Category Archives: Anarchism

Civilization and Its Stultifying Consequences

Stultify. As a verb, it means a number of things. In the archaic legal sense of the word, it means “to allege or prove to be of unsound mind and hence not responsible”. In contemporary usage it means both “to cause to be stupid, foolish, or absurdly illogical” and “to impair, invalidate, or make ineffective”. Although this word is poorly known and sparsely used in today’s English vernacular, it applies to every facet of Civilization and civilized life. Indeed, Civilization is the art, science, and process of stultifying the human animal.
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There is essentially no body of research regarding intelligence in domesticated humans vs. wild humans. This is unsurprising given the civilized myth that civilization is a process of higher learning, enlightenment, and intellectual development, and that primitive life is uneducated and ignorant. It is also unsurprising that civilized people have neglected to research the limitations of their own intellectual development. However, some data does exist that compares the brain weight and cortex volume of wild animals and their domesticated counterparts.
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Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Animals contains the essay Animals in Captivity, which provides this data and discusses the many stultifying effects of domestication on animals. Among the animals sampled are rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, pigs, sheep, llamas, ferrets, cats, and dogs. In every case, the domesticated version of the wild progenitor species suffers between 8% (rats) and 33% (pigs) reduction in brain size, and between 12% (rats) and 37% (pigs) reduction in cortex volume. A number of studies by the German scientist D. Kruska corroborate and elaborate upon these findings. And yes, before skeptics get up in arms about brain size equating to intelligence, a number of corollary studies have been done proving that these smaller brain sizes and cortex volumes do, indeed, mean these animals are dumb as hell compared to their wild relatives.
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Are we not also mammals? And have we not also been bred for 10,000 years for selective traits (e.g.: specialized labor, servility, passivity, submissiveness, etc.)? If so, then I think it’s fair to extrapolate from these findings that domesticated humans are also considerably stupider than their wild counterparts. And if the science isn’t convincing (or isn’t valid by virtue of its being science), one need only look at the state of contemporary people to prove how stupid, how stultified they are. Look at the celebrity flavor of the week. Watch some reality television. Watch any television. Go talk to your neighbors.
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Beyond the process of domestication and selective breeding, civilization uses another particularly hideous means of stultifying the human animal mind: education. I won’t delve deeply into this topic here, as it’s been extensively shredded elsewhere (see citations). Suffice to say, education exists and was intentionally designed to make people obedient and dull-witted minions, smart enough to follow orders and too stupid to question authority.
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So too religion. So too the dominant culture’s media. Television. Movies. The internet. Radio. Newspapers, magazines, comics. Celebrity worship. Video games (to which I am addicted).  All these tools and tactics of civilized domination stultify the human mind, stunt our intellectual growth. And all under the guise that civilization is a “high state of intellectual development” and “refinement of thought”. Brilliant fucking propaganda!
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But stultification isn’t just concerned with the mind and with intellectual stupidity. It also entails impairing, invalidating, and making ineffective. Beyond that, there are many other forms of intelligence besides the intellect, and stultification is the process of impeding and stupefying these forms as well. And, in addition to these two points, stultification is also about the removal of mental agency and therefore one’s responsibility.
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Civilization encapsulates and excels at all of these methods of stultification.
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It impairs, impinges upon, and invalidates our animal intelligence, our senses, our perceptual understanding of the world. Civilization and its homogenizing monotony attempt to extract and eradicate all sensual pleasure in the world, and the need for sensual awareness. What’s the point of smell when the whole world reeks of burning petroleum, fast food, axe body spray, and heaps of rubbish? How acutely can one hear in the deafening cacophony of industrial machines and constant blaring media? What’s the point of seeing when all we look at are glowing screens? How well can we feel changes in weather and intimate changes in our surroundings when all our skin ever feels is climate control, air conditioning, and the imprisonment of synthetic clothes? How can we even begin to know our own deep desires when our whole lives are regimented, planned, controlled, and dictated by clocks, by bosses, by advertising, by the need to work to pay rent?
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Civilization stultifies our vision, makes us blind. All we see is screens and virtual people, a world increasingly covered in alienating technologies. We stare straight ahead, eyes fixed on our next planned task, never deviating from the prescribed route. House to car to work to restaurant to shopping mall back to house, all flat, all straight ahead. Eyes always forward, never once looking up, down, behind or around. Never looking for details or minutiae, because everywhere Civilization has gone and conquered, complexity and diversity are abolished and replaced with homogeneity and monoculture. We hardly even bother to look, to really see, anything but digital media any more. The average American adult devotes a whopping 11 hours a day to various forms of digital media, 5 of which is television and 1 of which is the internet.
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Civilization stultifies our hearing, makes us deaf. Airplanes, cars, 18-wheelers, the bright flickering babble of television, radio, youtube, netflix, Call of Duty, the clangor and clamor of machines tearing down and building up – these are the only sounds we hear . Newscasters in their flat San Diego accents spew poison in our ears, while police gunshots and 40mm tear gas canisters sound distantly. Helicopters and freight trains and traffic jams round out the nightmare, and leave us reeling. Some of us drown out the roaring gyre with earbuds or headphones, deaf to the stultifying noise of Civilization, even deafer to our own alienation, and deafest to the pulsing web of life all around us.
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Civilization stultifies our ability to smell. The burning of gas and oil, perfumes, colognes, deodorants, body sprays, scented lip gloss, aftershave, fabric softeners, drier sheets, dishwashing liquid and other detergents, soap, shampoo – these smells pervade the air, invade our nostrils. The far-off stench of paper mills and sewage treatment plants wafts in, mingling with the stink of human shit, smoldering crack pipes, exhaust, kitty litter, burnt rubber, burnt sugary cornerstore food, and the dried blood of protestors all over the pavement. Civilization makes us smell-blind to the real scents of the world: dank soil, mycelium, the meaty skunk smell of a lover’s armpits, all the thousands of shades of green plant smell, sweat, animal smells, bird smells, ocean and river smells, smells that herald weather changes, and petrichor, the finest smell in the world.
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Civilization stultifies our sense of taste. Urban industrial culture continues to destroy diversity and to standardize existence. And in so doing it supplants the traditional hunter-gatherer fare of our species with a diminishing pool of a few plants. Civilization deprives our tongues of all the world has to offer. We eat no bitters, few sour foods. All the industrial swill that touches our tongues is sugary sweet, ultra salty, high-fructose, hydrogenated, dyed with colors derived from coal tar, and imported from half a world away. Civilization robs us of the ability to taste our landbases, to lick dew from a drooping bay leaf, to revel in the delicious ecstasy of bitterness and sour and savory.
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Civilization deadens us to touch, stultifies our skin and hands and feet. The only surfaces we’re allowed to touch are concrete, lacquered wood, glass, and worse, plastic, linoleum, pleather, nylon, acrylic, and polyester. Our bodies eke out miserable lives trapped in suffocating clothing, jailed in shoes and boots and high heels, and our hands hardly ever touch anything solely for tactile pleasure. Most of the touch we receive is violent and/or painful, even that which masquerades as affectionate and loving touch. Infants develop neuroses because their civilized parents never hold or even touch them any more. Civilization steals from us the ability to revel in touch, and holds us back from doing so with its norms and taboos. We never learn to love the squish of wet mud through our toes, the bliss of walking barefoot and feeling all the pulses of the earth, the jubilation of rain trickling down our naked bodies, the atmospheric shift that happens when a predator enters an area, the electric embrace of the desert in a thunderstorm, or the feeling of complete contentment that comes with fully and consensually giving our bodies to our lovers and friends. Civilization stultifies all these avenues of touch, and knows only the touches of pain, punishment, enclosure, and imprisonment.
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When one combines the ways in which civ stultifies our senses, the stultification goes even deeper, making our bodies themselves and the ways we use our bodies stupid, ineffective, and impaired. Civilization seeks to flatten and level the world, blanketing it in concrete and making it “easy” and “accessible” to get around. This means we no longer use many of our finer muscles and muscle groups that traditional peoples living in uneven and chaotic landbases use daily. Everywhere we walk is flat, devoid of obstacles, we don’t have to crouch or maneuver to navigate difficult terrain, we never climb or descend anything except for sport. And of course, this only applies to a select few civilized people who actually walk or move at all, as the vast majority drive or take public transit everywhere they go.
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Civilization’s heinous propaganda outlets teach us the worst forms of communicating, and stultify our capacity for communicating with body language. Civ people are all so out of touch with their bodies that non-verbal communication is impossible. And due to the influence of television, movies, and all the shiny baubles of Spectacle, when civ people do communicate verbally, it’s almost always passive aggressive, actually aggressive, coercive, manipulative, and indirect. In marring our ability to communicate effectively, directly, and non-coercively, in this way too does civilization stultify us.
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And it goes on. The civilized agriculturalist diet stultifies our health perhaps more than any other factor. It is an indisputable fact that eating a diet primarily consisting of grains (i.e., wheat) leads to all manner of health complications: dental carries (cavities), autoimmune diseases, and obesity.
This has been proven time and again by contemporary science and basic observation (see the attached notation, and do your own research; the data is abundant). What’s more, this has been happening throughout civilization, all the way back to the Neolithic. In Rome, the gladiators were known colloquially as hordearii, a name that literally means “barley men” or “grain munchers”. They ate a vegetarian diet consisting of barley and lentils, not for health benefits, but to make themselves fat! Having a large cushion of fat insulated their abused bodies against cuts and blunt force trauma, cushioning their bones and protecting their nerves and blood vessels. The point is, they ate the civ diet and got fat. So too with the ancient Egyptians. Apparently, many Egyptians, including both commoners and royalty, had a slurry of health problems related to their diet, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. Upon analysis, the mummy of Hatshepsut revealed that she died a 50 year old obese woman with a fucked up grill full of cavities. The cause of death? Metastatic cancer. And the attributed cause? The ancient Egyptian civilized diet.
We’re all subject to the same. Impaired bodies. Obesity. Heart disease (which according to the CDC now accounts for 25% of all deaths in the US). Dental carries and all kinds of oral health problems. High blood pressure. And this is just one more of the myriad ways Civilization is stultifying.
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Another is sexuality. Civilization is catastrophically stultifying to our sexualities, to both our desires and to the ways we have sex. Civilization teaches us that sex is all about power, about getting off. It enculturates males and females with too many patriarchal gender norms and roles to name here, and forces the claim that these are integral and “natural” parts of human sexuality. Civilized sex is solely about dominating others and getting off; it has nothing to do with intimate connection with another human being (or human beings), certainly nothing to do with emotions, it’s not even about procreation. When civilized people do have sex, it’s either overt rape, or so closely resembling rape and rape culture that it might as well be rape.  And increasingly, as Civilization approaches the zenith of its extreme alienation and techno-fetishism, people are less capable of and interested in having sex with each other.
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In her book Vagina: a New Biography, feminist writer Naomi Wolf takes an in-depth look at porn and porn culture, and comes to a some startling conclusions. Not only are a large number of people now incapable of having sex without porn being displayed on a nearby screen, some have become so addicted to porn and its culture of theatrical abuse and absurdity that they prefer masturbating to pornography to having real sex. Perhaps even more disturbing is new neuroscience that suggests that repeated viewing of porn actually rewires the human brain, causing it to crave more porn, more extreme porn, and more alienating screen-based sex.  Couple the mind-altering drug fix of porn with recent developments in robot sex technology. For example, Roxxxy, the world’s first sex robot, whose creator claims that he’s worked with psychologists to create a “true companion” capable of “real connection” with users. Equally frightening is the Autoblow 2, a “hands-free” automatic fellatio machine.
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Civilization is so impairing, so harmful to our innate animal sexuality, so stultifying to our sex lives that civilized people now prefer watching porn and getting off with machines to actual physical sex with one another. Truly stultifying, truly horrifying.
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One final aspect of civilization’s inherent stultification I want to discuss is the archaic meaning of the word “stultify”. In this sense of the word, civilization doesn’t exactly stultify. It doesn’t allege or prove the unsoundness of the minds of its subjects, but Civilization does absolve civilized people of their responsibility in thousands of facets of life. One could argue that civilization itself IS the absolution of personal responsibility and deference to authority figures.
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In this use of  the word, Civilization is so utterly stultifying that it’s difficult to decide where to begin describing it. Civilized people have always been stultified in terms of making their own decisions, whether deferring to the god-kings and priests of ancient Sumeria, the pharaohs and priests of Egypt, all the various Emperors, Kings, monarchs, princes, Iron Age chieftains, soldiers, prophets, slavemasters, and on and on. As a consequence of the specialization born out of agriculture, civilization has always fostered and relied upon hierarchic division and authoritarian governance. Just so, this is the foundational stultification of civilized life. Civilized subjects give over their desires, their agency and personal will, to the State and to all its enforcers, and are thus made stupider and weaker because they do so.
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We see this sort of absolution of personal responsibility every day in contemporary civ. When conflict between people arises, they don’t deal with it directly and responsibly. Instead, they call cops and have each other arrested, beaten, coerced, and killed by external enforcers. Or they rely on the courts and sue each other into compliance. When the industry and civilized life require resources (as all civilized life and industry do), the people of a given civilized nation rely on the military to go seize the desired resource for them. They certainly don’t go out and take it themselves. When resources are plentiful but the urge toward violence is still prevalent, civilized people get their fix through ritualized sports teams who do the work for them. And most civilized people look to religion to tell them how and why the universe is and what morality should look like, exporting their metaphysical quandaries rather than have a direct relationship with the material world. Likewise, most civ people look to the law AND to religion to tell them what morality and ethics should be, rather than puzzle out for themselves what they think is right and wrong.
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In interpersonal and intimate relationships, the same thing. Couples rely on therapists, relationship and  grief counselors, and lawyers to settle their disputes, exporting their discontent rather than work it out directly or with empowering community/friend mediation. Parents and other adults encourage their children to come to them to settle divisions between them, and children happily follow suit, deferring to adult authorities rather than learning how to resolve their own social problems. People send texts, emails, and facebook messages rather than have difficult conversations face to face.
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And in all these ways and many others, civilized people collude with the project of Civilization and relinquish their own agency and personal responsibility. This is how civilization mentally and emotionally stultifies all its slaves. Though one can only speculate about such matters, it is perhaps due to this mental and emotional stultification that civilization is able to physically and sensually stultify its subjects.
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In any event, Civilization is, without a doubt, the art, science, and process of stultifying the human animal. It exonerates us from our personal agency and responsibility for ourselves and our actions. It impairs us, impedes us, impinges on our lives and desires, and invalidates our existences. Ultimately, it makes us weak and stupid.
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In undoing our domestication, in attempting to re-wild ourselves, it must be an integral part of our practice to discover and destroy all the ways Civilization stultifies us.
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CITATIONS:
Kruska, D. (2005). On the Evolutionary Significance of Encephalization in Some Eutherian Mammals: Effects of Adaptive Radiation, Domestication, and Feralization
– Kruska, D. (1988). Effects of Domestication on Brain Structure and Behavior in Mammals
Frank, H., & Frank, M. (1985). Comparative manipulation-test performance in ten-week-old wolves (Canis lupus) and Alaskan malamutes (Canis familiaris): A Piagetian interpretation
– Udell, M., Dorey, N., & Wynne, C. (2008). Wolves Outperform Dogs in Following Human Social Cues
– Gatto, John Taylor. (2003 & 2005). Against Schools! and The Tyranny of Compulsory Schooling
– Jensen, Derrick. (2005) Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution
– Leidloff, Jean. (1975). The Continuum Concept
– Pedro Carrera-Bastos, Maelan Fontes-Villalba, James H O’Keefe, Staffan Lindeberg, Loren Cordain.(2011). The Western Diet and Lifestyle and Diseases of Civilization.
– Curry, Andrew. (2008). The Gladiator Diet.
– Eades M.D., Michael R. (2007). Obesity in Ancient Egypt.  http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/obesity/obesity-in-ancient-egypt/
– Wolf, Naomi. (2012). Vagina: A New Biography
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Toward a Stronger Primitivism: Logical & Linguistic Failures in the Primitivist Critique and the Effort to Remedy Them

INTRODUCTION

Before I jump into this piece, I want to establish concretely, for the sake of those who don’t know me or my work, that I am an ardent primitivist. I’m not some disgruntled outsider, some snarky critic bent on discrediting or dismissing the primitivist critique. I despise the hydra called Civilization, and while I stab at the heart of the Beast, so too do I seek to hack off each of its insidious heads: Patriarchy, Capitalism, Statism, Institutionalized Hierarchy, Mediation, Ecocide, and so on.

The anthropology underlying primitivism is solid, and the majority of arguments within the primitivist critique are coherent and hard to dispute. Even so, within the contemporary anti-civ milieu, there remain some glaring errors, oversights, and sketchy logic. The purpose of this piece is to address these mistakes and move toward remedying them. I offer these criticisms and suggestions as a means of honing the primitivist edge that it might better cut through the lies, delusions, and bullshit of civilization. I offer this piece as a gift and a labor of love, NOT as an attack against any person or their work, nor as an indictment against anarcho-primitivism itself. With that in mind, let’s continue.

LINGUISTIC SHORTCOMINGS

The first topic I’d like to discuss, and one that irks me to no end, is the near-ubiquitous presence of the naturalistic fallacy in just about all the anti-civ literature I’ve read and many of the in-person dialogues I’ve had with other primitivists. The naturalistic fallacy, for folks who don’t know, is this line of reasoning: ”nature” is good, therefore that which is “natural” is good; anything that is against nature or is “unnatural” is bad. Almost every essay, book, blog post, lecture, podcast (ad nauseam) I’ve read or heard from an AP perspective suffers from this fallacy.

So much of the language we primitivists use – and I’m even guilty of this myself, when I slip up from time to time – further embeds this fallacy in our hearts, minds, and arguments. Just take a brief look at some of the words anti-civ arguments employ on the regs: we’ve already visited “Nature” and “natural”, but there’s also “wild”, “wilderness” and “wildness”, “rewilding”, “feral”, and a score of other nebulous words that fall into the naturalistic fallacy.

Worse yet, in my opinion, is the tacit underlying moral dualism in this fallacy that so regularly rears its head in political discussions. That is, even in trying to “re-wild” and un-domesticate themselves, primitivists still subscribe to the good-vs-evil, right-and-wrong morality that is a cornerstone of Civilized religion and jurisprudence. Civilization is EVIL and we anarcho-primitivists are the warriors of all that is righteous and good!

Yeah right.

Now, I’m not making some nihilist argument here that all morality and/or ethics are undesirable. I’m simply saying that to fall into the cesspool of moral dualism, of good-vs-evil thinking, is to remain dichotomous, to remain mired in Civilized patterns of thinking, and, ultimately, to remain alienated from our desires via moral justification for our philosophy and actions.

Fuck that!

Rather than hold fast to dichotomous, alienating morality, I maintain that we should argue against Civilization and all its horrors from our own experiences, desires, thoughts, and feelings. I don’t need “Nature” and what is “natural” to justify the slurry of raw horror, compassion, and rage I feel when I witness a clear cut. Nor do I need to look at “wild” human communities and their relationships to validate the visceral disgust I experience when I witness the misogyny toward and oppression of women on a daily basis.

It is enough for me, and should be enough for others, that we desire a healthy, functioning biosphere, that we want to nurture maximum biodiversity, that I love trees and non-human animals and value their lives. It should be sufficient that I respect female people and want a world in which they are not battered, raped, and killed for their sex, that I value their animal existence, and that I desire healthy interactions and communities in which women are equally valued. I cherish the Oak Savannahs of Northern California, and devoted years of my life to developing a relationship with the rainforests, valleys, and mountains of Cascadia; I love these landbases, want them to thrive, and would kill to defend them because we mutually enrich one another. I don’t need to vindicate these relationships by arguing that ecocide is “unnatural” and therefore “bad”.

To be clear, in pushing for an embrace of individual and collective desires rather than referral to fallacious moral dichotomies, I’m definitely NOT arguing against coherent language. Quite the opposite, really. In addition to re-framing AP arguments in terms of desires and relationships, I also think there are improvements to be made in regards to the actual words we utilize.

For example, when we say we want to protect the “wilderness” or return to a “wild” or “feral” way of life, what do these terms actually mean? In practice, the term “wilderness” is turbid and abstract. So too is the word “Nature”. These words describe lofty concepts, complex symbols that are deeply anchored in the Civilized psyche. How about “technology”? What symbols and imagery does that word evoke in your mind? Again, a relatively meaningless and highly symbolic word, but a word upon which many primitivists and their arguments rely.

Just so, I feel it’s crucial to rethink and re-imagine these terms such that we strengthen and reinforce the primitivist position. Let us not appeal to “nature”, that tired and dried out husk of abstraction. Instead, let us speak of the biosphere, of the intricate interconnectedness, the web of relationships that is all life – this is a concrete, physical, and tangible thing, to which we belong and of which we are a part. Let us not argue that ecocide and urbanization are “bad” because they are “unnatural”. Let us rather exult in our love of healthy, functioning landbases and egalitarian communities, and of our desire to see what we love thrive!

TOKENIZING & FETISHIZING GATHERER-HUNTERS

I witness this obnoxious tendency all the time, and the dishonesty and subtle racism embedded in this practice annoy me to no end. Usually this comes in the form of sweeping generalizations. “Native Americans were blah blah blah,” “all hunter-gatherers lived in egalitarian bands”, “no division of labor and very little sexism exist in hunter-gatherer cultures”, etc. Even among those primitivists I meet who don’t generalize, and who use particular cultures and peoples as examples in their arguments, there is a tendency to fetishize gatherer-hunters, to portray them as virtuous, as immaculate, as “good”.

This is simply dishonest, and it is untrue. Few generalizations can be made about pre-contact “Native Americans”, as there were thousands of distinct peoples, languages, cultures, customs, traditions, stories, technologies, and lifeways. Some indigenous Americans were indeed primarily hunter-gatherers, some pastoralists, some agriculturalists, some a mix of all of these. Some groups were matrilineal, and some patrilineal. Some peaceful, and some warlike. Some, like the Coast Salish and Haida peoples of Cascadia, were downright civilized – they were stationary, domesticated dogs, engaged in protracted and brutal warfare, had slaves, had centralized, hierarchic leadership, and so on.

Likewise, even among those peoples who primitivists love to reference, there’s sometimes “trouble in paradise”. The Hadza, for example, who are and have been hunter-gatherers in Tanzania since the dawn of humanity, are a favorite idol of many contemporary primitivists. They are roughly egalitarian, subsist on gathering and hunting, and live in an ecologically responsible and respectful way, much as they have forever. And yet, as Frank Marlowe describes in The Hadza: Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania, these primal peoples practice female genital mutilation in the form of clitorectomy. This is not only a grave manifestation of misogyny and patriarchy among an otherwise “ideal” hunter-gatherer people, but it also represents a significant form of specialization in a society that is broadly anarchic and egalitarian.

These very brief and wholly incomplete examples concerning indigenous Turtle Islanders and the Hadza people serve to demonstrate the folly in tokenizing, fetishizing, and making generalizations about gatherer-hunters. In my experience, this happens quite regularly among anarcho-primitivists. I would like it to be my future experience that it stops happening, and that those with a critique of civilization speak honestly and factually about such peoples.

In fact, I’d really rather primmies speak from their own experiences and desires rather than allude to hunter-gatherers at all. Whatever the Hadza do, however various indigenous Turtle Island groups lived, whatever the behaviors of the !Kung happen to be, ultimately these things are useful to consider but are irrelevant. I want to live as a hunter-gatherer, I want to abolish the civilized death machine, I want a vibrant and fecund biosphere. That’s valid, and it’s enough. I don’t need the Hadza or Pirahã to corroborate my desires.

THE SEARCH FOR EUROPEAN INDIGENEITY & IDOLIZING IRON AGE CULTURES

In recent years, as green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism have gained acceptance in radical undercurrents, I have noticed an increasingly popular and bothersome trend. As a growing number of anarchists adopt the critique of civilization, so too do they begin to look to the past for guidance and methodologies for decolonizing and rewilding (i.e.: un-domestication). This, in itself, is a praiseworthy pursuit.

However, the destination at which many anarchists arrive on this ideological journey is, unfortunately, still civilization. I’m talking about the Iron Age. The Celts. The Vikings. The Gauls, Goths, Vandals, and other Iron Age “barbarians”. European paganism, witchcraft, Scandinavian runes, and proto-Germanic polytheism. You name the Iron Age European culture, and I’ll wager there’s some well-intentioned but ignorant primitivist who’s trying to resurrect and relive it.

To a certain extent this is understandable. The hunter-gatherer peoples and cultures of Europe are eradicated – their languages are destroyed, they kept no records, and they’ve all been conquered or enslaved or raped out of existence by civilized shitbags. With little to no information remaining regarding European hunter-gatherers, and an overwhelming abundance of information about the Iron Age, it is unsurprising that many primitivists end their historical search a tad shy of the Stone Age.

Don’t get me wrong: I love viking metal and folk metal just as much as the next person. I just don’t think that’s the trajectory or end point of primitivism. I don’t want to be a Celt, I spit on my Viking heritage, I don’t want to practice European agriculture or pastoralism or insane religions full of dude-bro gods who rape and pillage. And I sure as hell don’t want to be a part of a culture that routinely and as an integral means of its existence raids, pilfers from, conquers, and rapes its neighbors. Fuck that. Fuck the Iron Age, and fuck replicating it!

For those well-intentioned and historically ignorant primitivists I mentioned (and I know there are many, because I’ve had this conversation a thousand times), please!, if you want to discover more about your European heritage, don’t stop at the Iron Age! Look into the Paleo peoples of Europa. Watch Ray Mears’ fantastic Bushcraft series, the first episode of which is entitled Aboriginal Britain. Read Tacitus’s ancient and propagandistic accounts of the Sami people of Northern Europe in his Germania. Hell, read about the Sami today, and about their forced transition between hunting-gathering and reindeer pastoralism; read about how said transition and their forced Christianization has caused the cancerous blight of patriarchy and sexist abuse to spring up in their society. There’s so much to be gleaned, so much that affirms the primitivist stance in that people’s ancient and recent history. Study the Ahrensburg culture of Paleolithic Scandinavia, the Aurignacian, then Solutrean, then later Magdalenian cultures that spanned much of mainland Europe and southwest Asboudicaia.

To be fair here, I’m not suggesting that there’s nothing to be garnished from Iron Age European cultures. As far as symbols go, I think the Germanic runic futhark (alphabet) and its associated symbolism is intriguing, fun, and cool. I think Celtic metalworking and knotwork is beautiful. I like re-purposing civilized detritus to cobble together piecemeal post-apocalyptic renditions of Iron Age armors. I like swords and scalemail, longships and fire arrows. I LOVE mead, wine, and beer! And I especially like historical accounts of “barbarians” resisting and defeating the forces of empire. Vercingetorix, the Gallic warrior-king, and Boudica, the Celtic warrior-queen who avenged the rape of her two daughters, both led their people into fierce open rebellion against Rome. I hella respect that and it inspires me, even if these were bloodthirsty, land-destroying, slave-taking civilized grain-munchers.

FINAL THOUGHTS

That’s about it for now. I have other criticisms I’d like to level at contemporary anarcho-primitivism at some point, but these are the most bothersome among them. In the hopes that this piece doesn’t spark some factious flame-war on the internet or drive ideological wedges between myself and others, I want to stress again that this is meant to be constructive criticism. Some of it is even a reminder to myself to avoid certain pitfalls of logic and discourse.

So yeah, don’t take this personally, take it proactively. With love and rage, let’s tear this monolithic shitheap down!

The Work of Opposing (and Dismantling) Civilization – Part 1: Introduction

In a recent post on his blog Uncivilized Animals, the author, Ian, quotes from John Zerzan’s piece in the current Fifth Estate. He writes:

There is an understandable, if misplaced, desire that civilization will cooperate with us and deconstruct itself. This mind set seems especially prevalent among those who shy away from resistance, from doing the work of opposing civilization.” [emphasis added]

Like Ian, I too was struck when I first read this phrase. So many times in countless discussions and debates, I’ve heard people agree with the primitivist stance against civilization, but resign themselves to inaction and despair. Yes, civilization sucks and all that, but what can be done? What can WE do?! Even among those close friends and allies whose vitriolic hatred of civilization rivals my own, this resignation is often deeply rooted.

This isn’t a new question, nor a particularly difficult task to analyze. And yet, as the anti-Civilized critique grows broader, fuller, and stronger with every passing day, the question remains unacknowledged and unaddressed. If we, as primitivists, accept that Civilization and its toxic lifeway are destroying the biosphere and immiserating all life, if we accept that Civilization and its systems of oppression are the greatest obstacle to self-actualization, autonomy, and healthy community, is this not, then, the most important question ever asked?

I hold that it is.

What does it mean to oppose Civilization? How can we set about dismantling and destroying Civilization?

This essay is concerned with these questions, with beginning to address them and to initiate dialogue about them. I by no means think that I have all the knowledge, all the answers, or that my path is singular or the “correct” way. However, being true to my animal self, I do feel that I’ve made significant inroads in answering this question and in radically transforming myself toward healthy animal being and away from the shackles of civilized life. Just so, by sharing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding this question, I hope to inspire others to tackle this most daunting and pivotal of questions.

In order to properly answer this question, we must first look at Civilization itself, at its structures and methods of domination, hierarchy, and control, at its myths and narratives. The second part of this essay will do just that. Then, in each of the subsequent parts, we’ll take the information discussed in Part 2 – the structures and methods of Civilized power, i.e., the shit that makes Civ function- and explore how best to oppose, destroy, and supplant those structures.