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[en] (France) Withered Green Anarchism

Interesante texto publicado en su original en francés en La Mauvaise Herbe vol.17 no.2.
Enviado al mail.


“No one cares about them anymore around here, why don’t you just let them wither away in impertinence?” asked a good friend who identifies as an anarcho-primitivist.

Anecdotal perhaps, but I couldn’t help but remember a very successful event on radical ecology which I attended not so long ago. It was a well-prepared conference, by an anarchist who knew his shit. To a crowded room of young enthusiastic radical students, during a segment devoted to anarcho-primitivism, the whole discourse on equality, direct democracy, and even the 15-hour-workweek-which-feels-like-play-anyway was conveniently served. [1] At least he didn’t start talking about telepathy or telescopic vision. I remember it made such a good impression that a coordinator from the College where the event was taking place approached the Mauvaise Herbe, who were on place distributing publications, to see if they would eventually come share their positive message with the youths. They gave her a few Mauvaise Herbe to read and I think she changed her mind.

But it’s true that we don’t hear much about the Green Anarchists around here. Yet, in my conversations and in what I often hear from the “anti-civ” discourse, here as much as elsewhere, are the same reflexes I know all too well, the same references, the same premises, and the same ends. The humanistic-hedonistic discourse on primitive life has become mainstream in the milieu. In complacency, the speculations of some have become facts for others. Anarchists in general have never strayed too far from progressivism, they feel at home, at ease with it. Those who have chosen to deviate from it through their words and actions have always come up against the churches guiding the paths of “struggle”. It’s almost come to a point where one should profess their faith with each statement, each action.

For many now, in these moments of clashes, to put the rhetoric of social cohesion into question is to revel in “fascism”. While the anarcho-cybercops of the insurrectionally righteous make calls for witch hunts, it is to all their Inquisition that I dedicate these provocations.

Green is the new red

“This ideological view of our past has been radically overturned in recent decades, through the work of academics like Richard Lee and Marshall Sahlins. A nearly complete reversal in anthropological orthodoxy has come about, with important implications. Now we can see that life before domestication/agriculture was in fact largely one of leisure, intimacy with nature, sensual wisdom, sexual equality, and health. This was our human nature, for a couple of million years, prior to enslavement by priests, kings, and bosses.” -John Zerzan, A Future Primitive

We are of an era disillusioned with the promises of progress. It did not bring the promised utopia. Progressives are no longer necessarily those who had promised us that “the machine will work for man!”, those who more than a century ago had already announced the same “leisure, intimacy with nature, sensual wisdom, sexual equality and health” thanks to human and technical development… they are now rather those who are worried about the crises it generated, those who follow the newswire of the unfolding apocalypse – the ecological disaster and the planetary civilization in total decadence.

But some still won’t lose hope in humanity, and the possibility that provided a new universal consciousness, it can impel a culture of resistance of nomadic hunter-gatherers who will carry all the humanism that 20th century anarchism has inherited!

And, it is in this sense that an essential work of the anarcho-primitivist canon like A Future Primitive is an exercise in seduction, with its critique of civilization and praises of primitive life geared towards pleasing those humanistic sensitivities left disappointed by the consequences of modernity.

Therefore, it draws most abundantly from the anthropological works of a certain period when attempts were made to break the myth of a brutal primitive life with bold statements on leisure and egalitarian aspects, more attractive to the modern civilized – works from anthropologists who wanted their field to fuel social debates.

In an essay dealing with the legacy of Marshall Sahlins’ acclaimed work quoted by Zerzan, The Original Affluent Society, anthropologist Nurit Bird-David reminds us that “The general interest in it no doubt reflected our symbolic and ideological needs and our (Western) construction of the prehistoric past. […] Intended to provoke as well as to document, the essay soared beyond conventional scientific discourse, appealing directly to Western fantasies about work, happiness, and freedom.” [2]

For many of those who identify with anarcho-primitivism or with a certain Green Anarchism, the life of nomadic hunter-gatherers of the paleolithic represents anarchism as lived by humans for millennia. Some will even call it Primal Anarchy. In this original utopia, this anarchist Garden of Eden, they see our true “human nature”. Thus, in their propaganda, to an audience inclined towards anarchism, with its progressive-humanistic values, they praise primitive life according to how anarchistic it appears.

This selective reading of anthropology has become widespread among anarcho-primitivists and has influenced many other anarchists (including stirnerians and nihilists). It reduces primitive life to generalizations about presumed essential traits – egalitarian, collectivist, anti-oppressive, hedonistic, ecological and anarchistic traits. The relevance of primitive life becomes its representation of these values. Continue reading [en] (France) Withered Green Anarchism