Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment

By Thomas R. Degregori | Go to book overview
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7
Reason, Romance, and Reaction

In looking at romantic technophobic belief systems, I can draw similarities to many ideas advocated by leading Nazis in the 1930s. There are far too many to be mere happenstance. I will try to be careful in highlighting the similarities. I agree fully with Proctor when he cites the ethicist Arthur Caplan on the dangers characterizing anything as Nazi lest we end up “diminishing the genuine extremity of the Nazi experience” (Proctor 1999, 271; Drotman 2000). Just because I argue that the Nazis were probably the first antitechnology postmodernists does not mean that one can reverse the argument and claim, therefore, that postmodernism is a contemporary version of the Third Reich, with all the horror this implies. I am hesitant to make such connections because the evil of the Nazis is so great that it is difficult to think only in terms of a limited set of comparable ideas. However, many of the beliefs are so strikingly similar between the Nazis and animal rights activists, environmentalists, and postmodernists that I cannot totally ignore the issue.


Similarities between Nazis and Contemporary Movements

The list of similarities between contemporary movements and the Nazis is in fact quite substantial. At the top of the list is the opposition to rational, scientific inquiry, which is deemed to be “reductionist,” while preferring synthesis over analysis. Following from this is a romantic view of nature and what is natural; organic agriculture (biodynamics—opposition to manufactured fertilizer and pesticides); vegetarianism; animal rights; a view of conservation involving the forced removal of people; holistic healing and medicine; and the “blood and soil” garden (opposition to “alien species”). Those activists who opposed genetically modified crops by “rooting out genetic pollution” in the fields are unfortunately describing their actions in language that is all too reminiscent of the 1930s, though I would not wish to trivialize the latter by comparing them in any other way. Yet, underlying all of these similarities is a shared sense

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