John Zerzan is coming to my campus... What would you ask him in the Q&A?

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Redwinged Blackbird's picture
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Feb 23 2012 22:42
John Zerzan is coming to my campus... What would you ask him in the Q&A?

Admin: moved to libcommunity; can't expect people to take primitivism seriously.

It appears that a student group on campus is bringing John Zerzan to my town in a couple of months. From what I have read from him, his ideas seem interesting, he has a cool writing style, however I don't really understand how anyone could possibly apply his theory to every day life and struggle.

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Feb 23 2012 22:49

Whatever I asked I'd expect him to answer without using language.

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Feb 23 2012 23:49
Quote:
From what I have read from him, his ideas seem interesting, he has a cool writing style, however I don't really understand how anyone could possibly apply his theory to every day life and struggle.

How are they interesting? They are just batshit.

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Feb 24 2012 05:08

Ask him why he hates humans so much that he thinks most of should die off? Or sumet like that anyway.

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Feb 24 2012 08:06
Jim Clarke wrote:
Whatever I asked I'd expect him to answer without using language.

Hahaha. Fallacy Alert!

Did you type that statement up on a computer that was manufactured without capitalism? Didn't think so, you anarcho-poser. Would you really argue that you can't use technologies created by the mode of production you oppose without being a hypocrite? That's pretty much the same thing that you're doing here... But it sounds like you're joking, no?

revol68 wrote:
Quote:
From what I have read from him, his ideas seem interesting, he has a cool writing style, however I don't really understand how anyone could possibly apply his theory to every day life and struggle.

How are they interesting? They are just batshit.

From what I've heard people say about his critique of language (never read, just heard second hand), it seems pretty dumb.

Not too familiar with his critique on Time either, but I have to admit that I used to wonder if structuring our day-to-day lives into this concept of linear time is in a way oppressive because doing so implies that life is meant to be lived with a strict authoritative structure that demands punctuality. This only seems practical if one was to define themselves as a worker. Who really needs to know what time it is, unless the boss (or slave owner) wants you to be there? Linear Time was created by those who own the means to production..... Maybe? Not too sure, haven't really read into it, just one of those things I used to think about while smoking weed after a long shift flipping burgers.

Anyways what would you ask him.. if you actually wanted to engage in meaningful discourse?

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Feb 24 2012 08:05

Yuck. No meaningful discourse to be had with him. I'm so glad him and primitivism have been rendered pretty much irrelevant in American anarchism. Say what you want about Bonnano, The Coming Insurrection and jerking off to the Greeks, but at least they aren't John Zerzan.

I know this comment isn't constructive, but nothing involving this discussion is. I'd suggest checking the InfoshopNews primitivism VS platformism wars or some of the massive hundreds of comments long threads on here because most of us don't have much more to say about him, I'd imagine.

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Feb 24 2012 08:08

So tell, me Juan... How would you make his primitivism look silly in the face of your uber-awesome anarcho-communism?

jonnyboss
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Feb 24 2012 09:03

I think primitivism is useful as a critique of industrial capitalism/civilization, but for me doesn't offer much as an alternative, not in the sense of a model or blueprint for any future-primitive society, but anything that isn't simply a negation of what already is.

I think Zerzan's critique of time is valid, insofar as a standardised, linear measurement of time is only really necessary in a society based on alienated labour, or wage-labour in particular.

I think it's right to question the neutrality of technology and the simplistic notion that, 'it's not the machine that's the problem, just the fact that it's not owned collectively.'

From what I've read, a lot of Zerzan's thought stems from an all-out critique of alienation and separation. This leads him to conclude in a lost 'oneness' we supposedly had before settled agriculture and domestication, but I'm skeptical about this, to say the least.

His critique of language is useful as just that, a critique. But similarly, I'm skeptical about the alternative of a no-language future. It raises the classic questions about how we're all prisoners of language and shows how language can serve an alienating, mediatory function (another destroyer of the lost 'oneness' we had with nature and each other), and when he posits the view that language is unnecessary and undesirable, he excludes an unstandardised, fluid, changeable version of 'language' from his definition. A lot of what he says in, 'Language: Origin and Meaning' isn't too far removed from the ideas about language that the Situationists toyed around with, or their precursors the Lettristes for that matter.

Quote:
Jim Clarke wrote:
Whatever I asked I'd expect him to answer without using language.

To accuse him of committing a gross hypocrisy for speaking at all would be a bit like Louise Mensch's criticism of Occupy protestors buying coffee from Starbucks. But I see your point and assume you're having an easy dig for jokes.

What question would I ask him? Well I think I'd say that I thought his writings are useful as a total critique of alienation, mediation, representation and separation (in the same vein as Situationist stuff) and that it's right to question technologies' social functions, but that I didn't see future for primitivism, because it's basically just a regression to a idyllic past that may/may not have existed (depending on which anthropologists you believe). So, I guess I'd ask him to just persuade me otherwise.... hmmm....

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Feb 24 2012 12:37
Redwinged Blackbird wrote:
But it sounds like you're joking, no?

na Jim is serious, and I for on support him. If he doesn't hike to the college he is a fucking fraud. Also if he wears glasses, fraud.

petey
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Feb 24 2012 12:52
Juan Conatz wrote:
the InfoshopNews primitivism VS platformism wars

that sounds like a visit to hell itself

jonnyboss
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Feb 24 2012 12:52
Quote:
Redwinged Blackbird wrote:
But it sounds like you're joking, no?
na Jim is serious, and I for on support him. If he doesn't hike to the college he is a fucking fraud. Also if he wears glasses, fraud.

Fair enough, but aren't we all part of a similar hypocrisy if we benefit from cheap consumer goods made by super-exploited cheap labour etc. etc. Isn't it impossible to be totally ethical in an unethical society? I can't stand the holier-than-thou attitude of people who 'buy local' and wear hemp hoodies from the Amnesty International catalogue. Often, being 'ethical' is a middle class luxury, mostly indulged by those seeking to ease their conscience and feel better about themselves, rather than actually seeing consumer-power as a means of social transformation.

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Feb 24 2012 13:40

http://www.archive.org/stream/FeralForager/FerolForager#page/n3/mode/2up

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Feb 24 2012 14:00

Hey guys. What's going on in this threa…

Awwwww shit.

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Feb 25 2012 01:33

worst. thread. ever.

EGADS
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Feb 25 2012 10:08

Ask him if he still owns a TV.

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Feb 25 2012 11:34

For critiques of capitalist ways of ordering time, you don't need to go down the primmo route. Take this essay by E.P. Thompson, for instance: http://libcom.org/files/timeworkandindustrialcapitalism.pdf

David in Atlanta
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Feb 29 2012 10:55

You could ask him what was the point of his essay considering the Ku Klux Klan as a workers organization

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Feb 29 2012 11:55

I would ask him when it was he went full mental. Because he used to be good.

As for his critique of language? TBH I stopped reading Future Primitive when it got to the bit where he said that humans originally decided not to invent language because they thought they were happier without it…

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Feb 29 2012 13:02
Quote:
John Zerzan is coming to my campus... What would you ask him in the Q&A?

I've always wanted to go to one of his talks with some dead rats tied on a stick and squawk incomprehensibly.

Quote:
Not too familiar with his critique on Time either, but I have to admit that I used to wonder if structuring our day-to-day lives into this concept of linear time is in a way oppressive

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Mar 5 2012 21:34
RedEd wrote:
For critiques of capitalist ways of ordering time, you don't need to go down the primmo route. Take this essay by E.P. Thompson, for instance: http://libcom.org/files/timeworkandindustrialcapitalism.pdf

Thanks for the link, looks fascinating, I'll read it later.

cantdocartwheels wrote:

I've always wanted to go to one of his talks with some dead rats tied on a stick and squawk incomprehensibly.

I lol'd at that.

So it seems like libcom is not too open for discourse when it comes to the JZ, then, hmmm? I'll keep that in mind. smile

Not really giving a fuck, honestly, just thought people would be interested in asking someone of a different "sect" of anarchism (if you can even call it that) a question, so I figured I'd share the chance with folks like a good ol' commie.

BTW, I stumbled upon this video of him on youtube where he says that he is open to syndicalism being used in decommissioning most of industry in a transition to a "primitive" future.. Weird.. the perception of him that I gathered here was that he was some eco-fascist that is depending on misanthropic genocide or some ecological overshoot/collapse scenario to bring us closer to "primitivism".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NANrZvb3o0Y

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Mar 5 2012 21:31

I would ask him if he could be any Boston Bruins player, who would he be and why?

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Mar 5 2012 21:55
Redwinged Blackbird wrote:
Weird.. the perception of him that I gathered here was that he was some eco-fascist that is depending on misanthropic genocide or some ecological overshoot/collapse scenario to bring us closer to "primitivism".

I think that's more like Derrick Jensen or someone.

IIRC Zerzan avoids and denies the issue of genocide. Lefties are usually very critical of everything primitivist, but sometimes it's just downright shit-baiting.

My question would have been how he imagines the transition to primitivism to be, but I guess I just have to look through his writings for the answer.

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Mar 6 2012 00:29
Redwinged Blackbird wrote:

So it seems like libcom is not too open for discourse when it comes to the JZ, then, hmmm? I'll keep that in mind. :)

This is a bit unfair. Search Zerzan and i am sure you will get about 8 pages of article/debates on the guy. I don't want to speak for everyone (BECAUSE I AM AN ANARCHIST LOLZ LOLZ LOLZ) but I think most people here are sick to shit of this stuff anarcho-live in the woods type stuff. Flogging a dead horse (sorry Zerzan probably not the most eco-friendly turn of phrase).

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Mar 6 2012 00:58

I'm also envisioning a type of simple living, rural pseudo-medieval communism where we go work on the fields on the day and smoke pot and drop acid in the evenings. Glorified hippie country life!

Maybe I am a primmie after all... (a leninist primmie)

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Mar 6 2012 01:04

Primitivism is the belief that we ought to slide backwards along the technological progressive line.

Anti-Civ (ala Derrick Jensen) is the belief that capitalism will collapse, causing us to slide backwards along the technological progressive line.

IMO, both depend a bit too much on the technological narrative of history that they supposedly oppose. Jensen, unlike Zerzan, occasionally writes something worth reading.

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Mar 6 2012 01:07
Railyon wrote:
I'm also envisioning a type of simple living, rural pseudo-medieval communism where we go work on the fields on the day and smoke pot and drop acid in the evenings.

Er, you couldn't 'work on the fields' because that assumes agriculture YOU FUCKING COP!

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Mar 6 2012 01:08
Arbeiten wrote:
Railyon wrote:
I'm also envisioning a type of simple living, rural pseudo-medieval communism where we go work on the fields on the day and smoke pot and drop acid in the evenings.

Er, you couldn't 'work on the fields' because that assumes agriculture YOU FUCKING COP!

In Soviet Russia, fields work on you.

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Mar 6 2012 01:49
Railyon wrote:
I'm also envisioning a type of simple living, rural pseudo-medieval communism where we go work on the fields on the day and smoke pot and drop acid in the evenings. Glorified hippie country life!

Maybe I am a primmie after all... (a leninist primmie)

I'd be down with laboring in the agricultural industry, preferably fields upon fields of glorious Cannabis sativa, while simultaneously blazed as hell.

And I'm no primitivist, if I can't do this while listening to my communist MP3 player, NO.

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Mar 6 2012 02:40
Railyon wrote:
I'm also envisioning a type of simple living, rural pseudo-medieval communism where we go work on the fields on the day and smoke pot and drop acid in the evenings. Glorified hippie country life!

Sounds a lot like William Morris's News from Nowhere. Except, instead of pot and acid, people easily can receive tobacco with a jeweled pipe, and everyone becomes younger and more beautiful. Plus, the House of Parliament is turned into a place to store manure...

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Mar 6 2012 03:52
Birthday Pony wrote:
Primitivism is the belief that we ought to slide backwards along the technological progressive line.

Anti-Civ (ala Derrick Jensen) is the belief that capitalism will collapse, causing us to slide backwards along the technological progressive line.

IMO, both depend a bit too much on the technological narrative of history that they supposedly oppose. Jensen, unlike Zerzan, occasionally writes something worth reading.

Precisely, they are in their own way the flipside of the crudest second internationalist forces of production determinism. With Zerzan I think the issue is to try and find some original sin to explain alienation, and in doing so he conflates alienation in the sense of what defines humanity, as in the world and yet apart from it, with the alienation of class society.

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Mar 6 2012 22:18

'Mr Zerzan, if that is your REAL name... what would you say to SPACE ALIENS if they came on a fancy techno-spaceship?'

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