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The Anarcho-primitivist flag.
Henry David Thoreau was influential to early green anarchists.

Anarcho-primitivism is a form of anarchism that is critical of the progress of human civilization. It is considered a form of post-left anarchism.

History[change | change source]

Henry David Thoreau's work was very influential to early green anarchists. He supported simple living and self-sufficiency among natural surroundings as a way to fight the growth of industrial civilization.[1]

In the late 1800s, anarchist naturism appeared as the union of anarchist and naturist ideas.[2][3] The movement was influenced by Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy and Elisée Reclus.[4] The movement supported vegetarianism, free love, nudism and an ecological view of the world. Followers viewed nudism as a way of avoiding the artificiality of the industrial modern society.[2] Most of the followers were in Spain,[1][2][3] France[1] and Portugal.[5]

Beliefs[change | change source]

Anarcho-primitivists believe that before the widespread use of agriculture, humans lived in egalitarian hunter-gatherer tribes. They believe that after the introduction of agriculture, humans slowly began to become obsessed with technology,[6] and divisions of labour began to cause inequality. Primitivists disagree about whether we should return to hunter-gatherer tribes, use permaculture, or both.

Primitivists believe, based on anthropological studies, that hunter-gatherer societies are less likely to have war, violence, and disease.[7][8][9] Not all anthropologists believe this, however. A notable example would be Jared Diamond, who believes that tribe-based people are more prone to violence than developed states.[10][11]

Anarchists are against strong government control, and strive for egalitarian relationships with others. However, Anarcho-primitivists go beyond and apply this to all life, not just human life. Anarcho-primitivists look at the history of human civilization in order to decide how to achieve their goals. They are influenced by the Luddites, and are generally against technology. Anarcho-primitivists appreciate the diversity of life, and believe that humans are damaging it.

Primitivists do not believe that a mass society can be free. They believe that the divisions of labour that these industrial societies produce lead to people relying on factories and other people to make their food, clothing, shelter, etc.; thus, forcing them to be a member of the society.[12]

Criticism[change | change source]

A common criticism of the anarcho-primitivist movement is hypocrisy. Critics say that while primitivists reject civilization, they usually live civilized lives and use technology to spread their message. Primitivists like John Zerzan say that using technology is a necessary evil for continuing to promote and discuss important conversations.[13]

A notable primitivist, Derrick Jensen, rejects the term "primitivism," believing that it is racist way to describe Indigenous Peoples. He now prefers to be called a "indigenist" or an "ally to the indigenous."[14]

Anarchists Wolfi Landstreicher and Jason McQuinn both criticize the movement as romanticizing exaggerations of Indigenous societies. They also claim that primitivists use the appeal to nature fallacy often.[15] In response, primitivist John Zerzan says that the movement is not romanticizing Indigenous Peoples. It is instead promoting the "mainstream view presented in anthropology and archeology textbooks for the past few decades. It sounds utopian, but it's now the generally accepted paradigm."[16]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Diez, Xavier Diez. "La Insumisión Voluntaria: El Anarquismo Individualista Español Durante La Dictadura Y La Segunda República (1923–1938)" [Draft Avoidance: Spanish Individualistic Anarchism During the Dictatorship and the Second Republic (1923–1938)]. Archived from the original on 26 May 2006.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Roselló, Josep Maria. "El Naturismo Libertario (1890–1939)" [Libertarian Naturism (1890–1939)] (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ortega, Carlos. "Anarchism, Nudism, Naturism". Archived from the original on 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  4. "The pioneers". Natustar. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  5. Freire, João (2002). "Anarchisme et naturisme au Portugal, dans les années 1920" [Anarchism and naturism in Portugal in the 1920s]. Les anarchistes du Portugal [The Anarchists of Portugal] (in French). ISBN 2-9516163-1-7.'
  6. Boyden, Stephen Vickers (1992). "Biohistory: The interplay between human society and the biosphere, past and present". Man and the Biosphere Series. 8 (supplement 173). Pari: UNESCO. doi:10.1021/es00028a604.
  7. Schultz, Emily; Lavenda, Robert. "The Consequences of Domestication and Sedentism". Archived from the original on 2009-07-15. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  8. Elman, Service (1972). The Hunters. Prentice Hall. ASIN B000JNRGPK.
  9. Kelly, Robert L. (1995). The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 1-56098-465-1.
  10. Keely, Lawrence (1996). War Before Civilization: the Myth of the Peaceful Savage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199880706.
  11. Hamilton, Andrew. "Debunking Another Lie: Lawrence H. Keeley's War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage".
  12. Wilson, Chris. "Against Mass Society". Archived from the original on 2009-03-07. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  13. "Anarchy in the USA". The Guardian. London. 20 April 2001.
  14. Blunt, Zoe (2011). "Uncivilized". Canadian Dimension. Retrieved 24 May 2011.
  15. "The Network of Domination".
  16. Harmon, James L., ed. (2010). "unknown+to+most" Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743242875.