From our friends at Warzone Distro:
Mary: Let me ask you something. Why are you alive? John Preston: I'm alive... I live... to safeguard the continuity of this great society. To serve Libria Mary: It's circular. You exist to continue your existence. What's the point? John Preston: What's the point of your existence? Mary: To feel. 'Cause you've never done it, you can never know it. But it's as vital as breath. And without it, without love, without anger, without sorrow, breath is just a clock... ticking - From the movie “Equilibrium”
These days, people ask each other whether or not they support the collapse of industrial civilization. When I was asked this while tabling an anarchist bookfair I thought about it for a few minutes and said “well, it’s complicated.” On one hand, for those who rely on support networks built and maintained by capitalist infrastructure, collapse would mean a downward death spiral. Most animals (including humans) are highly adaptive creatures. So it’s not surprising that a large portion of the population have adapted to the existence of industrial society, and therefore, (to the supreme benefit of industrial expansion), have also become dependent on it for survival. So if such a mega-complex machine breaks down and collapses, I find it completely understandable that many people would reject the idea that this is a good thing, knowing their lives – and the lives of their loved ones – could very well tumble down with it. On the other hand, the existence of industrial society – and even its life-supporting infrastructure – is built and maintained through coercion, blood, sweat, and death. Unlike the genuine love and care one can observe between close friends and lovers, institution-based support networks within industrial society are often designed with the objective of preserving life as a means of mechanical utility rather than compassion. This includes preserving the existence of society’s workforce – the population of wage-slaves whose value of life and health are measured in terms of productivity rather than quality for the sake of joyful existence. Industrial society manufactures rigid, arbitrary definitions of disability in order to socially encourage specific mental and physical abilities that are considered beneficial to its full-functioning. Like a well-oiled machine, industrialization continues on running, converting wildlife to numeric death in order to preserve its domination.
Ask anyone who has worked in a hospital or retirement home about the quality of care and support in these places. They will most likely tell you that the bottom line is money. And while many people chose to work in these facilities out of their own personal compassion, many others simply fill a position as an individual wage-slave motivated by the threat of poverty. For years capitalism has perfected the art of manufacturing social relationships based on monetary gain. Additionally, despite its illusion of safety, industrial society itself is death by design for all life – including but not limited to ecocide through deforestation, military warfare, domestication, and social control. So I also understand why many people who acknowledge this pervasive illusion of love and peace would be so welcoming toward the collapse of industrial civilization.
Of course, regardless of how myself or anyone else feels about industrial collapse, and whether or not people want to believe we can either prevent or accelerate it, industrial collapse is already happening, and has been for quite some time. Perhaps the reason why it’s gone unnoticed is either due to denial, or because the rate at which it’s collapsing doesn’t resemble a single, crumbling tower that quickly turns into ash and smoke. That is because something as large and socially complex as industrial society doesn’t break down all at once, but instead decomposes at different points and at different times. It is commonly understood as collapse due to an acknowledgement that as the natural resources needed to sustain industrial society are depleted, the points of decomposition break down beyond repair.
On a lighter note, one social element contributing to industrial collapse is simply independent, critical thinking. As more people begin to rely less on industrial infrastructure for survival (whether it be an intentional aim or a set of skills developed while living in poverty), things like food foraging and DIY healthcare become viewed as necessary, and are shared around. For example in states where abortion is outlawed, DIY skills and practices are shared as a form of retaining bodily autonomy against the backdrop of outlawed accessibility.
Industrial society discourages survivalist, independent thinking and practice by socializing the general population to appeal to the authority of experts, specialists, or leaders. This results in a conditioned distrust of one’s own passions, abilities, and experiences. Leftism encourages a similar anti-DIY mentality by replacing self-responsibility with collective co-dependency. Rather than encouraging nature-based survival skills at an individual level, responsibility for survival in the world is outsourced to communal duty. Words like community are used as politicized buzzwords to imply individual inferiority to the superiority of group-think and collective action. If individuals became empowered by becoming accustomed to both self-reliance and the wilderness – no longer fearing them but instead surviving and thriving with them – a civilized society is at risk of losing the social conformity needed to keep it collectively sustainable.
To avoid such a risk, reformist or (ostensibly) revolutionary political ideologies that favor mass society use the same mechanistic logic used by the present industrial society in an attempt to control everything wild and insubordinate. I believe this is done by first reiterating the industrialist logic that work and building infrastructure is a desirable virtue. For example, rather than critically examining the relationship between the individual and the workerist mentality, or even critiquing work itself, leftists merely utilize it to implement their own view of the world. Just as industrial society views the world in terms of morality and production, leftists uphold the same views, incorporating them into their utopian fantasy of convincing the workers of the world to abandon their workerism under capitalism – and instead supply it to the endless construction of communes and other so-called land projects.
Collapse, Build, Repeat; The Circular Dance of the World-Builders
From the leftist perspective, the working class (rather than being liberated from work) is viewed as a laboring monolith whose capacity for productive labor is beneficial to the creation of a so-called new world built within the shell of the old. But rather than being motivated by the monetary whip of bosses or the threats of landlords, the workers of this new world are pressumed to be moralist adherents to a greater good mentality – the driving force behind recycled communist ideology. The working class are assumed to be a zombified mass who will obey and follow any authoritative direction – including that which lures them in with the same promises of equality and safety as the capitalists. And when some individuals break away from the workerist mentality and reject the authority of industrial society, the left goes into a frenzy – hurling insults and ridiculous accusations of eco-fascist this or genocidal that in order to discourage others with fear. This green scare amongst the left takes effect most noticably when anti-fascists also become ex-workers who come to view industrialization as yet another form of fascism.
Despite being dressed in black (and sometimes even green!), leftism continues its gaseous drift into every new generation of anarchists. It can even be found in some of the most unlikely places like in the minds of some insurrectionists, or as a stirnerian spook capable of split-ideological possession as seen with so-called egoist communists.
Those who identify with communization would even have one believe they are individualists when they advocate for breaking out of identity-based categorization. But further reading of their sermons reveals the primary objective for breaking out of socialized identity categories is to then reassimilate the individual into a collectivist identity. The social conformity of communization ideology isn’t just a re-arrangement of the working class, but also a re-arrangement of society. Devoid of any critical examination of the ecocide caused by permanant settlements, leftism continues the settler-colonial vision of permanantly occupying wild spaces. Focus is placed on the production and distribution of commodities shared more equally amongst the population, rather than critically examining the concepts of commodity, work, and mass society itself.
It sounds strange (and honestly redundant) for one to identify as an anti-work anarchist but it becomes necessary only in light of the workerist mentality universal to the preservation of any society. Since there is in fact a legitimate fear of a collapsing civilization, there is a desperation to preserve core elements of the current societal infrastructure (fire stations, hospitals, highways, etc.) but in a more egalitarian, worker-managed way. The idea is to eradicate bosses, landlords, and hierarchical authority, only to replace them all with an internal, ideological authority that demands individual conformity to the group. When successful, this society may appear on the surface to be anti-authoritarian but has merely succeeded at deception; subservience interwoven with personal duty, securing control and domination out of sight.
Capitalist society operates in a similar manner. America is considered the “Land of the Free”, despite freedom being defined in terms of accumulated wealth through personal conformity to wage-slavery. Toward the preservation of societal infrastructure, capitalism encourages individuals to surrender themselves to workplaces vital to maintaining capitalist and state institutions. The workerism of so-called building autonomy or maintaining a commune would encourage one to do the same – but without the threat of monetary-based poverty, and rather than having a single boss, one would have a collective of bosses who enforce one another’s subordination through communal expectation.
Do worker-controlled factories lead to personal liberation – or just more work? Will the leftist utopia eliminate the pollution and toxins created by their workermanaged industrialization? And how will communes and this continued anarcho-workerism respond to the self-destruction of drug use, nicotine addiction, and alcoholism when the need to cope continues in response to… work?
Intoxication Culture: Fuel for Mechanizing Social Subjugation
Intoxication culture could be understood as sought out relief through chemical escapism, and a primal response to the underlying conditions of despair and struggle in a world dominated by obligatory work. But the origins of intoxication culture so-called in north america can be traced to the 17th century, when european-owned slave plantations utilized the addictive effects of imported coffee, and again in the 19th century, when opium was imported from china into north america by the british. The powerful addiction to coffee and tobacco was used as a strategy for motivating their production. Sometimes used as a form of currency, tobacco brought in large profits at the expense of Indigenous people’s health. Soon colonizers, desperate for more land to increase production of this lucrative commodity, declared open-end war on any Indigenous people inhabitating land surrounding the established plantations. As alcoholism became increasingly destructive amongst the Indigenous population, alcohol became a tool of colonial negotiation. In addition to the debilitating effects of various forms of addiction, anti-colonial resistance was increasingly complicated by the de-authorizing of traditional Indigenous ways of life replaced by settler-based governments.
Colonizers had successfully found a way not only to chemically subjugate resistance, but to also lay the ground work for what would become a profitable world of exchanging intoxication for labor.
Today, as the cost of living continues to rise, wage-slavery is increasingly the center of attention, leaving little time for personal leisure. Capitalism continues to find profitable ways to sell leisure in the form of intoxication and addictive substances. The more miserable the quality of life is for a population of people, the higher the demand for these chemical forms of relief and escape. Similar to how easy it is to prescribe religion to the masses during periods of economic crisis, intoxication culture finds the working class to be an optimal consumer. And the higher the demand for chemical escape in response to life’s hardships, the more profit for industries that aid in keeping the most rebellious elements subdued and distracted.
The consumer demand for intoxication not only serves as a self-destructive cycle for people but also for the environment. The increased demand for chemical – based coping or escape in response to the increased difficulty in keeping up with the cost of living leads to an increase in the production of monocrops like coffee beans, tobacco, grains for alcohol, marijuana, and so on.
In part, the left’s resistance to critiques of industrial society reflects a refusal to expand its critical examination beyond the confines of human struggle.
Domesticating Wild Spaces: The Colonial Politics of Land, Bodies, and Consumption
Many of the left’s championed examples of communes and so-called land projects include the continued commodification, exploitation, and slaughter of non-human animals who are viewed as food – a mentality that maintains an oppressive relationship to animals. This anthropocentrism or human supremacy limits an anti-authoritarian analysis to the realm of human struggle, portraying a one-dimensional view of liberation that excludes the flora and fauna.
Many leftists (and even some post-left anarchists) continue to spread the capitalist-colonial narrative of hunter-gatherer – a narrative that intentionally exaggerates the frequency of pre-industrial hunting. This exaggeration can be found in the term hunter-gatherer itself, as it (at best) implies that hunting and gathering happened with equal frequency. But if anything, it should be reversed (and has been by many current anthropologists) because without the anthropocentric lens, gathering (or foraging while being transient) was far more necessary for survival than hunting. Thanks to colonization and capitalism, the glorification of consuming animal flesh and secretions goes hand in hand with historical revisionism and the glorification of hunting. A possible explanation for this glorification could be related to how settler colonialism, well-known today for erasing Indigenous histories and experiences, simply incorporates this so-called hunter-gatherer past into its own foundational mythology
Continuing the commodification of animal bodies for so-called food is more successful with a romanticized, one-dimensional portrayal of Indigenous people as all hunter-gatherers – despite the majority of Indigenous people being plantbased, with hunting and meat consumption merely supplementary if at all. It’s no coincidence that mainstream attention is often diverted away from the fact that a meat (flesh) and dairy (secretions) heavy diet was introduced to Indigenous people by European colonizers.
Within most anarcho-primitive/green anarchist texts is a pattern of glorifying Indigneous people who did hunt and consume animals. Excluded from depictions of Indigenous people are the plant-based, compassionate foragers who included animals in their stories as equals and sometimes with greater value than humans. Similar to, for example, how most people aren’t familiar with the group of Makah anti-whaling elders which included Alberta Thompson – one of the most outspoken of the group. Within her own Indigenous nation, the position to protect whales was viewed as trivial to the lucrative venture of securing contracts with the Japanese whaling industry.
Many self-described anarchists make the mistake of treating people as categorically monolithic and praising the views of a few – in this case prohunting Indigenous people – who are assumed to represent the views of all Indigenous people.
Wherever a population of people lean toward a particular worldview (in this case human supremacy) there is a tendency to prefer and select only those voices who support that worldview. Despite Indigenous solidarity moral posturing, most leftists (and still some post-leftists) rarely extend that same visibility and solidarity for anti-colonial, vegan Indigenous people. There are Indigenous individuals whose written work and oral traditions continue to be suppressed by the hunter-gatherer narrative preferred by those who refuse to extend respect and bodily autonomy to non-human animals. For example, Indigenous writers like Margaret Robinson, Kerry Redwood Atjecoutay, Samah Seger, Sarambi, and Mansour Yarow have all written about veganism from an anti-colonial, anti-capitalist perspective, challenging the narrative that all Indigenous people categorically oppose veganism. When it comes to Indigenous identity, people in anarchist circles continue to reduce Indigenous people to a monolith that (conveniently) fits human supremacist anthropology. This is an example of how Indigenous people are continuously commodified themselves in order to perpetuate the commodification of non-human animals – and vice versa.
Despite attempts to further decolonize radical environmentalism, human supremacy continues to be used as a reference point for defining Indigenous history. The majority of people in so-called north america are convinced that they are natural omnivores (or even carnivores). This is based less on dietary ancestry or present biology, and moreso on a human supremacist anthropology that uses Indigenous identity as an advertisement for meat consumption. And it is here that a false connection is manufactured between the American hunter/carnist and noble savage.
A pattern of inconsistency commonly found within anarchist, anti-vegan narratives is the rewarding of forward thinking in terms of unpacking and dismantling oppressive ideologies but then preserving and romanticizing past instances of human supremacist oppression – especially when perceived to relate to Indigenous people. Why does the unpacking and dismantling of authoritarian relationships stop the instant it involves Indigenous history? This leads to the racist assumption that Indigenous people are all categorically fixed in place culturally, traditionally, and historically, unable to escape or critically examine, unpack, and dismantle oppression toward non-human animals. Ultimately this contributes to the erasure of both Indigenous vegans/vegetarians of the past, as well as those who have written critically about non-human animal oppression today.
The portrayal of Indigenous people as all hunter-gatherers upholds the assumption that Indigenous people only exist for the preservation of human supremacy, frozen in time for historical reference.
Even when speciesist radicals acknowledge the diversity of relationships that Indigenous people have with animals, a majority rules mentality still grips the anarchist movement. Forms of oppression considered beneficial and commonly practiced within the movement are defended at all costs. When it comes to veganism, speciesist stereotypes of Indigenous people are used in bad faith arguments against veganism. Such arguments are driven less by relationships with Indigenous people and more as strategies to shut down conversation. Some who refuse to endorse exaggerated hunter narratives of Indigenous people are called racist and banned from radical spaces. A group mentality is weaponized for social control that not only dictates and determines narratives, but actively suppresses the voices of those who speak out and resist.
Most of the time identity politics is (successfully) used to leverage guilt in favor of social control. But when identity politics are no longer effective, social control is enforced physically. Similar to group power being used (on and offline) against an insubordinate individual, systematic hunting embodies the group vs individual dynamic, where hunters band together, finding it more efficient to dominate the wild individual who refuses to be captured and consumed.
Many anarchists continue to worship a so-called prey drive socially engineered by human supremacy to confuse personal choice with biological instinct. Generally accepted to be evident in competitive situations (playing sports, hunting, the pursuit of reproductive opportunities etc.), industrial society utilizes a human-as-animal analogy when prey drive theory serves to benefit one capitalist industry or another. But not all people have a desire to play sports – or be competitive at all. And many people find hunting to be a repulsive activity. Few pro-hunting anarchists (or hunters in general) are willing to admit that the choice to hunt is subject to conscious control, unlike instincts which require great effort to resist.
The social construction of this prey drive helps with conditioning people to believe that they are biological carnivores/omnivores. But lions, for example, do not operate in terms of dietary choices; they are obligated to instincts that correspond to a body optimized by evolution for capturing other animals quickly and with precision. For the (human) frugivore, consuming other animals is much more complicated. First and foremost the frugivore has to be domesticated into human supremacist thinking. Human supremacy doesn’t exist as a biological instinct but as a learned way of relating to other animals – a way only maintainable within the comfort of a heavily industrialized space where any remnants of the wild include few to no human predators. Unlike carnivorous and omnivourous animals, frugivores must then be taught that tools are needed to capture another animal, how to make the tools for capturing them, and then how to mutilate the body into edible parts that must be cooked prior to consumption.
Years of social, institutional, and capitalist conditioning goes into formultating human supremacist values within the collective conscience. In my opinion the human/animal dichotomy is a foundational tool used to encourage civilized group-think. Rather than celebrating uniqueness and differences individuals are socialized to unify in formations that inherently other everyone else, cultivating discriminatory relationships.
Anthropocentrism is an ideology that discriminates against animals by placing humanity as a standard of superiority. This is based on the social construction of human-ness as the essence of being human. Personhood is legitimized only as that which relates to man or mankind. When materialized, this view becomes a speciesist practice that mistreats anyone not recognized as human. An arbitrary hierarchy is formed where respect and equality are measured by how similar a living being is to a human. What is considered normatively human is heavily shaped by the social constructs of class, race, sex, and other markers of social power. For example a white supremacist measures the value of others based on both civility and skin tone. An individual guided by patriarchy uses a narrow perception of masculinity to determine ones value based on physical ability and emotional insensitivity. In all three cases, the group – whether it be that of white people, men, or humans – socially controls and dominates the nebulous individual, attacking anyone who remains outspoken and resists assimilating into its civilizing project.
Colonization used (and continues to use) group-think to implement its human supremacist project, intersecting it with patriarchy and white supremacy – socially classifying any and all uncivilized, insubordinate individuals as animals in need of aggressive control. In terms of land occupation and Indigenous displacement, this approach supports the logic of genocide in order to materialize a capitalist project of animal agriculture, justifying the animalizing and subjugation of Indigenous people.
Some would say that the relationship of a single hunter to the hunted animal exists outside of a group-think mentality, and that the hunted animal is free and considered equal. But at best this is harm-reductionist, since the animal (caged or free) is still being hunted, and the hunter is still governed by anthropocentric entitlement which surpresses empathy with any non-human being. Many accurately note that hunting is qualitatively different from the actions of a farmer, herdsman, or slaughterhouse, – and some would say more humane. But if humane (an anthropocentric concept) is the standard by which we measure and justify control and domination, than anti-authoritarian praxis is subject to the ideological confinement of human supremacy. A gentle/humane authoritarian is still an authoritarian nevertheless.
For colonial, industrial civilization to expand its sphere of domesticating control, the animal being must remain both a reference point against which all humans are measured, and a territorialized body occupied by the politics of human supremacist consumption. From this understanding, the animal must continue to be viewed as food in order to morally justify the occupation and control of wild space for animal agriculture.
That which qualifies as human must surrender to the group-think of human supremacist morality in order to emotionally disengage from any instincts of empathy and compassion while in pursuit of securing an authoritarian mentality for hunting.
I hear revolutionary Marxists saying that the destruction of the environment, pollution, and radiation will all be controlled. And I see them act upon their words. Do they know how these things will be controlled? No, they simply have faith. Science will find a way. Industrialization is fine and necessary. How do they know this? Faith. Science will find a way. Faith of this sort has always been known in Europe as religion. Science has become the new European religion for both capitalists and Marxists; they are truly inseparable; they are part and parcel of the same culture. So, in both theory and practice, Marxism demands that non-European peoples give up their values, their traditions, their cultural existence altogether. We will all be industrialized science addicts in a Marxist society. -Russell Means
Earlier when I referred to the Left’s “mechanistic logic”, I was referring to the treatment of wildness as some thing to capture, examine, break down, and control. Through the lens of human supremacy, the wilderness is viewed as an open-air storage facility of raw resources to be used in the development of human-centered infrastructure.
For example, communization theory speaks of building autonomy while ironically stripping autonomy away from every living and breathing habitat ravaged by a so-called land project. On the uncommon occasions when leftists acknowledge the ecological destruction inherent to their societal collectivism, science and technology become their saviors. The left’s solution to ecological problems isn’t to eliminate the root of the problem – agriculture and settlercolonial occupation of wild spaces – but to employ technology to massify resource extraction, and science to genetically modify living beings.
I feel a possible explanation for this disregard for wild nature as a lifeforce (rather than just so-called supplies available for human projects) could be the left’s fixation on reductionism. In the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment glorified the importance of rational, scientific analysis as a way to free man from any residual pagan spirituality, superstition or nature-based spirituality passed on from savage native ancestry. The Age of Enlightenment normalized the analyzing, classifying, and taming of anything or anyone considered wild and dangeorous – reducing them to concepts defined by an anthropocentric, euro-centric view of the world. This attempt to control chaos manifests in processes that over-simplify the infinitely complex nature of living beings. When authoritarians are desperate to secure social power, they manufacture deception through disinformation. This reduces the complexity of a circumstance to a perception of reality within their means of control. This then allows them the ability to control narratives and therefore institutionally enforce their version of reality. Over time, a dichotomy between peacefully civilized and savage wild nature is constructed in order to create fear, and therefore justify state power and penalization of anyone who fails to comply with civilizing standards of behavior.
This dichotomy puts into perspective an understanding of why even within radical politics, environmentalism and animal liberation are treated as trivial to the struggle for human freedom. The reductionism isn’t only used for manufacturing fear and co-dependency on the state; it limits one’s perception of reality to a controlled narrative. Industrial society would have us all believe that humans are superior, and that (non-human) animals aren’t capable of feeling pain and suffering.
But whether leftists want to deny agency to the wild or not, impact from human supremacist practices is still evident. Large groups of people that occupy wild spaces or remain settled long-term inevitably disrupt the natural balances of life and death within eco-systems. In order to accommodate the demands of a dense population of people living permanently in one place, parts of the flora and fauna are used up quicker than their fertility cycles can replenish them. The same goes for so-called socially ecological land projects. Once resources to maintain such things are used up locally, the extraction and transportation of resources from other places become necessary. Imagine the difference between one (or even a small group of nomadic individuals) foraging from an area, and a society of people who forage from an area on a permanant basis.
Under industrial civilization, the most common relationship to wild spaces in terms of obtaining food is agriculture (in particular monoculture) which constitutes the basis for industrial society. In an attempt to maximize food production to acccommodate mass society both so-called land and food animals are filled with a variety of chemicals that colonize and degrade biological life on a molecular level. These chemicals also seep into the ground and create toxins which then pollute rivers and oceans.
As John Zerzan mentions in his text simply titled “Agriculture”:
Artificial fertilizers and all the rest from this outlook eliminate the need for the complex life of the soil and indeed convert it into a mere instrument of production. The promise of technology is total control, a completely contrived environment that simply supersedes the natural balance of the biosphere.
The ecological destruction caused by monoculture itself with its toxic contamination of the soil, ground water, and food isn’t even the end of it. Human supremacy’s commodification of non-human animals is interwoven with agriculture. A large portion of monoculture is used as feed for non-human animals destined to become mutilated body parts sold in stores. So rather than people consuming this vegetation directly, the corpses of non-human animals are used as the source for (filtered) plant nutrition.
With cropland erosion occurring in so-called america at a rate of two billion tons of soil a year, and over one third of topsoil already permanently gone, one inevitable question remains; if agriculture – the foundation of industrial society – is itself not sustainable in any ecological sense, then how can industrial society avoid collapse?
A common response to monocropping and its ecological catastrophe of synthetic fertilizers and crop diseases are methods of food production that, while less ecological destructive, still embody human-centric control and domination over the wild. Unlike monoculture, which takes more from the earth than puts back, crop rotation for example puts nutrients back into the earth. But unlike monoculture, crop rotation requires more control and domination over the wild habitats, and is vulnerable to the chaotic nature of weather and living ecosystems. Crop rotation requires fixed conditions (soil type, topography, climate, and irrigation) and the food itself must correspond to this highly controlled environment. Any subtle change can lead to disastrous results, making it nearly impossible to predict futuristic food plans. The improper implementation of a crop rotation plan could lead to imbalances in the soil nutrient composition or even a buildup of pathogens affecting a critical crop. The consequences of faulty rotation may take years to become apparent and can take just as long to correct.
Agriculture in any form requires the control and domination of the earth. Even alternatives to monoculture still embody a human supremacist authority and management of the wild. As Ria Del Montana, a veganic anthropologist once said;
Alternatives to monoculture are welfarist civ – lesser of two evils at best. All agriculture removes wild animals from their homes, and diconnects humans from their wild essence, giving us an ethos of superiority over all, the ethos driving our dominance, throwing thriving wild communities into escalating out-of-balance conditions, bounding all toward a collective walk off a cliff.
Industrial society – whether run by capitalists or communists – can’t function without the individualized surrender to a collective workforce. A collective workforce becomes neccessary when natural resource extraction exceeds the quantity needed by a single or a small group of individuals. Large populations of people living in permanant settlements require the organized control and domination over land – the space understood outside of anthropocentrism as wild life existing in a variety of eco-systems in balance with one another.
Death March into Oblivion
I can imagine a couple possible reasons why industrial collapse doesn’t cross the minds of many. One reason could be the socialized mentality of immortality driven by human supremacist arrogance. There are many people today – including leftists – who continue to put faith in science and technology as the saviors of life, and as a primary response to ecological disasters. At the root of this unwaivering faith is a refusal to acknowledge how science and technology have re-defined life by securing human-centric control over the wild. Science and technology, regardless of their greening, continue to be the alphabet of industrialization – expanding power and influence through a language of increased alienation and ecological extinction. From military empowerment through the expansive production of weapons of mass destruction, to the tireless gaze of increased State surveillance over the population, science and technology never sleep. And as industrialization continues to absorb what remains of the wild world, the relationship to wildness erodes on both an individual and societal level.
For many, another reason industrial collapse is considered undesirable is due to an insatiable greed born from a capitalist mindset. Simply put, without the infrastructure that supports corporate power, corporations – and those running them – lose protection. Therefore corporations must allocate resources as best as possible in the interest of preserving the money-making machine.
In both cases, there is a misguided perception that all things are infinite – simply because through industrialization, every living being is commodified. And so this leads to the perception of life as some thing that can be manufactured, produced, or recycled. The death of living beings is reduced to the triviality of a statistic and at best viewed as simply the result of some systemic design flaw. Solutions in the form of broad-stroke applications are debated in the political arena with very little critical examination of the root causes of these deaths.
The project of industrial civilization was designed with the futurist illusion of permanance. The imaginary designations of next week and tomorrow are driven by a powerful faith in futurism, leaving the embrace of life moment by moment to be lost in the white noise of planning for a place that only exists in the mind. This powerful illusion entitles human supremacy to control and dominate with a narrow, linear goal of production, profit, and expansion. Only when this perception of reality is re-aligned by the forces of nature does the fact of death become a tragic surprise; when the civilized safety networks and illusions of immortality fail, death must be turned into a statistic in order to help dull emotional outrage and instinctual concern. Those in positions of institutional power can’t risk public exposure to the reality of just how many deaths occur under the so-called safety of industrial civilization. At least in part, this is due to the possibility that people may begin to ask questions that jeopardize the State’s overall ability to control and restrain the chaotic nature of conflict.
Today, Artificial Intelligence is a new and desperate attempt to re-direct focus and preserve the industrial machine by giving it a personality with the illusion of sentience. All of its military and State surveillance applications aside, perhaps the authoritarians are after what’s considered the most important piece of social control: trust. Like the trust of a consumer who rides as a passenger of their brand new self-driving Tesla, industrial society requires faith in science, technology, and industrialization. People tend to be more trusting in the things that mirror themselves. So when technology is humanized with artificial life, programmed with a blinking and smiling face, the scientists have materialized a mirror image of the mechanical animal they’ve always envisioned people to be!
As I have mentioned before in other texts, I am convinced that the Left’s desperation to control, silence, and/or repress anarchists motivated by ecoindividualist/egoist tendencies exposes a fear similar to that of the colonizer who fears amoralist wild beings. Their deep frustration comes as a response to every failed attempt to repress their enemy – when their faith in futurism is mocked by those who set fire to the church of god and science. It is no surprise that anarchists around the globe who utilize their individualism as a warfare strategy of unpredictable attack find compatibility with the wild ways nature ravages industrialized landscape. Weather forecast predictions won’t prevent storms of various types all over the globe from sabotaging power grids, just as the State and all its intimidation and surveillance won’t stop animal liberations from fur farms in the dead of night.
More than ever I find myself in awe of, and most compatible with, the feral types who refuse to internalize human supremacy. Their actions and communiques of armed poetry speak volumes, undermining the collectivist power that maintains industrial society and its colonial relationship to plants and non-humanized animals. And rather than work and surrender myself to the draining maintainance of capitalism (or communism for that matter), I prefer to live as a bandit as far away from contributing to this shit show as possible, while also maintaining just enough proximity to enjoy sabotaging it!
If one is to understand being wild as personal insurrection against social conformity, then at least for some, anarchy could be understood as an anti-social position against mass society and work – the communal contract of individualized servitude. Feral anarchy isn’t a new school of anarchism but rather a way of life led by adventure beyond human-centric ways of relating to others. Wild anti-authoritarians have existed long before europeons came to know and fear them, and as with many Indigenous individuals (and wild spaces), they too have been the target of colonization – suppressed or erased all together from the pages of history. But despite even the most advanced colonizing efforts of today’s techno-industrial society, many anarchists continue to become feral, existing beyond the scientific marxist stereotype, embodying the abolition of human supremacy with lifeways that liberate all animal bodies from the prison of ideology and dietary commodification.
Immersed within the raw, unmediated emotions that remain fluid with every living moment, I am unafraid of venturing into the unknown. Perhaps my life will end abruptly in a quick and sudden flash – a fatal interaction with the bullet of some guardian of law and order, or maybe a casualty of one industrialized mishap or another. Maybe I’ll live long enough to witness the panoramic view of the panicked free-fall of industrial society as survival for the population becomes more violently desperate. Either way, as I sit here today battling Covid19 for the third time, I continue to find wildness to be a way of communicating personal expression and de-colonization beyond the confines of language. I live to feel and interact with life as a colorful painting that refuses the paralysis of finality. The dead leaves of every tree around me swirl on the ground and then float up through the air – the autumn colors turn seasonal death into a visual art that decorate the forests.
Let’s be honest: when this great ship sinks, it will be celebrated by every race abolitionist who existed as an american nightmare to racial conformity. It will be cheered on by those who sabotage workplaces, and by the unforgiving hostilities that take aim at humanist indoctrination. One day, the pages of history won’t be found in books but in city streets lined with burned out cars, squatted skyscrapers, and brick buildings weakened by vines. Until then, I am an anarchist with the face of every animal who lashes out against captivity. From the flapping wings of a butterfly to the howling winds of a hurricane, I am a wild space of passion, love, and rage, a twirling dance of life in this ballroom of industrial collapse.
Special shout out to my homie Killjoy, and to Margaret Robinson, Ria Del Montana, and John Zerzan for years of inspiration, long before I even began writing.