all got interviewed by the
media and got to keynote at conferences.  It was a heady time!

KS:  Chellis has it right: there were some great and heady moments, some
excellent conferences, some inspiring speeches, a lot of important
friendships.  But it wasn't really a movement and we all knew, as Stephanie
suggests, that not only were we in a distinct minority but a minority
regarded by many as not quite sane.

Nonetheless, we were right.  And the warning call we sent out was the right
one, and that gave us the courage of our convictions.  There's a simple
rule: when you speak out on the side of the earth ‹ and by extension the
indigenous people of the earth and those who heed their teachings ‹ you are
doing right; when you speak on the side of that technology that harms the
earth, you are doing wrong.  A moral stance may not be successful politics,
but it is right.

SM:  The effort petered out, though ­- maybe because Doug Tompkins decided
that his philanthropy could be more useful in preserving large pristine
hunks of Chile, and I can't fault him for that.  I believe in art for art's
sake, and discourse for its own sake.  I think intellectual conclaves are
worth doing if only to gather and tone up the widely-scattered intellectuals
involved.  But those are expensive activities.  And we were fortunate to
have been participants.  Now we have to maintain that perspective in our
several settings, along with doing the homely work of surviving at the
margins.

CG:  Well, I don¹t think the effort "petered out."  I'm more in a
hasta-la-victoria-siempre mood.  As long as there is oppression, there is
resistance;  so long as there is mass technology organizing life for
efficiency and aggrandizement, there are people for decent values.  Humans
have a deeply embedded knowing when things are wrong.

To me, what happened to our generation of Luddites is that when the "new
technologies" took hold, they literally reconfigured the patterns of
connectivity.  I¹m talking about computers and cell phones and BlackBerries,
mega-freeways and shopping malls, the Big Boxes, genetic engineering and
websites, hyper-surveillance technologies -- and giant transnational
corporations took over our arena of expression, the publishing business.
Communities that had made their way via land line and letters and meeting in
cafés disintegrated.  I think for a good ten years folks like us were
confused, left behind.  Or we were left striving, against the grain, to
catch up.  Or we fell into new groupings connected by new means.  Or we
simply became isolated in a world of near-total technology encasement.  This
new world caused some of our colleagues to forge a politic shaped by
different words and concepts ­- and, for fear of being dismissed by all the
people with their laptops and iPods, to purposefully stop talking about
technology¹s centrality to control and oppression.

I also believe that the inevitable internal dynamics of our specific group
contributed to its fade-out.  I say "inevitable" because empire sets up a
class system: some have access more than others; some have more utilitarian
knowledge than others;  some, more money.  In the Jacques Ellul Society this
dynamic played out as a gap between a clique that made the behind-the-scenes
decisions -- and the others who came to the gatherings to learn and share.
Too, a few were working the scene to raise funds for their own projects,
which to my mind was inappropriate.  And,  you know what? we didn't lay out
an ethic of respect; gossiping and back-stabbing happened ­- and this type
of trust-breaking behavior is bound to break up any effort.

KS:  I doubt that gossiping and back-stabbing brought us down!  The movement
petered out ‹ and I think that's the right phrase, for it doesn't exist as a
movement today ‹ for reasons much larger than our funding, our foibles, or
our follies.  It ended because it lost.  The other side won.

Think of the transformation of the world in the years since, let us say,
1990.  All the things Chellis mentions, fundamentally based on the computer
chip, swept over the social and economic worlds with a tsunamic power within
a decade, breezed past Y2K, and penetrated every profession, every setting,
every means of communication, every transaction.  It was ‹ and is, and
getting more so ‹ inescapable.

How could any critique of technology overcome that?  What sense did it make
to go on saying that there will be ugly consequences, that there are
terrible downsides?  Even if anyone wanted to believe it -- and I think many
did, or as the New Yorker said, "there's a little bit of the Unabomber in
all of us" ‹ no one, individually or collectively, had the power to stop the
technological onslaught.  It was the way of life chosen by the economic and
governmental powers-that-be, with all the money and all the laws, and it
could not be stopped.  Look at usŠemailing.

SM:  Emailing, indeed!  Although I can say that my life has remained
outwardly as simple as I can manage, I'm still dependent on grid and
petroleum-fueled cash economy ‹ and emailing.  It's ironic at best.

My inner experience depends much on my proximity to nature and distance from
information technologies.  The closer I am to the internet and its spawn the
more crushed I feel. Personal computers put the onus on us to be
enterprising publicists and self-promoters. The whole apparatus seems
calculated to exalt proficiency in things that I have, all my life, been
loath to do.  One of the most sinister and degrading aspects of it is the
presumption that if you have the chops there is always a speedier more
efficient way to get something done.  And because time is money as never
before, speed, efficiency, and productivity trump custom, community, and art
for art's sake.

Encroachment by technologies like heavy equipment is more brutal than ever
too.  Earth-moving, chain-sawing, road-widening, trash-hauling,
well-drilling, tree-chipping, hasty, ugly construction and gravel mining
continue the holocaust.

So, let's say that the technology criticism business isn't currently brisk.

KS:  Šputting it mildly.

SM:  But articulating a critical perspective on technology is more necessary
than ever ­ yes?  It's crucial now to stand in the truth.  As Chellis put it
so handsomely, it's our job to hang on to what it means to be human.  And to
the lessons purchased at the expense of the biosphere so that whatever
society emerges from the ruins may be tempered by humility and memory.

CG:  All our lives are tinged by personal isolation and economic desperation
borne of super-computers and high-tech war and global wireless
communications.  With these technologies a reach of imperialistic control
has been achieved that Alexander the Great or Hitler would have envied.
People around the world are starving.  Everyone is being exposed not only to
the pesticides and toxics we already knew about, but now to deadly
electromagnetic radiation ­ and everyone has health complaints.  Migration
is at an all-time high. Crime and mental illness are on the rise.  Children
kill children.  The fabric of community has been torn to shreds.

SM:  The essence of our anti-technology movement was rooted in justice and
compassion.  Part of the criticism we offered was of the inherent elitism of
a technocratic society.  Not only does it privilege certain kinds of
scientific research and technological development, it exonerates the
practitioners from any meaningful concern for the lives and thoughts of
other ilks.  Once in a while I visit the techno-universe via Wired and
Technology Review magazines. For all their claims of revolutionary
consequence, they strike me as hermetic, autistic, and trivial. And all the
gadgets and programs and doo-dads and robotics and miniaturizations and
radiations strike me as being essentially amoral ‹ and lacking in meaning.
Amplifying, not transformative; aggrandizing, not revolutionary.

Whereas we scruffy non-institutional technology critics continue in the
self-appointed service of asserting that our collective life and its
material culture should be subject to profound moral scrutiny by the whole
community, not just the appointed ethicists, and that the renunciation
option must be included in every such debate.  Such would open up the
possibility to imagine wildly different ways of being.

CG:  And wildly different ways of thinking.  The Technological Is Political.
Technics Are Never Neutral.  Small Is Beautiful.  The analysis that the
Luddites came up with by insight into the eruptions in their midst has never
lost its brilliance nor its relevance.  We have merely been this
generation¹s reiteration of it.

KS:  I couldn't put it better.

CG:  So what are we doing now?

KS:  I feel my personal life is a good accommodation to the predicament ‹
just enough of the computer to get things written and published and
establish the Middlebury Institute as an institution fighting for secession,
but plenty of trees and flowers around me always.  And my garden.

SM:   I'm doing what I've been doing all along ‹ trying to minimize my
complicity in megatechnology and acting as the town skeptic when it comes to 
techno-fixes.  I¹m wanting to return to the themes of wildness ‹ whatever 
that is in an age of extinctions and ecosystem collapse ‹ to try to get my 
listeners to break out of the homogeneous trance of mass communications and 
make common cause with Life.

As Wendell Berry observed, energy-intensive technology displaced community 
and obviated the occasions for community endeavor.  Well,  now that energy 
is becoming expensive and muscle power relatively plentiful, the question 
may be whether that muscle power will be commandeered through slavery or 
indenture; or will be mobilized in, by, and for communities for their own 
vital purposes.
           
CG:  I've spent the last decades learning from and fighting for this 
land-based Chicano culture of northern New Mexico.  I¹ve been writing books, 
articles, lectures, a bilingual opera -- hopefully enhancing what perception 
of life and society I had before with the textures of a community with roots 
in land and history.  And I've joined with activists around the world to 
fight the microwaving of the planet.

KS.  We push on. 

CG:  We push on!

KS:  Schumacher said, maybe you can't change the wind but you can put up 
sails so that you can use the wind to move on.  That's what I do, daily.  
Not very big sails, maybe, but they're up.


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