I finally realised how ridiculous civilisation is when I read the superb article “Recapture Your Wild Side” in October 2010 ( http://www.menshealth.com/health/go-outside )
Civilisation may be a sick joke, but it’s a joke nonetheless. Once I finally understood the pathology of civilisation I felt liberated and enlightened. What a wonderful feeling! I couldn’t wait to share this epiphany with the world!
I got into my car and went straight to the anthropology department at the University of Pretoria. At that point I didn’t even know exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to find a way to get as far away from civilisation as possible. At that point I knew that civilisation was destructive to life on the planet, but I didn’t understand the full extent of the ecocide currently taking place.
I was happy to see an open door on the floor of the Anthropology and Archaeology Department. I knocked and went in. Generally, I would have been the type of person to wait for a period of time before taking action. This epiphany was so wonderful, however, that I just couldn’t fucking sit still!
I told the Anthropology lecturer about the article and the epiphany. I wasn’t naïve enough to think he would understand my wanting to bugger off as soon as possible, so I made up some crap about wanting to study tribal people and write books about it. He couldn’t seem to understand my case against civilisation. At that point, of course, I hadn’t read any books by John Zerzan or Derrick Jensen. I also hadn’t realised how difficult it is to explain the pathology of civilisation to one of the system’s prisoners.
I thought for a second, and said: “Is it not obvious why I hate civilisation? Humans are unhappy, animals are unhappy, the environment is unhappy. What the fuck are we doing trying to perpetuate the misery of civilisation?”
He still didn’t understand. He suggested I start taking a couple of anthropology modules. How could he not understand that the last thing I wanted to do was study in a civilised institution?!
I wanted to get away from all of the crap that had been fed to me since I was a baby. I wanted to live as the human animal has evolved to live!
I left the guy’s office a bit disheartened, but still positive. I went to the balcony of Tuks FM and had a few drinks while Van Coke Kartel played an acoustic set. I had an awesome chat with Sarina, a newly hired presenter at Tuks FM. She told me that she admired my discipline and found me inspiring. She said this because I had recently lost about 10kg and started living a healthy lifestyle.
I mentioned my epiphany to her and a few other people, but I didn’t elaborate for fear of rejection.
But I had never felt so enlightened in my life. Suddenly the world made sense!
I went home that evening and googled “the most remote tribe on Earth”.
Stories came up about a freshly spotted tribe in the Amazon jungle who painted themselves different colours and tried to fire arrows at helicopters overhead.
I then came across North Sentinel Island.
Ah, North Sentinel Island.
North Sentinel Island (NSI) forms a part of the Andaman Islands. It is home to a hunting/gathering people that the civilised have taken to calling the “Sentinelese”. Just thinking about my excitement at the prospect of going there gives me goose bumps all over again!
There still has not been significant contact between the civilised world and the Sentinelese. Part of the reason why they’ve managed to avoid the disease of civilisation for so long is because they repel most civilised attempts at contact with arrows.
I know it may seem like I’m idealising the Sentinelese. I suppose I did idealise them at that point. It’s just that I had to get there to know what life was like for them. I’ve never said they are perfect, but I do know that they live sustainably, unlike civilised people. I also truly believe that life is better for hunter-gatherer people who are not oppressed by civilisation. I believe they have a connection to the land and to all other life forms that is hard for us civilised people to fathom. They do very little work. In fact, according to studies, they don’t actually even make a distinction between work and play. They don’t give a damn about the hoarding of possessions. Their concept of time is wonderful when compared to civilisation’s “tyranny of the clock”. Hunter-gatherers tend to live in the moment. Anthropology has shown they enjoy a great degree of gender equality and egalitarianism. Many writers speak of a culture of sharing among hunter-gatherer peoples as well. They are generally robust and healthy due to their unprocessed diet and active lifestyle.
One of my favourite accounts of the tyranny of civilisation comes from an anthropologist who many years ago described the inability of the Great Andamanese to comprehend why on Earth prisoners were tilling the fields. The concept of work as a separate and onerous activity is absurd and laughable to hunter-gatherers.
Hunter-gatherers are also anarchists.
American anthropologist Harold Barclay puts it well:
"Anarchy is the order of the day among hunter-gatherers. Indeed, critics will ask why a small face-to-face group needs a government anyway. If this is so we can go further and say that since the egalitarian hunting-gathering society is the oldest type of human society and prevailed for the longest period of time – over thousands of decades – then anarchy must be the oldest and one of the most enduring kinds of polity. Ten thousand years ago everyone was an anarchist."
Most accounts of hunter-gatherers speak of people who reject domination. This is pretty easy to understand. If you live in a band of 60 people and one person starts getting too big for his boots, you can simply tell him to leave. If he insists on staying, you and your people can simply move to an area a few kilometres away.
This is what we call “face-to-face conflict resolution”. We don’t need courts and religion to tell us the difference between right and wrong. In hunter-gatherer society, getting too big for your boots is simply not in your self-interest.
Judging from what I’ve read, however, the movement between bands is quite easy and fluid for hunter-gatherers. So, even if you are “undesirable”, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually find a band of people who accept you.
Hunter-gatherers are also peaceful. Anthropology has shown that organised violence generally appears not too long after domestication.
This is also logical because agriculture depletes the soil. Agriculture takes from the soil and puts nothing back. Agriculture also leads to an increase in population. If you are engaging in agriculture and a sedentary way of life, your landbase will eventually die. You now have a dead landbase and population overshoot.
If you are stubbornly civilised, as most seem to be, you will move to a new landbase and kill that landbase, too. Eventually you will come across a group that has also left a trail of dead land in its wake and ... yup, you guessed it. War happens.
As they say in the excellent “Systemic Failures” radio piece:
“We started walking down this slippery slope ten thousand years ago and it’s because of an inherent problem in agriculture.”
Anyway, North Sentinel Island was where I had to go.
I’ll admit that my plans to go to NSI were incredibly selfish. I’m not sure I realised it at the time, but I now know that the Sentinelese are probably very vulnerable to diseases of civilisation. Apparently, even the common cold of civilisation can prove fatal to these pure people.
I realise this and I realise that it was selfish of me to put them in jeopardy for the sake of my own happiness and enlightenment. However, I was just not willing to spend the rest of my life trapped in civilisation. For the sake of my happiness, I had to escape from this prison.
I had (and still have) a wonderful girlfriend and a great family. Leaving them behind would be very hard, but they would just have to understand.
After my conversation with the Anthropology guy it dawned on me that it wasn’t going to be easy to explain to the civilised why I think their way of life is a joke and why I want to abandon it.
After all, Steve Biko was right when he said “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”.
I realised that I could try to read up on these issues and try to make a difference where I was, but I naively and arrogantly thought that I might be the first person in the world to have had this “light bulb” moment.
The writer of the Men’s Health article showed the cons of civilisation, but he stopped short of saying that civilisation has no benefits.
In short, the thought of trying to change the world all by myself was just too daunting.
So I was going to head to North Sentinel Island.
The next day I got into my car and headed to Middelburg to share this wonderful news with my parents.
To their credit, they were quite understanding about the situation.
Having said this, my Mom did seem close to tears. My Dad said he understood where I was coming from, but he wanted me to get my degree before going. He says a degree is something nobody can ever take away.
“I knew you wouldn’t understand,” I replied.
In hindsight, my Dad was right about finishing my Journalism degree and not making any rash decisions.
I also had a request for my folks; one that I’m not very proud of. I wanted them to give me my inheritance early so that I could start making preparations to go to NSI.
When my conversation with my folks didn’t turn out well, I gave my Mom a hug and told her to not worry about me.
“I’m happy,” I said.
In truth, I had been happy up to the point when everyone started pissing on my idea. I was very distressed on the way from Middelburg back to Pretoria. I think I smoked about 20 cigarettes in the 80 minute drive.
I admit it was a bit of a crazy idea, but I was desperate. I would rather have died than lived the rest of my life as a slave to civilisation.
Then came the time to explain this all to Laura. Up until that point, my girlfriend of one month had thought I was happy.
In a way, she wasn’t wrong. I hadn’t been desperately unhappy. I was fairly popular and confident and I was doing well academically.
Despite my apparent happiness, I had just been going through the motions.
In truth, I was a lost soul and had been for about 5 years if not more. I couldn’t see any meaning in life. I had dabbled in Christianity, hedonism, Buddhism, hard work, selfishness, alcohol, and minor drugs. However, I was never suffered from the delusion that money could buy me happiness. I always knew it was absurd to base your life and your self worth on the accumulation of paper.
In short, I tried most of the substitutes that civilisation gives us to try to make up for a life that has lost its essence. None of these substitutes gave me a lasting sense of peace or satisfaction.
One thing that I didn’t try was really trying to be good and decent to others. As I mention in another post on my blog, by helping others you are helping yourself. I had forgotten this fact.
At some point in my life I had become selfish. I hadn’t always been that way, but somewhere along the line, for some reason, I had forgotten that humans are social animals. I had started living for myself and for my happiness to the exclusion of the wellbeing of others. This selfishness made me miserable.
Understandably, Laura was pretty shocked when I rocked up at her flat in a state of total distress.
I asked her if she wanted to come to NSI with me.
“My whole life is here,” she replied.
“I’ll understand if you don’t want to be with me anymore,” I said.
Being the angel that she is, Laura replied: “Until the time that you go to the island, I’m staying with you.”
I went back to my flat and started making preparations for the trip to NSI.
NSI is a bit more than 30 kilometres from the civilised mainland of the Andaman Islands. I needed to consider which would be the best method of getting to NSI.
I could either take some kind of aircraft, a boat, or I could swim.
I didn’t have much hope of getting an early inheritance, so I would need paper for whichever option I chose. Eventually I decided to go with the swimming option.
I know it sounds crazy, but people have swum further than 30 kilometres in the ocean before. Furthermore, I would have had the benefit of a wetsuit, a snorkel, flippers and goggles.
The reason I didn’t go with the boat option is because it is illegal for anyone to be within a certain radius of NSI. If I had been caught trying to get to NSI, I probably would have been in trouble. Furthermore, all of the fishermen in the area know how dangerous the Sentinelese can be. I would have had trouble explaining to them that I wanted to be dropped off on the island.
The way I see it, the Sentinelese are in touch with nature. Someone in touch with nature is also attuned to human nature. Think of how babies and dogs seem to instinctively know who they can trust. The civilising process gradually retards our innate ability to make these kinds of instinctive judgements. I believed that the Sentinelese would somehow know that I was a good person and that I didn’t mean them any harm.
I could have looked at buying a boat or a helicopter, but that just wasn’t realistic. “Realistic”. That’s an odd choice of word in this context, huh?
So I started swimming twice a day. I figured that if I could train for about a year it would give me enough time to save up the money to get a flight to the Andaman Islands. Furthermore, I had read that the seas in that region are calmest in February. So I was sorted.
One major problem was that I was smoking about 30 cigarettes a day. I knew that I had to quit. My attempts to quit smoking caused me some of the most hellish months of my life. (9)
Despite the numerous failed attempts to quit smoking, I continued to train almost twice a day. I signed up to swim the February 2011 Midmar Mile. This event would give me an indication of my open-water swimming abilities.
The whole time I was doing this I hardly spoke about my plans to a soul. I just told the people around me that I was training for the Midmar to keep fit. The only times I opened up a bit were after alcohol consumption.
One of the people I discussed it with was a mate, Rogan. Rogan is a legend/hippie type of guy. He didn’t judge me for my desire to go to NSI. However, I didn’t tell him how dangerous my excursion would be. I simply said “I want to go and live on an island far from civilisation.”
The self-discipline that Sarina had admired kind of went down the tubes at some point. My self confidence took a massive knock from the suspicion that I might be too weak to quit smoking. My motivation was at an all time low. Just getting out of bed was a mission. Despite my constant swimming, I actually picked up weight due to all the comfort fast food I was eating.
I continued attending varsity classes because I knew that I had to obtain my degree. I wasn’t motivated, but I did what was necessary to pass. I remember doing a profile on a local death metal musician as an assignment for Journalism. (10) The profile had a subtle anti-civilisation slant.
When I wasn’t training or doing varsity work I was watching mindless series like “The Big Bang Theory”. This was purely a distraction from how shit things had become.
Occasionally I would search online for info on modern hunter-gatherers. I was hoping there was some kind of option for me that wasn’t as risky as going to NSI.
I was disappointed.
The Sentinelese could not have chosen a better island to protect them from the cancer of civilisation. The seas around the island are apparently rough for most of the year and the island is protected by jagged reefs.
Other natural people have not been so lucky.
In most of the word, uncivilised people have been destroyed by the dominant culture. There are isolated hunter-gatherers in the inhospitable regions of Australia, pygmies in the Ituri Rainforest up North. You have the Hadza of Tanzania. You have the Bushmen of the Kalahari. You have the Native Americans.
Every single thing I read about the current situation of these natural people made me want to weep.
The pygmies worship their forest and are apparently highly amused by the solemn cultural practices and toil of their civilised Bantu neighbours. Most of us know about the terrible violence in the Congo. Needless to say, the pygmies have been regular victims of violence. Despite their protests, governments are reportedly trying to force some pygmy groups to send their kids to civilised “educational” institutions.
I read an article in the National Geographic magazine about the Hadza people of Tanzania. It was a very well-written article about the way of life of the Hadza. The journalist had travelled to the isolated people with a 4X4 and spent a couple of weeks living with one of the bands.
According to the article, the Tanzanian government is trying to show a “modern” face to the world. Obviously, a group of natural people living in the only sustainable manner known to me is detrimental to the modern, Westernized image.
The writer concludes the article with something along these lines:
“Yes, they’ve lived here for many years without an ecological footprint and they don’t have all of the stresses of civilised life. However, I’m almost certain that the hunter-gatherer way of life is over. To me, their way of life seems like an insanely committed camping trip.” ( http://bit.ly/l1HYZd )
He also talks about how risky their way of life is.
I almost threw my fucking computer against the wall. I’m more understanding of this kind of idiocy nowadays and I try to not let it get to me. This writer’s conclusion is civilised logic at its most deluded.
I’m not going to get into a full-on critique of the writer’s bullshit, but I will say the following: A vast amount of literature has shown that almost all diseases are diseases of civilisation. A brief search on www.amazon.com of “diseases of civilization” will illustrate this.
It also grates me when civilised people’s knees start trembling at the thought of being eaten by a lion.
I recently watched an excellent video of author Derrick Jensen giving a talk about his book “Endgame” on Youtube. He talks about going for walks in the woods without a lantern. Naturally, civilised people thought he was crazy for doing this because the big bad bear lives in the forest.
Jensen responds to this by saying: “One North American is killed every other year by a bear. Almost half a million Americans are killed by cars each year. You want me to be scared of the bears?”
To add to this, if you have seen someone die a slow and painful death from cancer, you too will probably wonder why a civilised person calmly accepts the risks of smoking yet is petrified by lions!
I’m not going to talk much about the San/Bushmen. The civilised government of Botswana chased them off their ancestral land, the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. This was allegedly so that the government could mine diamonds there. The wonderful/sustainable Bushman way of life has been destroyed.
I think I’m one of the few civilised people who use the word “sustainable” in its true sense. When most civilised people talk about sustainability, they’re talking about sustaining civilisation and overconsumption. They’re sure as hell not talking about sustaining a healthy planet for present and future generations. They’re talking about sustaining the industrial economy.
These people think it would be great if, after saving civilisation and the industrial economy, we still have a living planet.
Most people don’t realise the extent of the ecocide that civilisation is causing. I can give you disturbing and reliable stats until I’m blue in the face. However, I now usually refer people to the website www.endciv.com .
END:CIV is a superb documentary about the insanity of civilisation. You can watch it free of charge on the aforementioned website. Perhaps if more people see actual images of the ecocide it will register in their heads.
I will, however, just give you a few fun facts about the current ecocide in case you don’t want to watch END:CIV. I will include ordered links to the sources of these facts at the end of the post.
1) 200 species are going extinct every 24 hours
2) Ninety percent of large fish in the oceans are gone.
3) Climate change is resulting in rapidly melting ice
4) This warming is forcing some mother polar bears to abandon their babies. This is because they now have to swim much bigger distances between glaciers.
5) Mass mammal ecocide is happening right now.
6) Animals are moving further away from the equator on a daily basis due to a changing climate
7) Scientists are expecting a mass marine extinction soon. They say this looming extinction will be bigger than any mass extinction seen in the last 65 million years.
Yup, the Hadza’s way of life sure is an insanely committed camping trip.
I do understand people’s reluctance to admit that civilisation is an iniquitous joke. The “virtues” of civilisation are beaten into us from a young age. The worst perpetrators of this crime are often our parents, schools and churches.
Civilisation is not something that comes naturally to children, neither is language nor manipulation of symbols. It is a culture that they are forced into. If they don’t adapt to the system, they are condemned.
However, I cannot accept wilful ignorance. I have sent well-reasoned critiques of civilisation to seemingly intelligent people and they either find minor or irrelevant points to criticise or they just ignore my articles and comments. The next thing they’re talking about Kim Kardashian or some other bullshit.
I realise that it’s hard for capitalists and eco-anarchists to agree. However, sweeping these issues under the rug is not going to solve anything. Similarly, if we believe the deluded myth that recycling and driving an “eco-friendly” car are going to save the planet, we are doomed. I can already hear future generations cursing us for believing that BULLSHIT! It is the PATHOLOGY OF CIVILISATION that has to stop! It’s the ridiculous notion that humans are the lords of creation that needs to stop! It’s civilised ARROGANCE that needs to stop!
Most civilised people act like nature was created for human profit. They think it’s their right to convert living beings into commodities for sale and profit. That needs to stop!
In evolutionary terms, humans are still young compared to other creatures. We sure as hell aren’t showing our elders the respect they deserve.
I love how John Trudell speaks about this in Systemic Failures/Bone Days:
“We are the human beings. The bone, flesh and blood of the human is literally made up of the metals, minerals and liquids of the Earth. So we are parts of the Earth. We are shapes of the Earth. We are forms of the Earth. All of the things of the Earth have the same DNA as the human does. Everything of the Earth has the same DNA as the human. Everything is made up of the metals, minerals and liquids of the Earth, but the shape is just different...
We have being. That’s our essence. That’s our spirit. All of the things of the Earth have the same DNA as the human has so all the things of the Earth have being … spirit. Our relationship to power and reality is in that understanding of who we are. We are forms of the Earth and that’s reality. Nothing will ever change that reality.”
Ignorance and denial are widespread in the civilised world. In END:CIV, they say that activists need to realise that the majority of the population will never be on our side.
I hope that’s not the case in South Africa, but the following facts show that it might be:
One hardly ever hears about ecocide on mainstream news, despite the fact that it’s the biggest problem facing today’s generation. If you do hear reporting on ecocide, it’s generally industrial apologists waxing lyrical about solar and wind power to sustain the industrial economy. It makes me want to throw up. Yes, these new technologies are better than some things, but we can’t be brainwashing people into thinking that more technology is the only solution to a dying planet.
If we truly open our eyes, we’ll realise that any way of life that’s based on the abuse of finite resources will not last. As Derrick Jensen says, “It’s not rocket science.” We can fantasise all we want, but life in the Stone Age was the only way of life that was ever sustainable for humans.
So if you can see the logic in the above statement, you will probably agree that the sooner we go back to the Stone Age way of life, the better. Seeing as civilisation is destroying the planet at a steady pace, the sooner it comes down the more life will remain afterwards.
So, in a nutshell, our current “luxurious” way of life, which has never been sustainable, is doing us no good and it’s also stealing the future from future generations. This is truly insane.
Down with totalitarian agriculture! Down with domestication!
We are wild beings who have evolved to live in connection with our mother Earth and to have respect for the circle of life, including our place in it.
We are so lucky to be a part of this beautiful circle of life. Yes, animals eat other animals. That’s the way it has always been and that is the way it always will be. I believe in the Gaia hypothesis and I recognise that having respect for what you eat is a concept that is very difficult for the civilised mind to understand.
We need to recognise that there are power structures responsible for the destruction of our planet. It is not just you or me. You and I have been born or forced into this system. Selling my car and walking to work is not going to stop the sociopaths of the oil industry. There are people on this planet who benefit, or at least think they benefit, from destroying life. The hot shots from the oil companies and the corporations may think they are happy because they possess many pieces of paper and are “successful” in the civilised sense of the word.
Though this may help them sleep at night, I would like to tell them that they’re possibly the worst victims of civilisation.
As long as we have agriculture there’s a good chance the population will continue to grow. The problem is not with lack of education about contraception, it’s with agriculture. The drive for “abstinence”, “birth control”, and “education” is another example of civilised logic. I’ve spoken to people who advocate educating the masses and giving money to people to be sterilised. This is just another example of civilised reasoning. Civilisation tries to deal with the symptoms of the cancer. We should be getting to the root of the cancer. The cancer, of course, is civilisation.
The problem is agriculture, not sexual reproduction.
Most people who blame overpopulation for all of the world’s problems have children themselves. Who the hell are you to tell another animal that he or she shouldn’t reproduce? How does having more pieces of paper give you the right to bring life into the world? Those pieces of paper do not make you better than your neighbour.
We are animals. We reproduce.
As long as there is agriculture, there will be overpopulation.
Because the adoption of agriculture and thus a sendentary existence leads to more consumption of carbohydrates. According to a woman speaking on Systemic Failures, any woman who eats excessive carbohydrates and is sedentary ovulates more often. (11) It’s as simple as that.
But I digress.
Reading about the genocide of sustainable life filled me with despair. NSI truly did seem like my only option.
Eventually, during my research, I came across the term “anarcho-primitivism” (AP). Someone online had written something about AP being “a rejection of civilisation”.
I excitedly searched the term on Wikipedia and my life was changed forever. I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS SEEN THE LIGHT! HALLELUJAH!
I realise that it’s risky and arrogant to claim that one has the answer to all of the world’s problems.
However, I’m going to steal the words of Charles Barkley on this one and say:
“I may be wrong, but I doubt it.”
I’m not only here to tell you that you are wrong. I’m here to stimulate debate. If you think I am wrong, please tell me why. This way we can start talking about the biggest problems that the world is facing and real solutions to these problems.
After reading the Wikipedia article on AP I immediately ordered a book called “Against Civilization”, a compilation of essays edited by one of my heroes, John Zerzan.
Whenever I think that I’ve had it rough, I spare a thought for John Zerzan.
John Zerzan identified the idiocy of civilisation long before ecocide became as obvious as it is today. Sure, there were people before Zerzan like Sigmund Freud, Fredy Perlman and others who also understood the pathology of civilisation. However, John Zerzan took the subject and really immersed himself in it.
This immersion is something that I believe is sorely lacking in today’s generation. It’s similar to the denial and wilful ignorance that I’ve come across. Just today I was driving between Middelburg and Johannesburg. A drive between Middelburg and Joburg is enough to make one realise that the USA isn’t the only country where ecocide is taking place. Most of the landscape between my hometown and Joburg has been raped by agriculture. Where there isn’t agriculture, there is a massive dump of sand where people have been mining.
“There’s a lot of ecological destruction, isn’t there?” I asked my passenger.
“Ja,” he replied wistfully.
And that’s all I got out of him.
It made me realise that many people are not oblivious to the ecocide; just don’t expect them to do anything more than recycle.
I know that not everyone is going to go and sabotage an electricity plant (or whatever) to stop the destruction, but at least they should TALK about the destruction. QUESTION the civilisation that is causing this destruction.
Let’s reject industrial apologists who say that we need more technology to fix the problems that technology created!
A rather wise man by the name of Albert Einstein had a fair amount to say about technology:
1. “Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
2. “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
3. “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Einstein’s condemnation of technology is undeniable.
I recently heard Obama say that the United Snakes are not showing enough technological initiative and that they must increase the budget for space exploration.
I’m sorry to break this to you, Obummer, but you are an earthling. We simply don’t have a planet B. We don’t even know (and possibly will never know) if life exists on another planet. Our ancestors have adapted to life on Earth for millions of years. Why are you trying to deny your heritage? I, for one, am proud to be a creature of this beautiful planet and will do what it takes to protect my heritage.
Instead of looking for intelligence on another planet, perhaps you should try to see if there’s any intelligence or wisdom in this rapacious civilisation.
As Jack Johnson says, “The wisdom’s in the trees, not the glass windows.”
Space exploration is another example of insanity. Civilised man cannot just accept that he is a part of a beautiful and mysterious circle of life. Neither can he accept that he is only a tiny speck in this massive universe.
We may never know why we are here, but I’ll tell you one thing: I certainly don’t think all of this civilisation has brought us closer to the meaning of life. Organised religion is nothing more than an attempt to create another world to live in because present reality has become too much to bear.
The best answer I’ve come across with regard to the meaning of life comes from a wise man called Thomas Berry:
“Our job is to participate in the great hymn of praise that is existence.”
The fact that I am so small sometimes frightens me, too. However, I accept that there are some things about the universe that I will never know or understand. However, I would rather think of this as awe-inspiring than depressing.
What I do know is that I am on this planet here and now. As far as I know, Earth is the only planet that supports human life. I also know that we have a wonderful and mysterious planet.
I wonder about civilised people who want to spend trillions of dollars to look at a piece of rock in outer space. They could be using those trillions to feed starving children.
Similarly, the United Snakes could be using their massive military budget for good. But the US government knows that their landscape is dying if not dead. They know that they rely on their neighbours for “resources”. What we have on our hands is a global arms race and a resource war.
I read an article recently about a study performed by scientists who said there was a chance of alien attacks on civilisation (3).
I mention that it was scientists who said this, because most civilised humans respect science more than they respect their senses.
These scientists said that if aliens see what we’re doing to our planet, there’s a chance they’ll intervene to stop industrial civilisation from destroying the planet. Coming from scientists, that’s quite powerful.
That’s right, Obama. The intelligent life in outer space would probably realise what an idiot you are. By approving the abominable Keystone tar sands Pipeline, you are condemning your children to a potentially unsurviveable climate.
Furthermore, as much of a sociopath as you may be, I think even you would want a world with forests and open landscapes for your kids. I’m talking about landscape that hasn’t been raped by logging and industrial agriculture.
But you had to create more jobs, didn’t you? You had to keep the economic machine and corporate profits rolling, didn’t you?
How short-sighted can you be, Barack? THERE WON’T BE ANY JOBS ON A DEAD PLANET!
South Africa’s government and many of its people also seem to have swallowed the myth of “progress”. Industrial agriculture is causing huge population growth and poverty. So now we grow the economic machine so that there are more jobs for the masses.
Just recently I read an article about a South African minister saying our country needs to be allowed more polluting technologies to “catch up” with the “developed world.” Once we have caught up, she said, maybe we’ll invest in “clean energy”.
Yup, that’s what states are made for. To my knowledge, they’re there to maximise profits for the elite and minimise costs. That’s the way it’s always been and potentially always will be. That is, until there’s either no planet left or no state left.
I choose option B: no state.
The state has done nothing but oppress the masses for the benefit of the few since it came into existence. The state may keep on doing what it does unless people stand up and say “Enough is Enough!”
“Deep Green Resistance” talks a lot about “a culture of resistance”. This is something that seems to have been lacking in America. From what I’ve heard, apathy is widespread. It’s not surprising. As civilisation escalates its death march, the slaves of industrialisation feel the desolation all the more. Wage slaves sit in cramped offices all day long to earn paper while the beautiful world waits to be explored, enjoyed and protected for present and future generations.
John Trudell put it succinctly: “They are mining us.”
Corporations and governments are mining us. We’re in a rat race that ends on our death beds.
Once on their death beds, I wonder how many of the hot shots of today will ask the nurse to contact their money. Because there’s nothing more comforting than a pile of money at your bedside to comfort you as you slip into eternal darkness.
Some people have been mined to such an extent that they don’t even realise that their hatred of life is in fact a hatred of civilisation. Life is, in fact, beautiful, happy and full of meaning. Just ask any land-based community that hasn’t been ripped apart by civilisation.
I digressed again.
I decided to read as many Zerzan and eco-anarchist books as possible to keep me motivated for my swim to NSI.
I know. It still seems crazy.
After reading books by John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen I realised that there was something I could do to stop civilisation’s death march. “Deep Green Resistance” by Jensen, McBay and Keith gives a lot of ways of fighting back.
I don’t necessarily agree with the whole book, but it’s extremely necessary for us to start thinking about what actions are necessary in order to save life on Earth for ourselves, all other species, and for future generations.
It’s not about saving civilisation or saving the industrial economy. It’s about having a healthy land with clean water and air. As Jensen says, that’s all that future generations are going to care about.
It’s all about the health of the land.
Some environmentalists withdraw into their retreat of enlightenment and say: “If I can just change myself, I can change the world.”
In an ideal world, that might be the case. However, in the current situation, we need to recognise that some people in power are sociopaths whose power means more to them than anything else.
Derrick Jensen does not condemn acts of sabotage in defense of the planet. If someone as smart and peace-loving as Jensen is willing to defend sabotage/ecotage/monkeywrenching, perhaps we should sit up and take notice.
Jensen has spent many years writing very well-reasoned books and giving talks about the truth of civilisation. Despite this, the rape of the planet has continued and escalated. From what I’ve heard, he was a strict pacifist until recently. He has obviously decided that the dominant culture cannot be persuaded and must be forced to relearn how to live in harmony with the land and other beings.
The situation is obviously not as dire in South Africa as it is in North America. The SA government is also not nearly as repressive as the United Snakes are. Furthermore, I’ve realised that South Africans are not as apathetic about ecology as most Americans seem to be. I was surprised and heartened by the number of South Africans who are taking a stand against fracking in the Karoo, for example.
Similarly, I was very pleased to hear about the number of people who protested against Eskom’s upcoming role in UN climate talks. (4)
This is a culture of resistance at work! I love it!
What we also need to do, however, is start preparing for energy collapse. Energy collapse and peak oil are widely discussed in “Deep Green Resistance”. The documentary END:CIV explains energy collapse better than I ever could.
In a nutshell, cheap oil is not going to be around for much longer. I suppose many would argue that the age of cheap oil is already over. Either way, petrol is only going to get more expensive. We need to start getting ready for this phenomenon. Cheap oil is used to transport our food. Therefore, we need to become more self-sufficient. We need to start learning about ecologically ethical ways of growing food. “Deep Green Resistance” speaks of permaculture, horticulture and perennial polycultures. These are practices that I also need to learn more about.
If you don’t want to become more self-sufficient, that’s your choice. You’ll be forced to eventually, though. The problem I have with delaying self-sufficiency is that alarming things regarding oil extraction are happening right now. For example, oil sociopaths look set to start drilling in the Arctic ( http://lat.ms/oIXgX1 ) Similarly, as END:CIV shows, the tar sands are causing death and destruction right now.
By stubbornly keeping our addiction to oil alive and refusing to realise that it’s a finite resource, we are condemning ourselves to more climate change and ecocide.
We also need to realise that the majority of air pollution associated with cars comes from the mining and manufacturing of cars. Most people think it comes from the tailpipe, but apparently that’s not true. (5)
Anyway, I eventually came to the realisation that trying to swim to NSI was a very cowardly thing to do. There are things I can do in the civilised world that can prevent the dominant culture from killing the wonderful Sentinelese.
I now realise that even if I do go to North Sentinel Island, an uncured cancer of civilisation will probably make sure I’m also affected by global warming and industrial fishing.
Wait a second … I think I just smelt a climate change denier.
I’d like to introduce you to Rick Perry, Republican and US presidential candidate. As his home of Texas burns from a drought, he continues to deny that climate change is anthropogenic. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a few million dollars in his pocket from oil companies. This kind of evil has been happening for a while.
Even more hilarious is the fact that Rick Perry argues that investment in “renewable energy” (yawn) would be too expensive. Never mind that environmental disasters have cost the United Snakes billions recently. The mind boggles.
Over 90 percent of climate scientists in the world agree that the climate change caused by civilisation is real. (6)
Three percent of scientists, however, deny climate change. At least they deny that it’s linked to civilised ecocide. The general consensus is that these puppets (the three percent) are also paid millions by oil companies to deny the phenomenon.
It’s like someone said on Twitter recently - “If 97 percent of people told you that your baby was sick, and 3 percent said she wasn’t, how would you react?”
I thought this was pretty well said, except for the fact that the Earth is not our baby, she is our mother. In the words of Jesse Wolf Hardin: “How can you own that which precedes you, contains you, and outlasts you?”
My other favourite quote on climate change comes from scientist James Hansen:
“The only defense of this monstrous absurdity (cap and trade schemes) that I have heard is, ‘Well, you are right, it’s no good, but the train has left the station.’ If the train has left, it had better be derailed soon or the planet, and all of us, will be in deep doo-doo.”
A lot of civilised people use excuses like “the train has left the station” or “you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube”. But, as John Zerzan says, “It’s not inevitable. It’s only inevitable if we don’t do anything about it.”
Nothing is inevitable and if you say that ecocide and genocide are inevitable then you are a coward of the worst kind.
I am so sick of the ridiculous and arrogant assumption that humans are superior to other animals. The pathology of civilisation is to blame for this delusion and so is The Bible. I’m not sure if other religions also promote an anthropocentric world view, but I was brought up a Christian and this myth that humans have the right to control nature had a profoundly negative effect on my life.
It is similarly absurd that some civilised humans claim that only humans can tell the difference between right and wrong. This assertion is hilarious coming from someone whose culture has engaged in ecological and genocidal warfare, invented nuclear bombs, and kept animals (human and nonhuman) as slaves.
As John Zerzan has shown, symbolic thought and intelligence are not synonymous (7). The fact that we speak a flawed symbolic language doesn’t mean that our animal brothers and sisters do not communicate. It simply means that they communicate differently. Even Sigmund Freud suspected that telepathy was “the archaic means of communication”. Non-civilised animals use all of their senses to communicate, not just their mouths.
Have you ever just looked into the eyes of someone you love? You didn’t need words to communicate how you felt, did you?
Similarly, Wynn and others have shown conclusively that pre-historical humans were our equals in intelligence (8). Therefore the racist argument that the Hadza are simply too stupid to build nuclear weapons and Twitter aren’t going to work on me.
Finally, I would like to condemn the words “green”, “environmentalism” and “conservation”.
The word “green” has been stolen by industrial apologists. Calling an activity “green” now means “less pollution while keeping the economic machine running.” We call this a “greenwashing”.
In case you haven’t noticed, we live on a finite planet. Perpetual economic growth is simply not on the cards.
The word “environmentalism” is used by industrial propagandists to dismiss things that scientists say. It is not just environmentalists who say climate change and tar sands are bad. It is scientists, you idiot. Environmentalists use scientific studies as their source of knowledge about ecocide. You civilised people worship science, remember?
So I would like the media to stop using the phrase “environmentalists say” to ridicule and undermine scientific information.
For the same reason, I would also like them to stop saying “conservationists say”.
I don’t particularly like the moniker “Deep Green Resistance”. You already know why I have come to despise the word “green”.
Furthermore, every time that well-dressed industrial apologist Phillipe Cousteau Junior appears on CNN’s “Green Pioneers” to wax lyrical about wind turbines I want to punch the wall.
For a long time I have wondered what I should call myself. I realise that it’s a civilised tendency to always want to label things, but I’m just as much a victim of the pathology as you are. It is also a daily struggle for me to free my mind from the tyranny of civilisation.
I started with the label “anarcho-primitivist”, but then decided this term was begging for racism from capitalists.
Then I was a “deep green resister”. Unfortunately, that sounded a bit like an eco-friendly kitchen appliance to me.
Then I was a “deep green anarchist”.
But today I am an “eco-anarchist”. I like this one. It doesn’t contain the word “green”.
I also hate the term “environmental impact”. This phrase is also used by the civilised to make it seem like ecocide is acceptable as long as humans benefit from it in the short term.
I reject the assertion that any form or amount of ecocide is acceptable.
On a side note, an incident occurred last night that made me once again appreciate the beauty of anarchy. We as anarchists fight against all forms of domination. We as eco-anarchists realise that there cannot be human freedom without freedom for the rest of the natural world.
The incident I’m talking about happened as I was leaving Hatfield Square’s parking lot. A car full of jocks drove past and started giving me shit for some stupid reason.
I simply gave them the finger and told them to fuck off.
If these chauvinistic chops had had the balls to stop their car and get out I would have fucked them up. Don’t ever try to dominate or insult me or those I love.
I believe in freedom. I will not dominate or exploit you, and I expect the same treatment.
I would like to leave you with an extract from Kirkpatrick Sale’s writing that I really like:
“The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them. Take our crazy energy consumption. For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”
“I mean, sure, go ahead and live a responsible environmental life; recycle, compost, ride a push-bike; but do it because it is the right, moral thing to do—not because it’s going to save the planet. If we really want to understand why this happened we have to ask ourselves another question: ‘Why is it that we seem willing to live with the threat of apocalypse rather than trying to seriously alter a world where consumption, of anything, is seen as unrelieved virtue, production, of anything, is regarded as a social and economic necessity, and more, of anything (like children or cars or chemicals or PhDs or golf courses or recycling centres), is unquestioningly accepted?’
There is a lot of work to be done, but I know that working together we can do it.
If you would like to now take action that goes beyond recycling and energy-efficient light bulbs, visit www.deepgreenresistance.org
Facts on Ecocide
(2) John Zerzan - Running on Emptiness, The Pathology of Civilization
(5) http://www.derrickjensen.org/work/published/essays-interviews/jan-lundberg-green-living/ )
(7) John Zerzan, Running on Emptiness
(8) John Zerzan, Running on Emptiness
(9) “How quitting smoking has changed my life”, Mark Esterhuysen
( markesterhuysen.blogspot.com )
(10) “The Truth in Anger”, Mark Esterhuysen markesterhuysen.blogspot.com