Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Note that the site is in archived, read-only mode. You can browse and read, but posting is disabled.


+2 votes
I admit I have relatively little exposure to Primitivist theory (I've read one Jensen essay but that's it), but it seems like ever since I started getting involved in online discussions about anarchism there is a tendency for many people (especially commies and syndies) to disregard primitivists altogether, and when they are mentioned they're usually labelled as a kind of pseudo-anarchist, in the same vein as ancaps/"voluntaryists." Why is it that primitivists are so frequently labelled this way? Is this just another case of left anarchists clinging to civilization mentality or is there something about primitivism that makes it inherently un-anarchistic?

edited for tags
by (340 points)
edited by

2 Answers

0 votes
primitivism doesn't have to be anarchist which is why there are people who call themselves anarcho-primitivists, who are probably (but not necessarily) the ones being dismissed by those you're reading.
edit: my point is, it is confusing to use primitivism and anarcho-primitivism interchangeably, as you seem to do here.

generally people (commies and certain red anarchists) who are strongly focused on workers are so because they think that is what is required to make significant change in the world. so to them anyone who is not focused on that is not thinking seriously or realistically about what needs to happen, or "how the world works".

tl/dr: depends on how you define anarchism.
by (53.1k points)
edited by
Yer right, dot, i'd put the apostrophe after the s on its',... and before the s in it's, it is.

Did I go all serious?  I think you go me confused.

I can't control what my teacher said in my adolescence, AF, I just parrot the words to get the grade,...

maybe you would, but you didn't. twice... and its with an apostrophe after the s wouldn't be correct either, except in really rare circumstances.

why am i still talking about this? when did the rabbit hole grab me?!?!

i'd like to get back to the reality grid....
ba@; its all your's! :-)

but, yes, it would be nice to see a response to your questions.
re the grammar/spelling discussion:

maybe primitivists do have something with the whole "symbolic language" thing.

0 votes

I see primitivism as opposition  to civilization/technology and nothing more, which is why primitivists tend to accept the pejorative title for their way of thinking as "primitive". I think that this opposition is necessary if anarchists are to talk about "society" as a whole, or ways to live independent of a system. There are just about a million ways that many of the mechanisms of civilization could hypothetical be maintained without the state (like electricity), but creating these things requires the use of a factory and coordinated labor, and those with an individualist bent tend to have a problem with large scale society and centralized coordination. I don't feel like living in mass society makes one feel very human.

i recently started reading a book i had picked up many years ago at a thrift store, "the human zoo" by desmond morris (a zoologist by trade). i glanced at bits of several chapters, and then just started it from the beginning when i saw some potentially interesting stuff.

basic premise (from what i gather so far, in my own words): humans are biologically/genetically not prepared to (be forced to) live in cities (civilization) - it happened far too quickly for normal evolution and adaptation. as such, the behavior exhibited by humans in such conditions is almost exactly like what is seen in wild animals forced to live in captivity (zoos).

it is an interesting read so far, though i suspect the author ultimately will come to very different conclusions about civilization than i myself do. he surely sees civ as hugely problematic for the human animal, at least in terms of how it came about and was so rapidly developed and imposed. but my guess is he takes a thoroughly reformist perspective on what that means.

i suspect many primitivists (and others interested in anthropology) may be familiar with this book.

[aside: some familiar with the green anarchy mag in the mid-00's might recognize the older man in the cover picture from the cover of an old ga - upside down. at least it sure looks like him to me.]
definetly a book i would like, there's enough scientific study of the needs of the human body (the muscular requirements/build that cannot be met by general civ behaviors) that pretty much prove exactly that, we are not meant to live like this and it's difficult as hell to get out of these habits "we've" created!

actually, when i (re)read the first sentence of your answer, i have to point out that one of the key differences in my experience between primitivism and a more general anti-civ perspective is that "anti-civ" is a critique, while primitivists i have known (while having a similar critique) tend to be a bit prescriptive about how humans "should" live. 

i myself need or want no prescriptions for a post-civ world.

'...while primitivists i have known (while having a similar critique) tend to be a bit prescriptive about how humans "should" live.'

right. the code of hammurabi tagged with black and green paint and/or a 'solution' using civilized, all-too-civilized means/ends modeling (aka, a conclusion following a string of abstract premises). a classic case of einstein's warning: 'we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.'

alas...fear and the belief in hope seems to run so deep in so many.

edit for correction.

thanks for your comment on that funky, i haven't really been able to make clear dinstinctions between the two, from what i've read of JZ he seems to say that the hunter-gatherer mode was the best way to live but admits he doesn't live anywhere close to that way and is pessimistic about going back to it, and i geuss i don't have much of a clear understanding of what primitivism  is exactly, i've read lots anti-civ/green anarchy is but i don't know if i ever hear them say "I'm a primitivist". I have very little experience with comminities in general that proclaim themselves anarchist, it seems to be something that can only be found in cities with a firm root in radical leftist politics

lol! jz is probably not your best bet for practical information in that area. an armchair primitivist if ever there was one. and i say that with no personal malice, i know john and i like him personally. (and as i have said elsewhere, his early critique and explorations were definitely influential to me while i was finding my own perspective.) kevin tucker probably has a bit more to offer in the realm of practical living with a primitivist perspective. and i'm sure there are others even better suited. (NOT derrick jensen, i'm sure it goes without saying!)
derrick jensen is catholic as far as im concerned....