Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization. According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation. Anarcho-primitivists advocate a return to non-"civilized" ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of division of labour or specialization, and abandonment of technology. There are other non-anarchist forms of primitivism, and not all primitivists point to the same phenomenon as the source of modern, civilized problems.

Many traditional anarchists reject the critique of civilization, many even denying that anarcho-primitivism has anything to do with anarchism, while some, such as Wolfi Landstreicher, endorse the critique but do not consider themselves anarcho-primitivists. Anarcho-primitivists are often distinguished by their focus on the praxis of achieving a feral state of being through "rewilding".


Anarcho-primitivists argue that prior to the advent of agriculture, humans lived in small, nomadic bands which were socially, politically, and economically egalitarian. Being without hierarchy, these bands are sometimes viewed as embodying a precursor to anarchism. John Moore writes that anarcho-primitivism seeks "to expose, challenge and abolish all the multiple forms of power that structure the individual, social relations, and interrelations with the natural world." [ [ A Primitivist Primer: what is anarcho-primitivism? ] ] Primitivists hold that as a result of agriculture, the growing masses of humanity subtly became evermore beholden to technological processes and abstract power structures arising from the division of labour and hierarchism. Primitivists disagree over what degree of horticulture might be present in an anarchist society, with some arguing that permaculture could have a role but others advocating a strictly hunter-gatherer subsistence.

Despite its rejection of what it characterizes as scientism, primitivism has drawn heavily upon cultural anthropology and archaeology. Within the last half-century, societies once viewed as barbaric have been largely reevaluated by academics, some of whom now hold that early humans lived in relative peace and prosperity. Frank Hole, an early-agriculture specialist, and Kent Flannery, a specialist in Mesoamerican civilization, have noted that, "No group on earth has more leisure time than hunters and gatherers, who spend it primarily on games, conversation and relaxing."cite book
author=Kirkpatrick Sale
title=Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision
publisher=Sierra Club Books |location=San Francisco |year=1985 |isbn=0871568470 |oclc=11811919
] cite book
author=John M. Gowdy
title=Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics
publisher=Island Press

Scholars such as Karl Polanyi and Marshall Sahlins characterized primitive societies as gift economies with "goods valued for their utility or beauty rather than cost; commodities exchanged more on the basis of need than of exchange value; distribution to the society at large without regard to labor that members have invested; labor performed without the idea of a wage in return or individual benefit, indeed largely without the notion of 'work' at all." [ [ Future Primitive] ] Other scholars and thinkers such as Paul Shepard, influenced by anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, have written of the "Evolutionary Principle" which roughly states that when a species is removed from its natural habitat its behaviors will become pathological. Shepard has written at length on ways in which the human species' natural "ontogeny", which developed through millions of years of evolution in a foraging mode of existence, has been disrupted due to a sedentary lifestyle caused by agriculture. [ [ PaulShepardindex ] ]


Anarcho-primitivists view civilization as the logic, institutions, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. They focus primarily on the question of origins. Civilization is seen as the underlying problem or root of oppression, and must therefore be dismantled or destroyed.

Anarcho-primitivists describe the rise of civilization as the shift over the past 10,000 years from an existence within and deeply connected to the web of life, to one separated from and in control of the rest of life. They argue that prior to civilization there generally existed ample leisure time, considerable gender equality and social equality, a non-destructive approach to the natural world, the absence of organized violence, no mediating or formal institutions, and strong health and robustness. Anarcho-primitivists state that civilization inaugurated warfare, the subjugation of women, population growth, busy work, concepts of property, entrenched hierarchies, as well as encouraging the spread of diseases. They claim that civilization begins with and relies on an enforced renunciation of instinctual freedom and that it is impossible to reform away such a renunciation.

Critique of symbolic culture

Anarcho-primitivists view the shift towards an increasingly symbolic culture as highly problematic in the sense that it separates us from direct interaction. Often the response to this view is something to the effect of, “So, you just want to grunt?" [ [ An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Anarchist Thought] ] This might be the desire of a few, but typically the critique is regarding the problems inherent with a form of communication and comprehension that relies primarily on symbolic thought at the expense (and even exclusion) of other sensual and unmediated means of comprehension. The emphasis on the symbolic is a departure from direct experience into mediated experience in the form of language, art, number, time, etc.

Anarcho-primitivists argue that symbolic culture filters our entire perception through formal and informal symbols and separates us from direct and unmediated contact with reality. It goes beyond just giving things names, and extends to having an indirect relationship with a distorted image of the world that has passed through the lens of representation. It is debatable whether humans are "hard-wired" for symbolic thought, or if it developed as a cultural change or adaptation, but, according to anarcho-primitivists, the symbolic mode of expression and understanding is limited and deceptive, and over-dependence upon it leads to objectification, alienation, and perceptual tunnel vision. Many anarcho-primitivists promote and practice getting back in touch with and rekindling dormant and/or underutilized methods of interaction and cognition, such as touch and smell, as well as experimenting with and developing unique and personal modes of comprehension and expression.

The domestication of life

Domestication, according to primitivists, is the process that civilization uses to induct and control life according to its strictly ordered logic. Essentially, domestication is the tendency of civilization, as an orderly, predictable system, to attempt to assimilate the entire rest of the universe into itself, to make the whole world into one colossal orderly, predictable system. The mechanisms of domestication are said to include: taming, breeding, genetically modifying, schooling, caging, intimidating, coercing, extorting from, promising, contracting, governing, enslaving, terrorizing, murdering, etc. Domestication is a pathological (read: "borne out of fear") power-process begun by some groups of early humans who wished to reduce the uncertainties and dangers of life, attempting to manufacture a completely safe and organised existence. It is ultimately this force that primitivists (especially anarcho-primitivists) array themselves against.Fact|date=May 2007

Primitivists also describe it (more specifically) as the process by which previously nomadic human populations shift towards a sedentary or settled existence through agriculture and animal husbandry. They claim that this kind of domestication demands a totalitarian relationship with both the land and the plants and animals being domesticated - ultimately, it even requires a totalitarian relationship with humanity. They say that whereas, in a state of wildness, all life shares and competes for resources, domestication destroys this balance. The domesticated landscape (e.g. pastoral lands/agricultural fields and, to a lesser degree, horticulture and gardening) is seen to necessitate the end of open sharing of the resources that formerly existed; where once “this was everyone’s,” it is now “mine.” Anarcho-primitivists argue that this notion of ownership laid the foundation for social hierarchy as property and power emerged. It inevitably entailed the cultivation and exploitation of the surrounding environs and the creation of a simultaneous monopoly and monopsony by humans, and for humans - generating over time the value-based social structures we now know in which every conceivable physical thing from food to earth to genes to ideas are viewed as quantifiable assets, which are someone's private property. It also involved the destruction, enslavement, or assimilation of other groups of early people who did not attempt to make such a transition, or who were not as far along in the transition as the destroying, enslaving, and assimilating groups.

To primitivists, domestication not only changes the ecology from a free to a totalitarian order, it enslaves the species that are domesticated, as well as the domesticators themselves. According to primitivism, then, humans are nearing the beginning of the last phase of the domestication process as we are now experimenting with direct genetic engineering, and are making dramatic and frightening advances in the fields of psychology, anthropology, and sociology. This thereby allows us to quantify and objectify ourselves, until we too become commodities and property of no greater or lesser fundamental import than any other asset.

Origins and dynamics of patriarchy

Anarcho-primitivists hold that toward the beginning in the shift to civilization, an early product of domestication is patriarchy: the formalization of male domination and the development of institutions which reinforce it. Anarcho-primitivists say that by creating false gender distinctions and divisions between men and women, civilization, again, creates an “other” that can be objectified, controlled, dominated, utilized, and commodified. They see this as running parallel to the domestication of plants for agriculture and animals for herding, in general dynamics, and also in the specifics like the control of reproduction. Primitivists say that as in other realms of social stratification, roles are assigned to women in order to establish a very rigid and predictable order, beneficial to hierarchy. They claim that women came to be seen as property, no different from the crops in the field or the sheep in the pasture. Primitivists argue that ownership and absolute control, whether of land, plants, animals, slaves, children, or women, is part of the established dynamic of civilization.

Patriarchy, to a primitivist, demands the subjugation of the feminine and the usurpation of nature, propelling us toward total annihilation. They argue further that it defines power, control and dominion over wildness, freedom and life. They say that patriarchal conditioning dictates all of our interactions: with ourselves, our sexuality, our relationships to each other, and our relationship to nature. They claim it severely limits the spectrum of possible experience.

Division of labor and specialization

Anarcho-primitivists tend to see division of labor and specialization as fundamental and irreconcilable problems, decisive to social relationship within civilization. They see this disconnecting of the ability to care for ourselves and provide for our own needs as a technique of separation and dis-empowerment perpetuated by civilization. Specialization is seen as leading to inevitable inequalities of influence and undermining egalitarian relationships.

Rejection of science

Primitivists reject modern science as a method of understanding the world with a view to changing it. Science is not considered to be neutral by primitivists. It is seen as loaded with the motives and assumptions that come out of, and reinforce, civilization.

Modern scientific thought, according to primitivists, attempts to see the world as a collection of separate objects to be observed and understood. In order to accomplish this task, primitivists believe that scientists must distance themselves emotionally and physically, to have a one-way channel of information moving from the observed thing to the observer's self, which is defined as not a part of that thing.

Primitivists argue that this mechanistic worldview is tantamount to being the dominant religion of our time. Believing that science seeks to deal only with the quantitative, primitivists suggest that it does not admit subjective values or emotions. While primitivists perceive science as claiming that only those things that are reproducible, predictable, and the same for all observers are real and important, primitivists believe that reality itself is not reproducible, predictable, or the same for all observers.

Science is seen by primitivists as only partially considering reality, and is therefore guilty of putative reductionism. Observability, objectifiability, quantifiability, predictability, controllability, and uniformity are said to be the objects and means of science. This, say primitivists, leads to the world view that everything should be objectified, quantified, controlled, and in uniformity with everything and everyone else. Primitivists also see science as promoting the idea that anomalous experience, anomalous ideas, and anomalous people should be cast off or destroyed like imperfectly shaped machine components.

The problem of technology

Primitivists denounce modern technology completely. They see it as a complex system involving division of labor, resource extraction, and exploitation for the benefit of those who implement its process. They argue that the interface with and result of modern technology is always an alienated, mediated, and distorted reality. Modern technology too, like science, is seen as not being value-neutral. The values and goals of those who produce and control technology are believed always to be embedded within it.

Modern technology is held by primitivists to be distinct from simple tools in many regards. A simple tool is considered a temporary usage of an element within our immediate surroundings, used for a specific task. Tools are not viewed as involving complex systems which alienate the user from the act. Primitivists claim that this separation is implicit in technology, which creates an unhealthy and mediated experience which leads to various forms of authority. Domination is said to increase every time a modern “time-saving” technology is created, as primitivists claim it necessitates the construction of more technology to support, fuel, maintain, and repair the original technology. It is argued by primitivists that this leads very rapidly to the establishment of a complex technological system that seems to have an existence independent of the humans who created it. Primitivists believe that this system methodically destroys, eliminates, or subordinates the natural world, constructing a world fit only for machines.

Production and industrialism

According to primitivists a key component of the modern techno-capitalist structure is industrialism, the mechanized system of production built on centralized power and the exploitation of people and nature. Industrialism cannot exist, they say, without genocide, ecocide, and colonialism. They further say that to maintain it, coercion, land evictions, forced labor, cultural destruction, assimilation, ecological devastation, and global trade are accepted as necessary, even benign. Primitivists claim industrialism’s standardization of life objectifies and commodifies it, viewing all life as a potential resource. They see their critique of industrialism as a natural extension of the anarchist critique of the state because they see industrialism as inherently authoritarian.

The primitivist argument against industrialism is such: In order to maintain an industrial society, one must set out to conquer and colonize lands in order to unsustainably acquire (generally) non-renewable resources to construct, feed, fuel, and grease the machines. This colonialism is rationalized by racism, sexism, and cultural chauvinism. In the process of acquiring these resources, people must be forced off their land. Additionally, in order to make people work in the factories that produce the machines, they must be dispossessed, enslaved, made dependent, and otherwise subjected to the destructive, toxic, degrading industrial system.

Primitivists hold that industrialism cannot exist without massive centralization and specialization. Furthermore, they hold that industrialism demands that resources be shipped from all over the globe in order to perpetuate its existence, and this globalism, they say, undermines local autonomy and self-sufficiency.

Finally primitivists contend that a mechanistic worldview is behind industrialism, and that this same world-view has justified slavery, genocide, ecocide, and the subjugation of women.

Beyond Leftism

Primitivists do not see themselves as part of the Left ("see also post-left anarchy"). Rather they view the socialist and liberal orientations as corrupt. Primitivists argue that the Left has proven itself to be a monumental failure in its objectives. The Left, according to primitivists, is a general term and can roughly describe all socialist leanings (from social democrats and liberals to Maoists and Stalinists) which wish to re-socialize “the masses” into a more “progressive” agenda, often using coercive and manipulative approaches in order to create a false “unity” or the creation of political parties. While primitivists understand that the methods or extremes in implementation may differ, the overall push is seen as the same: the institution of a collectivized and monolithic world-view based on morality.

Against mass society

Most anarchists and “revolutionaries" spend a significant portion of their time developing schemes and mechanisms for production, distribution, adjudication, and communication between large numbers of people; in other words, the functioning of a complex society. Primitivists do not accept the premise of global (or even regional) social, political, and economic coordination and interdependence, or the organization needed for their administration. They reject mass society for practical and philosophical reasons. First, they reject the inherent governmental representation necessary for the functioning of situations outside the realm of direct experience (completely decentralized modes of existence). They do not wish to run society or organize a different society. They want a completely different frame of reference. They want a world where each group is autonomous and decides on its own terms how to live, with all interactions being non-coercive, based on affinity, freedom, and openness.

According to primitivists, mass society brutally collides not only with autonomy and the individual, but also with the earth and the network of ecological relationships which make up its living communities. They see it as simply not sustainable (in terms of the resource extraction, transportation, and communication systems necessary for any global economic system). It cannot continue indefinitely, nor is it possible to create alternative plans for a sustainable and humane mass society.

Liberation and organization

Primitivists argue that organizational models only provide us with more of the same. While it is recognized by some primitivists that there might be an occasional good intention, the organizational model is seen as coming from an inherently paternalistic and distrusting mindset which they hold is contradictory to anarchy. Primitivists believe that true relationships of affinity come from a deep understanding of one another through intimate need-based relationships of day-to-day life, not relationships based on organizations, ideologies, or abstract ideas. They say that the organizational model suppresses individual needs and desires for “the good of the collective” as it attempts to standardize both resistance and vision. From parties, to platforms, to federations, primitivists argue that as the scale of projects increase, the meaning and relevance they have to an individual’s own life decrease.

Rather than the familiar organizational model, primitivists advocate the use of informal, affinity-based associations that they claim tend to minimize alienation from decision-making processes, and reduce mediation between our desires and our actions.

Revolution vs. reform

As anarchists, primitivists are fundamentally opposed to government, and likewise, any sort of collaboration or mediation with the state (or any institution of hierarchy and control)—except as a matter of tactical expediency. This position determines a certain continuity or direction of strategy, historically referred to as revolution. By revolution, primitivists mean the ongoing struggle to alter the social and political landscape in a fundamental way: for anarchists, this means its complete dismantling. The word “revolution” is seen as dependent on the position from which it is directed, as well as what would be termed “revolutionary” activity. Again, for anarchists, this is activity which is aimed at the complete dissolution of abstract power.

Reform, on the other hand, is seen as entailing any activity or strategy aimed at adjusting, altering, or selectively maintaining elements of the current system, typically utilizing the methods or apparatus of that system. The goals and methods of revolution, it is argued, cannot be dictated by, nor performed within, the context of the system. For anarchists, revolution and reform invoke incompatible methods and aims, and despite the use of certain pragmatic expedient approaches, do not exist on a continuum.

For primitivists, revolutionary activity questions, challenges, and works to dismantle the entire set-up or paradigm of civilization. Revolution is not seen as a far-off or distant singular event which we build towards or prepare people for, but instead, a way of life, or a practice of approaching situations.


Anarchists contribute to an anti-authoritarian push, which challenges all abstract power on a fundamental level, striving for truly egalitarian relationships and promoting communities based upon mutual aid . Primitivists, however, extend ideas of non-domination to all life, not just human life, going beyond the traditional anarchist's analysis. From anthropologists, primitivists are informed with a look at the origins of civilization, so as to understand what they are up against and how they got here, to help inform a change in direction. Inspired by the Luddites, primitivists rekindle an anti-technological/industrial direct action orientation. Insurrectionalists infuse a perspective which waits not for the fine-tuning of critique, but identifies and spontaneously attacks civilization's current institutions.

Primitivists claim they owe much to the Situationists, and their critique of the Spectacle and alienating commodity society. Deep ecology informs the primitivist perspective with an understanding that the well-being and flourishing of all life is linked to the awareness of the inherent worth and intrinsic value of the non-human world independent of its economic use value. Primitivists see deep ecology’s appreciation for the richness and diversity of life as contributing to the realization that present human interference with the non-human world is coercive and excessive.

Bioregionalists bring the perspective of living within one’s bioregion, and being intimately connected to the land, water, climate, plants, animals, and general patterns of their bioregion.

Primitivists have been profoundly influenced by the various indigenous cultures and earth-based peoples throughout history and those who still currently exist. While primitivists attempt to learn and incorporate sustainable techniques for survival and healthier ways of interacting with life, they see it as important not to flatten or generalize native peoples and their cultures, and to respect and attempt to understand their diversity without co-opting cultural identities and characteristics. Primitivists also feel that it is important to understand that all humans have come from earth-based peoples forcibly removed from our connections with the earth, and therefore have a place within anti-colonial struggles.

They are also inspired by the feral, those who have escaped domestication and have re-integrated with the wild. And, of course, primitivists honor the wild beings which make up the Earth. It is important to remember that, while many anarcho-primitivists draw influence from similar sources, anarcho-primitivism is something very personal to each individual who identifies or connects with these ideas and actions.

Rewilding and reconnection

For most primitivist anarchists, rewilding and reconnecting with the earth is a life project. They state that it should not be limited to intellectual comprehension or the practice of primitive skills, but, instead, that it is a deep understanding of the pervasive ways in which we are domesticated, fractured, and dislocated from ourselves, each other, and the world. Rewilding is understood as having a physical component which involves reclaiming skills and developing methods for a sustainable co-existence, including how to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves with the plants, animals, and materials occurring naturally in our bioregions. It is also said to include the dismantling of the physical manifestations, apparatus, and infrastructure of civilization.

Rewilding is also described as having an emotional component, which involves healing ourselves and each other from what are perceived as 10,000-year-old wounds, learning how to live together in non-hierarchical and non-oppressive communities, and de-constructing the domesticating mindset in our social patterns. To the primitivist, “rewilding includes prioritizing direct experience and passion over mediation and alienation, re-thinking every dynamic and aspect of reality, connecting with our feral fury to defend our lives and to fight for a liberated existence, developing more trust in our intuition and being more connected to our instincts, and regaining the balance that has been virtually destroyed after thousands of years of patriarchal control and domestication. Rewilding is the process of becoming uncivilized.”


In the United States anarcho-primitivism has been notably advocated by writers John Zerzan, Kevin Tucker, Daniel Quinn, Derrick Jensen, and John Gowdy. The anarcho-primitivist movement has connections to radical environmentalism, gaining some attention due to the ideas of Theodore Kaczynski ("the Unabomber") following his luddite bombing campaign. Recently anarcho-primitivism has been enthusiastically explored by "Green Anarchy", "Species Traitor", and occasionally "", and even CrimethInc.. The current anarcho-primitivist movement originated in the journal "Fifth Estate", and was developed over a series of years in the 1970s and 1980s by writers such as Fredy Perlman, David Watson, Bob Brubaker and John Zerzan. Vast theoretical differences between Watson's and Zerzan's forms of primitivism caused a split in the late 1980s.

During the 1990s the UK magazine "Green Anarchist" aligned itself with anarcho-primitivism, although there are many green anarchists who are not anarcho-primitivists.

Anti-civilization anarchists also organize groups in Spain, Israel, Turkey, Sweden, Finland, and India.

Anarcho-primitivism is associated with and has influenced the radical tendencies within Neo-Tribalism.


Criticism from within anarchism

Notable critics of primitivism include Noam Chomsky, Michael Albert, Brian Sheppard, Andrew Flood, Stewart Home and, especially, Murray Bookchin, as seen in his polemical work entitled "Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism," as well as the conflict between his more traditionally socialist "Social Ecology" and the more radical "Deep Ecology" of many primitivists. Sheppard asserts that anarcho-primitivism is not a form of anarchism at all. In "Anarchism Vs. Primitivism" he says: "In recent decades, groups of quasi-religious mystics have begun equating the primitivism they advocate (rejection of science, rationality, and technology often lumped together under a blanket term "technology") with anarchism. In reality, the two have nothing to do with each other." [ [ Sheppard, Brian - Anarchism Vs. Primitivism] ] Flood agrees with this assertion and points out that primitivism clashes with what he identifies as the fundamental goal of anarchism, "the creation of a free mass society". [Flood, Andrew "Is primitivism realistic? An anarchist reply to John Zerzan and others" Anarchist Newswire (2005)] Primitivists do not believe that a "mass society" is able to be free and believe industry and agriculture inevitably lead to hierarchy and alienation. [ [ Against Mass Society by Chris Wilson] ]


Both critics and proponents of anarcho-primitivism agree that if everyone lived as a hunter-gatherer, the earth would be able to support far fewer people, possibly as little as one hundredth of today's 6.5 billion. [ The CIA World Factbook] [ [] Jared Diamond - The worst mistake in the history of the Human Race ] Primitivists assert that humanity has exceeded the limits of its resource base and that consequently the earth is now overpopulated to the point of imminent collapse. They see a population crash as both inevitable and desirable, being the only possible route to a sustainable anarchist future. Many radicals believe this will be inevitable due to the peak oil crisis.

Civilization and violence

Another line of criticism attacks the anarcho-primitivist argument that hierarchy and violence result from civilization, citing for example, the dominance and territorial struggles observed in chimpanzees. [cite book |first=Jane |last=Goodall |authorlink=Jane Goodall |title=Reason for hope |publisher=Grand Central Publishing |year=2000 |isbn=978-0446676137 |pages=127] However, evidence of such behavior among humans or our equally close relatives the bonobos, is lacking prior to the Mesolithic period 13,740 years ago [ [ Bonobo social spacing by Courtney Laird] ] cite book |author=R Dale Gutrie|url=,M1 |title=The Nature of Paleolithic art|location=Chicago |publisher=University of Chicago Press |year=2005 |id=ISBN 0226311260 [,M1 Page 420-422] ] . Some thinkers within anarcho-primitivism, for example, Pierre Clastres, offer an anthropological explanation of the necessity of a certain amount of violence, while embracing anarchy as the natural balance for primitive societies. [cite book |first=Pierre |last=Clastres |authorlink=Pierre Clastres |title=Archeology of Violence |publisher=Semiotext(e) |year=1994 |isbn=0936756950 |accessdate=2007-03-06 ]

Anarcho-primitivists [cite book |first=John |last=Zerzan |authorlink=John Zerzan |title=Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization |publisher=Feral House |year=2002 |isbn=092291575X |accessdate=2007-05-x ] , based on several anthropological references [cite book |first=Marshall |last=Sahlins |authorlink=Marshall Sahlins |title=Stone Age Economics |publisher=Routledge |year=2003 |isbn=0415320100 |accessdate=2007-04-27 ] [cite book |first=Richard |last=Lee |authorlink=Richard B. Lee |title=The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society |publisher=Cambridge University Press |year=1979 |isbn=0521295610 |accessdate=2007-05-04 ] , argue that Hunter-gatherer societies, by their very nature are less susceptible to war, violence and diseases [ [ The Consequences of Domestication and Sedentism by Emily Schultz, et al] ] [cite book |first=Service |last=Elman |authorlink=Elman Service |title=The Hunters |publisher=Prentice Hall |year=1972 |isbn=B000JNRGPK |accessdate=2007-05-03 ] [cite book |author=Kelly, Robert L. |title=The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways |location=Washington |publisher=Smithsonian Institution |year=1995 |id=ISBN 1-56098-465-1 ] . Furthermore, they emphasize the violence of alienation and purposelessness which they see as stemming from technological civilization.


Few primitivist philosophers choose to live in primitive societies themselves. In order to disseminate their views, they make use of print and internet publishing technologies. Such arguments have been employed to suggest that anarcho-primitivists are insincere or hypocritical.

Derrick Jensen has responded to these critics first by saying that it "reveals the weakness of their own position: they cannot rebut the substance of our message, so they simply attack the messenger." Additionally he states emphatically that the critics are accurate in saying that primitivists do not live a primitivist lifestyle; everything about our civilization is inherently destructive, whether buying his books or "something from Global Exchange". In this he indicates that no legitimate options exist within the system and it is necessary that people "dismantle the industrial economy." [cite book |last=Jensen|first=Derrick|authorlink=Derrick Jensen |title= |year=2006 |publisher=Seven Stories Press |location=New York City |pages=128|isbn=978-1-58322-730-5 ]

He later adds that although it is important for people to make lifestyle changes to mitigate damage, "to assign primary responsibility to oneself, and to focus primarily on making oneself better, is an immense copout, an abrogation of responsibility. With all the world at stake, it is self-indulgent, self-righteous, and self-important. It is also nearly ubiquitous. And it serves the interests of those in power by keeping our focus off them." [cite book |last=Jensen|first=Derrick|authorlink=Derrick Jensen |title= |year=2006 |publisher=Seven Stories Press |location=New York City |pages=173-174|isbn=978-1-58322-730-5 ]


Another question regarding anarcho-primitivism is the practicality. John Zerzan admits that primitivist ideals are difficult even for the convinced to put into practice: “It’s a huge challenge. You've got these great grandiose ideas, but the rubber has to hit the road somewhere, and we know that. I don’t know how that's going to work.… [W] e are a long way from connecting with that reality and we have to face that. You start off with questioning things and trying to enlarge the space where people can have dialogue and raise the questions that are not being raised anywhere else. But we don’t have blueprints as to what people should do.” [,7369,475181,00.html Guardian Unlimited - Anarchy in the USA]

Criticism of the primitivist distinction between tools and technology

Some have argued that the primitivist distinction between acceptable tool use and unacceptable technological dependence is incoherent and cannot be sustained in the light of archaeological and anthropological evidence. Tool use in modern hunter-gatherer societies, it is argued, cannot be characterised as merely a temporary usage of an element from the immediate surroundings used for a specific task. This would be a better description of chimpanzee tool use [ [ The Jane Goodall Institute ] ] Rather, tool culture is complex and organised, and often involves a degree of division of labour, as well as considerable knowledge of the local environment. Tools and other objects of value have been traded since the Middle Paleolithic 120,000 years ago. [cite web |url=|title=When Did "Modern" Behavior Emerge in Humans?
work=National Geographic News|author=Hillary Mayell

The Anarcho-primitivist critique of language

Because some primitivists have extended their critique of symbolic culture to language itself, Georgetown University professor Mark Lance describes primitivism as "literally insane, for proper communication is necessary to create within the box a means to destroy the box." [Lance, Mark from lecture "Anarchist Practice, Rational Democracy, and Community" NCOR (2004)] Primitivists reject this line of argument, replying that it isn't necessary to destroy the box (civilization/culture) to "think outside the box" or step outside of it.


ee also

*Green anarchy
*Earth liberation
*Post-left anarchy
*Primitive communism
*Simple living


*"What Is Green Anarchy? An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Anarchist Thought and Practice." By the Green Anarchy Collective. (Most of the information in this article was sourced from this primer: [ HTML] , [ PDF] .)
*cite book |last=Zerzan |first=John (ed.) |authorlink=John Zerzan |others=illus. R. L. Tubbesing |year=2005 |title=Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections |edition=enl. ed. |publisher=Feral House |location=Los Angeles |id=ISBN 0-922915-98-9
*cite book |last=Zerzan |first=John |year=1994 |title=Future Primitive and Other Essays |publisher=Autonomedia |location=Brooklyn |id=ISBN 1-57027-000-7
*cite book |last=Zerzan |first=John |year=2002 |title=Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilisation |publisher=Feral House |location=Los Angeles |id=ISBN 0-922915-75-X
*cite book |last=Watson |first=David |authorlink=David Watson (anarchist) | year = 1998 |title=Against the Megamachine |publisher=Autonomedia |location=Brooklyn |id=ISBN 1-57027-087-2
*cite book |last=Kaczynski |first=Ted |authorlink=Theodore Kaczynski |year=1996 |origyear=1995 |title=The Unabomber Manifesto: |edition=3rd ed. |publisher=Jolly Roger Press |location=Berkeley |id=ISBN 0-9634205-2-6
*Kaczynski, Ted (1999). " [ Ship of Fools] ", Binghamton, NY: OFF! Magazine (student zine at SUNY Binghamton).
*cite book |last=Glendinning |first=Chellis |authorlink=Chellis Glendinning |year=1994 |title=My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization |publisher=Shambhala |id=ISBN 0-87773-996-X
*cite book |last=Hardayal |first=Lala |year=1914 |title="The Social Conquest of the Hindu Race and the Meaning of Equality |location=San Francisco |
*cite book |last=Zerzan |first=John |year=2002 |title=Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilisation |publisher=Feral House |location=Los Angeles |id=ISBN 0-922915-75-X
*cite book |last=Ellul |first=Jacques |authorlink=Jacques Ellul |others=trans. John Wilkinson |year=1964 |title=The Technological Society |publisher=Knopf |location=New York
*cite book |last=Perlman |first=Fredy |authorlink=Fredy Perlman |year=1983 |title= [ Against His-story, Against Leviathan!] |publisher=Black & Red |location=Detroit
*cite book |last=Jensen |first=Derrick |authorlink=Derrick Jensen |year=2000 |title=A Language Older Than Words |publisher=Context Books |location=New York |id=ISBN 1-893956-03-2
*cite book |last=Jensen |first=Derrick |year=2002 |title=The Culture of Make Believe |publisher=Context Books |location=New York |id=ISBN 1-893956-28-8
*cite book |last=Jensen |first=Derrick |year=2006 |title=Endgame. 2 Vols |publisher=Seven Stories Press |location=New York |id=ISBN 1-58322-730-X and ISBN 1-58322-724-5
*Moore, John. " [ A Primitivist Primer] ", London: Green Anarchist (magazine).
*cite book |last=Quinn |first=Daniel |authorlink=Daniel Quinn |year=1992 |title=Ishmael |publisher=Bantam |location=New York |id=ISBN 0-553-07875-5
*"Green Anarchy: An Anti-Civilization Journal of Theory and Action"
*"Species Traitor: An Insurrectionary Anarcho-Primitivist Journal"
*"Disorderly Conduct" (journal)
*"Fifth Estate: An Anti-Authoritarian Magazine of Ideas and Action"
*cite book |last=Barclay |first=Harold |authorlink=Harold Barclay |year=1990 |title=People without Government: An Anthropology of Anarchy |edition=rev. ed. |publisher=Left Bank Books |location=Seattle |id=ISBN 0-939306-09-3

External links

* [ Green Anarchy]
* []
* [ The Green Anarchist Info/Shop]
* [ Creel Commission] June 2006 conversation with John Zerzan and the UK band, also here [ Jackalope Recordings]
* [ "A Primitivist Primer: What is Anarcho-Primitivism?"] by John Moore
* [ "What is anarcho-primitivism?" from the Anarchist FAQ] – a critique of the ideology from an anarchist perspective
* [ A critique of primitivism, anarcho-primitivism and anti-civilisationism] - anarchist criticism of primitivism
* [ 5 Common Objections to Primitivism, and Why They're Wrong] - an anarcho-primitivist response to common criticisms
* [ The Primal Wound] Critical of primitivism, but somewhat sympathetic

* [] Turkish

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