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After Industrialism: Reviving Nature in the 21st Century




BY Reinhard Olschanski

Ecologism as a school of thought emerges as a critique of industrialism, the ideology that binds liberalism, conservativism, and socialism. It develops these three dominant political traditions by recognising nature as the basis for the human’s existence and development. Two decades into a 21st century already defined by the crisis of the human in nature, the ecologisation of human society is an urgent imperative.

Hardly anything escaped the titanic forces of industrial modernity. It ploughed up the world and created it anew. It shaped a way of thinking that sees everything as dominated by the kinematic principles of machines. Humanity too became a kind of machine, with the relationship between the mind and the brain resembling that of bile and the gall bladder. The human spirit was banished, separated from the material world, which was subject to human control as a subordinate or yet to be subordinated space. One consequence of the naturalisation of human existence, or perhaps its banishment from nature, was the forgetting of the body.

The suppression of the ecological question

The great political concepts – liberalism, conservatism, socialism – were deeply influenced by industrialism. In the struggle over socialism, the market economy, and the “Third Way”, that human dominance over nature could be extended indefinitely was common sense. Since the emergence of great industry in the 19th century, industrialism has been the true ideology of the epoch, tying the three main political traditions and their representatives closer together than they ever thought possible.

This common foundation came into view wherever they evaded the ecological question. For example, in a Marxism that rejected ecological thinking as a fallacious critique tainted by mysticism because of its focus on the effects of modern technology on the environment and its out-of-hand rejection of nuclear power. Anyone guilty of this could only be a romantic and naïve technological pessimist, or worse, a Luddite. They had failed to understand that the “social determination of form”, the bourgeois system of property relations within which technology is used, is the real problem. This critique of ecology went so far as to claim that socialist nuclear power plants were safe because they were run to serve the wellbeing of the people, not capitalist desire for profit. The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl stands as a memorial to this way of thinking. It revealed that not only the defects of actually existing socialism had been ignored, but also the dangers inherent in the large-scale technology of nuclear power as such.

Industrialism has many faces. Western social democracy, too, was permeated by it.

Industrialism has many faces. Western social democracy, too, was permeated by it. Industrialism fought for nuclear power, rebuilt cities for cars not people, and – to this day – obstructs a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels. Western conservatives and liberals reversed the Marxist argument about the social determination of form. In their view, the dangers of nuclear power were not down to the capitalist profit motive but “socialist inefficiency”. Fukushima proved to be the Chernobyl of market-liberal industrialism.

The critique of industrialism

But industrialism was not limited to such short-sighted forms. Much of the agenda put forward by the contemporary ecology movement was already prefigured during the golden age of industrialism. It can be found in the German late-19th century Lebensreform (life reform) movement. Or later in the sports and hiking trends that drew people away from the grey cities into the tamed wild of the Great Outdoors. Or in the Reformarchitektur (architecture of reform) movement in the early 1900s that brought air and sunlight into workers’ districts.

Philosophy too recognised the costs of modern industrialism. Starting with Romanticism and its aesthetic discovery of nature, via several variants of conservative cultural criticism, through to critical theory and the Frankfurt School, a thread questioning the model of progress and enlightenment associated with modernity can be followed. As different as these approaches were, what they shared was an attempt to assert an otherness to the instrumentalist-industrialist rationale of a kind that had been forgotten and repressed in the course of progress.

For all his admiration of modern productive forces, Marx knew very well that the human is and remains a part of nature.

Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s 1944 Dialectic of Enlightenment traced how the Enlightenment turned away from its original humanist ideals to arrive at a functional and instrumental rationalism, paving the way for technocracy, fascism, and tyranny. Related perspectives from the wider Frankfurt School are found in Herbert Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man and in Erich Fromm’s To Have or to Be?.

The 1960s, the peak of the glorious golden years of growth, saw a strong revival of the conservative cultural critique of industrialism of the kind found in Arnold Gehlen’s 1957 Man in the Age of Technology. Those who would prefer not to relate to Martin Heidegger’s critique of technical thinking and the limits of the Enlightenment might prefer Karl Marx as a firmer starting point for ecological thinking. For all his admiration of modern productive forces, Marx knew very well that the human is and remains a part of nature. Indeed, the human is that special part of nature in which it becomes aware of itself. Ecological philosophy should take up this thought, found above all in Marx’s early writings, and develop it further. It should define itself as a philosophy that deals in depth with how nature, as human, encounters itself in practice and in theory.

The chain of thought that results from this understanding is not straightforward. It reminds us that human existence belongs in a continuum, given its context in nature. As an undeniably natural being, humans are part of the causal chains and relationships in which everything that exists is reflected in everything else that exists. At the same time, ecological thinking accentuates the difference resulting from the human’s conscious and purposeful awareness of its natural context. Humanity is nature, but within nature, it puts itself in an eccentric position. Humanity cannot escape nature, but neither is it rigidly determined by it.

Ecological critique is concerned with the blind spots of human intervention in nature and its repercussions, on nature as on society. It highlights how, first, nature is not simply building blocks of inert matter but a self-reflexive continuum of networks and complex chains. Second, how the human itself is a natural being by virtue of being flesh and blood. And third, that by intervening in nature the human is ultimately intervening in itself.

Work as a metabolic process involving nature

Human existence explicitly refers back to nature. In contrast to the relationship between animals and nature, humans make use of resources, tools, and techniques that are not merely found but are created specifically for a purpose. These instruments objectify human productive ends. A technical-cultural world emerges in which a way of living and interacting with nature is established and passed down through time.

In Being and Time, Heidegger showed how the relationship with nature, mediated by tools, is realised through routinised and ingrained contexts of meaning. Only when something is missing in the work process and is no longer on hand do these contexts come into question. To go a step further, an additional degree of alienation arises when everything necessary for success is on hand but the act of engaging with nature nevertheless fails. In this alienation, not only does the organising context of meaning become problematic but also the resistances and frictions that eluded the preceding structuring of meaning. Human engagement with nature encounters a hard residue that cannot be foreseen or interpreted away. Immanuel Kant referred to that residue as “thing-in-itself”, a largely hidden otherness that must always be taken into account.

Ecological thinking recognises this otherness in the relationship with nature. It accounts for adversity and obstacles, especially those that occur at an advanced level of industrial production. But the basic categories from which it develops can already be discerned in simple manual work. The elemental human engagement with nature – the practical synthesis in manual work that unites purposeful action, instrument, and the object of work – is thus the starting point for ecological reflection. The otherness appears wherever the thing does not want to do what the human wants it to do: when a form breaks before it can be given its intended shape or when the hammer strikes the finger rather than the nail. Even such small forms of adversity tend to be met with abstraction that ignores the reality of engagement with nature, to consider work as if it were exclusively a matter of ideas to be fashioned seamlessly in a product. A perspective that takes work to be a concrete form of engagement with nature, on the other hand, appreciates that a great deal happens on the journey from the possible, the preconceived purpose, to the actual, the product. From a simple engagement with nature, ecological critique learns that things often turn out differently than expected.

Ecological thinking recognises this otherness in the relationship with nature. It accounts for adversity and obstacles, especially those that occur at an advanced level of industrial production.

More specifically, ecological critique is concerned with that aspect of otherness that recalls how nature is more than matter at humanity’s disposal. Nature encompasses both the human worker and the society to which they belong. The resulting frictions were already present in pre-modern forms of production, as in the toxic effects of dyes that decimated craftspeople and tanners for centuries and turned entire quarters of pre-modern cities into ecological no-go areas. The more far-reaching impacts characteristic of modern industry’s engagement with nature have their own long heritage, as in the ongoing process of deforestation that stretches back to ancient times. Such examples are no longer a matter of individual things and their particular difficulties, but of the repercussions of the general over-exploitation of nature that causes ecological systems to collapse and leaves landscapes desolate. Drawing on deforestation, Jean-Paul Sartre developed an important concept of ecological thinking, the “contra-finality”, to refer to the spatially and temporally extensive consequences of human engagement and their repercussions.

We are nature

Ecological thinking reminds us, individually and collectively, that nature is the basis of human existence. When applied politically and practically, it becomes a defence of nature whereby – emphatically speaking – nature defends itself. This extended understanding of nature is echoed in the activist slogan first heard in Australia in the 1970s: “We are not defending nature, we are nature defending itself.”

This is not to be understood in the sense of a naturalised engagement. Rather, the self-defence of nature refers to the dual process by which an impersonal and unconscious counter-finality visits revenge on the human instigators of ecological crisis to make them aware of their place in a wider context.

Human flesh and blood form the basis of this connection – that part of nature that centres human existence. They are the medium, torn apart into subjectivity and objectivity by modern industrialism, the basis that makes knowledge of what humanity is doing an urgent imperative.

Becoming ecological

For a long time, the parties of old industrialism regarded ecological thinking as “post-
materialist”, a way of thinking for the children of the bourgeoisie, First World problems. They constructed an opposition with ecology on one side and economics and social justice on the other. Ecological demands, according to this view, spelt economic ruin and robbed workers of their hard-earned money. This industrialist International spanned all camps and blocs, visible for decades in the alliance of Social and Christian Democrats protecting the car industry against environmental legislation.

Now, it is clear that ecological thinking situates the human in the modern world far more accurately than old industrialism ever did, with its propensity to abstract away from the effects of humanity’s engagement with nature. With regard to the social question, climate change has confirmed Friedrich Engels’s insight from The Condition of the Working Class in England: the poorest of the poor are always the first victims of ecological crises.

Traditional industrialism is already history in many developed countries. Swathes of the old industries have shut down, leaving rust belts in their place. Globalisation has shifted much of production to the Global South, while the service sector has expanded. Automation and digitalisation are transforming the industries that remain. This upheaval is full of opportunities and dangers.

Ecological thinking situates the human in the modern world far more accurately than old industrialism ever did.

The ecological turn is therefore a major opportunity; its absence a great threat. Green parties represent that concern. Meanwhile, traditional parties from the old triad of conservatism, liberalism, and socialism are modifying their stances. Economy and ecology are no longer understood as being in opposition but as cumulative, though usually in a half-hearted way that adds the ecological to economic only where possible. Yet the traditional parties are well placed to frame ecological aspirations much more radically.

Conservatives could recall the forgotten principle of “the preservation of creation”. Liberals could identify the market forces that could drive an ecological transition. Socialists could criticise the culture of accumulation standing in the way of such a shift. For their part, Greens need to understand the state apparatus better to allow its gradual and radical transformation towards the inclusion of nature. The ecologisation of the state is a fundamental condition for a successful paradigm shift.

What is needed is a change in the parameters to make ecology decisive for the economy and industry, the battleground on which the struggle over tomorrow’s technologies and products will be fought. Clever entrepreneurs and far-sighted trade unionists have long understood this challenge but often remained minority voices. For many scientists and engineers, the ecological agenda has long been part of their professional ethos. The parties of old industrialism have considerable catching up to do.

Populism and zombie industrialism

A third position has now emerged. It does not question the thesis of opposition between ecology and economy but strengthens and refines it, merging the rejection of migrants, feminists, and ecologists into the same reactionary chorus. It seeks to counter the ecological agenda with a “zombie industrialism”. Its advocates sit in the White House and the administrations of other countries under right-wing populist rule. Many more around the world prepare for an anti-ecological roll-back.

Populists are acting as cheerleaders for the carbon lobby, for unbridled calls to “Drill, baby, drill!” They fight for a radicalised extractivism and against decarbonisation. They blow open the path for fracking to squeeze the last drops of oil out of the planet. Following in their wake, industrial agriculture and mass cattle farming are contributing to climate change and the greatest mass species extinction since the end of the dinosaurs.

The social question appears to have been neglected once again. In the rare earth mines of the Global South, archaically exploited workers extract raw materials for advanced products found in high-tech countries. In the Global North, ethnic discrimination and exclusion have re-emerged. “Foreigners” are forced out to save resources for “our people”. It’s not only the relationship between human and nature that is being brutalised, but that between people too.

Once more: master-slave

To unpick the method behind the coincidence of these two brutalisations, it is worth returning to Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s master-slave dialectic. What can be abstracted from the resistance of things, which is what leads to the ecological question disappearing from view, is shown by Hegel to be part of a social relationship. It is the position of the master, who, unlike his slave, has little to do with the business of introducing purposes into things. Hegel’s master is not an innovative entrepreneur but someone who subjugates and enslaves both human and nature, just as slave owners and feudal lords used to do. The archaic subjugation of human and nature has not disappeared under modernity. It was an element of its rise in the form of “primitive accumulation”. Colonialism, slavery in the USA, and contemporary working conditions in many regions of the Global South are further examples. As is the militarisation of labour during Stalin’s industrialisation drive. Or the same militarisation under National Socialism that fought nature on an industrial “labour front” when it was not practising the annihilation of life through labour.

In the pursuit of short-term profit, industrialism risks the end of the world as we know it.

Today’s zombie industrialism combines ecological and social recklessness with a tendency to create mythicised enemies and fantasies of violence. Ecological activists are no longer simply naïve post-materialists but “climate Nazis”, as a German politician of the extreme right put it. They are monstrous children of evil to be driven out together with migrants, refugees, and Muslims. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who threatens the remaining rainforests with ruthless slash-and-burn agriculture, follows the same line when he claims that it was environmentalists who set the jungles on fire.

Cloaked and fired up by populism, industrialism is arming itself for the final battle. It wants, in a radical step, to exclude all of the ecological and social costs of production. As it destroys nature and disintegrates societies, industrialism is declaring, “Après moi, le déluge”. The price is to be paid by posterity. In the pursuit of short-term profit, industrialism risks the end of the world as we know it. This calls for a resistance that can unite social, economic, and ecological common sense. An alliance for democracy and sustainability, against the new barbarians of populism and zombie industrialism, is the great mission of our time. The task for Green parties and movements is clear.

This article is part of The Green European Journal’s latest edition, “A World Alive: Green Politics in Europe and Beyond”.

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Screen addiction, there’s still hope



Screen consumption by girls, boys and young people is rising in the scale of concern among mothers, fathers and education professionals about the risks that it entails in the mental health of this age group. Attention is the starting point and therefore there is still hope.

By Marco Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

The business objective of the applications is to generate addiction in such a way that people are interacting with the platforms for as long as possible. With more hours in front of the screen, the greater the audience to whom to expose to the publicity.

Like the gambling, tobacco, sugar, alcohol or trans fat industries, social networks have no incentive to limit consumption and face the dilemma of privileging the common good and protecting their consumers or being carried away by greed by appealing to the freedom to develop economic activities whose only limitation is not to transgress morals or good customs.

In an investigation of the prestigious Wall Street Journal newspaper carried out on the basis of studies carried out within Facebook, the largest and most powerful social network in the world, they found that there was a list of powerful characters to whom the rules of conduct were not applied and therefore the posts were not lowered or their accounts were suspended. Facebook thus avoided the bad publicity of censoring a powerful and generated traffic or views.

Famous is the case of soccer player Neymar who responded to an accusation of rape by publishing intimate images and texts on his WhatsApp without consent and which were later replicated on Facebook and Instagram. They had 56 million views before being downloaded from the web.

Internal Facebook documents also revealed the damage Instagram is doing to the mental health of millions of young people around the world. Instagram is toxic for one in three young people with an effect on eating disorders, anxiety, depression and suicides. Even when these results were generated by the company itself, Instagram defended itself by pointing out that the network did more good than bad.

The United States Congress has requested to know the internal studies carried out by Facebook as have academics and independent study centers, but the company has refused to do so, noting that the results are not conclusive. The answer turns out to be the same as other industries gave in the past.

Becoming aware that the risks of screen addiction in children and young people is decisive for their future is an excellent opportunity for the problem to be addressed in the political processes that we are experiencing in Chile. The screen requires regulation.

At Fundación Semilla we believe that self-regulation or regulation by the State is essential, but not enough. Formal and family education needs to be redesigned by offering constructive and entertaining alternatives. As a personal testimony, I can point out that the spring wind that blew on the national holiday weekend allowed us to fly a large kite together with my grandchildren. We all enjoyed ourselves and were away from the screen for an entire afternoon. Regulation and creativity gives us hope in the task of preventing screen addiction.

Marcelo Trivelli, Seed Foundation, Santiago, Chile

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The Foreign Policy We Need



Foreign policy is an essential component of any national development strategy. If it changes, external political and trade relations will have to change. Thirty years of a neoliberal strategy have led to an unmediated trade opening to the world economy, while our diplomacy has enthusiastically approached developed countries, distancing itself from Latin America and the countries of the South. The presidential candidate of the left, Gabriel Boric, announces that this must change.


The free-market logic that reigns within our economy has been fully deployed in the field of foreign relations. A radical opening to the world has been imposed, without protection of the internal market and without regulations in favour of sectors of productive transformation. As a result, trade policy has exacerbated export extractivism, closing off opportunities for productive diversification. Policy has been subordinated to big capital, and not only within our country, but also in our relations with the outside world. The economic policy of “every man for himself”, which destroyed Chilean industry and closed the doors to small business entrepreneurs, was complemented by an indiscriminate opening up of foreign trade.

The incorporation of our country into the global economy has not helped development. Growth, which businessmen, politicians and establishment economists have deified, has generated precarious employment, extreme inequalities, environmental depredation and the depletion of our natural resources. Foreign policy has been functional to this perverse growth. And this kind of growth has held back development.

After a few brief years in the early 1990s, when Chile strengthened its economic and political ties with Latin America, the Concertación governments became dizzy with height. They opted to privilege relations with developed and Asia-Pacific countries. Not to discuss the substantive political issues on the international agenda, but to establish economic and commercial commitments in free trade agreements (FTAs). Foreign policy was subordinated to FTAs. Thus, thanks to FTAs, developed countries and transnational corporations have secured their interests through the indiscriminate liberalisation of goods and services, as well as the extended protection of their investments and intellectual property, in exchange for access for our exports to large markets. This logic was also imposed in our negotiations with middle-developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and became the undisputed common sense in international organisations.

It is true that it is in the interest of small countries to open up economically to the world. The narrow internal space makes it difficult for the economy to reproduce itself more broadly. But in the case of Chile, economic expansion through FTAs with developed countries has not turned out to be a good deal (I mean for the country, for the people of Chile). Of course, the primary responsibility does not lie in trade policy, but in economic policy. Indeed, our economic policy does not encourage productive transformation or help to diversify exports and, at the same time, the unregulated opening of trade through FTAs has favoured the attraction of foreign investment, but it has done so in the primary and service sectors. Thus, the FTAs have served to stimulate extractivism, multiplying exports, but not natural resource exports.

In short, our country has consolidated a productive matrix that exports natural resources, and this has been favoured by trade policy. Thus, foreign policy, especially since the 2000s, has supported rapprochement with developed countries, distancing us from our neighbours. This policy, together with the commitments contained in the FTAs, hinders any joint efforts with the countries of the South to act jointly with the world powers on key issues on the international agenda: uncontrolled financial flows, intellectual property, corporate-state disputes, the environment, among others.

Consequently, if the Boric government promotes a change in the productive structure of our economy, it will also have to modify foreign policy and, in particular, foreign trade policy. It will have to introduce substantive changes. Whether unilateral or negotiated (FTA), it will be necessary to regulate the movement of goods, services and capital, in favour of the productive and social priorities proposed by the new development strategy. This has been well highlighted by Petersen and Ahumada, in reply to Ignacio Walker, who staunchly defends the type of globalisation promoted by Chilean governments (see La Tercera of 2 September 2021).

If effective productive diversification is to take place, both unilateral foreign trade policies and trade agreements cannot be neutral in terms of tariffs, financial capital, foreign investment and intellectual property. Discrimination should be made in favour of industrial sectors or those productive processes that add value and knowledge to the new productive matrix. Gabriel Boric’s programme proposes a review of existing trade agreements to assess their relevance to productive diversification. This is not an easy task, but neither is it impossible. This will require renegotiations that will demand goodwill and mutual respect between our country and its counterparts. This was emphasised by the presidential candidate in his meeting with the ambassadors of the European Union (7 September).

On the other hand, faced with the reality of globalisation and the uncertainties that have arisen with the new protectionism, our country will have to recover multilateralism, which is the best defence of small countries against powerful countries. But this policy will be effective if we are able to act as a whole, united with the countries of Latin America and eventually with other regions of the South. In short, a new government of transformations has the difficult task of strengthening the negotiating strength of “developing countries” to support the international agenda on issues of concern to us: protection of ecosystems, feminism, demilitarisation, peace, solidarity with migratory processes, among others.

At the same time, multilateralism in the economic sphere should aim to promote a fairer international trade and financial system, including: the regulation and control of financial transactions and tax havens; flexible and less costly forms of access to cutting-edge technologies; the reduction of deadlines for the protection of intellectual and industrial property, among other issues.

Our project as a country, and the possibility of having a greater presence in the international context, is linked to Latin America and the developing world. Chile must have a foreign policy of rapprochement and economic and diplomatic cooperation with that part of the world with which it shares interests and problems, even in the midst of the difficulties presented by regional institutions. And it should do so independently of political changes in Latin American governments. It is true that the issue is complex. Relations with the countries of the region, and in particular with our neighbours, are not easy.

Determined efforts will have to be made to attend with special concern to political and economic relations with neighbouring countries. Chile’s security and stability, and consequently our own democracy, are linked to the need to eliminate all sources of tension with our neighbours. This is of prime importance. Diplomatic, political and economic conflicts with neighbouring countries exalt chauvinism and stimulate arguments in favour of armament in certain sectors of our society, with high financial costs. Renewed bilateral efforts are therefore needed to foster mutual trust and, above all, to move forward with simultaneous demilitarisation initiatives.

Chile’s border understandings with Argentina in the mid-1990s have recently been obscured by the dispute over the maritime shelf on the continental ice. At the same time, the disputes with Peru and Bolivia, resolved at the Hague Court, do not lessen the historical resentments of Bolivians and Peruvians and Chileans. This must be overcome. It is necessary to embark on a determined path to put an end to tensions in order to ensure diplomatic rapprochement and peace between our countries.

Finally, there is the complex issue of regional integration, where serious difficulties have arisen in recent years. This sets limits to the deepening of Chile’s relations with the countries of the region and at other times leads to uncomfortable disputes. Consequently, it might be necessary to prioritise sub-national integration initiatives, between Chile’s regions with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. This may be more effective and, in line with the decentralising interest, would allow for interesting citizen and territorial links between neighbouring countries. This, at the same time, would favour the development of mutual trust between our countries, based on regional governments and social organisations.

This does not mean renouncing plurinational integration schemes. Firstly, it is necessary to revalue ALADI, which has allowed tariff liberalisation between all the countries of the region, especially in the 1990s; but unfortunately, in recent years, it has had little political support. Second, Chile has the opportunity to play an interesting role in converging plurilateral integration initiatives between the Atlantic (Mercosur) and Pacific (the Andean Development Community and the Pacific Alliance) schemes. Finally, the new government should support CELAC as the political integration body for Latin American and Caribbean countries. And, as recently proposed by Mexican President López Obrador, CELAC should hopefully become a replacement project for the OAS.

Foreign policy and trade policy are indispensable instruments for promoting a new development project in our country. Both must intelligently accompany productive changes, as well as economic and social policies, in order to break with neoliberalism.

Source: Pressenza

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The Spy Who Phoned In




Is the phone in your pocket spying on you? As cell phones have become ubiquitous, government intelligence agencies have poured vast resources into hacking them, remotely stripping people of their privacy in the name of national security. Now, a burgeoning industry has emerged, generating huge profits for shadowy corporations that specialize in developing ever-more innovative ways to secretly infect digital devices with spyware. Activists, journalists, human rights defenders and dissidents the world over have been surveilled and in a number of cases arrested, tortured or killed. This week, Citizen Lab, a cybersecurity research organization based at the University of Toronto, revealed the existence of a “zero-click” exploit that exposed 1.65 billion Apple iPhone and other Apple devices to a complete and almost undetectable takeover by the spyware known as Pegasus, produced by NSO Group, a private company.

By Amy Goodman

Pegasus spyware grants unlimited access to all of an infected device’s content, from chat messages to emails to phone calls, allows control of the phone’s microphone and camera, and shares the phone’s location in real time.

“NSO Group is a mercenary surveillance company based in Israel,” Ronald Deibert, director of Citizen Lab, said on the Democracy Now! news hour. “NSO Group first came on our radar back in 2016, when we discovered it was being used by the United Arab Emirates to target a human rights defender named Ahmed Mansoor. Since then, we and others have documented extensive abuses of this company’s technology.”

If you believe NSO Group’s founders, the software is only legally deployed to catch criminals, terrorists, pedophiles and the like. Not convinced, Amnesty International and 155 other civil society organizations and technology experts issued a joint letter calling for an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance technology: “NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale,” the letter states. “It has become clear that its technology facilitates systemic abuse…if the recent allegations about the use of Pegasus are even partly true, then that red line has been crossed again and again with total impunity.”

Among the cases cited by Amnesty is that of Cecilio Pineda Birto, a Mexican journalist shot dead on March 2nd, 2017. He had been receiving death threats, and just that morning announced a forthcoming report on corrupt local officials colluding with organized crime figures. In 2021, Pineda’s phone number appeared on a leaked list of about 50,000 cell phone numbers from all over the world, said to be targets of the Pegasus software. Scores of journalists from the Forbidden Stories collaboration and Citizen Lab reported on the leaked list, which included hundreds of journalists and activists as well as many world leaders.

“If you don’t do anything to stop the sale of this technology, it’s not just going to be 50,000 targets. It’s going to be 50 million targets,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden told the Guardian last month. “And it’s going to happen much more quickly than any of us expect. The way we do that is to halt the trade of this technology.”

Pegasus was used to target phones owned by family members of Jamal Kashoggi, the Saudi dissident and Washington Post journalist, both before and after his brutal murder by a Saudi kill team inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, 2018.

Another victim of the NSO Group’s spyware is Omar Radi, an independent journalist in Morocco who has long reported on corruption, land expropriation and human rights abuses by the Moroccan government. In 2020, Amnesty International issued a report with proof that Radi’s iPhone had been infected by Pegasus spyware.

“Pegasus is a silent program. You don’t feel it,” Omar Radi told us on Democracy Now! in July, 2020, just two weeks before he was arrested by Moroccan police. “It can use your microphone, it can use your keyboard, it can use your screen, and get any information that is stored in your phone. I don’t know the amount of information they’ve stolen from my phone.” Omar Radi was recently sentenced to six years in prison.

“NSO Group is merely one among many mercenary spyware companies that exist globally,” Citizen Lab’s Ron Deibert said. “Governments that have deep pockets can simply go and purchase this type of despotism as a service off the shelf. We’ve never seen anything like that historically, the privatization of this type of digital espionage.”

Apple issued a software update that supposedly fixed this problem. But hackers will certainly find more holes in these digital device operating systems. Without a ban on Pegasus and spyware like it, human rights defenders, journalists and others will continue to be targeted, spied on, beaten, arrested and killed.

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It’s what you want, the way You want It

An Empowered World3 weeks ago

The Mobilized Exchange

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

Communities Take a Stand for The Rights of Nature

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

Excuse Me, But What is in that “Food” I’m Eating?

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

Healthy Soil for Healthy, Nutritious Food and Healthy Climate

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

A Paradigm Change Starting with Your Lawns

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

Communities Fight Against Polluters and Miners

The Web of Life3 weeks ago

Cooperatives as a Better Community Service

Chuck W.4 weeks ago

Truth or Consequences

A web of Life for ALL Life4 weeks ago

Environmental Summit

A web of Life for ALL Life1 month ago

Systemic Change Driven by Moral Awakening Is Our Only Hope

A web of Life for ALL Life1 month ago

Fossil Fuel Exit Strategy finds that existing coal, oil and gas production puts the world on course to overshoot Paris climate targets.

Featured1 month ago

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A web of Life for ALL Life1 month ago

About Mobilized

A web of Life for ALL Life1 month ago

See the opportunity to return to the sacred

A web of Life for ALL Life2 months ago

Climate Change and Earth Overshoot: Is there a better “Green New Deal?”



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