TOTW: Place

  • Posted on: 20 January 2020
  • By: thecollective

I have a big move ahead of me, but as of yet I’m not sure where. In figuring out where that “where” is going to be, my partner and I have talked frequently about places where we’d be more likely to encounter other anarchists. On the one hand it would be nice to be in a city with a visible anarchist presence, a change from the relatively small, sleepy place we’re in right now, but on the other those presences tend to be kind of lame, and our lived experiences over the years here have shown that you can find anarchists even in quiet places, and that the people you meet may be more interesting than the usual suspects of the milieu of the big city.

My sense is that big cities also tend to be more prepared for managing activities that disrupt the status quo, in ways that range from intentional policing to inadvertent (not the least of which is a high cost of living that keeps people working). Then again, there are likely to be benefits that come with having more than a handful of people in the room or multiple projects working together or in competition from different groups of people.

Are there places that are “better” or “worse” for anarchy? How has the place you’re living (or places you’ve lived) helped form or change your politics? How have you benefited? How have you been challenged?

Comments

"My sense is that big cities also tend to be more prepared for managing activities that disrupt the status quo"

and much better prepared for managing those disruptions. managing. controlling. city -> civil -> civilization -> control and domination.

were the status quo to be seriously interrupted, cities are the last place i'd want to be. i'd much rather be somewhere rural, where i have access to at least the raw materials needed for survival, and which might actually be defensible. cities have to import most everything, a major disruption will be much harder to deal with, especially since most in the city will be trying to re-establish "order" in some way or another. out in the rural world, folks (at least those that aren't rich) tend to be much better prepared as matter of every day life. and usually armed.

of course, if you are in a city with 15-20 trusted allies that you can actually depend on, some interesting stuff might come out of it. good luck with that.

place means so many different things. i mean, it comes up all the time in discussion of "indigenous".

"were the status quo to be seriously interrupted, cities are the last place i'd want to be. i'd much rather be somewhere rural, where i have access to at least the raw materials needed for survival"

That point is part valid to me... But on the other hand, since big cities tend to be huge factories producing these goods, sometimes in a level of diversity and richness that is unmatched, someone like me has it way easier to just dumpster/steal good poops around instead of working like a soldier on crops for a few carrots a week. There's also the fact that since I live up north, rural areas become extremely dead and depressing during wintertime, and good luck finding the goods to survive, unlike in the cities. Of course you can go primmie.. make yourself a nice shelter with fireplace and trap/hunt in the winter... that's doable but maybe not anywhere near developed areas? So, deep in the forest can be a nice place, but also very lonely... if you wanna get laid where will you go? At the racist crackers hang outs? eeeek.

But in the big city, I make a pretty good sum of money out of yuppies' or richer peoples' pockets, and spend little on food as there's plenty of it all over the place. Also limitless opportunities for mating at every corner given one has the right approach for it, and little feedback loops. Also relatively more spots where to get shelter from the weather.

But that's just me preferring to surf on the leviathan while it still walks, then when it collapses, then...

"big cities tend to be huge factories producing these goods"

really? a few community gardens are not gonna feed the millions in a city. and where exactly does the city produce the materials for creating shelter? and for providing heat? and where is all that human waste going? not to mention... water?

what, you expect every dumpster diver to have a degree in city planning?
cuz these days, at least half of them do! hyuk hyuk *drum roll* *slide whistle*

SOT, my years of experience as a professional inner and inter-city dumpster diver, in combination with several po-mo readings, gave me a far better understanding of city planning than most soulless privileged urban planning yes men out there, so thanks for your input.

They also can suck it as far as they're part of the same problem of how today's big Western cities suck so bad. Maybe that also extends to Asian big cities too.

Dude.. you're asking me to become a city planner and remake those awfully-organized big cities. Of course if I'd have that power instead of it being thrown away to a bunch of normie yes men -who just wanna have nicer condos for themselves, and maybe a yacht, who knows?- I'd design you some AWESOOOME big vertical city with a choice of tropical cascading forests inside skycrapers, high-altitude grid rooftop gardens connecting skyscrapers, underground methane plants producing gas out of people's shit and what else. And spaceships n flying cars n more willie gillie shit.

Or... I may as well reduce global population to 50 millions and find a way to remove all the concrete and asphalt everywhere and clean up all the pollution... BUT, no I ain't some socialist or eco-socialist governance.

Ooor... anti-civ. Bring down civilization gradually and from within, while still surfing on the waves of consumerism while they're still there.

On the other hand, the job I'm doing right now is BAD. Not for myself... it gets me a pretty good paycheck while having the shifts I want, and I get more respect from randos than if I was wearing a tie, including the sex appeal. Neither for those paying me for a bit of yuppie luxury bullshit. It's bad, because it's blatantly bolstering the food industry while keeping people isolated in their homes. Do I have to become a L33T hacker in order to be able to do that? Or isn't there a way to thwart the food supply at its root, instead? The secret's not exactly to really begin, but WHERE to begin.

So anticiv may not be that easy, if you want it to be more than a consciousness and sensibility. Not saying it isn't worth, but...

Provide with a strategy, please.

also, i promise you there is far more food to be found in the wild than in a city that no longer has industrial production and transportation to depend on.

"and much better prepared for managing those disruptions. managing. controlling. city -> civil -> civilization -> control and domination."

I don't agree with that... It's much easier for cops to know who's-who in smaller towns so when trouble comes around they know who to get. But in a big city with such huge, diverse pool of people that are also very mobile? Unlikely, unless if cell phones are put to full use as pocket snitches.

Now I also get that big cities also are the worst setting for bringing any sort of lasting change to the social relationship, or better... bringing people to radical living infrastructures (like land projects). Many smaller towns got that potential, even if there ain't enough radical activity to attract young people to these different worlds. Big cities are stuck in their own over-civilization, and that's why disruptions, rioting and to some extent activism have been the only successful practices of the past few decades.

So yeah... lame conclusion is that it al depends on what do you wanna achieve. If you're looking for practical collective autonomy me thinks the big city aren't the right place for you (even if like I said earlier, very good places for individual autonomy, as so many resources are available, more than in small towns... but you don't mean much as an individual in such a mass of zombies).

as i do the more nihilistic and sitrnerian. One of the issues i have with finding anarchists is i tend to disagree with a lot of their concerns, like around where i live (but not directly where i live because it's just normies and rednecks here) the anarchists tend to be really focused on white supremacists and they generally share a lot of the same points of view as radical leftists. I'm not saying i would never be friends with this type of person, but as someone who used to be a radical leftist, they tend to pressure you to think the same way as them and they see malicious enemies on a regular basis whereas i tend to try not to assume anything about anyone.

To answer the OP's question, i don't think there are many places in the US where anarchy really exist at least among people. There's plenty of anarchy i create for myself in my alone time, yet there isn't always anarchism in what i do to be honest.

If you REALLY want to move to a place that has a higher degree of anarchy and anarchists, i think your only option is to move to exarchia and help them battle the grecian state and carve out non capitalist ways of existence! The question you have in reality is not like trying to find a "good school for your kids" or something like that, it's a much deeper and more problematic dilemma.

Totally second the exarchia suggestion, Spain also seems like a good choice too. I live in a well known city that has a big leftist & antifa population and some of them identify as @'s but the vast majority of the ppl I've met have very boring politics. I'm on the sitrnerian side as well and I've become disillusioned with searching for the anarchist "community" to join. Find peace and solace within yourself and wherever you may be at on this planet, utopias don't exist outside our minds.

I think the problem with Exarkhia, perhaps until recently, was that its local anarcho and radical population definitely wasn't a very welcoming crowd to legit anarcho-travellers, while the wrong people (Erasmus kids, tankies, NGO shills, drug dealers, snitches, etc) were still having it their way.

Personally I've had much, much better time elsewhere in Greece or more widely on the Med as anarcho tourist than this messy, and at times inhospitable, area. But maybe ever since the State pigs have revealed how this soft spot wasn't really as safe as its homies thought, they might be nicer to people seeking to build an actual community there. Who knows?

"Spain"? A few areas down south, and in the mountains... but I guess you didn't do Castile, which is another of those mediocre retrograde conservative hellholes of Europe. But Andalusia, Catalunya, Andorra.. sure, why not?

What about the weather or the view? The pleasantness of the neighbors? The food?
A place not in a ticking time-bomb of disaster (or with more time on the timer)?
Choose a place that you will like and will not easily get old when you will.

That said: Run to the hills, run for your lives!
States like plains and roads and cities. But then again, how close do you want to live from a hospital?
Can you find and get a place big and cheap enough you can get the anarchists that you want in your life to come to you?

In a sleepy place/quiet place you can always make some noise, but you can never quiet the noise of a city.
High cost of living is a condition that robs you of your time, so does a long commute.

Hey it's your neighbor from downstairs. Stop with that noise, you're just being an asshole. It's annoying, and also unhealthy for you. Get a life... like somewhere outside. Just quit redirecting your suffering on those beneath you (as in, ya know... society), mkay?

quiet places don't have downstairs neighbors, and neighbors let you make noise in exchange of you letting them make noise
i got a life and you're not my neighbor

"humor" and how it works.

given a choice between a large city and a suburban area, i think the suburbs are better for diy/anarchist influenced projects. the people who live in suburbs tend not to give a shit about anything: they won't join you, but they won't manage you either (unless you mess up their lawn). and the cops don't feel as much of a need to stick their noses everywhere. cities have too many non-profits and impassioned liberals, and somehow everything gets monetized in my experience due to the pressures of costs of "operating." personally, i've had a better time doing my thing when i've lived in suburban areas. i've never tried rural life, but i should someday if only to compare.

a city with 15-20 trusted allies that you can actually depend on

I did not encounter a total of 15 to 20 people who could be depended on in the more than 33 years that I was in and around the US anarchist scene.

I don't know how to meet anarchists in the suburbs, but I can find them pretty quickly in a city. Activism is the only way I've been able to meet people who even vaguely share my politics, although I'd be happy just to have a reading group or something.

On the other hand, maybe I'm just being impatient. I've only been really trying to reach out for a bit more than a year.

so yeah you find anarchists, does that mean that they are going to help you live well this short time you have here? Not necessarily. I've actually noticed that in the general region of the country i live in anarchists in name tend to live in places with high amounts of gentrification, which means if you want to find anarchists you might have to pay very expensive rent and sign a lease.

I went to an anarchist book fair in north Carolina a long time ago because i was really enthusiastic about books i read, they were not helpful at all in terms of keeping me from having to pay for a hotel room, so anarchists will treat you like a stranger to the same extent a normal person will unless you can show them that you are the type of person they like. When i talked to someone at the book fair who was more in touch with the people there, she said that places to stay are only done on a "friend basis", and ya know i completely understand the fear of not wanting some random person to stay in your house for the night, but when anarchists can't help me avoid being a capitalist then they just aren't that useful to me in the end.

“Technology has allowed personal intimacy and connection to flourish too much, and anywhere. Now every space is a superspace, a place that might be fused together with any other.”
From this article which seems relevant and i found insightful. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/01/smartphone-has-ru...

next we'll be talking of junkspace and non-places

Lived in a city full of anarchists and insurrectionary activity. Felt good to be around a general vibe of anarchy. Though it didn’t really translate into anything and people still just had mad drama together. Very social justice and activist oriented even the insurrectos.

Moved to a much more rural place. More dispersed and radicals who’re mostly homebodies. A lot more room to theoretically discuss things and opportunities to find some everyday anarchy with neighbors. Although the surrounding community could be described as liberal libertarians.

You have to be the anarchist, not the place otherwise forget it. How long will it take for people to realise this? And it will never be on the net.

The question of "where" is skipping the more fundamental questions, like "why", and then "what".

If I'd give you away just one nice location that's got a good anarchist presence, then what would you do with it? What would that'd be for?

I tend to think there's more relevance in going to places where there's an actual *need* for (more) anarchists and especially (more) anarchist activity, than just "meet up to hang out and dine" with a local crowd, i.e. stuff you can do with ANYONE. Youngsters, students, grads especially are doing that all over the place, so you just end up adding up more of the same.

But that's fine, traveling is something you learn. Or else it's managers programming it for you. I did suck at it the first two times. Then I found a rationale for nomadism. A direction, or an orientation. Maybe a loosely defined theory. That gives meaning and character to your wanderings. Makes you meet the people you seek, anyways, because you're on a converging stream, not because someone on the internet gave you the info for free.

Wisconsin is a boring place. Especially where I live. That's why some people decided to put on a bookfair there. To make things a little more fun. Who wants to table Green Scare Anarchist Bookfair may 9th-10th? It can be quite a fun town if ya have the right guide ;)

Are non-White people equally welcome, or will they be welcomed with violence?

Above is a question addressed to "Screwball Boigurl"

The non-white people who are part of the crew hosting the event will welcome themselves, and others with violence. attak attak attak

of course you are welcome. nobody care what color you are. at this party we all equally worthless. naw, jk. really tho, come on out it'll be fun :)

I am genuinely curious how PLAs live out their daily lives that is so much different to how others (anarchists or not) live their lives? How does the life of PLA differ in reality? From what I can gather, many PLA work, pay rent, abide by the rules etc, so what is this difference in reality? Yes, we can all pontificate sat around a table but so what? Jason McQuinn comes to mind here. I have recently listened to the discussion between him and Bellamy on Free Radical Radio and all I hear is a discussion between two people who don't live any differently outside the realms of that lived by most other people. Yes, Bellamy likes us all to know he knows some fancy words, so what? I was hoping to hear how Critical Self-Theory has impacted Jason's life in the very real world of lived life in the USA but the conversation remained largely abstract! What use is that beside a philosophical chat? Or is that the point of PLA? OK, activism and placard waving amount to nowt too, so what is PLA going on about by ditching The Left? What difference has PLA made to every day life other than it being a 'tool in the toolbox' for having a dig/critique at Leftism in general?

At heart anarchy and the thinking that comes with it is about mindfulness and not being psychologically sucked into reified thought patterns. Living a Bartelby like life does not impact against this basic mindfulness. Any type of Novatore type acting in the world is simply the marginal extra. Anarchy however does not need active engagement to be manifested. It can be anything from non-hierarchical mindfulness to fellow traveling individuals who make things happen via shared anarchic interests.

"fellow traveling individuals who make things happen via shared anarchic interests"

as in, acting in the real world.

theory and philosophy are great, seriously. but if the mind is the only place one's anarchic desires are explored, i'd find that rather uninteresting.

aside from grouping a bunch of different folks into a category and asking how they live as if there is a general answer, and aside from slighting Bellamy and Jason as folks who don't meet your expectations by using unfamiliar words, or speak in terms too abstractly for you,, maybe some research and imagination might help answer your questions. Bellamy seems to be forest gardening and homesteading in order to rely less on the state/corporate/big-ag/industrial complex and their commodity prison. Id say that is quite a real difference, even quite different than most folks living in rural areas.

...someone wants to be told what to do with their life. very leftist of you.

P.S. Bellamy's vocab really isn't that difficult.

the language of most people who use 'everyday' language and so I have to wonder why people feel the need to use such 'flowery' 'academic' lingo because it doesn't engage everyday people in my experience. Jason appears to want his 'theory' to reach a wider audience? For that to happen, then such theories need to not so technical... if a person has to use technical flowery language, then I smell a rat, so to speak. Listen to how people on the street converse, it isn't Bellamy-speak is it! Zerzan is another person who just has to write in fancy language riddled with quotes! What's the point of that other than to 'impress' or hopefully gain acceptance from academia? John has some interesting stuff which everyday people would be in to but his written work is hard work, doesn't flow and today, people don't want to keep on picking up a dictionary or re-read whole paragraphs over and over.

American anti-intellectualism for the win! Dumb it down instead of smartening up. Keep people wedded to simplemindedness. Don’t worry; be happy. Use sound bytes instead of reasoned sentences (and you’d better forget about paragraphs altogether!). Heaven forbid a curious person should have to google anything.

Have you considered the possibility that maybe some people just don't want to communicate in the language of snobbery? Great job perpetuating the stereotype! I swear you academics ruin everything fun.

as is the idea that intellectual = snobbish.
people can be smart in any language, people can learn different ways of communicating, having more options is almost always a good thing.
why are you, some-anon, complaining because someone writes in a way you don't like? if it's worth it to you to understand what he says, then you'll figure out a way. if it's not, then you won't.
the idea that authors should cater to every whim of every rando is so internet/capitalist/niche market that it makes me cranky.

"Smart" is a civilized, social construct that only serves to uphold specialization. I'm not complaining about how someone writes - that was the other anon. I was just stating that academics ruin everything by upholding a binary in order to feel a sense of self-worth and value. Mastering word-magic is self-serving. Authors can do whatever they want. But they (and their defenders) shouldn't be surprised when their hyper-academic literature is found more useful as camp-fire starter than reading material.

Funny you should say that, recently I used some Baudrillard to keep me warm one existentionally bleak and frigid nocturnal inhabitation OR
I burnt a Baudrillard book in the woodburner last night it was so freakin cold.

Heildigger and Derrider make a better burning material, tho. Beautiful ORANGE flames... plus the moisture from molds makes it a longer, warmer burn. Fire's the soul of nature.

Late-'70s Disco icons Deleuze & Guattari sure make some weird flames!

Agreed, but I held back on the Foucault, and actually put my feet up and re-read some sections about medieval torture from crime and punishment whilst my toes basked in the crimson orange flames of The Perfect Crime.

PS Never heard of Heildigger, unless that was a corny satirical pun directed at my glorious savior Heidegger?

but i disagree that intellectuals suck. or do you have a better word for someone who thinks deeply about something, who commits to following ideas through, including (one hopes) acting on them as best as they can (since that's part of committing)? 'cause that's what i mean when i use "intellectual", even though i guess i wish there were a better word...

Last time I was in an academic setting was 1983. The non-fiction I read tends to be written by journalists rather than academics; my exposure to the academy is minimal. While I’ve had several comrades who’ve been involved in the academy more than I, most of my contemporaries and correspondents haven’t set foot in the ivory towers in decades. The fear/contempt of “big words” by you anti-intellectuals is totally authoritarian — you presume to know what’s true for others. ‘Murkah!

"today, people don't want to keep on picking up a dictionary or re-read whole paragraphs over and over."

yikes. the sad part is how true this statement is. no surprise the politicians, technocrats, and corporate think tanks are forever having a field day, its just too easy...

" Wage-slavery is the enemy of play, individuality, and freedom. Social systems require the subjugation of individuality to either homogenized membership or fixed group-identities in order to maintain their existence. With all social systems the formula is similar: individuality is surrendered to the group in order to be granted access to resources. Under capitalism, the wage-slave - or in Marxist terms, “the proletariat” - is an identity pre-configured with the role of reproducing capitalist society. This includes an individual surrendering their mind and body to a master in exchange for a wage that serves as the permission slip to access resources. But to the anarchist individual armed with the illegality of resource expropriation, anarchy is survival without permission.

Anarchy can not be experienced through history books, the reformation of work places nor the confines of a new societal system. Anarchy breathes with the rhythm of the wild in constant flux, ungoverned by anthropocentric laws and order. I rejoice my anarchy in the transformative abandonment of the role and identity of “the proletariat”. There is no great future revolution on the horizon to organize or wait for. There is only today, with no guarantee of tomorrow. There are no charismatic leaders to open the door to freedom. There is only the power of anarchist individuality defined by the liberating ammunition of desire."

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/flower-bomb-anarchy-the-life-and...

I've only made a big move once in my life, which was with a significant other to a much smaller town than I was used to. Here I took part in some activism and some red communists but mostly have been isolated by the sedentary small town life. I've been drawn onto the internet in pursuit of anarchists and exciting conversations but inhuman nature of the web has no doubt given me a totally warped sense of all things. To respond to the question "Are there places that are “better” or “worse” for anarchy?", for me small towns are sinkholes. I thrive on conversation, discussion and new experiences which larger and more populated places tend to provide more of. Instead I'm here killing time.

hey, chat with us at the chat!

of Jason McQuinn's work. I wonder how mindfulness and the basic income idea would enable more people to think in much more expanding ways as it would enable more people to say no to the would-be dominator... could be a gateway to the flowering of more anarchists?

That is the whole point, mindfulness being a new mode of spirituality without a church or spooks to dominate ones own psyche. This mindfulness defeats the vacuum of materialist consumerism and causes the gradual withering away of the frenzied mass demand that capitalism requires to flourish.

I haven't been following this thread closely, but now I see someone complaining about Bellamy & others using the dreaded big words and...*sigh*.

Back to the actual totw for a sec tho..., live wherever. Most people you run into on the daily will never be anarchists in the official sense of the word, so hey, why not try to learn to live anarchisticly with whomsoever you happen to be near?? Because, while most people will never be anarchists, it is also the case that most people are not cops or the equivalent.

Okay, big words. Someone else brought up the anti-intellectualism of Americans, and by extension, American anarchists. This seems true. Someone will usually counter with 'but how will you communicate with the average person if you use big words?' Wow. Just wow. Like you want to spread anarchy but you doubt the average person will own a dictionary or be able to understand nuance or complexity...? So, right away you put down the very same people you want to proselytize. And we wonder why no one cares about anarchy?
Okay, sure, in spoken communication it seems prudent to err on the side of more basic language, I tend to agree. But in writing using the word that fits, the words that say what you mean and mean what you say is crucial. And oftentimes these are the dreaded big motherfucking words. Why? Because we come into the middle of this play, and others have used these words before us and maybe, just maybe these words are appropriate, with their histories flowing out behind them.

Just sayin'

regarding the (anti)intellectual discussion:

if you are talking directly to someone(s), then clarifications can always be made/requested on the spot.

if you are talking to some abstract "audience" - meaning any kind of public speaking or published writing - then *know your audience*. if you are trying to introduce people to concepts they may not be familiar with, you might want to explain them in terms that do not require an encyclopedia on hand.

when academics/intellectuals use academic language, it just serves to reinforce the "preaching to the choir" mentality.

decide why you are saying/writing what you are, and who you want to hear/read it. then decide how to say/write it.

unless you just don't give a shit. in which case who cares.

for place to come about you really have to take it in and be part of it

Hums... shall I ask Thecollective to remove the comments related to intellectualism/anti-intellectualism, or at least should those commenters shut the fuck up and go shit somewhere else? It's like totally irrelevant to this TOTW if you haven't noticed already.

Place, the final frontier...
These are the voyages of the anarchists...
Its TOTW mission
to explore strange new worlds
to seek out new life
and end civilizations...
to boldly go where no one has gone before...

The intellectual / anti-intellectual conversation was the best part of this totw, imo.

One person's shit is another's compost, perhaps.

you should've said shitpost

missed opuntunity

@anon1.7 Obviously people have a lot to say about it - if you'd like to submit a prompt for a topic of the week it would be welcome

Chicago

'As the human realm grew and separated off from the natural, technology came to represent the manipulation and control of the world, the subordination of nature to human intentions and purposes. A self manipulates that which is outside the self. Inherent in technology is the division of the world into self and other, me and environment.

Perhaps no other technology exemplifies this division better than fire, the next great step toward separation. Like the other steps, mastery of fire came about gradually, not as a distinct, deluded human decision to choose technology instead of trusting in Nature to provide. Homo erectus probably used it without knowing how to make it for hundreds of thousands of years. Eventually fire came to define human beings as unique among animals. Its use in cooking changed the human digestive system forever. Its use for warmth and protection allowed the habitation of whole new ecosystems. Ultimately, of course, fire led to ceramics and metals, engines and factories, chemistry and electronics, and the whole edifice of the artificial modern world. But that is getting ahead of ourselves.

From the very beginning, fire reinforced the concept of a separate human realm. The circle of the campfire divided the world into two parts: the safe, domestic part, and the Wild. Here was the hearth, the center of the circle of domesticity. Here was warmth, keeping the cold world at a distance. Here was safety, keeping predators at bay. Here was light, defining a human realm but making the night beyond all the deeper, all the more alien. Outside the circle of firelight was the other, the wild, the unknown.

Today, as fire-based technology covers the globe and the lights of civilization penetrate into the planet’s few remaining dark places, we easily imagine that our conquest of the world is nearly complete: the domestication of all the wild, the bringing of the world under human control. Similarly, we imagine the light of science illuminating the few remaining mysteries of the universe, converting the unknown into the known, and subjecting the mysterious to the structures of human understanding and measurement. Consider though, that just as a campfire deepens the shadows beyond its circle of light, perhaps our science succeeds in illuminating only that which is within its purview, which we have deluded ourselves into thinking is the whole of reality, while making the vast beyond even more impenetrable. We have convinced ourselves that the world outside the campfire’s circle does not even exist, or is not important, or will succumb to light as we build the fire higher and higher, consuming in the process every available bit of fuel.

With fire, the separate human realm began to take on a new character—linearity. Linearity is at the root of the unsustainability of the present system, which assumes an infinite reservoir of inputs and limitless capacity for waste. Fire is a fitting metaphor for such a system, for it involves a one-way conversion of matter from one form to another, liberating energy—heat and light—in the process. Just as our economy is burning through all forms of stored cultural and natural wealth to liberate energy in the form of money, so does our industry burn up stored fossil fuels to liberate the energy that powers our technology. Both generate heat for awhile, but also increasing amounts of cold, dead, toxic ash and pollution, whether the ash heap of wasted human lives or the strip mine pits and toxic waste dumps of industry.

It is not that fire is unnatural. Fire, along with its biological counterpart of oxidation, is a stage of a natural cycle. Our delusional folly is to act as if that stage of the cycle could exist permanently and independently. Only someone who cannot see the whole of reality would say, “Of course we can keep the fire burning forever. When it burns low we’ll just add more fuel.” To believe that a larger and larger fire can be sustained forever is transparently absurd, ignorant, and delusional. While fuel is plentiful, perhaps the delusion might be sustained. But today it is increasingly evident that we are running out of fuel—both social capital and natural “resources”—even as we suffocate in the ash.

The original technologies of fire mostly employed wood, thereby removing it from the normal biological cycle and preempting the natural flow of matter and energy. No longer did it nourish generations of insects, fungi, and soil. This arrogation of wood’s oxidative energy to human purposes defined very early on the dominating relationship that technology embodies. Today, the same logic sees all the materials of the world as “resources”, classifying them according to their usefulness to man.

The domination of nature that fire represents manifested in two of the earliest fire-based technologies: metalworking and ceramics. Both involve a transformation of the substances of the earth. Fire abetted the development of a separate human realm by converting the substances of nature—clay and ore—into the substances of man—ceramic and metal. Fire, the defining human technology, brings things over from the natural realm into the human.

If fire consumes the basis of oxidative life, then it is no wonder that the modern technologies of fire are themselves life-consuming, both in the literal sense of ecological destruction and in the figurative sense of their depletion of cultural, social, and spiritual wealth. For modern society is based primarily on the technologies of fire. It is fire that powers our automobiles and airplanes at supra-biological speeds; it is fire that enables us to smelt metal and etch silicon; it is fire that powers our electrical grid and communications system; it is fire that allows us to distill or synthesize chemicals that do not exist in pure form in nature; it is fire that powers the quarrying of limestone and the crushing of rock to build roads and skyscrapers. Even objects as “environmental” as a bicycle utilize the technologies of fire. We even, unlike any other animal, apply fire to our food in the process known as “cooking”.

Fire-based technology epitomizes the Technological Program of controlling and improving upon nature, usurping the oxidation of stored energy for purposes we deem superior. Not coincidentally, these purposes themselves involve the further abrogation of natural cycles. The wholesale disruption of nature and reengineering of the physical landscape would be impossible without fire-based technology. From the building of superhighways and dams to the clearcutting of forests, nearly all large-scale domination of nature depends on fire technologies such as the internal combustion engine and the coal- or oil-fired turbine. However, let us not forget that the initial clearcutting of the entire Northeast was accomplished with hand-axes and saws alone (also fire-based insofar as they are made of metal). I doubt a Stone Age culture could accomplish this even if it tried. But as soon as fire-based technology gains ascendency, such projects as clearcutting become not just technologically feasible but morally conceivable, as the Epic of Gilgamesh testifies to as far back as the time of ancient Sumer.

The reader might protest that most fire technology is based on fossil fuels, whose burning does not, strictly speaking, “usurp” stored energy that would otherwise feed life processes (though it does diminish life in other ways). I will offer some speculations on the Gaian significance of such deep-storage of energy in the last chapter. The point for now is that, whether wood or oil, the mentality of burning is the same: the arrogation of stored energy to human purposes of control, accompanied by the degradation of other phases of the cycle in an unsustainable pretense of eternal linear growth.

Our age is so defined by the technologies of fire that we sometimes forget the possibility of other realms of technology. Other humans in other times were actually more highly advanced than ourselves in plant-based, earth-based, body-based, and mind-based technologies. Many of the practices that we dismiss as magic or superstition actually represented modes of mind-body development whose possibility and power we do not even suspect today. Their inaccessibility is not due to historical accident, nor to willful ignorance, nor to any intentional campaign to eradicate competitors to the dominant fire-based technology,[11] but rather to their incompatibility with our fundamental self-definition in a dualistic cosmology of self and other. Today, as our division of ourselves from the universe becomes increasingly untenable, a new understanding of self is beginning to emerge that will naturally foster these near-forgotten or yet-to-be-discovered realms of technology. We cannot understand or utilize them operating from our current dualistic ontology of the discrete, separate self.'

controlled fire is big bad
how far we've fallen from grace

Controlled fire as the source of all oppression is yet another example testifying of how US green anarchist theory has gone WAY South. I'd rather be clinging to Boomer-age theorists than this mediocre crap that leads absolutely nowhere.

Seem to be an outgrowth of the "eliminate anything evil" psychology. Its important to know that the human affiliation with fire has to do with the fact we are "hairless" mammals who often live in climates far colder than ones that having no hair is meant for.

And now, due to the fact we live in a more or less anthropocentric planet, we are making the planet warmer through daily activities and institutional paranoia of the military, industrialism, etc....

"eliminate anything evil" == moralism defined.

i think they may well have a good point about the control of fire being a huge turning point towards domestication and civilization. the arguments i've head through the years are hard to dispute based on my own experience, observations and readings/discussions.

but so what? should humans also try to readapt the appendix or the tonsils? anything that WAS back then (pre-civ) should somehow be unequivocally desired/desirable now? sorry, that's for dogmatists. while i have a very strong affinity with anti-civ perspectives, and i personally live with far less technology than anyone in a city possibly could (which is obviously not to say without tech, this post case in point), all the dogmatic primitivists just sound like hardcore religionists. just like jz was always accused of having a religious perspective regarding "the fall", so are all these newer versions.

if fire WAS the sole cause of humans turning towards domestication and civilization... yeah, and? when you find the time machine, THEN we can talk about what the fuck happened tens of thousands of years ago and what it might mean relative to life today. until then, you can mentally masturbate around what is "the one true evil" from millenia ago, all you want. i choose to continuously create my life today, and i'm not giving up fire. like gravity, it is a natural phenomenon that i choose to utilize when and how it makes sense. including starting and stopping it when necessary (which is something gravity does not allow without massive technology).

i don't presume to know what is best for anyone other than myself, and i do not purposely engage in activities that have impact beyond my direct sphere of influence. yeah, that means i'll never change "the world." and i have no delusions about trying to. my life, and the lives of those (human and otherwise) that i care about, are the only lives i care to impact. and i wish i could limit my impact even more.

recognizing the source of harmful/destructive things can be good practice for those who are trying to stray from the beaten path a little, criticism of meat eating has influenced a lot of my dietary habits, in part because i recognize how i feel when eating a lot of cheesy/white-bread/meaty foods even though the taste itself and the relaxation you feel directly after eating meals like that. Recognizing the root of fire in civilizations can lead to less practices revolving around controlled fire which translates into less work. For example, i've gone solo camping so many times, you start to realize how much effort it takes to maintain a campfire, especially when it very recently rained in the spot.

It's important in the end to realize that "bad" is entirely a subjective/anthropomorphic concept that's best not transformed into a universalizing morality and the like. As far as rejecting fire is concerned, it's not something that has ever been practical for humans to do. We can always snuggle at night but sometimes even in hot parts of africa it can drop to freezing temperatures in the winter, so shall we reject Prometheus in that situation?! Is our basic ability for creativity/ingenuity "not animal"?

Linguists (a certain one that should be obvious said this) talk about language being a human trait, but that's actually complete bullshit. Birds clearly have language, dolphins clearly have language, humans have words and a lot of the time those words don't say much of anything lol.

"if fire WAS the sole cause of humans turning towards domestication and civilization... "

I think there's not even an "if". This whole theory is just plain bad theory that could have been thought by an 12 years-old kid. Domestication comes from somewhere else.

Fire was indeed a crucial technological development that allowed human societies to develop, people to achieve more, especially to better adapt to environment. Food did not require to be cooked, yet fire has allowed for far better conservation of food, so to be able to stockpile it... which doesn't directly means "then monarchs started to exist because they took hold of the food stock", but also means better mobility and self-sustainability. i.e. the possibility for traveling across vast distances due to having rations, ergo, nomadic living.

Even if equatorial regions are so neat to live in, and much less resource-demanding, you can't get the whole world population to live there. But let's also consider the fact that most of the world populations concentrate in these regions, already... and that is related to the impoverishment of resources in these ares.

The more important part here is that climate has never remained the same forever at any spot on the planet. There was human activity (horse riders, ergo domesticated) in the western NA arctic circle 15,000 years ago even if most of the continent was under a thick layer of ice. So humans, anyways, have to eventually move out, there is no such thing as an ideal permanent settlement. Or at least one for the many generations.

some academics have discredited surplus theory as a path of state formation since in many cases it required an already formed state to force people into the labor of producing surplus, since free lifeways usually didn’t do that deliberately

Makes sense. It's sad that "our" luminaries like Bellamy have lost so much breath on dumb Delayed Return theory not so long ago... from the start it all felt like such a waste. There's several other reasons why would people wanna accumulate some surplus, starting with winter seasons only rare edibles will grow. The base imperative of survival has preceded hierarchies, no matter how at some point hierarchies have imposed themselves as the only way to survival. Here's a point that the marxists got right: for hierarchies to take place, you first needed a division of "labor", so that trades could evolve into castes, then become hierarchies. In several more primitive societies this didn't really happen as far as we know, and there was no central consolidation into the priest or hereditary leader class.

There are much deeper dynamics, like those analyzed by Levi-Strauss, Feyerabend, Mauss and others, that help explain the formation of hierarchic political systems, yet they got little to do with management of food resources, even if they eventually ended justifying a centralized management by these supreme castes. Like the Pharaohs empire has become an hydraulic empire long after canalizations had been a common practice in the older, lesser centralized Egypt.

Woah there theory dude, so far this is all speculation about divisions of labor, there is yet to be any living example documented and followed through its evolutionary path a society which went from a simple small tribal gathering to an empire or hereditary hierarch. Its all just theory, there's also the theory that ancient Egypt did not use slaves, and that the word did not exist in their vocabulary, because all the masses cognitive processes had from birth been cultured tuned into a bicameral (explains the visual hieroglyphic language)perception and worked for the Queen/King like ants, without a technical/economic division therefore, but a condition of psychological oneness with the social design and intentions.

We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Homo-erectus being able to light a fire in a cave with his girlfriend and get a hard-on during an iceage.

Well in a way that is what the Western ethos revolves around, the American dream is one version, and the capitalist economy relies on this basic desire to flourish, but at a ridiculously extravagant level.
The palaces on the hill are the glorified caves of those at the top of the hierarchy.
But these PLACEs, do we leave them to wallow in their shallow libidinal excess, because they do not display empathy, but instead, narcissistic greed, Which is best left to implode 8n on itself?

but people normally just resort to the shallow and monotonous because that's what's simply available. I include my behavior in this, i'm not saying i'm some exceptional avant-gaurde showpiece of the human race.

I guess the only thing an anarchist revolution could really mean is more greatly abandoning the sedentary/ritualistic mindset and not letting other people limit the directions in which our mind wonders, cuz clearly trying to change anything through a political apparatus is disappointing and bureaucratic.

Has hyper-sensitivity to a sustainable existence into the future have any chance of becoming a popular mass sentiment when innate tendencies for fun and pleasure in the Now seem to by infallible laws of Nature herself?
Maybe just accept humanity as a misfit of a species and let it go the way of mass extinction events. There's still 4 billion years of fun to be had before supernova ;)

I almost even hope for mass extinction, but being existentially afraid of civilization and the bullshit people do is equally as stupid as trying to change the course of planetary destruction...

...fear and hope are two sides of the same coin...

Yes, if one can find a PLACE of fun and peace within one's immediate circle of individualists who share a common ethos, with some mutual sharing and exchange, and celebrate the passing of the human industrial epoch, maybe in 10,000years, in an ancient uncovered basement in the valley of silicon, some long forgotten dusty files and texts of Stirner are uncovered and become the NEW old dead sea scrolls, then there is the chance for a human renaissance.

One important thing I've learned from my anarcho-individualist adventures IRL is that compromise is inevitable, but it's a currency to use sparingly...

I will compromise once with an entity, and if the result doesn't satisfy my expectations, I SEVER ALL CONNECTION!
The individualist must diligently balance autonomy with economy.

"The individualist must..."

the most concise contradiction i've seen

Some tribes in the Amazon, having observed humanity's weakness, failure and imperfection, say that when humanity arrived in the jungle, god ceased creating and perfecting his masterpiece and left the area, promising to only return to finish the work after mankind had left the PLACE forever.

and some (many) tribes in the u.s. and elsewhere believe that when a man and woman - created by god - ate an apple in a beautiful garden, that same god damned them forever. or some such crap; i never read the bible. and the stories of tribes in the amazon may be somehow less "civilized" than the stories from more modern cultures, but they are no less authoritarian in nature, if they are looking to a god as the source of power, and framing it in moralism.

no, it's not the same god. remember, god is a word and that word has many meanings to many different peoples. there is a big difference between mythology and religion. all human cultures have their myths as ways of helping the individual to navigate being in the world. it is true that some peoples problematically take myths to be literal truths instead of story (religion). some also call their myths science or technology. worth checking out joseph campbell's writings on the subject (the power of myth, the hero with a thousand faces).

"God" is derived from one or two proto-germanic deities. Greco-latin cultures got a very different name for it.

The fact that people give it a different name depending on place or time is an elephant in the room, revealing how it's a cultural creation. Only the Dyeus/Zeus/Jupiter/Dieu/Dio cross-cultural names are of interest, but even at that.... they weren't the same characters across cultures. The Greek especially made him into basically a gigantic asshole in the sky, even if there's an interesting similarity to another big guy shooting lightning bolt... Marduk.

It is fire that differentiates us. James C. Scott, Richard Wrangham, Charles Eisenstein and others... these people are not vegans either but they recognise the importance of fire in how homo became sapiens-sapiens. Any other species who had done what we have done, nobody would sit there it wasn't down to their domestication of fire, but because it's us, well, let's not conclude the obvious. Place can be wherever you make fire. That's it.

Not in equatorial latitudes dude, there's no winter or summer here, and the temperature spends most of the year the same as the temp of the human body. We weren't hairy northern Neaderthals 100,000 years ago, we lost our hair way before them, we lived in places like paradise without fire and lived off fruit and raw fish.
Fire does not domesticate in and of itself. Language does in and of itself, so go suck on a coconut.

One of the worst places in the UK for anarchists is Freedom Bookshop, aka Freedom Press. The place has been trading on it's previous reputation for nearly 40 years.
After 15-odd years of alarming decline Freedom in 2018/9, employed a Trotskyite on a part-time basis who virtually turned the place around in weeks. I popped in a couple of times recently and the place was looking a bit manky again. Whether this is a blip or a trend has yet to be established. If he's psychologically given up it would be understandable considering a couple of the deranged psychopaths he has to deal with in there.

Freedom became effectively obsolete once Active Distribution became a thing in 1988-9. A UK distro with a good selection that's astonishingly cheaper than any of the radical bookshops in the UK.
Why cross London to visit a grim building with arrogant, priggish staff and volunteers who have barely read any anarchist literature? To make things worse they are only interested being there to confirm their anarchist identities with other people in the building. Hardly surprising the place ended up having on average 6-8 people visiting the shop in any day. To put that in context Freedom isn't in the middle of some obscure area. Good quality transport links are on their doorstep and is close to the incredibly busy primary central business district of London. Most commercial bookshops would kill for that location but Freedom who actually own their building have over the last 30 years mainly sat on their arses.
Fwiw: I made the One of the worst places in the UK for anarchists... entry above.

Oh well, at least they haven't sold out the place/location to capitalists, the land would be worth millions I guess, and the owners could have walked away and retired for the rest of their lives in some Asian or Carribean paradise.

Why, I rather like Freedom's bookshop's exterior bas relief of anarchist government minister Frederica Monseny. Somebody had to arrange the wholesale surrender of anarchism to Stalinism and the capitalist class!

That is what "anarchism" was in those days, a compromise with the popular Marxist ideals, because pure anarchism had no chance of succeeding with the seemingly "total chaos" label it had acquired. The middle of the road libertarian anarchists were seen as gentle pacifist Romantics incapable of violence.

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