Black Seed Issue 1
Welcome to Black Seed
A Contribution to the Continuing Green Anarchist Conversation...
This is a paper that we hope adds to a continuing green anarchist conversation, one that may have started the first time native people were introduced to civilized interlopers, or in the first resistance to cities, or through the writings of Élisée Reclus (depending on how you measure the term “anarchist”). We are part of this tradition: one of violence, genocide, ecology, and anarchy.
It is worth mentioning that we are in a dialogue with Green Anarchy magazine (RIP). We were contributors to and students of that project, and lament its lack of a clear conclusion. Instead of decaying, dying, and being integrated into new life around it, Green Anarchy just seemed to disappear, rejecting the very notion of its own tradition. That was their way; ours is to honor those who came before and tend to the tendrils and shoots that we hope to form from this black seed.
We are not simply against civilization. We understand civilization to be one of many problems we face as anarchists. We wish to explore the material experiences (based in the physical world of interactions) of a perspective that places one against civilization and more broadly within the green anarchist perspective. However, we will also develop space distant from anarcho-primitivists’ tendencies towards fetishizing indigenous cultures, uncritical rewilding, appropriated spirituality, and reliance on anthropology. As a group, our preference is to use the editorial to take a stronger stance than we would individually. We are not unified in our opinions. We are using Black Seed as an experiment to suss out more particular critiques. We will use anarchist and anti-civilization perspectives but not be constrained by them.
One of the great challenges faced by all anarchists is that our words (rhetoric) imply activity that is damn near impossible in this world. This is doubly true in the context of the Western world, and double the challenge again given that we are writing this document well-ensconced in the heart of the American empire. We are both the beneficiaries of a system that has destroyed much more than life and the possibility of living it freely, and the victims of this system’s most pernicious power: forgetfulness.
If green anarchy is something distinct from either a general anarchist hostility towards the existent, or a red anarchist emphasis on class issues, it is a (necessarily feeble) attempt to reconcile the aforementioned impossibility. We live in the West and recognize the emptiness of what such an attempt entails. We have forgotten freedom and the beauty that surrounds us. We have a suspicion that somewhere in the conceptual terrain of ecological groups and the environmental movement lies something worth saving but it is probably less than we thought it was prior to our direct experience with those groups.
We also think that existing native traditions somehow relate to our project, which is very different from saying that we should emulate, parrot, or parody them; we recognize the presumptuous insufficiency of anthropology and cannot be sure how to negotiate the relationships between post- and pre-colonized people. What would it mean to live in an intact social body that is in spiritual connection to the earth? Neither we, nor anyone around us (especially in the cities), will ever know the answer to this question -- weekend trips to native lands absolutely not to the contrary.
This is meager gruel when compared to the utopian aspirations of those green anarchists who believed the revolution, whether it was to be brought about by appropriate technology (in the Whole Earth Catalog period of the 70s and 80s) or the End of Civilization, was right around the corner. The collapse is not coming. Capitalism has proven its capacity to swallow whole nearly every culture of resistance that has risen out of its belly. The crisis is here. It persists in various permutations within our everyday lives and the worldwide ecological crises that are already underway. We could write paragraphs of statistics about how the forests are being destroyed, the salmon, bears, and wolves are disappearing, polar ice caps are melting, and mountains are being whittled away. Many have named a specific year in the not-too-distant future as a “no turning back” point, when carbon emissions will have reached a point beyond humanity’s ability to reverse the damage done to the planet’s many ecologies. While we’ll explore these worthwhile reminders in our publication, we’re more interested in hearing stories, analysis, and celebrations of general upheaval, social revolt, and other experiments in mass refusal. We are asking for dialogue, critique, and reflections on these experiments, while encouraging both introductory and advanced understanding.
We are inspired by the Mi’qmak warriors in so-called New Brunswick, Canada in their struggle against fracking, those squatting and fighting against the development of a new airport (and its society!) in the woods north of Nantes, France, and the actions of the ELF at the Vale Resort to name but a few. We are moved by these events because they tell a tale of people with livelihoods inherently connected to the land beneath their feet coming together to violently resist the dominant social order and its practice of economic expansion.
The black seed is the distant, future possibility of our questions acting like weeds, breaking up concrete and ideology, and germinating into total fucking anarchy.
What is Green Anarchy?
An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Thought by the Green Anarchy Collective
Bridging both time and work, the following is an article that was featured in one of Green Anarchy magazine’s “Back to Basics” primers. We see this as a starting point for further exploration and discussion. The topics covered are central to a green anarchist critique or perspective. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather the beginnings of what we hope will be an ongoing conversation – one to be further expanded, updated, and explored in subsequent issues of Black Seed.
This primer is not meant to be the “defining principles” for a green anarchist “movement”, nor an anti-civilization manifesto. It is a look at some of the basic ideas and concepts that collective members share with each other, and with others who identify as green anarchists. We understand and celebrate the need to keep our visions and strategies open, and always welcome discussion. We feel that every aspect of what we think and who we are constantly needs to be challenged and remain flexible if we are to grow. We are not interested in developing a new ideology, nor perpetuating a singular world-view. We also understand that not all green anarchists are specifically anti-civilization (but we do have a hard time understanding how one can be against all domination without getting to its roots: civilization itself). At this point, however, most who use the term “green anarchist” do indict civilization and all that comes along with it (domestication, patriarchy, division of labor, technology, production, representation, alienation, objectification, control, the destruction of life, etc). While some would like to speak in terms of direct democracy and urban gardening, we feel it is impossible and undesirable to “green up” civilization and/or make it more “fair”. We feel that it is important to move towards a radically decentralized world, to challenge the logic and mindset of the death-culture, to end all mediation in our lives, and to destroy all the institutions and physical manifestations of this nightmare. We want to become uncivilized. In more general terms, this is the trajectory of green anarchy in thought and practice.
Anarchy vs Anarchism
One qualifier that we feel is important to begin with is the distinction between “anarchy” and “anarchism”. Some will write this off as merely semantics or trivial, but for most post-left and anti-civilization anarchists, this differentiation is important. While anarchism can serve as an important historical reference point from which to draw inspiration and lessons, it has become too systematic, fixed, and ideological…everything anarchy is not. Admittedly, this has less to do with anarchism’s social/political/philosophical orientation, and more to do with those who identify as anarchists. No doubt, many from our anarchist lineage would also be disappointed by this trend to solidify what should always be in flux. The early self-identified anarchists (Proudhon, Bakunin, Berkman, Goldman, Malatesta, and the like) were responding to their specific contexts, with their own specific motivations and desires. Too often, contemporary anarchists see these individuals as representing the boundaries of anarchy, and create a W.W.B.D. [What Would Bakunin Do (or more correctly–Think)] attitude towards anarchy, which is tragic and potentially dangerous. Today, some who identify as “classical” anarchists refuse to accept any effort in previously uncharted territory within anarchism (ie. Primitivism, Post-Leftism, etc) or trends which have often been at odds with the rudimentary workers’ mass movement approach (ie. Individualism, Nihilism, etc). These rigid, dogmatic, and extremely uncreative anarchists have gone so far as to declare that anarchism is a very specific social and economic methodology for organizing the working class. This is obviously an absurd extreme, but such tendencies can be seen in the ideas and projects of many contemporary anarcho-leftists (anarcho-sydicalists, anarcho-communists, platformists, federationists). “Anarchism”, as it stands today, is a far-left ideology, one which we need to get beyond. In contrast, “anarchy” is a formless, fluid, organic experience embracing multi-faceted visions of liberation, both personal and collective, and always open. As anarchists, we are not interested in forming a new framework or structure to live under or within, however “unobtrusive” or “ethical” it claims to be. Anarchists cannot provide another world for others, but we can raise questions and ideas, try to destroy all domination and that which impedes our lives and our dreams, and live directly connected with our desires.
What is Primitivism?
While not all green anarchists specifically identify as “Primitivists”, most acknowledge the significance that the primitivist critique has had on anti-civilization perspectives. Primitivism is simply an anthropological, intellectual, and experiential examination of the origins of civilization and the circumstances that led to this nightmare we currently inhabit. Primitivism recognizes that for most of human history, we lived in face-to-face communities in balance with each other and our surroundings, without formal hierarchies and institutions to mediate and control our lives. Primitivists wish to learn from the dynamics at play in the past and in contemporary gatherer-hunter/primitive societies (those that have existed and currently exist outside of civilization). While some primitivists wish for an immediate and complete return to gatherer-hunter band societies, most primitivists understand that an acknowledgement of what has been successful in the past does not unconditionally determine what will work in the future. The term “Future Primitive,” coined by anarcho-primitivist author John Zerzan, hints that a synthesis of primitive techniques and ideas can be joined with contemporary anarchist concepts and motivations to create healthy, sustainable, and egalitarian decentralized situations. Applied non-ideologically, anarcho-primitivism can be an important tool in the de-civilizing project.
What is Civilization?
Green anarchists tend to view civilization as the logic, institutions, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. While different individuals and groups prioritize distinct aspects of civilization (ie primitivists typically focus on the question of origins, feminists primarily focus on the roots and manifestations of patriarchy, and insurrectionary anarchists mainly focus on the destruction of contemporary institutions of control), most green anarchists agree that it is the underlying problem or root of oppression, and it needs to be dismantled. The rise of civilization can roughly be described as the shift over the past 10,000 years from an existence within and deeply connected to the web of life, to one separated from and in control of the rest of life. Prior to civilization there generally existed ample leisure time, considerable gender autonomy and equality, a non-destructive approach to the natural world, the absence of organized violence, no mediating or formal institutions, and strong health and robusticity. Civilization inaugurated warfare, the subjugation of women, population growth, drudge work, concepts of property, entrenched hierarchies, and virtually every known disease, to name a few of its devastating derivatives. Civilization begins with and relies on an enforced renunciation of instinctual freedom. It cannot be reformed and is thus our enemy.
Biocentrism vs Anthropocentrism
One way of analyzing the extreme discord between the world-views of primitive and earth-based societies and of civilization, is that of biocentric vs anthropocentric outlooks. Biocentrism is a perspective that centers and connects us to the earth and the complex web of life, while anthropocentrism, the dominant world view of western culture, places our primary focus on human society, to the exclusion of the rest of life. A biocentric view does not reject human society, but does move it out of the status of superiority and puts it into balance with all other life forces. It places a priority on a bioregional outlook, one that is deeply connected to the plants, animals, insects, climate, geographic features, and spirit of the place we inhabit. There is no split between ourselves and our environment, so there can be no objectification or otherness to life. Where separation and objectification are at the base of our ability to dominate and control, interconnectedness is a prerequisite for deep nurturing, care, and understanding. Green anarchy strives to move beyond human-centered ideas and decisions into a humble respect for all life and the dynamics of the ecosystems that sustain us.
A Critique of Symbolic Culture
Another aspect of how we view and relate to the world that can be problematic, in the sense that it separates us from a direct interaction, is our shift towards an almost exclusively symbolic culture. Often the response to this questioning is, “So, you just want to grunt?” Which might be the desire of a few, but typically the critique is a look at the problems inherent with a form of communication and comprehension that relies primarily on symbolic thought at the expense (and even exclusion) of other sensual and unmediated means. The emphasis on the symbolic is a movement from direct experience into mediated experience in the form of language, art, number, time, etc Symbolic culture filters our entire perception through formal and informal symbols. It’s beyond just giving things names, but having an entire relationship to the world that comes through the lens of representation. It is debatable as to whether humans are “hard-wired” for symbolic thought or if it developed as a cultural change or adaptation, but the symbolic mode of expression and understanding is certainly limited and its over-dependence leads to objectification, alienation, and a tunnel-vision of perception. Many green anarchists promote and practice getting in touch with and rekindling dormant or underutilized methods of interaction and cognition, such as touch, smell, and telepathy, as well as experimenting with and developing unique and personal modes of comprehension and expression.
The Domestication of Life
Domestication is the process that civilization uses to indoctrinate and control life according to its logic. These time-tested mechanisms of subordination include: taming, breeding, genetically modifying, schooling, caging, intimidating, coercing, extorting, promising, governing, enslaving, terrorizing, murdering…the list goes on to include almost every civilized social interaction. Their movement and effects can be examined and felt throughout society, enforced through various institutions, rituals, and customs. It is also the process by which previously nomadic human populations shift towards a sedentary or settled existence through agriculture and animal husbandry. This kind of domestication demands a totalitarian relationship with both the land and the plants and animals being domesticated. Whereas in a state of wildness, all life shares and competes for resources, domestication destroys this balance. The domesticated landscape (eg pastoral lands/agricultural fields, and to a lesser degree—horticulture and gardening) necessitates the end of open sharing of the resources that formerly existed; where once “this was everyone’s,” it is now “mine”. In Daniel Quinn’s novel Ishmael, he explains this transformation from the “Leavers” (those who accepted what the earth provided) to that of the “Takers” (those who demanded from the earth what they wanted). This notion of ownership laid the foundation for social hierarchy as property and power emerged. Domestication not only changes the ecology from a free to a totalitarian order, it enslaves the species that are domesticated. Generally the more an environment is controlled, the less sustainable it is. The domestication of humans themselves involves many trade-offs in comparison to the foraging, nomadic mode. It is worth noting here that most of the shifts made from nomadic foraging to domestication were not made autonomously, they were made by the blade of the sword or barrel of the gun. Whereas only 2000 years ago the majority of the world population were gatherer-hunters, it is now .01%. The path of domestication is a colonizing force that has meant myriad pathologies for the conquered population and the originators of the practice. Several examples include a decline in nutritional health due to over-reliance on non-diverse diets, almost 40–60 diseases integrated into human populations per domesticated animal (influenza, the common cold, tuberculosis, etc), the emergence of surplus which can be used to feed a population out of balance and which invariably involves property and an end to unconditional sharing.
The Origins and Dynamics of Patriarchy
Toward the beginning in the shift to civilization, an early product of domestication is patriarchy: the formalization of male domination and the development of institutions which reinforce it. By creating false gender distinctions and divisions between men and women, civilization, again, creates an “other” that can be objectified, controlled, dominated, utilized, and commodified. This runs parallel to the domestication of plants for agriculture and animals for herding, in general dynamics, and also in specifics like the control of reproduction. As in other realms of social stratification, roles are assigned to women in order to establish a very rigid and predictable order, beneficial to hierarchy. Woman come to be seen as property, no different then the crops in the field or the sheep in the pasture. Ownership and absolute control, whether of land, plants, animals, slaves, children, or women, is part of the established dynamic of civilization. Patriarchy demands the subjugation of the feminine and the usurpation of nature, propelling us toward total annihilation. It defines power, control and dominion over wildness, freedom, and life. Patriarchal conditioning dictates all of our interactions; with ourselves, our sexuality, our relationships to each other, and our relationship to nature. It severely limits the spectrum of possible experience. The interconnected relationship between the logic of civilization and patriarchy is undeniable; for thousands of years they have shaped the human experience on every level, from the institutional to the personal, while they have devoured life. To be against civilization, one must be against patriarchy; and to question patriarchy, it seems, one must also put civilization into question.
Division of Labor and Specialization
The disconnecting of the ability to care for ourselves and provide for our own needs is a technique of separation and disempowerment perpetuated by civilization. We are more useful to the system, and less useful to ourselves, if we are alienated from our own desires and each other through division of labor and specialization. We are no longer able to go out into the world and provide for ourselves and our loved ones the necessary nourishment and provisions for survival. Instead, we are forced into the production/consumption commodity system to which we are always indebted. Inequities of influence come about via the effective power of various kinds of experts. The concept of a specialist inherently creates power dynamics and undermines egalitarian relationships. While the Left may sometimes recognize these concepts politically, they are viewed as necessary dynamics, to keep in check or regulate, while green anarchists tend to see division of labor and specialization as fundamental and irreconcilable problems, decisive to social relationships within civilization.
The Rejection of Science
Most anti-civilization anarchists reject science as a method of understanding the world. Science is not neutral. It is loaded with motives and assumptions that come out of, and reinforce, the catastrophe of dissociation, disempowerment, and consuming deadness that we call “civilization.” Science assumes detachment. This is built into the very word “observation.” To “observe” something is to perceive it while distancing oneself emotionally and physically, to have a one-way channel of “information” moving from the observed thing to the “self,” which is defined as not a part of that thing. This death-based or mechanistic view is a religion, the dominant religion of our time. The method of science deals only with the quantitative. It does not admit values or emotions, or the way the air smells when it’s starting to rain—or if it deals with these things, it does so by transforming them into numbers, by turning oneness with the smell of the rain into abstract preoccupation with the chemical formula for ozone, turning the way it makes you feel into the intellectual idea that emotions are only an illusion of firing neurons. Numbers themselves are not truth but a chosen style of thinking. We have chosen a habit of mind that focuses our attention into a world removed from reality, where nothing has quality or awareness or a life of its own. We have chosen to transform the living into the dead. Careful-thinking scientists will admit that what they study is a narrow simulation of the complex real world, but few of them notice that this narrow focus is self-feeding, that it has built technological, economic, and political systems that are all working together, which suck our reality in on itself. As narrow as the world of numbers is, scientific method does not even permit all numbers—only those numbers which are reproducible, predictable, and the same for all observers. Of course reality itself is not reproducible or predictable or the same for all observers. But neither are fantasy worlds derived from reality. Science doesn’t stop at pulling us into a dream world—it goes one step further and makes this dream world a nightmare whose contents are selected for predictability and controllability and uniformity. All surprise and sensuality are vanquished. Because of science, states of consciousness that cannot be reliably disposed are classified as insane, or at best “non-ordinary,” and excluded. Anomalous experience, anomalous ideas, and anomalous people are cast off or destroyed like imperfectly-shaped machine components. Science is only a manifestation and locking in of an urge for control that we’ve had at least since we started farming fields and fencing animals instead of surfing the less predictable (but more abundant) world of reality, or “nature.” And from that time to now, this urge has driven every decision about what counts as “progress”, up to and including the genetic restructuring of life.
The Problem of Technology
All green anarchists question technology on some level. While there are those who still suggest the notion of “green” or “appropriate” technology and search for rationales to cling to forms of domestication, most reject technology completely. Technology is more than wires, silicon, plastic, and steel. It is a complex system involving division of labor, resource extraction, and exploitation for the benefit of those who implement its process. The interface with and result of technology is always an alienated, mediated, and distorted reality. Despite the claims of postmodern apologists and other technophiles, technology is not neutral. The values and goals of those who produce and control technology are always embedded within it. Technology is distinct from simple tools in many regards. A simple tool is a temporary usage of an element within our immediate surroundings used for a specific task. Tools do not involve complex systems which alienate the user from the act. Implicit in technology is this separation, creating an unhealthy and mediated experience which leads to various forms of authority. Domination increases every time a new “time-saving” technology is created, as it necessitates the construction of more technology to support, fuel, maintain and repair the original technology. This has led very rapidly to the establishment of a complex technological system that seems to have an existence independent from the humans who created it. Discarded by-products of the technological society are polluting both our physical and our psychological environments. Lives are stolen in service of the Machine and the toxic effluent of the technological system’s fuels—both are choking us. Technology is now replicating itself, with something resembling a sinister sentience. Technological society is a planetary infection, propelled forward by its own momentum, rapidly ordering a new kind of environment: one designed for mechanical efficiency and technological expansionism alone. The technological system methodically destroys, eliminates, or subordinates the natural world, constructing a world fit only for machines. The ideal for which the technological system strives is the mechanization of everything it encounters.
Production and Industrialism
A key component of the modern techno-capitalist structure is industrialism, the mechanized system of production built on centralized power and the exploitation of people and nature. Industrialism cannot exist without genocide, ecocide, and colonialism. To maintain it, coercion, land evictions, forced labor, cultural destruction, assimilation, ecological devastation, and global trade are accepted as necessary, even benign. Industrialism’s standardization of life objectifies and commodifies it, viewing all life as a potential resource. A critique of industrialism is a natural extension of the anarchist critique of the state because industrialism is inherently authoritarian. In order to maintain an industrial society, one must set out to conquer and colonize lands in order to acquire (generally) non-renewable resources to fuel and grease the machines. This colonialism is rationalized by racism, sexism, and cultural chauvinism. In the process of acquiring these resources, people must be forced off their land. And in order to make people work in the factories that produce the machines, they must be enslaved, made dependent, and otherwise subjected to the destructive, toxic, degrading industrial system. Industrialism cannot exist without massive centralization and specialization: Class domination is a tool of the industrial system that denies people access to resources and knowledge, making them helpless and easy to exploit. Furthermore, industrialism demands that resources be shipped from all over the globe in order to perpetuate its existence, and this globalism undermines local autonomy and self-sufficiency. It is a mechanistic worldview that is behind industrialism. This is the same world-view that has justified slavery, exterminations, and the subjugation of women. It should be obvious to all that industrialism is not only oppressive for humans, but that it is also fundamentally ecologically destructive.
Unfortunately, many anarchists continue to be viewed, and view themselves, as part of the Left. This tendency is changing, as post-left and anti-civilization anarchists make clear distinctions between their perspectives and the bankruptcy of the socialist and liberal orientations. Not only has the Left proven itself to be a monumental failure in its objectives, but it is obvious from its history, contemporary practice, and ideological framework, that the Left (while presenting itself as altruistic and promoting “freedom”) is actually the antithesis of liberation. The Left has never fundamentally questioned technology, production, organization, representation, alienation, authoritarianism, morality, or Progress, and it has almost nothing to say about ecology, autonomy, or the individual on any meaningful level. The Left is a general term and can roughly describe all socialist leanings (from social democrats and liberals to Maoists and Stalinists) which wish to re-socialize “the masses” into a more “progressive” agenda, often using coercive and manipulative approaches in order to create a false “unity” or the creation of political parties. While the methods or extremes in implementation may differ, the overall push is the same, the institution of a collectivized and monolithic world-view based on morality.
Against Mass Society
Most anarchists and “revolutionaries” spend a significant portion of their time developing schemes and mechanisms for production, distribution, adjudication, and communication between large numbers of people; in other words, the functioning of a complex society. But not all anarchists accept the premise of global (or even regional) social, political, and economic coordination and interdependence, or the organization needed for their administration. We reject mass society for practical and philosophical reasons. First, we reject the inherent representation necessary for the functioning of situations outside of the realm of direct experience (completely decentralized modes of existence). We do not wish to run society, or organize a different society, we want a completely different frame of reference. We want a world where each group is autonomous and decides on its own terms how to live, with all interactions based on affinity, free and open, and non-coercive. We want a life which we live, not one which is run. Mass society brutally collides not only with autonomy and the individual, but also with the earth. It is simply not sustainable (in terms of the resource extraction, transportation, and communication systems necessary for any global economic system) to continue on with, or to provide alternative plans for a mass society. Again, radical de-centralization seems key to autonomy and providing non-hierarchical and sustainable methods of subsistence.
Liberation vs Organization
We are beings striving for a deep and total break with the civilized order, anarchists desiring unrestrained freedom. We fight for liberation, for a de-centralized and unmediated relationship with our surroundings and those we love and share affinity with. Organizational models only provide us with more of the same bureaucracy, control, and alienation that we receive from the current set-up. While there might be an occasional good intention, the organizational model comes from an inherently paternalistic and distrusting mindset which seems contradictory to anarchy. True relationships of affinity come from a deep understanding of one another through intimate need-based relationships of day-to-day life, not relationships based on organizations, ideologies, or abstract ideas. Typically, the organizational model suppresses individual needs and desires for “the good of the collective” as it attempts to standardize both resistance and vision. From parties, to platforms, to federations, it seems that as the scale of projects increase, the meaning and relevance they have for one’s own life decrease. Organizations are means for stabilizing creativity, controlling dissent, and reducing “counter-revolutionary tangents” (as chiefly determined by the elite cadres or leadership). They typically dwell in the quantitative, rather than the qualitative, and offer little space for independent thought or action. Informal, affinity-based associations tend to minimize alienation from decisions and processes, and reduce mediation between our desires and our actions. Relationships between groups of affinity are best left organic and temporal, rather than fixed and rigid.
Revolution vs Reform
As anarchists, we are fundamentally opposed to government, and likewise, any sort of collaboration or mediation with the state (or any institution of hierarchy and control). This position determines a certain continuity or direction of strategy, historically referred to as revolution. This term, while warped, diluted, and co-opted by various ideologies and agendas, can still have meaning to the anarchist and anti-ideological praxis. By revolution, we mean the ongoing struggle to alter the social and political landscape in a fundamental way; for anarchists, this means its complete dismantling. The word “revolution” is dependent on the position from which it is directed, as well as what would be termed “revolutionary” activity. Again, for anarchists, this is activity which is aimed at the complete dissolving of power. Reform, on the other hand, entails any activity or strategy aimed at adjusting, altering, or selectively maintaining elements of the current system, typically utilizing the methods or apparatus of that system. The goals and methods of revolution cannot be dictated by, nor performed within, the context of the system. For anarchists, revolution and reform invoke incompatible methods and aims, and despite certain anarcho-liberal approaches, do not exist on a continuum. For anti-civilization anarchists, revolutionary activity questions, challenges, and works to dismantle the entire set-up or paradigm of civilization. Revolution is also not a far-off or distant singular event which we build towards or prepare people for, but instead, a life-way or practice of approaching situations.
Resisting the Mega-Machine
Anarchists in general, and green anarchists in particular, favor direct action over mediated or symbolic forms of resistance. Various methods and approaches, including cultural subversion, sabotage, insurrection, and political violence (although not limited to these) have been and remain part of the anarchist arsenal of attack. No one tactic can be effective in significantly altering the current order or its trajectory, but these methods, combined with transparent and ongoing social critique, are important. Subversion of the system can occur from the subtle to the dramatic, and can also be an important element of physical resistance. Sabotage has always been a vital part of anarchist activities, whether in the form of spontaneous vandalism (public or nocturnal) or through more highly illegal underground coordination in cell formation. Recently, groups like the Earth Liberation Front, a radical environmental group made up of autonomous cells targeting those who profit off of the destruction of the earth, have caused millions of dollars of damage to corporate outlets and offices, banks, timber mills, genetic research facilities, sport utility vehicles, and luxury homes. These actions, often taking the form of arson, along with articulate communiqués frequently indicting civilization, have inspired others to take action, and are effective means of not only bringing attention to environmental degradation, but also as deterrents to specific earth destroyers. Insurrectionary activity, or the proliferation of insurrectionary moments which can cause a rupture in the social peace in which people’s spontaneous rage can be unleashed and possibly spread into revolutionary conditions, are also on the rise. The riots in Seattle in 1999, Prague in 2000, and Genoa in 2001, were all (in different ways) sparks of insurrectionary activity, which, although limited in scope, can be seen as attempts to move in insurrectionary directions and make qualitative breaks with reformism and the entire system of enslavement. Political violence, including the targeting of individuals responsible for specific activities or the decisions which lead to oppression, has also been a focus for anarchists historically. Finally, considering the immense reality and all-pervasive reach of the system (socially, politically, technologically), attacks on the techno-grid and infrastructure of the mega-machine are of interest to anti-civilization anarchists. Regardless of approaches and intensity, militant action coupled with insightful analysis of civilization is increasing.
The Need to be Critical
As the march towards global annihilation continues, as society becomes more unhealthy, as we lose more control over our own lives, and as we fail to create significant resistance to the death-culture, it is vital for us to be extremely critical of past “revolutionary” movements, current struggles, and our own projects. We cannot perpetually repeat the mistakes of the past or be blind to our own deficiencies. The radical environmental movement is filled with single-issued campaigns and symbolic gestures and the anarchist scene is plagued with leftist and liberal tendencies. Both continue to go through rather meaningless “activist” motions, rarely attempting to objectively assess their (in)effectiveness. Often guilt and self-sacrifice, rather than their own liberation and freedom, guide these social do-gooders, as they proceed along a course that has been plotted out by the failures before them. The Left is a festering sore on the ass of humanity, environmentalists have been unsuccessful at preserving even a fraction of wild areas, and anarchists rarely have anything provocative to say, let alone do. While some would argue against criticism because it is “divisive”, any truly radical perspective would see the necessity of critical examination, in changing our lives and the world we inhabit. Those who wish to quell all debate until “after the revolution”, to contain all discussion into vague and meaningless chatter, and to subdue criticism of strategy, tactics, or ideas, are going nowhere, and can only hold us back. An essential aspect to any radical anarchist perspective must be to put everything into question, certainly including our own ideas, projects, and actions.
Influences and Solidarity
The green anarchist perspective is diverse and open, yet it does contain some continuity and primary elements. It has been influenced by anarchists, primitivists, Luddites, insurrectionalists, Situationists, surrealists, nihilists, deep ecologists, bioregionalists, eco-feminists, various indigenous cultures, anti-colonial struggles, the feral, the wild, and the earth. Anarchists, obviously, contribute the anti-authoritarian push, which challenges all power on a fundamental level, striving for truly egalitarian relationships and promoting mutual-aid communities. Green anarchists, however, extend ideas of non-domination to all of life, not just human life, going beyond the traditional anarchist analysis. From primitivists, green anarchists are informed with a critical and provocative look at the origins of civilization, so as to understand what this mess is and how we got here, to help inform a change in direction. Inspired by the Luddites, green anarchists rekindle an anti-technological/industrial direct action orientation. Insurrectionalists infuse a perspective which waits not for the fine-tuning of a crystalline critique, but identify and spontaneously attack current institutions of civilization which inherently bind our freedom and desire. Anti-civilization anarchists owe much to the Situationists, and their critique of the alienating commodity society, which we can break from by connecting with our dreams and unmediated desires. Nihilism’s refusal to accept any of the current reality understands the deeply engrained unhealth of this society and offers green anarchists a strategy which does not necessitate offering visions for society, but instead focuses on its destruction. Deep ecology, despite its misanthropic tendencies, informs the green anarchist perspective with an understanding that the well-being and flourishing of all life is linked to the awareness of the inherent worth and intrinsic value of the non-human world independent of use value. Deep ecology’s appreciation for the richness and diversity of life contributes to the realization that the present human interference with the non-human world is coercive and excessive, with the situation rapidly worsening. Bioregionalists bring the perspective of living within one’s bioregion, and being intimately connected to the land, water, climate, plants, animals, and general patterns of their bioregion. Eco-feminists have contributed to the comprehension of the roots, dynamics, manifestations, and reality of patriarchy, and its effect on the earth, women in particular, and humanity in general. Recently, the destructive separation of humans from the earth (civilization) has probably been articulated most clearly and intensely by eco-feminists. Anti-civilization anarchists have been profoundly influenced by the various indigenous cultures and earth-based peoples throughout history and those who still currently exist. While we humbly learn and incorporate sustainable techniques for survival and healthier ways of interacting with life, it is important to not flatten or generalize native peoples and their cultures, and to respect and attempt to understand their diversity without co-opting cultural identities and characteristics. Solidarity, support, and attempts to connect with native and anti-colonial struggles, which have been the front-lines of the fight against civilization, are essential as we attempt to dismantle the death-machine. It is also important to understand that we, at some point, have all come from earth-based peoples forcibly removed from our connections with the earth, and therefore have a place within anti-colonial struggles. We are also inspired by the feral, those who have escaped domestication and have re-integrated with the wild. And, of course, the wild beings which make up this beautiful blue and green organism called Earth. It is also important to remember that, while many green anarchists draw influence from similar sources, green anarchy is something very personal to each who identify or connect with these ideas and actions. Perspectives derived from one’s own life experiences within the death-culture (civilization), and one’s own desires outside the domestication process, are ultimately the most vivid and important in the uncivilizing process.
Rewilding and Reconnection
For most green/anti-civilization/primitivist anarchists, rewilding and reconnecting with the earth is a life project. It is not limited to intellectual comprehension or the practice of primitive skills, but instead, it is a deep understanding of the pervasive ways in which we are domesticated, fractured, and dislocated from our selves, each other, and the world, and the enormous and daily undertaking to be whole again. Rewilding has a physical component which involves reclaiming skills and developing methods for a sustainable co-existence, including how to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves with the plants, animals, and materials occurring naturally in our bioregion. It also includes the dismantling of the physical manifestations, apparatus, and infrastructure of civilization. Rewilding has an emotional component, which involves healing ourselves and each other from the 10,000 year-old wounds which run deep, learning how to live together in non-hierarchical and non-oppressive communities, and deconstructing the domesticating mindset in our social patterns. Rewilding involves prioritizing direct experience and passion over mediation and alienation, re-thinking every dynamic and aspect of our reality, connecting with our feral fury to defend our lives and to fight for a liberated existence, developing more trust in our intuition and being more connected to our instincts, and regaining the balance that has been virtually destroyed after thousands of years of patriarchal control and domestication. Rewilding is the process of becoming uncivilized.
For the Destruction of Civilization!
For the Reconnection to Life!
When Nature Attacks
Squirrel Blamed For Massive Southern Marin Power Outage - Marin Independent Journal, 1/8/2014
A squirrel is being blamed for a large power outage in Marin County that affected 23,000 customers Wednesday morning, according to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said the outage began at 10:12 a.m. when a squirrel caused a flashover and damaged a breaker at the Mill Valley substation. He said the squirrel acted as a conductor between equipment and didn’t survive the experience. About 12,000 customers in the affected areas of Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Tiburon and Muir Beach had restored power by 11:17 a.m. At 11:39 a.m. power was restored to all, Moreno said.
Pope’s Peace Doves Attacked By Crow & Seagull - from The Guardian, 1/26/2014
Two white doves that were released as a peace gesture by children standing alongside Pope Francis were attacked by other birds. As tens of thousands of people watched in St Peter’s Square on Sunday, a seagull and a large black crow swept down on the doves after they were set free from an open window of the Apostolic Palace. One dove lost some feathers as it broke free from the gull. But the crow pecked repeatedly at the other dove. It was not clear what happened to the doves as they flew off. Speaking at the window beforehand, Francis appealed for peace in Ukraine, where anti-government protesters have died.
Woman Badly Mauled By Black Bear in Her Suburban Florida Home - from NatureWorldNews, 4/14/2014
A woman in Seminole County, Florida was attacked by a 200-pound bear in the garage of her home, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The woman survived with bite marks to her head, arm and leg and claw marks on her back. She had to have 30 staples and 10 stitches in her head before being released from the hospital. Coincidentally, the day she was attacked an advisory had been issued about Florida black bear activity increasing, as the animals have just come out of their dens from winter hibernation. The day after the attack, the State said it captured and killed three bears in the area that showed no fear of people. One of the three bears was described as particularity aggressive. Our thoughts go out to the bears’ families and we wish them a speedy vengeance.
Earthquake Liberates Over 300 Prisoners In Chile - from Russia Today, 4/2/2014
Armed forces were sent to the city of Iquique, Chile to track down escaped prisoners after an earthquake, several after-shocks and the threat of tsunami wreaked havoc on a women’s prison. Authorities say the situation got out of control because the prison is located in an area prone to flooding. At the time of reporting, only 16 prisoners had been re-captured.
Letters to the Editors
We received a handful of responses to our original call-out for submissions that were posted on various websites. We decided to reprint the call-out for the sake of coherency alongside some interesting dialogue/responses we’ve since had.
It has been almost 6 years since the last issue of Green Anarchy. During its 25-issue run, the magazine brought green anarchist ideas to North America and the world. It succeeded as an incubator of ideas and a real provocation for those both inside and outside of the anarchist milieu. In the intervening years, even with drastic changes in terms of green capitalism, technological advancement, and an ever-worsening ecological crisis, green anarchist and anti-civilization ideas have not been terribly visible.
We intend to reintroduce this green anarchist provocation. The new project will have a different orientation than Green Anarchy did. Rather than framing our theory and practice in the abstract world of historical and anthropological perspectives on civilization (or in a fetishization of primitive cultures), we begin in conversation and with our own personal experiences. Currently, in the English-speaking world, single-issue, campaign-based organizing dominates radical perspectives on the developing global ecological crises and resistance to domination’s ever-expanding encroachment. As anarchists, we desire to push the dialogue further and open a space to engage critically with the development of capitalism and the state, along with the dead-ends of environmental activism, in both the radical varieties and the more recent mainstream green “civil disobedience” movements.
We are a collective comprised of former contributors to Green Anarchy magazine, recent propagandists of a green anarchist persuasion, and other rabble-rousers. This publication will be editorially controlled by us and produced and distributed by Little Black Cart. We intend to release a biannual publication and we are asking for your help.
We want to hear about your experiences. Please send us stories of ecological struggle, anti-authoritarian earth-based coalitions, non-materialist anarchist practice, allied prisoners, and signs of the system’s meltdown. We are interested in developing critiques of civilization, the state, and technology; as methods of social control evolve and adapt, so must our understandings of them. We are also interested in a mixed medium of submissions such as original artwork, photography, poetry, etc.
RE: Non-Materialist Practice
Question: Can anyone explain what non-materialist means here? Do they just mean they’re not Marxists?
Answer: One of the weaknesses of radical politics today is that our desire for freedom sounds an awful lot like, and indeed uses many of the same words as, other groups in their desire for freedom. The English words we use have themselves been trapped by traditions: liberal, Marxist, colonial. It is a challenge to say anything at all, especially something simple or ancient, framed by those we despise.
Personally, I’m looking for stories about what anarchists do that break out of academic or spiritual discourse, out of the particular traps I see in the circles around me. For you, it could be that the traps are countercultural or age-related. For another, it may be a question of rural versus urban or a question of identity or of subsistence. So to clarify the question in our original call-out, how do we open a about anarchist practice without receiving cornball answers to a question we aren’t asking. I’m not looking for solutions as much as I am engagement that lives anarchist and breathes the land.
Green anarchism often times sounds either woo or like it’s in recovery from Situationist or Earth First! ideas. For many people, that’s a high mark that they would be happy to reach. However, a fierce green anarchist perspective could also be specifically land-based, multigenerational, and grounded in relationships beyond casual affinity. It could learn from other people doing this things rather than chasing the so-called radical politics of activism, safe spaces, and decolonization in word alone.
Correspondence with Riflebird
What follows is an email correspondence between a member of the Fierce Dreams Collective, who put together a wild-skill-share gathering out in the woods in Australia, and one of the editorial collective members of Black Seed. Both writers felt it was fit for submitting given that it highlights much of the conversations and contradictions surrounding contemporary green-anarchist thought.
Hi there Black Seed.
It’s good to know that someone has an interest in continuing an ongoing green anarchist journal, a process that Green Anarchy (an anti-civilization journal of theory and action that was published from 2000-2009) started but couldn’t continue with. It is missed.
I had a bit of trouble understanding some of the post, or the journal’s intent. It could be a failure on my part, or it may be a collective project so different folks want different things. However, the terminology of ‘fetishizing’ indigenous cultures threw me off. After all, anarcho-primitivism seems to me to be the only strain of anarchistic thought that takes the ongoing genocide of indigenous people seriously, and the only thread that analyses hunter-gatherer lifeways to compare with current incarnations of mass society. This is significant because humans have existed so long without civilization but this fact is often still overlooked. I could understand if you want to scale back the anthropology, but I don’t feel that GA (Green Anarchy) fetishized indigenous cultures (maybe you feel differently, maybe some specific indigenous folks did, and that’s a topic for discussion of course), and I guess I wonder because this is a typical attack from leftists against green anarchists still today.
Speaking of leftism, the callout has said it wants to go beyond the dead ends of activism, but wants to focus on the development of capital and the state. If this journal is inspired by GA, the most powerful and long-lasting effects were its decimation of the left. There are so many avenues to talk about capital and the state (red anarchist blogs, historical materialism conferences, etc...). I’m not sure what’s meant by this.
I would also offer that green anarchist thought may have not been as visible in some ways as it was in the mid 2000’s when GA magazine was in full force but if you are trying to rekindle interest I’m not sure why you would downplay or trivialize the tactical resistance to civilization that is going on worldwide, possibly sparked by GA and similar sources. Right now in Chile, Moscow, Brazil, Mexico, and Finland, to name only a few, there are people speaking out and directly acting against civilization, explicitly naming it as the enemy in various communiques. I would say personally that the ideas have not gone away, rather they have spread further and also formed connections with other struggles. Of course GA was very well known, and had a huge distribution, and very prominent writers, so there is a need for green anarchist theory and voices nowadays in North America, which you are obviously addressing.
Anyway that’s just a few thoughts off the top of my head. If you want to see what our collective has been doing, there is a website: fiercedreams.wordpress.com. We’ve had a gathering and a couple of discussion nights so far and are motivated to continue exploring ideas around green anarchy in our corner of the world.
All the best, keep it wild.
First I wanted to thank you for your response. This kind of correspondence is exactly what I’m hoping to get out of working on this publication. I also want to go ahead and say that my response is not representative of the other members of the editorial collective, I don’t think this type of correspondence necessitates nor could accomplish a “collective response.”
I guess what “fetishizing” of indigenous cultures that was referenced in the original call-out for submissions means to me is this tendency I have seen in the green-anarchist milieu to sort of put forth the idea that the way hunter-gatherer people lived was totally egalitarian, free from domination, and can be taken as a model to plan our future societies after industrial collapse. What I see as problematic in that assertion are a couple of things: A) This idea is largely reliant on the studies of anthropology, an academic social science that views its knowledge and research as ultimate and superior as it stands within the academic university. I do see the importance of studying and learning how humans have lived without the constraints of civilization, and how those studies in and of themselves can have bright insights into the oppressive manner of our current situations, yet the academic university approach is something I wish to step away from in an anarchist discourse given its specialized role in knowledge. B) The idea of creating or finding models in which we can follow to set up new societies “after the collapse” or “after the rupture” is not something I am interested in at all. My “project” or however you want to describe someone’s pursuit-of-anarchy-in-life is negative; I mean to focus on the destruction of civilization, the state, capitalism, technology, mediation, etc. The topic of “how will we hunt and gather when the cities collapse?” can be an interesting and fun thought-experiment, yet to me resembles the talk of “how will we organize the factories and cafés after the collapse of capitalism?” I am not so interested in how to live in liberation, which when discussed in this way frames the sometime-in-the-future-insurrection-to-come the same way that Christians might talk about “the Apocalypse” or Maoists talk about “the Revolution,” but I’m more interested in dismantling the current structures that dominate our lives and the world around us. I don’t believe it will realistically ever happen, yet I believe in the importance of it nonetheless.
Apart from that, one only needs to look at the Green Anarchy Primer Back To Basics Volume 1 to see just one example of the tendency of the green anarchist milieu to fetishize indigenous culture. What is seen on the first page is a picture of children running with spears in hands, taken completely out of context. One could ascertain that the imposed meaning on the inclusion of this photo is “Look at these wild children on the hunt! Amazing! Free! Anarchy!” This surface-level acknowledgement of a lifestyle merely reduces it to images that accompany political thought, completely disregarding the complexities and nuances that accompany any such lifestyle completely enveloped in the immediate surrounding world.
None of this is to say that indigenous culture is of no importance. If anything I wish to bring to light a discourse with and around indigenous communities and anarchy through this publication. At the least I want to hear from and dialogue with people in those communities, not write about them from afar.
The point you made of the criticism of the left in GA: I definitely find much importance in critiquing the left as they are our enemies and will recuperate anything they can get their hands on. On the other hand, a sentiment that I shared with some of the co-editors of Black Seed was that GA seemed a bit obsessive and fixated on critiquing the left. It became a thing for me at least where honestly I got quite bored with reading essay after essay attacking leftists. And perhaps this is one place in the announcement of the Black Seed project where the wording could have been worked on a little bit more, but to me capital and the state go hand in hand with civilization and technology. They are each spurred on by the other, and an advancement in the economy, technology or politics is an advancement for the others. I hope to help facilitate through this publication an illustration of the intertwined relations of each monster. I am completely baffled when I meet anarchists/anti-capitalists/whatever-rebels who do not find importance in the critiques and dismantling of technology and civilization.
And I would agree with your sentiment that it was perhaps unfitting to downplay currently ongoing explicitly anti-civilization struggles in other parts of the world. I would say that that sentiment came from a focus that is more directed at North America, where the dialogue surrounding environmental issues and radical/anarchist intervention is predominately maintained by those of Earth First! and Rising Tide; mostly leftist coalitions focused on issue-based-campaign organizing that resembles nothing more than begging to me. It would certainly behoove us in the North American context to give nods or at least acknowledge those who we share affinity with worldwide. To “downplay or trivialize the tactical resistance to civilization” is certainly not my intention and I would assume not those of the co-editors either.
Best wishes, for anarchy,
Cedar Leighlais, Black Seed Collective
Thanks so much for your interesting and considered email. I found it quite thought provoking and definitely want to pursue the dialogue as well. As far as writing a collective response yes I have been struggling with that conundrum too this year. For this situation it’s a lot better to sort it out as individuals.
All that you have said makes sense to me and leaves me wanting to write something for Black Seed. Not all of it I agree with, however, which is all the more intriguing. For instance I don’t think that all band societies were egalitarian and utopian... but they offer the only example of longterm anarchist life to this day in my opinion (anarchy on a basic level, as having no rulers). So in that way, as a comparison point, since certain groups have some characteristics (once again, not treating non-civilized societies as a monolith) that are such a radical departure from life in mass society, I see value in discussing the differences. I do agree that they should not provide any kind of model or ideal, because post-civilization life will be a hell of a lot different to pre-civilization life. I totally agree about avoiding the trap of relying upon anthropology to try to give authority to any arguments against civilization, and I personally see it as just another institution that has to go.
From what you are saying, and I will endeavor to better understand it as we go along, we have a fair bit in common. I realize that because I haven’t been involved in any scene or urban anarchist community for a while, some of my influences are not exactly new (not to say they are all outdated, I hope). I am becoming more informed about what people are generally feeling and thinking here in Australia the more I reach out and try to have a dialogue. So I feel as if any discussions I can have are going to be good for me, to bring me up to date and up to speed with what is happening in the urban areas and around the world. Recently I read Seaweed’s Land and Freedom and I feel as if that is a great indicator, it does talk of capitalism and production, but also does not valorize nomadic hunter-gathering lifeways as an ideal, and does not dwell on academic or anthropological references, but it is still certainly green-anarchist leaning. Have you read that?
As far as the left goes, I did and do appreciate the anti-leftist raves in GA, but it is more for comic relief and blowing off steam than anything else. I take your point that there was probably too much of it and it detracted from the more important work of dismantling civilization and also may have formed a clique. The main reason I still see value in slamming the left is in the context of Australia it still goes so unquestioned. I feel like I have to defend myself routinely against moderate political activists a lot, and there is a strong overtone of presumptuousness and a pious tone that is still the default setting of ‘political campaigning’ here. I feel as if there is still a lot of work to do to break away from that and make it clear that we are not part of the left and do not ascribe to the values of the left. But for any potential Black Seed articles I would tone it down and focus on the task at hand! Haha. I certainly can see how the atmosphere is different in North America with Earth First! and whatnot, and it is a different beast. There are a lot more anarchists, a lot more anti-civilization discussion, just basically more people and more history.
There are a lot of parallels here though with activism, anti-logging protests, and N.G.O.’s and environmental campaigning to “save the forests”. It is the predominant method of combatting the ongoing ecological destruction, even to this day, and these ‘movements’ mostly plod along without critique.
You mentioned, “I am baffled when I meet anarchists/anti-capitalists/whatever-rebels who do not find importance in the critiques of technology and civilization.” Well, I am too, but subsequently I am baffled a LOT. The general vibe is one of defensiveness, outrage and scorn when these topics come up in most anarchist spaces here. It is breaking down slowly but it is going to take a while. Putting on Fierce Dreams has created a few openings and possibilities and so we will continue with this project in some shape or form as I feel that gatherings put people in direct contact with each other, at least among some trees. For a country so vast where folks are often isolated, it can be a good start.
All the best,
For the death of Leviathan,
Russia: Two Excavators Torched - from interarma.info, 2/14/2014
“... we followed routine procedure: put some rags around engine parts and oil pumps, soaked them with gasoline, etc. After we left the area, we tarried for some time to enjoy the night view. Both excavators were trailing huge columns of smoke into the air. We establish the damage done at around 6-8 million rubles (approx. 200 000 USD).
We hope this act will slow down operations in this quarry. The area already boasts several abandoned quarries. Since our initial recon in this district large tracts of wood were drained and cut in order to clear up space for more quarry works. The sand excavated in here is used for future developement projects that do not take Nature or clean air into account.
We wish best of luck to all of you. Keep that fire burning.
MOSCOW 2014, ELF/FAI/IRF”
Turkey: Excavator Torched - from interarma.info, 2/20/2014
“On Thursday, February 20th, in Poyraz rural regions of Anatolian part of Istanbul, we attacked an excavator which is left to sleep on the verge of excavating the nature and we spray painted several locations around the site with the signs of ‘ELF-FAI/IRF.’ While this nature killer became unusable with a simple, time-set, handmade incendiary device, the message we wanted to give was clear: “If you build it, we will burn and destroy it!”
Tractors Sabotaged in Atlanta, GA - from directaction.info, 2/22/2014
“On the night of February 22nd, we poured a mixture of sand and water into the fuel tanks of two tractors used in the construction of a new Atlanta streetcar. We offer this small gesture of solidarity to the ZAD, the No TAV movement, and the occupation of the Hambach Forest. We would also like to send strength to those affected by increased surveillance or repression the new developments have brought to Atlanta.”
Brazil: 10 Police Cars Torched Inside Military Barracks - from War On Society Blog, 2/24/2014
“The financial loss estimated by the alarmed media is around 1 million but the actual losses are really more extensive than financial figures. It shows that they are vulnerable and that with just a little bit of gasoline and audacity we can strike them in the chest. The police, the media, the law abiding citizens, the secretary of security, and the governor poured out their pity. We applaud all the indomitable.”
Greece: Imprisoned Members of CCF Attack Prosecuting Witness During Trial - from Interarma, 2/27/2014
During this trial, the members of the Conspiracy Cells of Fire are being accused of setting fire to a prosecutor’s house who has been responsible for jailing many anarchist-guerillas. In this session, Vassilis Foukas, the prosecutor, was brought forth as a witness, and when it was the imprisoned’s turn to ask question, Foukas grew irritated, mouthed-off and attempted to walk out. Two of the CCF jumped up and got in his way, attacking him. The cops stepped in and helped him to escape before more could get involved.
Before that, the Foukas had said “I don’t have to answer anything!” just to get the response by a comrade “Asshole we burned your house, now we will bomb it…” The court adjourned and decided that the witness should be called again so that the questions can be completed.
Mexico: Package Bomb Sent to University Scientist - from War On Society Blog, Late-March
“...We abandon words and analyses in order to begin with our war, the war against what kills us and consumes us, against the invincible megamachine which only wild nature or its very own technology can collapse. We do not seek victories, triumphs or results from what we do or have done, we are not revolutionaries, platformists or anarchists.
We only seek confrontation with the system, the sharpening of the conflict against it. From this day we publicly put aside the word ‘analysis,’ in order to become The Obsidian Point Circle of Attack.
And with that said, we declare ourselves responsible for a package bomb with a considerable quantity of shrapnel, sent in the final days of March by express mail to Dr. José Narro Robles... Why attack the ‘respectable’ Mr. Narro?… Here is our response: Narro is one of the many public figures who propels the great majority of scientific and technological projects within and without the country, which tend to improve civilization, which aim toward economic development, and which tend toward progress, toward the perpetuation of the technoindustrial system, and finally the modification and destruction of wild nature (along with human nature).
We care little what they call us, such as ‘barbarian,’ ‘foolish,’ ‘mediocre,’ etc, we do not want to give any ‘good impression’ to their eyes, we do not want to be, nor are we, nor will we be, the traditional ‘social fighters’ of Mexico, we are egoist radicals, politically incorrect, irreverently individualist at war against the progress of the technoindustrial system.”
Oakland, CA Police Office Attacked - from anarchistnews.org, 4/2/2014
“Our aim was to demonstrate that action, however small, is both possible and desirable.
We dedicate this action to the rebels in Durham, North Carolina who have repeatedly taken to the streets in outrage against the killer pigs who murdered a young man, Chuy Huerta, in the back of a cop car last year. Weapons in hand,
we attacked for Chuy.”
Mining Executive’s Vancouver, B.C. Home Sprayed With Gunfire - from The Vancouver Sun, 4/4/2014
The home belonging to Johnathan More and Taylor Rae More was peppered with bullets the morning of Friday, April 4th. Johnathan More is president and CEO of Aldrin Resource Corp., a junior uranium company that is listed on the TSX Venture Exchange. The company recently announced its crews had begun drilling in search of uranium at its property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin.
He is also named as a director of Athabasca Nuclear, another Venture-listed uranium explorer, and the CEO and director of Mira Resources Corp., an oil and gas company with projects in West African countries Ghana and Angola.
More is listed on the Mira website as a former investment adviser and the founder of JM Finance LTD, a Canadian venture capital company.
Police responded to emergency phone calls about the incident and taped off the two-story home. It is not known whether or not they were home during the shooting, and no suspects have been named.
Meat Industry Suppliers Sabotaged in Solidarity With Animal Liberation Prisoners in Portland, OR - from Puget Sound Anarchists, 4/10/2014
On the night of April 10th, the locks were glued at Market Supply Co. (139 SE Taylor St, Portland, OR) and McGraw Marketing Co. (2514 SE 23rd Ave, Portland OR) also had its lock jammed with liquid nails.
These minor acts were done in solidarity with animal liberation prisoner Kevin Olliff.
Montreal: Rail Lines Blocked in Solidarity with Indigenous Communities in Conflict with the State - anarchistnews.org, 4/8/2014
“...8 train lines running through Montreal were blocked by disrupting the rail signals. This action was done in response to ongoing effors of colonization and repression by the state against indigenous communities across Turtle Island.
Rebels, indigenous folk and workers alike have targeted the train lines as an apt means for disrupting the flow of capital and these systems of domination. Historically and presently the railways have acted as a necessary toll for imperialism.
CN has chosen to build its infrastructure across indigenous territory as another act of stealing land from autonomous communities.
As anarchists we are invested in contributing to an active disruption of domination and state power.”
Land And Freedom: An Old Challenge - by Sever
An Old Slogan
One of the oldest anarchist slogans was “Land and Freedom.” You don’t hear it much anymore these days, but this battle cry was used most fervently in the revolutionary movements in Mexico, Spain, Russia, and Manchuria. In the first case, the movement that used those three words like a weapon and like a compass had an important indigenous background. In the second case, the workers of Spain who spoke of “Tierra y Libertad” were often fresh arrivals to the city who still remembered the feudal existence they had left behind in the countryside. In Russia and Manchuria, the revolutionaries who linked those two concepts, land and freedom, were largely peasants.
It was not the generic working class, formed in the factories and blue collar neighborhoods, for whom this slogan had the most meaning, but those exploited people who had only just begun their tutelage as proletarians.
The reformers of those aforementioned struggles interpreted “Land and Freedom” as two distinct, political demands: land, or some kind of agrarian reform that would dole out to the rural poor commoditized parcels so they could make their living in a monetized market; and freedom, or the opportunity to participate in the bourgeois organs of government.
Land, conceptualized thus, has since become obsolete, and freedom, also in the liberal sense, has been universalized and proven lacking. Yet if anarchists and other radical peasants and workers who rose up alongside them never held to the liberal conception of freedom, shouldn’t we suspect that when they talked about land they were also referring to something different?
Tragically, anarchists became proletarianized and stopped talking about land and freedom. Ever dwindling, they held on to their quaint conception of freedom that did not demand inclusion in government but rather its very destruction. Yet they surrended the idea of land to the liberal paradigm. It was something that existed outside the cities, that existed to produce food, and that would be liberated and rationally organized as soon as workers in the supposed nerve centers of capitalism—the urban hubs—brought down the government and reappropriated the social wealth.
The farthest that anarchists usually come to reject this omission is still within a dichotomy that externalizes land from the centers of capitalist accumulation: these are the anarchists who in one form or another “go back to the land,” leaving the cities, setting up communes, rural cooperatives, or embarking on efforts to rewild. The truth is, the “back to the land” movement and the rural communes of earlier generations, organized according to a wide variety of strategies of resistance, turned up a body of invaluable experience that anarchists collectively have still failed to absorb. Though some such experiments persist today and new versions are constantly being inaugurated, the tendency on the whole has been a failure, and we need to talk more extensively about why.
Non-indigenous anarchists who have decided to learn from indigenous struggles have played an important role in improving solidarity with some of the most important battles against capitalism taking place today, and they have also contributed to a practice of nurturing intimate relationships with the land in a way that supports us in our ongoing struggles. But when they counterpose land to city, I think they fail to get to the root of alienation, and the limited resonance of their practice seems to confirm this.
Land and Freedom Unalienated
The most radical possible interpretation of the slogan, “Land and Freedom”, does not posit two separate items joined on a list. It presents land and freedom as two interdependent concepts, each of which transforms the meaning of the other. The counter to the rationalist Western notion of land and that civilization’s corrupted notion of freedom is the vision that at least some early anarchists were projecting in their battle cry.
Land linked to freedom means a habitat that we freely interrelate with, to shape and be shaped by, unburdened by any productive or utilitarian impositions and the rationalist ideology they naturalize. Freedom linked to land means the self-organization of our vital activity, activity that we direct to achieve sustenance on our own terms, not as isolated units but as living beings within a web of wider relationships. Land and freedom means being able to feed ourselves without having to bend to any blackmail imposed by government or a privileged caste, having a home without paying for permission, learning from the earth and sharing with all other living beings without quantifying value, holding debts, or seeking profit. This conception of life enters into a battle of total negation with the world of government, money, wage or slave labor, industrial production, Bibles and priests, institutionalized learning, the spectacularization of daily existence, and all other apparatuses of control that flow from Enlightenment thinking and the colonialistic civilization it champions.
Land, in this sense, is not a place external to the city. For one, this is because capitalism does not reside primarily in urban space—it controls the whole map. The military and productive logics that control us and bludgeon the earth in urban space are also at work in rural space. Secondly, the reunited whole of land and freedom must be an ever present possibility no matter where we are. They constitute a social relationship, a way of relating to the world around us and the other beings in it, that is profoundly opposed to the alienated social relationship of capitalism. Alienation and primitive accumulation are ceaseless, ongoing processes from one corner of the globe to the other. Those of us who are not indigenous, those of us who are fully colonized and have forgotten where we came from, do not have access to anything pristine. Alienation will follow us out to the farthest forest glade or desert oasis until we can begin to change our relationship to the world around us in a way that is simultaneously material and spiritual.
Equally, anarchy must be a robust concept. It must be an available practice no matter where we find ourselves—in the woods or in the city, in a prison or on the high seas. It requires us to transform our relationship with our surroundings, and therefore to also transform our surroundings, but it cannot be so fragile that it requires us to seek out some pristine place in order to spread anarchy. Will anti-civilization anarchism be a minoritarian sect of those anarchists who go to the woods to live deliberately, because they don’t like the alternative of organizing a union at the local burger joint, or will it be a challenge to the elements of the anarchist tradition that reproduce colonialism, patriarchy, and Enlightenment thinking, a challenge that is relative to all anarchists no matter where they pick their battles?
Land does not exist in opposition to the city. Rather, one concept of land exists in opposition to another. The anarchist or anti-civilization idea against the capitalist, Western idea. It is this latter concept that places land within the isolating dichotomy of city vs. wilderness. This is why “going back to the land” is doomed to fail, even though we may win valuable lessons and experiences in the course of that failure (as anarchists, we’ve rarely won anything else). We don’t need to go back to the land, because it never left us. We simply stopped seeing it and stopped communing with it.
Recreating our relationship with the world can happen wherever we are, in the city or in the countryside. But how does it happen?
An important step is to recover histories about how we lost our connection with the land and how we got colonized. These can be the histories of our people, defined ethnically, the history of our blood family, the histories of the people who have inhabited the place we call home, the histories of anarchists or queers or nomads or whomever else we consider ourselves to be one of. They must be all of these things, for no one history can tell it all. Not everyone was colonized the same way, and though capitalism has touched everyone on the planet, not everyone is a child of capitalism nor of the civilization that brought it across the globe.
The history of the proletariat as it has been told so far presents colonization (the very process that has silenced those other stories) as a process that was marginal while it was occurring and is now long since completed, when in fact many people still hold on to another way of relating to the land, and the process of colonization that molds us as proletarians or consumers—or whatever capitalism wants us to be in a given moment—is ongoing.
As we recover those histories, we need to root them in the world around us and communalize them, so that they lucidly imbue our surroundings, so that young people grow up learning them, and so they can never be stolen from us again. The printed or glowing page which I am using to share these imperatives with you can never be more than a coffin for our ideas. I seal the beloved corpse within to pass it across the void, but only because I hope that someone on the other side of the emptiness that insulates each one of us will take it out and lay it on firm ground, where it can fertilize tomorrow’s gardens.
Armed with this history, but never awaiting it, because limiting ourselves to distinct phases of struggle alienates tasks that must form an organic whole, we must take another step. The embodiment of a communal relationship with the world through increasingly profound expropriations that are simultaneously material and spiritual.
They are expropriations because they take forms of life out of the realm of property and into a world of communal relations where capitalist value has no meaning.
They are material because they touch the living world and the other bodies who inhabit it, and spiritual because they nourish us and reveal the animating relationship between all things.
Their simultaneity means that they undermine the established categories of economic, political, and cultural. Each of our acts unites elements from all the analytical categories designed to measure alienated life. The transcendence of the categories of alienation is the hallmark of the reunification of what civilization has alienated.
Do we harvest plants to feed ourselves, as an act of sabotage against a commodifying market, or because our herb-lore and our enjoyment of nature’s bounty tells us who we are in this world? Leave the question for the sociologists: for us it is a no-brainer.
If this quest leads us out of the cities and into the woods, so be it (though many more of us need lessons on how to reclaim communal relationships, how to enact land and freedom in urban space, and fast). But the profound need to overcome alienation and reencounter the world will never take us out of harm’s way. If we go to the woods to find peace—not inner peace but an absence of enemies—we’re doing it wrong. Life lived against the dictates of colonization is a life of illegality and conflict.
Expropriation means we are plucking forms of life out of the jaws of capitalism, or more precisely, ripping them out of its hideous, synthetic body, to help them reattain a life of their own. We do this so that we too can have lives of our own.
This does not mean—and I can’t emphasize this enough—that we measure our struggle in terms of how much damage we do to the State or how much the State defines us as a threat. Although anarchists embody the negation of the State, we are not its opposites. Opposites always obey the same paradigm.
The State has no understanding of the world as community. Capitalists, who lack the strategic and paranoid overview that agents of the State operate in, understand it even less. Some of our expropriations will be open declarations of war, and they will result in some of us dying or going to prison, but other expropriations won’t even be noticed by the forces of law and order, while the capitalist recuperators won’t catch on until our subversion has become a generalized practice.
If we are anarchists, if we are truly enemies of authority, there can be absolutely no symmetry between what capitalism tries to do to us and what we must do to capitalism. Our activity must correspond to our own needs, rather than being inverse reactions to the needs of capitalism.
Little by little, we need to begin feeding ourselves in every sense through these expropriations. And in the unalienated logic of land and freedom, feeding ourselves does not mean producing food, but giving and taking. Nothing eats that is not eaten. The only rule is reciprocity. What capitalism arrogantly sees as exploitation, extracting value, is nothing but a short-sighted staving off of the consequences of the imbalance it creates.
Feeding ourselves, therefore, means rescuing the soil from the prisons of asphalt or monocultures, cleaning it and fertilizing it, so that we may also eat from it. It does not stop there. Feeding ourselves means writing songs and sharing them, and taking hold of the spaces to do so for free. Learning how to heal our bodies and spirits, and making those skills available to others who confront the grim challenge of trying to win access to a healthcare designed for machines. Sabotaging factories that poison our water or the construction equipment that erects buildings that would block our view of the sunset. Helping transform our surroundings into a welcoming habitat for the birds, bugs, trees, and flowers who make our lives a little less lonely. Carrying out raids that demonstrate that all the buildings where merchandise is kept and guarded are simply common storehouses of useful or useless things that we can go in and take whenever we want; that the whole ritual of buying and selling is just a stupid game that we’ve been playing for far too long.
The ways to feed ourselves are innumerable. A body does not live on carbohydrates and protein alone, and anyone who claims that the exploited, the proletariat, the people, or the species have set interests is a priest of domination. Our interests are constructed. If we do not loudly, violently assert our needs, politicians and advertisers will continue to define them.
Finding What’s “Ours”
In the course of our attempt to nourish ourselves outside of and against capitalism, we will quickly find that there is no liberated ground. No matter where we are, they make us pay rent, one way or another. A necessary and arduous step forward will be to free up space from the grips of domination and liberate a habitat that supports us, a habitat we are willing to protect. In the beginning, this habitat could be nothing more than an acre of farmland, a seasonal festival, a city park, or even just the space occupied by a decrepit building.
There are several important considerations we must explore if we are to find what’s ours. They all have to do with how we cultivate a profound relationship with place. We cannot aim for such a relationship if we are not willing to incur great danger. Making your home on a bit of land, refusing to treat it as a commodity, and rejecting the regulations imposed on it means going to prison or ending your days in an armed standoff unless you can call up fierce solidarity or mobilize an effective and creative resistance. But the more such resistance spreads, the more certain it is that people will die defending the land and their relationship with it.
If you would not die for land or a specific way of moving through it, don’t bother: you’ll never be able to find a home. But how can we build that kind of love when we are only moving on top of the land like oil on water, never becoming a part of it? Everyone yearns to overcome alienation, but very few people still enjoy a connection worth defending.
The fortitude we need takes great conviction, and that conviction can only build over time. Nowadays, perhaps only one out of a thousand of us would give up their lives to defend a habitat they consider themselves part of. The question we need to answer is, how do we foreground that kind of love, how do we spread it, and for those of us who survive and move on, how do we play our part in cultivating an inalienable relationship with place when the misery of defeat and the coldness of exile make it easier to forget?
It is all the more difficult in North America, where society is increasingly transient. Transcience is not a simple question of moving around, as though anarchists should simply stay in their hometown or as though nomads enjoyed a less profound relationship with the earth than sedentary gardeners. But nomads don’t travel just anywhere. They also cultivate an entirely specific relationship with the world around them. Their habitat just has a temporal as well as a spatial dimension.
The problem of transcience in capitalist society is one of not forming any relationship with the place where we live. This is the reason why anarchists who stay anywhere more than a few years drown in misery, and why the anarchists who always move to the new hip spot never stay more than one step ahead of it. It is a key problematic that we need to devote more thought to than we do to the latest French translation or intellectual trend.
In the Americas in particular, there is another great difficulty with finding what’s ours. Our potential relationship to the commodified land (land in the liberal sense that has been imposed by force of arms) is largely codified through a system of race categorization that was developed by colonizers in the 17th and 18th centuries. This land was stolen, and it was worked and improved—in the capitalist sense—by people who were stolen from their land. It’s true that the land in Europe was also stolen from those who lived in community with it, and that many of those people were shipped to the Americas and forced to work there. It’s also true that many of them ran off to live with the original inhabitants, or planned insurrections alongside the people kidnapped, enslaved, and taken from various parts of Africa, and that this subversive mingling is what forced the lords and masters to invent race.
It no less true that apart from having money, the surest way to win access to land—albeit commodified land—in the history of the Americas up until the present moment has been by being white. Whatever our feelings or consciousness of the imposed hierarchy of privilege, indigenous people have been robbed of their land and repeatedly prevented from reestablishing a nourishing, communal relationship with it, the descendants of African slaves have been kicked off whatever land they had access to any time it became desirable to whites or any time they had built up a high level of autonomy, while whites, at least sometimes, have been allowed limited access to the land as long as it did not conflict with the immediate interests and projects of the wealthy. The legacy of this dynamic continues today.
The implication of all this is that if white anarchists in the Americas (or Australia, New Zealand, and other settler states) want to form a deep relationship with a specific habitat, claiming land to the extent that it belongs to us and we belong to it, we had better make sure that the only other claims we are infringing on are those of capitalist and government landlords. Are there indigenous people who are struggling to restore their relationship with that same land? Is it land that black communities have been forced out of? How do those people feel about you being there, and what relationship do you have with them? Under what conditions would they like to have you as a neighbor? If white people in struggle continue to assert the first pick on land, this is hardly a departure from colonial relations.
Treating the land like a tabula raza, an empty space awaiting your arrival, is antithetical to cultivating a deep relationship with it. Etched into that land are all the relations with the people who came before you. By trying to become a part of it, will you be reviving their legacy, or destroying it? Find out before you attempt to put down roots.
A Longterm Proposal
The narrative we express in our struggles exerts a huge impact on the outcome of those struggles. Half of domination is symbolic, and by focusing on the quantifiable or the putatively material, rebels have missed out on this other sphere within which battles against power take place.
If we occupy a building as squatters, we signal that our concern is empty buildings and not the land beneath them, nor our relationship with it. If squatters become strong enough that the State is forced to ameliorate and recuperate them, it will take the path of ceding legal spaces and maybe even tweaking the housing laws or creating more public housing. In a revolutionary sense, nothing is won.
If we occupy a building as anarchists who communicate nothing but a desire to destroy all forms of authority, we are safe from recuperation, because we project no way forward for our struggle, no path for the State to reroute. We also make it almost impossible to advance, and we facilitate state repression. With nothing to win, our struggle thrives on desperation, and with nothing to share, no one else will connect to our struggle except the equally nihilistic.
But what if we raised the cry of “Land and Freedom”? What if we projected our struggle as a drive to progressively liberate territory from the logics of state and capitalism? What if we unabashedly spoke about our desire to free ourselves?
While we are weak, we will choose weak targets: vacant lots, abandoned land, an empty building with an absentee landlord. Or a place we already have access to, a home we live in for example. Whether we transform that place into a garden, a social center, a workshop, or a collective house, it must find its way into a specific narrative of liberation. If we justify our use of that space on the grounds that we are poor, that there isn’t enough affordable housing, that the youth need a place to hang out, that people need access to a garden for lack of fresh produce in their diets, or any similar discourse, we are opening the door to recuperation, we are pinning our rebellion to a crisis within capitalism and sabotaging all our work as soon as the economy improves or the government institutes some reform to ease the shortage of housing, produce, youth centers, and so forth.
If we justify our use of that space with a rejection of private property, we have taken an important step forward, but we also construct a battlefield in which our defeat is assured. A rejection of private property is abstract. It leaves a vacuum that must be filled if the capitalist paradigm will be broken. A relationship always exists between the bodies that inhabit the same place. What relationship will we develop to drive out the one of alienated commodities? By refusing to talk about this and put it into practice, we also refuse to destroy private property, no matter how radical a posture we adopt. Nor have we formed and expressed an inalienable relationship with the specific place we are trying to claim. Why that land? Why that building? And it’s true, we want to destroy private property the world over. But you do not form a relationship with the land in the abstract, as a communist might. This is why the spiritual aspect of struggle that the materialists, as priests of Enlightenment thinking, deride and neglect, is important. A communal relationship with the land is always specific.
This means that in every case, we need to assert our legitimacy to claim land over the legitimacy of the legal owners. And while we recognize no claims of legal ownership, we must deny every legal and capitalist claim specifically and generally at the same time. This means dragging specific owners through the mud as exploiters, colonizers, murderers, gentrifiers, speculators, and so forth, as a part of the process by which we assert our specific claim to that land, but always within a general narrative that refuses to recognize the commodity view of land and the titles, deeds, and jurisdictions that bind it.
While we are weak, it will make more sense to go after owners whose claims to a land-commodity are equally weak—banks that have won property through foreclosure, hated slumlords, governments that are unpopular or in crisis.
Initially, we can win access to land in a variety of ways. Seizing it and effectively defending it, raising the funds to buy it, pressuring the legal owner to cede the title. None of these are satisfactory because all of them leave the structures of capitalist ownership intact. Even in the first case, which clearly seems more radical, the legal owner maintains a claim that they can pursue at a later date, eventually mustering the state support needed to effect an eviction. Ownership has not been undermined, only access.
Once we have access to land, it is crucial to intensify our relationship with it. To share our lives with it and begin to feed ourselves with the relationship we create. To signal that relationship as a reversal to the long history of dispossession, enslavement, exploitation, blackmail, and forced integration that has dogged us for centuries. To announce the place as liberated land, if we are indigenous to the area, and as a maroon haven if we are not. In our use of the semi-liberated place, we must communicate to the world that the social contract of capitalism is absolutely unacceptable to us, that our needs are other, and we have no choice but to fulfill them on our own. Simultaneously, we invite all the others who are not fulfilled by capitalism to connect with us.
As we intensify a relationship of land and freedom, our spreading roots will come up against the concrete foundation of property that lies beneath us. The next conflict is to negate the forms by which capitalism binds land (rejecting titles and claims of ownership) and to impugn the right of a government to tax and regulate land that it has stolen.
In the course of this fight, we will lose much of the land we gain access to. Buildings will be evicted, gardens will be paved over, forests will be cut down. This inevitability gives rise to two questions. How to strike a balance between prudence and conflicitivity so that we neither become pacified nor lose our places needlessly? And when we lose, how to do so in a way that is inspiring, that spreads and strengthens our narrative and legitimacy so that next time we will be stronger? The first question will be the harder one. Anarchists have a long history of losing well, but at least since World War II one of our most frequent failings has been the recuperation of our creative projects and the isolation of our destructive projects. Gaining something that they can lose often turns radicals into conservatives. Our semi-liberated places must aid us in our attacks on the State and give solidarity with those who are repressed. Not to do so means losing these places even as they persist in time; they are colonized, they become parodies of themselves and agents of social peace. At the same time, even as they must play a conflictive role, these are the places that nourish us, and we should not risk them needlessly.
Little by little, we will win places where we achieve de facto autonomy, and communal relationships with the land and all other living things can begin to flourish. These places will never be safe or stable. Any moment we are weak, the State may try to take them away from us, with or without a legal pretext. The more widespread support we have, the better justified our narrative and our legitimacy, and the deeper our relationship with a place, the more dangerous it will be for the State to attack us. Additionally, in times of reaction, it will be easier for us to hold on if we have won access to land using a variety of means, from squatting to winning titles. Radical sensibilities will prefer the former, but it should be clear that in both cases the capitalist foundation remains the same. The history of the squatting movements in Europe shows that squatting opens bubbles of autonomy but in and of itself it does not challenge capitalism.
If we have used a variety of means, it will be harder for the State to criminalize us across the board or to construct a legal apparatus capable of evicting us from all of our footholds.
By communicating and building strong networks, these different semi-liberated places can share resources and experiences, broaden their perspectives, and compound their legitimacy. The age-old question of organization is unimportant because such places are heterogeneous. They practice different forms of organization and do not all fit into the same organizational scheme. The present proposal does not envision a movement of urban and rural land projects working towards liberation, as though a thousand people will read this article, understand it in the same way, and all try to put the same thing into practice. The network that will form may well include movements within it, but none will be all-encompassing.
In the Americas, there are already many semi-liberated places in existence that dream of an end to capitalism, and weak networks connect them. Most of these places, or the strongest ones at least, have been created by indigenous struggles. I believe that anarchists who are against civilization can find their place within such networks, defining ourselves in relation to an ongoing attempt to restore a communal relationship with the land, as did the Magonistas in Mexico or many peasant anarchist partisans in the Russian Revolution. Up until now, we mostly define ourselves in relation to an anarchist movement or milieu, or in relation to consumer society. Neither the abstract community of the former nor the posture of rebel and alternative within the latter suit our project of liberation.
In part, this means avoiding sectarian duels with those anarchists who see their battlefield as the workplace or the post-modern city. People who understand themselves as proletarians should struggle as proletarians. I fear that the proletarian worldview is hopelessly poisoned by colonialism and will only reproduce the destruction of nature and the exploitation of all living beings, as proletarian movements have in the past, but using ideology as an indisputable tool for predicting the future just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s better to make criticisms, share them, and back them up with robust struggles that embody a different logic.
If we are to understand ourselves within a network of projects that liberate the land from capitalism and create specific, communal relationships with that land, as newcomers (referring to those of us who are not indigenous) a certain amount of humility is in order. How can we learn from the indigenous struggles that have fought the longest and the hardest for the land without fetishizing them? How can we respect indigenous land claims without essentializing them or legitimizing the state-appointed tribal governments that often manage such claims? I can only offer these as questions, leaving the answers to practice. It is worth signalling, however, that such a practice must build itself on personal relationships of solidarity and friendship rather than abstract notions of unity.
Fortunately, there is a long history for such relationships. In the first centuries of the colonization of the Americas, many people brought over from Africa and Europe and made to work the newly alienated land ran away and fought alongside indigenous people fighting for their freedom and survival. Evidently, there existed a strong basis for solidarity. Today, especially in North America much of that solidarity is absent. Many of the poorest people, regardless of their skin color, are staunch advocates of colonization, Western progress, and capitalism.
Most non-indigenous people in the Americas do not have the practical option of going back to Europe, Africa, or Asia. Yet those of us who are not indigenous, just because we claim solidarity and envision a happy network of communities restoring communal relationships with the land, cannot assume that indigenous people will want us as neighbors. This is a problematic that cannot be resolved with theory or consideration.
Our only option is to struggle for our own needs—this is a prerequisite for any conversation of solidarity, as much as the identity politicians try to avoid it—try to build solidarity with indigenous peoples in struggle, explore the possibilities for a common fight against colonization, and see what answers arise, dealing with the conflicts that inevitably arise with patience and humility.
Communities of the Earth
As more and more of us begin to wrap our lives into these semi-liberated places, communities will form. Not the alienated pseudo-communities that the very worst of anarchists claim to have today. Communities are built by sharing, and if all we share is a little bit of time in our alienated lives, the bonds will not be strong enough to hold us together, as the failures of “accountability,” resistance to repression, healing, coping with burnout, and intergenerationality in the pseudo-communities amply demonstrate.
When we come together to intensify our relationships with a semi-liberated place, we share so much more. We become part of the web by which the others nourish themselves. At this point, it becomes honest to speak about a community.
As such communities begin to form, certain things will become evident. First of all, while vigorous debate and historical, theoretical clarity are vital in the life of the community, most of the skills and activities necessary for intensifying communal relationships are neither abstract nor discursive. They are practical skills that support the functions of life. Cooking, gardening, childcare, healing, sewing, brewing, dentistry, surgery, massage, gathering, hunting, fishing, trapping, weaving, welding, carpentry, plumbing, masonry, electricity, painting, drawing, carving, animal husbandry, curing, tanning, butchering, apiculture, silvaculture, mycology, storytelling, singing, music-making, conflict resolution, networking, translating, fighting, raiding, and otherwise relating with a hostile outside world (with legal skills, for example).
A community with three web designers, five writers, three gardeners, four musicians, a tanner, a brewer, a painter, and a lawyer will not survive. And not for lack of self-sufficiency. It is not about seceding from capitalism, but about bringing capitalism down with us. Such a community will not survive because they lack the skills necessary to intensify their relationships with one another and with the place they are trying to liberate. With weak relationships, they will not be able to withstand capitalism’s continuous onslaught. They will either be forced to move out or to pacify themselves.
Capitalist deskilling precedes the Fordist economy. Deskilling was present at the beginnings of industrialization, and it was present even earlier in the witch hunts and the attendant creation of universities and scientific professions in Renaissance Europe. Popular knowledge, especially that related to healing, was criminalized and destroyed, whereas a mechanical science of healing suited to nascent capitalism and the modernizing State that was grooming it, was instituted, enclosed, and regulated within the new academies. If we are to create communal relations against capitalism, we must commit ourselves to an intensive, lifelong process of reskilling so that we may nourish ourselves in every sense.
The creation of communities will not only show us the toxic uselessness of liberal education. It will also reveal the inadequacy of that cherished anarchist concept, affinity.
It is time to forget about affinity. Those who currently call themselves anarchists tend to be the warriors and messengers of communities that do not yet exist. Some others are the poets and artists who feed off of the warriors for a while before they go off on their own. We have seen what artists become, surrounded by other artists, and we have seen what warriors do, surrounded by other warriors, and the anarchist struggle has long suffered the consequences. The concept of affinity has done enough damage. It is a thoroughly rationalist notion, based on the idea of sameness as prerequisite for equality, and equality as something desirable.
Members of the much mythologized affinity group do not all experience their affinity in the same way. They do not perceive the group equally, and nearly every group, contrary to its mythology, does in fact have one or two central members. What holds the group together is not affinity, but a collective project. Only amidst a generalized scarcity of trust and sharing does it become possible to confuse these two binding forces.
The community, as a collective project, does not need affinity to hold together. What it needs is sharing, a common narrative, and above all, difference. In every community there should be some anarchists, in the sense given that term today. But a community of anarchists would be intolerable. As long as anarchists remain specialists of propaganda, sabotage, and solidarity—and this is the normative form that is reproduced today—we will scarcely be able to build communities. But as we learn to form connections of complementary difference, the dream of anarchy will become available to people whose temperament is not that of warriors or messengers, and anarchists, for our part, will find our place in a larger social body.
The gamble here is that a great many people are attracted to the dream of anarchy—self-organization, mutual aid, the destruction of all authority—but they are not attracted to the anarchist mode—protests, frequent risk-taking, the constant and scathing analysis of our surroundings; and that this anarchist mode, looped back in on itself, creates a pseudo-community that is toxic and self-defeating, whereas if it found a place within a broader struggle for life lived completely, could defend and spread communities subversive to capitalism.
The challenge presented by a truly anarchist vision of the concepts, land and freedom, center an awareness of colonization as an ongoing force in capitalist society. It is a challenge that requires us to root out the liberal conceptions of land and freedom and all the baggage that accompanies them, including a great many ideations long internalized by anarchists, such as organization through affinity, the pseudo-community and self-referentialization within an abstract milieu, and the externalization of land or the dichotomy city/wilderness.
Above all, it is a challenge that requires a great creative labor. The tasks at hand can take the paths of reskilling, forming a specific relationship with the land, recovering histories that speak of our alienation, expropriating aspects of life, winning access to land, transforming that land, intensifying our relationships with it, and putting our destructive activity at the service of these new relationships.
I want to explore each of these ideas in more depth in future articles. But for now, we have the outlines of a challenge. It is not a new challenge, though I have tried to orient it to the specific problems of our times. Through reflection and action, I hope that once again anarchists can join others in taking up the call for land and freedom, and that when we do, we’ll know what we’re about.
Animal Dreams - by John Zerzan
This is the age of disembodiment, when our sense of separateness from the earth grows and we are meant to forget our animality. But we are animals and we co-evolved, like all animals, in rapport with other bodily forms and aspects of the world. Minds as well as senses arise from embodiment, just as other animals conveyed meaning—until modernity, that is. We are the top of the food chain, which makes us the only animal nobody needs. Hamlet was very much off the mark in calling humans “the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.” Mark Twain was much closer: “the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” The life form that is arguably least well adapted to reality, that has weaker chances for survival among the at least 10 million animal (mostly insect) species. Humans are among the very few mammals who will kill their own kind without the provocation of extreme hunger.
The human species is unique but so is every other species. We differ from the rest no more, it seems, than do other species from each other. Non-human animals have routinely amazing facilities for accomplishing things by acting on information they receive from their environments. They are creatures of instinct, but so are we. As Joseph Wood Krutch asked, “who is the more thoroughly acquainted with the world in which he lives?” Adaptation to one’s world is a cognitive process. If we wonder which species is the smartest, the best answer is, most likely: they all are.
I think that Henry Beston is beautifully helpful: “We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”
In the 1980s I knew someone who signed his excellent anti-authoritarian writings and flyers “70 animals.” That kind of identification has charmed me ever since. In rather a contrary spirit is the long-prevailing ban on that act of appropriation and greatest sin, anthropomorphism. Correcting this desperate error means that “A monkey cannot be angry: it exhibits aggression. A crane does not feel affection; it displays courtship or parental behavior. A cheetah is not frightened by a lion; it shows flight behavior.”
Why not take this kind of reductive approach even further and simply remove animals from our vocabulary? This is already underway, if the Oxford Junior Dictionary is any indication. The 2009 edition added several techno words like Twitter and mp3, while the names of various animals, trees, etc. had been deleted. Children (and others) have less and less contact with nature, after all.
But there is no substitute for direct contact with the living world, if we are to know what it is to be living. Our own world shrinks and shrivels, cut off from animal culture, from the zones of that shared, learned behavior. What Jacob Uexhull called the Umwelt, the universe known to each species. We need to be open to the community of our beginnings and to the present non-human life-world.
Amphibians have been here for 300 million years; birds for 150 million years. Dragonflies ask no more of the biosphere than they did 100 million years ago, while Homo species, around for not much more than three million years, are the only animals that are—since domestication and civilization—never satisfied, always pursuing new wants. 
Might it not be that nature is for the happiness of all species, not just one?7 We sense something like this as we search for oases of wildness in the vacuum of civilization. “ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson.
We have mainly lost the sense of the presence or aura of animals, of those who inhabit their bodies so wholly, fully. People in traditional indigenous cultures have not lost that awareness. They feel their kinship with all who live. Some of the bond remains even with us, however, and may be seen in small ways—our instinctive love of songbirds, for example.
All is not sweetness and light in the non-human realm either, especially in this shaken and disturbed world. Rape has been observed among orangutans, dolphins, seals, bighorn sheep, wild horses, and some birds, although it is not the norm in any of these species. But even in animal societies marked by male power, females generally remain self-sufficient and responsible for their own sustenance, unlike in most human (domesticated) societies. In some groupings, in fact, females provide for all. Lionesses do the hunting in their prides, for example.[10 ]Each elk herd is led by a cow, wise in the ways of coyote, wolf, lynx, cougar, and human. And it is also the case, according to many, that non-humans can be as individually distinct as we are. Delia Akeley concluded that “apes and monkeys vary in their dispositions as much as do human beings,” and Barry Lopez commented on the “markedly different individual personalities” of wolves. But one does see an absence of many old, infirm, and diseased animals among non-domesticates. How the “food chain” operates here brings up questions such as, do wolves only kill animals that are near their end anyway—the old, sick, injured? This seems to be roughly the case, according to Lopez.
Hierarchy and dominance among other species is a long-running assumption, often a baseless one. The idea that there is usually, if not always, a “pecking order” derives from a Norwegian graduate student in 1922. His concept came from observing domestic chickens in his back yard and spread virulently in the animal studies field. It is a classic example of projecting from human domestication where, of course, hierarchy and dominance are indeed the rule. Its universality unravels with the fact that poultry yard pecking orders are not observed in wild flocks.
Similar is the fallacy that the Freudian paradigm of murderous rivalry between fathers and sons represents the state of nature. Questionable in the first application; even more so, evidently, regarding non-humans. Masson and McCarthy refer to zebra, kiwi, beaver, wolf, and mongoose fathers exhibiting acceptance and affection toward their offspring. South American muriqui monkeys, female and male, are non-aggressive, tolerant and co-operative. Steve Kemper’s “No Alpha Males Allowed” focuses on Karen Strier’s work with the muriqui, which subverts the dominant view of male primates. Among Asian gibbons, primates that live in pairs, the male may stay with his mate a very long time after sexual activity has ceased.
John Muir described a goose attacking a hunter in support of a wounded companion: “Never before had I regarded wild geese as dangerous, or capable of such noble self-sacrificing devotion.” Geese mate monogamously and for life.
Widespread among non-humans are the social traits of parental care, co-operative foraging, and reciprocal kindness or mutual aid. Mary Midgley, in sum, referred to “their natural disposition to love and trust one another.” Also, to love and trust others, such as humans, to the point of raising them. Jacques Graven, in a striking finding, refers to children having been adopted by wolves, bears, gazelles, pigs, and sheep.
In his irresistible Desert Solitaire, the cantankerous Edward Abbey imagines that the frogs he hears singing do so for various practical purposes, “but also out of spontaneous love and joy.” N.J. Berrill declared: “To be a bird is to be alive more intensely than any other living creature, 2 man included...they live in a world that is always the present, and mostly full of joy.” To Joseph Wood Krutch it seemed that we have seen our capacity for joy atrophy. For animals, he decided, “joy seems to be more important and more accessible than it is to us.”
Various non-human intelligences seem lately to be much more highly regarded than in the past. John Hoptas and Kristine Samuelson’s Tokyo Waka, a 2013 documentary film, looks at resourceful urban crows. How they use their beaks to shape twigs into hooks to snag grubs from trees, for example. In 2002, a New Caledonia crow named Betty was declared by an Oxford University researcher to have been the first animal to create a tool for a specific task without trial and error, something primates have evidently yet to achieve. Elephants’ actions, according to J.H. Williams, are “always revealing an intelligence which finds impromptu solutions for difficulties.”
More surprising is what is coming to light about animals we usually consider to be further down the “food chain.” Katherine Harmon Courage has uncovered heretofore unseen capacities of the octopus. “It can solve mazes, open jars, use tools. It even has what seems to be a sophisticated inner life.” Courage goes on to state that the octopus “has a brain unlike that of almost any creature we might think of as intelligent.” Along these lines is a growing interest in “cold-blooded cognition,” with recent studies revealing that reptile brains are not as undeveloped as we imagined. Lizards and tortoises, for instance, have exhibited impressive problem-solving capabilities.
Jacques Graven was amazed to learn that the method of solving a maze is “scarcely different for a roach than for a rat,” and that striking achievements by mammals “reappear in almost identical form in insects.” Speaking of mazes and the like, it may be added that very little of important truth is to be found in controlled laboratory experiments, whichever species may be subjected to them.
Memory is important to many creatures as an aid to survival. The work of animal scientist Tetsuro Matsuzawa demonstrates that chimpanzees have far stronger memories than humans. Katydids have a hearing range many times that of ours. Honeybees can see ultraviolet light, invisible to us. The ichneumon fly can smell through solid wood. A monarch butterfly’s sense of taste is two hundred times as sensitive as the human tongue. The dung beetle finds its way with reference to the Milky Way. Animals with four legs, and who don’t wear shoes, probably pick up on a variety of emanations or vibrations lost on us. How about pet dogs or cats who are separated by hundreds of miles from their host families, and somehow find them? Only a kind of telepathy could account for the very many such cases.
A great deal more could be said about the gifts of animals. Or about their play. It is not “anthropomorphic” to recognize that animals play. Consider the mating dances of birds. I have seen the wonderful dawn dances of the sandhill crane. They dance, and have inspired an endless list of human societies. What of wild geese, whose matchless grace, elegance and devotion put us humans to shame?
Individuals of many species operate on an awareness that there is a distinction between “self” and “non-self.” A member of one species can always recognize another of the same species. These kinds of self-recognition are obvious. Another instance is that of grizzly bears hiding out of sight of humans and others. There is a consciousness that the whole body—the “self” if you will—must be concealed.
But do non-humans realize that they are “selves”? Do they have self-awareness such that they realize their mortality? Many posit an absence of self-reflection and make this supposed absence the primary dividing line between humans and all other animals. Bees use signs, but are not conscious of their signing. On what basis, however, can we make assumptions about what bees or other animals know or do not know? Chimpanzees and orangutans recognize themselves in a mirror; gorillas cannot. What exactly does this reveal? There is quite a set of unresolved questions, in fact, as to how conscious or unconscious human behavior is, especially in light of the fact that consciousness in ourselves is such a completely elusive thing. The complex, versatile, and adaptive responses we see as a rule among the living on this planet may or may not be guided by self-awareness. But self-awareness is not likely an all-or-nothing phenomenon. The differences between humans and others have not been established as radical; they are probably more a matter of degree. More fundamentally, we do not know how to even comprehend consciousnesses different from our own.
Our concept of self-awareness, vague though it is, seems to be the gold standard for evaluating non-humans. The other watershed condition is that of language: are we the only species that possess it? And these two benchmarks are commonly run together, in the assumption that consciousness can only be expressed by means of language. It is tempting to see in language the explanation for consciousness, to wonder whether the latter is only applicable to language-using beings. Indeed it can seem very difficult to think about the state of our minds without recourse to language. But if language were the only basis of a thinking order, all non-human animals would live in a completely disordered world, after all.
Wolves, dogs, dolphins, elephants, whales, to name a few, can vocalize at about the range of human registry. Humpback whale “songs” are complex intra-species forms of cultural expression across vast distances. It may be that animals’ calls are, overall, more a matter of doing than of meaning.
If we look for our kind of symbolic meaning, it does not seem to be sustained among our fellow animals. In their natural state, parrots never imitate the human voice; species that may be seen to draw in captivity do not do so in the wild. Primates trained to master language do not use it like humans. Herbert Terrace, once a convinced ape-language researcher, became one of its harshest critics. Trying to wrest “a few tidbits of language from a chimpanzee [who is] trying to get rewards,” says Terrace, produces nothing much of importance.
Animals don’t do what humans do via speech, namely, make a symbol stand in for the thing. As Tim Ingold puts it, “they do not impose a conceptual grid on the flow of experience and hence do not encode that experience in symbolic forms.” An amazing richness of signaling, of the most varied kinds, does not equate to symbolizing. When a creature presents its intentional acts, it does so without the need to describe them, to re-present them.
The poet Richard Grossman found that truth is “the way it tells itself.” Jacques Lacan saw the orientation toward representation as a lack; the animal is without the lack that constitutes the human subject. At the heart of nature, wrote Joseph Wood Krutch, are the values “as yet uncaptured by language;” he added that the quality of cranes lies “beyond the need of words.”
I’ve long wondered how it is that so many animals look you in the eye. What do they mean by it? Gavin Maxwell enjoyed the “wondering inquisitiveness” of the eyes of Canadian porpoises, while Diane Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist is filled with examples of gorillas and humans gazing on one another in trust. John Muir wrote of Stickeen, an Alaskan dog with whom Muir survived a life-threatening situation, “His strength of character lay in his eyes. They looked as old as the hills, and as young, and as wild.” John Lane was drawn by the eyes of alligators, an experience “not to be forgotten. Their black eyes hold steady as if staring through millions of miles or years.”
Maybe there’s more to be learned there, in those direct windows, in that openness and immediacy, than by means of quite possibly unanswerable questions about consciousness and language. And if we could somehow see with those eyes, would it possibly allow us to really see ourselves?
There is an unmediated openness about the eyes. Death may be mentioned here, as perhaps the least mediated experience, or certainly among them. Loren Eiseley, near his own end, felt that wild things die “without question, without knowledge of mercy in the universe, knowing only themselves and their own pathway to the end.” Ernest Seton-Thompson’s Biography of a Grizzly (1901) contains much about death. Today we are ever more distanced from encountering the reality of death—and animals. As our lives shrink, Thoreau’s words from 1859 are all the more true: “It seems as if no man had ever died in America; for in order to die you must first have lived.” One need only add, it isn’t humans who know how to die, but the animals.
As if in acknowledgment, humans have exacted a revenge on selected species. Domestication is a kind of death, forcing animal vitality into a subjugated state. When animals are colonized and appropriated, both domesticated and domesticators are qualitatively reduced. It is the proverbial “greatest mistake in human history” for all concerned. The direct victims, once quite able to take care of themselves, lose autonomy, freedom of movement, brain size, and what Krutch called the “heroic virtues.”
A farm pig is almost as much a human artifact as the farmer’s tractor. Compare to a wild boar. Wild means free. To John Muir, wild sheep represented conditions before the Fall; conversely, he decided, “If a domestic sheep was any indication, Man’s work had been degrading for himself and his charges.” The level of an animal’s perfection, as Nietzsche saw it, was their “degree of wildness and their power to evade domestication.” In light of the vast picture of oppression, David Nibert calls the institution “domesecration,” and it is not surprising that objections have been raised against even using the same name for wild and domestic members of a species.
Industrialism of course brought far worse lives on a mass scale, mass misery to feed mass society. Zoos and marine parks showcase further slavery, a fitting complement to the captivity at large. As the unbuilt, unmassified world recedes, the line between undomesticated and domesticated has blurred. Pretty much everything requires managing, up to and including the oxymoron “wildlife management.” We are now in fact in a new age of domestication, including an unprecedented escalation of controlled animal breeding in recent decades.
The completely non-biocentric, humanist myth of immortality is part of the ethos of domestication, its rituals focused on sacrifice rather than on the freedom of pre-domesticated life. Freud’s Oedipal family model is a product of jointly domesticated animals and the father. Lacan’s formulations often stem from findings about caged animals, and Kristeva’s notion of abjection or disturbing threat, at base, refers to the act of domesticating. But the non- domesticated do not participate in assimilation into the conquered whole, in Freudian terms or otherwise.
Once there was a communal life of organisms in an ecosystem. Life fed on life, but not in a destructive trajectory. Even now we should not forget that the victory of domestication is far from total. Many species, for various reasons, are outside its orbit. “The lion tamer doesn’t actually tame anything,” John Harrington reminds us. He must stay within the boundaries the cats have established.
“Almost everything about whales is a tantalizing mystery,” concluded Diane Ackerman. Wendell Berry quotes his daughter in his poem, “To the Unseeable Animal”: “I hope there’s an animal somewhere that nobody has ever seen. And I hope nobody ever sees it.” Do we need to 5 know, can we know, so much about other animals? Maybe what we need most to know is that we could possibly join them in their non-domestication.
Kant was grievously wrong about human superiority. “As the single being on earth that possesses understanding, he is certainly titular lord of nature.” Walt Whitman provides a simple response: “Do not call the tortoise unworthy because she is not something else.” It is noteworthy that women dominate what is called animal ethology, and are far less prone to follow Kant’s wrongheadedness.
The illusion of human domination of the natural world comes in many forms. One is the assumption that our prowess gives us long-range safety; we forget that this orientation can lead us into danger in the long run. Our lost connection, our lost awareness have led us into an age of horrors of every kind. And as Olaus Murie once said, “In the evolution of the human spirit, something much worse than hunger can happen to a people.”
Jacques Derrida came to see the prime importance of the question of animality for humans, as pivotal to “the essence and future of humanity.” The image of a free animal initiates a daydream, the starting point from which the dreamer departs. Meanwhile the living reality, the communion among species, yet manage to survive. The Inupiat Eskimo and Gwich’in people, who still travel without maps and discern direction without compasses, know that the caribou carry a piece of them in their hearts, while they carry the caribou in their hearts.
The counsel of immediacy, of direct connection, has not been extinguished. “But ask now the beasts/ And they shall teach thee;/ And the fowls of the air/ And they shall teach thee;/ Or speak to the Earth/ And it shall teach thee.” (Job 12: 7-8) In the Arctic Jonathan Waterman moved away from separation, from domestication: “I first removed my watch. My ability to isolate different and unidentifiable smells became incredibly distracting. My hearing seemed to improve.” Far from the Arctic, traces of this dimension have always been felt. Melville sensed in the sight of a sperm whale a colossal existence without which we are incomplete. One thinks of Virginia Woolf’s use of animal vocabularies and inter-species relations. Something whole, something unbroken, there millions of years before Homo showed up. Bequeathing to us what Henry Beston Sheahan called our “animal faith,” which he saw being destroyed by the Machine Age. We are lost, but other animals point to the right road. They are the right road.
We lack that state of grace, but we do know how much is in danger. Laurie Allman, taking in a Michigan songbird: “I can tell in a glance that he does not know he is endangered. He knows only that his job is to sing, this day, from the top of that young jack pine. His beak is open, full of the sky behind him.”
Here are Richard Grossman’s lines in favor of a return to the old joy: "We shall forge a change of mind and come to understand the spirit as animal. We are still animals on the planet, with all its original messages waiting in our being."
] Vera Norwood, Made from this Earth (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1993), p. 235.
User Experience - by Cliff Hayes
Our experience is abused
by this user experience
filtered through a bitmap grid
layered in concrete and steel
A cradled touchscreen
has replaced the feel
of what constitutes
Here the simulation serves
as stimulation for the nerves
Never hears it
Until so much exaggeration
bludgeons to exasperation
An internet morphine drip
this digital drug of civilization
celebrity spectacles for admiration
everything a canvas
to elevate your user status
Does this user experience make us more connected
or is it the machines way of making us wretched
distractions for a life already surrogated
distilled to bits
fed to drones
Technology feeds this lifeless monster
then tells us that we’ve come so far
it would be too much
to downgrade its GUI
to a more primitive ancestor
Science led us to empty our heart
engineered products of mathematical modeling
those in the way have received a swift throttling
an intelligently designed experience is delivered
your assigned role is user
tribute is expected,
Two Steps Back: The Return of Nonviolence in Ecological Resistance
This article originally appears shortened in the printed Issue #1 of Black Seed. The author wished to include historical content which places the article in an historical context for the online version.
At the turn of the century, Green Anarchy’s critique of civilization and uncompromising support of militant tactics was a challenge to anarchists and brought a number of new debates to the surface. Green Anarchy also existed within a space that adopted a combative approach towards ecological struggles with a series of high profile attacks, actions, blockades, and the like taking place across the United States. It was the years of black blocs at summit protests, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), and other confrontations that tossed the question of nonviolence to the side in favor of a multifaceted approach embracing a “diversity of tactics.”
In the years since, a lot of that activity has receded within anarchist circles. The critique of civilization has arguably become less present, even though the bankruptcy of civilization becomes more obvious each day. If anything, the dystopian future outlined by Green Anarchy is arriving sooner than expected. Despite a shift in anarchist circles away from ecological struggles, these struggles have continued and in some ways are increasing in the United States. Whether due to awareness of global warming, the involvement of more mainstream non-profit groups, or an increase in Earth First!-style groups and approaches, the numbers of actions, action camps, and gatherings is growing. Somewhat like previous eras of resistance, anarchists and Earth First!-style radicals inhabit this new ecology of resistance, albeit with more distance between the two camps (to the extent that they can be separate) than existed in previous years.
Many of these actions fall under the rubric of what could be called “radical environmentalism” in that they are often initiated or supported by groups that have a deeper analysis or more militant approach than the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, or the other large environmental groups that operate primarily on the political terrain (lobbying and soliciting funds to engage in such activities). Among these groups, Earth First! is the most prominent. From hosting annual meet-ups and conferences, providing trainings, and publishing accounts in the Earth First! Journal and on their website, Earth First! has been involved, either explicitly or indirectly. Much of this new ecological activity has been what could be described as “non-violent” direct action: lockdowns, treesits, and the like. In many ways, it’s the standard toolbox from which Earth First! has drawn from for the better part of thirty-five years. However, what is different about these efforts is how Earth First! and this wider crowd has self-consciously started to adopt the restrictive rhetoric of non-violence and civil disobedience, as well as the worn approaches.
There are multiple ways to orient oneself to this approach. On the one hand, outright dismissal seemslike the most easy course. Anarchists would see little to gain and would have an easy time debunking the tactical and strategic choices being made in the radical environmental movement. It isn’t hard to see this new route as a retreat into the failed approaches of the past. However, in the relative absence of a green anarchist presence in the United States over the past few years, Earth First! was the primary radical and militant voice. They are one of the only groups that will raise the problem of “industrial civilization” and their publications are peppered with a vague form of anti-civilization anarchism, even if it rarely coheres into much of anything and is often missing from its actions.
A Flash Back…
Radical ecological action has a history in the United States that dates back at least to the 1980s when Earth First! appeared on the scene. Earth First! broke from the prevailing model of environmental activism both in terms of advocating for direct action to protect wild spaces (for example, blockading roads and treesits to prevent logging) and sabotage. From the early 1980s on, Earth First! has supported sabotage (often called “monkey wrenching”), by openly encouraging its use, publishing manuals popularizing the tactics, refusing to condemn its use, and supporting prisoners doing time for acts of ecological resistance. Earth First! is of course not a unified network, it’s a collection of relatively autonomous chapters, characterizing itself as “…not an organization, but a movement.” Consequently, making blanket statements about Earth First! can be difficult, but it is fair to say that the mix of direct action and sabotage has been a prominent strategy. Nevertheless, Earth First! advocated for a range of different approaches over the years, talking about sabotage one minute and a few minutes later holding up the virtues of civil disobedience. In its Primer, Earth First! speaks favorably of monkey wrenching, while hedging its bets and saying that “the Earth First! movement neither advocates nor condemns monkeywrenching officially.”
Earth First! has existed within a space that could be broadly called “radical environmentalism” that incorporates a range of other tactics. Anarchists have been involved in Earth First! over the years, coming to prominence in the late 1980s. An important point of reference was the publication of Live Wild or Die. It advocated for more destructive actions and a deeper analysis, moving closer to the anti- civilization anarchist perspective developing at the time. Influenced by publications such as Green Anarchist and Do Or Die out of England, more people in the United States began to advocate for a more conflictual approach. Perhaps as a reaction to some of the more contradictory elements of Earth First!, these critiques grew in prominence in the Pacific Northwest where some of the most high profile environmental struggles were taking place. Zines such as Black-Clad Messenger published with the tag line “actualizing industrial collapse” and Disorderly Conduct published by “The Bring on the Ruckus Society” (a seeming tongue-and-cheek critique of the “mass movement” that emerged after the protests against the WTO in Seattle in 1999) advanced a critique of civilization and advocated uncompromising militant action, an approach also characterized the journal Green Anarchy.
In the 1990s and into the early 2000s, these different groupings formed a constellation of activity characterized by a variety of new approaches. Lines between different grouping were relatively loose and their was considerable cross-over between groups. From occupations and treesits like Warner Creek to the Minnehaha Free State, different tactics and strategies existed in parallel with and drew strength from each other. While we now know based on various legal cases over the past several years the lines between Earth First!, the Earth Liberation Front, and anarchists weren’t always clear, the strategies were often different. For example, while Earth First! was involved with the Minnehaha Free State, the Earth Liberation Front tried tree spiking. Among the participants in the black bloc in Seattle that attacked chain stores and various other corporations during the World Trade Organization (WTO) summit were those who acted within this space.
While not always directly connected to ecological resistance, the years immediately following Seattle were ones characterized by militant confrontations with the state and attacks on corporate property. Outside of trade summits, black blocs were a favorite tactic, attacking the police and property. In Seattle, both the sanctity of corporate property and non-violent protest tactics were challenged. In the wake of Seattle, one heard relatively little about civil disobedience and non-violence, with the discussion dramatically shifting. While not everything was perfect, the subsequent confrontations were described as “direct action” rather than “civil disobedience,” a change in wording that signaled a desire to move beyond symbolic and ritualized displays of dissent. While there was no unified view, property destruction was largely seen as a given, with proponents either accepting it outright or trying to argue that it was in fact “non-violent.” Pacifism, peace police, and non-violence—all of which were characteristics of the post-1960s movements—were heavily critiqued (see for example, Peter Gelderloos How Nonviolence Protects the State). Rather than the restrictive non-violence codes of the past, “diversity of tactics” was the name of the game and for the most part those advocating for a strict adherence to nonviolence were on the defensive. In the realm of ecological resistance, attacks by the Earth Liberation Front were quite common. These weren’t just the high profile attacks at Veil or Michigan State, but reflected a conflictual practice that spread within the context of radical environmentalism to places such as Louisville, KY and Long Island. Throughout the same period, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the more radical portion of the animal liberation movement advocated and engaged in economic attacks. The SHAC campaign—which combined a diverse array of strategies from harassment of individuals to property destruction—almost brought Huntingdon Life Sciences to its knees. Even after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks caused most leftists to abandon the “anti-globalization movement,” anarchists and others continued to pursue summit-based confrontations and nighttime attacks amongst the standard range of collectives, publications, infoshops, and other projects that make up the anarchist space.
If one is to compartmentalize history into eras, this era of activity ended largely due to the collapse of the anti-globalization movement, the Iraq War, and the rise of leftist protest coalitions (although paradoxically, the left was unable to mount an effective challenge to the war, but it was able to largely return the model of scripted mass marches), and the repression of what has been called “the Green Scare.” With Operation: Backfire, several former participants in Earth Liberation Front actions were arrested after one became an informant. Other related cases including Marie Mason—who participated in several Earth Liberation Front actions in the Midwest—and the case of Eric McDavid (a victim of a government scheme to blow-up a dam), were followed by a decline in ELF activity.
Even with these setbacks, two mobilizations that happened towards the end of the 2000s reflected the lessons learned over the course of these summit demonstrations. Groups organizing against the Republican National Convention (RNC) in St. Paul in 2008 adopted a set of principles dubbed the “St. Paul Principles” that enshrined many of the operating practices of the previous years. It called for the support for a “diversity of tactics,” while also reaching agreements not to cooperate with law enforcement against other activists and to refrain from denouncing others in the media. The primary anarchist organizing body—The RNC Welcoming Committee—and the prominent “liberal” groups all agreed to the same terms. The result was a disruptive mobilization wherein to a certain degree there was support and respect for different approaches. A year later, the Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project adopted similar language and organizing principles.
The point of this is not just to present an overly simplified history of the early 2000s, but to make the argument that during the period dogmatic adherence to non-violence was largely abandoned. A wide- range of folks—from anarchists in the black bloc to those engaged in various forms of ecological resistance—were doing so outside of traditional forms of non-violent protest and civil disobedience. Earth First! existed within this context and benefited from the combative approach.
The Perplexing Return of Non-Violence
One of the most talked about recent campaigns in the radical environmental movement has been the Tar Sands Blockade, an effort in south Texas aimed stopping the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Tar Sands Blockade was launched with the help of 350.org and Rising Tide to establish a “peaceful direct action camp” with a particular focus on building relationships with those living in the pipeline’s path.14 Members of Earth First! participated as well and the larger Earth First! network issued a call encouraging Earth First!ers to go to Texas. Before the Tar Sands Blockade ceased operating as a result of a civil lawsuit in which TransCanada claimed the campaign had cost them $5 million dollars, it featured lockdowns in pipes and on bulldozers, treesits, and actions at corporate offices.
Tar Sands Blockade embraced “non-violent direct action.” Far from using the term as a mere descriptor, they adopted the ideology of non-violence with all of its worst aspects. They described it as “a moral high ground from which we can build community in a broken world,” thereby creating a value judgment against other approaches. Similarly, they viewed nonviolent direct action as a course to be pursued only once other methods had been exhausted (a logic that implies one must go the tedious route of pursuing endless lawsuits first, in order to give their “resorting” to direct action more legitimacy). They cast nonviolence as the only choice, stating that “With respect for our community, our opposition, and ourselves, we affirm that we will engage in nonviolent, community building tactics.” Moreover, they adopted a rhetoric of professionalism, stating that there is a “need” for it and that all of those they work with will be “well-trained” and “abide by our code of conduct.” Not surprisingly, they pledge to treat all people—from police to those building the pipeline—as if they were their “own brothers and sisters.” After all, “in the end, we are family.” To top it off, much of their rhetoric around non-violence was adopted uncritically from “The 99% Spring” training guide, a booklet that was published as part of a series of trainings held by various non-profits with the goal of reigning in Occupy. The booklet provides a basic introduction to nonviolence as practiced by U.S.-based activist groups, complete with sanitized histories based on prevailing myths of how “social change” happens. Ironically the recuperative and neutralizing advocacy of nonviolence was literally adopted from groups who had that explicit purpose. As the campaign carried on they began to describe it as “civil disobedience”—a change that reflected an even narrower approach. Despite this, nothing critical was said about the Tar Sands Blockade. The blockade received a cover image and a dramatic photo spread in an issue of the Earth First! Journal—notable for the complete lack of content beyond spectacular images. Only one critique of the Tar Sands Blockade seems to have been published, otherwise coverage has been overwhelmingly positive.
Nonviolence codes have proliferated rapidly within the radical environmental crowd. An action camp publicized on the Earth First! Newswire for the “Hands of Appalachia” campaign, was peppered with the words “non-violent” to describe their tactics of choice. In the campaign’s “Non-Violence Policy,” they state that “All individuals are expected to commit to nonviolence” and further state that they “do not condone property destruction.” Mountain Justice, another campaign targeting Mountain Top Removal mining in Appalachia, has a similar code. They explain that property destruction and violence have been used by coal companies to silence opposition, framing themselves as a more dignified non- violent approach. They make it clear in multiple areas of their website that they “do NOT engage in sabotage.” RAMPS (Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival)—while less explicit— categorizes their anti-mountaintop removal work as a “non-violent direct action” campaign.
Aside from limiting the range of responses to ecological destruction, nonviolence codes serve a policing role over struggles. There is self-policing when only a limited range of acceptable tactics are considered. In relation to others who resist, they have a policing role by isolating others and having a position that condemns other types of tactics. It’s paternalistic in the sense that the movement specialists—those with the training and those who do the trainings—decide for others what the best way to resist is. By stating explicitly that they will remain within certain narrow parameters, it is easier for the state to manage and neutralize them. While debating what is and isn’t “direct action” is not the most exciting or most relevant debate, it is interesting to note that the radical environmental movement is increasingly defining it in ways that include tactics that rely solely on representation by specialists, such as the so-called “paper wrenching” of filing lawsuits or highly technical blockades.
Embracing Civil Disobedience?
Along with the embrace of non-violence, there has also been a shift towards even more restrictive forms in which “direct action” has been replaced with “civil disobedience.” While it may seem like a semantic debate, it suggests a political orientation. Whereas direct action is largely about disruption and gaining direct results (for example, stopping logging), civil disobedience is about performing an “illegal” act for the purpose of appealing to authority and/or demonstrating the unjust nature of a particular law or policy. It also carries the expectation of politeness, that one will act in a “civil” manner as one demonstrates their opposition.
There has been an increase in civil disobedience actions relating to the environment over the past couple of years. While none of these could be cast as “radical,” they are worth considering for the attention that they have received within the radical environmental movement. For the most part, these have been embraced or promoted uncritically. Over the summer, an editor for the Earth First! Journal wrote a piece titled “NGOs Kickoff Civil Disobedience Campaign at Chicago Anti-KXL Rally” which is representative of the attitude towards these new efforts. The campaign was organized by Credo Mobile (yes, a cell phone company that “supports activism and funds progressive nonprofits”) and aimed at preventing President Barack Obama from approving the Keystone XL. On their “Pledge of Resistance” they ask people to “engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience,” invoking the images of “the peaceful and dignified arrests” of over 1,253 people in August 2011, which they claim delayed approval of the plan. This is scripted civil disobedience at its finest, a scenario that could be straight out of Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology. The writer from Earth First! didn’t seem to find anything wrong with this, instead imploring radicals to “…not to blow it by being self-righteous pricks.” The writer argues that actions “make space for growing broader support of direct action in general, if we engage them as such.” When the Sierra Club announced they were going to engage in civil disobedience, the Earth First! Newswire expressed some skepticism but saw it as the potential seeds for an ecological “mass movement” and said that the proper role for Earth First! was “to keep pushing the envelope—until said envelope has been reduced to ashes.”
Unfortunately, this has not happened. Groups like Earth First!—whether caught up in fantasies about “the movement” or for other reasons—have uncritically supported these efforts. It doesn’t seem like they are doing much to catalyze support for direct action as Earth First! may have defined it in the past. Instead, these groups are having a constraining effect on the radical environmental movement. Eager to fit into the new ecological “movement,” it seems that many so-called radicals are beginning to narrowly position themselves in a way so as not to separate from these potential allies. Rather than pushing the envelope, Earth First! is in many ways closing the envelope in ways that limit struggles.
Groups within the “radical environmental” movement have started to self-identify their actions as civil disobedience. For example, the Michigan Coalition Against the Tar Sands (MI-CATS) described an action in which some members locked themselves to a bulldozer as “non-violent civil disobedience.” Many of these actions have adopted the worst aspects of civil disobedience, playing up the “civil” aspect and adopting an attitude of personal sacrifice and martyrdom. They become acts of personal heroics, as is the case when activists position themselves as being compelled to act in the face of great injustice as a “personal statement of civil disobedience.” Actions become about the individuals as much as stopping the act of destruction. The story of why one acted is almost as important as the action itself. A familiar trope is a rhetoric of regret, where participants might express sadness that they are keeping people from “their jobs” or the police from “protecting society”—even though in this case those jobs are allowing for the destruction and the police are a part of the system that allows for it.  In the most ridiculous extreme of these actions, activists work with the police, choreographing their actions to place minimal strain on the police. This was the case at an action in Massachusetts where 350.org worked with police to coordinate the protest and wore shirts identifying those risking arrest. It can also happen in smaller ways, such as when protestors announce their intentions in advance, as was seen at a MI-CATS action where an individual climbed into a pipeline until just 5pm. This limits the tactic and removes the threat of uncontrollable disruption. In other cases the individual focus results in a celebrity culture where actual celebrities (think Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend, Robert Kennedy, and the like) are praised for their sacrifice (and at elevated above others as being more important), or where “movement” celebrities are created.
Over the summer of 2013, many ecological actions followed these models. The #FearlessSummer campaign (a series of actions primarily promoted through “social media”) and the #SummerHeat (named with a “Twitter hashtag”—is this really how disconnected from the Earth we have become?) campaign were two examples. Aside from the problematic politics of advocating a “clean energy economy”—which should be enough to keep so-called radicals away, these groups also embrace the same narrow range of tactics. While theoretically decentralized, the influence of organizations pushing for nonviolence was apparent in much of the language. At best the topic is avoided (as is the case in the language for #FearlessSummer), but absent a stated supported of a diversity of tactics, it is all too easy for the recuperative aspects to take hold. An organizing manual funded by 350.org called the “Creative Action Cookbook” was funded by 350.org advocated nonviolence, even offering a helpful scenario in which they described how scary a protest with a crowd of people (“mostly young white men in their twenties”) dressed in black is compared to a nonviolent protest where “even the police officers are smiling and they are gently putting protestors in mass arrest trucks.” In the case of #SummerHeat, action participants at a scripted sit-in at a Chevron facility in Richmond, California were required to sign-up online and confirm that they “promise to be nonviolent and peaceful in all of my activities during the action.” Guidelines further stated that “Non-violence includes no verbal abuse or threatening motions” and that they should “appear dignified in dress and demeanor – these are serious issues, and we want to be taken seriously”.
For their part, Earth First!—as much one can make statements about it—seems intent on pursuing a policy of engagement with these efforts. This is most often done uncritically. In the case of the aforementioned #SummerHeat action, the coverage was absolutely glowing. The author praised the campaign, writing “350.org joining with the Industrial Workers of the World on an environmental justice campaign. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will.” They also included a quote praising the police for being “very gentle, apologetic, and polite.” In the absence of criticism, it is far more likely to see condescending tones directed towards those who disagree with this uncritical embrace of new movements—with anarchists receiving a particular amount of scorn. The attitude seems to be that debate is divisive, a position that may get short-term allies, but is likely to gloss over differences and cause problems down the road. Moreover, it raises all sorts of questions: what are the ramifications of being dishonest about one’s beliefs for short term gain? Are they hidden out of fear? Paternalism? Etc? While not relating specifically to nonviolence, one example of pursuing an alliance despite significant differences was Earth First!’s multi-year embrace of Deep Green Resistance, a neo- Maoist group dominated by Derrick Jensen and the transphobia of Lierre Keith.
Limiting Options and Narrowing Forms of Resistance: Ritualized Actions
It’s easy to criticize the efforts of groups like 350.org and the more mainstream of the environmental groups. In many ways, in the climate that exists in the United States, it isn’t surprising that such groups would adopt a strict adherence to non-violence—it is one of the primary myths that we’re taught about how “change” happens. In many cases, there are caricatures of past movements—the glossed over accounts of the civil rights movement or Gandhi and the Indian independence movement—that cast them as solely non-violent struggles or pick out the most passive forms of resistance and hold those up as successful. A group like Earth First! or the anarchists/radicals who chose to work with these new groups should be challenging these narratives, not embracing them. This could be done through constructive criticism and propaganda, or by creating exciting and empowering alternatives.
Instead, Earth First! seems to be caught in a rut, pursuing a limited strategy of moving from one campaign to another and pursuing the same limited set of tactics. What is going to happen at any given action is predictable. There will be a call for solidarity actions (nowadays often called by some big group like 350.org as EF! is often reacting to their work rather than setting their own unique course), a lockdown will take place or a tripod will go up, a post will go on the newswire, and fundraising calls will go out. Or there will be an “action camp” featuring the usual set of workshops, followed on the last day by some kind of “action” following the above template. The actions themselves will be highly scripted and ritualized, with a series of unique roles—media liaisons, police liaisons, arrestables, etc. There is little if any improvisation, the actions are perfected down to a science—hence the reason why Earth First! can conduct so many “trainings” on how to do them. Moreover, by adopting as their primary form relatively specialized types of blockades that require some technical knowledge—it creates a culture of specialists in struggle. The result is an increasingly narrow range of actions with increasingly high stakes. If every lockdown is going to result in felony charges, at what point does the tactic become obsolete?
If the tactics aren’t working, neither is using these approaches to advance Earth First!’s understanding and critique of civilization. Whether to build the alliances described above or out of a strategic calculation of some sort, they almost always position themselves around a “single issue” rather than addressing the totality. Consequently, when Earth First! engages in these new movements, its views— particularly the criticism of civilization—are not being taken up. These movements are still defined narrowly in terms of protesting a particular type of energy. There has yet to be anything with a perspective critical of civilization or all forms of industrial infrastructure. So not only do the tactics become confined, but the politics as well.
At best, the radical environmental movement is stuck in a rut, trapped within a space of increasing contradictions as leftist groups and large NGOs try to manage dissent. Groups like Earth First! and others that share similar approaches are playing a role in this by embracing non-violence, civil disobedience, moral appeals, and a culture of ritualized and scripted actions. Rather than growing from the experiences of the past, they have shifted onto a course that constrains struggle rather than expands it.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are other approaches to take. Earlier in this piece, there was a discussion of the radical environmental milieu in the years following the Seattle WTO and how a multi-tendency space that broke with traditional forms of protest that created opportunities for new forms of resistance. While success is difficult to define, those years had a level of excitement and even victories that inspired many to take significant risks—perhaps even inspiring some of the current crop of Earth First! elders. Had the current level of stifling adherence to non-violence that we now see been applied to that period, many people like myself wouldn’t be around—we would have missed out on the excitement and formative experiences of confronting lines of riot police, the joy of moments of collective acts of rebellion, and the inspiration that came from pushing dumpsters into lines of police. This isn’t to reduce things down to simple tactical preferences, but rather to point out that just as Keystone XL won’t be stopped by non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House, the Seattle round of trade talks wouldn’t have collapsed unless the states involved saw the opposition as a genuine threat—in that case, one which was unpredictable and uncontrollable, and one that challenged capitalism (at the very least)—via a diverse and combative approach.
Another example that is worth considering is the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) campaign. Using an entirely decentralized and open approach, the SHAC campaign—which targeted Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) and the companies that did business with them—allowed space for individuals and groups to engage in a wide range of actions under the idea that everything helped. A timeline of actions focusing on just one company, Marsh Inc., shows a staggering array of approaches ranging from home demonstrations, locks being glued in offices, blockades at offices, vandalism of homes, property destruction, demonstrations, etc. In just a few months, Marsh ceased involvement with HLS. The symbiotic relationship between the aboveground and the underground, as well as support for a diversity of tactics helped catalyze a range of actions. While there are additional lessons to be learned from the SHAC campaign, it is interesting to consider how such an approach might be applied to the current struggles over pipelines. How well would construction fare if local companies building pipelines were attacked with the same intensity as those doing business with HLS?
Similarly, ecological resistance could learn from the approaches developed by insurrectionary anarchists across North America. Anarchists have created a culture of attack that in the best cases works not only to expand their base, but also to materially damage their enemies. For example, struggles against the police in the Pacific Northwest that both offered relatively open forms for people to get involved in militant street confrontations as well as nighttime attacks on police stations. Moreover, these currents have been successful at catalyzing activity elsewhere, with calls for days of solidarity resulting in a smattering of actions across the continent. At the risk of reducing complexities, this has happened by advocating relatively open tactical approaches and articulating a need for attack. At best, Earth First! has remained distant from these strands and at worst has been hostile.
Earth First!—and “the radical environmental movement”—could learn from the not-so-distant past and try new approaches being taken elsewhere. The most obvious approach is to cast aside the language of nonviolence, civil disobedience, and morality. Tactics should be measured by their effectiveness, not their adherence to principles loaded with value judgments. Is this lockdown going to work? Are the benefits worth the cost? Will this act of sabotage work? Which approach will work better? These are the types of questions that should be asked. Moreover, a culture should be created which embraces a diversity of tactics wherein groups agree not to condemn the actions of others, refuse to cooperate with the police, and refuse to isolate those pursuing more militant approaches. Regardless of individual and group tactical preferences, all choices gain strength when they are part of a broad space that cannot be easily co-opted and divided.
Of course, such a culture of militancy isn’t going to come about out of a simple declaration of support for a diversity of tactics. But, it is at least a start. If options are kept open, not only is there more to draw from, but more places to go.
Naming All of the Names - by Cedar Leighlais
In early February, two communiques surfaced on the Seattle-based website Tides of Flame,. The communique author(s) took credit for obstructing the passage of workers headed to their offices at Microsoft in Redmond, WA, and again the next day of workers going to Amazon Headquarters in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. Similarly, in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley) anarchists and radicals have taken to blocking Google, Yahoo and Twitter commuter busses, even going so far as to physically attack them. In one of the communiques from Seattle, the author(s) plainly state that they have taken inspiration from these Bay Area actions. This invokes the memory of Os Cangaceiros, a group of social rebels in France during the 1980’s-90’s who would commonly block trains with banners and leaflets proclaiming solidarity with prisoners on strike and listing their demands. While it is exciting to see such tactics taken up commonly and spread beyond the original context in which they surfaced, anarchists and other rebels should nonetheless be willing to give actions and their communications the critical glare that we apply to the rest of the world. Holding back critique of anarchist communications out of respect for the actions they accompany would do nothing to further and enhance the struggle against domination.
As quoted in the first communique, “On Monday, February 10th, a small group of people blocked a Microsoft Connector Shuttle in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.” The Microsoft Connector shuttle provides free transportation to Microsoft employees across the city of Seattle to the Microsoft headquarters located in a suburb of Seattle called Redmond, which can sometimes take hours to drive to during rush-hour. In the communique, the author(s) claim “Without the Connector Shuttle bringing these employees to Capitol Hill, Ballard, South Seattle, and the North End, the hyper-gentrification we now see would not have happened. Microsoft currently employs more people in the Seattle area than Amazon, Google, and Adobe combined. So it is not unreasonable to place the blame for the drastic restructuring of our neighborhoods largely on Microsoft and the developers who built according to their needs.”
On the contrary! This reasoning fails to acknowledge the Leviathan that is civilization, capitalism and the death-march that is technology and progress. Microsoft cannot solely be the party responsible for the economic development and gentrification of neighborhoods in Seattle, the Leviathan is much more nuanced than that. It uses its limbs to obstruct authentic life, whether through policing, science, or dystopic visions of ‘the future’. Furthermore, it is not just the police and city councils who wish to see neighborhoods “cleaned up” and are responsible for raised rent-prices. We are all complicit in capitalism, and the “revitalization” of neighborhoods in Seattle is an effort applauded by many of those who have relocated to the Seattle metropolitan area in the last five to ten years to begin careers and families. While it is important to connect the dots and name the names of those who play roles in maintaining the ever increasing drudgery of every day life, we cannot fall into the trap of attempting to find one common enemy when the Leviathan is everywhere, and such our enemies.
The other communique, detailing the blockade of a train of Amazon workers, goes into detail about the developed relations of the CIA and Amazon, a history of CIA-staged-coups and Amazon’s union-busting practices, and Amazon’s intention to replace all of its human workers within their service and delivery centers with drones and robots. The sentiment here is one of desiring a more fair workplace and a preservation of the working class as it has existed since industrial capitalism began. This is similar to the first communique that deeply stresses the economic hardships that have fallen on the poor and downtrodden throughout Seattle as gentrification rampages throughout neighborhoods and rent prices soar, stopping just short of crying “We want cheaper rent now!”
If one were to take these communiques in good faith, it could be assumed that the author(s) do indeed carry a larger critique of Microsoft, Amazon and the developments in technology and surveillance society that these corporations are currently aiding in. So why leave these sentiments out? In hopes of attracting more followers, or to have a message that is more eligible to the masses? Given that journalist Brendan Kiley (who seems to consistently know what the anarchists are up to and writes almost positively about them) from Seattle’s liberal paper The Stranger had gotten a secret heads-up of the action, the motivations seem clear: to communicate as far and wide to the general populace of Seattle an incredibly acceptable critique of Microsoft and Amazon, thus watering down the critique to be provided. This sentiment abandons the belligerence that is the ineffable and inflammable idea of anarchy. By definition, anarchy goes against the grain of the dominant social order, shouting “No!” while the rest of the world retires into bleak submission. If anarchists water down their ideas with the intention of finding more comrades and co-conspirators, surely they are to only find compromise and relations that in truth lack any real notion of affinity.
For the destruction of this world and for the fostering of friendships that light the night and our souls aflame, we must not hide the unruly elements of our characters in hopes of fitting in with a social body that will never accommodate our desires. Our enemy is ever expanding and developing as a vast and plural being, and so must our contempt for it.
Uncivilising Permaculture - by Tanday Lupalupa
An Anti-Civilisation and Anti-Colonial Critique of "Sustainable Agriculture"
In this essay, I wish to explore the way that permaculture intersects with an (anarchist[ic] and anti-colonial) anti-civilisation critique. By no means do I wish to tow some anarcho-primitivist line (though some inspiration from it is not denied), but rather to raise questions of where permaculture may accompany a critique of civilisation, and where it possibly diverges. Some of the critiques I raise here stem from my years of study and experience in the area, in which my critical lens often came to be at odds with my colleagues.
In the contemporary environmentalist milieu both the theory of permaculture and its practice have become popular as means by which to repair the earth’s depleting topsoil and to otherwise attempt to live more sustainably with our planet. It is but one response to the ecological crisis that we face, whether the conversation is centred around climate change, environmental destruction, food security, or the totality.
So what is permaculture? One of the co-orginators of the permaculture concept Bill Mollison, and his colleague Scott Pittman, define it as such:
“Permaculture (Permanent Agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of cultivated ecosystems which have the diversity, stability & resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape, people & appropriate technologies, providing good, shelter, energy & other needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture is a philosophy and an approach to land use which works with natural rhythms & patterns, weaving together the elements of microclimate, annual & perennial plants, animals, water & soil management, & human needs into intricately connected & productive communities.”
Permaculture as a concept is, in fact, quite broad. This opens it up as both something more in tune with the true complexities of world, yet vulnerable to co-optation. Permaculture exists not as a singularity, but as a multiplicity. For example, agriculture is a discipline of food production, unaware if its relationship to other disciplines, whereas permaculture is inter-disciplinary: it attempts to understand the interconnectedness of an ecosystem as a totality.
Given how broad the concept of permaculture is, there can be no generalised analysis of it. Rather, we can explore the different aspects of it both in theory and practice, and see how these compliment or detract from an anti-civilisation critique.
Before I go on, it may be helpful to explain where I’m coming from. There was a time quite a few years ago when, after having become more acquainted with anti-civilisation ideas, I began to destruct such things as my relationship to the earth, and my own autonomy – i.e. my own self-sufficiency. What skills did I have? What did I know about the earth/natural world? What did I know about my landbase/bioregion? I had in fact been travelling for a long time, and had very little sense of place. Eventually, I thought it was time to return to the lands I grew up in (or thereabouts), as in fact that was where permaculture had first developed. At that time, I saw learning about permaculture as a means to develop a relationship to one of the things that sustains me – food. Of course I had wilder dreams as it were, but I saw this as a starting point.
And from there, in different forms, I eventually studied permaculture, both formally through multiple courses, and informally through reading, meeting people, participating in projects.
And this is where my journey began.
The Problem Of Cities: Urban Permaculture
Most of my participation in permacultural projects, both in courses or otherwise, was generally urban-based. This of course is not so surprising, due to the fact I lived in the city during these times. I did, however, experience some rural dimensions to this, specifically one rural course (in that case, just outside of the city), and quite a few rural excursions. This is on top of the rural aspects to the permaculture design that I was required to learn in both courses. In permaculture design, a given property is traditionally divided into five (or six) zones. According to Wikipedia,
“Zones are a way of intelligently organizing design elements in a human environment on the basis of the frequency of human use and plant or animal needs.”
However, due to the generally smaller size of urban properties, only the first three zones (zone 0 being the house) are ever really utilised, though this may change to two due to the disappearance of backyard space. That is the main scope of urban permaculture.
One aspect of permaculture that straight off the bat stands out for analysis is how it manifests in urban environments. Permaculture as seen in cities can include community gardens, city farms, backyard gardens, and is an attempt to make urban spaces more self-sufficient and reduce our carbon footprint. An anti-civilisation critique of cities is that their existence is predicated on the importation of resources (e.g. food) from rural areas. Permaculture, especially of the urban variety, attempts to mediate this. Funnily enough, in both of the courses I undertook, the idea of the carbon footprint was presented, and we at least once analysed our own.
As it is, with such a concentration of humans in a confined space, there isn’t room in their immediate area to produce the means of their subsistence. The importation of resources, most importantly food, then creates a larger carbon footprint. The further the distance required to import these things, the more the system relies on of the existence of industrial infrastructure to move the (e.g. a truck moves food from a farm to a supermarket in the city, which is fuelled by petroleum, which is transported by ship from Saudi Arabia, which is mined by equipment which is also fuelled by petroleum... ad infinitum).
So then, permaculture looks at a given situation and tries to use design principles in order to use the pre-existing features on a piece of land (whether rural or urban) to advance further self-sufficiency, with a lower ecological impact (i.e. carbon footprint), and generally to make a property more green. This indeed goes beyond food, as it is a holistic approach to analysing a given place, and can also include such things storing water, using natural light, composting, etcetera.
It is not the purpose of this essay to discuss in detail (though I will briefly) whether permaculture designed cities can produce enough food for their inhabitants. Such contexts do not exist in my experience in the West. On top of that, Havana (Cuba) is often championed as the great hope of urban permaculture (see the documentary The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil) – whilst still not producing all of its own food. I do think what happens there is an interesting experiment, as experimentation is important to our adaptivity to the changing context of the ecological chaos ahead of us, yet I do also think such a fixation with “saving the cities” may well instead be dancing with the devil, yet another manifestation of greenwashing.
Breaking this down more, there is this emphasis on taking inspiration from nature, of which a city is quite the antithesis, and such a density of humans cannot support the carrying capacity of a given area. According to Wikipedia:
“The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the maximum population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment.”
According to Toby Hemenway, Paris produces 30% of its own food, more than most western cities, and similarly, Hugh Warwick notes that Havana produces up to 50%. So even in the permaculture mecca, the dependence on rural agriculture (permaculture?) is still 50%. Hemenway, a permaculturist, who lives in the city of Portland, goes on to say:
“We can get better at growing food in the cities, but I don’t think we can get good enough”.
I tend to agree. Population densities characteristic of cities are not harmonious with any sort of ecological carrying capacity. And I think that the idea of cities is so embedded in at least some strands of permaculture that manifests even outside of the city.
Indeed, I believe there is a certain dishonesty, or disillusionment at best, within the western urban permaculture philosophy, saying that certain modes of living – lifestyles, can be synthesized with carrying capacity. They cannot. This goes beyond simply the existence of cities, as I have witnessed the simple transplantation of the urban lifestyle into the rural setting. There is an individualism rife here, intertwined into a mess of hyper privilege – owning land by oneself (or simply reproducing the nuclear family), paying for both the design and construction to be undertaken by other people, maintaining all their creature comforts of the city (e.g. electricity, going to the supermarket), amongst others. Often, these houses will be much larger than are necessary. This almost appears to be an excuse for such people to ethically live in luxury. It is disgusting, and this very thing typifies my current difficulty with identifying at all with permaculture. Some also try to build themselves, but whether it’s a matter of their design or lack of workforce, it takes decades for them to finish building their homes. Again, if we are to take inspiration from nature, we need not look further than ourselves. When our species has lived with nature rather than opposed to it, both in the past and in remnants today, we evolutionarily live together – in a community. As Kevin Tucker said, “Rewilding is never a solitary adventure.”
An important distinction to make, however, is that such manifestations of permaculture differ greatly according to context, such as access to wealth. What this means in practice specifically is how technology is used. In richer countries, especially in urban environments, the fixation with usage of complex technological gadgets increases. Rather than it being an option, it often seems like more of a social norm. If access plays a big part in what permaculture may look like, then the versions of permaculture that may appear more ecologically sound will be simpler designs that don’t require the same access to economic privilege and resources that highly technological projects do. It is this simplicity, in the end, that inspires adaptation, holistic design, and knowledge out of necessity.
The Problem Of Semantics: Peak Oil/Energy Descent, Sustainability And The Collapse
One interesting and illuminating divergence is the way in which peak oil (or peak everything in Richard Heinberg’s words) is framed. Rather than using the aforementioned words, or even the more emotive and provocative collapse, some permaculturists like David Holmgren refer to a concept of “Energy descent” (also referred to as “Creative Descent”). This refers to:
“[the] retraction of oil use after the peak oil availability... the post-peak oil transitional phase, when humankind goes from the ascending use of energy that has occurred since the industrial revolution to a descending use of energy.”
One of the really productive elements of this framework as opposed to that of a more collapse-style, is that creating this imagery of a descent debunks the idea that there is some magical climactic event which will bring forth mass ecological destruction and the fall of civilisation. Instead, this points towards things unfolding in stages, and possibly quite slowly (relatively speaking). However, it goes beyond that, as it also is framed as a gentler, voluntary descent rather than one that is out of our hands. More specifically, another popular concept in this milieu is Energy Descent Planning (i.e. transition), a process developed by the Transition Towns Movement. This is a system for developing local plans to design and prepare for energy descent. In this sense, it means the actual process of gradually changing the way we live, such as the energy sources we use (alternative energy), to be healthier for the earth and to soften the energy descent.
Overall, this is a really helpful way to frame the equation. Creating frameworks where we positively are working together, decentralised, in our region-specific communities speaks to the heart. However, such positive wording is not without its dangers, i.e. greenwashing. Not to mention that it can create the illusion that perhaps things aren’t so bad. It’s in the cliché false dichotomy of positive/negative, where one may say, “I don’t want to think of the negatives, just the positives.”. Of course, I’m not suggesting you go out looking for so-called negative experiences, but rather, the trap is the bubble. You’ll forget reality. Indeed, it would be quite a bubble for you to forget reality in its entirety (people do try!), but with the types of walls that people create in their lives, in their minds, bursting some bubbles sometimes is a necessary reality check.
It may not be a collapse. Maybe it will be an energy descent. We could be lucky. But honestly, we really don’t know what will happen. What I do know is that it may be fucking horrible and no positive wording with save us from whatever comes ahead of us.
Then there’s this idea of sustainability. What exactly does sustainable even mean?
In breaking down the word “sustainability” to try to flesh out what it really entails, Toby Hemenway’s lecture How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and The Planet, but not Civilization, illuminates the conversation. What he posits is that sustainability is, in fact, a bit of a misnomer. It’s not really something that relates to a healthy ecology, but rather survival amidst destruction. For example, so-called sustainable logging may not directly affect the logging of other forests outside of designated sustainable logging coup, but it doesn’t help heal any of the destruction that has been, will be, and is currently waged on these forests. So Hemenway places sustainability as a halfway point between what he refers to as degenerative and regenerative practice. The former relates to actions that facilitate the degradation of ecosystems (i.e. everything the dominant culture does), whilst the latter facilitates ecosystem healing (i.e. everything the dominant culture doesn’t do). It’s an interesting point, and in fact helps break down the façade that claims that this buzzword, sustainability, is helping to save the planet. It’s greenwashing again, trying to excuse our destructive lifestyles. So in permaculture, regenerative practice attempts to mimic natural ecological functions that help repair the different types of damage that have been inflicted by civilisation. The message is clear; ceasing civilisation’s damage to the earth and being “sustainable,” will not save the earth. Until you find me a solar panel that doesn’t require mining, the damage is still being done.
The Problem Of Agriculture: Horticulture, Permaculture, And The Wild
So then the question arises—is it a question of scale? So-called urban permaculture ends up being (or at least depending on) another form of agriculture. We may get better at growing food in cities, but cannot grow all of it ourselves: hence, rural agriculture. Where does that leave permaculture? And where does that leave the wild? Some propose an anthropological look at horticultural societies as a possible link between permaculture and the wild. Jason Godesky and Toby Hemenway attempt to define horticulture:
“As I mentioned, [Yehudi] Cohen [in Man in Adaptation] locates another form of culture between foraging and agriculture. These are the horticulturists, who use simple methods to raise useful plants and animals. Horticulture in this sense is difficult to define precisely, because most foragers tend plants to some degree, most horticulturists gather wild food, and at some point between digging stick and plow a people must be called agriculturists. Many anthropologists agree that horticulture usually involves a fallow period, while agriculture overcomes this need through crop rotation, external fertilizers, or other techniques. Agriculture is also on a larger scale. Simply put, horticulturists are gardeners rather than farmers.”
To emphasize the difference here, the mention of things like fertilisers is important because the intensity and scale of agriculture is predicated on external sources of nutrients, and even energy. This is similar to a city’s reliance on external resources to maintain itself. Large-scale permaculture requires large wild spaces for resources (i.e. mining – petroleum, etc). But of course as cities expand, wild spaces must contract, as is exemplified by agriculture and especially industrialism.
Both horticulture and permaculture contain elements of gardening. They both have this measure of scale to them, and encourage diversity (as opposed to agriculture’s monocropping). There is a continuum between permaculture and foraging. For example, permaculture’s most wild zone, zone 5, allows for hunting and foraging. And even some of what has been perceived as foraged wilderness in horticultural societies has sometimes turned out to actually be their version of a permaculturist’s food forest. If then, the aim is the wild, and not simply the garden, then permaculture is a step in the right direction. Though, to be honest, it never seemed that many permaculturists I encountered ever seemed to see the forest for the trees – they only ever saw a garden.
Permaculture allows for multiple functions, ecologically, but Hemenway also claims that it can’t perform all of them, hence the necessity of large wild spaces:
“You can’t just turn the whole world into a garden. There are major eco-system functions that aren’t going to happen if we have completely gardened the entire planet. We don’t know enough about eco-system functions to run it all ourselves. We have to let alot of it stay wild so that alot of the not well-perceived and not well understood and unmanageable eco-system functions can proceed.”
So again, permaculture’s success, like that of horticulture, is predicated on allowing wild spaces for ecosystem functions. And here, in the presence of the wild, is where the question of the carbon footprint and carrying capacity really clash. The standard understanding of an individual’s carbon footprint refers to how much land, or how many Earth’s (!) are required for their needs. This usually relates to human use of land – agriculture. But if the whole world were a farm, or a garden, then where would the animals be? No, not cows or chickens, but wilds animals. Where will the resources be? Carrying capacity relates to every living being (human or not) in a given bioregion, so there’s an obvious problem with anthropocentrism to some extent within permaculture too. So every inch of this Earth is not simply a production unit, as some may perceive with their precision in measuring the output from growing grain on a piece of land versus using it to raise cows. The trick, again, is anthropocentrism. Both choices agricultural and neither allow for the survival of wild animals. This brings up biocentrism, the idea that we don’t inhabit this planet for our exclusive use – we share it.
Jason Godesky also talks about origins in the link between permaculture and horticulture:
“The fact that so many favorite permacultural techniques—enhancing edge, intercropping, guilds, and even many of Fukoka’s techniques like seedballs—are to be found among horticultural cultures around the world, is certainly instructive. Is there anything that can distinguish permaculture from horticulture? To date, I have been unable to find anything, leading me to the conclusion that permaculture is largely re-inventing the horticulturalist wheel.”
So it isn’t just that permaculture and horticulture have some incidental similarities, but that permaculture is directly influenced by horticulture. It’s similar to the way that anarcho-primitivism is influenced by hunter/gatherer societies. It can be seen as a way for those (e.g. Europeans) whose Earth-based cultures and lifeways have been destroyed, to give credence to those whose lifeways existed in the past or still exist. No doubt, enduring horticultural techniques have been integrated into permaculture, as proven by “permaculturists” who were already doing it before it was “invented”. Rediscovered knowledge of techniques such as seedballs has been also integrated. Literally, it seems like a process of relearning what we had been doing right, what worked. But this process, of course, is coming from our current situation, reliant on industrial agriculture. Where we are coming from is so tainted, not simply by our resource heavy techniques (e.g. materials dependent on mining), but by globalisation and colonisation. This includes plants and animals of course, though I am by no means being necessarily dogmatic against non-native species (which includes humans!). But what I’m also referring to is ideology.
By ideology, I don’t mean some vague anti-everything ideology. Everyone believes in something, or at least uses certain words as a way to convey an approximation of one’s ideas, though of course these words will never have any authentic meaning because of symbolic language. We get inspired by many things, and identify in various ways, but the point is to find it in your own context. Ideology homogenizes. Agriculture is ideological. And its ability to universally apply itself to any and all contexts is colonisation. Moreover, the predication of agriculture upon exterior resources because of the depletion it creates in its own context necessitates expansion. This is civilisation.
The Problem Of Ideology: Eurocentrism, Globalisation And Autonomy
“Agriculture itself must be overcome, as domestication, and because it removes more organic matter from the soil than it puts back. Permaculture is a technique that seems to attempt an agriculture that develops or reproduces itself and thus tends toward nature and away from domestication. It is one example of promising interim ways to survive while moving away from civilisation.” - John Zerzan
Where does this leave us now? Indeed, permaculture is a continuum to horticulture. Perhaps then, that allows for permaculture as a transitory process in line with an anti-civilisation critique, and perhaps even anarcho-primitivism. However, as with everything under capitalism, under civilisation, they have insidious mechanisms which help perpetuate and reproduce themselves. And through globalisation and colonisation, the ideology of Eurocentrism has spread. John E. Drabinski posits this:
“Eurocentrism is a key component of colonialism not just as a political and economic relation, but as a cultural project: taking itself as its own measure, Europe could do its violent work across the globe without ever being put in question by the victims. Further, and doubling the violence, taking itself as its own measure underpinned the missionary relation as civilizing force that figured as central to global domination after conquest and enslavement. Conversion to European languages and values (in the broadest sense) becomes equivalent to installing civilization where none previously existed.”
And the zine Desert relates this to anarchism:
“That this is happening as part of globalisation, and the growth of cities is not surprising given that the seeds of social movement Anarchism are largely carried around the planet on the coat tails of capitalism and often grow best, like weeds, on disturbed ground.”
The same, of course, could be said about anarcho-primitivism, autonomous Marxism, insurrectionary anarchism, as well as many other Western -isms, such as the multitude of those used in identity politics. You can see it in the plants in permaculture gardens – diets imported from elsewhere, and consolidated through genocide. Countless are the arguments I got into with my fellow permaculturists about the romanticisation of European plants and animals. You can see it in the ideas that are normalised in our societies, in the microcosm, in our communities (or lackthereof). The point isn’t to prevent idea-sharing (nor to create some false dichotomy of “pure” and “not pure”), or to disallow criticism, but simply to recognize autonomy. The imposition of ideas, and the held superiority of these ideas from a place of power (i.e. White supremacy/Eurocentrism), is the very antithesis of this. In Green Anarchy, Aragorn! similarly talks about Self-determination and Radical decentralization. The point here is that people, anarchists for example, may form a politic into a singularity. This is where solidarity dies, a place where you don’t engage with people outside your “understanding of reality,” but rather expect “reality to conform to their subject understanding of it.” Furthermore, Aragorn! presents some interesting ideas on what he thought could be an Indigenous Anarchism:
“... an anarchism of place. This would seem impossible in a world that has taken upon itself the task of placing us nowhere. A world that places us nowhere universally. Even where we are born, live, and die is not our home. An anarchism of place could look like living in one area for all of your life. It could look like living only in areas that are heavily wooded, that are near life-sustaining bodies of water, or in dry places. It could look like travelling through these areas. It could look like travelling every year as conditions, or desire, dictated. It could look like many things from the outside, but it would be choice dictated by the subjective experience of those living in place and not the exigency of economic or political priorities. Location is the differentiation that is crushed by the mortar of urbanization and pestle of mass culture into the paste of modern alienation. Finally an indigenous anarchism places us as an irremovable part of an extended family. This is an extension of the idea that everything is alive and therefore we are related to it in the sense that we too are alive. It is also a statement of a clear priority. The connection between living things, which we would shorthand to calling family, is the way that we understand ourselves in the world. We are part of a family and we know ourselves through family. Leaving aside the secular language for a moment, it is impossible to understand oneself or one another outside of the spirit. It is the mystery that should remain outside of language that is what we all share together and that sharing is living.”
I take inspiration from many things, such as permaculture and anarcho-primitivism, amongst others. I don’t see them as roadmaps to our liberation (that is not necessarily how they intend to be taken, though that doesn’t mean people don’t perceive them that way). The way I see it, both encourage location specific, adaptive strategies for the roads ahead. I also see them as tools for us to discover liberation in ourselves, in our friends, family, communities, and in our landbases. But it doesn’t really matter whether you use these words or not. As for me, things like permaculture and anarcho-primitivism are to some degree re-inventing the wheel. However, they are helpful for us in remembering what we were already doing right in our cultural histories. We can use different words, words from our own cultures for example, but if we were to truly search for any words that could describe our desires, of love, of wildness, and of total liberation, I would find that there are no words at all: silence.
Becoming wild and free, again, is a progression. The disease of the spectacle, of such things as instant gratification, creates these delusions that things are immediately consumable and causes us to move on to the next thing. In nature, this is a falsehood. When we develop direct relationships with our food, friends/family/community, bioregion, etc, our perception of time inevitably changes. We can’t rewild overnight. Not likely even in our lifetime. The destruction of civilisation is a long-term project as well. But we are but a speck in the lifespan of this earth, and the beginnings of the world we are building will be in our children, and in their children, in the children of the foxes who ate your chickens. And in the ashes of the world we leave behind.
“Any bioregion can be liberated through a succession of events and strategies based on the conditions unique to it.”
It will be a process, both wild and organic, adaptive and local, generational, learning from yourselves and each other, where in the diminishing of ideological homogenisation, diversity reigns, human and nature. Permaculture could be a step. Anarcho-primitivism could be too. I may not stick entirely to the path, but the tracks seem to lead me in a direction I want to be going.
- Tanday Lupalupa
aragorn!, Locating An Indigenous Anarchism, Green Anarchy #19
The Community Solution, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
John E. Drabinski, Derrida, Eurocentrism, Decolonization
Jason Godesky, Thirty Theses
Toby Hemenway, How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and The Planet, but not Civilization
Toby Hemenway, Is Sustainable Agriculture an Oxymoron?
Bill Mollison & Scott Pittman, La Tierra Community CA PDC flyer
Seaweed, Land and Freedom: An Open Invitation
Hugh Warwick, Cuba’s Organic Revolution
Koorosh Zahrai - Eurocentrism: The basis of our society, culture, and source of our problem coexisting with nature
John Zerzan, Running On Emptiness
May the wind haunt you
with the cries of the caged,
shrill scream swirling
through your ear canal.
May the ground crack always
between your feet.
May the wild ocean
tear you limb from limb,
toss your body on the rocky coast.
May your body finally decompose.
May it for once feed life.
May it know neither economy nor politics.
In Review: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture by Arthur Evans
In early Spring of 2013, a small handful of anarchists, calling themselves Feral Death Coven, republished and began circulating a book called Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture by Arthur Evans. The original was published in 1978 by FAG RAG books, and is a cult classic among radical fairy and queer witch circles. Without permission or authority, the book is a beautifully pirated edition, suitable for its content. In a world where original editions of the book regularly sells for hundreds of dollars, such an edition is a welcome contribution to the queer, pagan, and anti-civilization canons. The new edition has largely been circulated at anarchist bookfairs and hand to hand, fueling discussion and inquiry.
In the context of a renewed interest in the history of the Witch-hunts and the rise of Christian civilization, this book offers a significant contribution. In recent years, anti-capitalists and pagans alike have explored a radical analysis of these histories and have worked to understand the conditions by which patriarchy and capitalism have developed together as two heads of the same monstrosity. This line of inquiry is perhaps best illustrated by the relatively widespread reading and discussion of Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch and also the renewed excitement about Fredy Perlman’s Against His-story, Against Leviathan!
This book tells a congruent story, but from a unique position. While engaging with the same history as Federici, Arthur Evans departs from her in some marked ways. He subtitled his book “a radical view of western civilization, and some of the people it has tried to destroy,” and in doing so he attempts to hear and to share the perspective of those people annihilated in the Witch-hunts. This effort is something tragically absent in the patronizingly materialist writings in Caliban. While Federici critiques the capitalist Mind/Body and Material/Spiritual splits which cleaved the world into an alienated hell, her methodology is rooted in the Mind and Material poles of these violent dichotomies. This intrinsically domesticated perspective may indict the Witch-hunts, yet it remains a tacit acceptance of the ideology which has fueled centuries of genocide. In his lament for the world vanquished by Civilization and his celebration of the voices of the defeated, Evans’ critique has more in common with Fredy Perlman’s. Both describe Leviathan’s material rise as being inseparable from the sensual and spiritual poverty it has enforced upon the biosphere.
His narrative differs from both Caliban and Leviathan in its being explicitly queer. Fredy Perlman’s book describes the rise of patriarchy from a implicitly gender essentialist framework and has absolutely no analysis of the existence or struggles of queer people, which amounts to an unfortunate blemish on what is an otherwise brilliant text. Federici’s book is also regrettably tarnished by a more explicit gender essentialism. In the introduction to Caliban she argues that “the debates that have taken place among postmodern feminists concerning the need to dispose of ‘women’ as a category of analysis, and define feminism purely in oppositional terms, have been misguided” and that “then ‘women’ is a legitimate category of analysis, and... a crucial ground of struggle for women, as [it was] for the feminist movement of the 1970 which, on this basis, connected itself with the history of the witches.” Her willful refusal to engage with anti-essentialist queer and trans thinkers is made all the more sinister by her omission of the histories of these people within the Witch-hunts. In fact, queer people earn little more than a single footnote in Federici’s book length academic text. Thus, Witchcraft is a refreshing corrective to ways that Caliban falls short. Firstly, because as a historical document, the book demonstrates that the nascent Gay Liberation movement also connected itself with its witch predecessors. Secondly, by telling the history of witches from the perspective of the queer, trans and gender-variant people in the struggle, Evans provides an implicit rejection of ‘women’ as a hegemonic or natural category long before the so-called ‘postmodern debates’ which Federici conjures to dismiss this perspective. And lastly, because this book is perhaps the first to beautifully situate the rise of heteronormativity as inseparably bound to patriarchy, industrialism, and the state. So, for those who cannot be satisfied with a mere study of industrial/white-supremacist/patriarchal civilization, Witchcraft could prove to be a weapon in a struggle which concurrently attacks the industrial, racialized and gendered orders.
None of this, of course, is to say that Witchcraft is beyond criticism. The book is greatly flawed and dated in ways that cannot be ignored. Foremost among these problems is Evans’ ambiguous relationship to the disciplines of Anthropology and His-story. While he often critiques the biases and worldviews of the white anthropologists he draws upon, his criticism often feels superficial at best. He implicates these anthropologists and historians in a more general heteronormativity, but he never takes this towards a deeper critique of Anthropology itself (as if these Scientists would be acceptable if they were only more gay-friendly). Anthropology, as a white supremacist and civilized discipline, can only inherently look to the past through a domesticated and racist lens. The result of such inquiry will always then be mystified through a racist and essentialist paradigm. Many of the claims that Evans reproduces from white anthropologists, must thus be treated with even greater skepticism than he uses, and should constantly be subject to critique.
In Evans’ own introduction, he denounces academic historians and anthropologists. Instead, he celebrates mythology and folklore as being as significant and vital to our understanding of our collective past. It is sad, then, that he does not push this alternative to its conclusion. To actually take seriously a critique of the academic approach to the past would mean to be humble enough to admit the massive blind-spots of our domesticated way of seeing and to revere this unknown as a chaotic wonder to be explored. Refusing this academic worldview is equally important if we are to acknowledge that the struggles of indigenous people, queers, and witches are not a relic of the past – rather that these cultures survive into the present and continue their struggle for survival.
Yet there still remains a crucial benefit from a study of the war between Civilization and the nature-cultures that it has struggled to eradicate. This benefit is the perspective that the continuous trajectory of His-story and its Civilization has been won at the expense of countless queers, witches, gender-variants, trans-people, heretics, indigenous cultures and wildlife. And so this story demonstrates that the cherished Progress of the society which holds all of us hostage is also the story of rape, torture, eco-destruction, enslavement, murder, genocide and omnicide. If we understand the beast which confronts us, we are all better equipped to combat it without falling into its snares.
To genuinely appraise our enemy and to avoid its traps would mean to critique this book, but to take its conclusions beyond themselves. Contemporary readers of the text should find it very frustrating for its naïve optimism in its final chapter. Evans concludes his extremely thorough critique of industrialism, militarism, statism and patriarchy by paradoxically arguing for a ‘new technology’, a ‘new socialism’ and a ‘new civilization’ that is not based on any of the infrastructure of the current one. These hopeful and empty assertions can only possibly read as baseless and absurd after enduring the horrors of the text’s narrative. Those living in the cybernetic, techno-industrial, mass-alienated prison society which has unfolded in the last 35 years must concede that whatever optimism around technology and socialism that may have ever existed must be left in the dustbin of history. The countercultural fetish for a ‘new technology’ which prevailed in the 70s gave birth to the cybernetic governance that we now live within. It is abundantly clear that those who fetishize technology and socialism only serve to construct a more abysmal and well-managed dystopian future. Evans reads as all the more dated and foolish in his sympathies for a Maoism of the past. Any misplaced hope in the Maoist project must reconcile itself with the industrial and genocidal atrocities to which that project gave rise. We can safely discard of this naivete and conclude that no ‘new technology’ or ‘new socialism’ nor anything short of a cleansing fire can assist us in our self-liberation.
Even after excising the anthropological and socialist perspectives, this book still contains a great deal of relevance for those who desire such a fire. Witchcraft’s own argumentation offers a vindication of queer sensuality, magic, and anarchist violence which speaks for itself and can be followed toward any number of endeavors in the pursuit of freedom and wildness. In spite of our criticism, we are passionate about this book because of the way that these perspectives and proposals invigorate our own struggles against this world.
Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture is available from Little Black Cart (littleblackcart.com)
Forevergreen by Tanday Lupalupa
At least I have you
When all is lost
When I am alone
Where all I have is fear
And there is no one there
I have you
All my life
I’ve been searching
Or that like me
I left you behind
In this search
To be among the cold of grey peaks
And the loneliness of city streets
My lungs swell
My coughs taste blood
And I sneeze violently
I never think why
It’s killing me
At times I stayed close
And felt, something
Others, I went far
And felt, nothing
No longer even knowing what
I’m looking for
The people I did find
Reminded me of you
A familiar, feeling
It’s always been you
I found you
You’ve always been there
You never left
And as long as I’m there for you
You’ll be there for me
You’ll live forever
The sun empowers my spirit
The birds sing to my childhood memories
Leaves rustle in anticipation of the winds caress
I taste your nourishing power as I consume your bounties
Flowing water, and wild food between my teeth
You brought me back to my senses
The feeling, is back
I cuddle up to your warmth
From the fire
I look to the stars
You read me the stories in the sky
Marvel in your majesty
I close my eyes
You are silent
And I give myself to you
I give you everything
And you give me the world
At least I have you
When all is lost
When I am alone
Where all I have is fear
And there is noone there
I have you
Will remember you too
We’ll have each other
The End Is Here
Dispatches from the Ever-Fraying Fabric of Reality
Tourist Checking Facebook On Phone Falls Off Pier - from the Huffington Post, 12/18/2013
“A tourist in Australia had to be rescued by police after plunging off a pier while browsing Facebook on her phone, officials said Wednesday.
The woman was walking along a bay in Melbourne on Monday night when she became distracted by her Facebook feed and plummeted off the pier into the chilly water, Victoria state police said.
A witness called for help and police rushed to the woman’s aid. They found her flailing around in the water, about 20 meters (65 feet) from the pier.
‘She was still out in the water lying on her back in a floating position because she told us later that she couldn’t swim,”’Senior Constable Dean Kelly of the state water police told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. ‘She still had her mobile phone in her hand and initially she apologized and said sorry.’
NYC Apple Store’s $450K Window Shattered by Snow Blower - from Yahoo News, 1/22/2014
“You may have heard that record-shattering snow is ripping through the Northeast. An Apple Store in New York City just felt it firsthand.
The company’s world famous glass-encapsulated Fifth Avenue store was reportedly struck by a snowblower Tuesday evening, cracking one of its 15 giant window panes, according to Apple Insider. Details on how the accident happened are unclear, but the fix will no doubt be costly.
Apple news site 9to5Mac reports that each panel runs about $450,000. The store was renovated in 2011, replacing the 90 small glass panes originally making up the store’s above-ground cube with the 32-foot sheets that are now in place, a $6.7 million makeover.”
California Farmers Hire “Water Witches” To Find Water - from Aljazeera News, 3/2/2014
Due to the intense drought that hit California this winter, farmers were hard pressed to find naturally occurring water-wells for their farms by using a term called dowsing, or “water-witches.” “Practitioners of dowsing use rudimentary tools — usually copper sticks or wooden “divining rods” that resemble large wishbones — and what they describe as a natural energy to find water or minerals hidden deep underground.”
Two Major Pipelines Proposed To Speed Up The “Doubling” Of Tar Sands - from Warrior Publications, 3/7/2014
Two major oil pipelines — the most expensive in Canada — passed key hurdles this week: Energy East and Line 3 Replacement. Observers say they lead to “massive” environmental and economic consequences.
In a dizzying week of oil announcements, two new giant west-to-east pipelines passed key milestones. If built, the pipelines would rapidly expand Alberta’s oil sands, cause massive environmental impacts, and trigger thousands of new jobs, according to several observers.
The first project – TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline – would be the largest oil sands pipeline in North America – a continent-wrapping 4,500-km line to carry Alberta’s oil to Montreal, Quebec City and Saint John.
Likewise – Enbridge also announced plans for another massive pipeline – the Line 3 Replacement. The company said Monday it now has the financial backing for the $7 billion project.
The project would replace an existing 46-year-old pipeline between Alberta and Wisconsin. But unlike Keystone XL, this American-bound pipeline may not need Obama’s approval.
Aboriginal Rights A Threat To Canada’s Resource Agenda - from The Guardian, 3/4/2014
The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.
Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.
Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”
Mudslide in Oso, Washington Wipes Out Town And Kills 34, Officials Blame State-Sanctioned Logging - from The Seattle Times
“The plateau above the soggy hillside that gave way Saturday has been logged for almost a century, with hundreds of acres of softwoods cut and hauled away, according to state records.
But in recent decades, as the slope has become more unstable, scientists have increasingly challenged the timber harvests, with some even warning of possible calamity.
The state has continued to allow logging on the plateau, although it has imposed restrictions at least twice since the 1980s.”
Micah White, Adbusters CEO, Makes Plea For Donations to Purchase Google-Glasses and Train Activists in Using Them - activistboutique.com, 2/27/2014
You would have to poor through pages of obnoxious twitter posts by Adbuster’s CEO Micah White to find where he explicitly states it, but he’s raised enough money for himself to buy one of the Google-Glass-prototypes. He has also started a fundraising campaign so that he can start training activists in Nehalem, Oregon to use them and create new “social memes” to spark a “spiritual insurrection.”
“Hollywood-Style” Surveillance Society Inches Closer to Reality - cironline.org, 4/11/2014
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has hired retired Air Force veteran Ross McNutt and his company Persistent Surveillance Systems to monitor in real-time Compton’s streets by flying aircraft with a series of video-cameras attached to the bottom to track suspects from the moment a crime occurs.
“We literally watched all of Compton during the time that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” McNutt said. “Our goal was to basically jump to where reported crimes occurred and see what information we could generate that would help investigators solve the crimes.”
Police officers in Chula Vista, near San Diego, already have used mobile facial recognition technology to confirm the identities of people they suspect of crimes.
 Primitive accumulation, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the process by which the commons are converted into commoditites or means of production; more precisely it is the often brutal process by which capitalist value that can be put to the service of production and accumulation is originally created. A population of rent-paying workers and the factories that employ them already constitute a society organized according to capitalist social relations, in which everything serves the accumulation of ever more capital. On the other hand, things like communal land that directly feeds those who live on it and work with it, or folk knowledge that is shared freely and passed on informally, constitute resources that do not generate capital (that is, alienated, quantifiable value that can be reinvested). To benefit capitalism, such resources need to be enclosed and commoditized, through colonialism, disposession, criminalization, professionalization, taxation, starvation, and other policies. This is primitive accumulation. Marx portrayed this process as one that marks the earliest stage of capitalism but in reality it is an ongoing process active at the margins of capitalism, which crisscross our world with every successive expansion or intensification of the system.
 The maroons were escaped slaves, primarily of African descent but also including European runaways, who inhabited mountains, swamps, and other wild areas in the Americas and Caribbean. They generally mingled with and fought alongside indigenous peoples as they resisted the plantation states being created by European powers.
 Quoted in Marc D. Hauser, Wild Minds (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000), p. 70.
 Konrad Lorenz, The Waning of Humaneness (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1987), p. 70.
 Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (New York: Ballantine Books, 1976), p. 83.
 Henry Beston, The Outermost House (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003), p. 25.
 Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy, When Elephants Weep (New York: Delacorte Press, 1995), p. 34. Among other workds that indicate a shift away from anti- “anthropomorphism” are Ruth Rudner, ask now the beasts (New York: Marlowe & Company, 2006) and How Forests Think (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013).
 Eoin O’Carroll, “Oxford Junior Dictionary Dropping ‘Nature’ Words,” Christian Science Monitor, February 9, 2009.
 An ugly leftist counter-notion is communist Oxana Timofeeva, History of Animals: An Essay on Negativity, Immanence and Freedom (Maastricht: Jan van Eyck Academie, 2012), with Foreward by Slavoj Zizek. Timofeeva condemns nature’s resistance to technology while bizarrely claiming that animals are natural communists! E.g. pp. 146- 147.
 Quoted in Susan Hanson, Icons of Loss and Grace (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2004), p. 182.
 Masson and McCarthy, op.cit., p. 140.
 Barbara Noske, Humans and Other Animals (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 115.
 Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men (New York: Scribner Classics, 2004), p. 18.
 Ibid., p. 55.
 Masson and McCarthy, op.cit., p. 72.
 Steve Kemp, “No Alpha Males Allowed,” Smithsonian, September 2013, pp. 39-41.
 Noske, op. cit., p. 116.
 John Muir, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1912), p. 151.
 Mary Midgley, The Ethical Primate (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 131.
 Jacques Graven, Non-Human Thought (New York: Stein and Day, 1967), p. 68.
 Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (New York: Ballantine Books, 1971), p. 157.
 Quoted in Joseph Wood Krutch, The Great Chain of Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1956), p. 224.
 Ibid., p. 227.
 J.H. Williams, Elephant Bill (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1950), p. 58.
 Katherine Harmon Courage, “Alien Intelligence,” Wired, October 2013, p. 84.
 Emily Anthes, “Coldblooded Does Not Mean Stupid,” New York Times, November 19, 2013, pp D1, D5.
 Graven, op.cit., p. 127. 7
 Justin McCurry, “Chimps Are Making Monkeys Out of Us,” The Observer, September 28, 2013.
 Quoted in Stephen Budiansky, If a Lion Could Talk (New York: Free Press, 1998), p. 45.
 Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to be Human (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), p. 186.
 Tim Ingold, Evolution and Social Life (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 311.
 Richard Grossman, “The Truth,” in Animals (Minneapolis: Zygote Press, 1983), p. 421.
 Leopold, op.cit., p. 102.
 Gavin Maxwell, Ring of Bright Water (Boston: Nonpareil Books, 2011), p. 45
 Edwin Way Teale, The Wilderness World of John Muir (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954), p. 281.
 John Lane, Waist Deep in Black Water (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2002), p. 49.
 Loren Eiseley, The Night Country (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997), p. 173.
 Henry David Thoreau, The Journal, 1837–1861, ed. Damion Searls (New York: New York Review of Books, 2009), p. 585 (entry for October 22, 1859).
 Krutch, op.cit., p. 102.
 Michael P. Cohen, The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), pp. 173, 176.
 Jennifer Ham, “Taming the Beast,” in Jennifer Ham and Matthew Senior, eds., Animal Acts (New York: Routledge, 1997), p. 158.
 Clive Roots, Domestication (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 2007), p. xii.
 Quoted in Lane, op. cit., p. 125.
 Diane Ackerman, The Moon by Whale Light (New York: Random House, 1991), p. 112.
 Wendell Berry, “To the Unseeable Animal,” in Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street, eds., The Ecopoetry Anthology (San Antonio TX: Trinity University Press, 2013), p. 178.
 Immanuel Kant, trans. J.C. Meredith, Critique of Judgement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952), Part 2, Section 431.
 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (New York: Library of America, 2011), section 13.
 Quoted in Jonathan Waterman, Where Mountains are Nameless (New York: W.W. Norton, 2005), p. 237.
 Quoted in Leonard Lawlor, This is Not Sufficient (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), p. 7.
 Waterman, op. cit., p. 212.
 Ibid., p. 10.
 John Nelson, “Henry Beston Sheahan,” Harvard Magazine, September/October 2013, p. 40.
 Laurie Allman, Far From Tame (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996), p. 73.
 Grossman, op. cit., “The New Art,” p. 2.
 Throughout this piece, terminology is occasionally used that is imperfect at best: “ecological resistance,” “movement,” “radical environmentalism,” etc variously make me cringe or roll my eyes. Nevertheless, it’s hard to describe without using such terms. You know, symbolic culture and all that jazz…
 As a matter of course, I consider “non-violence” to be a concept that must be destroyed. For those unfamiliar with such a critique, I’d recommend consulting Peter Gelderloos’ How Non-Violence Protects the State (South End Press, 2007) and Pacifism as Pathology: Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America, (AK Press, 2007). As a bonus reading, Ashen Ruin’s Beyond the Corpse Machine is a fun (if somewhat dated) look at how these debates play out in anarchist circles.
 Earth First! Primer, p. 3.
 Black-Clad Messenger #8, (n.p., 2000) and Disorderly Conduct #4, (n.p., Fall 2001).
 An archive of issues of Green Anarchy is available online at greenanarchy.anarchyplanet.org/ A published book length anthology of the theoretical pieces called Uncivilized: The Best of Green Anarchy, (Green Anarchy, 2012) is a good starting point for an anti-civilization perspective.
 Leslie James Pickering, The Earth Liberation Front 1997-2002, (Arissa Media Group, 2007).
 “Tar Sands Blockade, East Texas,” Earth First! Journal, Lughnasdh 2012, 32-33.
 See pages 61–66 in Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology for a classic description of this.
 “Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands Defendants Move Cases Forward in Court”
 These run throughout lots of Earth First! Journal pieces, but there’s an article where they encourage people to suck it up an engage with local city commissions while slamming anarchists that is pretty revealing: earthfirstjournal.org
 For a good discussion of the problems with Deep Green Resistance see, Ruhe, “Deep Green Resistance: A Book Review,” www.sproutdistro.com and Earth First!’s statement disassociating themselves with the group, “Deep Green Transphobia,” earthfirstjournal.org
 See Zig-Zag, Smash Pacifism:A Critical Analysis of Gandhi and King (Warrior Publications, 2012).
 SHAC ATTACK! Targeting Companies Animal Rights Style (n.d., n.p.)
 See “The SHAC Model: A Critical Assessment” in Rolling Thunder, #8, 2008 and “SHAC: A Campaign That Made History”