We Heard Screaming

By John Zerzan

Let’s assume there is nothing that hasn’t been done before. Including multiple homicide. But that seems to be a modern phenomenon and one that is now common.

1966 was a banner year for murder sprees, a break-out year ahead of its time. Although Charles Starkweather killed eleven people in Nebraska and Wyoming in 1958, it was ’66 that introduced things to come.

In that year Richard Speck stabbed eight student nurses to death in their Chicago apartment; and Charles Whitman left a suicide note, climbed a tower at the University of Texas, and shot fourteen people to death.

After a few years’ relative lull, in 1983 multiple shootings by post office workers engendered the term “going postal.” Since that year there have been 35 homicides in eleven incidents involving postal employees. A slowly rising number of workplace killings included, for example, an Atlanta office shooting in 1999: thirteen dead.

It was in the late 1990s that the term “school shootings” entered common usage. In Springfield, Oregon in 1998, Kip Kinkel gunned down his parents, then shot 24 fellow Thurston High School students, two of them fatally. More famously, in 1999 two boys at Columbine High near Denver achieved a death toll of fifteen. Several more school rampages followed, along with shootings at shopping malls, such as the nine fatalities at an Omaha mall in 2007. There were 33 killed at Virginia Tech in 2007, and twelve dead at the Fort Hood army base in Texas in 2009, on and on, including the "Batman movie" horror at a Denver suburb this summer and now the CT elementary school body count.

An even more horrific trend in very recent years involves family slaughters by a parent.

And the silence about the now-chronic death sprees speaks loudly. The pathology is too close to the question of the very nature of modern mass society. U.S. data, by the way, is increasingly duplicated in other developed and developing countries. Evidently, the more technological the society, the more likely carnage will occur. And this cuts across cultural differences by and large, underlining the importance of the technological factor.

Technology can’t be said to be the only factor, but it is very much related to what I think is the bottom-line reality behind these near-daily rampages: the disappearance of community––face-to-face community. When community is gone, or nearly so, anything can happen—and anything does happen.

As community heads to a vanishing point, social ties and human solidarity are lost, of course. Nihilistic acts, including shootings, are symptoms of the isolating emptiness of mass society. How could it be otherwise?

The antidote lies in finding a basis for a renewal of community: moving away from the technified wasteland of ever more massified and dispersed society. We must not stumble on with what passes for political dialog, a discourse that addresses almost nothing of real consequence. The shocking scandal mounts and it is past time to look at what society is fast becoming and why.



At the risk of making a banal observation, it would seem that something approaching authentic (I know that term is overused...) community would necessarily include the kinds of relationships that encourage people to notice when others are hurting emotionally as well as physically. The proliferation of so-called social media increases the quantity of contacts with a corresponding decrease of anything approaching intimacy.
Let's try to resist the temptation of declaring this latest suburban outrage extra bad because of the ages of most of the dead. We can leave that to the hypocritical liberal humanists who care nothing for the kids they prefer to drug and incarcerate...

Fuickin ahgree truie tyhayt ios Io seew wjhen my nephjew isd hurtim,n and I sity jhim down anm sasy we can talk aboiuiyt this d jhuist havew adioolecvt wiuthj peopl;e cos oiur valuies are betytyer anfd abnout quiality nopty quantiytitavely.,.,8bal;l

hey zerzan did you see that talk stephen pinker gave? i've come full circle and i'm still circlin'! http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

mother jones also had this recent article entitled "a guide to mass shootings in america"


pretty fucked up. society!

NiIhilism has nothing to do with specific actions. To imply that "shootings," in this context, is akin to nihilism or the propensity of which derived from it is as valid, and insulting, as the statement that anarchism is degradation, chaos, and disorder.

I agree with this and Zerzan is one writer I really like...I disagree with his use of Nihilism/Post-Modernism statements.

Zerzan is basically a Nihilist. Deconstructing the values that this world hold dear is one of his crafts.

Zerzan is using the word nihilist in it's most literal sense, which is also the way Nietzsche used it, Heidegger used it, and lots of other philosophers have used it. This culture is nihilistic, everything can be exchanged but nothing has any value.

I understand the definition Zerzan is using and understand the philosophical context of the term. What I take issue with is the implication that "shootings" are "nihilistic acts" or , the inverse and more damning implication, that the philosophy of nihilism, or adherents thereof, will logically lead to "shootings," especially ones in this context.

If an equivocation was attempted, again, if, then I would further take issue with the second implication that nihilism is a "symptom(s) of the isolating emptiness of mass society." Though it may be true that the latter statement, as a precedent, may lead to the antecedent of coming to a conclusion of a nihilistic epistemology or metaphysics, it would be a logical fallacy to the order of "affirming the consequent" (and, again, the latter appended response is only in the eventuality that an equivocation was attempted).

Otherwise, though there are variables that Zerzan did not take under consideration, under the circumstances, it was a pretty solid piece.

****If an equivocation was attempted, again, if, then I would further take issue with the second implication that nihilism is a "symptom(s) of the isolating emptiness of mass society." Though it may be true that the latter statement, as a precedent, may lead to the antecedent of coming to a conclusion of a nihilistic epistemology or metaphysics, the inverse would be a logical fallacy to the order of "affirming the consequent" (and, again, the latter appended response is only in the eventuality that an equivocation was attempted).

funny to see someone here angry at the association of nihilism with the spree killings. Nihilism clearly leads to such desperate acts although in the case of the idiot who thought was enacting the batman movie i think that was a case of sheer idiocy of a brain colonized by Hollywood crap.

I am not a nihilist yet i agree with most things said in this essay by Zerzan. "deconstructing values of this world" does not make one a nihilist. It just means a critical mind in action whether that person feels hope and has positive attitude or not.

No anger here, just annoyance.

Nihilism is not a proscription of action but more a rejection of motivation based on prescribed ethics or morality (in the ethical context).

One's being a nihilist does not imply that one has to or will disregard the "virtues" or application of ethics or morality or whatever else, much in the way that we, I hope I am not crossing a line by speaking generally here, do not drive our vehicles against traffic or take part in oppression mainly due to common decency and heathy co-existence.

To drive the point further, for the non-nihilists, I hope you do not participate in anti-repression campaings or subscribe to the ideals only when there is someone there to judge you, whether that judgement comes from within or others, temporal or otherwise.

Without judging your own actions, how're you supposed to decide whether they meet this standard of common decency and healthy co-existence?

The quick and simple answer is through the multitude of social contracts that we commit to, explicitly or otherwise, with ourselves, those around us, and those that will come after us.

This does not have to be connected to any universal morality or tied to an "objective" "good or evil."

I love school shootings! Anything that helps cull the herd can't be all bad. Most people are too stupid to be alive anyway. it means less consumers, less workers, less snitches, less supporters of the state and less resources being taken up for their miserable lives. I can't wait for Andre Brevik's record to be broken in North America.

lolwut? #trollololololol

I approve of this statement.

(Seems my misanthropy is showing.)

Violence works in mysterious ways. People tend to walk on eggshells for a while after these incidents. The point is that there are a lot of frustrated people in society who may act violently. We tend to ignore them because we are busy 'making a living' and we assume that social controls will keep them in line but occasionally someone throws off the chains of civility and makes someone pay for it. Are you living with a powder keg?

5% of society is a powder keg! Just look at the rise in random shootings in the last 2 years. All random mass shootings were NOT perpetrated by gay people, nor by vegans or yuppies! Mostly by solitary alienated people who during their childhood had a traumatic emotional experience without follow-up counseling. It is absurd and out of context to bring up amoralism and nihilism into this whole discussion and as stupid as playing Russian Roulette with a bolt-action rifle.

a clear case here of idiotic complex of superiority. personally i will justify a lynching of spree killers on site by a mass of understandably angry crowds present at the event.

For me ' face-to-face community' is people I interact with daily online. And its hard not to notice Zerzan hasn't had anything new or interesting to say for over a decade.

signed professor rat ( pro2rat @ twitter )

Essentially, the ruling class in capitalism cannot exist without at some point, a certain amount of labor-power to go not to the reproduction of capital itself, but into private bank accounts. When the total socially necessary labor in the entire global economy as a market value rapidly falls while those private bank accounts grow and grow, you don't have a stable system at all. It is bound to collapse in this way. If I were you, Zerzan, I would come down harder on liberals. But I'm not.

I think what is decreasing or what in theory should be decreasing is value per capita. I think the total labor value increases as a factor of population growth? Bah! What do I know?

This is early '90's shit, and it angers me beyond all ends. It seems to me that Zerzan is neither nihilistic nor anarchistic, but a walking talking dichotomy! His whole social manifesto probably originated from the book by Rachel Carsin 'Silent Spring', which was not a critique of capitalism but rather about agriculture's misuse of DDT. One could say that her work is parallel to Marx's exposé of the materialistic flaws of labor values but not about the foundation of inter-human relationships and loyalties,,,and other heathenish conceptions of anthropo-social values. Neither authors attack the actual foundation of theist christian society, its basic negative tenant of original sin, in other words liberal potential recuperation candidates!
One simple test to reveal Zerzans flaw is to confront one of his stalwart admirers with the idea of killing an animal for food. It is quickly revealed that supporter is a yuppy on salary and buys expensive vegan foods, thus in their own mind absolving them of guilt and placing them on an hierarchical pedastal of righteousness and at the same time denouncing the proletariat for butching animals, and yet supporting hunter/gatherer societies as if they are exempt, as they themselves are, from their elitist privileged judgement.
True nihilists, and I share a beer with many of them, despise Zerzans new-age idealism and say that Utopia is a gay fantasy.

u sexy hunney.

I'm tall and dark haired, I speak my mind, I don't take orders! If you think that's sexy, well so be it, but I'm just me, nothing more, nothing less. I don't kiss on the first date!

I do. I sure don't fuck on the first, but I do kiss and I let her/him jerk me off too. It's not moralism it's caution, brah!

Happy to hear there are still amoralists in this god forsaken global totalitarian staidness of a fucking world! I'm the quiet shy type, but amoral behind what seems like moral prudishness. You can find me on cupid under the name-- whore masquerading as nun, enjoy!

PS, Let's tear down this christian moral hegemony over Xmas with an orgy in the stable of our belovable little savior!

No thank you.

Rejection is humbling, thankyou. Rather let the stable become the foundation of anarchist revolt, anarchists being irreligionist?

What's your fantasy?

The global kissing and hugging of ones neighbour and the dissolution of state borders, the melting of misiles into plows and implements for food production, etc,,,just the general sensitive sort of stuff we hide beneath our calloused identity exoskeleton which is heavily armed with rhetoric and vitriol-spitting technology. Something like this I saw in a dream.

I'd rather Cruise a Gay Utopia than hang out with your homophobic mindset, Hal.

Fuckin' drunk ass passive "nihilists"

Say it how you feel bravo out in the open the can of worms <3 it don't get ass raped no gender or sexuality just motives in our reality, get over it

Wow...looks like someone has never read Zerzan or does't understand him. To dismiss his ideas as warmed over Rachel Carson is ludicrous. Your imaginary test for falsiiability is even crazier. Zerzan has never advocated vegetarianism. And your appeal to "true nihilists" (whoever they are) is just the old No True Scotsman logical fallacy. The idiocy on this forum is astounding sometimes.

Contrary to your opinion not all vegans are salaried yuppies and I doubt that you know any 'true nihilists' either, as you clearly are;
a) obviously still breathing
b) a cunt of the first order.

Zerzan is right but his reasoning doesn’t quite get to the bottom of it. That is, he says;

“Technology can’t be said to be the only factor, but it is very much related to what I think is the bottom-line reality behind these near-daily rampages: the disappearance of community––face-to-face community. When community is gone, or nearly so, anything can happen—and anything does happen.

Go back for a moment, to the divisions between Mach [and Poincaré, Nietzsche, Bohm, Schrödinger] and ‘the rest of the scientific establishment'. The divide is between the former [who have been called ‘relationists’ or ‘relational theorists’ or ‘believers that space is relational as in a ‘web-of-life’], and the latter who believe that world is a fixed space and time box populated by local, indepenently-existing 'things-in-themselves'. The latter is the operative view of the socio-political 'scientific' establishment who basically called the Machean views ‘heresy’ [as Mach said, what emerged in the early 1900s was ‘the Church of Physics’ which might as well be called ‘the Church of Science’].

Does anyone who has looked into this really believe it has ‘nothing to do’ with what is going on in Western society today? There are troubles ‘on the res’ but does this breakdown in Western society look like something that is going to happen in the aboriginal culture, where the basic worldview agrees with that of the ‘relationists’ like Mach? If one believes that one is included in the ‘web-of-life’, where there is a problem, conflict, alienation, the problem is necessarily seen as residing in ‘relations’ in the ‘community’. The community IS ‘relations’, it is not a collection of local independently existing ‘things-in-themselves’ with their own locally originating, internal process driven and directed behaviour, ... a mental model that leaves us no choice but to look for the answer to weird individual behaviour ‘inside the individual’.

And that is what is all over the news. It starts with ‘more people are having mental disorders’. Why is that, I wonder, could it have anything to do with ‘culture’? So, the answer is obviously to get better at early detection and monitoring of ‘mental disorders’, combined with more gun controls.

How stupid is that? It is the stupidity of those who cannot accept, acknowledge that the intellectual foundations of the colonizing culture are unnatural and fucked up and the source of massive, intensifying dysfunction.

But no, it is easier to say that people who come to hate the society they live in are ‘defects’, ‘losers’, ‘nut-cases’, ‘dregs in the gene-pool’. They are certainly not viewed as ‘miner’s canaries’, but they should be.

Zerzan is right about the ‘face-to-face’ but it is not that, exactly, it is Mach’s principle whereby “the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants”. Space is relational. How does this relate? Tell me how harmony is sustained in the flow of the freeway. It is not so simple. You will right away get into the subtleties of ‘positive causality’ and ‘negative causality’. It crops up in medicine and the establishment hasn’t ‘cottoned on to it yet’ but loners within the medical establishment have, like those who work on ‘causality’ that derives from ‘deficiency’, ‘causality with a negative sign’ as some researchers have said. This is not a non-sequitur, it is going right to the problem with ‘community’ as in our evolving Western culture community and to the obscenities it is hatching.

Here’s what one medical research team that was reflecting on philosophical issues [who does that anymore?] said;

“The evidence from disease would have led sooner to a conception of these food constituents and their functions but for a not unnatural bias in thought. It is difficult to implant the idea of disease as due to deficiency. Disease is so generally associated with positive agents — the parasite, the toxin, the materies morbi— that the thought of the pathologist turns naturally to such positive associations and seems to believe with difficulty in causation prefixed by a minus sign.” — Medical Research Committee, Report on the present state of knowledge concerning accessory food factors (vitamines), Special Report No. 38, London, H.M.S.O, 1919. Cited in ‘The Germ Theory, Beriberi, and the Deficiency Theory of Disease’ by K. Codell Carter

How about in 'society'? Do we have a choice between looking at a problem as being due to a 'pathogen' [positive causality] and being due to a relational deficiency [negative causality]? Of course we fucking do!

‘Negative causality’ is where the relational space opens up possibility for something to assert into. Taking anti-biotics opens up relational space for the proliferation of ‘C. difficle’ which leads to thousands of deaths every year from the associated ‘colitis’. As with vitamin deficiencies, it constitutes ‘negative causality’. But most people, even scientists will say that ‘C. difficile is a virulent and lethal pathogen’ that is the cause of death by colitis.

They are full of shit! The CDC is full of shit! But maybe that is too much of a compliment since ‘shit’, ‘good shit’ [rebalancing digestive tract flora with ‘fecal transplant’] is the remedy for so-called ‘C. difficile’ infection.

No, I haven’t drifted off the thread. Think about the flow of traffic in the freeway, and think about ‘negative causation’. It isn’t all about ‘what we do’ or more formally ‘what things-in-themselves do’ [the popular Western view of how the world works] that is the major shaper of dynamic in the flow of the freeway, it is ‘what we don’t do’ in relational terms. If someone has a blowout or for some reason is wobbling all over, we open up space for them, ‘relationally’, and this is negative causation. It saves lives. It cultivates continuous harmonious flow. It is the source of ‘resilience’ in the dynamics of collectives.

But guess what. Negative causality cannot be captured in terms of intellectual theory/logic. The only thing that can be captured in intellectual theory/logic is positive causality which governs ‘what we do’, what a collection of people are going to do in an assertive sense.

What does THAT mean? It means that when you shift the source of direction ‘up a hierarchy’ you can only shift up directions in ‘positive causal terms’, because the negative causal influence can only operate through real physical participation.

So guess what is happening in our society, particularly with the continuing technological advances in communications and the increasing use of communications in directing and organizing dynamical behaviours. Negative causality is being ‘left behind’. It can only happen ‘where the rubber meets the road’. The more the direction of behaviour shifts to remote sourcing, the more that negative causality is lost [you CANNOT transmit it remotely] and positive causality becomes hyperdominant. The machine-mode is the ‘purely and solely’ positive causality mode. The organic dynamic mode is rich in negative causality.

So Zerzan is right, but he doesn’t get into the nuts and bolts of why. He just blames ‘technology’. But it is NOT technology per se, it is the growing division between ‘authority’ and ‘responsibility’. Can’t you see it happening???? It is the deeping chasm between the ‘managerial classes’ [authoritarian source of direction] and the ‘working classes’ [responsibility for operationalizing the authoritarian mission, vision, goals and objectives].

In a ground level organization, negative causality predominates. a vertical hierarchy can only employ positive causality, and what negative causality contributes is an important gift that is meanwhile being drummed out of the system as regulatory direction from the ‘authorities’ to the ‘responsibles’ increases.

Now, what does it ‘feel like’ to be part of a collective that works together to ‘open up space’ for someone who is having difficulty? In other words, ‘what does negative causality ‘feel like’’. It feels good. It feels like ‘community’; i.e. it makes us feel like being part of community, the strand in the common relational web.

Next question, what does it feel like to be unable to access any ‘negative causality’? What does it feel like to be ‘starved’ of negative causality and become pure ‘positive causality’, a local, independently-existing material system with its own locally originating, internal process driven and directed behaviour? What does it feel like to be in a community/situation where the system is making you into a ‘robot’? Wouldn’t you ‘hate’ such a community? Wouldn’t you want to say; ‘screw you community’, ... if you want to make me into a robot, i’ll fuck you and your plans.

Oh, yes, at that point they’ll send the psychologists out to visit with you. They will say that ‘YOU have a problem, a mental disorder’. Oh NO! there is nothing wrong with the ‘community’. We all understand that the community runs on positive causality and that we must do our duty just like the political leaders who give their lives to make this system work, and those in the military that trust the political leaders to the point of giving limb and life to try to prove their theories. Didn’t Ayn Rand settle that question about positive causality, the ‘fountainhead’, being the only way to go, a long time ago. There can’t be anything wrong with our community, it is ‘the U.S.A.’ ... it is ‘the Stars and Stripes’. We all know that that is not only ‘good stuff’, it is the best stuff in the world! Therefore it must be YOU, you defective fucking asshole, you ingrate, you miserable excuse for a human being, fuck off and die you, because once you stop acknowledging the greatness of the society you live in and turn your finger on it, you are the fucking dregs of the dregs and you don’t deserve to live.

Negative causality only occurs where the rubber meets the road. Advances in communications technology and the growth of the managerial classes clearly signals a shift of the source of direction out of the place where the rubber meets the road [where negative causality lives]. Western civilization, led by the USA is a distillation tower that is pissing away ‘negative causality’ as if it were sewage and concentrating ‘positive causality’. How well is this ‘going down’? Murder sprees are the non-subtle answer to that question.

So Zerzan is right, but he doesn’t get into the nuts and bolts of why. He just blames ‘technology’. But it is NOT technology per se, it is the growing division between ‘authority’ and ‘responsibility’. Can’t you see it happening???? It is the deeping chasm between the ‘managerial classes’ [authoritarian source of direction] and the ‘working classes’ [responsibility for operationalizing the authoritarian mission, vision, goals and objectives].

Zerzan does a lot more than 'just blaming technology' without building a case for what begets technology and what technology begets. You're making a strawman argument here. Your paragraph smacks of Marx's ideas on alienation and his embrace of technology as a tool. Yet, technology is much more than a tool. It is a framework with values and ideals already embedded into it. You clearly understand this with your Mach-inspired critiques of "the church of science", but I think you disregard technology as primary because it disrupts your slant on the philosophy of science. You and Mach'n'Gang still see technology as being the life-sustaining fruit of a properly directed philosophy of science. For instance, here is an utterly vapid statement by Poincare on the role of technology:

"...if I admire the conquests of industry, it is above all because if they free us from material cares, they will one day give to all the leisure to contemplate nature. I do not say: Science is useful, because it teaches us to construct machines. I say: Machines are useful, because in working for us, they will some day leave us more time to make science."
Henri Poincare, The Value of Science

Anyone who openly claims to 'admire the conquests of industry' because 'they will some day leave us more time to make science' is hardly going to be of interest to those who admire anarchy. The pursuit of science is about as opposite of the pursuit of anarchy as one can get! As JG Ballard said eloquently, "Science is the ultimate pornography, analytic activity whose main aim is to isolate objects or events from their contexts in time and space. This obsession with the specific activity of quantified functions is what science shares with pornography". The results of this 'ultimate pornography' will always lead to a world dominated by the conquests of industry.

The aim is not to construct a world dominated by industry so we can pursue science, which I think you and Poincare would love to see. Maybe ponder this excerpt from The Coming Insurrection which serves as a counterpunch to your relationalist philosophy of science and Poincare's admiration of technology:

There is no “clash of civilizations.” There is a clinically dead civilization kept alive by all sorts of life-support machines that spread a peculiar plague into the planet’s atmosphere. At this point it can no longer believe in a single one of its own “values”, and any affirmation of them is considered an impudent act, a provocation that should and must be taken apart, deconstructed, and returned to a state of doubt. Today Western imperialism is the imperialism of relativism, of the "it all depends on your point of view"; it’s the eye-rolling or the wounded indignation at anyone who’s stupid, primitive, or presumptuous enough to still believe in something, to affirm anything at all. You can see the dogmatism of constant questioning give its complicit wink of the eye everywhere in the universities and among the literary intelligentsias. No critique is too radical among postmodernist thinkers, as long as it maintains this total absence of certitude. A century ago, scandal was identified with any particularly unruly and raucous negation, while today it’s found in any affirmation that fails to tremble.

Never heard of Pointcare. Yes, I have said even will say, there is nothing. Period Full Stop. But is there something out there? What is "out there", not what is "out there." Or whatever, nothing, bitch, ass pussy cunt.

I'm sorry, that was uncalled for. Worker, Emile, sorry.

talk about using a ‘strawman’. here’s what poincaré says about ‘studying science’ which your cherry-picked quote that serves your purpose totally misses;

“The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. Of course I do not here speak of that beauty that strikes the senses, the beauty of qualities and appearances; not that I undervalue such beauty, far from it, but it has nothing to do with science; I mean that profounder beauty which comes from the harmonious order of the parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp.”

the problem with technology is that it is all about ‘amplifying doing’, at the expense of the ‘organic’ quality of our relational living space.

in conversations with people that cycle into and out of psychiatric hospitals, i have commonly heard statements like “they say that ‘i’m cured’, that my ‘person is cured’, but that is just a joke; i am ‘cured’ for living in this special space which is full of loving caring rituals, but the outside world is not like this. it is cold and hard and people treat me like i am a freak once they hear that i have been in here, and then i am in depression again, another suicide attempt, and back in here again.”

the fact that a teenager commits suicide does not mean that her parents have not loved her. the aboriginal that is taking to prostitution and drug addiction does not mean that native healing circle rituals no longer have the power they used to have. the primary influence in youthful, developing lives is the quality of the living space they are incubating in. the physical reality is that “the dynamics of the inhabitants are conditioning the dynamics of the habitat at the same time as the dynamics of the habitat are conditioning the dynamics of the inhabitants” [Mach’s principle].

mothers feather their nests and fill them with goodies for the incubating newbies. they make the SPACE inhabited by the incubating newbies into a nurturing SPACE so that the child can take continuing nourishment from the space it is continuously included in. why is cultivating a nurturant space NOT the natural task of ‘community’? if we focus on making the child out of strong tempered steel directed by a central intellectual processing unit programmed with social Darwinism, what will that do for the nurturance index of the shared incubating space?

the Western world view sees space as an emptiness locally populated by independent beings. The aboriginal world view sees space as a relational presence that all those that inhabit it are conditioning. The nurturance we put into the web of relations is the nurturance we take from it. as the Beatles said; ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” love is not just something that goes back and forth between two people. when people are IN love, love radiates and fills and warms the whole relational living space.

the problems we are experiencing in our society deliver symptoms that include psychological disorders, but the basic illness is rooted in a deficiency in the quality of the living space. if we don’t believe ‘space-is-relational’ and itself ‘possesses-quality’ as in a ‘strand-in-the-web’ occupancy-experiencing sense, then the problem originates in world view and associated values. like the ‘cured’ patient leaving the psychiatric hospital says, you can talk about ‘fixing the person’ all you want, but people don’t live in a vacuum, they live in a real physical relational space, and if that space starves the life and spirit out of you, instead of nurturing your body and spirit, the ‘who you are’, as blossoms forth inside a loving group that you huddle in every once in a while, doesn’t mean diddly squat. i.e. we have to fix ‘the space’.

technology is blind and senseless to the ‘quality of the relational space we live in’. it seeks to amplify the scope and efficiency of ‘what people as independent things-in-themselves do’, and in that one-sided focus, it drains the life-and-spirit nurturance-giving quality out of our youth-incubating living space.

Have you ever really read anything from Zerzan, or from any of the various sources he culls for information? It sure seems unlikely based on the walls of impenetrably dense text you put up. Your idea of "technology as amplified doing" is laughably weak and hardly warrants a response beyond "lol".

You expend too much effort steamrolling over everything with your repetitious emile-speak, so I'll try to keep this to the point in defiance of your egotistical braggadocios personality.

There is a whole section in Poincare's "The Value of Science" dedicated to the discussion of Astronomy and how it is the pinnacle of science. The section opens with basically a plea for government funding of the technology needed to carry out scientific Astronomy:

"Governments and parliaments must find that astronomy is one of the sciences which cost most dear: the least instrument costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, the least observatory costs millions."

This raises two obvious problems with Poincare:

1) He has no problem using the state to fund the activities of science
2) He acknowledges that science can't be performed without massive industrialization

How you can read Poincare and see him as one of THE figures to look to for inspiration for anarchy is quite flawed and shows how deeply you have gazed into your own navel. Any anarchist who could stomach reading philosophers of science would instantly recognize that Poincare doesn't have much to offer in regards to a critique of authority, the state, technology and a whole host of other things. What he did is point out some interesting mathematical and physical problems of his contemporary science community which in turn greatly influenced the current trajectory of science. However, you believe that Poincare, Mach'n'Gang, stand outside of "the church of science" and offered another path. They didn't for obvious reasons to me. Their critique wasn't total, but rather a desire to reform science. So science, as it is, incorporated their ideas into the mainstream and carried on. However, you maintain a belief that your heroes are not mainstream scientists, but I think they clearly are, and if you would bother to keep abreast of modern day science and theoretical physics it's possible you might recognize this.

We could play the quoting authors game, which is something you do all too much, but I have read Poincare and critiques of him. He has a few good bits of reformist critique, not much else. Like a liberal wanting to reform the state; Poincare wants to reform science. Your gleeful "science is the study of nature's harmonious order which a pure intelligence can grasp" quote from Poincare sounds like part new-age drivel, part transhumanist cyborg idolatry. These are your true colors, emile. It is clear just in how much time you spend posting on this site that you have no life outside the virtual community that exists here. If you did, you would realize how terrifically sad it is that you do what you do here. Continuing on with the above quote about the costs of performing science and justifying its costs to politicians and the state, your beloved Poincare writes:

"Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves; it is useful because it is grand; that is what we should say. It shows us how small is man's body, how great his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole of this dazzling immensity, where the body is only an obscure point, and enjoy its silent harmony. Thus we attain the consciousness of our power, and this is something which cannot cost too dear, since this consciousness of our power makes us mightier."

Truly disgusting words! The experience he writes of here can't be obtained except by investing heavily in the building of temples to Astronomy?!? You can't get this experience from any other setting? Not even in a vast desert, the ocean, canyons, or the view from a high mountain? But he continues with other horrendous bullshit about subduing nature to our scientifically derived desires:

"Today we no longer beg of nature; we command her because we have discovered certain of her secrets and shall, discover others each day. We command her in the name of laws she cannot challenge because they are hers; these laws we do not madly ask her to change, we are the first to submit to them. Nature can only be governed by obeying her."

I find it interesting that he speaks of commanding a female entity (nature) to do what a largely male entity (science) has discovered are her laws of operation. As if the man knows best how to control the "wild" female. They have tamed her. Yet, before this, they had to tame themselves with reason and rigorous scientific thought.

Before you glibly claim technology is nothing more than 'amplified doing', you must understand the trailblazer for the development of technology and the state - domestication. You and your heroes are either unwilling to engage in that discussion, or feel that there is nothing to be gained from having that discussion.

If anything our expensive instruments have cost us more than they are worth. We have exchanged sorcery and magic for telescopes and satellites. Our ancestors built the ancient world with might and magic. The shamans explored strange new worlds and boldly went where no man has gone before. Kirk said that space was the final frontier, I say that mind and space are one.

That's ok Emile but I just want to get out of Mach and causality and approach this from the point purely of sustainable technology, which has come a long way from the bronze-age and uses techniques and systems which do not require a division of labor to implement. Let's just approach one concept at a time in layman /hymyn terms to get at the crux of this denial of technology which makes up ninety percent of Zerzans critique.

Alienation is at the heart of it all. Zerzan's a broken record, but the message bears repeating. While all of the professional analysts point to a lack of gun control as the cause, the real reason for these acts is the overwhelming alienation that permeates society. Suicide and depression are at their highest this time of year, because the spectacle of joy and community is at it's most dissonant with our lived lives. The only truth can be found by rejecting representation in defense of reality.

yes, alienation is the problem, but how does it happen and how does technology contribute?

technology is used to amplify our human physical dynamics; e.g. a car amplifies our legs/mobility dynamics.

if everyone has a cell phone and email, it can open the door to your boss calling you at all hours and ordering you to do stuff, wherever you are in the world [or enable you to do it to others]. but it can also allow a group of people to spontaneously orchestrate a party, or an ‘arab spring’. topologically, these two flows are opposites; i.e. the former radiates out from a point source [one’s cup runneth over] and is a one-to-many source/male/positive-causal linear-dynamic and the latter sucks in from a central hole [one’s cup is empty] and is a many-to-one sink/female/negative-causal circle-dynamic.

while the circle feels like ‘rising to the occasion’, the line feels like;

“The capacity for self-surrender, he said, for becoming a tool, for the most unconditional and utter self-abnegation, was but the reverse side of that other power to will and to command. Commanding and obeying formed together one single principle, one indissoluble unity; he who knew how to obey knew also how to command, and conversely; the one idea was comprehended in the other, as people and leader were comprehended in one another.” -Thomas Mann

the murder-spree appears to be something like gambling addiction where, after nothing but prolonged negation of self, one becomes obsessed with getting a taste of the opposite, however one can.

technology can amplify either one of these topologies, [the ‘line’ or the (face-to-face) ‘circle’], but seems to be disproportionately amplifying the former. this is because of the Western model of community being seen as a collection of independently existing 'things-in-themselves'; i.e. 'positive cause' is the only possibility and this is a path to chronic self-abnegation at the hands of one's 'commanders'

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

What bullshit. There is nothing about "community" that is inherently positive. No one should ever forget that there are active "communities" of nazis, racists, sexists, etc, that we would absolutely oppose. Zerzan here is appealing to essentialist categories that are utter bullshit.

I agree, as a nihilist! Whatever your leanings may be, I must mention that ancient communities always had a scapegoat on which they would load all their failures and negative verdicts upon, and usually it would be the coolest most laid back non-conformist in the whole filthy community clique, who didn't fit in, wasn't a football jock, (see Columbine ). All this academia psychology when you all disregard Foucault's 'Madness and Society' or some title like that, I don't worry about specifics, just the gist of any theory, his of course introduces the arrival of the merchant christian bourgeois society which begins to replace the former feudal option of the town idiot, which is ok if one is still allowed to wander around grabbing food and taking the occasional whipping to actually being thrown in prison. One still had freedom!
Then it became an image problem, people who had no dress code, like many of the indigenous predecessors who had likewise been exterminated or evicted by the colonialists, these 'loonies' just didn't look right in their obsessential christian purity of godliness, and they didn't observe the standard sheepish work ethic, let's put them on old sailing ships, (like the Jewish scapegoat) and rid our purely Judeo-Christian merchant society of these philosophers and rebels or natural laid back dudes.
So occasionally someone, from ALIENATION, goes ballistic, I suppose if guns were not around, a sword or poison ala samurai Tarantino, it isn't the tool or technology, a rock can do alot of damage. Can we move on to more cultural reasons, there were indigenous massacres that make Columbine look like a nosebleed. Explain Zerzan! Violence is natural, it's just that it's not directed at the foe, and we can blame the education department and the state for choosing our angst and our victims, and in the end this is just about autonomy and individual sovereignty.

"I agree, as a nihilist!"

You really seem to like your -ism.

What a strange mixed bag of comments on this subject. Reading some of them I thought I must have left an anarchist site and landed somewhere else. A lot of theorising and callous and flippant remarks about what is by any measure a very tragic affair. I always thought that empathy was somewhere at the root of anarchism.

You're a righteous liberal gay politically correct utopianist!

Because the capitalist state have a term collateral damage which doesn't make back page but is about families of 200 massacred by incorrect invasive domination. How's that not newsworthy? Or the whole conquest of communities by capitalist investors whereby the people are expendable collateral damage. Save your sentimentalities and see the systemic inversion, as in what goes around comes around Taoism or whatever karma shit describes the global fuckup and complexes that produce these tragic events. It's not like a close community anywhere in the world is safe from these incursions of the capitalist geist that has infected mostly the aliented type.

I know what you mean, it is not that I am callous, but I have seen the youth of our indigenous community, almost a generation self-destruct from substance abuse, malnutrition, desease and suicide from the alienation and forlornness of being excluded from any reciprosity or justice by neo-colonialists. I mean, I feel for these people, but I am sooo used to daily tragedy that it is not really important, I don't really care because it happens in slow motion now, I can see to the future, and if someone does it all in one big flash, well,, it's just what has happened for 200 yrs on an annual basis, talking about 1 million indigenous over 100 yrs bro.

Just remember behind every one of these comments is a human heart beating that wants somebody to love them so be careful how you interpret them.

A friend to everyone is a friend to no one. Anarchy has become such a broad umbrella, it's a mile wide and an inch deep. It's not even anti-hierarchy today, only in opposition to the existing power structure, but not in principle given the selectivity (or lack thereof) of whose rights will/won't be respected or even exist. When one hears a nominal Anarchist on Tim's submedia.tv channel opining 'morality' is a dysfunctional sentiment that obscures analysis of which tactics are most effective and THAT is all Anarchists should concern themselves with, I'm reminded of the defenses relied upon by the accused at the post WWII Nuremberg trials.

Hitler found it easy to commit the most horrendous atrocities because he viewed himself as constrained by a different set of values from ordinary men...no limits except those imposed on the gods. That's the kind of megalomania found in many tyrants and Anarchists alike. Which is worse depends on whose on top, I suppose.

ALERT ! Calling in Godwin's Rule! ALERT ! Calling in Godwin's Rule! ALERT ! Calling in Godwin's Rule! ALERT ! Calling in Godwin's Rule!

Well brah, with the level of sophistication of violence comes a proportional amount of ideological management to justify it. Hiroshima sucked too.

True, concise, verging on the eloquent ;)

parents losing their children to random acts of violence are always an inherently a tragic affair. but it doesn’t always elicit outrage and empathy in the public. murder sprees are happening almost every day in Syria. the public gets bored or overloaded and when the public get bored, there is no media coverage because there are not viewers and no advertising money in it, and therefore there is no outrage and no empathy. however, the events are just as tragic to those experiencing them with or without media coverage.

if some woman who lives in the ghetto gets gang-raped, it is not newsworthy. if michelle obama gets gang-raped, that is news. that elicits outrage and empathy bigtime. if kate middleton has a tummy ache and is bothered by pranksters, that is news, that elicits outrage and empathy. as hunter s. thompson observed; “we are a nation of celebrity worshipping flag-suckers”. it’s not exactly ‘racist’ but it has the same attributes, partiality/empathy to ‘one’s own kind’ [empathic icons we relate to] over and above ‘the rest’.

if there is a dysfunction regarding ‘empathy’, it is with respect to media control in selectively arousing it in us. aren’t you feeling angry about the prank call to the hospital to inquire about kate’s health? we are being ‘manipulated’ and we pride ourselves on being ‘so human’ and full of feelings every time we shed tears for what the media is currently bringing us. the problem is not that we shouldn’t have empathy for these events the media brings to us, the problem is in the absolute lack of public attention and empathy for individual situations that deserve it. we [society] were probably at our best during the depression of the 1930s where strangers out looking for jobs/food were invited in off the street to share meals with the family. this is what zerzan is talking about, the face-to-face dynamics of community.

doesn’t anybody notice this shift of the sourcing of empathy from real-life participation in community, to media presentations? the bright zones lit up by media attention are really, really intensely bright [e.g. 9/11] while the unlit dark zones where empathy is not aroused and attention ‘goes to zero’, are getting correspondingly intensely dark.

i acknowledge the comment before mine on this topic, but wanted to doubly affirm it.

the problem is not ‘lack of empathy’ but the manipulative orchestrating of empathy in a too-trusting populace by state and media, and by the continued, technology-based shifting of attention to others' needs from face-to-face contact to televised AID specials where we get to watch our favourite celebrity performers and feel good about world tragedies. as the communications technology/transmissions get more powerful and displace face-to-face engagin, the shadow zones of zero-empathy and alienation get deeper and darker.

"if michelle obama gets gang-raped"

You are either a revolutionist with the most imaginative and creative potential for taking anti-statist scenarios to their logical conclusions , or else a twisted deviant versed in the creation of macabre and surreal events. But yes media coverage is biased.

i could have used ‘gang rape of infants’ as an example of what tweaks our emotions only that is too common and no longer newsworthy. the celebrity status is needed in the mental allusion to arouse empathy. it needn’t have been statist celebrity status. the gang rape of a celebrity-infant a ‘shirley temple’ [celebrity icon] or a celebrity’s infant would tweak the empathies. the point is that the things that arouse the most emotional disgust in the public qualify as the best way for public-haters to revenge abuse they feel they suffered from the public. this follows from the Western model of community as a collection of independent beings rather than the aboriginal model of community as an ‘ecosystem’ or interdependent relational web. in the latter view, responsibility for dysfunction belongs to the entire community and not to ‘those independent beings that develop mental ab-normalities’ and thus PUT THEMSELVES in an exclusive ‘category’ apart from ‘the normals’.

you gave two choices of where to bin ‘me’ based on my remarks, --- an anti-statist logic-extremist or a deviant. how about a realistic explorer of social dysfunction? after all, i am not proposing to ‘do’ these things. i am discussing, in a forum, that is presumably an understanding-seeking forum, how it is that our emotions are tweaked more by some things and not by others. if i were exploring the evolution of popular language, would you have me avoid the word ‘fuck’ or ‘cunt’ because these words are ‘disturbing in themselves’? does the word ‘dog’ bite?

Hey wait, was this essay posted after the recent shooting of 26 in Newtown. If so, all comments are out of context.

Wait! You mean context of sentiment, which amounts to nothing really, one may as well say simply some geographical co-ordinate. Or you mean there were combatants and these are colateral damage of a policy. Well that's a broad interpretation, because one COULD say that the neo-colonialists are at war with the indigenous, which in this case is out of context, but not in your sense of using the term.
Society and community is easier, exclusion and alienation, but also its binary, domination and conquest, mix these things up and = violence in society, basic sociology 101. You don't have to read Lorenz or Freud to know that.

Well indigenous/ colonialist is an unavoidable binary, likewise sociopathology and sociology. Cultures will construct legitimate and illegal violentistic mechanisms, and such a culture will inadvertently produce random loose canon events such as this. But remember, it will mostly construct intentional mass murder events which are called legitimate war. Any anarchist is not confused by this binary, they only wish to overthrow it

oh yeah, alienation and stuff

hey, check THIS out!


Fast becoming,? Jack the Ripper was a century ago. Columbine a decade ago. The first school shooting in the United States at least as far as I know was in 1928. This is what society became. We just see it on the level we do now because of all the problems are magnified ×7 billion.

I'm not saying that things are hopeless...I'm just saying...the holocaust was 80 yars ago. Hiroshima 80 years ago. The U.S.S.R. pushed towards modernization 90 years ago. Right now the United States government is reading my emails and I may meet my future life partner via o.k. cupid. Next year will very well see more widesoread drought and more record heat. Welcome to the future.

Only anarchists, and I emphasize ANARCHISTS, can defeat this social tendency. We have the theory sawn up, now the gap, the fissure in which to practice, because the individualists cannot avert social atrocities.

What the fuck people ... zerzan is (almost) completely full of shit and certainly has nothing useful to say on this subject. This is the kind of hippy woo-woo magical thinking that creates the reality gap when it comes to resistance. Totally dubious unstated premises like: *once upon a time, people didn't massacre each other for basically no fucking reason at all and then along came modern alienation.*

BULLSHIT. We've been cutting each others throats with gleeful enthusiasm for millennia and the only difference is guns and hydrogen bombs are much more efficient. I don't say this to be callous towards tragedy either. Only to make the pathetic hippy liberal humanists burst in to tears and run home so the grownups can have a serious discussion.

Like umm there's this Zerzan fucking 60's relic recuperation fund asking for donations using fucking potatoes as currency WTF! 21st century and peak oil was a green myth along with the notion that oil and gas are decayed prehistoric remnants when in fact they are a pressure/chemical reaction out of elemental ingredients. It's fucking everywhere, energy for a thousand years, and the capitalists want it ALL for themselves.

Do you know how to read?
Do you know ANYTHING about contemporary American social developments?

What you (and maybe Zerzan, too) don't seem to realize is that beyond the unstated premise, there is also an unknown premise of primitivism. It is a recognition that humanity has become better at the same time that it has unquestionably become worse. So the primitivist aim is not an exact return to the state of humanity 10,000 years ago, but a return to what was better then while also holding on to what is better today.

But you know what? That's not even the point. If you don't know how to recognize valuable truths that come from falses premises, separate them form those premises, and rework them according to what you believe, then you're hardly a grownup capable of a serious discussion eihther.

why do so many idealists insist on going down with the ship?

Hey look! More rambling bullshit. "Recognize valuable truths from false premises" ?!
Reworking falsity to fit what I believe?! That's maturity huh? Pretty bleak ...

You got a source for that bullshit?

Yeah, didn't think so.

^ Ageist

The problem is not masculinity that is for sure. Masculinity exists in nature.

While mass random shootings have occurred with frequency in the past couple decades violent crime* has been consistently declining in the US. Homicide levels in the USA as of 2009 were just as low as 1964 despite population increase of over 100 million.

*Of course not all violence is classified as crime, as is the case with most police on civilian violence.


The mass homocide trend is certainly accelerating. I think it follows closely with the breakdown of the extended family, especially in the US. The nuclear family became the norm after WWII and now this is degrading in some kind of sick nuclear half-life. This new maniac shot his mother in the head while she slept, methodically destroyed his computer hard drive, and then went to his mother's place of work to commit murder. In 2007 his parents divorced. He would have been around 15 and very impressionable. I think this snapped him and he blamed his mother for it. He comes across as a marginalized geek.

I'm surprised how well the luddites have picked up the net, lol. John Zerzan has a pretty gnarly server network..... This cryptoanarchist is laughing his ass off.

You're incorrect. Overall there has been no increase in mass shootings in the US since 1980.


I agree to disagree too. Here is one that supports my comment. I am used to the argumentive slant of this site BTW. I need to be very concise now and say "Mass murder in schools and institutions are slowly rising." I looked at your link too. Take a close look at the graph. The level of mass murder spike anomalies do rise on the graph from 1980 to today. I would like to also note that this link is from a blog. Another thing to think about is that I'm coming from a historical point which goes back centuries, not decades, and it involves schools and institutions.


The mass homocide trend is certainly accelerating. I think it follows closely with the breakdown of the extended family, especially in the US. The nuclear family became the norm after WWII and now this is degrading in some kind of sick nuclear half-life. This new maniac shot his mother in the head while she slept, methodically destroyed his computer hard drive, and then went to his mother's place of work to commit murder. In 2007 his parents divorced. He would have been around 15 and very impressionable. I think this snapped him and he blamed his mother for it. He comes across as a marginalized geek.

I'm surprised how well the luddites have picked up the net, lol. John Zerzan has a pretty gnarly server network..... This cryptoanarchist is laughing his ass off.

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