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John Zerzan: On the Origins of War

News ArchiveWar is a staple of civilization. Its mass, rationalized, chronic presence has increased as civilization has spread and deepened. Among the specific reasons it doesn't go away is the desire to escape the horror of mass-industrial life. Mass society of course finds its reflection in mass soldiery and it has been this way from early civilization. In the age of hyper-developing technology, war is fed by new heights of dissociation and disembodiment. We are ever further from a grounding or leverage from which to oppose it (while too many accept paltry, symbolic "protest" gestures).

How did it come to be that war is "the proper work of man," in the words of Homer's Odysseus? We know that organized warfare advanced with early industry and complex social organization in general, but the question of origins predates even Homer's early Iron Age. The explicit archaeological/anthropological literature on the subject is surprisingly slight.

Civilization has always had a basic interest in holding its subjects captive by touting the necessity of official armed force. It is a prime ideological claim that without the state's monopoly on violence, we would be unprotected and insecure. After all, according to Hobbes, the human condition has been and will always be that of "a war of all against all." Modern voices, too, have argued that humans are innately aggressive and violent, and so need to be constrained by armed authority. Raymond Dart (e.g. Adventures with the Missing Link, 1959), Robert Ardrey (e.g. African Genesis, 1961), and Konrad Lorenz (e.g. On Aggression, 1966) are among the best known, but the evidence they put forth has been very largely discredited.

In the second half of the 20th century, this pessimistic view of human nature began to shift. Based on archaeological evidence, it is now a tenet of mainstream scholarship that pre-civilization humans lived in the absence of violence—more specifically, of organized violence.

Eibl-Eibesfeldt referred to the !Ko- Bushmen as not bellicose: "Their cultural ideal is peaceful coexistence, and they achieve this by avoiding conflict, that is by splitting up, and by emphasizing and encouraging the numerous patterns of bonding."1

An earlier judgment by W.J. Perry is generally accurate, if somewhat idealized: "Warfare, immorality, vice, polygyny, slavery, and the subjection of women seem to be absent among our gatherer-hunter ancestors."2

The current literature consistently reports that until the final stages of the Paleolithic Age—until just prior to the present 10,000-year era of domestication—there is no conclusive evidence that any tools or hunting weapons were used against humans at all.3 "Depictions of battle scenes, skirmishes and hand-to-hand combat are rare in hunter-gatherer art and when they do occur most often result from contact with agriculturalists or industrialized invaders," concludes Taçon and Chippindale's study of Australian rock art.4 When conflict began to emerge, encounters rarely lasted more than half an hour, and if a death occurred both parties would retire at once.5

The record of Native Americans in California is similar. Kroeber reported that their fighting was "notably bloodless. They even went so far as to take poorer arrows to war than they used in economic hunting."6 Wintu people of Northern California called off hostilities once someone was injured.7 "Most Californians were absolutely nonmilitary; they possessed next to none of the traits requisite for the military horizon, a condition that would have taxed their all but nonexistent social organization too much. Their societies made no provision for collective political action," in the view of Turney-High.8 Lorna Marshall described Kung! Bushmen as celebrating no valiant heroes or tales of battle. One of them remarked, "Fighting is very dangerous; someone might get killed!"9 George Bird Grinnell's "Coup and Scalp Among the Plains Indians"10 argues that counting coup (striking or touching an enemy with the hand or a small stick) was the highest point of (essentially nonviolent) bravery, whereas scalping was not valued.

The emergence of institutionalized warfare appears to be associated with domestication, and/ or a drastic change in a society's physical situation. it, this comes about "only where band peoples have been drawn into the warfare of horticulturalists or herders, or driven into an ever-diminishing territory."11 The first reliable archaeological evidence of warfare is that of fortified, pre-Biblical Jericho, c. 7500 B.C. In the early Neolithic a relatively sudden shift happened. What dynamic forces may have led people to adopt war as a social institution? To date, this question has not been explored in any depth by archaeologists.

Symbolic culture appears to have emerged in the Upper Paleolithic; by the Neolithic it was firmly established in human cultures everywhere. The symbolic has a way of effacing particularity, reducing human presence in its specific, nonmediated aspects. It is easier to direct violence against a faceless enemy who represents some officially defined evil or threat. Ritual is the earliest known form of purposive symbolic activity: symbolism acting in the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that there may be a link between ritual and the emergence of organized warfare. During the almost timeless era when humans were not interested in dominating their surroundings, certain places were special and came to be known as sacred sites. This was based on a spiritual and emotional kinship with the land, expressed in various forms of totemism or custodianship. Ritual begins to appear, but is not central to band or forager societies. Emma Blake observes, "Although the peoples of the Paleolithic practiced rituals, the richest material residues date from the Neolithic period onward, when sedentism and the domestication of plants and animals brought changes to the outlook and cosmology of people everywhere."12 It was in the Upper Paleolithic that certain strains and tensions caused by the development of specialization first became evident. Inequities can be measured by such evidence as differing amounts of goods at hearth sites in encampments; in response, ritual appears to have begun to play a greater social role. As many have noted, ritual in this context is a way of addressing deficiencies of cohesion or solidarity; it is a means of guaranteeing a social order that has become problematic. As Bruce Knauft saw, "ritual reinforces and puts beyond argument or question certain highly general propositions about the spiritual and human world…[and] predisposes deep-seated cognitive acceptance and behavioral compliance with these cosmological propositions."13 Ritual thus provides the original ideological glue for societies now in need of such legitimating assistance. Face-to-face solutions become ineffective as social solutions, when communities become complex and already partly stratified. The symbolic is a non-solution; in fact, it is a type of enforcer of relationships and world-views characterized by inequality and estrangement.

Ritual is itself a type of power, an early, pre-state form of politics. Among the Maring people of Papua New Guinea, for instance, the conventions of the ritual cycle specify duties or roles in the absence of explicitly political authorities. Sanctity is therefore a functional alternative to politics; sacred conventions, in effect, govern society.14 Ritualization is clearly an early strategic arena for the incorporation of power relations. Further, warfare can be a sacred undertaking, with militarism promoted ritually, blessing emergent social hierarchy. Ren(c) Girard proposes that rituals of sacrifice are a necessary counter to endemic aggression and violence in society.15 Something nearer to the reverse is more the case: ritual legitimates and enacts violence. As Lienhardt said of the Dinka herders of Africa, to "make a feast or sacrifice often implies war."16 Ritual does not substitute for war, according to Arkush and Stanish: "warfare in all times and places has ritual elements."17 They see the dichotomy between "ritual battle" and "real war" to be false, summarizing that "archaeologists can expect destructive warfare and ritual to go hand in hand."18

It is not only among Apache groups, for example, that the most ritualized were the most agricultural,19 but that so often ritual has mainly to do with agriculture and warfare, which are often very closely linked.20 It is not uncommon to find warfare itself seen as a means of enhancing the fertility of cultivated ground. Ritual regulation of production and belligerence means that domestication has become the decisive factor. "The emergence of systematic warfare, fortifications, and weapons of destruction," says Hassan, "follows the path of agriculture."21 Ritual evolves into religious systems, the gods come forth, sacrifice is demanded.

"There is no doubt that all the inhabitants of the unseen world are greatly interested in human agriculture," notes anthropologist Verrier Elwin.22 Sacrifice is an excess of domestication, involving domesticated animals and occurring only in agricultural societies. Ritual killing, including human sacrifice, is unknown in non-domesticated cultures.23 Corn in the Americas tells a parallel story. An abrupt increase in corn agriculture brought with it the rapid elaboration of hierarchy and militarization in large parts of both continents.24 One instance among many is the northward intrusion of the Hohokams against the indigenous Ootams25 of southern Arizona, introducing agriculture and organized warfare. By about 1000 A.D. the farming of maize had become dominant throughout the Southwest, complete with year-round ritual observances, priesthoods, social conformity, human sacrifice, and cannibalism. 26 It is hardly an understatement to say, with Kroeber, that with maize agriculture, "all cultural values shifted."27

Horses are another instance of the close connection between domestication and war. First domesticated in the Ukraine around 3000 B.C., their objectification fed militarism directly. Almost from the very beginning they served as machines; most importantly, as war machines.28

The relatively harmless kinds of intergroup fighting described above gave way to systematic killing as domestication led to increasing competition for land.29 The drive for fresh land to be exploited is widely accepted as the leading specific cause of war throughout the course of civilization. Once-dominant feelings of gratitude toward a freely giving nature and knowledge of the crucial interdependence of all life are replaced by the ethos of domestication: humans versus the natural world. This enduring power struggle is the template for the wars it constantly engenders. There was awareness of the price exacted by the paradigm of control, as seen in the widespread practice of symbolic regulation or amelioration of domestication of animals in the early Neolithic. But such gestures do not alter the fundamental dynamic at work, any more than they preserve millions of years' worth of gatherer-hunters' practices that balanced population and subsistence.

Agricultural intensification meant more warfare. Submission to this pattern requires that all aspects of society form an integrated whole from which there is little or no escape. With domestication, division of labor now produces full-time specialists in coercion: for example, definitive evidence shows a soldier class established in the Near East by 4500 B.C. The Jivaro of Amazonia, for millennia a harmonious component of the biotic community, adopted domestication, and "have elaborated blood revenge and warfare to a point where these activities set the tone for the whole society."30 Organized violence becomes pervasive, mandatory, and normative.

Expressions of power are the essence of civilization, with its core principle of patriarchal rule. It may be that systematic male dominance is a by-product of war. The ritual subordination and devaluation of women is certainly advanced by warrior ideology, which increasingly emphasized "male" activities and downplayed women's roles.

The initiation of boys is a ritual designed to produce a certain type of man, an outcome that is not at all guaranteed by mere biological growth. When group cohesion can no longer be taken for granted, symbolic institutions are required—especially to further compliance with pursuits such as warfare. Lemmonier's judgment is that "male initiations... are connected by their very essence with war."31

Polygyny, the practice of one man taking multiple wives, is rare in gatherer-hunter bands, but is the norm for war-making village societies.32 Once again, domestication is the decisive factor. It is no coincidence that circumcision rituals by the Merida people of Madagascar culminated in aggressive military parades.33 There have been instances where women not only hunt but also go into combat (e.g. the Amazons of Dahomey; certain groups in Borneo), but it is clear that gender construction has tended toward a masculinist, militarist direction. With state formation, warriorship was a common requirement of citizenship, excluding women from political life.

War is not only ritualistic, usually with many ceremonial features; it is also a very formalized practice. Like ritual itself, war is performed via strictly prescribed movements, gestures, dress, and forms of speech. Soldiers are identical and structured in a standardized display. The formations of organized violence, with their columns and lines, are like agriculture and its rows: files on a grid.34 Control and discipline are thus served, returning to the theme of ritualized behavior, which is always an increased elaboration of authority.

Exchange between bands in the Paleolithic functioned less as trade (in the economic sense) than as exchange of information. Periodic intergroup gatherings offered marriage opportunities, and insured against resource shortfalls. There was no clear differentiation of social and economic spheres. Similarly, to apply our word "work" is misleading in the absence of production or commodities. While territoriality was part of forager-hunter activity, there is no evidence that it led to war.35

Domestication erects the rigid boundaries of surplus and private property, with concomitant possessiveness, enmity, and struggle for ownership. Even conscious mechanisms aimed at mitigating the new realities cannot remove their ever-present, dynamic force. In The Gift, Mauss portrayed exchange as peacefully resolved war, and war as the result of unsuccessful transactions; he saw the potlatch as a sort of sublimated warfare.36

Before domestication, boundaries were fluid. The freedom to leave one band for another was an integral part of forager life. The more or less forced integration demanded by complex societies provided a staging ground conducive to organized violence. In some places, chiefdoms arose from the suppression of smaller communities' independence. Protopolitical centralization was at times pushed forward in the Americas by tribes desperately trying to confederate to fight European invaders.

Ancient civilizations spread as a result of war, and it can be said that warfare is both a cause of statehood, and its result.

Not much has changed since war was first instituted, rooted in ritual and given full-growth potential by domestication. Marshall Sahlins first pointed out that increased work follows developments in symbolic culture. It's also the case that culture begets war, despite claims to the contrary. After all, the impersonal character of civilization grows with the ascendance of the symbolic. Symbols (e.g. national flags) allow our species to dehumanize our fellow-humans, thus enabling systematic intra-species carnage.

From Green Anarchy #21, Fall/Winter 2005-06. The footnotes and more articles in the !library at www.greenanarchy.org
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John Zerzan: On the Origins of War | 52 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 04 2006 @ 07:50 PM CST
I am an anarcho-tribalist. However, I must take exception to many of Zerzan's comments and beliefs, to his anarcho-primitivism.

"An earlier judgment by W.J. Perry is generally accurate, if somewhat idealized: "Warfare, immorality, vice, polygyny, slavery, and the subjection of women seem to be absent among our gatherer-hunter ancestors."2"

Thats absolutely not true.

Warfare - Well it can be debated what "warfare" means. I'll just accept this statement. Certainly hunter-gatherers rarely, if ever, praciticed genocide.

Immorality - What does this even mean anyway. Their were many hunter-gatherer societies that had practices that we would consider an abomination. For instance among many of the Lakota and other great plains tribes, generally anarchistic people, if a woman got caught sleeping with some one other that her husband and her face was slashed.

Among some of tribes of the great plains, if a woman was raped by a man, (socially) she must marry him. . . However, it was social pressure that kept this institution intact.

Certainly vices exist in all cultures!

The Lakota (Sioux) practiced polygyny with the majority being sororal polygyny or sororal polyandry - where sisters marry one man. I do not consider this practice any worse than the serial monogamy practiced by contemporary Western cultures.

Slavery was also practiced by many hunter-gatherers. Most Native American tribal groups practiced some form of slavery before the European introduction of African slavery into North America; but none exploited slave labor on a large scale. Indian groups frequently enslaved war captives whom they used for small-scale labor and in ritual sacrifice. Most of these so-called Indian slaves tended to live, however, on the fringes of Indian society. Although not much is known about them, there is little evidence that they were considered racially inferior to the Indians who held power over them. Nor did Indians buy and sell captives in the pre-colonial era, although they sometimes exchanged enslaved Indians with other tribes in peace gestures or in exchange for their own members.

The situation of enslaved Indians varied among the tribes. In many cases, enslaved captives were adopted into the tribes to replace warriors killed during a raid. Enslaved warriors sometimes endured mutilation or torture that could end in death as part of a grief ritual for relatives slain in battle. Some Indians cut off one foot of their captives to keep them from running away; others allowed enslaved captives to marry the widows of slain husbands. The Creek, for example, treated the children born of slaves and tribal members as full members of the tribe rather than as enslaved offspring. Some tribes held captives as hostages for payment. Other tribes practiced debt slavery or imposed slavery on tribal members who had committed crimes; but this status was only temporary as the enslaved worked off their obligations to the tribal society.

Again, in some ways in some hunter-gatherer societies women were subjected - this usually involved mutilation for sexual transgressions, mutilation that is not impossed on the men for a similar social crime.

As for a "military", the closest thing the natives of the Great Plains possessed was the "Warrior Societies".

I do not see any specific connection between ritual and agriculture. Hunter-gatherer societies were equally ritualistic concerning the hunt.

I see not connection between polyandry and circumcision.

"Ancient civilizations spread as a result of war, and it can be said that warfare is both a cause of statehood, and its result."

Agreed, but Zerzan should really elaborate on this, cite sources and explain it.

"It's also the case that culture begets war, despite claims to the contrary."

Thats a bizarre notion.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 09:58 AM CST
"Slavery was also practiced by many hunter-gatherers." Don't know if even a single instance could be found of slavery in the absence of domestication. The example sometimes cited is the Northwest Indians - but they had domestication.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 22 2006 @ 03:25 AM CST
I believe the the American Indian societies you are referring to had adopted agriculture and domestication long before Euroeans arrived, although hunting and gathering was still a significant part of their economy. South - west Indians adopted agriculture around 3500 - 2500 B.C. and Eastern nations around 1000 B.C. The Lakota too, had adopted agriculture by the time the Europeans showed up (Gibson,26, 69).

"The American Indian: Prehistory to Present," by Arrell Morgan Gibson.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 01 2006 @ 03:18 PM CST
Can you have an "anarchistic" (I think anarchistic is kind of a redundant term, I think "anarchist" implies the quality of something being an "anarchy") society where such violent patriarchy, as you referenced, exists? If it's the case that women got their faces slashed for sleeping with men other than their husbands, this obviously was not an "anarchy."
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 01:53 PM CST
Monseur tribalist would do well to know the anthropological difference between bands and tribes.

And the native americans you mentioned were also in a social process where symbolic thought had become more complex. As the poster before says, domestication was a reality.

Anyway it would be good if people knew this basic difference.

Wolverine
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 03:44 PM CST
You have no idea what you are talking about. I know the difference between bands and tribes.

"As the poster before says, domestication was a reality."

It sounds as if you are saying the Lakota and other Great Plains tribes are not REALLY hunter-gatherers, because they had too much culture. Thats just bullshit.

"Don't know if even a single instance could be found of slavery in the absence of domestication."

Thats just bullshit. You are redefining the term, from hunter-gatherers to "undomesticated hunter-gatherer" - whatever that means.

Most hunter-gatherers had domestication - many domesticated dogs and many hunter-gatherers of the North American West practiced fire management.

John Zerzan's pseudo-anthropology is an embarassment to anarchism.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 04:09 PM CST
Thats just bullshit. You are redefining the term, from hunter-gatherers to "undomesticated hunter-gatherer" - whatever that means.

I think the point is that domestication is a central factor in oppressive behaviour.

Domestication is more like a "state of mind", don't remember anymore who non-anarchist scholar said that..

Most hunter-gatherers had domestication - many domesticated dogs and many hunter-gatherers of the North American West practiced fire management.

I wouldn't count fire management as domestication. And dog was self-domesticated and in my understanding it was more like a mutual symbiotic relationship at the beginning. I don't know was it common to all dog-having hunter-gatherer groups to selectively breed dogs (domestication) to be more dependent of humans and force dogs to act against their own will (like Inuiti did).

John Zerzan's pseudo-anthropology is an embarassment to anarchism.

I have the feeling that after all, John is not that honest with his critique and falls a lot to the same trap that he criticises leftists for: selective intrepretation of available data to fit to a predefined ideology.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 11:19 PM CST
I do agree that John Zerzan engages in "selective intrepretation of available data to fit to a predefined ideology." However, like many others who engage in this activity, I believe that it is self-delusion - he is genuinely concerned with the truth of the matter.

I engaged in an activity far worse. I apologize for my dodging constructive criticism with an attack. Its unconductive to a genuine discussion and contrary to the principles of discourse and to the principles of anarchism. My bad. (Doublely bad because he's a close ally and a friend of many friends.) Not only did I do him and his allies a disservice, I did myself a disservice for failing to consider the matter in a reasonable manner.

"I think the point is that domestication is a central factor in oppressive behaviour."

I understand that. Domestication is "the process by which the reproduction of a wild plant or animal species is brought under human control in order to increase the supply."

"I wouldn't count fire management as domestication. And dog was self-domesticated and in my understanding it was more like a mutual symbiotic relationship at the beginning."

I suggest you re-examine the nature of hunter-gatherer fire management. The fire-management of western North American tribes was a form of wildlife domestication - domestication of the ecosystem, the soil, plants and animals that lived within it. Wild herds were moved and grazing lands were improved for their game including the Buffalo (American Bison).

The nature of this domestication needs to be addressed. Do anarcho-primitivists believe that these activities are negative and are the beginnings of the process of politicization and agriculture or are they a form of domestication that is apart from agriculture?

"And dog was self-domesticated and in my understanding it was more like a mutual symbiotic relationship at the beginning. I don't know was it common to all dog-having hunter-gatherer groups to selectively breed dogs (domestication) to be more dependent of humans and force dogs to act against their own will (like Inuiti did)."

Even without selective breeding, the "self-domestication" of dogs is still domestication.

My essential point here is that many hunter-gatherers engaged in domestication and that this domestication is not necessarily a negative engagement.

I do agree that the forms of domestication engaged in by politicized (centralized) societies, namely agriculture, have been grossly harmful both to human autonomy and to the health of the greater environment.

In addition, many forms of slash and burn have been destructive. However, others have been an adjunct to the natural processes of their environment. Certainly the fire management among the peoples of the North America was far less destructive than the hundred years of fire suppression by the United States government.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:15 AM CST
"I suggest you re-examine the nature of hunter-gatherer fire management. The fire-management of western North American tribes was a form of wildlife domestication - domestication of the ecosystem, the soil, plants and animals that lived within it. Wild herds were moved and grazing lands were improved for their game including the Buffalo (American Bison).

The nature of this domestication needs to be addressed. Do anarcho-primitivists believe that these activities are negative and are the beginnings of the process of politicization and agriculture or are they a form of domestication that is apart from agriculture?"


I think domestication can exist independent from agriculture (eg. Inuit breeding of dogs), and fire management for helping edible plants to grow or better grazing lands for game has some domesticating elements, but i wouldn't say directly that it's domestication, which in my view needs selective breeding.

I think primitivism as ideology makes too much "cheap shots". It's very easy to get a view from primitivists that all we need is to go nomadic hunter-gatherers and get rid of domestication (and symbolism, and language... getting bit too weird for my domesticated western mind??), and life before civilization was some kind of total harmony where all living beings come together happy and smiling. For example in Future Primitive -pamphlet there is a line "A few contemporary gatherers practiced no hunting before outside contact," with a reference to Tasaday people in philippines. In internet (insurgentdesire) the reference to Tasaday is removed, but not the line. And the whole Tasaday people was a hoax manufactured by fascist government, and it was obvious hoax many years before Future Primitive was written. Although i think Future Primitive is one of the best texts from Zerzan i've read and very important contribution to anarchist thinking, that kind of lines without reference (or reference to a complete hoax) takes credibility and gets you a feeling that someone is trying to cheat on you to get you into some kind of ideology. And we have to be honest when we are talking to each others, especially if you enjoy a lot of respect from people because of your knowledge, you get a huge responsibility with it to be honest with them and at least to be able to openly correct your own mistakes when you see them. Otherwise you will lose credibility and trust, and once lost, they are goddamn difficult to get back.

"Even without selective breeding, the "self-domestication" of dogs is still domestication."

Yes. There reads domestication after "self" and "-". But there's huge different between mutually benefical relationship and one-way domination.

"In addition, many forms of slash and burn have been destructive. However, others have been an adjunct to the natural processes of their environment."

I agree with that. Primitivism and anti-civ is the fastest growing strand in anarchist milieu and it faces a serious risk of becoming just another ideology in the market. That's why we should be very careful with taking any "cheap shots" and oversimplifications like "nomadic hunter-gatherer good, everything else bad"..
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, February 22 2006 @ 03:30 AM CST
You should back this up with some evidence of your own. Your accusing the author of deliberately distorting the research.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 08 2006 @ 10:06 PM CST
"You should back this up with some evidence of your own. Your accusing the author of deliberately distorting the research."

Well, i already pointed out that Tasaday reference in Future Primitive. There's lots of scholars names in Future Primitive but i haven't yet been able to find a reference list to it (i have ordered the book just to see if i can find a reference list from there). I have another issue with origins of domestication. Correct me if i am wrong, but i think Zerzan has pointed out (GA #14:Back to the Basics, vol.1: Origins of civilization - and Zerzan vs. Albert "debate") that domestication happened independently only once in fertile crescent and spread from there throughout the world. I don't really see any evidence to back that up - but that sounds like a nice 'fact' from a ideological perspective. Zerzan is also quick to state in his writings that people who put up opposing views do that because they can't get out of their ideology, but i get the _feeling_ that Zerzan is himself little stuck in an ideology, and his lip service to anti-ideologism is almost as much lip service as it is from leftist-anarchists. Although i have to point out that reading Zerzans interviews is reducing these feelings, and i haven't read really that much Zerzan (not the least because of slight difficultness of his writings). .

The more i read Zerzan and the more i study the subjects he's writing about from other sources, the more i like his writings - which is not to say i agree with them. I've even translated some of his texts to my own language. And i understand that he has studied these issues way more than i, and therefore i said that i just have the _feeling_ that he hasn't been that honest and he is trying to selectively fit available data to some kind of ideology. I don't know it because i haven't studied the subject enough, but he's style puts some of my ideological bullshit -detectors on high levels. And i sound here harder that i really mean with it, but it's just because it's difficult for me to express my point with foreign language - but i think people understand what i am trying to say.

But for one thing i don't understand is people just attacking Zerzan and other anti-civ people without even trying to understand their critique, or what kind of visions they have for near future (i don't like primitivist straw man attacks on workerist-anarchists either, although i like really much post-left/anti-civ critique of workerism and classical anarchism - which is different from stupid strawmans). For those last leftists standing i would just like to point out that even if you hate it, anarchist critique of civilization is here to stay, and the more open we are of new thoughts and visions, the more changes we have to survive. In my own opinion, that workerist train went hundred years ago and even then they threw anarchists off at the first stop. There's no reason for us to try to catch that train ("lets build an industrialised world on worker controlled factories", and that kind of stuff..) 'cause we can see that the tracks are about to end. Soon. But we have to be able to discuss openly and with mutual respect with each others. We cannot afford to fight strawman wars among us anarchists. There's whole fucking sick world falling on us and we have a lot of better things to do...
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 04:14 PM CST
"John Zerzan's pseudo-anthropology is an embarassment to anarchism."

This is an unacceptable form of discourse on this board. If you say anything like this again you will be banned.

Criticize ideas, don't attack people.

Chuck
Infoshop News
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 01:26 PM CST
She or He didnt attack John Zerzan, his ideas were attacked

John Zerzans *psuedo anarchism* is an embarassment to anarchism

That would only be an attack on zerzan if he said *john zerzan* was an embarassment to anarchism

Those two are not the same thing, if you confuse them then you make it basically impossible to attack any ideas at all with any seriousness.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 05:25 PM CST
I'm tired of your trolling. You are engaging in semantical games when to avoid the irresponsibility of your words. John Zerzan nor his ideas are a problem for anarchism. What really damages anarchism are attacks like yours against anarchists such as Zerzan.

Chuck
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 06 2006 @ 12:12 AM CST
Well...if you had bothered to read any of Zerzan's other work, you might have realized the distinction he makes between domesticated (civilized) cultures, and cultures that did not practice domestication. Most Native American tribes did practice domestication, at least to some degree. You can't argue that his point about domestication and symbolism being the root of warfare is wrong by using as examples cultures that had domestication and symbolism.
Band and Tribe
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 06 2006 @ 10:37 AM CST
While I might agree that the domestication question has to be revistited a bit. It is essentiall to know the qualative difference between bands and tribes. The tribal revolution was the beginining of a shift in instrumentality where slavery might and was possible. And the higher complexity of our thinking certainly was a harbinger of this.

Wolverine
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 05:29 PM CST
What I don't get about primivitists is that they seem to like using computers to spread their message. They don't exactly put their ideas into practice. I only know about John Zerzan because of his internet writings.

I think I agree with Chomsky that primivitism, if put into practice, would amount to the biggest genocide in history.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Admin on Sunday, February 05 2006 @ 07:08 PM CST
"I think I agree with Chomsky that primivitism, if put into practice, would amount to the biggest genocide in history."

Strawman argument. You've made no effort to understand the various things that primitivists are talking about. Instead of criticizing this point or that point that various writers are making, you lump everything together and dismiss it.

A typical American argument from ignorance.

Your other comment about primitivists using computers is just as stupid. What are you going to say when some right-winger attacks YOU for being an anti-capitalist living in a capitalist society? Arguments from hypocrisy are just as dumb as strawman arguments.

Chuck
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 03:03 PM CST
"Your other comment about primitivists using computers is just as stupid. What are you going to say when some right-winger attacks YOU for being an anti-capitalist living in a capitalist society? Arguments from hypocrisy are just as dumb as strawman arguments."

Totally different. No one has a real choice about where they are born or what kind of society it is.

On the other hand, people have a choice about whether or not to use computers. I'm pretty sure that my grandmother, and many of her friends, have never and will never use a PC, and seem to be trucking along just fine.

Do anarchists shop at Wal-Mart and eat at McDonalds? Presumably not. Why? Because those actions would be inconsistent with their beliefs. Why should we let primitivists off the hook for doing the same thing?

People need to live, but very few people *need* to use a computer. We choose too, because they're enormously useful devices. Primitivists are implicitly admitting that when they do too. Your argument that it's the same thing as, say, an anarchist having a driving license, is ridiculous. It's not. It's not even close. The state forces you to have one. Does the state force you to use a computer?

chris
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 05:30 PM CST
That's a pretty lame argument. Are you against capitalism? If so, then according to your arguments, you are a hypocrite because your anti-capitalism implies an opposition to computers. Remember, capitalism brought you computers. They don't grow on trees.

The argument that primitivists using computers are hypocrites is the stupidest thing I hear coming from anarchist pie holes these days. Talk about talk that is embarrassing to anarchism! That's why I delete this crap most of the time it gets posted to Infoshop.

Chuck
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Virgin Molotov on Wednesday, February 22 2006 @ 09:31 PM CST
Er . . . Chuck . . .

Capitalism didn't, in and of itself, bring us computers - and most anarchists imagine computers would continue to be used in an anarchist society.

Computers are, however, technology - that sugar-coated poison apple primitivists want to do away with. Certainly, anarchists would be rightly criticized for opportunisticly participating in bourgeois politics - shouldn't a parallel be looked for in acceptable behaviour for an "honest" primitivist?

---
"Moose . . . Indian . . ." -Henry David Thoreau
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 23 2006 @ 03:26 AM CST
"Capitalism didn't, in and of itself, bring us computers - and most anarchists imagine computers would continue to be used in an anarchist society."

There is truth to this. What created computers was an oppressive form of human agency and instrumentality going back to the agricultural society that set up the division of labour and alienation that goes into creating computers. It's easy to look at the end result of computers from the privilaged position you are in. However you divorce computers from the complex process that goes into creating them,ie mining, compartmentalization, these things were created in an opressive way, and thinking that it can be done collectively is simply collectivising our suffering. What happened in the Sago minds can happen regardless of the social context. As Jacques Ellul points out, complex technological products require complex processes, regardless of the social mode of production. Certainly today anarchists should use the comp in a 'redemptive fassion' as Walter Benjimin would say. However it we are serious about a decentralized spontanious egalitarian existance, then maintaning production of computers might hurt that a tad.

"Computers are, however, technology - that sugar-coated poison apple primitivists want to do away with. Certainly, anarchists would be rightly criticized for opportunisticly participating in bourgeois politics - shouldn't a parallel be looked for in acceptable behaviour for an "honest" primitivist?"

Technology is poorly defined in this regard. The point is to differentiate between egalitarian small scale individual techniques to highly centralized alienating ones. The end result is certainly interesting and even desirable in cases, however it's all about the production and the unessesary split between work and play.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 07 2006 @ 05:19 PM CST
so are you suggesting that any society that uses division of labor, etc. for
agriculture will someday, without any choice of their own, create
computers?

why hasn't this been the case though?
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 08 2006 @ 03:41 PM CST
Not nessarily, however if you've read guns germs and steel you see how anthropology works in this regard. Certainly there are egalitarian agricultural societies, though the fact that it was not fertile cresent type land may play a role in whether it rockets up to industrialism. Of course agency matters to. Ultimately why would you want a division of labour society.

The fact is if you wrap yourself in division of labour your desires are already being supressed. You are putting yourself within a mode of instrumentality that does not conform to life on an immediate level
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 08 2006 @ 11:08 PM CST
i don't think that dividing labor always suppresses desires.

working on a factory line - yes. but i really don't think that most people who
make these complaints have ever worked in a factory or really understand the
environment, just a lot of book talk. so their criticisms kind of ring hollow.

on the other hand me making sure that the garden is watered, while someone
else is watching the kids, i don't feel supresses my desires. i don't think just
because labor is divided that it can't be redivided and reorganized to fit a
changing environment, like the next day I watch the kids and my partner
waters. in this regard a division of labor allows me to be much more complex
and allows me to realize more of my desires.
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 12:50 PM CST
Well as to your 1st point, while it may very well be true that some might enjoy factory work, why should people like me have to be subjected to it.

On the point of the garden and the kids, I would not call that division of labour in the traditional meaning. That type of thing can just as easily fall under Bob Black's idea of play.
The point is that if you have a direct contextual sense of keeping yourself alive, that is when you are not alienated for the most part.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, March 10 2006 @ 01:55 PM CST
I am not saying that you need to be subjected to it and I agree that most
factories should be razed. but i think some important things happen inside
those concrete walls. I would suppose that we all agree that wheelchairs or
bicycles and the such are good things, and if we are going to make them
why not have the task occupy as little of our time as possible, so why not use
some level of mass production.

On the other hand, cities, factories and the such have created particular
cultural phenomenoms that I am particularly fond of- music, art, theater, etc.
do people need to be stuck inside factories or live in big cities for these
things to be created? No. But I for one find the interconnectivity and
diversity that is created in these environments extremely anarchistic. I like
that cities create a space that country, electronica, punk and hip-hop are all
cross pollenated, and i think humans are better for that exchange. Of course
this simplyfies what is going on but hopefully you get my point.

This is not a whole sale defense of cities or factories or mass society, but to
deny that some really wonderful things come out of these exchanges is bull.
I would propose that an anarchistic response is to push for a radically
democratic city. One based on culture and play. Not on work and profit.

On the second point. Wondering if you have kids? Or grow a good deal of
food that you eat? I would not necessarily catagorize it as play. It is hard
work. Work that is enjoyable in many ways, but still hard hard work. To
deny so is to reject some of the basic tenets of the feminist mov't of the 50s
and 60s.

Tying this point with previous posts on childcare, I am wondering why if
childraising is such play and fun, why is it so hard to get anarchists to share
in the play/work of childcare at anarchist conferences.
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 13 2006 @ 01:41 PM CST
Certainly bicycles and wheelchairs are things to be made in a post-civilized society, not all capitalist/industrial modernity based techniques are bad and could conform to a local luddic existance. The point though is to keep techniques as non-authoritarian and hegemonic as possible by heading the advice of the techno-critics of the 60s and 70s(Mumford, Virilio, Ellul ect).

The cultural phenomena things you mentioned are things I certainly am interested in(video games for example). Unfortunately the techniques that are required to maintain them are not the most egalitarian in nature as to keep those things going would require a timely mannered complex production process. Something which begs mediation. Efficiancy in that regard needs to be respected if we partake. Also it might have implications for those animal bodies who have either divorced themselves from the industrial technobody or were never part of it to begin with.

And as far as raising kids goes, well it doesn't help that we live in a culture that dominates and hates children so much to begin with. Also as far as growing food or hunting, sure it is technically work, but not in that alienating sense. In regards to growing food, there are ways to do it through less toil with more diverse results. Permaculture being the obvious example.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 13 2006 @ 08:08 PM CST
o.k. i'll admit that i have no idea who mumford, Virilio, Ellul ect are but I
guess I would ask how do you have an anti-civ. approach to making bicycles
and wheelchairs?

both take metal that must be mined, they require welding which requires
power, etc. not to be a wise ass but are we talking wheelchairs a la Gilligan's
Island?

i bring up these two vehicles b/c one the bicycle uses less power to move a
person than any other mode of transportation (that is if you measure human
work to produce, oil, metals and then the human calories to travel the
distance needed.) less than a car, less than walking. if maintain properly
using bicycles would allow us to not need as many resources for all of us to
survive with some mobility.

and wheelchairs i feel come to the root of who would not benefit from a
world with no pavement, electricity and the such. technology has liberated
people with disabilities that other civilizations just never have even come
close to. is this really what people have in mind - a re-enslavement of people
with disabilities?

as for whether we need video games or not, i think most class war
anarchist, etc. like myself do not really have much beef/tofu with doing away
with a lot of the alienated technology out there. at least i feel that the tv for
a large part is used to hynotize the masses. sure it lets me know what the
weather will be tomorrow, but without it i think i would get by.

again i agree that this society hates kids, but even if it loved kids, kids are
hard work. they want to explore and learn and they have no clue of what
can hurt them, thus the work and why most parents are over worked and
tired in any society.

in this exchange i guess i am wondering what the large rifts are btwn "red"
and "green" anarchists? it sounds like we both are saying that there should
be a radically democratic society that decides how much we engage with
technology and in what way. unless i am missing something.

ps. this doesn't pertain to this thread but after reading most of "An Open
Letter on Technology and Mediation" i agree that we are stuck in the society
that we are born into, but this seems a bit like a cop out. it reminds me of
many comrades accounts of why they left the "do as i say not as i do"
authoritarian left in the 60s and 70s. they would proclaim they were against
racism, sexism and the rich while the leadership lived in a penthouse and
beat their girlfriends.

i thnk many of us agree that part of the social rev. is not just the big rev. but
the little chips in peoples consciousness. can they support a strike, boycott a
company, do mutual aid, etc. these are building blocks of change. and i
think zerzan was getting at that when he said he drew the line at television
interviews....until 60 minutes came a knockin. so how much tech you
embrace does say something about how much you walk the walk. jsut as
much for the class war anarchists how much it says whether you cross a
picket line or not.
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 06 2006 @ 11:51 AM CDT
It's late but this comment deserves a response.

As far as various metalic substances such as bicycles and wheelchairs, as you have righfully pointed out, using these things succesfully and productively should be done in a maintanance,recyclable fasion as to avoid the mines and factories as much as possible.

As for pavement and electricity, you underestimate the complex technological/industrial process that is required to maintain that everyday(as James Kunstler notes, the people and technologies that maintain highways have to be perfect everyday,there's no such thing as an off day unless you want a real life example of the begining of final destination 2). Ironcally the reason why so many people become disabled is very much due to the nature of this current politics of speed. Bob Black's abolition of work for instance does a short but sweet analysis on how many are killed and injured in this everyday spectacle.
Utimately if there is less mediation and speed, we should have less of these tragic accidents. It is partly true that industrial techniques have helped those with dissabilties, but it perpetuates these things just as much on a day to day basis.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 10 2006 @ 04:51 PM CDT
o.k. a late response to a late response,

i guess my follow-up question would be, is the idea that you would keep
mines idle until needed a common position of primitivists? even an idle mine
that folks want to use again someday requires a lot of maintence and
supervision (can you say West Virginia anyone). who would go down into a
mine once you have recycled as far as you can? would you really want
people to randomly go down into mines as willy-nilly as a dishwashing wheel
in an anarchist house?

the point is i actually do have a concept of how complex these things are,
which is why i have a problem with the whole idea of primitivism. if the
reason to do not do things is because they are complex the answer will
always be to not produce wheelchairs and bikes.

to me it seems primitivists write off in some fascistic purism people with
disabilities because they don't fit into the ideal uber-human who can walk the
trail and hunt the animal. on the other hand primitivists turn their collective
back on a rather simple machine that reduces waste, increases community
and liberates people through increased mobility. that seems silly.

now if the politics are not as hardcore as most green/primitivists anarchist
make them out to be, then why the major distinction. if you are saying that
there has to be a democratic debate over all of this then you really don't sit
in a different spot than the "red" anarchists who have been advocating this
for the good part of 1 1/2 centuries. it is called worker and community
control of production and consumption.

ps in response to the bob black enlightenment, do you know why helen
keller was a socialist? b/c she recognized that disability in this society is
intimately tied to class (i would add race too- in the cases that race runs
parallel with class). sure people get fucked up in car accidents, but this
doesn't explain why infant mortality rates and other birthing complication are
so much higher in inner cities and third world countries. are babies driving
cars in the womb (has car-culture gone that far!)? i am no medical expert
and i imagine that bob black isn't either, but i would guess that the vast
majority of the people in the world with disabilities did not gain them from
driving a car. they were either born with them or became subjected to them
because of an insufficient health system (polio, tb, malaria still running
rampant in most of the world).

o.k. until next time
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 13 2006 @ 02:20 PM CDT
I am actually not aware of any position on disabilities within the primitivist mileu. In regards to wheelchairs and how they would be maintained, I think various bike collectives provide and example. In that you see examples of recycling and maintenance that could be put into practice with wheelchairs.

In regards to mining, my own view is that it simply shouldn't happen for various reasons. The amount of specialization needed to keep them going is one obvious reason. I agree with you that the starting and stoping aspect can be dangerous(as places like China and Eastern Europe tragically demonstrated). All the more reason to leave them be. Mines are ultimately tied to a specialized, beuracratized system of instrumentality that is hardly egalitarian. If you are serious about an egalitarian existance then you have to realize that there is a concurrent relationship between the specific mode of production, and the corolating techniques. The techniques of mining are tied to the undemocratic techniques that Mumford describes. And as Ellul rightfully says, techniques remain in their particular form regardless of the particular economics of the day. Making a space shuttel, a car, ect is everybit the same in an anarchist society as it is in a capitalist one. The time consuming mediating nature of the process remains. You can say that it will be collective alienation instead as applies to a hypothetical anarchist industrial society, but that does not turn me on.

As far as dissabilities and class, I don't dissagree with you there. However, in regards to being born with dissabilities, how much of that has to do with the crap that we've put in to the air and our bodies respectively. Alot of these things can be traced back to the phenomena of large scale agriculture and domestication.
Anyway it is much more then everyday car accidents that kill and main people. The totalising aspect of industrial society touches people in many ways.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, April 13 2006 @ 06:56 PM CDT
your belief that disabilities are the cause of mass society is purely guessing. i
suspect that in previous soiceties many children with disabilities/illnesses
(some rather insignificant by todays standards) would die off.

even still do we expect contaminated soil to disappear with the state? if
thought about it would seem that primitivism would encourage the
phenomon of sprawl more so than capitalists do now. if i must rely on the
soil in my neighborhood to eat, myself and our neighbors would high tale it
out of the city during the collapse to the most pristine rural land we could
find. so would everyone else. brilliant! can you say Pol Pot? without some
thought and coordination we would have to wait for the earth to eventually
clean its own soil. i think the half life of a pcb is about 100,000 years.

as for scavenging the parts for wheelchairs, your bike collective example still
misses that they are still required to get new parts on occassion. maybe not
an issue in the first 5 years. in the first 50 it will be. snot an option in
primitive land. and lets say you are right that people with disabilites would
still be able to ride, ride on what? as you said concrete maintence is out too.

your new world would make the mild disabilites of corrective vision
debilitating. the longest i have been able to keep my glass clean enough, in
focus enough, etc. where they didn't give me headache was 5 years.

i guess i can agree with you that their is a heirarchy inherint in mass society,
but there is a levelling effect too. i guess if i have to measure whether i am
willing to do some alienating work in a workers collective so that people can
have running water, use a wheelchair, have basic modern healthcare, etc. i
am willing to make that trade-off. i realize that many of my loved ones
would not do too well in a society that only measures worth on how well you
can carry, hunt, gather, etc. i like grandma too much.

not sure that because i am willing to collectivize my work so that the weakest
of society can have fullfilling lives (as well as all of us to boot too!) makes
me not an anarchist, if so i guess i am not.
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, April 17 2006 @ 03:19 PM CDT
To clear up a couple of things, I'm actually not a primitivist. I do think however that the totality of civilization should be destroyed. I'd say I'm a neo-luddite.

I never said that disabilities are caused by mass society. I do say thay are perpetuated. Do you know how many industrial based accidents happen everyday? And certainly the amount of deseases(like polio and others which caused disabilties) were multiplied with the rise of mass agriculture and nonhuman husbandry. These are root things that need to be taken on.

Also I am certainly under no illusion that we may have locked ourselves in industrial residue for the next millenium or more. The point is we have to stop this instrumentality and start somewere. As far as food production goes, whether you like it or not, the oil based super structure that feeds this planet is about to go bust at some point. In dealing with this, it in know way meanss that there will be a mass exodus to rural areas. If you look at groups like the Gai Gardens or the Rhyzome collective, they provide an example of what a post-civilized urban landscape might be like in regards to food.

As far as metalurgy goes, people may have to retool everynow and then. But let this not be done in a centralized coordenated manner. I think people can be more resorcefull then you think. And the reason concrete has to be maintained is simply for the sake of car production(which really we should cut out). Bumps in the road here and there are hardly the end of the road. Also don't underestimate the highly complex and specialized nature of road maintenance(hardly something anarchistic in practice).

In regards to vision, I can at least say that we should be trying to live more wholistically again. When you compare a primitive persons eyesight to ours it is not even a close comparison. Putting an end to this mass industrial crap can at least get to the root cause of the vision problems such as yours. As for your predicament I can't really say much of what would be done, I can say that juxtaposed to you, there are people with such deseases as chromes who would be much better off without industrial society.

Utimately when comparing the techniques of any society there is always give and take. Certainly I can understand why some might be attached to modern techniques. However when you compare how many lives as such have been killed within the epoch of industrial society and its corolating military complex(half of all life on earth set to be extinct by 2070), it has been a destructive age like no other.

Wolverine
What a good primitivist ought to do . . .
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 23 2006 @ 07:11 AM CST
good point
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 01 2006 @ 03:23 PM CST
The poster wasn't necessarily making an argumant but just making they statement that this person agrees with Chomsky's conclusion about primitivism and doesn't understand why John Zerzan (or primitivists) use technology while at the same time condemning it.

- ebr
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 08 2006 @ 09:27 PM CST
People who blame anti-civ people to be hypocrites for using technology while criticizing it should read "An Open Letter on Technology and Mediation"
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, February 06 2006 @ 07:22 AM CST
" I think I agree with Chomsky that primivitism, if put into practice, would amount to the biggest genocide in history." So do you think that we can forever have industrial processes and cheap eneregy from fossiles to produce more and more food to feed more and more humans?

The sooner civilization comes down and primitivism into practice, the smaller genocide there will be..
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Admin on Monday, February 06 2006 @ 01:55 AM CST

Trollbait deleted. User given first warning.

John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Admin on Tuesday, February 07 2006 @ 02:19 PM CST

Trollbait deleted (strawman argument and misrepresentation of opponent's views). IP address has a history of posting attacks and trolls.

John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 09 2006 @ 01:05 PM CST
It's pretty hard for primitivists to live outside of civilization in this day and age. Simply look at what is happening to the San. What Primitivists and anti-civilization types desire is a change in agency. Sometimes that will involve dwelving into capitalist techniques. Dumbasses

Wolverine
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 12 2006 @ 01:26 PM CST
Anarchists need to examine and accept the fact that industrialism and
civilization are UNSUSTAINABLE PRACTICES. Even if you believe that
you enjoy these practices (most likely from seeing yourself as
disconnected from them), it cannot be denied by anyone who looks at
the facts that this lifestyle will NOT last and WILL come to an end
whether we like it or not. Anti-civilization anarchists both advocate
speeding up this process to try and save what's left of the earth, and
speak of the need to be prepared for the end of this lifestyle as we know
it. You'd be fooling yourself to ignore these issues.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, February 12 2006 @ 02:45 PM CST
I pretty much equate leaving civility with leaving a heroin addiction. The withdrawl is painfull as fuck, however for an addict you cannot ease it down to weakend warrior status. The instrumentality of civilization is the same, you can't reprogram it.

Wolverine
ritualistically yours;
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 10:43 PM CST
How can it be so matter of factly said that, "ritualism and domestication are the root of war," when it can just as easily, be stated that "war is the root of ritualism and domestication." This isn't just semantics this is an illustration of a point, one cannot profess to find causality in such general and subjective terms. I wish to stress though that I am not some sort of apologist for capitalist-industry, I am merely pointing out that to make such grand and unsupported statements(or in some cases fabricated, or extensions of long standing cultural beliefs which look to the past as pristine and edenic) is irresponsible and unsceintific even inhumanistic. I have no problem with primitivism, I do have a problem with primitivists modern argument for their cause(dogmatic, unthoughtful, and mysanthropic), I believe it to be a disservice to all. I would also like to express that I have seen nothing in my studies but proof that the human race has INHERENT TENDENCIES towards both violence and altruism, to deny this is to deny the problem its solution. Flights of fancy will only result in fanciful and unrealistic solutions, surely the future primitivists espouse can come about, though personally I will have nothing to do with a life where mores(the results of rituals) do not exist and people can freely be left to their vices with no built in remorse or regret. I've heard the arguments time and again, to often by white male former christians who seem to be trying to find eden, I would like to hear the argument that doesn't see the past as some kind of lost utopia of peace. Look to the chimps I say for our past, and the bonobos for our future. In solidarity and sincerity, Me.

I hope this generates meaningful discussion and not personal attacks, its my opinion and its out there, meaningfull or meaningless as it may b e percieved.
ritualistically yours;
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 17 2006 @ 05:57 PM CST

chimpanzees practice a form of proto-war. i guess they just are more 'primitive'. troops which have territories periodically police the borders, and if they find interlopers they run them off or kill them.
the big question seems to be why humans evolved from chimps (assuming they did) and whether the simpler behaviors of the past need to be re-created at a more 'advanced' level (with higher tech such as nukes, and more warriors, like armies, and more deaths). it could be 'more is better' is a natural law.
there is a large literature on early war, which is very disputed (like most evolutionary theories). some recent findings of neanderthal-types claim for example they had signs of being bludgeoned to death or shot with arrows, so the 'garden of eden' may have not been any more blissful than the lives of cute chimps. (chimp troops also 'bond' by jointly killing monkees and eating them.)
one theory is evolution through war (and other forms of inequality) create progress, which is both justified and re-inforced by then permitting commentators to ponder it, decry it, applaud it, etc. There are now huge departments and institutions for 'peace studies' and 'conflict resolution' and 'war criminology' which pay high wages and permit moral exclamations, along with others (oftne in the next building) which argue is as neccesaary as shitting, even if undesirable.
These give people something to do, which they can justify to those who may have to go out and fight for oil, property or religion.


John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 17 2006 @ 06:24 PM CST
The first ritualistically yours makes some good points(though his use of inherant is dangerous in that it denies the existential nature of human agency). I think Deleuze and Gauttari are more in the money for pointing out that the war machine as such is contingent. In its nomadic form, war was used to preserve abundance not reinforce scarcity. Clastres also said something similar I believe. Primitive war fair was bloody and you did not have your politically correct geneva accords, but it was not very frequant(and non humans were not as harmed)
This whole language of war and peace is an abstraction. Life as a whole is a chaotic one where power(opressive and productive)rules. It is easy to see why war has gone on for such a long time. Obviously none of us like it nessarily, but moralizing it is not the answer. Certainly peace in theory is existentially possible, however power is power.

Jason Adams actually wrote a good peace on this issue.

http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=03/04/24/1223242&mode=nested&tid=9

Wolverine
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, February 17 2006 @ 09:05 PM CST
"In its nomadic form, war was used to preserve abundance not reinforce scarcity."

Are you saying the United States goes to war to "reinforce scarcity" instead of to preserve the abundance of its elite?
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 12:12 PM CST
The US goes to war to grab land and resources. This is what scarcity based war causes. Band wars were not about grabbing land and expanding it.

Wolverine
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 03:54 PM CST
"The US goes to war to grab land and resources."

Agreed.

"This is what scarcity based war causes. Band wars were not about grabbing land and expanding it."

Agreed. However, nomadic bands (and also tribes) also have turf wars.

Their were many cases where tribes would transform into chiefdoms or into states through victory in warfare.
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 09 2006 @ 10:54 AM CST
I would disagree that America went to war for land and resources. In fact we no longer need land or resources, as capitalism is evolving, we need capital simply put.

Capitalism has evolved to such a state where in fact a strong or rich leader does not need to control vast amoutns of land in order to be powerful, but only in control of most capital of other lands. Such as the capital we control in Iraq, and whatever we can from Afghanistan.

As a general comment on Zerzen's philosophy, it seems somewhat bleak and emotional with little science devoted to his argument. I'd love to examine it a bit more, however I must unfortunatley run to class . . . perhaps I'll leave the subject up in the air for others to discuss!
John Zerzan: On the Origins of War
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, February 25 2006 @ 02:31 PM CST
Seems like a triest on the value of statist
educatiuon systems.I suggest a main point
that Zerzan makes being the increasing lack of
space as domestication occurs.Its not easy to decide for others wether they domesticate or practice agriculure,especially when its(supposed) tendancy is twoard organized violence.The shinking spacial relationships would seem to demand a certain amonut of "co-existence"trainning where none
before existed-unless you have a way to convince
tribes so incilned.There would be a point of conflict
sooner or later and you have said that
most typicallly its the later,viola a whole buch of
canabals trying to sacrifice you and such in a situation and landscape inundated with the irreversable consequnces of surviving other tribes endeavors.(of course the good old magic stick helps in these situations)
I suggest we learn and respect from the rest of life
and use technological advancement and systemic learning patterns to our ends of sustainability,social equity,and ultimatley survival where we might otherwise fail.Nothing new here......
Give Primitivists Freedom
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, April 02 2006 @ 12:09 PM CDT
Primitivists are often hampered in their attempts to free themselves from the restrictive alienating forces of civilization by the unasked-for laws of the Government which claims to rule the land they live on. We ask that if Primitivists plan to live alone with themselves out in the forestry, they be granted freedom from the restrictions, duties, and protections of law. It is only by allowing them this state of freedom, so long as they be no bother to outsiders retaining their commitment to the state and it's laws, that we can truly be said to live in a democratic society.

Sign the petition!