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- Western Mysticism – A Timeline
- Notes on Recent Publications
Ellul, on the one hand, as a determinist, does not think that anything much can be done against this.
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FC, on the other hand calls for revolution. A two-pronged ideological strategy is called for, pushing the notion of wild nature; with one strand aimed at the intelligentsia, with a rational, factual approach s and a second populist prong aimed at the wider public, pitched at a more emotional level, but not intemperate, patronising, or gimmicky. The aim should be to heighten tension between the mass and the leaders, and to replace the ideology of technology after the coming collapse.
Despair is what drove the Unabomber into his bombing campaign — despair at the destruction of nature, on the one hand, and despair at the lack of an effective movement to counteract this. Ellul, and others in the same vein stress the inevitability of the onward march of the Forces of Mordor, and so have contributed to that atmosphere of despair. A visible, active, and effective protest movement, on the other hand, would prevent that despair.
Resistance is not futile, but necessary, a duty enjoined on all beings who aspire to the condition of being sentient, and moral. Similarly, Moore is sympathetic to art; both of these themes are anathema to Zerzan. For Zerzan, religion is implicated in hierarchical society, and the sacred was used to justify oppression. Rituals were an upper-palaeolithic safety valve, all about the management of loss. Art is about controlling loss. Moore is so tantalizingly close to being the strongest Primitivist writer of all, but somehow contrives to fall short.
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The reason for this relates to his Postmodernism. How can what he believes become reality when there is no reality? He writes of direct action, communities of resistance, but because of the Postmodern element, one is left doubting that he really wants to physically change it at all.
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In what sense does he believe in it? Is it merely a posture? All to the streets! In such states, humans surrendered their individuality, renounced personal volition to the will of the land, and merged individuated desire within the expansive needs of the wild. In some respects this surrender represents nothing more harmless ah yes but is it harmless? However, I believe that Moore does not intend these connotations. Civilization alienates us from the Earth, using nationhood and property law.
We must take back the land and live self-sufficiently, re-establishing our relationship with the Earth. The mystical overtones were absent. Yet here, people distrust this kind of mysticism, and with good reason. In a European setting, we find this land mysticism to be mixed, but with some extremely negative connotations; brooding Teutonic forests, Nazi , lakes and mountains, Wordsworth and Ruskin Druidic Sacred Groves human sacrifice? Anglo-Saxon ploughmen could be either William Morris rusticism or a BNP type nationalist image , and many other such connections. In the face of these, land mysticism even of the allegedly anodyne sort practiced by Primitivists is a minefield, and best avoided.
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Primitivists could counter the accusation by claiming that doctrines of Blood and Soil mysticism are claims to link a particular people a race to a particular place, whereas Primitivism is generalised, a call to all people regardless of ethnic background to submerge their identities with the wilderness. The wilderness is generic, not a specific place. The response denies there is a common form to the call to the land, that Primitivism and Blood and Soil mysticism are different in character.
This may be a true or it may be a false claim. What is needed is more evidence. If they are the same in form, but differ only in content or style, the accusation stands. There are four basic explanations here for why Primitivists might use land mysticism concepts: i The US explanation: Their work is subordinated to the US context and cares nothing for the European, right wing resonance of some of these concepts. For fuller treatment of this topic see section 6. I tend to believe that here, the first and third option apply, the US context and ignorance.enter
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Because of the general character of Primitivist politics otherwise, I find the second and last alternatives implausible. When we understand that, we understand Moore. Historically it is a term that has been attached to those anti-civilization resisters who have engaged in a reappraisal of the primitive as part of a search for radical alternatives to the global megamachine. US Primitivists deny that he is a Primitivist.
Fifth Estate because Moore is too close to their model, therefore a rival, but also as a Limey Upstart whose nose must therefore be tweaked; and the Zerzanians out of sectarian hatred, because Moore is not a Zerzanian. It remains to be seen whether this Kehre turn is permanent, or mere window dressing.
But for me anyway, it has lost its convenience. It is necessary to note that not all Primitivists will hold to all ten themes, but these are the core of Primitivism. Civilization is seen as bad, intrinsically evil, but this is one sided. Washing machines, hospitals, anaesthetics, sewerage, clean water supplies — all of these are rejected as irredeemably bad.
Can we legitimately make the jump from some effects of technology are bad, to all technology is to be rejected? It is here that the distinction between Hardcore and Softcore Primitivism is instructive. Softcore Primitivists like Robert Heinberg  are critical of Civilization; for its catastrophic environmental impact, for the domestication of people, for oppression, slavery, theft, warfare, for its Priests and Kings. Heinberg does not advocate an absolute rejection of modern life, but wishes to keep some aspects.
For the Unabomber, Industrialization has been a complete disaster, destroying nature and enslaving people, reducing us to cogs. In Deep Ecology, nature has implicit value in its own right, requiring humanity to keep clear and not to interfere with it. Instead, it is human behaviour that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system.
On the contrary, it is in the interest of the system to bring human behaviour under control to the greatest possible extent. Under this view, technology necessarily leads to authoritarianism. If we wish to oppose authoritarianism, we must rid ourselves of civilization. Rules and regulations are needed to eg run a factory, and with greater complexity comes more control. Instead, we are saddled with managerialism, control through advertising, propaganda, training, and psychological manipulation.
People become like caged animals. Drugs and genetic engineering offer new ways of controlling, but people still rebel or suffer bad psychological effects from this sense of purposelessness. Because you cannot disinvent the wheel, progress only moves in one direction. Should the strong man ever fall sick, the weaker will be forced to kill him, lest the stronger recover and take all the land s Is it inevitable though, that technology necessarily entails slavery? The Manifesto uses the example of medicines, which require chemistry, biology, manufacturing machinery, transport s In this, technology, capitalism and the state are connected, but it might be possible to break away from this, to separate them.
On the one hand the internet has enabled Microsoft and Bill Gates to make a lot of money, but on the other hand information and communications flow more readily between protest movements. Could global capitalism be engineering its own demise?
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The Manifesto , tells us it is easier to get rid of it all in one fell swoop than to reform it piecemeal. This points towards a possible answer. First; we have the unintentional bad effects of technology — pollution, global warming, the ozone hole. Second; we have the technologies of oppression — alienation, insignificance, which are a deliberately chosen use of manufacturing, or of the mass media, the shaping of the urban environment etc etc, for evil purposes. There are specific answers to all three of these types of problem, although the solutions may require more political action than society as a whole is prepared to take.
Merely by linking the three types of problem together in our thinking, it does not follow from this that all technology is implicitly evil. This blanket rejection of it all is a counsel of despair, a revolutionary posture which brings little or no results, and is ultimately disempowering, because few if any people are prepared to go so far. What is needed is a parallel processing approach — a series of political campaigns to attack each of these specific problems in particular ways. We need to be a whole lot more intelligent, lateral-thinking and inventive in our thinking here.
It was found that between 3 and 5 hours gathering, brought sufficient food for all. This call to go back to the stone age is the corollary of the Deep Ecology thesis that nature is of absolute intrinsic value, and that humanity should not interfere with it. Hunter-gatherers are the closest human beings could come to that position of absolute non-interference.
Notes on Recent Publications
Such a call implies the total obliteration of human culture, however. Around the same time as Marcuse published One Dimensional Man , and arising out of similar discontents with Western civilization, anthropologists were making a reassessment of primitive peoples and cultures. Kung bushmen in Botswana averaged 2 hrs 9 mins per day.
As used by the Primitivists, this psychological wilderness is irrigated by three streams of inspiration. The first is psychoanalysis. Perhaps lesser considered here is C G Jung, who, influenced by Friedrich Creuzer, between —13 taught on the psychology of primitives in the University of Zurich.
Another possible influence is Karl Polanyi,  who criticised the market-industrial system as obsolete. The market system institutes the perception of scarcity in the middle of plenty, sponsors artificial needs. These desires are perpetually thwarted if you buy a Plymouth car you cannot also have a Ford Everything is kept close by, but tantalisingly just out of reach. The anthropological work of Sahlins and Lee was later taken up by the Primitivists.
They had no ambition or avarice. Primitives never developed acquisitiveness, a Neolithic trait. Following thinkers like Adorno, Lukacs, Horkheimer and Marcuse; that material affluence does not necessarily bring greater happiness — it is modern people who are poor, subject to scarcity, alienated, working too hard, consuming too much — but under Primitivism, this is unnecessary.
Authenticity was lost, people, animals and plants became domesticated. Kung are contrasted with Bantu tribes like the Saga.
It is only later that we get meat eating, the subjugation of women, cannibalism, property, symbolization, time. Primitivism consistently evades the issue of whether we could really want this return to the Stone Age. The stasis and silence of that world would drive most of us mad. The eternal sameness of the paleolithic, long periods of sleep and inactivity after the mere 3—5 hours of hunting would become unbearably tedious.
This eternal dream-like state was how human beings lived for millennia, but during that period they did not develop.