Primitivist critique of industry seems to be based on the lack of sustainability of resources. How can primitivists know that we won’t develop methods powered by green energy to recycle metals and plastics... or everything?

Submitted by reddit_liberator in Green

I skimmed two pieces on how green tech is a myth, but neither seemed to touch on the possibility that all materials could be eventually recycled, nor were the pieces peer-reviewed science articles. Mostly I am asking about this article’s part 1: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/anonymous-the-false-promise-of-green-technology

There seems to be a significant sense of intentional fearmongering about things like windmills killing birds (which could be solved with technology) or the toxicity of metals (also solvable through technology, they’re called hazmat suits) or that even recycling technology requires material input (currently looking into this, but it seems debatable). Recycling can also cause pollution, yes, but this seems like another thing that can be solved with technology.

In my ideal world there would be a finite number of resources used for industry and continuously recycled. As the survivor of a serious cancer (possibly due to random natural occurrences like cancers of the pre-industrial age) I cannot imagine a world without a pharmaceutical industry. I have seen something about “post-civ anarchists” who would support maintaining modern medicine (an idea I previously explored when I discovered primitivism). However, the comforts of modern living seem to great to just assume the most pessimistic result that all industry must end to save humanity.

Perhaps I am being optimistic, but a circular economy with key restrictions seems possible. I’m not an expert though, just a materials science student.


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anarcho_archiver wrote (edited )

People have been saying that technology will more or less fix our problems for decades now. If you asked someone 40 years ago what they think 2018 will be like, they'd probably say we'd have men on Mars by now, clean energy would dominate, and people would be much happier and much more prosperous.

They've been predicting green energy and recycling will solve the world's problems for years, but the plain fact is, it hasn't. We have the technology to make the entire Earth run on renewable power, but we quite literally do not have the resources anymore to make this transition before it's too late.

Even assuming that the corporate lobby would stop actively suppressing green technologies and attempts to regulate pollution, we simply do not have the resources anymore to make a meaningful transition before it is too late. All we really have had time for are stopgap measures at best, and those stopgap measures were only implemented with much resistance from corporations.

If civilization as we know it continues, humanity's standard of living will be permanently stunted and the majority of people will either suffer horribly, or they will die. Whether it's by droughts, hurricanes, rising sea levels, starvation, etc. the way civilization functions is fundamentally unsustainable. We had a sustainable lifestyle, it was called hunting and gathering, and it is necessary that we return to it.

Technology mainly only solves the problems that civilization and technology create. Even then, technology only furthers our dependence on itself and on civilization. It's like the old lady who swallowed a fly, just digging humanity deeper and deeper into an unstable maelstrom of our own design. Many people don't fully get just how bad it's gotten:

  • 50% of wildlife has disappeared in the last half century

  • 50% of soil has disappeared in the last century.

  • 100% new energy demand by 2050 at current rates.

  • 100% drop in human emissions needed by 2060 to stay below 2 C.

  • But James Hansen says 2 C is a "recipe for disaster".

  • Up to 1 billion jobs will be lost to automation by 2040.

  • After 20 years, solar and wind only make up 6% of total world energy demand, which is set to double.

  • To achieve 100% renewable energy, we will have to blow our carbon budget of 400 Gtons.

  • The amount of arable land we need to take carbon out of the air is 1 billion acres. To be able to do this, we would have to stop wasting food and eating meat. But the technology required doesn't exist yet.

  • Even if we had 100% free and carbonless energy, we would only destroy species habitat aquireing wealth. But, we don't and we won't.

  • By 2030, we won't have enough dirty energy to transition to renewable energy.

  • By 2040, we won't have enough food, water and minerals to transition to renewable energy.

  • Lithium batteries are like 90% iron and nickel. To power a renewable energy world, we would have to increase iron and nickel extraction and production by a factor of at least 2, meaning we would have to increase consumption of them by 100%.

  • But peak nickel is predicted by 2030-2040.

  • But solar panels and wind turbines only last some 30 years, so by 2050 we will have to replace all the world's solar panels and wind turbines you see around you today. We won't be able to do that.


reddit_liberator wrote

Your quote looks bleak, particularly the issue of transitioning to green energy, which now to me looks quite unrealistic without massive social upheaval. But it doesn't address why I as someone who benefits from technology would not want to work toward that transition rather than agree to give it up. I know primitivists and anti-civ anarchists have other issues with industry but almost none of those apply to me, someone who needs blood tests every two weeks. In my best interest, I would try to incite revolution against capitalism to bring green energy and hope for a sustainable circular economy, which has already been looked at by the EU, though I'm not hiding my breath.

Further, it does not address current advancements in labs or the possibility of industrial rationing which seems obvious once capitalism is dismantled.


anarcho_archiver wrote

I suppose it would be in your self interest to support a short term "sustainable" system, but it is dubious whether or not even that much can be accomplished. It would quite literally take massive social and political upheaval in the next 12 years the likes of which human history has never seen to temporarily stay near our current standard of living.

Mind you, things won't necessarily be better, or the same, they just will only be somewhat worse instead of a lot worse. To do even that would take a miracle, you might as well buy a lottery ticket if you find those odds favorable. What's most likely to happen is that in 20 years or so, unless you're exceptionally wealthy, is that if you're dependent on the system, you're in for a rough time, to say the least.

Besides the wealthy, the people who will have it the least shit will be the ones who aren't as dependent on civilization/technology. That would be people like me who live out in the most rural parts of the USA, people who live offgrid. Think of your doomsday prepper types, your eco-village homesteaders, etc. Even when the wealthy inevitably flee the mess they created in their SpaceX rockets, we'll hopefully still be here.

Current advancements in labs likely won't help you that much, for reasons I mentioned before and more. Assuming something actually leaves the lab, it'll likely be too expensive or inaccessible for the average person, if they're not you can bet corporate interests will want to keep them out of the average person's hands or at the very least find some way to turn the technology into a palliative that can make them a lot more money.

Best case scenario, whatever comes out of that lab will seem like a godsend, but soon it's just another technology you're dependent on, another chain on your leg that you can never take off. In the long term, they are just delaying the inevitable. In the end, nature wins, nature always wins against those who try to live out of balance with nature.


reddit_liberator wrote

If civilization as we know it continues, humanity's standard of living will be permanently stunted

But will it be worse compared to a primitivist/hunting and gathering lifestyle?


anarcho_archiver wrote

A lot worse, even in the best case scenario it would be much worse. In a regular h/g lifestyle, you are able to forage and hunt for food, admittedly your diet will be relatively lean by modern standards, but you'll have food.

In about 40 years, even if we predict optimistically, we simply just won't have food, or at least you won't have food assuming you're middle/lower class. It will not even really be a question of afford, because nobody will care about affording things anymore, if they see food, and they are physically able to stuff it inside them, they will, laws be damned.

You can forget about rationing, strict rationing will only remain a luxury for the best functioning areas of the most stable nations. Drinkable water? Unlikely, unless you're particularly wealthy in the right part of the globe that has top of the line desalination technology and the infrastructure to ration it. Global warming, pollution, and civil unrest will have taken their toll. Ironically, flash floods and heavy rainfall will be much more common, especially in the tropics, but unfortunately it won't be drinkable and it will absolutely tear through shelters, erode land, and drown countless people.

Even finding air to breathe will be an active concern on your mind. I'm not just talking about air pollution, that's the least of your concerns. Even in the early 21st century, we can see oxygen levels starting to go down due to global warming, overfishing deforestation, and destruction of plankton and algae in the ocean. By this time in the future, the CO2-oxygen cycle will be FUBAR, many sea creatures and land creatures (including us) will simply not get nearly enough natural oxygen and many will die, the rest will suffer.

Link if you're interested in reading more about this specific phenomenon

I haven't even gotten into the threat of automation, rising sea levels, debt crises, growing wealth inequality, etc. So, in short, yes, being a hunter gatherer would be way better.


reddit_liberator wrote

In about 40 years, even if we predict optimistically, we simply just won't have food, or at least you won't have food assuming you're middle/lower class.

What if you engineer it instead of conventional growing methods?

These things seem to be based on the idea that we wont be able to technologically combat the problems.


anarcho_archiver wrote

Mind you, this is the optimistic prediction, so I did assume that lab-grown meat and plants are available. However, realistically people have been predicting that we'll be able to produce large amounts of food synthetically for years, and despite tons of research in that direction, we have made relatively little progress.

Even assuming huge breakthroughs, we simply don't have nearly enough energy, resources, or infrastructure for that matter to feed even a significant portion of the population with it. The cost for making it commonplace would cost tens of billions of dollars and several years of combined effort. It'll likely only be for the upper class at best.


reposter wrote

"How can primitivists know that we won’t develop methods powered by green energy to recycle metals and plastics... or everything?"

Questioning industrial permanence amounts to the Null Hypothesis, the skepticism that forms one of the main bases for the scientific approach. In a world of entropy, the burden of proof is on someone making the positive claim, if you want to propose that universally perfect recycling and alternative-industrialism can coexist sustainably with a long-term habitable planet then you need to provide strong evidence for that claim. If you don't believe in the skeptical arguments toward continued industrial growth or sustainability (Peak Everything, Jevon's Paradox, ecological collapse, Limits to Growth, etc) then you really need to demonstrate how things will go on forever, we cannot be expected to just magically assume it.

Currently as you read this the oceans acidify, the permafrost melts, the climate destabilizes, mass species die offs increase: amphibians, bees, repitiles, fish, birds, mammals, you name it. Old growth forests, wetlands, prairies, rivers, seas, and coral reefs become toxic landfills and dead zones, breadbaskets become dustbowls, and aquifers desertify. We have more plastic than pollinators or phytoplankton. The fossil fuels, radioactive fuels, precious metals, conductive metals, and rare earth minerals will become more scarce and deplete, the arable farmland and phosphorous and fresh water and wood likewise. We live in the Holocene Extinction, the most rapid mass extinction of species the Earth has ever faced. Everyone in the industrial world has opposed pollution the whole time, but every year it has gotten worse.

Presence alone does not matter so much as density; the concept of "Energy Returned On Energy Invested" (EROEI) means that "renewables" simply cannot match the millions of years of stored energy inherent to fossil fuels; during the great initial building phase of industrial civilization we used a 200:1 EROEI and now because of decreasing marginal returns on complex energy capture we have much lower EROEI's, and "renewables" for the most part suggest even lower than the remaining lower-grade or harder-access fossil fuels. Also, perfect capture and storage do not exist in the real world, we have no such thing as a perfect battery, and even increasing Energy Efficiency often only fuels more growth.

-"There's No Tomorrow - limits to growth & the future"
-"Ecotech Myths"

Let's look at supposed "green industrialism". We could look at ecocidal aspects within extraction, manufacturing, storage, distribution, and disposal. Even if they stop blowing up mountains for coal, you will still need to mine conductive metals, smelt and extrude ores under intensive heating likely fueled by deforestation at industrial scales, shape the toxic petro-plastics or ethanol monocrop plantation based corn plastics, process the electronic waste in sacrifice zones, incinerate waste in non-renewable ways likely causing cancer clusters, manufacture glues and dyes from probably toxic chemicals if at an industrial scale. Consider aspects like resource wars for coltan mining for cell phones and high-end consumer electronics, this simply cannot reconcile with anarchism. As mentioned in the essay you linked, mine tailings of various industrial mining operations entail intensive use of arsenic, barite, cadmium, calcite, fluorite, lead, manganese, sulfur, and zinc causing severe toxification to the point of irrecoverable habitat loss; Haz-Mat suits do not get around this long-term degradation of land.

Let's move on. As I mentioned earlier, technology does not equal energy, so what form of industrial energy use reconciles with a healthy, vibrant biosphere? The production of one of the more common types of photovoltaic cells (solar panels), for example, releases:

“... fluorine, chlorine, nitrate, isopropanol, SO2, CO2, respirable silica particles and solvents… Fluorine and chlorine are also emitted to the water … [which] contribute to human toxicity, as does nitrate, which stems from neutralizing acids used in etching and texturing... Silica particles can be released in the mining and refining stage [which] may cause the lung disease silicosis. Emissions of solvents and alcohols [also] contribute to photochemical ozone formation and both direct (the solvents itself) and indirect (ozone) respiratory problems.”

Again, perfect recycling just does not exist.

The world approaches peak extraction rates for finite, non-renewable supplies industry requires. I'll focus on one aspect: rare, precious, and conductive metals. Look at all the Rare Earth minerals used in a Prius, for example. The Prius hybrid car requires lanthanum, neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium. Efficient electricity-producing wind turbines use neodymium as the primary component of their permanent magnets. All of these Rare Earths, finite and extractive, create the foundation for both contemporary and "alternative" industrialism.

Let's look at some more Rare Earths uses: Cerium (Ce) – catalytic converters for diesel engines. Praseodymium (Pr) – an alloying agent for aircraft engines. Neodymium (Nd) – a key component of high-efficiency magnets and hard disc drives. Lanthanum (La) – a major ingredient for hybrid car batteries. Samarium (Sm) – lasers and nuclear reactor safety. Promethium (Pm) – portable X-rays and a nuclear battery. Gadolinium (Gd) – shielding for nuclear reactors, compact discs. Dysprosium (Dy) – improves the efficiency of hybrid vehicle motors. Terbium (Tb) – a component in low-energy light bulbs. Erbium (Er) – fibre optics. Europium (Eu) – used in flat screen displays and lasers. Holmium (Ho) – nuclear control rods, ultra-powerful magnets. Thulium (Tm) – lasers, portable X-rays. Ytterbium (Yb) – monitoring equipment for earthquakes. Lutetium (Lu) – oil refining. Advocates of another industrial renaissance rarely acknowledge the embedded momentum of toxic mining requirements; even conceptual robot mining will still leave wastelands.

Returning to the fossil fuels point: petroleum functions as the lifeblood of industrialism. Not only as critical energy source feeding modern transportation and food production (e.g. automobiles, shipping trucks, freight ships, cargo planes, tractors, harvesting combines, synthetic fertilizer). All of the following items list petroleum as a chemical ingredient:

butane, diesel fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, and motor oil; antifreeze, bearing grease, fan belts, oil filters, and tires; ammonia, asphalt, dyes, glues, enamel, lubricants, plywood adhesives, polishes, rubber cement, solvents, tar, and toners; calculators, cameras, cassette tapes, computers, credit cards, dishwashers, telephones, and typewriters; fertilizers, food preservatives, insecticides, paraffin wax, refrigerant, refrigerators, and saccharine; antiseptics, rubbing alcohol, glycerin, anesthetics, artificial limbs, bandages, cold cream, cough syrup, and petroleum jelly; paint, putty, spraypaint, tape (transparent, electrician's, masking, etc.), and trash bags; caulking, insulation, linoleum, plexiglass, and roofing, detergents, hairspray, toothbrushes, and toothpastes; CD's, DVD's, and ink; a plethora of plastic and polymer items including: bottles, boxes, films, plates, tubes, etc., as well as bakelite, epoxy, PVC, styrofoam, synthetic rubber, and fibers such as nylon, polyester, polyethylene, and polystyrene....plastic drip irrigation tape...

...and hundreds of thousands of others. Experts have hinted at over half a million known petro-products! Do you really expect that people will perfectly recycle all of that? Wouldn't capitalists have already thought of that, saving themselves tremendous overhead costs by receiving all that free capital?

I will conclude with some links on why civilization destroys health: one, two, three


GrimWillow wrote

This whole conversation happened all at once from all brand new accounts with names like "convo_ripper" and while those accounts all suddenly thoroughly engaged with eachother here, they participate no where else in the site...and then stop there...

Sooo, it looks like it came from here. Anyone going to claim the posting of this?


plagiarizer wrote

The whole point of anarcho-primitivism is anti-labour. Look at old school leftism, the workers are always the main recipients of praise- labourers, farmers, the cogs in the machine. From Bolshevism to Syndicalism the goal was to put control of the means of production directly into the hands of the worker, that's their liberation.

But the problem there is who actually really wants to work when you could be doing anything else? Direct control of my workplace is nice but it's resolving a symptom of capitalism rather than the root of it, not only that but it's still enforcing the expectation of work onto these men and women who're apparently now free. You fight for your own liberation and the liberation of others to be free, not to just shake things up at the top. And that's really what happens. Look at anarcho-syndicalism, what changes does this bring after the revolution? Less hours, better working conditions, direct democratic control. Practically what do these changes mean? Less time spent in a comfier cage, and you get to debate with the people in there with you.

I'm talking smack about syndicalism, honestly I fucking love syndicalism cause it's infinitely better than the other options, but objectively it's not changing much.

Anarcho-primitivism takes a weird path where these problems are resolved by rejection of modernity in favour of a more egalitarian (and rose-tinted) view of the past.


convo_ripper wrote

The assumption that ancient hunter gatherers had an egalitarian ethos is because of anprims claims that hunter-gatherering was a stateless, genderless and hierarchyless utopia.


anarcho_archiver wrote

Foragers are stateless, full stop. Even the rarer instances of sedentary, strongly hierarchical foraging societies like the Coast Salish peoples in the Pacific Northwest didn't have the State, they had chiefdoms. Whether or not foragers have hierarchy really depends on the people, the region, and the season, but on average any anthropology course will tell you that nomadic hunter-gatherers tend to be less hierarchical. Graeber's talk of "summer chiefs" and "paleolithic princes" really doesn't undermine the vastness of evidence of egalitarianism when compared to the inequality of States.

It's not primitivists making up gender equality, it comes from the actual scientific literature. This whole popular "evolutionary psychology" stuff about "Alpha Males" is bogus, human sexual dimorphism has decreased consistently over time. Human body sizes have become more similar over time, male jaws and brows less pronounced, this all refutes the racist notion that it was just "Alpha Male" cavemen bonking women over the head with clubs for thousands of years.


convo_ripper wrote

Let's see that study in Science by anthropologue Mark Dyble. That publication is very short, four pages, and not very detailed. It tries to explain, with the help of mathematical models why, when individual hunter-gatherer prefer to live with people genetically close to them, the hunter-gatherer communities are quite fluid trought time. They took data from the Agta from Philippines and from the BaYaka from Cameroon, and feed it to their model.

Their model could simulate well the composition of the two hunter-gatherer groups they choose if we assume that men and women have the same influence on the choice of where the couple lives, and is significantly different when we assume that only men have an influence on that question. If we think, like I think, that sexism isn't limited to who chose, between the husband and wife, where the couple live, that study cannot be seen as saying that hunter-gatherers were not sexists. And even if it was, studying only to such groups cannot give us general information on hunter-gatherers in generals.

And these two groups are far from being good representatives from all the hunter-gatherers. There is a general rules in hunter-gatherers societies stoping women from hunting with bows and arrows, and that rules know only one exception. Using that exception, the Agta, as representative of the gender relations that hunter-gatherers had won't work well.

And speaking of the Agta, one can ask why they allowed their women to hunt with bow when no other hunter-gatherer group did. It is because they trade what they hunt with nearby agriculturalist, thus making hunting an abnormally central part of their society. The relatively egalitarian gender relation of the Agta is due to trade with agriculturalists. It can therefore not be generalized to hunter-gatherers from before the neolithic revolution, before they were any agriculturalist to trade with.

For the other group studied, the BaYaka, one can find in less than a minute, another article in the Gardian speaking about them. (I wouldn't quote them, but you've started.)


That article explain why the BaYaka are a very particular hunter-gatherer groups when we look at couple relationship, and therefore cannot be seen as representative of hunter-gatherers in generals.

Picking and choosing the study sample like that would be like me trying to prove that black people have it better than whites in the us by pointing to Obama and to a white homeless, and claiming that all backs are as well of than Obama and all whites as little well of than the homeless guy.

Not only that study claim that all hunter-gatherers were gender-equalitarian without any basis in reality, but it also claim that they were also all monogamous, again without any basis in reality. One can look to Australia, where the Natives lived for a long time without contact with agriculturalists, to see very patriarcal and very polygamous hunter-gatherers.


anarcho_archiver wrote

I think it is foolish for any leftist to speak of any possible human society in utopian terms. So, it's bad for an-prims like me to describe hunter-gatherers as egalitarian utopias. Probably no matter what, there will always be some degree of gender inequality--I think the biological demands of childrearing will always mean women have a disadvantage to men. And we'll always have crime, and we'll always have the problem of some people just being way more likable, popular, or skilled, than others.

But with that all said, simple hunter-gatherer societies do, on average, display a much higher level of egalitarianism than most industrialized nations: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2999363/

Our collective judgment, based on many combined years of field research plus the published ethnographic corpus, is that in most foraging societies, variation in material wealth has less effect on well-being than does variation in other forms of wealth, such as health or social connections. This generalization is more likely to hold for mobile low-density foragers (which constitute the great majority of ethnographically described foraging societies—see Tables 1 and ​and2)2) than for sedentary high-density foragers.

But how much wealth inequality actually exists in these populations? The Gini coefficients listed in Table 5 are low compared to contemporary societies, and even to agricultural and pastoral populations (see other papers in this forum); but they are far from negligible. Excluding the low coefficients for weight, the Ginis range from 0.2 to 0.5, and even including weight the α-weighted average is 0.25 (Table 5). This value is the same as the income inequality in contemporary Denmark (0.25), the country with lowest such value in 2007 (UNDP 2007). Thus, to the extent that our measures for this set of foragers are representative, wealth inequality is moderate—that is to say, very low by current world standards, but far from a state of “primitive communism” (cf. Lee 1988).

Personally, I would be thrilled to live in a world where the entire world only experienced as much inequality as there is in Denmark. It wouldn't be a perfect world, but it would be radically different, and better, than this one.


convo_ripper wrote (edited )

I too would like to live in a world were people experience only as much inequality than Denmark, but I would also like to live in a world were people experience only as much gender inequality than Denmark, and that not most of the hunter-gatherers groups.

Hunter-gatherers often were very patriarchal, a lot more than Denmark, or US, and a lot more than biology could possibly justify. (I personally do not think biology can justify any gender inequality.) And in hunter-gatherers groups were gender were more or less equal, there were always very a strong gender division in labor.

I am o.k. with people saying that hunter-gatherers were egalitarian in an economical sense, and that agriculture caused inequality to appear even if it is not quite true, but saying that hunter-gatherers were gender-equalitarians, and that agriculture caused patriarchy is completely false.


anarcho_archiver wrote (edited )

  1. I have never said that there is one or more activity that were divided between gender in all hg culture, but that there was gender division of labor in every society; therefore different society can divide different activities between genders.

  2. Delayed-return and immediate-return are not the best way to make the division you want to make, society "with wealth" and society "without wealth".

3 From Women and Men, an Anthropologist's view (translated in french by somebody else and then back in english again by me, if you need the original version, I can find it somewhere.)

(About native of northern Alaska)

After puberty, a girl is seen as a sexual object for every men who desire her. He catch her by her belt in order to show his intentions. If she resist, he can cut her pants with his knife and force her to have a sexual relation with him. Wether the girl was consenting or not, such sexual relation were seen by Inuits as not important. It wasn't a motif for vendetta by her family. [...] Physical and verbal aggression between men is reproved, but sexual aggression, like rape, is not.

Mitiarjuk, in 1966, quoted in 1977 by B. Saladin d'Anglure in "Mythe de la femme et pouvoir de l'homme chez les Inuit de l'Artique central" (Translated from french by me)

The young woman was subjected to the man and to older women up until she has adult children and that she can control her daughters-in-law. Polygyny, a lot more present than polyandry, the exchange of wives, and the greater extra-marital sexual freedom of man than women are other expressions of masculine domination.

Of somewhere else, in Australia:

From The world of the first Australians, of Catherine and Ronald Berndt, page 208 (translated in french by somebody and then back in english by me)

Globally, husbands had more right on there wives than wives on there husbands. He can quit her when he wants without having to give any reasons. She can quit him only by fleeing, that his by taking an other partner, but then the husband have the right to attack her and her new partner. The new partnership isn't seen as a valid marriage before the old husband renounce to his right over his wives or agree to a compensation. [...] Also, a man can have sex with her wive when he wants, with or without her consent. [...] But she cannot do the same thing with him.

These were all immediate-return hunter gatherers, and I can find other example if you need.


convo_ripper wrote

Delayed-return and immediate-return are not the best way to make the division you want to make, society "with wealth" and society "without wealth".

Sorry, I don't understand this sentence. Immediate-return societies generally don't have wealth, so what division are you talking about?

I have never said that there is one or more activity that were divided between gender in all hg culture, but that there was gender division of labor in every society; therefore different society can divide different activities between genders.

Yeah, and in the context of an egalitarian society, why would this be a big problem?

Thanks for your other sources. I've heard before about Australian (though which aboriginals are you talking about in that excerpt? there are/were several hundred languages spoken amongst indigenous Australians) and Inuit foragers being worse on gender equality. I don't know that I put much store by the Berndt ethnography, as they only began their ethnography after the violence of colonization began, and it looks like they were brought in to discover why so many aboriginal workers were dying. Rates of sexual assault and murder are extremely high amongst indigenous American women, but I would not extrapolate back from that to conclude that pre-colonization indigenous societies were regularly assaulting and murdering women.

It sounds like not all immediate-return hunter-gatherer societies are nice places to live, but I don't think you've really shown that foraging societies are not more egalitarian on average. There's always a wide variance in outcomes for any possible configuration human society--like, presumably you're an anarchist of some kind and you don't like states, but some states are still pretty nice (like Denmark), even though on average they're bad and we want to do away with them. And anthropologists have said over and over again that foraging societies tend to be much more equal than non-foraging societies.

Anyway, I'm not utopian about anarcho-primitivism. I'm open to believing that some tribes would turn nasty. I just think that if industrialized civilization fell apart and people went back to foraging (which seems unlikely, given the pace at which climate change is proceeding), most of them would be better societies to live in than what we have now.


anarcho_archiver wrote (edited )

  1. Very few immediate-return societies have wealth, and they are a lot more alike delayed-return non-state societies. So, Testart's distinction of with and without wealth is, I think, more precise.

  2. Oppressive gender roles are still oppressive if they are almost as oppressive for man than for women. Relative equality doesn't take away the oppressiveness of gender role.

The one about Australian brings general statement about indigenous Australians. Sometime gender relations can be quite stable over long distance. And I don't see how colonialism could have brought these gender relationships, they are not only "more sexual violence" which can be caused by poverty, nor the gender relationship that missionaries would encourage.

I have never said that foraging societies weren't more egalitarian, for I was only speaking of gender relations. And I never saw anything that make me think that forager were better than non-forager on that front.

And we don't have a choice between a random hunter-gatherer society or a random agriculturalist society. Would we go back to being hunter-gatherers, most tribe would be probably patrilineal, and patrilineal hunter-gatherers were practically always very patriarchal. The more gender-egalitarian one were practically always matrilineal and matrilocal.

And the society we live in isn't any agriculturalist society. The generalization of commodity production brought about the idea that gender role are not essential and that activity should be limited by which sex people are.

For the first time since the beginning of humanity, we can see a glimpse of a possible world without gender inequalities and restrictions, and hence the possibility to go there. I wouldn't abandon that for Danemark-level income inequality.


5_0_4_1_5_8_7 wrote

So, in IT policy - its known as the hw/sw canary.

For example purism (amongst others) have this as a a page on their website.

-- you just need to change the basis (or nomenclature if the term warrant) of your canary/policy to that of the critical point of resistance of your Co-op and/or commodity-enterprise (asuming its not hyperthetical).


convo_ripper wrote

Anarcho-Primitivism is a bad trip.

An ableist, ageist, and transphobic world is the necessary conclusion of reversing the technological progression that society has followed. A world without technology would be a survival-of-the-fittest nightmare.

Without agriculture, how are we going to feed the human population? The widespread starvation of the human population and simultaneous depletion of animal populations as desperate people try to feed themselves will be very “green”, I am sure, and not at all an ecological disaster.

Or do you support agriculture like some anarcho-primitivists? Are we cherrypicking technologies now? What about advancements in farming technology that increased crop yields and arable land? If not, see above. If yes, then what technologies with their roots in colonialism are we not keeping?

Without modern medical technologies, how do we care for the physically disabled? How do we combat disease? Is it a good thing not to? Without these technologies, does gender reassignment/correction stop? Without access to antidepressants and psychotropics, are your comrades with mental health conditions who feel these medications improve their QoL just fucked?

Are the rest of us free to live in a society while primitivists survive on the fringes, or does our reliance on the relics of imperialism so offend you that the revolution won’t be over until all of society is ash?

Yes, imperialism is some bullshit. Yes, indigenous peoples and tribal cultures have a right to self-determination. But pushing a return to nature is also a violation of the egalitarian ethics of anarchism. If individuals willingly secede from society to live in a “primitive” state, that’s their prerogative, but the implications of that would be disastrous if applied on a global scale.


selver wrote

Bit off topic, but modern agriculture is extremely inefficient. The colonialist argriculture tech advancements were mostly failures, and produce far less resources per acre, while relying on using the best tracts of stolen lands.


reddit_liberator wrote

ableist, ageist, and transphobic

Are they really? I’m honestly curious because what little I know about anthropology usually points to hunter-gatherer cultures as being egalitarian and holding elders in high regard due to having no written language.


convo_ripper wrote (edited )

This sentiment is flawed in a pretty complicated way.

Hunter-gatherer, pastoral, and agricultural societies can all exist with different levels of egalitarianism. They can all exist without written language or with varying degrees of written language. They can all hold elders in high regard or not. (Interestingly, egalitarianism and holding elders in high regard are contrary to one another.)

There is a cultural pressure for the Modern Westerner to simplify other forms of society, and to imagine a kind of ladder of social evolution from savagery to barbarism to civilization. The imperialist (along with the Marxist) sees this as positive growth. It is tempting, therefor, to be contrary and re-imagine it as a decline. This is Primitivism: reversing the polarity and refiguring the noble savage as the perfect form of human existence.

However, this way of thinking is fundamentally flawed. There is no ladder of social evolution. What we might think of as the progression of civilization throughout history is the fabrication of 19th Century Western intellectuals attempting to justify imperialism by constructing a reality in which the West was "advanced" and the rest of the world was "primitive". This in itself was a replacement for the earlier religious justification for imperialism in which being "civilized" meant practicing Christianity.

In reality, the world is complex. More elaborate schemes of social organization create the risk of greater oppression and exploitation, but they also allow for the possibility of greater collective problem-solving. Industrial technology gives us the power to drastically improve the lives of people with a wide range of disabilities and illnesses. We're improving our capacity to mitigate plagues, death during childbirth, and death from natural disasters.

There are many problems with the way human societies are currently organized, but to say the solution is to adopt some imagined prelapsarian "primitive" lifestyle is ignorant, shortsighted, and chauvinistic.

There's homophobia in there as a lot of strains of AnPrim writings advocate for procreational sex only, as that's "natural", and there's quite a bit of overlap with the esoterical freak-segment, where there's quite a lot of misogyny and rigid dichotomies between the masculine and feminine. The transphobia is mainly being in opposition to hormone treatment or operating on trans people, because that's only an option with modern medicine and you kind of need civilization for that.