Filed under: Critique, Environment
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By John Zerzan
Originally posted on It’s Going Down
In the United States, the media pumps the population for a showdown in the electoral circus with Jeb Bush and Hilary Clinton. Meanwhile, much of the scientific community predicts the end of civilization unless the industrial mode of production is stopped at once. Mass extinction, melting ice-caps, disease pandemics, and an encroaching police state all seem passé at this point. The mainstream is now saying many of the same things that the Unabomber was writing in the 1990s – which is ironic, but at the same time terrifying. Not one to lose hope, John Zerzan offers some perspective on the current crisis, while looking at resistance across the world as a possible point of departure. John offers these words as a special editorial for IGD!
Acidifying oceans, melting polar caps and glaciers, severe weather fluctuations, the metastasizing cancer of mega-cities, contamination of air, water and soil, soaring extinction rates – and all the rest that you are likely well aware of regarding the physical environment of this planet.
A massive and growing industrialism is the basis; the prerequisite for all the high-tech “wonders” just as global industrialization is also the obvious engine of global warming. Every uptick in the number of factories, mines, smelters; is an uptick in the global warming bad news.
The destruction of nature at large parallels the massive assault on our inner natures. What works at corroding our human happiness and possibilities is certainly linked, outside and inside. A frightful estrangement in society mirrors the debasing of the physical world.
Failed civilization thus sets out its unprecedented failings in livid terms. Every civilization – and now there is only one – dooms itself because its core principle is domestication, the ravenous, self-perpetuating, cumulative logic of control. Always more and more, and deeper and deeper, control. Artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and the ever more enveloping surveillance state are among domestication’s latest weapons deployed to more fully dominate. The more domestication, the less nature, the less freedom and autonomy.
Control and domination are our enemies in whatever sphere. As anarchists it is time for a fuller understanding of the centrality of the domestication/civilization basis of the crisis.
If our goal is a world that doesn’t need running we must start with the premise that if we are to have a future it will need to be a somehow primitive one. The erasure of complexity is the necessary path to environmental healing as much as to societal healing.
In North America, and elsewhere, indigenous blockades and occupation encampments have constituted the foremost of environmental resistance, especially against the growing network of oil and gas pipelines polluting and endangering ever new areas. Anti-mining and anti-dam activities exist on every continent and are an anti-industrial if not “primitivist” presence. The long-term campaigns against TAV (Italian high-speed train system) and mega-airport expansion (ZAD resistance in France) have been joined by radical defense in Moscow and in western Germany (Halmbach Forest). Courageous acts in Berlin, Bristol, Athens, Santiago, Istanbul, the coal train de-railers of Missouri – the honor roll goes on to inspire us!
Mapuche struggles for the land in southern Chile are echoed by recent efforts in British Columbia and Arizona, where anarchists have at times been accomplices in Natives’ opposition (e.g. against the 2010 Winter Olympics and the desecration of San Francisco Peaks).
It is a cardinal deficiency that nowhere did Occupy decide to become De-Occupy; nowhere did it shed its liberal or Leftist orientation. There could have been an opening to an anti-civilization orientation and/or to the traditional indigenous resistance, which has always outstripped and outlasted that of pro-Progress “radicals.”
In early spring, the very strong anti-austerity militancy of “Blockupy” in Hamburg may augur new movement, but that remains to be seen. In any case, there must also be a literal return to the land, the necessary move to re-skill ourselves, re-acquaint ourselves with our planet. The direction of de-domestication will proceed along the path of autonomy, of learning to feed ourselves as well as protecting the biosphere.
The worn-out talk of opposing capital and the State as a total outlook is simply a case of denial writ large. An anarchism committed, explicitly or tacitly, to preserving this gruesome modernity cannot dispense with either capitalism or State power. Without them techno-mass society could not function. The fact that many anarchists avoid this fact does nothing to invalidate it. Leftist denial partakes in generalized denial.