Welcome to the first installment of Peak Civ, an original column by Kevin Tucker that takes on the news from an anti-civilization perspective, only on It’s Going Down.

“Civilizations are artificial cultural constructions, not biological organisms, and they would be poor biological performers if we insisted on considering them as organisms.”

– John Bodley, The Power of Scale

The goal here is to provide an anarcho-primitivist analysis to our dumpster fire of a reality. In nearly every realm of civilized life, the world we are sold is bursting at the seams. Daily life feels like a perpetual onslaught of depressing news and calamities, that’s because it is. The history of civilization is a timeline of the consolidation of power from the mouths of priests to the coding of programmers.

Our lineage, as nomadic hunter-gatherers, still shapes the way we see, interact and understand the world. That is a lineage shaped by millions of years of egalitarian, anarchistic existence. That is a lineage that defines each of us, but is perpetually being torn apart, repackaged and sold to us through the domestication process. It keeps us from existing with the greater wild community as capable beings finding our wants and needs within each other. Ultimately turning us into consumers putting our wants and needs over each other.

Anarchism needs ecology.

If we want to understand power, if we want to understand where and how inequality arises, then we need to stop granting the illusions of the power-hungry. The State exists because it has bent carrying capacity, prolonged itself (albeit temporarily) through agriculture and technological intrusions. The State had to create the concept of nature as a separate place so that it could have us believe that civilization had conquered it. That the State was no longer held to the same realities of ecology.

Anarchism needs ecology because we need to understand that the oppression and domination of the State don’t start and stop with human lives.

The reality is that we are animals. And the State is a construct upheld by physical infrastructure. It is real, no doubt. But its ideological disconnect doesn’t make it true. As the industrial vigor amplified the ecological consequences of agriculture, the earth and its fluid balance began to take the hit. As forest felling timber-based fuel led way to coal mining and on to fossil fuels and nuclear power, that wound opens wider. As communities are broken down into laborers turned into slaves, that pain feels more personal.

As we are learning, we are not exempt from that wound. While the first flood of climate refugees face increasingly hostile borders and rampant xenophobia, it is clear that the fate of humanity is not separate from the fate of the wild world. Deny though we might, it doesn’t stop reality.

Anarchism needs ecology because we need to understand that the oppression and domination of the State don’t start and stop with human lives. If we want to understand civilization, the states that define it and the agriculture that underpins it, then we need to understand how biological organisms function. Civilization is not living, but it is parasitic. It exists on a finite planet, it bleeds its resources and communities, but it cannot exist without them. If we want to take on civilization, the State or any form of political power, then we need to see it in the way it refuses to acknowledge: an organization built upon the very ecology it denies.

The weakness of political power lies in seeing it outside of its own narrative. If you want to solve a crime, you follow the money. If you want to stop the powerful, you follow the fuel. We are all connected: our past, our present, our futures, and our fate.

Conversely, ecology needs anarchism.

Ecologists, biologists, and environmentalists can equally feed into the notion of nature as an abstraction. Many are willing to recognize that we too are animals, but they forget that we can do anything about it. Absorbed by political and corporate entities, they are fighting for an expansion of rights, for value within the terms of the State. The default becomes relying on NGOs or research that is either a corporate tax or, worse, the philanthropists’ tithe.

From this view, the feed of disturbing news feels no less daunting. It might feel a little more frightening. But within that, there’s the reminder that we are never alone in this.

The narratives of political power become the baseline understanding for humanity and the world. Biologists tend to regurgitate myths of domination and subservience within the wild to justify ourselves with our own captivity. They seek to anthropomorphize the wild to universalize our political dynamics so that even in the wild there is no escape. Socio-biologists, social Darwinists: narratives like Richard Dawkin’s “selfish gene” seek to naturalize the historical creation that is civilization.

A wave of ecologists and ethologists have broken and been breaking out of that mold. Understanding the world on its own terms rather than trying to use civilized humans as the measure. In this regard, anarchism is a weapon. It offers a reminder that we don’t need permission or validation from institutions to embrace the wild and fight for it.

This column is to heed the call of ecological anarchism and anarchist ecology. It’s to take current events and remind us that there is another lens to see the world from, one that refuses to accept the myths of civilization. From this view, the feed of disturbing news feels no less daunting. It might feel a little more frightening. But within that, there’s the reminder that we are never alone in this.

Trump: Should I Be Afraid?

politicians, NGOs, or anyone else stuck on the political spectrum will never be able to fix this.

By now I believe everyone is well aware of just what kind of monster Donald Trump is for the environment. A reality that hit immediately within a day’s worth of executive orders meant to curb climate change research and unleash the powerful myth of self-regulation by capitalists. As the scientific community has been leaning towards discussing human extinction as a “when” instead of “if”, that’s all fairly insane (a position I don’t accept as inevitable).

Let’s just do a partial run through here. For the EPA head, he appointed Scott Pruitt, who sued the EPA challenging research and policy related to climate change. And while he’s on the way to abolish the EPA entirely, he’s already cut its ability to regulate. Seeking to drain the swamps through global warming, his cabinet is full of energy CEOs in a bizarre attack on lobbyists. His “America First” energy policy will artificially bolster coal and natural gas production; the residuals of both methods in our water were just furthered ensured by rollbacks on the Clean Water Act.

That’s just a fraction of what has and is happening; not even including what worse is on the horizon. If it sounds terrifying, it’s because it is. But here’s the problem: Trump isn’t the only reason why you should be afraid.

In his scathing overview of the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, A Sea in Flames, Carl Safina points out repeatedly how the insanity of the situation, beyond being permitted, was that the government allowed BP to take charge of the shut off and clean up. Not one to learn a lesson, while we face the unfolding disaster of climate instability, America handed control to an iconic capitalist instead of just remaining a mouthpiece for them.

What we face with climate change is potentially endemic for both humanity and the world. How we fight it cannot be through politics. They will simply never be enough.

I don’t say this to undermine the reality of what is happening here, we are in a situation where literally every minute matters already. Now the niceties have been removed. Politics were never the answer. The Paris climate change agreement, upheld symbolically throughout the world, was never enough to deter the endemic reality of climate change. Obama, who punted the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines to Trump, granted 1,500 deep water fracking permits in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon blowout, arguably his own Exxon Valdez spill. The EPA was never the bastion of ecological sanity, only within the last months has it finally softened its pro-fracking position admitting that there is a direct correlation to water safety, news that comes as studies show fracking well failures are upwards of 16% of all wells as opposed to the earlier estimates around 5%.

Hillary Clinton and her backing group of bankers would have probably only played slightly less lip service than Obama did. He might have said a number of frightening things about climate change, but how much did he or any politician really actually do? In the end, with aspects like the Paris agreement being upheld as progress, it’s obviously not enough.

The problem is that politicians exist on a continuum of election cycles; they just need to do enough to make it to the next round and have their goals be meager enough to soothe their constituents. Life exists in geological time. That’s a place where profits are such a short-term barometer as to render them a useless concept. It’s also the backdrop where millions of years of life in egalitarian societies saw hierarchy creep in over the last 12,000 years. That is a timeline where the Industrial Revolution was less than a blink away and the Green Revolution and infusion of the cell phone can’t even register on it.

Our job now is to show them what we know and that we aren’t waiting for their next campaign season to do something about it.

You should be afraid of what Trump can do, but you can’t separate him from the society that created him. One where the liberals and NGOs were so committed that they would lull themselves to sleep at night thinking symbolic compromise was enough. What we face with climate change is potentially endemic for both humanity and the world. How we fight it cannot be through politics. They will simply never be enough.

What we need is honesty about the direness of the situation and a refusal to be solely reliant upon governments, corporations and NGOs to solve and address it. Even without Trump, iconic NGOs like Australia’s philanthropist and business-backed Climate Institute are closing their doors due to lack of funding.

Climate change is our problem. And if we want to resist it, then it must be on our terms not theirs.

As the Democrats shuffle to try and own the rightful anti-Trump resistance, they will certainly continue testing the waters with radical rhetoric on these issues. Some will use that as an argument to back them. It’s the same kind of “better off” scenario that leads people to falling for democracy in the first place. In doing so, they’ll be more than willing to pretend Trump is a newly created monster challenging their own ecological progress. That is demonstrably untrue.

What is crucial now is to recognize that these issues are innate to civilization, not simply indicative of management’s current policies. Without question, the view from the ground is worsening. It will continue to become more dire. And politicians, NGOs, or anyone else stuck on the political spectrum will never be able to fix this.

That we know.

Our job now is to show them what we know and that we aren’t waiting for their next campaign season to do something about it.


Follow Black & Green on Instagram and check out Black and Green Review on Facebook and It’s Going Down’s interview with Kevin here.


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Peak Civ
Peak Civ is written by Kevin Tucker, a long time anarchist, author, and publisher of many books, journals, and essays. Tucker currently has been hard at work at Black and Green Review, a journal which features discussion on resistance struggles, analysis and critique, and interviews from a green anarchist and anti-civilization perspective.