Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Am I an Anarcho-primitivist?

I believe in freedom through simplicity, by utlizing the resources which are available to us for free and which are meant to be free, by drive and determination for self-sufficiency, and by living in harmony with oneself, one's surroundings, and one's neighbors.

In a search for my true socio-political philosophy I have tried to identify with many positions and labels. I know it is somewhat useless and I don't like being labeled, let alone labeling myself, but I guess what I am trying to do is to find an idea which closely resembles the undefined and undeveloped idea I have inside of me so that I can take that idea and compare it to my own. I am not doing this because I am incapable of original thought but for three reasons: there is nothing new under the sun; there are and have been lots of people with lots of ideas and at least one of them is bound to be very similar to my own; and it is simpler to build a logical and coherent personal philosophy if you are kept honest by testing the ideas of others against the ideas of yourself. In this search I have found that at this moment in my life I most likely identify with what is known as Anarcho-primitivism.

Wikipedia defines Anarcho-primitivism as an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization, and advocation for a return to non-civilized ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of the divisions of labor or specialization, and the abandonment of large-scale organizational technologies. In short, anarcho-primitivism seeks to eradicate all forms of domination and advocates a return to the simplest form of human society and its relationship to the environment. Anarcho-primitivists believe that civilized society, particularly technological society, is destroying both the environment and humanity.

Now, before I discovered this philosophy I found that I could most closely identify with libertarianism, however, I never could quite buy into unbridled capitalism even though I view socialism as much worse. Libertarianism has its roots in anarchism, so libertrianism to anarcho-primitivism is no large jump, but it is libertarianism's embrace of the underlying structure of what is “the system” which causes me to differ sharply from its basic tenets. Basically, my problem with libertarianism is the same problem I have with socialism and most all economic or political philosophies – they are based on the same underlying structure, which is “the system”. I just never understood how any of us can expect for “this” thing we live in to get any better if we keep on using the same old formula and only change the manner in which we apply its main components.

In my mind, the organism is the problem, not some part of it or fungal growth on it, so how is a different form of economics going to help any? How is privatizing schooling or leaving it public going to change the problem that is schooling, not in schooling? How is the privatizing of prisons or leaving them public going to promote individual liberty? How is a smaller or larger governing authority going to abolition despotism? How is the ownership of any property either by private individuals or by the public through the apparatus of government going to promote freedom of movement and one's natural right to the use of natural resources, not for economic gain or power, but for day-to-day survival? How can anyone expect to have individual liberty when they are forced to be part of an organism which can and will punish them for not only refusing to be part of it, but also for not being part of it in a manner consistent with what that organism deems fit to the purposes of its own survival?

I agree with anarcho-primitivism's critique of "the system". I have been questioning "What is this for? What are we trying to do with this grand experiment we call civilization? Is it delivering, has it ever delivered, and do I believe it can ever deliver whatever it is we, the people, think it did, does, or could accomplish? Who's idea was this, where did it start, and who started it? Did people opt in or were they forced in? Can people opt out or are they forced to participate through coercion? Was it all started by we, the people, or did it all begin with authoritarians, and if the latter, how can we, the people, ever expect an authoritarian system to deliver us from itself?" With these questions I am constantly critiquing modern society, its origins, purpose, and progress.

In the aspect of critique I most certainly agree with anarcho-primitivism, its value, and its necessity to the welfare of us all – without question. In the aspect of "rewilding" I am not so certain I agree with some of the more extreme elements who wish to eventually abolish written language, the division of time (think: clocks and calendars), and similar fundamental building blocks required for mere reason, not just civilization. To put it plainly, I don't think anarcho-primitivism can justifiably or even rationally conclude what it does if it attacks the very foundations of the reason it used to arrive at its conclusions. That does not mean it cannot disagree with civilization itself, for there is a difference between the system which allowed for advanced reason to develop and the fundamental priniciples of reason, but it does mean language, division, and similar basic elements of coherent thought and transmission of thought are off-limits. Taking the most extreme position, as some anarcho-primitivists do is, in my mind, always a dumb idea – extreme anything is hardly balanced and harmonious and often also irrational.

I see nothing wrong with oral language and I don't necessarily think written language is detrimental to the environment and humanity although I do agree printed or mechanically produced language (be it oral or written) has allowed for and always will allow for a loss of humanity, individuality, and is the root of many problems, particularly media exploitation – in the end I do not think all of the pros of printed or mechanically produced language justify all of the cons. I also see nothing wrong with counting, basic mathematic operations, calendars, and the measurement of cycles via the division of time. Unlike government institutions, impersonal monetary units, institutional schooling, and organized religions, I do not think the tools of language, division of time, and math are inherently only useful as mechanisms of control and domination.

So far, concerning what I know about anarcho-primitivism and my personal position on things, I applaud anarcho-primitivism's critique and I share in its critique. However, concerning its advocation of a return to non-civilized ways, I personally advocate a return to simplicity although I am not quite certain as to how far back humanity should go or how simple I believe things should be – I only know that "this" is not working. I cannot say I disagree with anarcho-primitivism's approach or some of its conclusions concerning "rewilding", but on the other hand, I cannot say at this time whether or not I agree with it enough to consider its principles desirable, necessary, or feasible.

Now, concerning environmentalism... I am not an extemist, nor do I absolutely believe in man-made climate change. Do I believe it could be a problem? Yes! Do I believe it is a problem? I'm not convinced it is currently a major catasrophe as some would have us believe. Do I believe pollution is a problem? Yes! Do I believe technology and civilization aid in pollution and are a major cause of it? Yes! Do I think humanity has a responsibility to its environment? Yes! Do I think we should be good stewards of the earth? Yes! Do I think humanity should try to have a sustainable relationship with nature and live in harmony with it? Yes! Do I think humanity should exclude itself and all of its natural drives, as part of nature, from the equation? No! Do I think "carbon taxes" and similar ideas are good and are an answer? You're out of your mind! I agree with many thngs, but I do have my limits, although I remain open-minded, but some things simply take more to convince me than others.

I recently acquired a book by one of anarcho-primitivism's main proponents, John Zerzan, entitled, Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization, and there are several other texts which I intend to read in order to get a better hold on my position, including: Against Civilization: Readings nad Reflections, also by John Zerzan, The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You by Leo Tolstoy, The Techonlogical Society and Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes both by Jacques Elul, The Gutenberg Galaxy by Marshall McLuhen, Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism 1827-1908 by James J. Martin, Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. "The Unabomber" by Theodore John Kaczynski, and The One Man Revolution in America by Ammon Hennacy. I look forward to reading these texts and seeing where they lead me.

Now, as for where I currently stand... I believe in strongly critiquing civilization and I advocate minimalism and the simplifying of one's life as a means to both acquire individual liberty and to protest the inadequacies, wrong-doings, and falsehoods of "the system". I believe that the closer humanity can get to a harmonious connection with the whole of nature the closer humanity will get to a connection with its own nature and purpose. I believe that in order to reach this point one must not be "anti" anything, but rather must advocate a position based on something more concrete than merely being against something, such as technology or civilization. Basically, using the mindset of "simplified living" one should eliminate what is deemed unnecessary and do what is necessary to live in harmony with the whole of naturewhich includes humanity and its natureand seek to revere and sustain that relationship.

I believe this simplification and critique can be obtained by eliminating the purchasing of products which are both unnecessary and manufactured using specialization and division of labor, purchasing and using only secondhand or "used" products when necessary and possible, the studying of wilderness skills, learning plant identification, studying botanical medicine using local plants, learning to forage, acquiring gardening and farming skills, learning to fish, hunt, and trap, shopping at local farm markets, minimizing one's possessions, and otherwise trying to do as many things as possible which minimize one's dependence on "the system" while promoting all-around harmony – this is where I currently stand.

I would probably not be considered an anarcho-primitivist by most anarcho-primitivists at this time, although they might agree I have some leanings. In fact, at this time I would probably consider myself an environmentally conscious individualist anarchist who is also a minimalist and neopagan. However, if you are interested in anarcho-primitivism you may find the following links useful:

For further information..."web search" is your friend.


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