What is anarcho-primitivism

An anarcho-primitivist primer

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Anarcho-primitivism is often part of memes in which people live in caves and wish for a return to the Stone Age. In order to clear the prevailing misunderstandings out of the way, at this point we translate “A Primitivist Primer” by John Moore - a small and brief introduction to the ideas of anarcho-primitivism.

What is anarcho-primitivism?

Anarcho-primitivism (also radical primitivism, anti-authoritarian primitivism, anti-civilization movement or just primitivism) is an abbreviation for a radical current that criticizes the entire civilization from an anarchist perspective and strives for a comprehensive transformation of human life. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as anarcho-primitivism or anarcho-primitivist: inside. Fredy Perlman, an important voice in this current, once said: "The only" -ist "I react to is a 'cellist'." Individuals associated with this current do not want to be adherents of an ideology, but only people who strive to become free individuals in free communities in harmony with one another and with the biosphere, and therefore refuse to be restricted by the term "anarcho-primitivist: in" or any other ideological label. In the best case, anarcho-primitivism is a convenient label to characterize different individuals with a common project: the abolition of all power relations - e.g. structures of control, coercion, domination and exploitation - and the creation of a form of community that excludes all of these relationships. So why is the term anarcho-primitivist used to characterize this trend? In 1986 the circle around the Detroit newspaper Fifth Estate stated that they were engaged in developing a “critical analysis of the technological structure of Western civilization [,] combined with a reassessment of the indigenous world and the character of primitive and pristine communities. In that sense, we're primitivists: inside… ”The Fifth Estate group sought to complement criticism of civilization as a project of control with an appreciation of the primitive, which they saw as a source of renewal and anti-authoritarian inspiration. This processing of the primitive takes place from an anarchist perspective, a perspective that deals with the abolition of power relations. Pointing to "an emerging synthesis of postmodern anarchy and the primitive (in the sense of primal), earthbound ecstatic vision," the Fifth Estate Circle stated: We are not anarchists: inside per se, but pro-anarchy, the is for us a living, integral experience that is incompatible with power and rejects any ideology ... Our work on the FE as a project explores opportunities for our own participation in this movement, but also works to rediscover the original roots of anarchy and theirs to document the current expression. At the same time, we examine the evolution of power within our midst to suggest new terrains for contestation and criticism to undermine the current tyranny of modern totalitarian discourse - the hyperreality that destroys human meaning, and therefore solidarity, by simulating it with technology . All struggles for freedom are based on this central necessity: to regain a truly human discourse based on autonomous, intersubjective reciprocity and closely linked to the natural world. The aim is to develop a synthesis of original and contemporary anarchy, a synthesis of the ecologically oriented, non-governmental, anti-authoritarian aspects of primitive ways of life with the most progressive forms of anarchist analysis of power relations. The goal is not to replicate or return to the primitive, but simply to see the primitive as a source of inspiration, as an example of forms of anarchy. For anarcho-primitivists, civilization is the overarching context within which the diversity of power relationships develops. Some basic power relations exist in primitive societies - and that is one reason why anarcho-primitivists do not seek to replicate these societies - but it is civilization where power relations are ubiquitous and in virtually all aspects of human life and life human relationships with the biosphere are anchored. Civilization - also called megamachine or leviathan - becomes a huge machine that gains its own momentum and withdraws itself from the control of its supposed rulers. Driven by the routines of daily life, which are defined and controlled by internalized obedience patterns, people become slaves to the machine, the system of civilization itself. Just a widespread rejection of this system and its various forms of control, a revolt against power itself, can abolish civilization and present a radical alternative. Ideologies such as Marxism, classical anarchism, and feminism oppose aspects of civilization; only anarcho-primitivism opposes civilization, the context in which the various forms of oppression spread and become ubiquitous. Anarcho-primitivism includes elements from various oppositional currents - ecological awareness, anarchist anti-authoritarianism, feminist criticism, situationist ideas, theories of zero work, technology criticism - but goes beyond opposition to individual forms of power in order to reject them all and a radical alternative to represent.

How does anarcho-primitivism differ from anarchism or from other radicals?Ideologies?

From the perspective of anarcho-primitivism, all other forms of radicalism appear reformist, regardless of whether they see themselves as revolutionary or not. Marxism and classical anarchism, for example, want to take over civilization, reshape its structures to a certain extent, and remove its worst abuses and oppression. However, 99% of life in civilization remains unchanged in its future scenarios precisely because the aspects of civilization that question it are minimal. Although both want to abolish capitalism and classical anarchism would also abolish the state, the overall patterns of life would not change too much. Although there could be some changes in socio-economic relationships, such as workers' control in industry and neighborhood councils instead of the state, and even an ecological focus, the basic patterns would remain unchanged. The Western model of progress would only be modified and would still function as an ideal. Mass society would essentially continue to exist, with most of the people working, living in artificial, technologized environments and subject to forms of coercion and control. Radical ideologies on the left are trying to seize power, not abolish it. Therefore, they develop different types of exclusive groups - cadres, political parties, awareness-raising groups - to attract converts and plan strategies for gaining control. For anarcho-primitivists, organizations are just gangs designed to bring a particular ideology to power. Politics, "the art and science of governance," is not part of the primitivist project; just a politics of lust, pleasure, reciprocity and radical freedom.

According to anarcho-primitivism, where does power come from?

Again, this is a source of some debates among anarcho-primitivists. Perlman sees the creation of impersonal institutions or abstract power relations as the decisive moment at which primitive anarchy begins to be dismantled through civilized social relationships. In contrast, John Zerzan locates the development of symbolic mediation - in its various forms of number, language, time, art and later agriculture - as a means of transition from human freedom to a state of domestication. The focus on origin is important in anarcho-primitivism because primitivism exponentially seeks to expose, challenge, and abolish all the multiple forms of power that structure the individual, social relationships, and interrelationships with the natural world. The search for the origins is a way to find out what can be safely salvaged from the wreckage of civilization and what absolutely must be exterminated if the balance of power is not to start again after the collapse of civilization. What kind of future do anarcho-primitivists envision? The anarcho-primitivist magazine “Anarchy; A Journal of Desire Armed "envisions a future that is" radically cooperative & communitarian, ecological and feminist, spontaneous and wild "and that is perhaps the closest thing to description! There is no blueprint, no forward-looking pattern, although it is important to emphasize that the envisaged future is not "primitive" in any stereotypical sense. As the Fifth Estate said in 1979, “Let's get ahead of the critics who would accuse us of wanting to 'go back to the caves' or that we are just acting out - that is, enjoying the comforts of civilization while we are their toughest critics: are inside. We do not portray the Stone Age as a model for our utopia, nor do we suggest a return to gathering and hunting as a means of subsistence. ”To correct this common misconception, it is important to emphasize that the future is anarchist -Primitivism imagines it is sui generis - it has no precedent. Although primitive cultures provide hints of the future, and that future may well contain elements from these cultures, an anarcho-primitivist world would likely be very different from previous forms of anarchy.

How does anarcho-primitivism see themTechnology?

John Zerzan defines technology as “the totality of division of labor / production / industrialism and its effects on us and nature. Technology is the sum of the mediations between us and the natural world and the sum of the divisions that mediate us from one another. It is all of the drudgery and toxicity necessary to produce and reproduce the stage of hyper-alienation we are in. It is the texture and form of domination at any given level of hierarchy and domination. ”So resistance to technology plays an important role in anarcho-primitivist practice. However, Fredy Perlman says that “technology is nothing but the Leviathan's armory,” his “claws and fangs”. So anarcho-primitivists are against technology, but there is a debate about how central technology is to rule in civilization. A distinction should be made between tools (or equipment) and technology. Perlman shows that primitive peoples develop all kinds of tools and utensils, but not technology: 'The material objects, the sticks and canoes, the digging sticks and walls, were things that a single individual could make or were things like one Wall that required the cooperation of many on one occasion…. Most of the tools are ancient, and the [material] surpluses [which these tools supposedly made possible] have matured since dawn, but they have not produced impersonal institutions. Humans, living beings, create both. Tools are creations on a local, small scale, the products of individuals or small groups on certain occasions. As such, they do not lead to systems of control and coercion. Technology, on the other hand, is the product of large-scale, interlocking systems of extraction, production, distribution and consumption, and such systems gain their own impetus and dynamism. As such, they demand structures of control and obedience on a mass scale - what Perlman calls impersonal institutions. As The Fifth Estate stated back in 1981, “Technology is not a simple tool that we can use however we want. It is a form of social organization, a set of social relationships. It has its own laws. If we enter into using them, we must accept their authority. The enormous size, the complex interrelationships and the stratification of the tasks that make up modern technological systems make an authoritarian command necessary and independent, individual decision-making impossible. ”Anarcho-primitivism is an anti-systemic trend: It turns against all systems and institutions , Abstractions, the artificial, the synthetic and the machine because they embody power relations. Anarcho-primitivists: inside turn against technology or the technological system, but not against the use of tools and devices in the sense indicated here. Whether any technological forms are appropriate in an anarcho-primitivist world is a matter of debate. The Fifth Estate noted in 1979 that: “Reduced to the most basic elements, discussions about the future should reasonably start from what we socially want and from that deduce what technology is possible. We all want central heating, flush toilets and electric light, but not at the expense of our humanity. Maybe they are all possible together, but maybe not. ”What about medicine? Ultimately, anarcho-primitivism is about healing - healing the cracks that have opened up within individuals, between people and between man and nature, the cracks that have opened up through civilization, through power, including the state, capital and opened up to technology. German philosopher Nietzsche said that pain and how to deal with it should be at the heart of any free society, and in that regard he is right. Individuals, communities and the earth itself have been mutilated in one way or another by the power relations characteristic of civilization. The people were mutilated mentally, but also physically attacked by disease and epidemics. That's not to say that anarcho-primitivism can do away with pain, disease, and disease! However, research has shown that many diseases are the result of civilized living conditions, and if these conditions were removed then certain types of pain, illness, and illness could go away. As for the rest, a world centered on pain would strive energetically to alleviate it by finding ways to cure diseases and ailments. In this sense, anarcho-primitivism is very concerned with medicine. However, the alienating, high-tech, pharmacentric form of medicine practiced in the West is not the only possible form of medicine. The question of what medicine might look like in an anarcho-primitivist future depends, as in the Fifth Estate comment on technology above, on what is possible and what people want without the way of life of free individuals in the ecologically-centered free Endangering communities. As with all other questions, there is no dogmatic answer to this either.

What about the population?

A controversial question, especially because there is no consensus on the subject among anarcho-primitivists. Some people argue that population reduction is not necessary; others argue that it is necessary for ecological reasons and / or to maintain the lifestyle sought by anarcho-primitivists. Anarchists have long argued that in a free world there would be no social, economic, and psychological pressures for over-reproduction. There would just be too many other interesting things that would take up people's time! Feminists have argued that women, freed from gender constraints and family structure, would not be defined by their reproductive skills as in patriarchal societies, and this would also result in lower populations. So the population would likely decrease, and involuntarily. After all, as Perlman makes clear, population growth is a pure product of civilization: “A steady increase in human numbers [is] as constant as the Leviathan itself. This phenomenon seems to exist only among Leviathanized people.Animals, as well as human communities in the natural state, do not reproduce their own species to the point where they force everyone else out of the field. ”So there is really no reason to assume that the human population should not stabilize once Leviathan social relationships are abolished and communitarian harmony is restored. Ignore the strange fantasies spread by some hostile to anarcho-primitivism commentators who claim that the anarcho-primitivist populations would have to be met by mass deaths or Nazi-style death camps. These are just defamation tactics. The anarcho-primitivist's commitment to the abolition of all power structures, including the state with all its administrative and military apparatus and all kinds of parties or organizations, means that such an orchestrated slaughter remains an impossibility and is simply terrible.

How could an anarcho-primitivist future be brought about?

The $ 64,000 question! (to use a questionable metaphor!) There are no hard and fast rules here, no blueprint. The superficial answer - seen by some as an excuse - is that forms of struggle develop as the insurrection progresses. That's true, but not necessarily very helpful! The fact is that anarcho-primitivism is not a power-seeking ideology. He is not trying to conquer the state, take over factories, recruit converts, create political organizations, or boss people around. Instead, he wants people to become free individuals, living in free communities that are dependent on each other and the biosphere they inhabit. So he wants a total transformation, a transformation of identity, ways of life, of being and of communication. This means that the tried and tested means of power-seeking ideologies are simply not relevant to the anarcho-primitivist project that seeks the abolition of all forms of power. So new forms of acting and being have to be developed that are appropriate to and correspond to the anarcho-primitivist project. This is an on-going process and so there is no easy answer to the question: what should be done? Currently, many agree that communities of resistance are an important element in the anarcho-primitivist project. The word "community" is hurled around in all sorts of absurd ways these days (e.g. the business community) precisely because most of the real communities of capital and state have been destroyed. Some think that if traditional communities, often sources of resistance to power, have been destroyed, the creation of communities of resistance - communities formed by individuals whose common focus is resistance - is one way of laying the foundations to create new for actions. An old anarchist idea is that the new world must be created within the shell of the old one. This means that when civilization collapses - by its own will, through our efforts, or a combination of both - an alternative is waiting to take its place. This is really necessary because, in the absence of positive alternatives, the social disruption caused by the breakdown could easily create the psychological insecurity and social vacuum in which fascism and other totalitarian dictatorships could thrive. This means that anarcho-primitivists must develop communities of resistance within - microcosms of the coming future - both inside and outside cities. These must act as the basis for action (especially for direct action), but also as places where new ways of thinking, behavior, communication, being and so on, as well as a new ethic - in short, a whole new liberating one - are created Culture. They have to become places where people can discover their true desires and joys and, through the good old anarchist idea of ​​exemplary action, show others by example that alternative ways of living are possible. However, there are many other possibilities that need to be explored. The type of world anarcho-primitivism envisions is one that is unprecedented in human experience as to the degree and type of freedom that can be expected ... so there can be no limit to the forms of resistance and rebellion that could develop. The kind of huge changes that are planned will require all kinds of innovative thinking and acting.

Articles and translations by the SchwarzerPfeil group

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