18th May 2020
The master’s voice
When presenting his « Sustainability Report » a few weeks ago, the president of the Trento Confindustria [general confederation of Italian industry] Fausto Manzana stressed the need to relaunch the economy while guaranteeing respect for the environment: «But this priority – he added – cannot fail to take into account that major works need to be undertaken both on a national level, to better connect our Country to the rest of Europe, and in our Province». Then he made explicit reference to the Valdastico [motorway] (with the northern exit), the third lane of the Autobrennero, the ring roads in Trento and Rovereto, the works linked to the Brenner Tunnel.
That the boss of the industrialists, while claiming to carry out Major works with a disastrous impact on the territory (and on climate change) is mentioning sustainability and respect for the environment is indicative of how the logic of profit and the subjugation of language always proceed hand in hand. Sense of limits, involvement of populations, change in lifestyles, second thoughts aroused by the quarantine and other stories commentators have entertained us in the newspapers, on television or on the radio during the past weeks of house arrest? Here these are summed up by Manzana: “Research will find solutions, the market will find the way”.
The servants’ job
And research does find answers, and how. With a small detail: never question the meaning of the questions. The impact of greenhouse gases is leading us to ecological collapse. Shall we stop the race? Certainly not! Let’s try “Gestione della Radiazione Solare” (Srm) [solar radiation management], i.e. aerosol injection of sulphates into the atmosphere so as to deflect some of sun’s rays into space and so fend off global warming. Global warming causes acidification of the oceans, which in turn causes the destruction of the coral reef? At Milan Polytechnic they have devised a system to alkalise water artificially with the aim of containing the effects of industrial CO2 emissions.
The TV guide given out weekly with the daily l’Adige is a small example of how the dominant ideology can be reproduced even in such a format. Going with the general trend, in recent weeks «Monitor» has dedicated a few small articles to 5G, and to assisted and self-driving cars.
In both cases, it is pointed out in the subheadings that these great technological innovations present «criticalities» and raise «many questions». Things that readers will find no trace of in the articles, full of the most servile praise. Reading them, they will find out that thanks to G5 they can download films on smartphones in a few minutes, but not, – even by mistake or using the formula «the malicious and prejudiced maintain…» – that they will be watched everywhere or that they will have far greater probability of getting cancer.
Of self-driving cars they will learn that they allow them to «read, eat, watch TV, make phone calls and – why not – sleep». And the many questions? They require smart cities scattered with sensors, influence routes, stops, purchases, insurance policies, widen the capture of our lives by giants such as Google… No, here are «the many questions»: «the cars need to prove they are 100% safe, and there is still a long way to go on this front».
«We won’t allow the contactless world to establish itself»
With this title – the subtitle being “Call for the boycott of the Stop-COVID19 app” – a text signed by a few dozen people, associations and collectives came out in France. It is worth reporting some of the suggestions that this call ends with:
«These days it seems that many people are leaving their smartphones at home when they go out. We call for this kind of gesture to generalise and for the boycotting of private and public electronic tracing apps. More generally, we call on each one to think seriously about the possibility of abandoning their smart phones, and massively reducing their use of state-of-the-art technologies. Let’s go back to reality at last».
«We call on people to learn about the economic, ecological and health consequences of the planned deployment of the network called “5G”, and to oppose it actively. More widely, we call on each and every one to learn about the mobile phone antennas that already exist and to oppose the installation of new repeater-antennas».
«Another essential battle for the future of society is the refusal of digital schooling. The troubled period we are living in is being turned into profit for the normalization of teaching at a distance through internet, and only teachers’ and parents’ vigorous reaction can prevent it. In spite of all the criticisms that can be made of the school institution from different points of view, the current period should show everybody that it makes sense to learn together and that for children it is precious to be in touch with teachers in flesh and bone».
«… Some of us have been denouncing the computerising of work for years; it is clear that extension of compulsive teleworking is a process to be stemmed by new forms of struggle, boycott, desertion».
«Right now that the internet and smart working are so important», the mayor of Rovereto complained after anonymous persons sabotaged five (perhaps six, it is not clear) cabins for telecommunication interexchange in the night between 14th and 15th May. Entrance to corrugated iron sheds was allegedly forced and the wires conducting the connection to the cabin and from the cabin to houses were allegedly cut. The “blackout” allegedly involved two thousand users, bringing “half an army of technicians” to the city in order to reinstate the service, which is supposed to take a week’s work. «Let’s free ourselves from technological cages», reads one of the writings left by the anonymous saboteurs.
Eighty years ago, someone…
In the 1940s Giaime Pintor, an antifascist intellectual who died at the age of 24 torn apart by a German mine, wrote: «Today in no civilized nation is the distance between vital possibilities and the current situation so great: it is up to us to declare a state of emergency». Now that the grip – between the industrial production of ecological-health disasters and the technological solutions that worsen their effects – is crushing us, it is up to us to make the state of emergency effective.
Translated by act for freedom now!