Anarchism vs primitivism - Brian Oliver Sheppard

This important pamphlet looks closely at the fundamental conflicts between anarchism and primitivism.

Submitted by Jacques Roux on January 8, 2007

It traces primitivism's basic precepts back to their authoritarian roots, reveals primitivist misconceptions about anarchism, capitalism and technology, shows how the corporate media have used primitivism to discredit anarchism, and also shows how ideology-driven primitivists, much like fundamentalist Christians opposed to evolution, have picked through anthropological evidence to support their predetermined conclusions, while ignoring data that contradict those conclusions.

Sheppard also considers the many primitivist straw-man attacks upon anarchism, and asks: What kind of an anarchist movement do we want - one that looks often ugly, authoritarian social reality in the eye, with the aim of transforming it into something something that will lead to freer, happier lives for all of us on planet Earth, or one that wastes its time fantasizing about a non-existent Golden Age, and that would result in the deaths of billions if its precepts were followed?

This pamphlet was originally published by See Sharp Press, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2003. It has been digitised by libcom.org with full permission of the publisher. Any errors in formatting or spelling are solely our own.

Comments

Global Dissident

15 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Global Dissident on October 26, 2008

There is a mistake in part 6. The book Into the Wild is about Christopher McCandless, not Gene Rosselini, although their stories are somewhat similar.

Fletcher

15 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fletcher on October 27, 2008

Glad I found this posting. Always thought that some in the so called "Anarchist Movement" had more in common with this type of primitivist nonsense than they do with any form of class struggle anarchism/communisim.

Had a few run ins with these types of idiots in the 80s and 90s. Spacers like the Green Anarchists who had fuck all in common with real life politics and were just off on a lifestylist ego trip up their own arses. Anything that kicks this kind of twat out of the anarchist arena is good by me.

kanja

14 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kanja on May 12, 2010

a rather late comment, but here it goes...

It seems to me both sides of the argument merit some consideration in the greater scheme of things. I don't think either side of the argument is willing to accept that we are all struggling to make our lives more open, more free and with some sense of accountability and integrity along the way. No grand theory, no matter how methodical or dialectical the process, will catch a glimpse of the reality of people's lives living day-in and day-out in a world where we are exceeding well beyond the tangible, finite ecological limits of our planet--thus, requiring us to challenge our long held assumptions about the efficacy of "progress" and "prosperity" in a mantra of perpetual economic and material growth.

Whatever way our collective resistance to domination materializes, it should be met with a critical eye, but also should be met with respect and with the promise that the fundamentals of a truly free and open society not be exclusive to a certain epistemology but be recognized in an all-inclusive forum built for differing views and diversity of opinions.

After all, no matter how much we feel strongly one way or the other about our political or lifestyle convictions, we have to come together and find a way where our "commonalities" of liberty, self-determination, voluntary association, mutual aid, etc. hold far more weight than our disagreements about the way things have been, should be or will be. We must let our experiences in the situation lead the way and not our pre-conceived ideas about the past or future set the scene.

How this can be accomplished is a mystery to me; especially if we let the capitalist machine divide and conquer us as they have always done.

in solidarity

anarcho-primit…

13 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by anarcho-primit… on September 29, 2010

I agree that we must find commonalities and come-together, as they say. It seems to me that the primitivist ideal of a "golden-age" is a false notion based on scant evidence. The anarchist ideal of an egalitarian future seems more probably to me. On the other hand, oil, gas, coal, are indeed finite resources. They will run out, at some point. And we'll have to be prepared...have to figure out ways of living meaningful lives without them. That is a fact. But, who's to say that we won't be able to implement some other form of power (steam for example) that will be more sustainable. Recent documents have shown that the Romans Empire even had steam power,*** made of wood (a sustainable resource if used wisely and not exploitatively).

The wholesale rejection of "Technology" needs a rational critique. Primitivism has some good ideas, as does anarchism. Maybe there's a mean-way between the two where rational thought meets constructive historical analysis. Where the best ideas of both camps can meet while accepting some of the differences and figuring that we'll work them out as things move forward.

***Nevertheless, the Romans were the first technological culture to assemble all essential components of the much later steam engine:

With the crank and connecting rod system, all elements for constructing a steam engine (invented in 1712) — Hero's aeolipile (generating steam power), the cylinder and piston (in metal force pumps), non-return valves (in water pumps), gearing (in water mills and clocks) — were known in Roman times.[4] (from wikipedia)

ngc11

13 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ngc11 on June 1, 2011

this pamphlet is a very bitter and almost hateful understanding of primitivism, it made me sad to read it...

at the end of the day, the issue is of how humanity views itself in relation to our landbase, a great book on this is 'Ishmael' by Daniel Quinn... and for the author, a great book on civilisation and it's effect of mass trauma on the populace is covered by Chellis Glendinning in 'My name is Chellis & I'm in recovery from western civilization'... a couple of very profound views into some of the core concepts of primitivism

also, whilst reading it made me laugh at times... every time the author mentioned how we'd be without high-tech medical care... in 1900 the cancer rate in the US was 1 in 33, today it's 1 in 3... the technology is making us sick and killing us, without technology we'd be much much healthier... there was so much fear in the pamphlet about being at the mercy of nature, but going back to the 'Ishmael' book, that's the issue.... the author is coming from a broken and traumatic background of living in western civilisation... for millions of years humanity lived happy and healthy lives with nature being our source of life, not a source of fear... it's only been several thousand years since that was our home, not enough time for serious evolutionary changes... it spun me out the other day when i came to realisation that i was completely equipped, physiologically, to walk out into the bush and live there unaided... we may have lost the corporate knowledge, but that's where my body is made to live... absolutely amazing

anyways, this pamphlet shouldn't be the last word you hear on primitivism, it's obviously coming from a place that isn't healthy, and unfortunately is just a reflection of the noxious world we live in :(

Chilli Sauce

13 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 1, 2011

in 1900 the cancer rate in the US was 1 in 33, today it's 1 in 3.

From Life expectancy in the US from 1900-98

In 1900 men died at 46 and women died at 48. You know why they didn't get cancer? (1) Because there wasn't very accurate means of testing for it and (2) because people died from influenza, tuberculosis, whooping cough, or polio first*. Now how have we stopped those things...? Advance medical technology, vaccinations, healthier diets, regular medical check-ups....

Have fun is the bush, btw. I'll enjoy air-conditioning, skateboarding, pre-recorded music, and travelling to go see my grandmother. Ironic, tho, isn't it you posted this up on the internet?

*And not smoking cigarettes, to be fair.

Steven.

13 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 1, 2011

Word, chilli. What a hilariously terrible argument!

tastybrain

11 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by tastybrain on October 28, 2012

Check out this piss poor "response". I skimmed it and then I was like "wait is that it? REALLY? That's their WHOLE argument?" It basically just says civilization=hierarchy, therefore anarchism=primitivism. Such an idiotic technique of argumentation, resting as it does on petty semantics and definitions not shared by those being critiqued, would be pretty laughable if it didn't have such a horrible effect on political debate.

Chilli Sauce

11 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on November 1, 2012

Yeah, that is just fucking semantics.

You know what tho, I think primitivism is dead. Class struggle anarchism (for all the faults some strands and organisations may have) seems to have established itself as hegemonic since the crisis. I guess I'm not in the States anymore, but I can't remember the last time I met a self-identified primmo. I don't even think I saw the primmos at the bookfair this year?

Anyway, all good signs.

ptar

11 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ptar on December 18, 2012

Brian Sheppard is right to criticise primitivists for wanting to abandon modern technology. But he makes a number of unfortunate errors in this pamphlet.

One error is that he claims that Marx did not want to ‘relive’ primitive communism. In fact, Marx was pretty explicit that “the vitality of primitive communities was incomparably greater than that of modern capitalist societies” and that a future revolution will lead to “the return of modern society to a higher form of the most archaic type”.

Friedrich Engels and Rosa Luxemburg were also pretty explicit about their hopes of a return to primitive communism at a higher technological level. (See ‘Marx, Luxemburg and the Return to Primitive Communism’.)

Sheppard is certainly right to point out that many tribal societies are stratified and inegalitarian. However, he fails to appreciate that these societies probably evolved from the degeneration of nomadic hunter-gatherers. And studies show that nomadic hunter-gatherers often maintain strong egalitarian and communistic principles - principles that would have been particularly easy to maintain in prehistoric times when people had access to abundant food supplies in the form of mammoths and other mega-fauna. (L.Sims, ‘Primitive Communism, Barbarism and the Origins of Class Society’; J.Gowdy, Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Hunters and Gatherers; D.Shultziner, ‘The Causes and Scope of Political Egalitarianism during the Last Glacial‘.)

Sheppard is also right to refer to authors, like Wilmsen, who argue that today’s hunter-gatherers bear no relation to those of the prehistoric past. But he should have mentioned that this ‘post-modernist’ viewpoint has been repeatedly challenged. (E.g. see F.Marlowe, ‘Why the Hadza are still Hunter-Gatherers‘ and R.B.Lee, ‘Art, Science or Politics?’)

Recent research also contradicts Sheppard’s other claims. For example Gurven’s article, ‘Longevity Amongst Hunter-Gatherers‘, shows that the life-expectancy of hunter-gatherers is surprisingly high. And Douglas Fry’s Beyond War provides strong evidence that nomadic hunter gatherers do not engage in warfare.

Of course, none of this means we should return to hunting and gathering, and hunter-gatherer societies do have many limitations. But such societies did maintain communist relations for tens of thousands of years. So, as Marx, Engels and Luxemburg all realised, we certainly have a lot to learn from them about how to live as communists.

xslavearcx

11 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by xslavearcx on January 1, 2013

Chilli Sauce

Yeah, that is just fucking semantics.

You know what tho, I think primitivism is dead. Class struggle anarchism (for all the faults some strands and organisations may have) seems to have established itself as hegemonic since the crisis. I guess I'm not in the States anymore, but I can't remember the last time I met a self-identified primmo. I don't even think I saw the primmos at the bookfair this year?

Anyway, all good signs.

Funny i was just thinking that too. I mean when was the last time there was a primmo on here arguing their case. Seems like ages ago..

dumbo

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by dumbo on November 22, 2013

Well, to be honest, it seems that the main tenets of primitivist discourse has entered into common anarchist discourse, as can be seen from LibCom by just looking the articles about anthropology and the anthropology reading list, or forum http://libcom.org/forums/anarcho-syndicalism-101/hierarchy-evolution-01072013 . In short, the primitivists won, knee-jerk reactionaries lost. Afaik, the whole setup "anarchism vs. primitivism" was really stupid set up by people who refused to update their views about humanity up to date where anthropology was in general. This essay by Sheppard is an absolute disgrace.

The end of primitivism as a "scene" was in many ways beneficial, as it looks now that the most valid critiques closely related to primitivism has become part of the general anarchist critique. I really don't give a fuck about people who are so in love with their straw men that they desperately hold on to such ideas as "primmies wanting everyone to go Hunter-Gatherers right now" or wanting to kill 6 billion people. In 2013 you really can't escape the critiques of industrialism, civilization etc. Zerzan, as a solid anarchist, has already acknowledged the need for anarchists of different stripes to be able to work together (which doesn't mean espousing leftism or requirement for that), I'm still waiting whether the Friends of Sheppard have grown up or are they still in their infantile rant of wanting to be The Boss.

Chilli Sauce

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on November 22, 2013

I mean when was the last time there was a primmo on here arguing their case. Seems like ages ago..

Almost 11 months ain't bad.

Dumbo, that's a hell of a post to start talking about strawmen...

Khawaga

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on November 23, 2013

dumbo is a dumbo

Auld-bod

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auld-bod on November 23, 2013

Khawaga
dumdo is a dumbo - agreed!

But Dumbo is an elephant. ;)

HarrissB

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by HarrissB on June 9, 2015

I fail to see how it is a straw man to argue that what primitivism is promoting would result in mass die offs. No agricultural technology = starvation for many people. This seems like an undeniable fact to me yes it's simplistic, but it's also true. Even the Unabomber has acknowledged this.I'm not suggesting that primitivism is promoting the killing of 6 million people. But I do think that in the world that proponents of primitivism that I've come across say that they want, there would be mass die offs. I suppose you would argue that agriculture could be scaled back slowly, but I still can't imagine that this wouldn't result in many people dieing. Consider also that resources are not currently distributed evenly, do you think reducing the availability of resources is going to fix this problem? I don't think that's the case. If you can for see a feasible way to do what Zerzan et al suggest with out mass die offs, I"d love to hear it. But since even Zerzan seems to acknowledge that his ideas aren't actually feasible, and hasn't attempted to practice them on a personal level, I'm skeptical.

HarrissB

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by HarrissB on June 10, 2015

Chili Sauce - Could you elaborate on your problems with Dumbo's post? I'd be interested in discussing this with you.

(I realize your post is old, but oh well).

Chilli Sauce

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on June 9, 2015

HarrissB

Chili Sauce - Could you elaborate on your problems with Dumbo's post? I'd be interested in discussing this with you.

(I realize your post is old, but oh well).

Had to re-read this thread to figure out what I was even on about!

Anyway, stuff like this:

the primitivists won, knee-jerk reactionaries lost.

and

I'm still waiting whether the Friends of Sheppard have grown up or are they still in their infantile rant of wanting to be The Boss.

is obviously without merit or argument to back it up. And, in light of that, I just thought it was ironic that Dumbo was bringing up strawmen in that post.

HarrissB

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by HarrissB on June 10, 2015

Personally I thought it was quite a well written essay. I'm a bit disappointed by the negative posts. Primitivists should be able to deal with criticism of their movement. And I don't think Sheppard is being at all unfair (although I'm not that well read on the issue). Also, some of his points are frankly inarguable.

HarrissB

9 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by HarrissB on June 10, 2015

"Life expectancy amongst hunter gathers is surprisingly high". Well maybe, but didn't you also say that modern hunter-gathers aren't much like prehistoric ones? Perhaps I'm wrong, but I was just wondering.

syndicalist

8 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on December 8, 2015

Whatever happened to this guy? Sorta like a flash in the pan

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 1, 2016

I don't understand why some people raise the freshhold for aprims?

“Green Anarchy Tour of 2001, they complain of the roads that enable them to travel, the electricity that powers the instruments of their tour's musical acts, and of the existence of the facilities that host their events”

I'm an anti-capitalist living in white male capitalist system. I'm against the system, yet I live in. Why is this somehow different for aprims? They critique civilization and see it (rightfully in my opinion) as being propped up by mass force and violence against the global poor. Additionally the critique includes civilization as being unsustainable as it needs to continuously grow.

So in short, it's fair to be against something and advocate something completely different yet whilst not removing yourself from it.

Just imagine if we had this logic for most acoms? “Ahh I see you're against capitalism yet you have a job and contribute to the capitalist economy”? It just wouldn't make any sense.
Same with, “ah you're a male yet you live in a patriarchal world and benefit from male privilege. That you're against it you bust live somewhere else”. Again this is just shit.

I'm surprised to see so many comments around the web how "prims arent anarchists". It's like people are anarchist judges? The threshold should be, if you're against the state, anti capitalist and against hierarchies i.e. sexism, racism etc and you call yourself an anarchist then that's consistent but ultimately there intepretation. Maybe some people here would make more sense by saying "they're not anarcho communists". Which is true.

I've learnt loads from reading Zerzan, Layla AbdelRahim and the Earth First! Journal. We should stop this dogmatic approach to anarcho-primitivism. I'd recommend reading Zerzan's Agriculture essay. It's shit hot!

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 1, 2016

In short, it's possible for primmos to live out what they advocate - which is something that's not true for communists.

Low technology communities exist throughout the developed world: back to the land movements, the Amish, etc. Of course, those communities still have agriculture, but America still has enough empty spaces that, theoretically, small groups of hunter-gatherers could survive.

If primmos are serious about this shit, they should put up or shut up.

On top of that, if they achieved whatever the fuck it is they want to achieve, roads and the internet and mass communication wouldn't exist. Now, compare this to communism, where the problem isn't with mass production, agriculture, or (most) things produced under capitalism, it's the exploitative nature of the production process.

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 3, 2016

Amish are patriarchal and hierarchical farmers? :/ That's nothing to do with anarcho primitivism.

There's no room for aprim and civilization, meaning it's impossible for people to live. That's the whole point. Civilization continuously destroys the environment and exploits people. So to put up or shut up follows the logic of having some inconsistent threshold. I mean you can drop out, squat land etc but you're not going to be left alone and you're certainly not going to be any challenge to civ.

They want to achieve a world free of domination and hierarchy. Not just the obviously hierarchies such as the state, capitalism, sexism and racism etc but also dominance over land and the environment. There's nothing wrong with this in my opinion.

Fleur

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on August 3, 2016

Civilisation also means that our life expectancy is now more than 30, I didn't die in childbirth, I'm not functionally useless and totally dependent on other people because I can get my piss-poor vision corrected by an optician, I have all my own teeth, I speak more than one language, I listen to music, read, play complicated games. I can have a beer if I want one, not die of exposure, or septicemia if I cut myself or have to put up with people who have less than acceptable standards of hygiene. I find indoor plumbing to be stellar achievements of the human race. Also tampons.

Capitalism destroys environments and exploits people. The overcrowded Earth argument is just nonsense. There's actually plenty of space and an abundance of resources to go around, although admittedly there isn't enough space for us all to be hunter-gatherers. I can't imagine why anyone would actually want to be a hunter gatherer, except if you are deluding yourself about how liberating this shite way of life is.

I don't know where you live but in North America there is so much wilderness it is entirely possible for people to wander off into the forest and never come back. If you head to the PNW in particular there are millions of acres of forest, teeming with wildlife, fresh water and every other resource a primmo could need to live out their short and miserable lives. Seriously, it's not hard to do.

As for challenging civilisation, most of us are quite happy not dying of childhood diseases or malnutrition, but if anyone else wants to de-evolve to a pre-agriculture, pre-language state, there really isn't anything to stop them. You can wander off in spaces and never see another human being again. I suspect that most primmos don't do this though is because they actually have zero survival skills and know they'd be dead in a few weeks.

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 3, 2016

So, you entirely missed the point about the Amish. It wasn't that they were examples of primitivism ("those communities still have agriculture") it was disproving your nonsense about how "it's fair to be against something and advocate something completely different yet whilst not removing yourself from it." Primmos could live without electricity, the internet, public transportation, mass communication, and various other key tenets of modern, industrial civilization. But they don't, which is some hypocritical bullshit.

Now, I'll grant you that civilization, class society, and social hierarchy all came about at the same time. But to suggest "civilization exploits people" is some illogical nonsense. What exactly is the exploitative mechanism by which "civilization" operates?

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 4, 2016

Fleur

I suspect that most primmos don't do this though is because they actually have zero survival skills and know they'd be dead in a few weeks.

Not exactly true, re-wilding is pretty popular practice among anti-civ anarchists these days, and by the very nature of it the primmies that do it can't be accounted for. I've met a couple mountain men myself

From what I know, anarchoprimitivism is not just a returning to primitive society, because it is also accompanied by our knowledge gathered through several thousand years of civilization with that return, plus all the inherited tribal practices including herbal medicine accessible to whoever's seeking it. Not that I favor primitivism personally, although I would like to see a huge de-escalation of civilization.

Khawaga

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on August 4, 2016

De-escalation of civilization? What do you mean by that?

Serge Forward

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on August 4, 2016

Silly season, innit.

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 4, 2016

Khawaga

De-escalation of civilization? What do you mean by that?

I just mean my vision of a free society would reinvent its different components, agriculture, technology, infrastructures and stuff, according to ecological ways of life

Khawaga

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on August 4, 2016

Then you should just say that? Civilization is such a loaded word here; typically only primmo use it. Fwiw, what you wrote makes perfect sense, however.

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 4, 2016

Well I also think the gains of the industrial revolution should largely be deconstructed and only some of its fundamentals retained; I think much of the recent explosion of technology is pretty deeply intertwined with capitalist social relations and therefore harmful

Khawaga

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on August 4, 2016

What do you mean by deconstructed here? I think I get what you mean, but again you use a word that I think I have a very particular meaning. Is it simply that we need to make "communist" technology, I.e. tech that is based on different values than making money?

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 4, 2016

Well I am just speaking casually, I don't have a sophisticated conception of what I believe would be an ideal technological arrangement... but yes, like you're saying the communalization of capitalist forms of technology (meaning an ecological restructuring, developed with also the needs of free labor), but also the complete discarding of certain machines, and systems altogether, which might possibly function in a communist society, but one which may depend on certain sublimation, in the sense Freud spoke about in Civilization and its Discontents, to give one example. That is, overly complex networks of technology that are difficult to sustain without requiring a lot of effort and/or some sort of division of labor or hierarchy. The needs of complex technology seem to tend to encourage a division in the social structure, which of course is conducive to generating a state which manages it.

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 4, 2016

Chill:
Surely to be against something doesn't mean an automatic boycott though? I don't see the difference with other hierarchies as mentioned in my other comment.
As it so happens, i've tried to remove myself before. Me and a crew squatted some beautiful woodlands. It was great. However, we got evicted and my shelter got burnt down by bailiffs after a fight. :/

The exploitative nature of civilization is first: the importation (theft) that's required to prop up civ. This results in deforestation of the amazon so we can have beef all year round, indigenous people evicted from their land to turn it into plantations so people in developed cities can have vegetable and palm oil in all our food. These examples are beyond capitalism. Sure post capitalism you could have these examples carried out without a boss but it would still result in deforestation and land evictions if we are going to maintain the lifestyle of say the average American (we'd also need 5 additional planets for enough resources).

Fluer:
It's pretty inconclusive that life expectancy was low in the Palaeolithic, in fact many anthropologists think it was in the late 70's, mainly because of the palethlitic diet which has been proven to prevent so many diseases, alzheimer's disease, arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, some cancers , chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression, and obesity to name some! It's when people sample the average life expectancy that number dramatically drops because of high infant mortality rate. Which is the main major drawback from primitivism. However, if medcine is based on an unsustainable culture, of civilization, than we're going to need to come up with something sharpish.

Tampons can be made out of natural materials off plants similar to cotton. Hunter gatherers do this, also interestingly some hunter gatherer women claim to only have 20-30 periods periods and lighter ones due to breastfeeding and diet. Music, reading, beer, playing complicated games etc can all happen with sustainable non industrial methods.

As for overcrowded Earth, it depends on your perspective i guess. i'll reply to that part of your comment tomorrow or the day after. Also there may be wild places in the US, by fragmentation has destroyed eco systems and entire species of plants and animals are missing. Anyway replying in more detail tomorrow.

Steven.

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on August 4, 2016

Wow I can't believe primmos are still a thing. TBH I thought most of them gave up after this.

ELF

The exploitative nature of civilization is first: the importation (theft) that's required to prop up civ. This results in deforestation of the amazon so we can have beef all year round, indigenous people evicted from their land to turn it into plantations so people in developed cities can have vegetable and palm oil in all our food. These examples are beyond capitalism.

This is ridiculous. On what basis are these "beyond capitalism"?

Fluer:
It's pretty inconclusive that life expectancy was low in the Palaeolithic, in fact many anthropologists think it was in the late 70's, mainly because of the palethlitic diet which has been proven to prevent so many diseases, alzheimer's disease, arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, some cancers , chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, stroke, depression, and obesity to name some!

ha ha hah sounds legit.

Especially with regard to Alzheimer's disease and arthritis, it's easy not to get those when you die as a baby.

It's when people sample the average life expectancy that number dramatically drops because of high infant mortality rate.

That's a great argument, because everyone knows children dying don't count. You can just bash out another one.

As for overcrowded Earth, it depends on your perspective i guess.

yeah, are you a rational person, or a racist misanthropist. If you are a racist misanthropist, then yes the Earth can appear overcrowded.

I also note that you mention tampons made of cotton, funnily enough you don't mention the glasses which Fleur brought up. I need glasses as well. Should I just starve and die with other inferiors? Like people who need daily medication to stay alive, people who need dialysis, people with severely restricted mobility, or other disabled people?

That's also a great solution that women won't have to worry about periods because they will be having babies and breastfeeding all the time. I guess not having control over reproduction is not an issue for you, like not having to worry about illness or disability, or dead children.

One more question for you, using your hunter gatherer tools how are you going to keep all the world's nuclear waste safe for the next 20,000 years?

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 4, 2016

Just a quick one for now, want to reply more later. First, what do you mean "theft"? Theft from whom?

Second, that idea of "5 earths" is based on models of capitalist production. It wouldn't work like that under communism. Which brings me to my third point...

It's some reductionist nonsense to claim communism is just capitalism "without a boss". Communism means we can choose what we produce and don't produce and how we do it. I mean, whole industries, production methods, and economic relationships will be abolished under communism. You don't think sustainability and ecological balance won't inform how we choose to reconstruct production?

jesuithitsquad

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jesuithitsquad on August 5, 2016

God, i just love it when the diet thing comes up. It turns out, when you're starving to death and suffering from malnutrition, you don't die from diseases associated with old age!

Besides, who wants to live past 30 anyway?!

Joseph Kay

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on August 5, 2016

Thing with anti-civ: define your terms. If you mean 'this civilisation' it's just an edgy way to talk about capitalism. If you mean 'hierarchical/class society' it's just an edgy way to talk about capitalism and other shit modes of production. If you mean 'any complex division of labour' then you've got another problem, i.e. a complex division of labour is needed to support 7-10bn people.

If you actively wish to reduce the population by like 95%, you're going to need either genocide to dwarf all the atrocities of 'civilisation' put together, or an implausible level of reproductive abstinence (or coercive sterilisation). If you don't actively wish this situation, you're just a doomsday cult saying the end is nigh, though even this passive position tends to result in misanthropic racist musings, e.g. when Earth First!'s Dave Foreman was cheering on the Ethiopian famine as doing nature's work.*

* EF! got better politics later fwiw

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 5, 2016

Right, want to make one thing clear before responding.
1) I think anarcho-primitivism has lots to offer (just like communism). Especially the critique of civilization not being sustainable (no civilization that's based on a fintite resource ever has been, ours is no different) and how emergence of the first hierarchies came with agriculture/civilization(even Marx, Engels, Bookchin acknowledged this). Advocating a sustainable future and dwindling down on industrialism is needed for the survival of the planet. Entire parts of the world are flooding now (fiji recently) because of industrialism and man made climate change.
2) I think we can learn from non industrialised hunter gatherers. Especially ones like the egalitarian mbuti pygmies or the fantastic example of the Batek who are a non competitive, gender equal, egalitarian and completely sustainable community. It really bothers me how acoms i know don't give one shit about them, or just think they should industrialise. It's borderline racist. The industrial revolution happened 250 years ago, yet it's responsible for the destruction of the environment. We may very well be past the tipping point already (in regards to run away climate chage).
3) I'm not not advocating people give up things that improve their lives. I've been dependent on western industrialised medicine, which has saved my life. I don't feel guilty for using that. However i'm aware that it comes at an ecological cost and won't be around forever. With this in mind i thnik it's fair to look for non industrialised or non ecological taxing methods.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/may/14/early-men-women-equal-scientists

jesuithitsqud:
I love the diet thing too. Fortunately there is tonnes of peer reviewed studies such as

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8627773&fileId=S0954422412000017
http://sophia.stkate.edu/scholar_week/science/2012/20/
http://www.healthylife.net.au/healthy-you/wellbeing-lifestyle/eat-like-a-hunter-gatherer-to-avoid-the-diseases-of-civilisation/

Steven:
you've posted a story? Admittedly i don't have the time to read that (yet) and respond to all these posts. If you could just say what the awful thing is that would be more helpful for me. Otherwise i'll read it sometime in the future.

My examples, (especially this one http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/06/07/peru-approves-genocide-for-uncontacted-tribes/) aren't just the ruling class chasing profit. They're examples of the ruling class securing resources so people can keep living in the cities/civilization. The ruling class uses it businesses or armies to steal resources from around the world (food, oil, etc) from stolen land, often land grabs off indigenous peoples. This is different from capitalist exploitation of workers. Civilization has the mass infrastructure to keep extracting resources, even if the wage slavery was abolished this doesn't necessarily mean saving or rewiliding the ecosystem would happen (so many biomes, if not all biomes terrestrial and aquatic require this).

"'when people sample the average life expectancy that number dramatically drops because of high infant mortality rate."

It's an awful argument i know. But civilization is irredeemable. I live in England, there aren't any wild places, let alone fragmented eco systems, yet we're all dependent on it (full eco systems) for a habitable planet. If a crash happens soon, so many people would be completely fucked. We're not sustainable at all. The majority of our food is from all over the world that requires fossil fuels and other earth taxing resources. Also, so many children and people are dying now because of civilization( beacuse of land grabs, deforestation etc). So many africans (i.e. Nigerans dying beacuse of the niger delta oil grab), indigenous peoples world over, large parts of Asia would be far better off if we stopped using their land, resoucres and labour to prop industrilied nations up.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not misanthropic and i'm an anti fascist. It's just we live in a resource based planet, like i said we would need 5 planets over if we consumed like the average American.
Consumption and growth is my main concern. Already anywhere between 100-200 animal species are driven to extinction every day, already huge areas of the earth are uninhabitable, already children are dying, workers exploited and killed. Not just because of capitalism but civilization. There are examples of people having reproduction contorl based on sustainable methods such as first nations herbalism.

To not worry about what civilization is doing, or worse continue with it is the actual genocide call.

Additionally there's a growing number of climate change refugees. That's set to get worse, even if we stop using fossil fuels the effects will not stop for decades. In short, abolishing the ruling class is just the first step if we are going to address the ecological crisis that's here.

Out of time for now.

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 5, 2016

blah comments are far too long. Right 1 point at a time?

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 5, 2016

Chilli:

I acknowledg that communism is different to capitalism, especially and inherently in human and social conditions (which is what i'm all for), but it doesn't address the ecological crisis outlined in my last comment. Yea hopefully workers wouldn't wabnt deforestation but we can't afford that gamble anymore. Do we need any more production?

radicalgraffiti

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on August 5, 2016

yes lots more, the problem with our technology is its to primitive.

also capitalism

i like how you reveal you anti democratic tendencies thought

Yea hopefully workers wouldn't wabnt deforestation but we can't afford that gamble anymore.

"what if the workers dont agree with me" ( about something incredibly obvious) "we must make sure they dont have the choice"

"Primitivism - because you cant trust the workers to make the right choices"

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 5, 2016

graffiti:

\Nope, in your hypothetical situation i wouldn't be (or anyone) in a position or somehow above the workers. So if they chose to, lets say, explore the amazon for oil to start fracking which would displace and kill the indigenous community i wouldn't side with the workers. Sure, i'd advocate they don't do it, strike etc but ultimately do everything i could to stop them.....

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 5, 2016

Steven:

Yep, nuclear power is a fucker. Be against all new developments and transition away (even it's 20,000 years) from using it.

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 5, 2016

It really bothers me how acoms i know don't give one shit about them, or just think they should industrialise. It's borderline racist.

Evidence?

Khawaga

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on August 5, 2016

My examples, (especially this one http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/06/07/peru-approves-genocide-for-uncontacted-tribes/) aren't just the ruling class chasing profit. They're examples of the ruling class securing resources so people can keep living in the cities/civilization. The ruling class uses it businesses or armies to steal resources from around the world (food, oil, etc) from stolen land, often land grabs off indigenous peoples. This is different from capitalist exploitation of workers. Civilization has the mass infrastructure to keep extracting resources, even if the wage slavery was abolished this doesn't necessarily mean saving or rewiliding the ecosystem would happen (so many biomes, if not all biomes terrestrial and aquatic require this).

Scouring the world for resources is hand-in-hand with exploitation of workers.

Steven.

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on August 5, 2016

Khawaga

My examples, (especially this one http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2014/06/07/peru-approves-genocide-for-uncontacted-tribes/) aren't just the ruling class chasing profit. They're examples of the ruling class securing resources so people can keep living in the cities/civilization. The ruling class uses it businesses or armies to steal resources from around the world (food, oil, etc) from stolen land, often land grabs off indigenous peoples. This is different from capitalist exploitation of workers. Civilization has the mass infrastructure to keep extracting resources, even if the wage slavery was abolished this doesn't necessarily mean saving or rewiliding the ecosystem would happen (so many biomes, if not all biomes terrestrial and aquatic require this).

Scouring the world for resources is hand-in-hand with exploitation of workers.

Exactly. Do you not realise that the reason this happens to these resources, is to make profit? They don't seize all these resources then just give them away…

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 5, 2016

Joseph Kay

If you mean 'any complex division of labour' then you've got another problem, i.e. a complex division of labour is needed to support 7-10bn people.

Of course anything besides an easy transition to a utopian robot communism will involve devastations playing out over the next century, but it's not like the dismantling of technological civilization can't be done through decentralized organization. All complex technological systems need a bureaucracy to operate it, but maybe syndicalism can still manage this without bolshevism.

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 6, 2016

All complex technological systems need a bureaucracy to operate it

I think this statement needs to backing up.

Made me think of that ridiculous statement by Harvey about how he "wouldn't want his anarchist friends in charge of a nuclear power plant"

Anyway, I didn't buy it when he said and I don't buy it now. This article is pretty good on the particulars:

https://libcom.org/library/i-wouldnt-want-my-anarchist-friends-be-charge-nuclear-power-station-david-harvey-anarchi

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 6, 2016

Perhaps you're right. I am just thinking that, all the elaborate coordination of specialization, production and distribution, would be hard to do in freedom, when there's simply so much one has to deal with. I mean, a carpenter has to mostly worry about some basic tools and the wood. But what does a computer technician have to worry about except a large supply chain and investment of knowledge, etc? It seems liable to becoming overloaded by various constraints.

Chilli Sauce

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Chilli Sauce on August 6, 2016

But it wouldn't be down to a single computer technician, would it?

We could have, and will need, quite advanced decision-making and administrative structures in place, alongside specialized divisions of labor. We'll probably even need people whose role is to help co-ordinate all this. That's not the same thing as bureaucracy though.

Noah Fence

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on August 6, 2016

Chilli Sauce

But it wouldn't be down to a single computer technician, would it?

We could have, and will need, quite advanced decision-making and administrative structures in place, alongside specialized divisions of labor. We'll probably even need people whose role is to help co-ordinate all this. That's not the same thing as bureaucracy though.

As a general principle I'm completely down with this. I think it applies to everything. I see communism as being maybe even more highly organised than capitalism. Or at least as organised but with the inefficiencies removed. On a smaller scale but still significant, in the Living Utopia film, it tells of factories increasing output by up to 50% and that the capitalists, when reclaiming them, found them in a far better state of repair than before the workers took control. Obviously the workers losing control was a disaster but the demonstration of the ability of workers to organise industry better than capitalists is very inspiring.

The Pigeon

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by The Pigeon on August 6, 2016

'The Federation of Anarchist Ping Pong and Other Irregularly Shaped Ball Manufacturers, as well as Frisbees'

Noah Fence

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on August 6, 2016

The Pigeon

'The Federation of Anarchist Ping Pong and Other Irregularly Shaped Ball Manufacturers, as well as Frisbees'

I'm not even going to ask.

Joseph Kay

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on August 6, 2016

ELF

abolishing the ruling class is just the first step if we are going to address the ecological crisis that's here.

This is definitely true; if we threw off the ruling class but then just self-managed the same infrastructure, we'd still be facing catastrophic climate change, ecosystem collapse etc. But then, the point of taking over the means of production isn't to carry on exactly as before, but to have the power to determine what we produce and how, to shut down harmful industries altogether while retooling/repurposing/redesigning others, to transform the quality and quantity of work, experience wealth more as free time than planned obsolescent stuff etc.

ELF

I think we can learn from non industrialised hunter gatherers.

I also agree with this, though I don't think it's the most important model. Reading about radically different modes of production/material cultures can denaturalise capitalism, and expand our sense of what human societies can be beyond our own experiences. But, the (sometime) egalitarianism of hunter gatherer bands doesn't directly inform any revolutionary perspective since it's such a radically different mode of production.

Sharing the fruits of the hunt and preventing a ruling clique emerging in small bands is a very different kind of egalitarian communism to one in a society of billions with a complex division of labour. Someone like Clastres can be useful here, identifying e.g. mechanisms to ward off the centralisation of power. But while the need for such mechanisms can be learned from hunter gatherers, the actual mechanisms needed would likely be very different.

ELF

But civilization is irredeemable. I live in England, there aren't any wild places, let alone fragmented eco systems, yet we're all dependent on it (full eco systems) for a habitable planet.

Wildnerness is something of a romantic colonial myth, fwiw. When the US state kicked the indigenous population out to create national parks, they quickly degenerated from their 'natural beauty' to aesthetically unpleasing scrub. It turned out the native Americans had been practising active land management using controlled burns etc, which produced what settlers took to be a beautiful natural Eden. William Cronon's The Trouble with Wilderness is a good read on this.

No argument that land is currently managed poorly under capitalism, with soil depletion, damage to ecosystems, loss of pollinators*, pollutant run off, fossil fuel dependency etc. But many techniques exist to address these, but they remain largely fringe phenomenon since agriculture is mostly market-oriented commodity production dominated by big capitalist supply chains who set the terms, making it hard for farmers to adopt more sustainable practices at the expense of short term revenues even if they wanted to. In other words it's not about artificial land management vs pristine wilderness, but how we manage land, whether we do so by creating ecosystems which are also productive for us, or by trying to impose radically simplifying production techniques on the land.**

* though bee populations appear to be recovering now
** incidentally, the disastrous Soviet collectivisations were planned in a US hotel room, reflecting a widespread Fordist consensus at the time towards large-scale, simplified/standardised techniques.

Joseph Kay

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on August 6, 2016

More generally, if anarchist communists fetishise industrialisation, or have a gung-ho tech fix attitude to ecology, or a racist dismissal of indigenous practices/thought, or whatever, it doesn't have any bearing on whether the problem is civilisation in general or capitalist civilisation in particular. It just means some/many anarchists are idiots.

Auld-bod

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Auld-bod on August 6, 2016

That's good news about the recovering bees.
Radio 4 had more bad news about the decline in seabirds.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=sea%20bird%27s%20decline

jesuithitsquad

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jesuithitsquad on August 6, 2016

Joseph Kay

Wildnerness is something of a romantic colonial myth, fwiw. When the US state kicked the indigenous population out to create national parks, they quickly degenerated from their 'natural beauty' to aesthetically unpleasing scrub. It turned out the native Americans had been practising active land management using controlled burns etc, which produced what settlers took to be a beautiful natural Eden. William Cronon's The Trouble with Wilderness is a good read on this.

Thanks for recommending The Trouble with Wilderness. I'm halfway through It and it's good so far.

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 6, 2016

Chilli Sauce:
How many talks, articles have you read or heard about Spain or Ukraine (which are really cool) compared to the number about hunter gatherers or non industrialised people who are actively resisting industrialism and "progress"? Also if you bring it up people call you a "primmy" and all types of ridiculous false shit. It's dogmatic and needs to stop. Criticism is helpful and constructive but pamphlets by these anarhco judges such as "Primitivsm VS Anarchism" would be laughable if it wasn't so stupid. (also this particular pamphlet is full of inaccuracies and constantly uses examples of small scale agriculturists or villages). Barely any anarcho groups actually talk/write about non industrialised or non civilized people who actually provide examples (possible the only ones?) of sustainable egalitarianism. It's just sooooooooooo Eurocentric and gets a bit boring......
Also i remember anarchist memes posting how "non civilized were transphobic because they don't have the medicine that trans people need". Conveniently forgetting that the patriarchy stems from civilization and so many hunter gatherers have gender equality, some not even having genders. Admittedly i've got no idea if anarchist facebook memes has any real weight in anarchism or real life.

Joseph:
"if anarchist communists fetishise industrialisation, or have a gung-ho tech fix attitude to ecology, or a racist dismissal of indigenous practices/thought, or whatever, it doesn't have any bearing on whether the problem is civilisation in general or capitalist civilisation in particular."

I agree. I guess my comments on here are just exploring the hostility towards primitivism. i just think it's dogmatic and your approach is fairly rare amongst the anarchists i know but that's only based on personal experience. I mean this whole "anarchism vs primitivism" is just dogmatic and peoples previous comments about "they need to get out of the anarchist scene" highlights this.

Steven:
"Exactly. Do you not realise that the reason this happens to these resources, is to make profit? They don't seize all these resources then just give them away" your qote.

Yep i agree, but the materials that make all these technological advancements are put out for consumers in industrialised nations at the expense of the global poor (especially the southern hemispheres). Sure, we're wage slaves and face oppression through class society but we're not experiencing colonialism. As i'm sure you know, our oppression is different to say, Congolese workers who are forced to mine rare earth materials at gunpoint so people in industrialised nations can have mobile phones. Even after removing the gun, even if the workers sized the means of production the problem would be in the fact that the work itself is destroying the environment. Also i'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to continue work and get black lung and other illnesses if they had a choice.

ELF

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ELF on August 6, 2016

Jospeh:
I guess why some rewiliders call the land natural beauty before European colonialism (or at least myself) is because it was based on a permanent culture of sustainability, following natural processes. Controlled burns can be good for biodiversity (depending on the scale and frequency) and some plants only grow after one. Controlled burns are also a world of difference from agriculture , that's more or less destroying everything. Anyway, i'll give it a read. Also whilst i'm arguing this point i want to make it clear i'm not saying indigenous peoples got everything right. Far from it. Also it's wrong for me to talk about them as a monolith as there were (and are) so many important differences. But, definitely some practices by some people, ecologically and socially are really inspiring.