When I Say Anti-Civilization
When I say anti-civilization, I am using a term which carries many negative connotations within the anarchist milieu. The reaction to the term is usually a kneejerk one, with the same objections rehashed over and over again. Perhaps opponents of anti-civ thought are opposed to it because it outs their own ideas as hierarchical. Perhaps these opponents simply don’t understand the points behind it. Either way, I’d like to clarify…
When I say anti-civilization, I am not talking about primitivism. There is a commonly accepted dichotomy that puts “civilized” and “primitive” at opposite ends of a spectrum. While socialists/syndicalists cling to one end, primitivism clings to the other. Anti-civilization ideas seek to destroy this spectrum. It looks neither backward to past societies, nor forward to the falsely infinite march of progress. Just as anarchism should not be placed on a left/right spectrum, anti-civ thought should not be forced into one of primitive/civilized. Primitivism is just another ideology, another “ism” that seeks to provide a blueprint for a future society…just as socialists on the other side of the spectrum try to do. I am not interested in blueprints. I am interested in the dismantling of control.
When I say anti-civilization, I am not advocating for mass death, as its opponents claim. Anti-civ detractors point out the fact that many will die without the the “benefits” of industrial society. They cry about people with cancer or diabetes that would die without medical technology (all the while not questioning just how much of these diseases are caused by civilization). They cry about the people that would starve if they couldn’t pick up food at the grocery store. These lines of thinking are not only selfish and privileged, but also counterintuitive to people’s freedom. The people that make these arguments are blind to anyone unlike themselves. They would rather see the people kept docile and complacent under civilization than face harsh reality on their own terms. They are blind to the hundreds of millions of addicts enslaved to substances produced and distributed by the industrial system. They are blind to those in the thirds world that would put down their tools, walk out of the mines, and return to their lives if they were not literally enslaved. Yes, without civilization, people will die…the very people who are NOT dying right now. The very people who are benefitting of the deaths of others. Those who are dying right now will be free to return to their existences before their enslavement, or even create their own existences. They will no longer have to sacrifice themselves for their masters in the developed world. It is clear…The selfishness and fear of those in the first world lead them to oppose anti-civ ideas.
If it is not selfishness and fear, then it is sheer hubris, and possibly even a self-denied racism. It is prideful to say that a general socialist/syndicalist programme will be accepted by those who have seen nothing but the sole of production’s boot. It is racist to advocate for any global industrial system, no matter how democratic, when there are people all over the world that want nothing to do with industry. The socialist/syndicalist ignores the self-preservation and racism in which their opposition to anti-civ thought is draped. The opposition to anti-civ thought essentially always boils down to some like “I oppose anti-civ ideas, because if they came to fruition, I would be in danger of dying.” The opposition supports civilization out of sheer terror. They are afraid to think of what a world would be like without the global superiority of their production.
Hearing this, the socialist/syndicalist will say. “But it is capitalism that has created this system! It is capitalism that exploits the third world! Under our blueprints, things would be different!” To them, I have some questions…What if people don’t want to work?How are production and technology expected to solve the problems they have created? At what point do things like mining and manufacturing become safe and environmentally viable? When we can develop robots and automate jobs, perhaps? How much unsafe and environmentally damaging production must be done to make production safe? Can the planet support us to that point? Is it not a giant and dangerous leap of faith to think that it can? Is this line of thinking not close to millenarian faith, or even the utopian socialism that scientific socialists so often decry? Why attempt to reorganize production when it clearly must be demolished?
When I say anti-civilization, I am not talking about something involving faith, or any sort of future plan. I do not know that production on or near the current technological scale can continue indefinitely. I do not know that industry will ever be able to provide solutions to the ecological tailspin we have entered. I do not know that technology, even as early as primitive tools, has usually been damaging to people and the planet. I do know that people have always found a way to survive in the midst of civilization’s collapse.
When I say anti-civilization, I am not under any rosy illusions. I am concentrated only on the desperate present. I am not looking to a falsely glorified past. I am not looking to an imaginary utopian future. We live in the present, and today the world is falling apart because of civilization. The immediate enemy is breathing down our necks and the situation worsens each day…yet many people insist on ignoring it, or attempting to tame it. Civilization cannot be tamed or controlled. It must be destroyed. Any other other activity, throughout history, has only served to strengthen the system’s resilience. From Christianity, a cult that once militantly advocated for equal distribution of wealth…to the unions that once tried to take control of civilization. Any ideas that do not oppose civilization at its roots will only end up strengthening the system at worst, and end up as a mere running in place at best.
When I say anti-civilization, I am offering a truly free and non-hierarchical path to resistance. I am offering the freedom for people to decide how to resist on the terms that they see fit, without having to abide by any specific blueprint or programme. The immediate goal is the destruction of civilization, and everything else will be decided by those who exist in the moments after that goal is completed. The worlds of the future will be created by those that live in it, not by the armchair revolutionaries of today.
When I say anti-civilization, I am not being purely negative. Anti-civ thought seeks a positive relationship with nature, and for people to create their own lives without the crutch of civilization. It seeks a world where humanity can actually live, instead of just being kept alive. At its roots, anti-civilization looks to a positive core of humanity…a core that most of us have buried deep inside and forgotten about, or never even knew existed. A core that has demonstrated that it is more than capable of living on this planet without destroying it. While not looking back to any specific model, anti-civ thought does recognize a lost part of humanity, and seeks to restore it by eliminating its oppressor.