A luddite link to nano-terrorists

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/science/small-world/2013/nov/08/nanotechnology-luddite-terror-attacks

Nanotechnology has incited the wrath of a sect of anarchists who see nature as the supreme good

Posted by
Friday 8 November 2013

A chain of terrorist attacks has struck scientists in Mexico since 2011. Similar actions were taken in Switzerland in 2010 and in Italy in 2012. The Mexican attacks have been claimed by a group called Individuals Tending Towards Savagery (ITS). Their texts are littered with references to Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber) and expressions including “fire on nanotechnological development and on those that support it”. Nanotechnology is portrayed as the cause of a future ecological catastrophe, generated by the self-replication of lethal nano-robots.

Experts say that the response to these attacks should be severe. “The answer should not be debating the terrorists on the intellectual ground, but on the moral ground: that kind of violence is simply unacceptable,” says Chris Toumey, a researcher in cultural anthropology of nanotechnology at the University of South Carolina.

But where does the violence come from? The authors of the communiques are reportedly “anarcho-primitivists”, a subculture that arose in the 1990s when anarchism crossed with radical environmentalism. It calls for overthrowing of industrial civilisation and a return to a primitive lifestyle. One of its references is writer Derrick Jensen, who called for “deep green resistance”.

“[ITS’s] language very much resembles long-standing rhetoric from the green anarchist subcultures in the US,” says Bron Taylor, professor of religion and nature at the University of Florida, with 25 years’ experience of ethnographic research about the terror movements.

“I do find interesting echoes of something we saw in the 90s: the alliance among deep ecology activists and anti-capitalists groups in the context of the anti-globalisation protests,” says Steve Jones, a literary historian at Loyola University Chicago, and an expert in luddites, a 19th-century group of English artisans who protested against new industrial textile machines by smashing them. Radical environmentalists are often “involved in reading the luddites into the contemporary situation”, he says.

The reference publication of the movement in the 80s, the Earth First journal, featured a column called Ask Ned Ludd, in reference to the mythical character that gave name to the luddites. Jones thinks that neo-luddites are in fact misreading the original luddites, but he believes that understanding the difference between the old and modern ones tells us a lot about the ideology of the latter.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/science/small-world/2013/nov/08/nanotechnology-luddite-terror-attacks

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