Postscript to AnPrim On Fire

  • Posted on: 6 April 2019
  • By: Ria

In response to my essay 'AnPrim On Fire' John Zerzan stated refutations in his April 2, 2019 Anarchy Radio show. Here are my responses to his points (paraphrased from my notes):

JZ - Controlled fire was around 2 million years ago, very least several hundred thousand years ago.

Ria - Colonization tends to start innocently, linger for a long while, then erupt to top dominator position. For example, kudzu came to the states from Japan in 1876 for an exposition in Philadelphia, then in 1883 for an exposition in New Orleans. Home owners wanted it to provide shade, farmers wanted it to feed cows, and the government wanted it to control erosion. By 1946, kudzu had been planted by humans on 3,000,000. It started spreading into cities and wild habitats. By 1997 Kudzu was listed by the government as a noxious weed. Today it has encroached into 7,400,000 acres. Since humans began colonizing, this story is told again and again, with different characters and settings.

To compare kudzu to controlling fire, kudzu in its co-adapted indigenous habitat in Japan is akin to earliest humans’ first forays with fire, foraging in wakes of wildfires and later moving food out of and in to hotspots (earliest cooking). This was a wild human-fire nourishing relationship.

The first step to humans domesticating fire, akin to kudzu being brought from its home into far away expositions, is early humans maintaining fire over a period of time, transporting it, forming base camps around it.

The final step to humans domesticating fire, akin to kudzu’s entwining with human culture, is human’s ability to make fire by hand. With this invention human’s relationship with fire shifted from opportunistic to habitual and dependent, perhaps the first ‘progress trap’. Archaeological evidence puts this at 700,000 to 120,000 years ago.

JZ - Fire was not just for cooking, but warmth and light to ward off predators.

Ria - Temperature is one setter of habitat range boundaries. The human body, like all bodies, living primitively thrives within a certain temperature spectrum. If an area falls outside that spectrum, that serves as a natural force to keep the species population in check. Ignoring and encroaching temperature spectrum limits through innovations is an act and ethos toward colonization

JZ - In terms of domestication, when you use fire you don’t change the nature of fire. He goes with domestication, with a definition of: changing the nature of something, namely animals or plants, about 10,000 years ago.

Ria - What does it mean to ‘change the nature’? Controlled fire sparked the human slow invasion of all bioregions, leaving extinctions in their path, long before agriculture. This forever impacted, altered and degraded interconnections between all life and with habitat. This altered plant and animal cultures and biologies everywhere. All plants and animals ‘change the nature’ with one another as they form and reform, shift and reshift. That is the way of wild, so I don’t understand the significance of ‘change the nature’, I see agriculture as intensifying control under colonization.

Regarding the anarcho-primitivist and radical left’s link between civilization and domestication (agriculture), exploring definitions of ‘domestication, ‘civilization’ and ‘colonization’ offers some clarity.

Domestication- the process of hereditary reorganization of wild animals and plants into domestic and cultivated forms according to the interests of people. In its strictest sense, it refers to the initial stage of human mastery of wild animals and plants.

Civilization- the stage of human social and cultural development and organization that is considered most advanced.

Colonization- the action of appropriating a place or domain for one’s own use.

Since humans came down from the trees, they have had stage after stage of increasingly organized advancements. Some were slow and some fast, with the fastest by far probably being the organized advancement of agriculture.

JZ - If you want to argue that fire set in motion an ethos of control, domesticating vector, you have to show some evidence for that. Because nothing changed until actual domestication of plants and animals when everything changed, hierarchy & patriarchy. If you don’t see a change in band society, egalitarian anti-hierarchal, that’s common knowledge,

Ria - After incursions dissolved into settlement, humans like all species reignited their innate yearning for mutualism. Everything changed with human’s control of fire. Here’s just one piece of evidence that early humans had behavior of control, predation and colonization, which was either driven by or resulted in an ethos of control, predation and colonization:

Felisa A. Smith, Rosemary E. Elliott Smith, S. Kathleen Lyons, Jonathan L. Payne. Body size downgrading of mammals over the late Quaternary. Science, 2018; DOI: 10.1126/science.aao5987

“Elephant-dwarfing wooly mammoths, elephant-sized ground sloths and various saber-toothed cats highlighted the array of massive mammals roaming Earth between 2.6 million and 12,000 years ago. Prior research suggested that such large mammals began disappearing faster than their smaller counterparts — a phenomenon known as size-biased extinction…
With the help of emerging data from older fossil and rock records, the new study estimated that this size-biased extinction started at least 125,000 years ago in Africa…
…as humans migrated out of Africa, other size-biased extinctions began occurring in regions and on timelines that coincide with known human migration patterns, the researchers found. Over time, the average body size of mammals on those other continents approached and then fell well below Africa’s. Mammals that survived during the span were generally far smaller than those that went extinct.
The magnitude and scale of the recent size-biased extinction surpassed any other recorded during the last 66 million years, according to the study, which was led by the University of New Mexico’s Felisa Smith.
“It wasn’t until human impacts started becoming a factor that large body sizes made mammals more vulnerable to extinction,” said the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Kate Lyons, who authored the study with Smith and colleagues from Stanford University and the University of California, San Diego. “The anthropological record indicates that Homo sapiens are identified as a species around 200,000 years ago, so this occurred not very long after the birth of us as a species…
…the research team found little support for the idea that climate change drove size-biased extinctions during the last 66 million years. Large and small mammals seemed equally vulnerable to temperature shifts throughout that span, the authors reported”
Lyons went on to say that restructuring from large to small mammals has “profound implications” for the world’s ecosystems. Large mammals tend to be herbivores, devouring large quantities of vegetation and effectively transporting the associated nutrients around an ecosystem. When they disappear, the small mammals are poor substitutes for important ecological functions.

With domestication of fire everything changed, such as in division of labor by sexes in my essay heading Fire Transformed and Stratified Humans, Further, controlled fire could be the birth of compulsory labor and taxation. When humans began coming together to share the fire, their relationships formed new intimacies and power dynamics. As today, there would have been a social pressure to gather a constant supply of firewood as the price to pay for benefiting from it.

With patriarchy comes speciesism, a new power over animals in humans’ shift from prey to predatory. Fire was used to clear out caves inhabited by other animals for shelter from the elements. Fire was used to engineer weapons to ambush larger herbivores. Fire was used to corral and entrap large mammals to kill and cook them.

Fire was the most important factor in expanding into new terrains and developing early human societies. Whoever wielded fire had more power. Once the terrains were dominated, early humans began managing the biomes, which benefited certain other life as well, often creating a thriving diversity. Evidence of more complex management such as still practiced by some native people is found 100,000 – 200,000 years ago.

Before fire, the human diet was plant based. After fire which brought on organized hunting and sporadic meat, the human body slowly began adapting with changes in teeth, gut, etc. But even after human dietway formed into the fast food meat centeredness of today, at the human biological core humans remain herbivores and thrive best with that dietway.

JZ - If you are a raw food vegan you might want to arrange the story of human species to fit that, the impulse of that then you don’t like fire or cooking or hunting.

Ria - It’s challenging for people today to conceive of a way without fire, cooking or hunting, just as people deny that our species is a colonizing one. Without fire, humans would not have been able to colonize. Without a colonizing ethos, humans would not have used fire to expand outside the primal human habitat. Which came first, the ethos of colonization or the technology of fire is a moot point. Fire mastery hoisted human ferocity, and with that wrought a fiery new lifeway onto all.

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Comments

More importantly, here it is reposted on anews, with all 125 (and counting!) comments:
https://anarchistnews.org/content/anprim-fire-human-supremacy-within-ana...

Ria, and John: like any anthropology, this is all science-fiction. Scientists with a Western eye construct narratives around "indisputable facts". You all are doing the same. Anprims are conservative reactionaries in the sense that we all are desperately searching for a new narratives, a path forward. But you guys are wasting time debating questions that are millions of years old and have no clear answers.

you're just saying that because you can't cope with the cognitive dissonance these truths produce in your mind. i bet you secretly use controlled fire.

my thoughts precisely. well said.

in addition to the fact that those ancient questions have no verifiable answer, i seriously question whether there is any relevance at all, even if there were a verifiable answer. historical interest, sure, i can see that. but relevance to individuals seeking a life liberated from the shackles of civilization today...?

THE GODS OF FIRE, WHO GAVE HUMANITY WARMTH, LIGHT AND HOT FOOD DURING THE BLEAK DAYS OF ICE AND DARKNESS, DO NOT COWER FROM THE RESSENTIMENT OF JZ, WHO ACCUSES ALL OF MY OFFSPRING IN THE METROPOLIS OF BEING PYRO-NIHILISTS WITHOUT FEELINGS.
MY BROTHER LIGHTENING AND SISTER VOLCANO WILL FOREVER HOLD HIGH THE PRODUCTION OF BURNING BENEFITS AND PLEASURES FOR THE COLD AND CHEERLESS BEINGS OF THIS PLANET TO EMBRACE AND USE INTO ETERNITY MWUHAHAHAAAAA

this; but in minor case, and with italics

.

k

that vegan food gives me gas which I can use with fire to shoot flames from my ass out JZ.

If I ever meet this Ria person in real life, I can only expect to see a big pink brain with arms and legs coming out of it. Seriously, who needs college when you got Ria around?

pink? i thought that was "gray matter". god damn sexist!

;-)

so, of controlled fire was the thing that's the root of all evil, and not fire itself, but the way it was controlled and used, then it's the controlled part that's problematic. we must go further back until primates did not have the capacity to control or manipulate objects and to learn and teach each other things.

if the knowledge and practice of how to make and control fire, and the rest of civilization and culture, is forgotten, someone could learn it again, and teach someone else, and this knowledge and practices could spread like wildfire, but it's controlled fire instead.

and this is addressed in some of the discussions in both articles and their comment threads; that it's wrong to assume that bigger smarter brains means better, if it implies civilization, and that our current diet is better, if the justification is supporting the brains that lets us control fire and reproduce civilization.

so in addition to restorative ecology and raw vegan diets, we must erode our capacity to learn and teach complex things. to erode and forget complex words, to reduce our vocabulary and our means of expression. to relinquish control in all spheres except our immediate harmonious subsistence, but without reproduction, because we're too many already, and we're looking to reduce and revert, to heal the harm done.

JZ - Controlled fire was around 2 million years ago, very least several hundred thousand years ago.

Ria - .... Archaeological evidence puts this at 700,000 to 120,000 years ago.

ummmm... so what the fuck is your point? that you basically agree? lot of words (promoting your impressive academic studies) to say that.

jeez, this kind of [what is it? argument? discussion? mutual masturbation?] is so unnervingly boring. so why do i also find it so annoying?

btw, nothing personal against either jz or ria. and i appreciate that ria at least claims to live a life not completely entrenched in civilization. but, as someone mentioned elsewhere, arguing over million year old questions that cannot possibly be answered verifiably, seems like a civilization-scale waste of time.

I recall that also Bellamy and A! were into these long, wasteful text-wall arguing over shit that happened 10's, 100's K years back. Much talk about "delayed return" 2-3 years ago. What did come out of this? Cute, infatuating partners for Bellamy? A few more book sales for LBC? I guess Ria and JZ are also doing it for their own personal interests... nothing wrong here. Good ol' muhrikah. Ayn Rand n shit.

What else there is to expect from already-identified celebrities who use their official names through "anarchist" media, than boring irrelevant talk?

Distractions, and why do they exist?

you're right all there is left to do is smash the state mannnn. fuck all these anarcho celebrities, they all just want dates n shit

One's picture on the cover of Time magazine is worth a million bucks or more. Heidegger would be furious.,.

you? or some other crazy resenntimentful mofo?

No 23:02 sounds more like them

I may have sounded like an asshat but I haven't got much problems with any of the personalities mentioned above. I needed to highlight (through shock tactics) the other commenter's question, that I also brought here before, being...

Wtf are you doing arguing over shit that happened 20,000 years back... as if it was some unavoidable theoretical investigation for present-day praxis? I thought someone down the epistemological train of discourse over the last few years may havemanaged to derail the more conventional analysis of the State, capital-building, and the all oppression they create, then by escalation you people ended up looking way back in human history, to explain why do we have highways and suburbs, by the development of hunting. Or maybe it's just explainable by people seeking to get their edgier analysis to expand over to books and lectures, so they accumulation some social capital.

On my part I haven't got much, and I'm pretty fucked due to my unwillingness of profiting from others. I find these parasitic relations to be pretty repulsive. They lack a spirituality. What I'm seeing around are a bunch of insane people that succeed with others only due to the compatibility of their brand of insanity with that of others. So yeah, I'm likely crazy, but just a different kind of crazy.

be charred remains all over and there isn't.... is there? Without fire, you could not have domestication... what would be the point? So maybe fire is The Catalyst after all?

You're making a lot of assumptions about what evidence archeological findings can provide. How does one distinguish natural from controlled fires? How well do charred remains preserve in the geological record? Do the processes that create preserved charred remains maintain the dating techniques we use to place things in the historical and geological timeline?

yes. let’s discuss dating techniques.

1. Get off anews
2. Go hit up a bar or something
3. Try talking to strangers
4. Give up and use the internet like everyone else these days
5. Return to step 1, you're doing it wrong

Also! Who fucking cares?

when "nobody cares" is the dominant morale already?

Some pissants here think they just discovered it yesterday nite.

Ria is against human agency, flat out.To her, whether we carry fire or eat an animal we are falling from nature's (aka God's) grace. How much more alienated can you get?

I AM THE NATURAL GOD OF FIRE, NOT THAT FAKE OLD MAN GOD OF THE X-TIANS, HE IS A FAKE SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATIVE OF A PATRIARCHAL AUTHORITARIAN MORAL ORDER WHICH IS CONTRARY TO NATURAL LAW.
I WILL CONTINUE TO OFFER MY SERVICES TO THE POOR INDIGENOUS FOLK, ESPECIALLY THE WOMEN, WHO ARE OPPRESSED BY WESTERN ETHICS AND RESTRAINTS.
I SHALL DISPERSE MY CONSIDERABLE RESOURCES TO THE HEATHS AND COMMUNAL FIRE GATHERINGS SO THAT WARMTH, HOT FOOD AND LIVELY SING-A-LONGS BESIDE THE FIREPLACE CONTINUE INTO ETERNITY MWUHAHAHAHAAAA

human agency...? or individual agency?

temp agency

Escort agency

I think the precursor to Australopithecus should NEVER have come out of the trees and started walking on two feet.
So THERE!

with free hands and supposable thumbs is a Colonialist Monster!

I second this! no wait, math is civ...uh i agree! no, language...uhh.....*CLAPS*

lol supposable thumbs

Instead of blaming the big man why not blame the big bang.

Actually my own theory involves, rather than opposed thumbs, the presence of MAOA (monoamine oxidase A). Casually referred to as the "warrior gene", it messes with the cerebral chemicals like dopamine, adrenalin, and serotonin, and aggression. I posit that the peaceful herbivore Neanderthal were free of this gene, however Australopithicus had loads of it, dominated and conquered the Neanderthal, a sort of cannabalistic genocidal war ensued between the species.
Most humans are about 2>3 % Neanderthal, and the gentle compassionate ones such as myself, though I do not believe in the inheritance of ethical propositions, I feel that moods and emotions may be passed on, which combine with oxytocin to produce unique emotional traits.
This beautiful paleo-nihil-esque trait is accessible with some gestalt therapy and LSD sessions.

was the genus that the Homo genus began emerging from at least 2.5 million years ago.
Homo neanderthalis was a FAR more recent species, around 250,000 to 27,000 years ago, and there is abundant evidence they hunted and ate meat. Oh, and they had FIRE! Colonialist Monsters all of them!

Oops, hah, I get all those homo whatevers are, YES, the one you mention who clashed with Neanderthal, who only feared your noble ancestor, the sabre tooth tiger ;)

OMG, THEY ARE ALL COLONIALIST MONSTERS. Join us homo-nihilo-esque individuals in the wilderness!!

In this 21st Century, there is only room for Homo Now!
We are sick of history, archeology, and inheritance, THESE are the tools of the monstrous rationalist era!

think parable of the tribes

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2017/03/neanderthal-dental-p...

By harvesting and sequencing that DNA, Weyrich has shown that there was no such thing as a typical Neanderthal diet. One individual from Spy cave in Belgium mostly ate meat like woolly rhinoceros and wild sheep, as well as some edible mushrooms. But two individuals who lived in El Sidrón cave in Spain seemed to be entirely vegetarian. The team couldn’t find any traces of meat in their diet, which consisted of mushrooms, pine nuts, tree bark, and moss. The Belgian Neanderthals hunted; the Spanish ones foraged.

forgot the context to the part of the spanish ‘vegetarians’: what one was eating was due to self-medication.

there’s so much more one can eat beyond mammal muscle. insects, aquatic bi-valves, offal, various birds and especially gathering eggs.

We intellectuals here at Harvard refer to MAOA as the Jock's Gene, for obvious reasons. damn troglodytes!

if it all comes down to genes i wonder which genes make me have aggressive thoughts while not harming a fly irl

You see, this whole discussion between JZ/Ria is the failure to invest data concerning the human need and psychochemical behavioral impulse and processes of desire. Its no new, Pavlov kicked off the first observations and analysis of the human/social predicament.

Mountain lions, cougars an big cats gonna SALIVATE.
They don't want moral salvation, they gonna SALIVATE!

And sadly, they are in the sane boat as colonialists, cos they all SALIVATE, They desire and crave for meat and violent aggressive eating, conquest and consumption, the law of Pavlov is everywhere, we are ALL ANIMALS, we CRAVE.

Same boat, christ, not saaaaane, insane big cats and colonialists.

NoooOOOOOO!! BADKITTY RULES
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hwfV-w5Ibkc
Gooo mighty cat eat whatever you like brave pussy!

Don't mess with nihilist cat is what I took away from watching that.

Its not that nihilist cat is against only colonialist monsters, but against anything standing on two feet, of any ideology or lifestyle, of anything human.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wdwhi23xdu0

Nickitta got nihilist cat and BadKitty TAMED and feeding outta her hand. Poor kitty, she gonna make you into a tame vegan cat yol TAMED dude!!

Nickitta the vegan nihilist gonna kick yo meat eating vicious kitty ass!
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NbFiCOkJ8Q4

Viva La Nickitta Nihilisto, sister of Ria, her bravery in the face of ferocious capitalist meat-eaters, the Amazonian liberator of all vegans, dancing around them and taming their lustful cravings, subdueing their greed and then releasing them from the cage of their meat lust, to return to the wild sadder yet wiser vegan cats.

Blood curdling and sanguine rallying cry for vegans -> RELEASE THEM FROM THE CAGE OF THEIR MEAT LUST !

obligate carnivores.
And if the vicious, bloodthirsty cougar-kitties don't kill and eat cute little bambi-dears, the bambi-dears overpopulate, totally strip the understory, and then all slowly die of starvation. Bambi-dears (and ignorant, enslaved, damaged humans) do not understand carrying capacity. "Savages" (normal humans) do.

Since I haven't managed to permanently shape-shift into a cougar (my animist practice is not advanced enough), I am NOT an obligate carnivore, and rarely eat meat. TOO many humans for that now.

didn't make the killing bite. The rat would have been paralysed below the neck and the whole thing over quickly.
A 200 lb. male cougar-kitty can take down a 1000 lb. bull elk.

But Nickitta will have the 200 lb cougar-kitty purring and having it under her powerful spell, in other words, disempowered by her will.

cougar-kitty only purrs when he CHOOSES to. And cougars purr loud.

Behind every great male cougar is the lioness, the graceful hunter and powerful defender of her wild kitties, ruling the hollow and jungle, eyes glowing at night, claws red and bloody from the weak human capitalists who enter her domain!

Only in a JZ related topic could such an absurd comment thread reach such bizarre conclusions !

What JZ means by "changing the nature" of something through domestication is that the thing being domesticated itself changes. Ria is arguing that fire brought about changes in humans and environments. This is true, but doesn't address what JZ actually said, which was that fire itself doesn't change. Fire remains fire. It was never domesticated. Whereas if you domesticate animals, the animals themselves change, unlike fire.

But hangon, you're missing the point, an electric light is still fire, even a solar light. Its the industrialization of fire which is what JZ is critiquing.

No, I AM THE GOD OF FIRE, AND I'M GETTING TIRED OF THESE MORTALS DISSING ME ABOUT MY POWER.
MY SISTER LIGHTENING AND BROTHER VOLCANO WILL FOREVER STRIKE FEAR INTO THE PETTY HUMAN CONSTRUCTS MWUHAHAHAHAA
THIS IS ME AT A BIRTHPARTY I WENT TO IN 1968, LONG BEFORE ANY OF YOU POMO TWEEBS WERE EVEN BORN.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=en1uwIzI3SE

NEVER QUESTION MY ETERNAL LIFE GIVING PRESENCE AGAIN.

No, JZ was not criticizing fire in that way on his show. And no, an electric light is not fire.

I hope you finish high school some day.

Lol you're sooo Cartesian! In physics, oxygen is energy is fire. The burning sun pruduces light which via photosynthesis produces oxygen from carbon vdioxide.
Carbon dioxide is a fire retardent which produces carbon and oxygen. You know that fire is causing global warming huh? A fire in a fireplace causes house warming duh!

Discussions about fire don't do anything though, they just make you sound like a bunch of leftist academics. I want addresses so we can meet up and settle this like men! Raaawwrrr! *Hits chest*

ce n'est pas un jeu

Write québécois if you wanna sound edgy and in-your-face. Sanitized, standardized International French sounds lame and bougie.

je ne suis pas quebecois, je suis René Magritte

and discuss the impact of controlled use of fire with him, with regards to the road to domestication? Maybe he could bring more information to the table? Fire in and of itself cannot change. However, it can be manipulated and it is the discharge of locked-in energy which is release through combustion. It is this controlled use of fire/combustion which has had the greatest impact: for cooking, heat, light and industrialisation. It is weird how JZ refuses to acknowledge that without the controlled use of fire, the rest of human domination would not have followed. What would be the point of domestication of life if we couldn't cook it and eat it? Without fire, the is no way domestication would have happened, right?

JZ stop being a fire change denialist!

Clearly this is a great injustice that concerns many, as evidenced by the many comments clamoring for justice, and not at all the absurd lobbying of single insistent anon!

what about wheels tho?

Many rampaging mobs of anarchists used burning wagons, accompanied by molotov cocktails, to attack fortified positions during battles. Is this what you are referring to, or the more civilized cars with headlights (light globes = fire ) being able to travel at night and cover large distances when everyone else is asleep hmm?
Did you know they began as round rocks being rolled down hills by primitive upright walking people.

The less ignorant, enslaved, damaged humans on this planet, the better it would be methinks!

actually, i was just wondering, if the used of controlled fire had not come about, but wheels still where developed, would it still lead to conquest and civilization, and therefore wheels are bad?

tho the question as it's posed is kind of absurd, since riding horses and boats surely contributed more to conquest than wheels did, right? maybe even more than fire at first?

Jarred Diamond ponders these things, but not in the interesting juxtaposition you've introduced. Could make this a whole topic in itself just for cognitive exercise.
Wow, just had a thinkstorm, maybe cognitive exercise led to civilization. *runs off cliff*.,.

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