This conversation between Paul Cudenec and the Italian group Resistenze al nanomondo was first published in the July 2022 issue of the printed journal L’urlo della Terra and has recently also been made available online, again in Italian.
1. Resistenze al nanomondo: Can you can tell us about your story, your path, when you started developing a critique of techno-scientific developments and what thinkers you learned from?
Paul Cudenec: I don’t think I could separate my critique of techno-scientific developments from the rest of my opinions and analysis. I have been an anarchist for 30 years now, but even before then, in my youth, I felt a strong instinctive aversion to high-tech consumer society. On the one hand it was associated with everything that I most disliked – big business, the state, the military, authority and control in general. On the other hand it stood against everything that I most appreciated – nature, freedom, community, a sense of historical and cultural continuity. The arrival of CCTV cameras in England was a wake-up moment for me. I worked at the time as a journalist with a local newspaper in one of the first towns to have cameras installed and, since I knew for a fact that there was very little crime there, it was clear to me that this project was nothing to do with fighting crime, as was claimed, but was the roll-out of something much more sinister. I wrote a punk song about this in the mid-1990s (which I put online last year), warning about “the cameras that steal our liberty” and the techno-tyrants who were going to scan our DNA, put microchips in our brains and turn us into robots. With the local anarchist group, which I subsequently helped to create, we used to hold annual protests against the cameras, marking the anniversary of their installation as “Big Brother’s Birthday”.
As you will gather from the above, George Orwell was, unsurprisingly, an influence on me. The history of the Luddites was another inspiration (via Kirkpatrick Sale among others), along with anarcho-publications like Green Anarchist, SchNEWS, Do or Die, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed and various EF! publications. I also read David Watson’s Against the Megamachine, Fredy Perlman’s Against His-story, Against Leviathan, the Unabomber Manifesto plus a lot by John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen. I have more recently been influenced by reading the likes of Miguel Amorós, Jacques Ellul, Theodore Roszak, Charlene Spretnak, Renaud Garcia… But intertwined with that thread of my self-education have been other inspirations. The English nature mystic Richard Jefferies has been very important to me, as has René Guénon, who combined his metaphysics with a strong critique of modernity. I have also read elsewhere about sufism, Taoism, comparative mythology, English folklore, Indian philosophy, German idealism, Jewish anti-capitalist romanticism, Jungian psychology… What interests me, above all, are the connections between these accounts and traditions, or rather, perhaps, the new space that is opened up for our reflection when we consider them together, in the same conceptual context. Continue reading “Resisting Techno-Tyranny: A Dialogue”