Installment one on what is called short-sightedness here.
One of the main arguments I hear from thoughtless pro-civ people is around the production of medicine. Almost invariably, diabetes comes up.
Their argument amounts to something like this:
- Diabetics need modern industrially-produced insulin to live.
- Fuck you, genocidal ableists who wanna take away some poor diabetic's medicine!
To which anticivs say:
- To start, just a quick reminder that we are anarchists, so we are not interested in taking away your medicine. No anti-civ people say that, and we all understand the ways that since we currently live in civilisation we have to survive on the terms available. But let's unpack the other ways that you are wrong.
- Consider the ways that civilisation is the cause of diabetes. Type-2 diabetes, for example, massively involves a person's context: unhealthy diets, sedentary behavior, and socioeconomic factors that limit access to healthcare and healthy lifestyle behaviors.
- Civilisation, which stratifies societies and is born around the time of agriculture, tracks the development of exactly the kinds of factors that cause diabetes.
- Yes, you guessed it: Hunter-gatherer societies have extremely low incidences of type-2 diabetes.
- Since type-2 diabetes is about 90% of all diabetes at the moment, getting rid of civilisation would likely hugely decrease the amount of people with diabetes in the first place. We wouldn't have to prescribe the medicine produced by industrial society if we didn't have industrial society.
To which the pro-civ person graciously replies:
- Oh my god you left out the type-1 diabetics! Ableist genocider! Don't you know that type-1 is purely genetic and not tied to lifestyle factors?! I can't believe you would let 10% of diabetics just die like that!
- Checkmate, anticivs!
The anti-civ tries to keep it together and be methodical about it:
- Look, there are actually a lot of things to say here. Three things.
- Let's start with a scenario that assumes you are correct. In the current world, let's say 100 people have diabetes. Proportionally, would mean that 10 have type-1, and 90 have type-2. However because civilisation is built on segregation and exclusion, only around 50% of people have proper access to the medicine made by civilisation. This means that, within civilisation, people with diabetes who also are not able to access proper medication are 50 out of 100.
- Now, again, assuming that you are right about type-1 folks needing civilisation, let's think about this: Since type-2 appears not to exist in hunter-gatherer societies, if we got rid of civilisation even if all of the type-1 folks still had diabetes and had no access to proper insulin, that would mean that those who are not able to access proper medication are 10 out of 100.
- So, with civ, 50 out of 100 do not get proper care. Without civ, 10 out of 100.
- If you try to make a reformist claim, about how things are not necessarily like this, how we could extend access to the remaining 50 people while keeping technological society, you are ignoring the whole systemic critique we are offering. i.e., this exclusion is a feature and not a bug of civilisation. Anyway, even if hitherto wholly-unprecedented reformers undertake a global project (ugh) and quarter the incidence of inadequately treated diabetes down to 12.5%, it would only then be about level with a non-civ alternative. Of course, since it is civ, that quarter which was excluded would invariably be classed, racialised and otherwise excluded, rather than being receivers of extra care.
- Second, its not just that so many less people will have a worse time with diabetes without civ. It's not just that there are 40 more people with untreated diabetes under civ, it's that all that untreated diabetes comes hand in hand with a world of horrific scales of war, slavery, torture, extractivism, alienation from each other, alienation from the world we live with and share, and alienation from the cosmos. Civilisation itself is a the grandest mass-disabling project of all.
- Finally, you are wrong to say that diabetes type-1 is not affected by lifestyle factors, unless you mean personal choice, which is not the relevant factor here. Because type-1 is clearly affected by socio-economic circumstances. This is evident in how type-1 has been steadily on the rise in recent decades. And yes, you guessed it, type-1 has much lower incidence in hunter-gatherer societies. So even outside of the broader mass-disabling of civilisation, just considering diabetes, civilisation is overwhelmingly ableist.
At this point in the conversation the pro-civ person changes topic to the next thing they were positioned to rail against, while assuming that the Big Anarchists they heard this from have an adequate response to the argument which they simply aren't educated enough to know yet. And the anti-civ person wonders if it was worth it this time.