Over the course of the lifetime of Green Anarchy, the collective behind it elaborated a intense criticism of “civilisation”, and it is above all the passion that they brought to this task that we wish to celebrate in sharing the article below.
Green Anarchy’s condemnation of “civilisation” and parallel defense of “primitivism” and “wilding” raises unavoidable questions for any serious contemporary anarchism (and beyond). However, the conceptual framework of its critique is equally open to question. Are concepts such as “civilisation”, “primitivism” and “wilding” sufficiently clear and robust to serve as the basis for an adequate criticism of contemporary forms of oppression? Do they not obfuscate as much as they illuminate? Do they not pass over historical differences in social and political organisation that cannot be ignored for the theory and practice of anti-authoritarian/autonomous anti-capitalism? And these questions would be just the beginning of any meaningful evaluation.
None of these questions are offered up as refutations or dismissals; they are instead invitations for reflection.
(For earlier and rich reflections on these questions, and more, with a focus on the work of John Zerzan, see the series of the entries under John Zerzan and primitivism in the Anarchist Library, as well as the site johnzerzan.net).
The Swelling of Leeches: How our Bones Build the Palaces of the Masters
Whether to be a
great cagey perfumed
dying under the
& exist like luxuriant
flowers beneath the
emblems of their
or by mere insouciant
slap them, call their cards
spit on fate & cast hell
to flames in usury
by dying, nobly
we could exist like
propagate our revels
& give the finger to the
gods in our private
– Jim Morrison
Fractal Vision One: Arrival
Rising from our bloody birth fluids, we leave the warm familiarity of the organic Precambrian ooze, and our (still free) consciousness begins its brutal interaction with a hostile all-encompassing social organization – a coldly-oppressive, mechanistic SYSTEM that demands our conformity and our docile assimilation into its robot-like “community.”
This large-scale Institution of regularity and uniformity emits many fragrant odors and force-feeds us the myth of its artificial, manufactured Perfection, but this is nothing more than a bubble of film, conjurer’s trickwork projected over the actual landscape of exhaustion – a graveyard of slave laborers reduced to dehumanized components of the capitalist Imperium, absorbed into the anonymity of social and economic structures. Like prefabricated automatons, they represent and embody a historical process, the abstraction of the individual which lies at the heart of mass production. They are the adults, the domesticated, the BROKEN; the dull who delight in the following of petty rules, the standardized functionaries who (through the scientific conditioning of the Command machine) are under the remote control of the aristocracy; unable to think or act without permission, these vacuous sleepers are “animated” only by the daily struggle for survival, the desperate hope of escape from the place which history has made for them.
This drugged stupor (chemicals not required!) that passes for life and awareness is OUR future too, for there is spell/code, an “abracadabra” implanted in the brain of every child educated/ processed by civilization, the mantra of restriction – a SLAVE IDEOLOGY designed to set limits on autonomous thought and to successfully inoculate against any shift in allegiance. Brought up on a vast array of lunatic imprints, our habit-encrusted former minds are blind servants to the repetition compulsion, carrying out the work of our Masters in servile compliance. We all wear the same mask of submission and the message everywhere is of Power.
Fractal Vision Two: Once Upon a Time
The more we study the hierarchical conspiracy, the more we realize how consistent it is with the pattern of modern history, that is, the Official discourse of human social development. From symbols and rituals, from the religious and cultural myths of Egypt, Persia and Mesopotamia to high-tech subliminals and the propaganda in printed advertising that the eye doesn’t recognize, the pattern was set long ago, and there has been no deviation from it since the dawn of civilization. Although the facts have been doctored to fit the approved concepts of the Dominant Culture, there is little doubt that a New Order of domestication began with the march of agriculture, and the male accumulation of Capital and political power (patriarchy).
An immense institutional and ideological complex – a social pyramid – took hold and spread by contagion. Protection is the first necessity of opulence and luxury and the first Pharaohs had to be protected. The whole social order, favorable to their hygienic idleness and parasitism, required a cycle of conquest, extermination, and a chronic economy of war to quell the constant rebellions against Capital’s enclosure. Civilization was faced with the technical challenge of enforcing stringent parameters policing the levels of discontent within its boundaries. The slaves and prisoners were fed small humiliations, everyday defeats, despair and dullness in negligible doses that settled down in them, layer after layer, like sediment, until their souls were choked with sludge. They soon became blind and cannibalistic.
Fractal Vision Three: Dance of the Dead
The chimera of commodity culture has commodified anxiety (the surplus economy of the chattering classes reclining horizontally under the watchful beady eye of the psychiatric police.) Neurotic society thrives upon the crisis of its own insecurity; self-obsessed, picking at its own leaking sores to perpetuate irritation – the festering signs of its profitable dis-ease. It is the luminous specter of aesthetic pestilence and (s)existential illness, downgrading pleasure towards the sanctioned static of TV catatonia; an apparition of security and comfort delivering only inculcated fear and vexation.
A montage of cattle-like herds, grinding machinery and clocks litter the distressed landscape in which the putrescent waste pipes and factory death-fumes are evidence of the irreversible process of entropy. The prisoner continues to work, expending his/her energy to manufacture their own eradication, when freedom finally arrives in the form of death. The prisoners take on the nature of a commodity because the conditions that create their absolute dependence on the system are reproduced in the mesmerizing effects of THE PRODUCT. THE PRISONERS’ OWN ENERGY ENCASES THEM.
Capitalism has wired work and consumption with a morbid intimacy and the liberation of the prisoners is negotiated according to the axioms of industrial dispute, taking wage control and “benefits” to be the only effective bargaining tokens. “We want the right to work, we want equal pay” represents the demand for universal prostitution pimped out to the exhaustive transactions of “organized labor.” The prisoners continue to offer praise to the servile Machine, patronizing the dedicated slave mimicry of its parental masters; they extol the virtues of “the supreme and original program” – the work ethic – and have sentimental feelings for the test-tube from which they were conceived. THE HYPNOTIC STATE IS THE PSYCHOTIC STATE.
Fractal Vision Four: Many Happy Returns
A madman is laying waste to the planet. This madman’s imposed social order – civilization – is a laboratory producing monstrosities, incessantly mutilating and massacring individuals, eco-systems and life itself through its technology of prostitution and its logic of totalistic submission. Bhopal, Agent Orange, the invasion of Iraq, Mad Cow Disease – these are not “blunders” but rather part of the inescapable tendency of capitalist production and civilization’s cumulative effect on the meta-biological scale.
To “manage” its own contradictions and rebellious “by-products” the System has invested considerable energy into the construction of a vast, colossal ideological dam, against which a reservoir of expanding energy presses, heaving under the strain, creaking and groaning with the expansion of unrealized lives.
The cerebral zenith of this ideological con job is the cold equation of life with work, and the bland assertion that the social dislocation caused by progress and mechanization was “inevitable”. If Capital can extend its accumulative logic back to prehistory, which suggests the will to civilization in the species’ infancy, then the concept of manufacture (the production of objects and objectivity) must be counted as the principle feature grounding social grouping. This massive LIE has been oversubscribed as a generic myth secreted beneath every obliging account of the linear development from cave dweller to cul-de-sac resident. And like any archetypal narrative de(in)scribing the process of accumulation, such anecdotes are mediated by metaphors which honor the necessities of exchange-value, hence there is a price to pay FOR civilization (so the metaphor goes), and that price is the inhibition of primary instincts in return for the sublimated profits of the modern social topography with all its mediated exchanges.
When humans began to organize life into an economic system of commodity exchange, the spirit of life began to leave this place, and we began a long journey through misery. We say this “Trail of Tears” is over. We say it’s time to take off our armor and come out to play. OUR FANGS GLINT, AS WE PROWL WITH OLD EYES THAT MOVE WITH A SPIRIT IN ITS WAKE…
Fractal Vision Five: Fallout
We despairingly toil to subsist in a damned world where business adversaries fight wars over the carrion of States, where corporate dynasties set their nightmares loose to graze on their shattered and dazed prisoners – mere meat stockpiled for the victory feast of the New World Order. Everyone sleeps here in a single grave; a generalized denial, or dislocation of awareness, woven into the fabric of daily life – a condition of pervasive surrender to the strangulation of our planet.
It would appear that this autocratic system of coercion is consolidating its power and strengthening the dominance of its’ capitalist organization, nakedly preparing for a final, bloody saturnalia of mass slaughter. Except for one unavoidable glitch in the Mechanization process: CULTURE PROGRAMMING IS NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL. More and more of us have broken out of the complex maze of scarred neurostructures and caught glimpses of the Totality of the System as distinguished from the fantasies promulgated by the advertising priests or in junior high school government classes. We have become utterly cognizant of the dominant minority’s conspiracy of power, awakened to the inevitable doom of the Empire, and for us there is no possibility of reintegrating into the pathology of the biocidal Control Machine. WE ARE NOT “MINOR ANOMALIES”. THE FISSURES IN THE SURFACE OF OUR MINDS ARE ALSO FISSURES IN THE SURFACE OF SOCIETY. With the dissolution of our mental bonds, we have become economically useless, unfit for service, and unwilling to be sacrificed. Our existence spoils the symmetry of Leviathan’s “perfect” mechanical order and as anti-hypnotic agents, we’re encouraged by the growing prospects for authentic (non-choreographed) rebellion. For while Capital may indeed have our bodies in its jaws, we also live in a period of warp-speed cultural disintegration and unprecedented opportunities for anarchic deconstruction abound…
The system is realizing a thermodynamic boiling point; the core is heating up, achieving the stage of no return: civilization is attaining critical mass, speeding up, increasing velocity until a hyper-instantaneous terminal impact shatters the glass console into 10,000 pieces of wreckage. In the rearview mirror Sade’s perpetual motion machine spins dangerously from its centrifuge, propelling pieces of debris – dismembered limbs and engine components flying in all directions. Each glance into the mirror yields a myriad of disasters captured in edited sequence by the egomaniacal Spectacle. The talismans of the Empire are being trampled upon by ripping tornadoes of change, and the Pentagon of Power is revealed to be a dilapidated palace of cracked, degenerate plastic.
Amidst all this carnage, the Left (an equally condemned excrescence of capitalism) acts out its own perennial self-doubt; a dramatic travesty of political decline producing sham performances of expected civil “disobedience”. The Left’s “demonstrative” routines (and thorough befuddlement) become symbolically performative once redemptive LESSONS can be squeezed from its corrupt LESIONS. Passing beyond the perplexity of the Left, we see in the flames of civilization immeasurable possibilities for a boundless, unconfined existence.
As anarchists (individuals opposed to ALL systems) we have no desire to ameliorate the downfall of this fading power structure or to “save” the human race from itself. We’re not interested in “curing” or “restructuring” the system and we’re even more repulsed by the Leftist version of “revolution”. Our dreams and our praxis are explicitly anti-authoritarian, but as an autonomous anarchist cell, our primary motivation’s different from many of our starry-eyed, idealist associates. While we derive joy and a sense of personal liberation from the act of defiance itself, we consider the concept of a “mass social movement” to be an ungrounded, delusional abstraction, and are not stimulated to revolt by self-deceptive optimism. As individuals, we’re in this struggle for a more primal reason and it’s cold and it’s old and it’s easy to understand: revenge.
Revenge for 10,000 years of abuse, of class predation, of sensual repression, of global usurpation, of being obliged to bow our knees to Caesar’s iron-rod rule. Capital’s currency is nothing more than the sum total of our damaged hearts and minds, the symbolic representation of our ancestors’ blood, of all the species and cultures scoured to extinction, of all the Earth’s wounds. Ours will be a high-tempo fluid war that has no defined fronts or formations, designed to suck our enemy into traps of His own creation, taking advantage of the System’s stupidities and weaknesses and avoiding its strengths.
We’re sharpening our arrowheads, invisible hunters with nothing left to lose. Cum! Cum! Let’s be going!