Toward savagery: recent developments in eco-extremist thought in Mexico - Abe Cabrera


Abe Cabrera analyses the ideological trajectory of the Mexican eco-terrorist tendencies, Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje/Reacción Salvaje (ITS/RS).

It was called the Chichimeca War, and it began near the moment of Hernan Cortes’s death (1547), symbolically closing the “first” conquest of Mexico. The new war, fought in the vast wilderness stretching northward from the lands of Cortesian victory, bloodied four decades, 1550-1590, the longest Indian war in North American history. It was the continent’s first full and constant contest between civilization and savagery.

— Philip Wayne Powell, 'Soldiers, Indians, & Silver: North America’s First Frontier War', vii

Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood,
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on.

— William Shakespeare, 'Hamlet' Act 3, Scene 2


In 2011, a group calling itself “Individuals Tending Toward the Wild” (Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje—ITS) began a string of eco-terrorist attacks in Mexico. These attacks ranged from mail bombs sent to various research institutions around the country to the assassination of a biotechnology researcher in Cuernavaca, Morelos. With each attempted bombing or action, ITS published communiqués explaining the reasoning behind their attacks, and used the attacks as “propaganda of the deed” to propagate their ideas. In 2014, after a series of polemics and self-critiques, ITS allegedly joined forces with other allied groups in Mexico and changed its name to “Wild Reaction” (Reacción Salvaje—RS). This latter group characterized itself as a group of “nihilist saboteurs, incendiary nomads, individualist delinquents, anarcho-terrorists, politically and morally incorrect critics,”1 among others. Since its rechristening, RS has claimed responsibility for bombing a telethon as well as for recent unrest during demonstrations against the government in Mexico City.

There is no way of knowing the number or size of ITS/RS, its origins to the outside observer seem obscure, and their influences appear undefined. In their communiqués there are many citations of Theodore Kaczynski (a.k.a. “the Unabomber” or “Freedom Club”), as well as passing references to Max Stirner and various anarcho-primitivist thinkers. Their method of action and preference for communiqués also take obvious cues from Kaczynski. Throughout their writings, however, the individuals of ITS/RS are insistent that they represent no one but themselves both ethically and ideologically. As expressed in the first ITS communiqué:

If we were to put names to the war against civilization as in those who advocate “revolution,” the “revolutionaries,” or “pseudo-revolutionaries,” we would be falling into the same error as those Marxists when they exclude people as “counter-revolutionary.” Also, we would be falling into the same religious dogmatism as that of leftist schemes; where God is Wild Nature; the Messiah is Ted Kaczynski; the Bible is the Unabomber Manifesto, the Apostles are Zerzan, Feral Faun, Jesus Sepulveda, among others; the long-awaited Paradise is the collapse of civilization; the illumined or preachers are the “revolutionaries,” maintained by the blind faith that one day the “Revolution” will come. The disciples will be those who are “potentially revolutionary,” the crusades or the missions will be to take the word to circles involved in green or anarchists struggles (where they will find “potential revolutionaries”); and the atheists or sects those of us who don’t believe in their dogmas, nor do we accept their ideas as coherent with present reality.2

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the ideological trajectory of ITS/RS and to attempt to link it to broader intellectual and historical currents. In this analysis, I intend to map this group’s development at the ideological level, showing change and continuity within their ideas as reflected in militant action. I believe that the story of ITS/RS is one of an ideological escape from leftist anarchist tendencies, which included rhetoric taken from insurrectionist anarchism and animal liberation struggles, through a deepening critique of the anti-technological ideology of Theodore Kaczynski. This departure included an intense polemic in opposition to Kaczynski’s idea of revolution against the “techno-industrial system”. Instead, ITS/RS has favored an individualist egoist critique of mass action informed by insight from their own anthropological investigations of hunter-gatherer life in the Mexican context. I will argue that they have arrived at a “post-political” approach to their extreme terrorist actions, seeking to revert to an indigenous savagery found in Mexico’s long history of civilization and resistance. Finally, I will assess RS’s current ideological tendencies against the historical record and anthropological research. In my opinion, ITS/RS’s ideological development is an innovative approach to anti-civilization thought, though it is attached to vestigial romanticism and exaggerated rhetoric that often cloud its message.

Out of Leftism, Into the Wild

In ITS’s seventh communiqué, published on February 22, 2012, it states the following:

Following themes of an anarchist character, publicly we accept that we committed the error in previous communiqués (specifically the first, second, and fourth) when we mentioned subjects that we did not personally know about, but that at that time we considered potential allies. During that time, ITS was very much influenced by liberationist currents (animal and earth liberation) and by insurrectionalists, which were in the beginning an integral part of our ideological development, but now we have left these behind, and as one can read above, we have turned ourselves into something different.

One of the Mexican organizations popularizing ITS/RS materials is Ediciones Aborigen. This organization has published many ITS/RS communiqués, as well as related research materials often in collaboration with ITS/RS.3 In one edition of the Ediciones Aborigen magazine,4 Palabras Nocivas, Ediciones Aborigen describes its own history; notably, how this publishing endeavor came out of the dissolution of a previous journal, Rabia y Acción. This is a defunct insurrectionalist journal that had previously covered animal and earth liberation struggles throughout Mexico and elsewhere. The tenth issue of this journal, published in 2012, announced its dissolution, stating that the authors now opposed their former orientation toward animal and earth rights actions. They came to regard these actions as “reductionist”, “a psychological escape”, and “sentimentalist.”5 The authors also expressed support of Kaczynski’s contention that the struggle against the “techno-industrial system” is the only one that matters. They also republished an essay from 2003 entitled, “Stirner, the Unique, the Egoist, and the Savage,” where the author states the following: “The real man, not the civilized one, the savage has been sacrificed for the greater glory of domination on the civilizing pyre, along with the rest of the wild animals and the planet itself.”

Many of the themes touched upon by the authors of Rabia y Acción echo those of ITS/RS, including the critique of leftism, collective struggles, and domestication at the heart of civilization. The first ITS communiqués also express an expanded horizon of action from animal and earth liberation activism. Their attacks on nanotechnology and scientists working on various technological endeavors were an attempt to hit a wider target than campaigns against factory farms and animal vivisection that had been the previous projects of eco-anarchist groups in Mexico. Whereas attacks up until then had been focused on the concrete suffering and exploitation of particular animals and tracts of land, ITS focused on the “techno-industrial system” as a whole, as defined by Kaczynski during his own alleged campaign against scientific infrastructure throughout the 1980’s and mid-1990’s.

The ideological trajectory of ITS/RS and its allies thus appears to be one of an ever-increasing, perhaps even paranoid, purification of the message concerning the attack on technology and civilization. In this process of self-critique, ITS/RS loosed itself from its ties to leftism, anarchism, and collectivism, to cleave more and more to a “purer” message of absolute war against techno-industrial civilization, as well as a self-conversion to “savages” as far as they are able. As stated in the first ITS communiqué:

Let us see the truth. Let us plant our feet on earth and stop flying within the deluded leftist mind. The revolution never existed and thus neither have revolutionaries. Those who visualize themselves as “potentially revolutionary” and who look for “radical anti-technological change” are being truly irrational and idealistic because all of that doesn’t exist. All that exists in this moribund world is the Autonomy of the Individual and this is what we struggle for. And even if all of this is useless and stays sterile in its results, we prefer to rise up in a war against domination than keep ourselves inert, mere observers, passive, or part of all that.6

ITS’s critique would ultimately turn away from any semblance of leftist discourse, including its former “radical ecologist” identity. Subsequently, it would also renounce such ideological categories as “humanism,” “equality,” “plurality,” and the like.7 In the process, ITS / RS has derived a rather stinging critique of revolution, leftism, and even society itself, in favor of the singular goal of the destabilization of the modern technological system. The definitive conclusion of ITS/RS was posited early on: true human community and solidarity cannot be achieved under techno-industrial civilization, and thus all of the ideas and values that go with it are obsolete and pernicious. Collective action is thus out of the question; only the resistance of individuals confronting this system is appropriate for those reverting to wildness. In this regard, no course of action or tactic is off the table.

The Bastard Children of Theodore Kaczynski8

In January 2012, ITS published its sixth communiqué which was a self-critique of various tendencies presented previously in past communiqués. The communiqué begins by criticizing the previous orthographical usage of placing an “x” instead of an “o” or “a” in certain personal nouns to preserve gender neutrality.9 ITS also clarified its position in relationship to “leftism”, stating that it would no longer send messages of solidarity to anarchist prisoners as it had in earlier communiqués, or even imply that it was part of a “movement” or “revolution” to overthrow or alter the “Techno-industrial system.” ITS summarized its critique of leftism stating:

With respect to our position, what does this have to do with our war against leftism? We have reevaluated what we have said in the past, and we have concluded that leftism is a factor that merits mere rejection, criticism, and rupture from those who struggle against the Technological Industrial system, nothing more.10

The critique of leftism is taken in no small part from Theodore Kaczynski. In paragraph 214 of his famous “Industrial Society and Its Future,” Kaczynski states:

To avoid this, a movement that exalts nature and opposes technology must take a resolutely anti-leftist stance and must avoid all collaboration with leftists. Leftism is in the long run inconsistent with wild nature, with human freedom and with the elimination of modern technology. Leftism is collectivist; it seeks to bind together the entire world (both nature and the human race) into a unified whole. But this implies management of nature and of human life by organized society, and it requires advanced technology. You can’t have a united world without rapid transportation and communication, you can’t make all people love one another without sophisticated psychological techniques, you can’t have a “planned society” without the necessary technological base. Above all, leftism is driven by the need for power, and the leftist seeks power on a collective basis, through identification with a mass movement or an organization. Leftism is unlikely ever to give up technology, because technology is too valuable a source of collective power.11

In the seventh communiqué, ITS develops a critique of the affinity between anarchism and primitive societies. For example, ITS defends in this communiqué discrimination, authority, and familial hierarchy in the context of hunter-gatherer life. This also seems to be a reflection of Kaczynski’s own critique in his essay, “The Truth about Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarcho-primitivism”:

The myth of progress may not yet be dead, but it is dying. In its place another myth has been growing up, a myth that has been promoted especially by the anarchoprimitivists, though it is widespread in other quarters as well. According to this myth, prior to the advent of civilization no one ever had to work, people just plucked their food from the trees and popped it into their mouths and spent the rest of their time playing ring-around-the-rosie with the flower children. Men and women were equal, there was no disease, no competition, no racism, sexism or homophobia, people lived in harmony with the animals and all was love, sharing and cooperation.

Admittedly, the foregoing is a caricature of the anarchoprimitivists’ vision. Most of them — I hope — are not quite as far out of touch with reality as that. They nevertheless are pretty far out of touch with it, and it’s high time for someone to debunk their myth.12

These positions, as well as the frequent citations of Kaczynski’s writings and deeds, clearly indicate an influence of the alleged “Unabomber” over the Mexican group. However, what they inherit from their readings of Max Stirner and other radical theorists points them in a direction away from “revolution” against techno-industrial society as Kaczynski saw it. Indeed, this position was prevalent in ITS from the first communiqués, even if it was often sugar-coated or only vaguely acknowledged, as in the following passage from the second communiqué:

We recall that Kaczynski is in a maximum security prison, isolated from the world that surrounds him since 1996; surely if he left the prison right now, he would realize that everything is worse (much worse) than when he saw it last century, he would realize how much science and technology have advanced and how much they have devastated and perverted. He would realize that now people are alienated more with the use of technology and that they have even put it on an altar as their deity, their sustenance, their own life. As such, the concept of “revolution” is completely antiquated, sterile and out of date with the anti-civilization ideas that one would want to express. A word that itself has been used by different groups and individuals in history in order to arrive at power, in order to once again dominate and be the center of the universe. A word that has served as the longed for dream for all the leftists who have faith that someday it will come to liberate them from their chains.13

After ITS became RS in 2014, it began a rather sharp polemic against Ediciones Isumatag (EI), a pro-Kaczynski Spanish language website. In a communiqué entitled, “Some answers concerning the present and NOT the future,” various factions of RS gave their response to EI’s criticisms for their failing to endorse an anti-technological movement that could lead to a revolutionary overthrow of the techno- industrial system. In its response, RS states that such a revolution would need to be sustained over a long period of time and international in scope, an event which has never happened previously in history. Indeed, according to RS, the only revolution that had an international transformative effect was the Industrial Revolution.14 To wait for a revolution in an indefinite future is to hope, “in nothing concrete, totally in the air”. The “revolution” is, in a word, impossible, and perhaps not even desirable. RS thus chooses to live and fight in the present against its domestication and subjugation:

When ITS (in its moment), or the factions of RS, have declared that they do not expect anything from the attacks we carry out, we are referring to that which is strictly associated with the “revolutionary” or “that which is transcendental in the struggle”. We do not hope for “revolution”, nor for the “world crisis,” nor for the “ideal conditions.” The only thing that we expect is that after an attack, we come out intact with our individualist victory, with our hands full of experiences for the next steps which will be even more constant, destructive, and threatening.15

Thus, RS classifies Kaczynski’s anti-technological revolution as both delusional and an impediment to extremist action in the here and now. The only acceptable course of action for ITS/RS is one wherein only the present matters, one which strikes against the technological mass machine with little care for long term effects or consequences. ITS/RS thus abdicated its obligation to the future in the name of individualist acts of violence that are a feral “lashing out” against their own domestication. It is abundantly clear that ITS/RS has never thought anything else is either possible or constructive. What I will attempt to show in the remainder of this essay is how they reached these conclusions, and how their own study of the past led them to reject the future for the sake of a savage present.

Axcan kema, tehuatl, nehuatl! (Until Your Death or Mine!)

The transition of Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje to its new identity of Reacción Salvaje in 2014 is marked by a decisive turn towards history in the Mexican context. Anti-civilization thought in Mexico has to address the centuries-long history of resistance to civilization that was well-underway even before the Europeans arrived. In particular, hunter-gatherer tribes to the north of central Mexico were a constant threat to the thriving civilizations that the Europeans found upon their arrival. While this region of the world domesticated such crops as maize which served as the backbone of sedentary agriculture throughout the continent, the dominance of the civilized way of life did not take hold in some of the neighboring regions of the pre-conquest Mesoamerican empires. Even after the Spanish conquest in 1521, these northern tribes, called the “Gran Chichimeca” (Great Chichimeca), fought a ferocious war with the growing Spanish empire. This war would last almost forty years. RS takes substantial ideological inspiration from this historical event, as stated in a recent polemic:

Ediciones Isumatag writes in its text that direct confrontation constitutes suicide sooner or later, and they’re right. But we have decided that for ourselves, we know that perhaps we will have to share the same fate of imprisonment or death of the savage Chichimeca warriors Tanamaztli and Maxorro, the same that happened to untamed Chiricahua Red Sleeve and Cochise. This we know well, we have chosen to engage ourselves in a fight to the death with the system before conforming ourselves and accepting the condition of hyper-domesticated humans that they want to impose on us. We remember that each individual is different. For some it is quite comforting to fool themselves into thinking that one day a great crisis will arrive and only then will they actively work for the hypothetical collapse of the system. But for us that is NOT the case. We are not idealists, we see things just as they are, and that impels us to direct confrontation, assuming upon ourselves the ultimate consequences.16

Another work of RS and its allies has been printing such journals as Regresión and Palabras Nocivas which publish both RS propaganda and informative pieces about the indigenous history of struggle against civilization. For example, in October 2014, an issue of Regresión was released featuring information concerning Chichimeca resistance to Spanish colonization and the Mixton War of the 16th century.17 The Mixton War was an uprising in 1541 of newly conquered peoples against Spanish domination in central Mexico. These indigenous peoples had been sedentary agriculturalists who “reverted” to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the hills and mountains of central Mexico to combat the Spaniards. Into the next year, the indigenous forces won rather impressive victories, but in 1542 they were decisively defeated by a coalition of Spaniards and their indigenous allies. As the author of the Regresión article writes:

Cinvestav has altered and genetically modified an important number of ancient and exotic plants. One of these plants is the chilague, one of our ancestral roots. Many savages were saved from death through the use of this root, and thus they were able to carry on their war against civilization. For one can firmly state that the Mixton War (1540-1541), the Chichimeca War (1550-1600), and the Guamares Rebellion (1563-1568) were all authentic wars against civilization, technology, and progress. The savage Chichimecas did not want a new or better government. They neither wanted nor defended the cities or centers of the defeated Mesoamerican civilizations. They did not seek victory. They only desired to attack those who attacked and threatened them. They sought confrontation, and from there comes their battle cry: “Axkan kema, tehualt, nehuatl!” (Until your death, or mine).18

The Chichimeca is the archetypal “savage” in RS’s current thinking, more so than any other hunter-gatherer group. As hunter-gatherer nomads found to the north of Mesoamerican civilization, they had been fierce enemies of the sedentary agricultural cities of central Mexico before the Spanish arrived. RS’s newfound affinity for the history of the Gran Chichimeca is the best indication of an ideological shift within their ranks. Not only is it necessary to reject leftism and “revolution” against the techno-industrial system, but in one’s mentality, one must return to “savagery”, and adopt the ethos of previous “savages” who fought against civilization. RS thus seeks to go from critique to outright abandonment of the civilized mind, towards an attitude that they perceive “savage” and more in tune with nature, which is the only good.

RS’s intellectual tendency towards a new savagery appears to be a result of an engagement of available scholarly sources. While these sources tend to document the Gran Chichimeca as an inhospitable and violent place, no doubt these calumnies have only inspired RS all the more in adopting a “feral” identity. The harshness of hunter-gatherer life in an arid region is still tantamount to freedom in their eyes. One independent research article cited on the El Tlatol blog is entitled, “Rethinking the North: The Great Chichimeca – A Dialogue with Andres Fabregas,”19 One passage from this work cited the pre-Colombian Aztec emperor, Moctezuma Ilhuicamina, who stated the following concerning the re-writing of Aztec history:

We have to reconstruct our history, because were still like Chichimecas in the Valley of Mexico, and this cannot be. Thus we should erase that past Chichimeca history and construct another: the history of how we are the civilizing people of Mexico, and how we are the builders of the great Tenochtitlan.

Fabregas in this interview also summarizes the attitudes of the Aztecs and other civilized Indians as the following:

And effectively, the Mexicas, to renounced the past, to turn away from their past, which was a Chichimeca past, invent the term: more than the term, they invent the concept, which makes the people to the north, to the north of the center of the world – as Mexico is the center of the world – uncivilized peoples. And they used an argument that now seems whimsical to us, but in that moment was a crucial one. The argument was: the Chichimecas did not know how to make tamales, not to mention how to eat them. We do find this whimsical, but the fact is that making tamales was a whole transformation of nature. An impressive knowledge of nature. It was like a summary of cultural history. This was to say that the Chichimecas were not capable of creating culture.20

Other Mexicas foreshadowed European biases against hunter-gatherer “primitive” life, describing the land of the Chichimecas to the first Spanish chroniclers in a very negative light: “It is a land of penury, of pain, of suffering, fatigue, poverty, and torment, It is a place of arid boulders, of failure, a place of lamentation; it is a place of death, of thirst, a place of malnutrition. It is a place of much hunger, and much death.”21

RS’s rejection of received morality even seems to some extent inspired by what they perceive to be the attitudes of the Chichimecas toward Western Christian society. For example, in a communiqué claiming responsibility for a recent attack on the National Telethon in November 2014, the “Nocturnal Hunter Faction” of RS stated: “Without recourse to more explanations, we are not Christians, and nobility can’t be attributed to us! We are savages! We do not look for or defend charity from others and to others!”22 The apparent immorality and fierceness of struggle is a commonly known characteristic of the Chichimecas in their war against the Spaniards and their Christianized Indian allies. The U.S. scholar, Philip Wayne Powell, in his seminal book on the Chichimeca War, Soldiers, Indians, & Silver, states the following concerning the Chichimecas’ treatment of their enemies captured in battle:

Chichimeca torture and mutilation of captured enemies took many forms. Sometimes the chest of the victim was opened and the heart removed while still pulsing, in the manner of the Aztec sacrifice; this practice was characteristic of the tribes nearest the sedentary peoples of the south. Scalping was widely practiced in the Gran Chichimeca, frequently while the victim still lived… The warriors would also cut off the genitals and stuff them in the victim’s mouth. They impaled their captives “as the Turks do.” They removed various parts of the body, leg and arm bones and ribs, one by one, until the captives died; the bones were sometimes carried off as trophies. Some victims they threw over cliffs; some they hanged. They also cut open the back and tore out the sinews, which they used in tying arrow tips to shafts. Small children, not yet walking, were grabbed by the feet and their heads beaten against rocks until their brains squirted out.23

In spite of and perhaps because of their barbarity, the Chichimecas were overall undefeated militarily by the Spanish and their subjugated Indian allies. They were fierce warriors with “home field advantage” on hostile terrain, and Spain’s war against them dragged on for decades in the late 16th century. For Reacción Salvaje, they are archetypal opponents against civilization in the Mexican context. In a recent communiqué, some members admit to going to the region where these battles took place to interrogate the locals for details and confirm what they have read in “civilized” history books.24

Members of RS, along with Regresión journal and Ediciones Aborigen, summarize what the Chichimecas mean to their version of eco-extremist ideology in their anthropological compilation, “The Place of the Seven Caves”:

In Reacción Salvaje, we understand 'Chicomoztok' [The Place of the Seven Caves] to be that place isolated from civilization, the site of convergence of various savage nomad tribes, which represents the wild and full life that our ancestors enjoyed before being convinced to adopt sedentary life. It is a vision of the past that tends towards regression, and a remembrance of that which we have been losing little by little. It symbolizes to us the cleaving to our primitive past and thus the extreme defense of wild nature; the initial fire that incites individual and group conflict against that which represents artificiality and progress.25

The Chichimecas are the symbol of RS’s intransigence to the point of death against a force that is destroying nature through technology and civilized living. It should be noted as well that the insignia of RS, with its representation of an indigenous person dressed in coyote skin lighting a fire, is taken from a codex representing a Chichimeca warrior in Chicomoztok. Even the very idea of time is conceived as being “too civilized” for RS and its allies, and thus the goal is conceived only in terms that a proper “savage” would understand them:

We do not believe in the possibility of “anti-industrial revolutions”, nor in futurist movements that may bring about (according to those thinkers) the downfall of this artificial system. In wild nature, “possibly” does not exist, nor does “maybe.” There are no intermediate points, nor neutral ones. Only the concrete exists: it is or it isn’t. Survival has always been thus, and we include ourselves under those natural laws. The present is all there is, the here and now. To try to see the future, or to work to realize something in the future, is a waste of time. That has been the true error of revolutionaries.26

Conclusion: Captain Vancouver’s Organ, Or: How the North Was Won

Having traversed the ideological trajectory of ITS/RS, at this point I feel the need to make an assessment of RS’s newfound “savagery.” The aspect that needs the most interrogating is RS’s “anti-hagiography” of the Chichimecas. While it is clear that the war ended with Spanish domination, it is not clear how it ended from RS’s ideological narrative. Was it really a “fight to the death”? Were all the Chichimecas slaughtered? And if not, why did they finally surrender? Or could it even be called, “surrender”?

What RS and its allies seem to not care to talk about is that, at least according to Philip Wayne Powell’s ground-breaking book on the subject, the end of the Chichimeca War was relatively peaceful and anti-climactic. While some warriors did indeed “fight to the death,” the vast majority did not. They were militarily on-par or even superior to their Spanish opponents, even with the help of “sedentary” Indian allies. While many Chichimecas were taken captive during the stage of the war that Powell denominates, “la guerra a fuego y a sangre” (the war of fire and blood, or less figuratively, total war), the stalemate that ensued forced the Spaniards to take another approach to end hostilities. Instead of utilizing a method of pacification that encouraged enslavement of Indians as a means of mercenary payment to soldiers, the Crown decided to take the funds for war and use them to pay for the loyalty of various Chichimeca chiefs. In so many words, the Spaniards bought off the Chichimecas:

The diplomacy of peace became somewhat less difficult during the last decade of the [16th] century, as the Chichimeca tribes realized that they could obtain advantages from the peace treaties and that they would not be harmed by the Spaniards. Time after time the Indians themselves initiated peace talks, showing real willingness to abandon their nomadic life and settle down on the level lands.27

One only needs to advance two more centuries to see this process replicated further north, this time in late colonial California. While this latter example is wrought with even greater tragedy and violence due to mass die-offs from disease and settler violence, overall, the subjugation of the California Indians to the mission system was an almost voluntary affair. As Randall Milliken comments in his book, A Time of Little Choice: The Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area 1769-1810:

The Bay Area villagers were tantalized with material products and denigrated for their traditional practices by the agents of western technological and organizational complexity. Soaring death rates and the continual threat of overwhelming military violence against any group that attempted to bar the mission proselytizers increased the pressure. Is it any wonder that the tribal people came to doubt the value of their native culture, and started to accept a definition of themselves as ignorant and unskilled, and deserving of a life of subordination in the new, caste-based social structure?28

In some cases, not much contact was needed to convince indigenous tribes to subjugate themselves to the Spanish Christian yoke. In the annals of Mission San Juan Bautista in California is told a story of an organ once belonging to British Captain George Vancouver:

On one occasion, the organ is credited with saving the mission from destruction at the hands of the warlike Tulare Indians. who descended upon San Juan Bautista, murdering neophytes and driving off the horses. Christian Indians recovered the horses, and the Tulares, yelling war-cries, again appeared. Padre de la Cuesta hastily dragged out the organ, and began furiously grinding away at the crank. The blare of music first puzzled, and then delighted the raiders, who then peacefully came in to the mission which they had intended to destroy.29

Thus, RS has made a rare but still grave error of regarding certain peoples as “ignoble savages” completely immune to “civilized” behavior and consideration. This was clearly not the case from the historical record. While the Chichimecas did wage fierce battles on the frontier to defend their way of life, once it became clear that the Spanish would give them gifts and not enslave them, for the most part they willingly settled beside their former sedentary Indian enemies and made their peace with the colonial order. Ultimately, the Chichimecas and other Indians on the frontier did not wage a war to the death against civilization. Indeed, one cannot project an anti-civilization discourse on them, because they would not know what this means. Indigenous peoples were neither homogenous nor allied to each other in any cohesive way. They were not united as a force against something that we would come to call “civilization”. When given a means to compromise, at least in the question of the Chichimeca War and colonial California, the natives accepted the end to their way of life without much resistance.

ITS/RS’s turn towards its own local history, seeking to ground its struggle in previous wars against civilization waged on Mexican soil, is highly admirable and refreshing in the context of often abstract leftist concepts. However, their attitude concerning the necessity of a “return to savagery,” a sort of wiping the slate clean from the pollution of modernity and the left, is an ill-conceived intellectual framework. The only reason that we know that civilization is evil is because we have lived through it and we have come to fear the current Promethean will to power against nature. “Wiping the slate clean” is thus far more difficult than ITS/RS lets on in places.

Nevertheless, even if our ancestors failed in the fight against the civilized Leviathan, it is my and others’ contention that such a fight must continue. ITS/RS’s quasi-suicidal rhetoric concerning facing off against techno-industrial civilization may seem exaggerated at times, but given the co-opting of all previous struggles, and the veritable dead-end that is leftism, it is hard to argue against the appropriateness of such militancy. A wild animal may flee, but when cornered, it does not roll over and obey; it attacks; even if the odds are against it, even if death is certain. A wild animal can only be killed by civilization because it serves no use to it. Those animals that obey and find a way to accommodate their masters are the success story of domestication. Those animals that cower in self-preservation are what civilization needs. Schemes and revolutions for “a better tomorrow” may very well be the trap that gets us every time. This is the trap that leads to domestication and compliance, which is a living death quickly leading to massive actual death on a global scale.

Thus, one may criticize ITS/RS’s tactics, its lack of empathy towards victims who have been “collateral damage” in its attacks, its histrionic prose, its sadistic romanticism, and so on. But when all is said and done, the tombstone of the Earth will read that it died of a way of life that sought to bring peace and prosperity at the cost of enslavement of all things to its ends. That sort of pervasive and unassuming violence makes ITS/RS’s actions seem paltry by comparison. Perhaps in this sense we too must summon that “savagery”, that unconquered life within, that proclaims a firm non serviam to a system that offers peace at the price of our slow demise. Perhaps this is why it is written: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12).30


Braniff, Beatriz, ed. La Gran Chichimeca: El lugar de las rocas secas. México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 2001.

Individualidades Tendiendo a lo Salvaje (ITS). La Naturaleza es El Bien, La Civilización es el Mal: Comunicados de Individualidades tendiendo a lo salvaje. México: Ediciones Matar o Morir, 2014.

Kaczynski, Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber”. Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2010.

Milliken, Randall, A Time of Little Choice. Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press, 1995.

Powell, Philip Wayne. Soldiers, Indians, & Silver: North America’s First Frontier War. Tempe: Center for Latin American Studies, 1975.

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Sep 7 2016 18:01


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Aug 31 2017 08:51

In May of this year, the eco-extremist group Individualists Tending Toward the Wild (ITS) issued a statement claiming responsibility for the murder of two hikers in the State of Mexico and the femicide of Lesvy Rivera at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, providing as justification for these acts their belief that “every human being merits extinction.”


Indeed, since May, ITS has continued on its terroristic path. Most notably, the ITS franchise in Chile claims to have twice placed bombs on Transantiago public buses (one, two). In doing so, they follow in the steps of ITS in Mexico who claimed to have placed a bomb on public buses in Mexico City last October and November and ITS in Brazil who in January claimed to have placed a shrapnel-filled bomb at a crowded bus station in Brasilia. Indeed, the favorite tactic of ITS these days appears to be putting bombs in public areas in the hopes that they explode and maim or kill as many random people (or “hyper-civilized sheep” in their words) as possible.


In case their reprehensible actions, along with threatening and attempting to kill anarchists, is not enough of a reason for anarchist disassociation from ITS, there is another cause for anarchist concern. ITS proudly proclaims it has never been caught, even though “Interpol has already collected all the information that it could from the Internet about our Mafia.” Yet is that true? If ITS is placing bombs on buses in three countries then why the subdued reaction from the State to an international terrorist movement? The English-language spokesperson for ITS calls himself Abe Cabrera. Abe is an unknown figure among radicals yet has been welcomed into some circles because of his advocacy of eco-extremism. He is open about where he lives, yet remains unmolested by the state. This is odd if Interpol is involved and when compared to the treatment members of the ELF press office received for the less-egregious acts they reported on. I am certainly not advocating that the state target him and to attempt to answer why he hasn’t been would be pure speculation. But as with many of ITS’ own claims, things do not add up.

The only support ITS should be receiving from anarchists is encouragement that they practice their dedication to human extinction on themselves.