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Culture Change

Resisting nanotech, violence and the corporate state
They're coming for you

by Jan Lundberg

Few people seem to realize that the corporate state is bent on taking everything it can — including life itself — from the people.  Many of us are already painfully aware that corporations and governments use the air, land and water at will for their own destructive purposes.  This essay is not about the rape of the Earth; it is about the changing nature of the threats and what needs to be done.

When our mutual survival is threatened as never before, it is time for an opposition movement relevant to our times.  Force and violence are not the right way in the moral sense, nor is it practical.  Mohandas Gandhi and his successful nonviolent movement based on non-cooperation and civil resistance was one of the greatest achievements of humanity, perhaps the most significant of the 20th century.  The challenge for us today is to develop a similar approach, but first a little more time must elapse before mass interest is awakened on a big enough scale.  As always, the historic context will attract and reveal the prime exponents or leaders.  Understanding the changing threat to all people and the Earth's biosphere is progressing, perhaps as fast as the rate of change in the world itself.

In seeking profit and control of markets, corporations use the latest technologies, processes and systems.  Laws are passed to enable ever greater profits, and the new level of authority (mainly the World Trade Organization) starts to feel like the added oppression it is.  But there's more to come, and we are still in the darkest night before the possible dawn.  

Nanotech:  beyond genetic and mechanical engineering

With nanotechnology, engineered machine-humans will conceivably be part of the arsenal of control against you and me.  Technological applications oftentimes have more than one purpose: peaceful profit and war profit.  Besides the military, the plainest extension of society's control and oppression of the masses is the security industry — police, prisons, self-defense — which is a power unto itself.  In the U.S. it already succeeds in incarcerating more people than anywhere in the world in history, on both a numerical and per capita basis.  The Land of the Free?  With nanotechnology, society's control apparatus and its plans for the population could eventually get set in concrete and living tissues before people know what hit them.

Rather than solve society's problems, our masters have locked people up.  If you're not a master, you have to watch your step not to see your freedom taken away from you.  If you oppose the dominant system or are a leader for liberation, there are tried and true measures to be taken against you by the secret government: slander, libel, prison, assassination.  With drugs and other methods, mind control has also been pursued.  With nanotech, society could further conceal or add to the aforementioned practices, such that prison and concentration camps might become less essential.

Nanotechnology refers to nanoscience's "manipulation of living and non-living matter at the level of the nanometer, one billionth of a meter.  It is at this scale that quantum physics takes over from classical physics and the properties of elements change character in novel and unpredictable ways."  (- ETC Group)  

A major question is whether nanoscience theory for technologies can get beyond mechanical kinds of applications in the human molecular environment, for example.  However, billions of dollars of research and armies of scientists are working to rapidly change our world for the sake of profit — called progress.

"We will cross the threshold of the hardware capacity of the human brain by 2020, and the computers we use then will be deeply embedded in our environment.  Computers per se will disappear; they will be in our bodies, in tables, chairs, and everywhere.  But we will routinely have enough power to replicate human intelligence in the 2020s." (- Ray Kurzweil

In a new book, Virtual Human, the foreword concludes that

It is the nature of machine intelligence that its powers grow exponentially.  Currently, machines are doubling their information processing capabilities every year...  As we get to the 2040s, even people of biological origin are likely to have the vast majority of their thinking processes taking place in nonbiological substrates.  We will all become virtual humans.

Maybe, maybe not.  But it's up to us here and now.  Whose world is it?

Nanotechnology's precursor, micro- and biological-engineering, already accomplished having insects used as spies, for example: cockroaches with tiny camera-transmitters that go under doors into meeting rooms.  That is an unintrusive application. compared to nanotech programs to be conducted on human bodies that will determine neural and physical behavior.  The perceived limits are being lifted.  

Picture weapons of such hidden power that old rules no longer apply.  As a precursor to some of the bio-soldier nanotech tools and creations being designed, we have already endured the unthinkable: depleted uranium weapons have been used in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq (1991 and 2003).  This has been a kind of nuclear war fait accompli.  What's ahead with nanotech compounds today's death technology and is dangerously dismissed as science fiction.  

The claimed benefits of nanotech are examined by a watchdog group monitoring research at the University of Oregon:

We're told that nanotech is already on its way and don't worry — we'll love it.  Quick fix solutions for our problems; tax-funded research, megaprofits and unprecedented power for the nanotechnologists.  This new science threatens to create a sci-fi future ruled by a global super-elite with nanotechnology forced upon the minds, bodies and surroundings of everyone else.  Nanotech insider-literature clamors for just that.  If we take what they are pushing — we will be making a very big mistake.

Nanotech is a field in which industrial, medical and military scientists manipulate single molecules or atoms...  (for) super-tiny super-computers and a vastly enhanced ability to mesh living and non-living material.  The US government predicts that nanotech will be a trillion dollar industry within ten years.  Nanopatriarch Richard Smalley calls it "the ultimate level of control."  Mihail Roco, chairman of the now $800 million National Initiative on Nanotechnology envisions using nanotech to ramp up the integration of humans and machines to create a "global hive-consciousness" as the next step towards "conquest of nature." (National Science Foundation/US Dept. of Commerce Report)

Such aims have raised concerns for people around the world who love freedom from control and unconquered nature.  (- Cascadia Media Collective)

Overarching trends

The process of losing our freedoms is out of control.  People had the most freedom during pre-civilization, not in 1865, for example, when the U.S. ended overt slavery and enhanced a much vaunted Constitution.  Less and less freedom remains when populations grow: violent crimes become more numerous and doors are increasingly locked in industrial countries that are growing in population (the U.S. and the U.K.).

The final result is the corporate police state coming after you to round you up into the work force, the military, or a concentration camp.  That's the point in time when our masters blatantly would desperately try to stuff death down our throats: toxic exposures, radiation, and state-of-the-art "pain compliance" (torture that accompanies arrest and incarceration).  Any nanotech applications will be welcomed by the security industries.  Already, militarized police forces behave as unfeeling phalanxes of individual automatons covered with technology, following orders without questioning them.  

However, if rulers find themselves accelerating the doing in of their exploited drones and slaves, which is counterproductive and terminal, this is when the whole industrial system chokes and comes to a halt —  that is, if the current state of affairs to continue to that point.  There could be a revolt prior to that or at that very point.  But before a big revolt, suddenly — from off to one side — breakdown will come about from a major system-component's failure:  Prodigious industrial energy and petroleum-derived materials are counted on for almost everything.  The corporate state does not have sustainability for massive energy consumption, and the outlook for licking this looks impossible from where Sustainable Energy Institute sits.  The economy is another source of unprecedented instability ahead.  Events could derail particular nightmares that technology and more laws can bring.

Cultural revolution

Violence stops itself when more victims die than intended.  Violence has been orderly up to now.  Upon collapse it will be self-defensive and disorderly.  Building up a huge population has meant contributing to inevitable, terrible violence, as die off will not be pretty.  People don't have human enemies today as much as they have an enemy in their head, that Daniel Quinn calls "mother culture" in his books.  As long as we are living false myths — civilization's constant progress and triumphing over nature — we will not take off the yoke of exploitation; we will continue to expect cheap energy and try to live as happy materialists indefinitely.  

Culture Change essays have predicted and explored oil crash, population crash and a hopeful, historic transformation to a sustainable society.  We do not know the timing.  Nowadays times are more complicated than a few decades ago.  It was predictable that Britain would some day lose control of India.  But the nature of today's oppression and the overall threat is considerably more insidious and hard to describe, compared to what millions of exploited Indians had to deal with.  One reason for today's confusion and lack of movement for our mutual survival is that a whole cultural mindset is being challenged, reevaluated, and found lacking.  Outwardly, denial rules the day.  The necessary cultural revolution will be a logical consequence of the inevitable breakdown of both the faceless corporate juggernaut and common greed.

Therefore, because we don't know how long current trends will hold, it is wise to pay close attention to the nature of the fascist aspects of society and identify mounting threats — genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology, and water privatization, to name a few.  Fortunately, there is much coverage of scary assaults on our rights, health, and environment.  The alternative press and the Internet have almost all the information anyone would need on issues to fight.  This does not mean it is possible to remain personally unfrustrated and able to continue to assimilate vital information that is on the whole so negative.

A kind of war has been going on as people continue to resist losing their land or health, but generally industry gets more and more of what it wants.  As long as that is the case, and the corporate industrial state takes more control over our lives and over life itself, we are headed for cataclysmic consequences.  It's as if the machines are winning a war against people and nature.  What we don't know is whether the outcome has been decided by now, after so much destruction and loss.  

The nonviolent cultural revolution that can perhaps deliver us to a sustainable way of living, or later assume its role after collapse of today's industrial civilization, could necessarily feature a new belief system against technology as used today.  A true alternative to destroying the Earth may have to be largely anti-technology.  This view fits in well with Gandhi's approach to technology as needing to be simple and decentralized.

A Gandhian revival

If we are headed for a massive rebellion, hopefully it will be meaningful (timely enough) and will present an alternative to the paradigm of violence.  In elucidating and leading a mass movement based on non-cooperation and active, civil resistance, Gandhi maintained, 

"All exploitation is based on cooperation, willing or forced, of the exploited... there would be no exploitation if people refused to obey the exploiter.  Exploitation of the poor can be extinguished not by effecting the destruction of a few millionaires but by removing the ignorance of the poor and teaching them to non-cooperate with their exploiters... By the nonviolent method, we seek not to destroy the capitalist; we seek to destroy capitalism... "

Regarding violence as a tactic for revolution or reform: "Those who talk about class war as being inevitable have not understood the implications of nonviolence or have understood them only skin-deep... There are those who seek to destroy men rather than manners, adopt the latter and become worse than those whom they destroy under the mistaken belief that the manners will die with the men.  They do not know the root of the evil..."

Gandhi's vision was based on compassion and respecting the practical reality of satisfying hunger placed ahead of attainting dignity.  But he saw and utilized ways of elevating personal and political consciousness such that human rights and an equitable approach to changing society and the individual could assure no more degrading hunger for the masses.

What have we learned and taken from Gandhi's success which meant the defeat of the British and their lackeys in India?  The answer is not encouraging, except for notable historic events such as the achievement of some social justice for African Americans.  Yet, the legacy of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. remains and can provide guidance today.  There are many areas to seek lessons:  A few decades after India's independence, Vietnam defeated the United States despite every indignity and atrocity being dumped on that small, once pristine country.  But what did the U.S. learn from that?  It ignored the world, as it is doing today regarding its Iraq atrocity.  The rage that some felt about U.S. genocide in Southeast Asia resulted in dozens of bombings within the U.S. by the Weather Underground.  But that tactic and the whole period of history was shunted aside by a self-absorbed, corrupted and betrayed nation and its alter ego, the rising global commercial interests.  (Vietnam was later partially conquered by the latter.)

We find ourselves today still struggling with the same issues of many decades ago, aggravated by continued population growth, mass production and applications of technology.  It is no wonder that a total rejection of the system and a vow to create a new culture resonates with more and more disaffected citizens who pay attention to world opinion and threats such as global warming.  Yet, the mass movement underway is too small to be a viable opposition to the present ruling structure.  This may be because the depth and breadth of change at hand will be so profound and sweeping that present structures are becoming relics of irrelevance.

In conclusion

Modern society is a complete mess that is growing in a finite space.  People are animals being increasingly caged and killed off.  This will happen as long as there are too many of us.  There is no fair way to bring about a reasonable sized population quickly.  We will all therefore do it the hard way, because no rational debate-process or responsible leadership is dealing with problems such as water shortage and the loss of healthy agricultural capacity.  

Meanwhile, although a doomed society that refuses to wake up is an offering of bullshit at best — unless one is outside the BS culture — we have an option:  The alternative at this point, absent a Gandhian movement in the streets, prior to the advent of a sustainable society and its equitable characteristics, is to enjoy what there is to appreciate, even in this Babylon every damn day.

To your health and freedom!


- Part Two of the above essay focuses on water privatization, and is available at the CCL #43 webpage.
- An activist critique of nanotech industry is by Cascadia Media Collective, Eugene, Oregon.
- A good overview of nanotechnology is the Big Down study by the Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration.
- Virtual Humans
- Cyborg soldiers and neuroengineering in U.S. military are investigated by News Insider's Cheryl Seal
- Nanotechnology and Homeland Security: New Weapons for New Wars
- Nanotechnology Now website

- Overpopulation: Resources for Understanding and Taking Action  

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Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing:

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