TOTW: civ or anti-civ, and models for behaviour...

What is the ratio here of civ to anti-civ folks? What are you, dear reader? What does civilization mean to you, and what does anti-civ mean? And a different but related question: what model do you base a better human world on? Ants? Bees? Plants? Bacteria? Better humans than the ones who surround you? Software? Programmers? What actual interactions that exist in the world do you think give a good picture of what people/anarchists could/would do with each other in a better world?

There are 79 Comments

I wish humanity was modeled after a perfect, fresh unix PC. Pro-tech/anti-civ since J20. Love trumps hate!

i still very much like wolfi's early articulation from "destroy civilization?" (wd 3, 3):

… a civilized society is one comprised of the state, property, religion (or in modern societies, ideology), law, the patriarchal family, commodity exchange, class rule — everything we, as anarchists, oppose.

To put it another way, what all civilized societies have in common is the systematic expropriation of the lives of those who live within them. The critique of domestication (with any moral underpinnings removed) provides a useful tool for understanding this. What is domestication, if not the expropriation of the life of a being by another who then exploits that life for her or his own purposes? Civilization is thus the systematic and institutionalized domestication of the vast majority of people in a society by the few who are served by the network of domination.

and find it a great ground from which to have these conversations and all the joyful things that come from having these conversations.

regarding "what model do you base a better human world on?" i think pwz said it best: know yourselves – be infertile, and let the earth be silent after you.

Who is pwz, I'm new and unfamiliar of the anarchist jargon?

Yes, I can see the pragmatical side of his psychoanalytical reductions, but voluntary extinction was never going to make him popular. He got stuck in Schopenhauer's negativity.
There is one way to escape the paradox, and that is to be MORE human, to exceed natural expectations, thus avoiding life by rote. Call it ubermensch.

"Anon 237" skims a wikipedia summary once on a person and philosophy they didn't know existed and within minutes has it all figured out.

Um mu ( Gee wiz, I just made a palindrome ) you can encounter existentialist nihilist rants down at any bar on a Friday night at closing time, its a no-brainer really, its not like the holy grail of philosophy, even Nietzsche used Schopenhauer as springboards towards higher thought, but it seems Zappe failed to launch.

"There is one way to escape the paradox, and that is to be MORE human, to exceed natural expectations,"

that implies a deep-rooted belief in some sort of "human nature". not simply that such a thing exists, but that you know precisely what it is, in order to "exceed" it, to become "more human".


Yes I know, amazing as it may seem, it took alot of inner searching to find and nail.

Just rfa's tendency at over-estimating some rando visitors' knowledge of his niche referents.

Probably the stupidest definition of civilization I've ever read. There was property, ideology, patriarchy, commodity exchange, and class rule....all BEFORE civilization. Some hunter gatherers had some or all of these features during the Paleolithic, though most did not. But the fact that even some H-Gs had these features proves these are not exclusive to or born out of civilization.

I wish people would stop dichotomizing history and putting societies into neat little boxes. Life doesn't work like that.

nuh uh! ur face is probably the stupidest definition of civilization i've ever read!

*loud screeching*

this is not how life work! god!


i agree about the boxes.

yet you fall into the all too common trap of buying into some (very civilized) narrative of prehistory, constructed and supported by anthropology and archeology. nobody fucking knows how humans lived 10k+ years ago, i don't give a shit what artifacts they produce to support THEIR INTERPRETATION. nobody knows, and to presume you do is to accept dogma just like a good christian. or jz and kt.

03:40. Classic anti-science nuttery. Nobody knows or can know anything. It's all just interpretation. Postmodernism at its finest.

from "nobody fucking knows how humans lived 10k+ years ago"

to "Nobody knows or can know anything."

leap of logic, much?

04:41. No dipshit, the context was nobody can know anything about 10K years ago. Which is just false. We do know a lot of things.

I'm tired of science denial.

We do know that beyond the Enlightenment, everyone was paranoid, diseased, superstitious, and didn't live long unless they were at the top of whatever hìerarchical ruling sýstem was in place at the time. When you think about it, the 21st century is probably the best era for humans to exist in if longevity, knowledge and satisfaction with quality of living are considered, but the worst for individual freedoms.


Bolo bolo or/and death!

I say anti-civ only as a means of showing whose side I’m not on, technophile anarchists or those who worship democracy and think agriculture would better just if it were “green” and communized.

But with those not versed in anarchist genealogy, like my gf, I just explain it as trying to be against as many restrictive forms of living as possible.

For me, civilization is just one of the myths, albeit a big one, that has caused misery and ecocide. I was just re-reading AHAL and it seems even Perlman is coining the concept of Levithan as something that you could call civilization, but he wants to avoid the whole “what about medicine and Mozart!” shit you hear when you say you’re against civilization.

I’ve also found lately I’m more interested in creating a mythology or cosmos/commons of stories we can share as a means to guide how we live. Kinda like Turtle Island cultures had. Or like all the competing cults gestating in and sometimes killing past Levithans (Christianity, for one).This appeals more to me than trying to speak in a Rational, empirical, Enlightenment way that anarchism often falls prey too.

Anti-civ isn't a model or a program. It's an apophatic rejection of civilization that leaves an ineffable and unknowable Wild in its wake.

read the question again, windy.

if anti-civ was a model, i'd date em

ok, well then you come up with a better joke

Here, here!

Where? Oh there.

How do you know it leaves a 'wild in its wake' if it is "unknowable'?

anti-civ here, and fuck the very idea of choosing some "model" upon which to base my desired life. my strongest anarchic desire is to be free of models!

i'd maybe take a pinch of bolo'bolo, a dash of dune, and nice warm cup of shut the fuck up!

I just walk out iñto the street, the desert, the ocean, and its part of my being, everything is free for my taking, I have no rent or taxes, just me, the breeze, and Anything.

Understanding Toynbee's terms regarding mature stage decedent civilization helps, namely detachment, transcendence, futurism, and archaism. It's obvious that anarchy mostly settles on the detachment niche which seemingly makes the most sense(though the likes of William Gillis or Kevin Keating represent futurism).

I think anarchy should settle against the futurist spook once and for all and just embrace and make the best of detachment. There can certainly be preferential situational discursive positions that anarchic agents can take relative to the other options but detachment should be the main niche that is pursued.

"There can certainly be preferential situational discursive positions that anarchic agents can take relative to the other options but detachment should be the main niche that is pursued."

pretty prescriptive. (and, academic-speak much?)

maybe JZ's intention when he compiled Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections was to 'find an answer' or if not answer what is Anti-Civ. anti-civ is nice, quick, nifty term to use when asked by anyone and then when asked again, simply pass the book or the pdf and have them figure it out on their own. i think anarchists are against models but would take what works/effective of the few examples given eg. ants knowing the climate cycle and base their food rations. civilization isn't close to that simple ant practice.

There is nothing wrong with models. The question is whether it is a good model or a bad one. Does it work, or not?

We know hunting/gathering/fishing/gardening works as an economic mode. And we know civilization doesn't work and is unsustainable. The question is, given the fact that the physical world has changed since the Pleistocene ended, what can we learn from hunting gathering, and how can we apply it to our current conditions? We can't literally go back or recreate a complete hunter gatherer existence, so how can we adapt and apply aspects of that existence to present conditions? Any future primitive will look different from a past primitive.

Also, anarchy itself is a model. One we are trying to bring about.

The idiots who don't want models are the same ones who don't want any organization, don't want to convince others of anything, don't want anarchism to become popular, don't want to work together, don't want to update their ideas, don't want to learn from the past, and don't want to engage with anyone except those whom they already agree with.

"There is nothing wrong with models. The question is whether it is a good model or a bad one. Does it work, or not?"

if you had left it at "does it work or not", i'd be in complete agreement. but framing it in "good vs bad", "nothing wrong", just sounds boringly moralistic. or else describe your context for "good" or "bad" - even for "does it work". what is good (works) for one human is bad (does not work) for another.

i say fuck models. models are a blueprint, usually for a program of some sort. i want no such thing. i can observe others, and where there are things (behaviors, tools, words, etc) that make sense for me to use, i will. doesn't make those others a "model". merely a source for potential learning and adapting.

04:20. I wasn't invoking the 'moral' sense of the word good or wrong. I was invoking the practical sense of good. If a model works, it's 'good' in this practical sense.

When you say "fuck models", then it's YOU who are invoking a moral judgement about models . To you, models are morally bad.

"i can observe others, and where there are things (behaviors, tools, words, etc) that make sense for me to use, i will."
In other words, a model. %

Think it's worth pointing out that the "detachment model" has been drying up in the sun for decades now too. Many tried, most failed miserably in obscurity and are barely even remembered because of their self-imposed isolation. Not that being a hermit isn't a reasonable choice but it's thoroughly demystified at this point. It's what you do when you're out of bigger ideas and narrow the scope of what you consider possible.

You say this as if demystification, withering in obscurity, being barely remembered, and narrowing the scope of what is possible, are all things to avoid. Who wants mystification? Who wants notoriety? Who wants endless choices and ideas detached from fruition? Baby's. Maturity demands subtlety and a graceful withering away

Babies AND those fascinated with the beautiful idea, maybe? It's not just an "infantile disorder", right?

It's not interesting to me that they sought notoriety like they were taking a selfie. Not always the case, in my opinion.

Maybe it's just that any serious attempts pretty much guarantee some notoriety. The best of the notorious were never that "in to" their notoriety anyway, it just happened to them.

i agree with you and suffer from the symptoms you describe, as i’ve told you before. i don’t have big ideas, i don’t have small ideas, i’m barely making do and chilling listening to people who do have ideas. sometimes i laugh at them (politely in my head), sometimes i take notes, but that’s it for now. i want more than that though. what? i don’t know.

It can also be about losing yourself in hedonism(as well as asceticism) or just finding some kind of niche that is not about contributing to societal construction. I think that when the idea of anarchy enters its mature stage then the choices really are between detachment and transcendence. The other two are based on mediation of the past on one hand and the facilitation of the future on the other. Early anarchism makes sense as a futuristic movement but anarchy going forth needs to be based more on detachment or transcendence as these are the best avenues for the appropriation of will and representation.

^But to be fair, I suppose this opens up in to a larger topic: If whole communities can detach and how they navigate conflict and create space to exist in, etc BUT THEN THEY BECOME ANOTHER CIV?!?@

sot: small human bands/tribes that navigate conflict and create/find space to live, are not necessarily a civilization. unless your concept of civilization is extraordinarily wide-reaching. ever read "the forest people" (or similar)?

Only if you control the fire! Also, jam your hand directly in the flames to cook, no stick!


Civ - hierarchically ordered groupings of domesticated humans with too much stuff, too little space, and competing ideologies - purportedly for safety and security and hopes of pleasant community but is designed for the maximal economic benefit of the upper echelons; the rest acting as their easily interchangeable consumable minions.

We don't need no stinking models.

I haven't seriously engaged with this yet, not claiming to be a theory green either.

Here goes: I think "civ" requires significant centralized power of some sort: hoarding the agricultural surplus leads to hiring an army and so on. Obviously when you stockpile resources, you need to counter the resentment with force.

Anti-civ models that interest me tend to just be a simple, ruthlessly antiauthoritarian way of thinking about these hoarding and lording behaviours.

Any scheming to gain leverage over others: predatory lending and usury in general, any arrangement where you've set yourself up to sit around and automatically extract wealth from others like a landlord or whatever... Not to mention stealing the land in the first place!

My model is as detailed an analysis of these types of behaviours as possible. In that sense, I'm anti-civ.

I see civilization in its simples definition as “urban relationships” and anti-civ in the green anarchist sense as a direction, not a specific destination.

Civilization is having a hot shower at the turn of a lever, light at the flick of a switch and hot food by pushing a button. The relationships of people determine if these conveniences become hellish or liberating.

I call this corporate profiteering.

Also, why would most people need a flashlight?
At night, I sleep. When I'm awake, I don't go into dark places.

Yes, in the first place, if the corporations hadn't ripped off all the resources of the region in the first place to enrich their own affluent socieþies, these Africans wouldn't be poor.

if you go to no dark places while awake, you are missing out on some of the most extraordinary, primitive (uncivilized) places on earth. they are called caves, and they don't even require a flashlight. just a small fire of some sort, even on the end of a wooden stick - a torch.

i am not one of the "controlled fire is evil" hyper-prims. controlling fire (on an individual scale) is no different to me than a bird building a nest, or a beaver building a dam. all living things alter their environment in some way or another.

i would rather live off the detritus of civilization destroyed (along with what the natural world provides), than the conveniences provided by civilization.

i’ve gone to a guided tour of caverns.
i understand that it’s a great experience, except for the monstrous giant insects inside. i went during the daytime, not deep enough that i needed a flashlight or a torch. lights disturb the bats, etc.

if these places were more frequented by people, they’d be destroyed. i would not oppose those who like to venture deeper and deeper, but i would not do it myself for lack of daring, aversion to risk taking, and love of safety. i also think mass tourism this areas is bad, look at all the littering on Everest. It’s like all the most remote corners of the planet are being littered by enthusiastic hobbyists with a life affirming death wish.

i don’t oppose “controlled fire”, that’s a meme to all except the original author. i don’t find it appealing to mourn our” first sin(s)”.

Civilization is having senileoldtroll snarking and trolling you from his laptop computer 24/7 ;)

Yep. Already reason enough to be anti-civ. IRL you can just walk away while I'm talking! It's great, people do it all the time.

Nope. Coerced, exploitive and alienated relationships between people led to the fucked way of living that created those unnecessary and environmentally destructive so-called conveniences.

Oh go join moronicoldtroll and die in a blizzard then or fall over a cliff at night when you're searching for firewood then YOU will be alienated from life FOREVER!!

Me and E put the horse in front of the cart anon, which is terrible because obviously it's exploitation.

So let's go with your theory that civilization is the only thing stopping me from falling off a cliff in a blizzard at night or whatever.

W/E, I'm snuggled up infront of a roaring fire after washing off all the doom and gloom anti-civ lice and scabies crap in a steaming hot shower.

Your not-even-veiled contempt for views different than your own isn't very flattering my dear.

"Civilization is having a hot shower at the turn of a lever, light at the flick of a switch and hot food by pushing a button. The relationships of people determine if these conveniences become hellish or liberating."

But of course it's the quality of relationships between people that matter, snowflake. But here you start talking of civilization as relations with things, commodities and utilities, that got nothing to do with relations with people, but sometimes even are deteriorating the latter. Make up your mind, dude.

I'm going with being a hot shower aficionado uberman rather than a dirty sycophantic servile primitivist any day!

i disagree. those conveniences (hot shower etc) came about as a result of an entire system of human domination, where relationships were already hierarchical and oppressive. decisions about extracting the resources for creating those conveniences - and the impact of those decisions on all of life on this planet - were made by those with power, the few.

the only isssue i have with a modern hot shower is everything that goes into - and went into - making it happen. (and of course the waste that it facilitates and encourages). the hot water at the turn of a knob is, in and of itself, hard to describe as hellish.

Its hellish if you don't adjust the mixture of cold water with hot water, the devil's tears burning like brimstone! Evil civilized sinners and their showers! Who was the liar who said that cleanliness was next to godliness? Jesus didn't shower for 40 days and 40 nights!

i wonder which has a larger footprint; the infrastructure that brings you running water or the one that brings images to your screen?

in order to have internet, you need electricity, minerals mined, factories to make widgets, underwater cables, server rooms, telephone cables, antennas, satellites, the rockets that put them up there, etc.

my point here is not a veiled rhetorical argument, but to encourage visualization.

water infrastructure is easy to imagine as large and vast: dams, reservoirs, aqueducts, big pipes, river canals, etc and one can see water used in fountains, pools and cisterns.

the internet is often consumed individually in small wireless devices like smartphones. you can’t easily visualized the electricity consumed through a cable or wirelessly, as a resource that depletes life from the planet. fossil fuels burning, or the metals and minerals ro make solar panels and batteries. big massive holes in the ground in south america for copper, in africa for lithium, and huge pollution in china for manufacturing, and then the waste from the obsolete electronics deposited in huge poisonous mountains all over the place.

pro-civ people are just a bunch of NIMBY fucks that could care less about the people that get the shit end of the stick as long as they enjoy the privileges

it matters not to me if internet infrastructure is by some measure more destructive than plumbing and water harvesting/testing/decontaminating/transporting infrastructure. or vice versa. they are both - along with so many other "conveniences" of civilization - immeasurably destructive and require the oppression of huge numbers of living beings in order to be even feasible.

i have been a proponent of "total cost" analysis since way before i discovered my anarchy. when i first went off-grid, i did serious analysis of the true total cost of solar energy. in addition to the incredible and widespread destruction caused by the manufacture and distribution of solar panels and batteries, as of a few years ago, they still didn't know how to dispose of that stuff in an environmentally safe way. yet i still use em, it provides me some minimal conveniences while being independent of the electrical grid. priorities being completely subjective, of course.

oh definitely, i wasn’t trying to make water infrastructure look benign in comparison. the same thing could be done with that. each home depot filled with aisles of faucets, toilets and pipes, etc. torches for welding and whatnot.

but i think though probably still impossible, it would a more feasible goal to get some people to live without smartphones than to get them to live without indoor plumbing. i could be wrong, i know some people tgat liven in the streets have phones, not sure if that was a choice made out preference.

in the end, anyone on a rainy place or near a river can locally source water, but no one can locally source a smartphone.

There is going to be a race war, so we better prepare. Civilization is coming down fast. It's going to be HELTER SKELTER.

I'm 35% Scandinavian (Viking ) and 26% POC and 11% Asian, I can't lose, what I mean is Ill be allowed to go my quiet own way without being excluded from any social segregationist policies.

So, we have 35+ 26+11 =72
100 -- 72 = 28
OK, that explains it,
I'm talking about the 28% Moron

"Scandinavian = Viking" stereotype is stupid... Vikings were a class of pirates that only existed for a few centuries back when inter-ethnic disputes were "settled" with swords and axes.

I like the way they beat up Christian priests and stole their sheep and grain, but the rape and murder stuff was a bit abhorrent, unless it was payback to the Anglo-Saxon's attempts to conquer and create a monarchist Empire in the region, then it could be regarded as self-defence.
Also, they killed trolls.

Add new comment