Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, alienation, and overpopulation. Anarcho-primitivists advocate a return of non-"civilized" ways of life through deindustrialization, abolition of the division of labor or specialization, and abandonment of large-scale organization technologies. Many traditional anarchists reject the critique of civilization while some, such as Wolfi Landstreicher, endorse the critique but do not consider themselves anarcho-primitivists. Anarcho-primitivists are often distinguished by their focus on the praxis of achieving a feral state of being through "rewilding".



Walden Thoreau
Walden by Henry David Thoreau, an influential early green-anarchist work

In the U.S., anarchism started to have an ecological view mainly in the writings of Henry David Thoreau. In his book Walden, he advocates simple living and self-sufficiency among natural surroundings in resistance to the advancement of industrial civilization.[1] "Many have seen in Thoreau one of the precursors of ecologism and anarcho-primitivism represented today by John Zerzan. For George Woodcock, this attitude can also be motivated by the idea of resistance to progress and the rejection of the increasing materialism that characterized North American society in the mid-19th century."[1] Zerzan himself included the text "Excursions" (1863) by Thoreau in his edited compilation of anti-civilization writings called Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections from 1999.[2]

In the late 19th century, anarchist naturism appeared as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies.[3][4] It mainly was important within individualist anarchist circles[1] in Spain,[1][3][4] France[1] and Portugal.[5] Important influences in it were Henry David Thoreau,[1] Leo Tolstoy[3] and Elisee Reclus.[6] Anarcho-naturism advocated vegetarianism, free love, nudism and an ecological world view within anarchist groups and outside them.[3]

Anarcho-naturism promoted an ecological worldview, small ecovillages, and most prominently nudism as a way to avoid the artificiality of the industrial mass society of modernity.[3] Naturist individualist anarchists saw the individual in his biological, physical and psychological aspects and avoided and tried to eliminate social determinations.[7] Their ideas were important in individualist anarchist circles in France but also in Spain where Federico Urales (pseudonym of Joan Montseny), promotes the ideas of Gravelle and Zisly in La Revista Blanca (1898–1905).[8]

This tendency was strong enough as to call the attention of the CNTFAI in Spain. Daniel Guérin, in Anarchism: From Theory to Practice, reports how "Spanish anarcho-syndicalism had long been concerned to safeguard the autonomy of what it called "affinity groups". There were many adepts of naturism and vegetarianism among its members, especially among the poor peasants of the south. Both these ways of living were considered suitable for the transformation of the human being in preparation for a stateless society. At the Zaragoza congress, the members did not forget to consider the fate of groups of naturists and nudists, "unsuited to industrialization." As these groups would be unable to supply all their own needs, the Congress anticipated that their delegates to the meetings of the Confederation of communes would be able to negotiate special economic agreements with the other agricultural and industrial communes. On the eve of a vast, bloody, social transformation, the CNT did not think it foolish to try to meet the infinitely varied aspirations of individual human beings."[9]

Recent themes

Anarchists contribute to an anti-authoritarian push, which challenges all abstract power on a fundamental level, striving for egalitarian relationships and promoting communities based upon mutual aid. Primitivists, however, extend ideas of non-domination to all life, not just human life, going beyond the traditional anarchist's analysis. Using the work of anthropologists, primitivists look at the origins of civilization so as to understand what they are up against and how current society formed in order to inform a change in direction. Inspired by the Luddites, primitivists rekindle an anti-technological orientation. Insurrectionalists do not believe in waiting for critiques to be fine-tuned, instead spontaneously attacking civilization's current institutions.

Primitivists may owe much to the Situationists and their critique of the ideas in The Society of the Spectacle and alienation from a commodity-based society. Deep ecology informs the primitivist perspective with an understanding that the well-being of all life is linked to the awareness of the inherent worth and intrinsic value of the non-human world, independent of its economic value. Primitivists see deep ecology's appreciation for the richness and diversity of life as contributing to the realization that present human interference with the non-human world is coercive and excessive.

Bioregionalists bring the perspective of living within one's bioregion, and being intimately connected to the land, water, climate, plants, animals, and general patterns of their bioregion.

Some primitivists have been influenced by the various indigenous cultures. Primitivists attempt to learn and incorporate sustainable techniques for survival and healthier ways of interacting with life. Some are also inspired by the feral subculture, where people abandon domestication and have re-integrate themselves with the wild.

Main concepts

Some anarcho-primitivists state that prior to the advent of agriculture, humans lived in small, nomadic bands which were socially, politically, and economically egalitarian. Being without hierarchy, these bands are sometimes viewed as embodying a form of anarchism.

Primitivists hold that following the emergence of agriculture the growing masses of humanity became evermore beholden to technology ("technoaddiction") [11] and abstract power structures arising from the division of labor and hierarchy. Primitivists disagree over what degree of horticulture might be present in an anarchist society, with some arguing that permaculture could have a role but others advocating a strictly hunter-gatherer subsistence.

Primitivism has drawn heavily upon cultural anthropology and archaeology. From the 1960s forward, societies once viewed as "barbaric" were reevaluated by academics, some of whom now hold that early humans lived in relative peace and prosperity in what has been called the "original affluent society". Frank Hole, an early-agriculture specialist, and Kent Flannery, a specialist in Mesoamerican civilization, have noted that, "No group on earth has more leisure time than hunters and gatherers, who spend it primarily on games, conversation and relaxing."[12] Jared Diamond, in the article "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race",[13] said hunter-gatherers practice the most successful and longest-lasting life style in human history, in contrast with agriculture, which he described as a "mess" and that it is "unclear whether we can solve it". Based on evidence that life expectancy has decreased with the adoption of agriculture, the anthropologist Mark Nathan Cohen has called for the need to revise the traditional idea that civilization represents progress in human well-being.[14]

Scholars such as Karl Polanyi and Marshall Sahlins characterized primitive societies as gift economies with "goods valued for their utility or beauty rather than cost; commodities exchanged more on the basis of need than of exchange value; distribution to the society at large without regard to labor that members have invested; labor performed without the idea of a wage in return or individual benefit, indeed largely without the notion of 'work' at all."[15]

Civilization and violence

Anarcho-primitivists view civilization as the logic, institution, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. They focus primarily on the question of origins. Civilization is seen as the underlying problem or root of oppression, and must therefore be dismantled or destroyed.

Anarcho-primitivists describe the rise of civilization as the shift over the past 10,000 years from an existence deeply connected to the web of life, to one psychologically separated from and attempting to control the rest of life. They state that prior to civilization, there generally existed ample leisure time, considerable gender equality and social equality, a non-destructive and uncontrolling approach to the natural world, the absence of organized violence, no mediating or formal institutions, and strong health and robustness. Anarcho-primitivists state that civilization inaugurated mass warfare, the subjugation of women, population growth, busy work, concepts of property, entrenched hierarchies, as well as encouraging the spread of diseases. They claim that civilization begins with and relies on an enforced renunciation of instinctual freedom and that it is impossible to reform away such a renunciation. Based on several anthropological references, they further state that hunter-gatherer societies are less susceptible to war, violence, and disease.[16][17][18]

However, some—such as Lawrence Keely—contest this, citing that many tribe-based people are more prone to violence than developed states.[19]


Anarcho-primitivists, such as John Zerzan, define domestication as "the will to dominate animals and plants", claiming that domestication is "civilization's defining basis".[20]

They also describe it as the process by which previously nomadic human populations shifted towards a sedentary or settled existence through agriculture and animal husbandry. They claim that this kind of domestication demands a totalitarian relationship with both the land and the plants and animals being domesticated. They say that whereas, in a state of wildness, all life shares and competes for resources, domestication destroys this balance. Domesticated landscape (e.g. pastoral lands/agricultural fields and, to a lesser degree, horticulture and gardening) ends the open sharing of resources; where "this was everyone's," it is now "mine." Anarcho-primitivists state that this notion of ownership laid the foundation for social hierarchy as property and power emerged. It also involved the destruction, enslavement, or assimilation of other groups of early people who did not make such a transition.

To primitivists, domestication enslaves both the domesticated species as well as the domesticators. Advances in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology allows humans to quantify and objectify themselves, until they too become commodities.

Rewilding and reconnection

For most primitivist anarchists, re-wilding and reconnecting with the earth is a life project. They state that it should not be limited to intellectual comprehension or the practice of primitive skills, but, instead, that it is a deep understanding of the pervasive ways in which we are domesticated, fractured, and dislocated from ourselves, each other, and the world. Re wilding is understood as having a physical component which involves reclaiming skills and developing methods for a sustainable co-existence, including how to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves with the plants, animals, and materials occurring naturally in our bioregions. It is also said to include the dismantling of the physical manifestations, apparatus, and infrastructure of civilization.

Re-wilding is also described as having an emotional component, which involves healing ourselves and each other from what are perceived as 10,000-year-old wounds, learning how to live together in non-hierarchical and non-oppressive communities, and de-constructing the domesticating mindset in our social patterns. To the primitivist, "rewilding includes prioritizing direct experience and passion over mediation and alienation, re-thinking every dynamic and aspect of reality, connecting with our feral fury to defend our lives and to fight for a liberated existence, developing more trust in our intuition and being more connected to our instincts, and regaining the balance that has been virtually destroyed after thousands of years of patriarchal control and domestication. Rewilding is the process of becoming uncivilized."

Consumerism and mass society

Brian Sheppard asserts that anarcho-primitivism is not a form of anarchism at all. In Anarchism vs. Primitivism he says: "In recent decades, groups of quasi-religious mystics have begun equating the primitivism they advocate (rejection of science, rationality, and technology often lumped together under a blanket term "technology") with anarchism. In reality, the two have nothing to do with each other."[21]

Andrew Flood agrees with this assertion and points out that primitivism clashes with what he identifies as the fundamental goal of anarchism: "the creation of a free mass society".[22]

Primitivists do not believe that a "mass society" can be free. They believe industry and agriculture inevitably lead to hierarchy and alienation. They argue that the division of labor that techno-industrial societies require to function force people into reliance on factories and the labor of other specialists to produce their food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities and that this dependence forces them to remain a part of this society, whether they like it or not.[23]

On the other hand, some do not think of industrialization as a coercive force, and merely advocate a primitivist lifestyle for environmental reasons.

Critique of mechanical time and symbolic culture

Some anarcho-primitivists view the shift towards an increasingly symbolic culture as highly problematic in the sense that it separates us from direct interaction. Often the response to this, by those who assume that it means that primitivists prefer to completely eliminate all forms of symbolic culture, is something to the effect of, "So, you just want to grunt?"[24]

However, typically the critique regards the problems inherent within a form of communication and comprehension that relies primarily on symbolic thought at the expense (and even exclusion) of other sensual and unmediated means of comprehension. The emphasis on the symbolic is a departure from direct experience into mediated experience in the form of language, art, number, time, etc.

Anarcho-primitivists state that symbolic culture filters our entire perception through formal and informal symbols and separates us from direct and unmediated contact with reality. It goes beyond just giving things names, and extends to having an indirect relationship with a distorted image of the world that has passed through the lens of representation. It is debatable whether humans are "hard-wired" for symbolic thought, or if it developed as a cultural change or adaptation, but, according to anarcho-primitivists, the symbolic mode of expression and understanding is limited and deceptive, and over-dependence upon it leads to objectification, alienation, and perceptual tunnel vision. Many anarcho-primitivists promote and practice getting back in touch with and rekindling dormant and/or underutilized methods of interaction and cognition, such as touch and smell, as well as experimenting with and developing unique and personal modes of comprehension and expression.

Because there are some primitivists who have extended their critique of symbolic culture to language itself, Georgetown University professor Mark Lance describes this particular theory of primitivism as "literally insane, for proper communication is necessary to create within the box a means to destroy the box."[25]

Criticism and counter-criticism

Notable critics of anarcho-primitivism include post-left anarchists Wolfi Landstreicher[26] and Jason McQuinn,[27] Ted Kaczynski (the "Unabomber"),[28] and, especially, libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin, as seen in his polemical work entitled Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism.

Wording and semantics

Activist writer Derrick Jensen's wrote in Walking on Water that he is often classified as a "Luddite" and "an anarcho-primitivist. Both of these labels fit well enough, I suppose."[29] Others, too, have designated his work with the latter term;[30][31] however, more recently, Jensen began to categorically reject the "primitivist" label, describing it as a "racist way to describe indigenous peoples." He prefers to be called "indigenist" or an "ally to the indigenous."[32]


A common criticism is of hypocrisy, i.e. that people rejecting civilization typically maintain a civilized lifestyle themselves, often while still using the very industrial technology that they oppose in order to spread their message. Jensen counters that this criticism merely resorts to an ad hominem argument, attacking individuals but not the actual validity of their beliefs.[33] He further responds that working to entirely avoid such hypocrisy is ineffective, self-serving, and a convenient misdirection of activist energies.[34] Primitivist John Zerzan admits that living with this hypocrisy is a necessary evil for continuing to contribute to the larger intellectual conversation.[35]

Glorification of indigenous societies

Wolfi Landstreicher and Jason McQuinn, post-leftists, have both criticized the romanticized exaggerations of indigenous societies and the pseudoscientific (and even mystical) appeal to nature they perceive in anarcho-primitivist ideology and deep ecology.[27][36] Zerzan has countered that the anarcho-primitivist view is not idealizing the indigenous, but rather "has been the mainstream view presented in anthropology and archeology textbooks for the past few decades. It sounds utopian, but it's now the generally accepted paradigm".[37]

Ted Kaczynski has also argued that certain anarcho-primitivists have exaggerated the short working week of primitive society. Arguing that they only examine the process of food extraction and not the processing of food, creation of fire and childcare, which adds up to over 40 hours a week.[38]

Criticism from social anarchists

Besides Murray Bookchin, many class struggle oriented and social anarchists criticize primitivism as offering "no way forwards in the struggle for a free society" and that "often its adherents end up undermining that struggle by attacking the very things, like mass organization, that are a requirement to win it".[39] Other social anarchists have also argued that abandoning technology will have dangerous consequences, pointing out that around 50% of the population of the United Kingdom requires glasses and would be left severely impaired. Radioactive waste would need to be monitored for tens of thousands of years with high-tech equipment to prevent it leaking into ecosystems, that the millions of people who need regular treatment for illnesses would die and that the removal of books, recorded music, medical equipment, central heating and sanitation would result in a rapid dropping of the quality of life. Furthermore, social anarchists contend that without advanced agriculture the Earth's surface would not be able to support billions of people, meaning that building a primitivist society would require the death of billions.[40]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Diez, Xavier Diez. "La Insumisión Voluntaria: El Anarquismo Individualista Español Durante La Dictadura Y La Segunda República (1923–1938)" [Draft Avoidance: Spanish Individualistic Anarchism During the Dictatorship and the Second Republic (1923–1938)] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 26 May 2006. Su obra más representativa es Walden, aparecida en 1854, aunque redactada entre 1845 y 1847, cuando Thoreau decide instalarse en el aislamiento de una cabaña en el bosque, y vivir en íntimo contacto con la naturaleza, en una vida de soledad y sobriedad. De esta experiencia, su filosofía trata de transmitirnos la idea que resulta necesario un retorno respetuoso a la naturaleza, y que la felicidad es sobre todo fruto de la riqueza interior y de la armonía de los individuos con el entorno natural. Muchos han visto en Thoreau a uno de los precursores del ecologismo y del anarquismo primitivista representado en la actualidad por John Zerzan. Para George Woodcock(8), esta actitud puede estar también motivada por una cierta idea de resistencia al progreso y de rechazo al materialismo creciente que caracteriza la sociedad norteamericana de mediados de siglo XIX.
    Translated: "His most representative work is Walden, published in 1854, although redacted between 1845 and 1847 when Thoreau decided to move to an isolated cabin in the woods and live in intimate contact with nature in a solitary and sober life. His philosophy, from this experience, attempts to transmit the idea that a return to respecting nature is necessary, and that happiness is, above all, a fruit of inner richness and harmony between individuals and the natural environment. Many have seen Thoreau as a precursor to ecologism and anarcho-primitism, actualized by John Zerzan. For Woodcock (8), this attitude can also be motivated by the idea of resistance to progress and the rejection of the increasing materialism that characterized North American society in the mid-19th century."
  2. ^ Zerzan, John, ed. (2005). Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections. Feral House. ISBN 0-922915-98-9.
  3. ^ a b c d e Roselló, Josep Maria. "El Naturismo Libertario (1890–1939)" [Libertarian Naturism (1890–1939)] (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Ortega, Carlos. "Anarchism, Nudism, Naturism".
  5. ^ Freire, João. "Anarchisme et naturisme au Portugal, dans les années 1920" [Anarchism and naturism in Portugal in the 1920s]. Les anarchistes du Portugal [The Anarchists of Portugal] (in French). ISBN 2-9516163-1-7.'
  6. ^ "The pioneers". Natustar. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  7. ^ "El individuo es visto en su dimensión biológica -física y psíquica- dejándose la social." (Roselló)
  8. ^ Morán, Agustín. "Los origenes del naturismo libertario" [The origins of libertarian naturism] (in Spanish).
  9. ^ Guérin, Daniel. "Anarchism: From theory to practice".
  10. ^ Barclay, Harold (1996). People Without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy. Kahn & Averill. ISBN 1-871082-16-1.
  11. ^ Boyden, Stephen Vickers (1992). "Biohistory: The interplay between human society and the biosphere, past and present". Man and the Biosphere Series. Pari: UNESCO. 8 (supplement 173). doi:10.1021/es00028a604.
  12. ^ Gowdy, John M. (1998). Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics. Island Press. p. 265. ISBN 1-55963-555-X.
  13. ^ Diamond, Jared (May 1987). "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race". Discover Magazine.
  14. ^ Nathan Cohen, Mark (1991). Health and the Rise of Civilization. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-05023-2.
  15. ^ Zerzan, John (1994). Future Primitive and Other Essays. Autonomedia. ISBN 1-57027-000-7. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  16. ^ Schultz, Emily; Lavenda, Robert. "The Consequences of Domestication and Sedentism".
  17. ^ Elman, Service (1972). The Hunters. Prentice Hall. ASIN B000JNRGPK.
  18. ^ Kelly, Robert L. (1995). The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 1-56098-465-1.
  19. ^ Keely, Lawrence (1996). War Before Civilization: the Myth of the Peaceful Savage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199880706.
  20. ^ Zerzan, John (2008). Twilight of the Machines. Feral House. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-932595-31-4.
  21. ^ Sheppard, Brian. "Anarchism vs. Primitivism".
  22. ^ Flood, Andrew (2005). "Is primitivism realistic? An anarchist reply to John Zerzan and others". Anarchist Newswire.
  23. ^ Wilson, Chris. "Against Mass Society".
  24. ^ The Green Anarchy Collective. "An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Anarchist Thought". Archived from the original on 12 December 2008.
  25. ^ Lance, Mark from lecture Anarchist Practice, Rational Democracy, and Community NCOR (2004). Audio files Archived 21 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Landstreicher, Wolfi (2007). "A Critique, Not a Program: For a Non-Primitivist Anti-Civilization Critique".
  27. ^ a b McQuinn, Jason. "Why I am not a Primitivist".
  28. ^ Kaczynski, Ted. "The Truth About Primitive Life: A Critique of Anarchoprimitivism". It seems obvious, for example, that the politically correct portrayal of hunter-gatherers is motivated in part by an impulse to construct an image of a pure and innocent world existing at the dawn of time, analogous to the Garden of Eden," and calls the evidence of the violence of hunter-gatherers "incontrovertible.
  29. ^ Jensen, Derrick (2005). Walking on Water. p. 223. ISBN 9781931498784.
  30. ^ Esbjörn-Hargens, Sean; Zimmerman, Michael E. (2009). Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World. Shambhala Publications. p. 492. ISBN 9781590304662.
  31. ^ Torres, Bob (2007). Making a Killing: The Political Economy of Animal Rights. p. 68. ISBN 9781904859673.
  32. ^ Blunt, Zoe (2011). "Uncivilized". Canadian Dimension. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  33. ^ Jensen, Derrick (2006). The Problem of Civilization. Endgame. 1. New York City: Seven Stories Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-58322-730-5.
  34. ^ Jensen, 2006, pp. 173–174: "[Although it's] vital to make lifestyle choices to mitigate damage caused by being a member of industrial civilization... to assign primary responsibility to oneself, and to focus primarily on making oneself better, is an immense copout, an abrogation of responsibility. With all the world at stake, it is self-indulgent, self-righteous, and self-important. It is also nearly ubiquitous. And it serves the interests of those in power by keeping our focus off them."
  35. ^ "Anarchy in the USA". The Guardian. London. 20 April 2001.
  36. ^ "The Network of Domination".
  37. ^ Harmon, James L., ed. (2010). "unknown+to+most" Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two. Simon and Schuster.
  38. ^ Kaczynski, Theodore (2008). The Truth About Primitive Life: A Critique of Primitivism.
  39. ^ "Civilisation, primitivism and anarchism - Andrew Flood". Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  40. ^ "Primitivism, anarcho-primitivism and anti-civilisationism - critique". 12 October 2006.


  • Kaczynski, Theodore (2008). The Road to Revolution. Xenia Editions. p. 327. ISBN 978-2-88892-065-6.

Further reading



  • Green Anarchy: An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action
  • Species Traitor: An Insurrectionary Anarcho-Primitivist Journal
  • Disorderly Conduct (journal)
  • Fifth Estate: An Anti-Authoritarian Magazine of Ideas and Action


Against His-Story, Against Leviathan

Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! is a 1983 book by Fredy Perlman, for which he is best known. It is a personal critical perspective on contemporary civilization and society. The work defined anarcho-primitivism for the first time, and was a major source of inspiration for anti-civilization perspectives in contemporary anarchism, most notably on the thought of philosopher John Zerzan. In 2006 the book was translated into French under the title Contre le Léviathan, contre sa légende and into Turkish as Er-Tarih’e Karşı, Leviathan’a Karşı.


Anarcho-naturism (also anarchist naturism and naturist anarchism) appeared in the late 19th century as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies. In many of the alternative communities established in Britain in the early 1900s, "nudism, anarchism, vegetarianism and free love were accepted as part of a politically radical way of life". In the 1920s, the inhabitants of the anarchist community at Whiteway, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, "shocked the conservative residents of the area with their shameless nudity". Mainly, it had importance within individualist anarchist circles in Spain, France, Portugal and Cuba.Anarcho-naturism advocates vegetarianism, free love, nudism, hiking and an ecological world view within anarchist groups and outside them. Anarcho-naturism also promotes an ecological worldview, small ecovillages, and most prominently nudism as a way to avoid the artificiality of the industrial mass society of modernity. Naturist individualist anarchists see the individual in their biological, physical and psychological aspects and try to eliminate social determinations.

Economic ideology

An economic ideology distinguishes itself from economic theory in being normative rather than just explanatory in its approach. It expresses a perspective on the way an economy should run and to what end, whereas the aim of economic theories is to create accurate explanatory models. However the two are closely interrelated as underlying economic ideology influences the methodology and theory employed in analysis. The diverse ideology and methodology of the 74 Nobel laureates in economics speaks to such interrelation.A good way of discerning whether an ideology can be classified an economic ideology is to query if it inherently takes a specific and detailed economic standpoint.

Furthermore, economic ideology is distinct from an economic system that it supports, such as a capitalist ideology, to the extent that explaining an economic system (positive economics) is distinct from advocating it (normative economics). The theory of economic ideology explains its occurrence, evolution, and relation to an economy

Future Primitive and Other Essays

Future Primitive and Other Essays is a collection of essays by anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan published by Autonomedia in 1994. The book became the subject of increasing interest after Zerzan and his beliefs rose to fame in the aftermath of the trial of fellow thinker Theodore Kaczynski and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle. It was republished in 1996 by Semiotext(e), and has since been translated into French (1998), Turkish (2000), Spanish (2001), and Catalan (2002). As is the case with Zerzan's previous collection of essays, Elements of Refusal, Future Primitive is regarded by Anarcho-Primitivists and technophobes as an underground classic.

Gift economy

A gift economy, gift culture, or gift exchange is a mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This exchange contrasts with a barter economy or a market economy, where goods and services are primarily exchanged for value received. Social norms and custom govern gift exchange. Gifts are not given in an explicit exchange of goods or services for money or some other commodity.The nature of gift economies forms the subject of a foundational debate in anthropology. Anthropological research into gift economies began with Bronisław Malinowski's description of the Kula ring in the Trobriand Islands during World War I. The Kula trade appeared to be gift-like since Trobrianders would travel great distances over dangerous seas to give what were considered valuable objects without any guarantee of a return. Malinowski's debate with the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss quickly established the complexity of "gift exchange" and introduced a series of technical terms such as reciprocity, inalienable possessions, and presentation to distinguish between the different forms of exchange.According to anthropologists Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, it is the unsettled relationship between market and non-market exchange that attracts the most attention. Gift economies are said, by some, to build communities, with the market serving as an acid on those relationships.Gift exchange is distinguished from other forms of exchange by a number of principles, such as the form of property rights governing the articles exchanged; whether gifting forms a distinct "sphere of exchange" that can be characterized as an "economic system"; and the character of the social relationship that the gift exchange establishes. Gift ideology in highly commercialized societies differs from the "prestations" typical of non-market societies. Gift economies must also be differentiated from several closely related phenomena, such as common property regimes and the exchange of non-commodified labour.

Green Anarchist

The Green Anarchist, established in 1984 in the UK, was a magazine advocating green anarchism: an explicit fusion of libertarian socialist and ecological thinking.

Green Anarchy

Green Anarchy was a magazine published by a collective located in Eugene, Oregon. The magazine's focus was primitivism, post-left anarchy, radical environmentalism, African American struggles, anarchist resistance, indigenous resistance, earth and animal liberation, anti-capitalism and supporting political prisoners. It had a circulation of 8,000, partly in prisons, the prison subscribers given free copies of each issue as stated in the magazine. Green Anarchy was started in 2000 and in 2009 the Green Anarchy website shut down, leaving a final, brief message about the cessation of the magazine's publication.

The subtitle of the magazine is "An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action".

Back issues are still available from their address.

Author John Zerzan was one of the publication's editors.In 2002, the magazine has presented the Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski as a prisoner of war and published one of his texts entitled "Hit where it hurts".

Green anarchism

Green anarchism (or eco-anarchism) is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. A green anarchist theory is normally one that extends anarchist ideology beyond a critique of human interactions, and includes a critique of the interactions between humans and non-humans as well. This often culminates in an anarchist revolutionary praxis that is not merely dedicated to human liberation, but also to some form of nonhuman liberation, and that aims to bring about an environmentally sustainable anarchist society.

Important early influences were Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy and Élisée Reclus. In the late 19th century there emerged anarcho-naturism as the fusion of anarchism and naturist philosophies within individualist anarchist circles in France, Spain, Cuba, and Portugal. Important contemporary currents (some of which may be mutually exclusive) include anarcho-primitivism, which offers a critique of technology and argues that anarchism is best suited to uncivilised ways of life, Green syndicalism, a Green anarcho-socialist political stance made up of anarcho-syndicalist views, and veganarchism: which argues that human liberation and animal liberation are inseparable; and social ecology, which argues that the hierarchical domination of nature by human stems from the hierarchical domination of human by human.

Humanistic naturalism

Humanistic naturalism is the branch of philosophical naturalism wherein human beings are best able to control and understand the world through use of the scientific method, combined with the social and ethical values of humanism. Concepts of spirituality, intuition, and metaphysics are considered subjectively valuable only, primarily because they are unfalsifiable, and therefore can never progress beyond the realm of personal opinion. A boundary is not drawn between nature and what lies "beyond" nature; everything is regarded as a result of explainable processes within nature, with nothing lying outside it.The belief is that all living things are intricate extensions of nature, and therefore deserve some degree of mutual respect from human beings. Naturalists accept the need for adaptation to current change, however it may be, and also that life must feed upon life for survival. However, they also recognize the necessity for a fair exchange of resources between all species. Humanistic naturalists are generally concerned with the ethical aspects of "worldview naturalism."Industry and technology are sometimes regarded as enemies to naturalism, but this is not always the case. For those who do believe in such threats, the thought is that the majority of human history, societies were largely agricultural and hunter-gatherer and lived in relative harmony and balance with nature. With the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, some humanistic naturalists see this balance as being increasingly threatened. This view has some similarities with anarcho-primitivism and other anti-modernist perspectives.

Invariance (magazine)

This article is about the communist magazine; for the mathematical magazine, see The Invariant. For other uses of the term 'Invariant', see Invariant.Invariance is a French magazine edited by Jacques Camatte, published since 1968.

It emerged from the Italian left-communist tradition associated with Amadeo Bordiga and it originally bore the subtitle "Invariance of the theory of the proletariat", indicating Bordiga's notion of the unchanging nature of communist theory. However it soon broke with many of the tenets of Bordigism and Marxism per se, arguing that in the aftermath of May '68 there was no longer any potential for the working class to escape the domination of capital through revolution. Instead it began to take the line that humanity itself had become "domesticated" by the rule of capital and the only solution was to "leave this world", a view which came to influence Fredy Perlman, John Zerzan and others in their development of Anarcho-primitivism. It was this radical shift in orientation which caused many of its critics to observe: "nothing varies more than Invariance ".

Invariance is now in its fifth series and appears sporadically. Every cover features the same image of a tree (held to represent that "all is life"), and on the back the phrase: "Time is the invention of men incapable of love".

John Moore (anarchist)

John Moore (1957 – 27 October 2002) was a British anarchist author, teacher, and organiser.

A member of the Anarchist Research Group in London in the 1980s, he was one of the main theorists of the pro-Situ anarchism of the 1990s (most commonly associated with Hakim Bey), and was attracted to anarcho-primitivism in particular; his best-known work is the essay "A Primitivist Primer." Despite the heavy influence of theorist Fredy Perlman, Moore later turned to theorists of language and subjectivity, such as Julia Kristeva, Friedrich Nietzsche and Max Stirner.


The Luddites were a secret oath-based organization of English textile workers in the 19th century, a radical faction of which destroyed textile machinery as a form of protest. The group was protesting against the use of machinery in a "fraudulent and deceitful manner" to get around standard labour practices. Luddites feared that the time spent learning the skills of their craft would go to waste, as machines would replace their role in the industry. It is a misconception that the Luddites protested against the machinery itself in an attempt to halt the progress of technology. Over time, however, the term has come to mean one opposed to industrialisation, automation, computerisation, or new technologies in general. The Luddite movement began in Nottingham at a time in England when voting was reserved for a grammar-schooled elite representing a mere three percent of the total population. Lack of suffrage together with oppressive laws from Parliament culminated in a region-wide rebellion that lasted from 1811 to 1816. Mill and factory owners took to shooting protesters and eventually the movement was suppressed with legal and military force.


MOVE is a black liberation group founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by John Africa (born Vincent Leaphart) in 1972 and Donald Glassey, a social worker from the University of Pennsylvania. The name is not an acronym. The group lived in a communal setting in West Philadelphia, abiding by philosophies of anarcho-primitivism. The group combined revolutionary ideology, similar to that of the Black Panthers, with work for animal rights.

The group is particularly known for two major conflicts with the Philadelphia Police Department. In 1978, a standoff resulted in the death of one police officer, injuries to several other people, and life sentences for nine members who were convicted of killing the officer.

In 1985, another confrontation ended when a police helicopter dropped a bomb on the MOVE compound, a row house in the middle of the 6200 block of Osage Avenue. The resulting fire killed eleven MOVE members, including five children, and destroyed 65 houses in the neighborhood. The survivors later filed a civil suit against the city and the police department, and were awarded $1.5 million in a 1996 settlement.


Neo-Luddism or new Luddism is a philosophy opposing many forms of modern technology. The word Luddite is generally used as a derogatory term applied to people showing technophobic leanings. The name is based on the historical legacy of the English Luddites, who were active between 1811 and 1816.Neo-Luddism is a leaderless movement of non-affiliated groups who resist modern technologies and dictate a return of some or all technologies to a more primitive level. Neo-Luddites are characterized by one or more of the following practices: passively abandoning the use of technology, harming those who produce technology harmful to the environment, advocating simple living, or sabotaging technology. The modern neo-Luddite movement has connections with the anti-globalization movement, anti-science movement, anarcho-primitivism, radical environmentalism, and deep ecology.Neo-Luddism is based on the concern of the technological impact on individuals, their communities, and/or the environment, Neo-Luddism stipulates the use of the precautionary principle for all new technologies, insisting that technologies be proven safe before adoption, due to the unknown effects that new technologies might inspire.


This article concerns the sociological concept of neotribalism and not the reemergence of ethnic identities that followed the end of the Cold War.Neotribalism (a.k.a. neo-tribalism and modern tribalism) is a sociological concept which postulates that human beings have evolved to live in tribal society, as opposed to mass society, and thus will naturally form social networks constituting new "tribes".

Primitive communism

Primitive communism is a concept originating from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels who argued that hunter-gatherer societies were traditionally based on egalitarian social relations and common ownership. A primary inspiration for both Marx and Engels were Lewis Henry Morgan's descriptions of "communism in living" as practised by the Iroquois Nation of North America. In Marx's model of socioeconomic structures, societies with primitive communism had no hierarchical social class structures or capital accumulation.Engels offered the first detailed theorization of primitive communism in 1884, with publication of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. Marx and Engels used the term more broadly than Marxists did later, and applied it not only to hunter-gatherers but also to some subsistence agriculture communities. There is also no agreement among later scholars, including Marxists, on the historical extent, or longevity, of primitive communism.

Marx and Engels also noted how capitalist accumulation latched itself onto social organizations of primitive communism. For instance, in private correspondence the same year that The Origin of the Family was published, Engels attacked European colonialism, describing the Dutch regime in Java directly organizing agricultural production and profiting from it, "on the basis of the old communistic village communities". He added that cases like the Dutch East Indies, British India and the Russian Empire showed "how today primitive communism furnishes ... the finest and broadest basis of exploitation".

Rewilding (anarchism)

Rewilding means to return to a more wild or natural state; it is the process of undoing domestication. The term emerged from green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism. The central argument is that the majority of humans have been "civilized" or "domesticated" by agrarianism and sedentary social stratification. Such a process is compared to how dogs have been domesticated from what was a common ancestor with wolves, resulting in a loss in health and vibrancy. Supporters of rewilding argue that through the process of domestication, human wildness has been altered by force.Rewilding encourages the conscious undoing of human domestication and returning to the lifeways of some indigenous human cultures. Though often associated with primitive skills and learning knowledge of wild plants and animals, it emphasizes regenerative land management techniques employed by hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists, as well as development of the senses and fostering deepening personal relationships with members of other species and the natural world. Rewilding intends to create permanently wild human cultures beyond domestication.Rewilding is considered a holistic approach to living, as opposed to specific or separate skills, practices or knowledges.

Species Traitor

Species Traitor is a sporadically published journal of insurrectionary anarcho-primitivism. It is printed as a project of Black and Green Network and edited by anarcho-primitivist writer, Kevin Tucker.ST was initially labeled as a project of the Coalition Against Civilization (CAC) and the Black and Green Network (BAG). The CAC was started towards the end of 1999 in the aftermath of the massive street protests in Eugene (Reclaim the Streets) and in Seattle (WTO) of that year. That aftermath gave a new voice and standing for green anarchist and anarcho-primitivist writers and viewpoints within both the anarchist milieu and the culture at large. Particular media attention turned to writer John Zerzan, the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, and critical views of technology. But within this media frenzy, a number of ecological minded anarchists began to draw critical lines between each other and stepped up on their own.

This was the beginning of the new wave of green anarchism which gave rise to the CAC, ST, BAG, as well as Green Anarchy (originally a U.S. distributor of the premier green anarchist journal, Green Anarchist turned into its own project and now the largest anarchist publication).

It was established in 2000 and the first issue came out in winter 2001 (currently out of print) and contained a mix of reprints and some original articles from Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan among others. Issue two came in the following year in the wake of Sept. 11 and took a major step from the first issue in becoming something of its own rather than another mouthpiece of green anarchist rhetoric. The articles took a more in depth direction opening a more analytical and critical draw between anarchy and anthropology, attacks on Reason and the Progress/linear views of human history and Future that stand at the base of the ideology of civilization. The magazine is based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.Early 2003 saw the release of Number Three which further reflected the growth of ST in both ideas and format. At just over 100 pages, this issue began to focus upon more particular issues, primarily on a critique of symbolic culture, a further look at the relationship between anarchy and anthropology, and opened up a critical look at the concept and form of revolution. Thematically this would be the establishment of what ST has been known for: the primary source for critical and analytical anarcho-primitivist critique and praxis. In seeking out the limits and failures of revolution and revolutionary thinking, the turn looked more towards insurrection, rewilding and a deeper understanding of the collapse of civilization and what that means in terms of resistance. Though containing no articles or references to the CAC, this would be the last issue published by the CAC as such. Recognizing the long overdue necessity to move beyond an unused name, the CAC was formally collapsed in 2005 to put more attention where it belonged and give Tucker more time to devote immediately towards the more important projects of the Black and Green Network and ST.Two and a half years later (Fall 2005) brought Issue No. 4, which really represents the fruition of the past years' experience and questioning. Again taking new steps in terms of presentation (now a nearly 200 page book) and in terms of concepts, this issue gave a more complete merging of what No. 3 was heading towards: a fusion of critical theory (looking at the relationship between sedentism and domestication with the formation of hierarchies, coercive power and its other side effects), the relationship between rewilding and resistance, delving into primitive skills and more in-depth glances at what a non-revolution, anti-civilization resistance might look or aim at, attempts to rescue animal liberation from animal rights, and much more.

In 2010 activist/musician Jadis Mercado, under the stage name The Adjective Noun, released the album "Species Traitor" as an homage to the publication.

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