Militarism & Dissent

Powerful new technologies such as biotechnologies, nano-scale technologies or geoengineering techniques are 'dual use,' in that they can also be applied for purposes of warfare, surveillance and social control. In practice, much of the initial funding and impetus for developing such technologies often come from the military or from governments looking to control dissent. This topic includes ETC Group's research into biological warfare -- defined as the deliberate use of microorganisms or toxins derived from living organisms to induce death or disease in humans, animals or plants.

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You can fool some of the people all of the time; and, all of the people some of the time; but, you can't fool all of the people all of the time... However, you may be able to persuade enough of the people to monitor everyone all of the time.

A new report by the ETC Group concludes that the social, environmental and bio-weapons threats of synthetic biology surpass the possible dangers and abuses of biotech. The full text of the 70-page report, Extreme Genetic Engineering: An Introduction to Synthetic Biology, is available for downloading free-of-charge on the ETC Group website.

The key technologies of the past half-century—transistors, semiconductors, and genetic engineering—have all been about down— reducing size, materials and costs while increasing power. We are about to take a much bigger step down. Our capacity to manipulate matter is moving from genes to atoms. While civil society and governments focus on genetic modification, an impressive array of industrial enterprises is targeting a scientific revolution that could modify matter and transform every aspect of work and life.

Some of us at ETC have just spent the past three days in a drafting group for the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation's inspiring What Next? project. Hopefully we will write more about What Next? as it gets closer to completion. Briefly the What Next? project its an attempt to stop, reflect and look forward to the challenges and issues Civil Society faces in the coming thirty years. How will we organise ourselves? what new global trends will we be leading or responding to?