Anti-Tech Revolution by Theodore Kaczynski review

31eswmaoz7l-_sy344_bo1204203200_

Theodore Kaczynski’s infamous status amongst radical environmentalists is unparalleled. His life as an underground activist and work as the Unabomber, for which he now serves 8 life sentences with no possibility of parole, have branded him a domestic terrorist within popular culture. And while he isn’t always viewed positively by environmentalists or anarchists, his influence in the world of tech-critical and radical-activist thought is undeniable.

Kaczynski, Harvard graduate who holds a PhD in Mathematics, is obviously a highly intelligent and analytic thinker. His cipher journals stumped the US intelligence agencies, “cracking” his code 10 years after his arrest after finding his own key to the code. So reading his book, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How, with the intent to write a review was personally quite a daunting task.

Kaczynski starts the text by inviting the reader to look past the writings of similar thinkers and to focus on strategy, in such a way he suggests has not previously been done. He states that the book is not one to be read but one to be studied, suggestive of a program to be analysed by the reader and followed – a program he argues should be practiced “thoughtfully and creatively” rather than “mechanically or rigidly”.

The first section, The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control, is extremely well argued. Kaczynski presents a well constructed argument as to why the “green revolution” has been “nothing short of catastrophic”, arguing that “(i)n order to control the development of a society you would have to be able to predict how the society would react to any given action you might take, and such predictions have generally proven to be highly unreliable”. He analyses predictions regarding macroscopic systems and argues that “(i)n some contexts, reasonably reliable and specific short-term predictions can be made …”, but ultimately concludes that “no society can be consistently successful in planning its own future in the long term”. He covers historical attempts to rationally control society by humans and states that “… not even a powerful dictator like Francisco Franco can overrule the laws of economics … (e)very complex, large-scale society is subject to internal developments generated by “natural selection” operating on systems that exist within the society … (t)he result will be that the development of the society in the long term will wander at random, rather than being steered in any consistent direction or in accord with any consistent policy as to what constitute desirable or undesirable outcomes”.

The second section, Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself, opens with Kaczynski acknowledging foundationalist assumptions and that he will be drawing inferences from them. Over the course of this chapter, Kaczynski analyses self-propagating systems – “a system that tends to promote its own survival and propagation”. He presents an argument as to why “desperate competition among the global self-prop systems will tear the world-system apart … new self-prop systems will be arising all along to challenge the existing global self-prop systems and will prevent the hypothesised “world peace” from ever being consolidated in the first place … fierce competition among global self-prop systems will have led to such drastic and rapid alterations in the Earth’s climate, the composition of its atmosphere, the chemistry of the oceans, and so forth, that the effect on the biosphere will be devastating”. Most of this chapter follows this line of argument, covering Kaczynski’s pessimist and determinist positions on the potential for action.

In section 3 the line of argument takes a decisive and unexpected turn. Titled How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid, a number of postulations and rules for practical radical actions are presented for an anti-tech revolutionary movement. These rules and postulations are obviously written with the intent to create and maintain a structurally organised and pragmatic approach for the movement Kaczynski hopes to ignite through his work. Towards the end of the section he states “(a) neo-luddite movement would be able to gain control over the resources it needed only if it became big, powerful, well-organised, hence ripe for corruption. In order to carry out the necessary social reorganisation, the movement would have to be the dominant force in society, and the process of reorganisation would surely take at least a few decades … (c)onsequently, the reorganisation of society in accord with neo-luddite principles would never be completed”, which appears confused in conjunction with the rest of the chapter. Kaczynski draws from nationalist and Marxist political movements to support his arguments over the course of the chapter, stating “let’s follow Mao’s advice and ask what is the principal contradiction of the situation with which we are faced.”

The fourth section, Strategic Guideline for an Anti-Tech Movement, follows from previous one, presenting an argument that fits the politics of nationalists and Marxists more than those of anarchists and (even militant) environmentalists. Kaczynski’s Leninesque argument throughout this section draws from Castro, Trotsky and Stalin, in it’s appeals for organisational uniformity to his program. Later though he goes on to critique leftism and mainstream environmentalism, in a way befitting the typical green-anarchist criticisms of these movements.

The argument Kaczynski presents over the course of the text is highly reliant on determinist social-ontological presuppositions, drawn from a certain interpretation of evolutionary theory, which is open to criticism. Determinism is highly questionable in a metaphysical sense, as I argue in my book, and as such warrants exploration in radical environmentalist discourse. But if we do presume a determinist social ontology, following from Kaczynski’s arguments in the first 2 sections, why should anyone follow his program for an anti-tech revolution? Determinist philosophy seems incompatible with any radical project, so why should anyone who embraces determinist philosophy embrace any radical project?

Also, assertions like “(t)he principal contradiction, clearly, is that between wild nature and the technological system” presents a Manichaeist cosmic and moral dualism, of an entirely domesticated outlook – the ideology of the very system Kaczynski wants to stop. As I argue in my book Feral Consciousness, the struggle against this global system isn’t a moral struggle, alienated from the authentic Being of the individual, but an egoistic one; we aren’t living in a cosmic dualism of forces, but a corrupted cancerous monism, which should be treated as such; and, while tactical organised resistance is clearly needed to lessen the effects of this culture and hasten its collapse (with perhaps some strategic influence from similar movements to those Kaczynski draws from), we need to avoid alienating Symbolic narratives, that mediate us from the horrors of the Real we are immersed in, and forge personal subject-sensitive relations to the world.

Ultimately though, this book, even with its inconsistencies, is an important addition to radical environmentalist thought. It is engaging, well researched and is deserving of any potential readers time. I would suggest though that the reader doesn’t read it in isolation though as the-radical-environmentalist-book-I-read, as reading it alongside other writers who focus on this stuff, such as Zerzan, Jensen, the new Atassa Journal and (dare I say) myself, should help them identify the weaker aspects of Kaczynski’s arguments and separate them from the stronger elements.

 

Advertisements

Zebra Finch Parents Sing To Their Eggs To Warn Them Of Climate Change

zebra-finch

A study published in Science has found that Zebra Finches change the songs they sing to their young while they’re still in their eggs, varying with temperature differences.

Under experimental conditions – during incubation some of the eggs were removed and not exposed to the parents warning songs (hearing different sounds), while the others were kept in the nest with their parents and heard the warning songs  – the researchers found that those babies who hatched who hadn’t heard the warning song displayed growth, developmental and behavioural differences to those who had.

Taken from an article in Smithsonian –

“This acoustic signal is potentially being used to program the development of offspring,” says Kate Buchanan, an associate professor of animal ecology at Deakin University in Australia and the senior author of the new paper. “Hearing the call affects your rate of growth relative to the temperature that you experience.

“Animals have very subtle ways of inferring how the environment is likely to change, and (being able) to develop and adapt accordingly,” she added. “We’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we recognize so far… It is quite paradigm-shifting.”

Alongside the interest this raises in an academic sense, regarding evolutionary theory, non-human psychology and zoosemiotics, this scientific research is valuable for environmentalists. An immediate reason for this is that it further calls into question what Derrick Jensen calls “human supremacism” in the great chain of being – the social hierarchy of civilisation that places God, “civilised” humans and the mega-technic above non-human animals, flora and indigenous “savage-primitives”.

We environmentalists and people who embrace feral-being all sing our songs about climate change and ecocide, in all manner of ways, in desperation and despair towards the horror as we witness this cultures onslaught. I invite you to now listen to the song of a mother Zebra Finch singing to her eggs.

73% Of British Beaches Littered With Plastic Pellets Known As Nurdles

nurdles_01_gentlemanrook

A search of thousands of British Beaches has found that almost three quarters of them are littered with lentil sized plastic pellets, known as nurdles.

These pellets are used as a raw material in the production of plastic products.

They soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and release them into animals who eat them, such as fish and birds.

Seeds of Permaculture (documentary)

Over the coming years, finding means of feeding ourselves, individually and collectively, are going to become increasingly important. Permaculture is an approach to food production, that attempts to exclude the violent and destructive aspects of agriculture and civilisation.

Let Instinct Prevail!

This is a piece written by an anarchist contact – Rudester – who draws from martial arts traditions in their breaking away from this culture.
The subject of violence is one that is often divisive among radical circles, particularly ones that are influenced by pacifist moral positions. However, these moral narratives are ultimately based in the myths of civilisation. While we don’t feel the need to characterise nonviolence as something that is incompatible with feral-culture, violence hardly seems incompatible with natural-wildness – which is the basis of feral-culture.
Social conformity and indoctrination have largely been counterproductive to our instinctual response to legitimate threats. Both morality and legality, for example, remain as social barriers in our heads to maintain ‘correct’ behaviour for this social order. I’ll explain: Morality, or codified social ethical beliefs, is a hindrance to practical survival in the face of danger(s). For example, it’s highly stigmatised to not hit a woman. Of course you shouldn’t bully or abuse anyone! However, if a woman is in a rage, with a steak knife, and showing the physical symptoms of a will-to-engage, are you going to let that social standard prevent you from reacting correctly? Surely, most won’t act with resolve. Half-hearted decisions based on morality are not safe enough. We forget about survival for the sake of ‘fitting in’ and not doing anything deemed questionable by the masses or the controlling institutions. This is what causes freezes, rather than fight or flight, in modern society. Getting stuck on what ‘what ifs‘ rather than the ‘right now‘. We are so worried about doing ‘right’ by society and playing by the rules and codes set up before us, that we neglect our instincts.
How bad is it that we get adrenal responses to job interviews, dating, traffic, etc? Our brains and fight or flight system do not seem to want this environment. Where once we had a fight or flight reaction from a saber-tooth in the wild, we now have it because we are afraid of losing a job. Or because we want to look our best on an outing, but become sceptical of our appearance. Or because we have a big test coming up. This social order does, from my viewpoint, stand to be the antithesis of our true, hardwired nature. Social indoctrination, since birth, inherently interferes with our natural responses with codified sets of beliefs. You SHOULD do this. You CAN’T do that. You’re told what to say. When you can eat. What your future should be like, if you wish to fit in. Then, we all proceed to believe these things to the point where our life is forever controlled by them. This has softened society to the point of a ridiculously LARGE percentage of the population being completely unable to react appropriately to threatening stimuli.We have played into the lies to the point of becoming victims. Why defend your home or pursue an aggressor when you can call the cops and have them arrive late and most likely do nothing? Perhaps if we can cast away our armour of reliance on the state, we can find a sense of freedom and once again, come in touch with our instinctual reactions rather than letting social conditioning debilitate instinctual responses.
Legality, on the other hand, can be just as debilitating. Self-sufficiency is looked down on tremendously by the state. Just ‘call the cops’. If someone is showing aggression and a clear intention to cause you bodily harm, and you feel the Fear (fight or flight) reaction starting to kick, it’s time to act decisively. However, if even in a corner, and you were to strike someone first, based off your instincts, there’s a good chance you’re gonna end up in legal trouble. Even though, in your head, you can justify it as you felt threatened, the crowd, if there was one, might not have seen the same reactions. They might not have noticed the aggressor’s pale skin, clenched jaw, clenched fists, rapid breathing, etc. They just saw you strike first. You are now the aggressor.
Let’s make it clear: the state does not give a FUCK about your instincts. If we followed our instincts, there’d be a good chance that we probably would not even have a state. We are animals at heart. Yet we are expected to remain civil and conform to social standards. Otherwise, we are a threat. Not only can you end up in legal trouble by reacting appropriately to physiological/psychological reactions to a threat, but even the understanding of legality can end one up in a dirty situation. People will freeze while trying to figure out, “Will I go to jail for applying this level of force?” or, likewise, “Would I be arrested for a pre-emptive attack?” It’s easy to get stuck playing with courtroom proceedings in our own mind. Next thing you know, you’re unconscious in a parking lot.
Let me give a personal account to rap this up. Years ago, I was attacked in front of a restaurant. Some thug, with two other people, jumped out of a car and proceeded to walk towards me. I felt the surge. I felt the flushing, the shaking, etc. My body was undergoing the physiological fight-or-flight reaction, preparing me to fight or flee – simple as that. It should’ve been simple. However, I froze. Because I froze and did not respond appropriately, I had my face mashed in pretty good, staples in the back of my skull, went into shock, and have slight PTSD from it. Why did I freeze? One, it would’ve been ‘wrong’ to pre-emptively attack him first, right? I mean, he clearly was walking at a pace and showing physical symptoms of a desire to engage. Why didn’t I hit him first and just go wild? It’d be wrong. Hitting someone is wrong. “Just curl into a ball,” I was told in highschool when asking what they considered appropriate self-defense. So, my moral upbringings did not recognize this as mutual combat. I thought, “Maybe, just maybe, I can de-escalate it. Surely he has the same moral capacity as me?” Wrong. On top of that, I had been in legal trouble off and on. I felt, subconsciously, that if I assaulted him first, I would be held accountable and end up in jail and facing legal repercussions. And of course, it’d be cowardly to run. Got to be MACHO, right?! All these things hit me at once. It’s not like it was even conscious thought. It just froze me up.
My social conditioning, as I see it, prevented me from properly reacting to an obvious threat. Because of that, I sometimes beat myself up over it – but I believe recognition is key. I recognize my (martial) faults. This is why I’m typing this up right now. To hopefully give some insight to people who might face a similar situation. I feel as though we live in an industrial Rome, softened and brainwashed by propaganda. We are content with watching other people duke it out in sports to satisfy some weird bloodlust. We are quite an egotistical lot, controlled by various institutions that have debilitated us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Can we regain control? Can we, once again, rely on our natural reactions? Can we follow our gut rather than our social indoctrination? Is it possible to live in this society and not be weakened by social conditioning?
I believe so. Train hard. Fight hard. Live free. Live happy.
~ Rudester
14732377_310440289341426_2919509751561567842_n

Reflections on Socio-Ecological Resiliency

This is a piece written by Bay Area Resistance, an anti-civ collective.

It was originally uploaded here, and is being published with the writer’s approval.

“Information needs relationships to make change.”

I have a confession to make. I have yet to receive my Permaculture Design Certificate. So you can imagine my apprehension of going to the 2012 Northern California Permaculture Convergence this year. Still, it was amazing to be a part of.

Permaculture is a tradition, one that subverts the dominant paradigm perhaps, but only as an aside. Moving from exploitation to conservation, to revolt and release and ultimately renewal—such microcycles take place everyday in each of our lives. This “resilience thinking” is not just social and not just ecological, for any separation between the two is mere illusion. It is simply resilience-based stewardship, dependent upon both cultural sensitivity and synergetic design.

One thing we can take solace in is the fact that the problem we see before us is more difficult to understand that the solution is to enact. If we can learn, frame, recalibrate and find the rhythm we’ve lost, we can remember ourselves into the harmony of the biosphere. This is both a process and celebration of the generational tending of life.

The world is our home. The science it takes to sustain populations is real and available. We can recreate value to fill a need, enhancing the performance of degraded natural systems. This is both a moral issue as well as one of efficiency. There is no need for to ask for permission: transgressing boundaries on behalf of living creatures has always been a human right. The streets are for people, not cars.

Sometimes magic goes to sleep. We can see that today as those closest to the land struggle to heal their traumas. The earth community has been beaten, murdered, kidnapped, and tortured. The health of the watershed is the basis of our relations, so if we continue to turn our home—the eco—into superfund sites, destroying our communities through uranium mining, wetland loss, self-inflicted disease…it is inconceivable that we will survive for much longer.

I could talk about the reskilling village, the magic of making fire through friction. But such programs are not yet seen as culturally relevant. Are we still able to remember our roots, locally sourcing and sharing meals and stories through generational praxis and ancestral technologies, and work together to cultivate leadership and expand our vision? Until then these crucial activities will only remain trivial(ized). Do you yet know how to fashion a lighter out of that which the forest has lent you?

Today, most city-dwellers have no idea how to grow what they eat. There are hardly any places left to assemble, to participate and repair our communities. The visionary design we need must create permanent culture through geomorphic patterns that decolonize and reclaim space. If we can repurpose public space for festive celebrations, such designs will reflect a healing process for those species counting on us to find ourselves. Here, in these places, such trauma is a condition needing to be healed. If we win in the cities, we win.

Its time to dream again. Its time to connect to our self, and tend the wild in our own psyche. Listen to the world. To the wild. To the wind and the trees and the earth beneath your toes and the dirt under your nails. Seek that unmediated experience to heal our past traumas by connecting to nature—a bioremediation that starts in the human heart.

At the fire pit during the last night I learned two things. The first lesson came in a memory, passing through a town that had nothing but houses and roads: when fuel stops flowing these towns will starve to death, due in full to a self-imposed siege of sorts, or perhaps only a lack of foresight. The second was the revelation of new friends singing, dancing, telling stories, laughing, crying, and learning to love: we are the only ones who can get us through what is surely a trial-by-fire. Yet in this initiation, those of us who make it through will be that much stronger.

I’ll leave you with one more thought. When we finished up the weekend, we came together in our local bioregional circles to share and learn from one another. We realized we didn’t just need a community-connecting place, a public meeting area for community connecting permaculture projects, though of course, this is the ground from which we grow. What we need are connecting events that bring us into direct relation with one another, and the land around us. Until we have these, we will shrivel up in our isolated bubbles, condemning the very people we long to share our selves with.

May we paint over this nightmare with new dreams of a living future, born out of the fertile path so many have since forgotten. May we scale up our projects until wisdom flows infiltrate impervious mindscapes and the empire is overgrown. Life is our event. Let our hearts now sow the permanence it will take to see it through.

– hh

Revolutionary Nudism by Emile Armand

“Nudism may be considered “a kind of sport, in which individuals get naked in groups to take a bath of air and light, as one bathes in the sea” (Dr. Toulouse), that is, from a purely therapeutic point of view; it may be considered, as the gymnomystics do (gymnos means nude in Greek), as a return to an Edenic state, restoring humans to a primitive and “natural” state of innocence (the thesis of the Adamites of yesteryear). These two points of view give way to a third, ours: that nudism is, individually and collectively, among the most potent means of emancipation. It seems to us to be something else entirely than a hygienic fitness exercise or a “naturist” renewal. For us, nudism is a revolutionary demand.”

We live in a culture that through various social mechanisms – mass media, cultural taboos, political narratives – encourages us to feel shame towards our bodies and to hate the skins of others. Body-positivity and anti-racist activism has had a mixture of successes and failures, all of which are valuable, as a means of learning from and expanding our means of feral revolt.

This essay by influential individualist anarchist Emile Armand (a personal hero of this admin) discusses nudism, a practice often embraced by naturists and rewilders, as a means of personal liberation.

This was first published in 1934 and we have taken it from The Anarchist Library. I hope you find it as moving as I do –

“Nudism may be considered “a kind of sport, in which individuals get naked in groups to take a bath of air and light, as one bathes in the sea” (Dr. Toulouse), that is, from a purely therapeutic point of view; it may be considered, as the gymnomystics do (gymnos means nude in Greek), as a return to an Edenic state, restoring humans to a primitive and “natural” state of innocence (the thesis of the Adamites of yesteryear). These two points of view give way to a third, ours: that nudism is, individually and collectively, among the most potent means of emancipation. It seems to us to be something else entirely than a hygienic fitness exercise or a “naturist” renewal. For us, nudism is a revolutionary demand.

Revolutionary in a triple sense: affirmation, protest, liberation.

Affirmation: to vindicate the ability to live nude, to get naked, to walk around naked, to associate with nudists, with no other care, as one uncovers one’s body, than the possibilities of resisting temperatures. This is to affirm the right to the complete disposition of one’s bodily individuality. It is to proclaim one’s casual indifference to conventions, morals, religious commandments, and social laws that, under various pretexts, keep humans from disposing the different parts of their bodily being as they see fit. Against social and religious institutions in which the use or usury of the human body is subordinated to the will of the lawmaker or priest, the nudist demand is one of the most profound and conscious manifestations of individual freedom.

Protest: to vindicate and practice the freedom to get naked is, indeed, to protest any dogma, law, or custom that establishes a hierarchy of body parts, that considers, for example, that showing the face, hands, arms, or throat is more decent, more moral, more respectable than exposing the buttocks, breasts, belly, or the pubic area. It is to protest against the classification of different body parts into noble and ignoble categories: the nose being considered noble and the penis ignoble, for example. More importantly, it is to protest against any intervention (of a legal or other nature) that obligates us to wear clothes because it pleases another — whereas it has never occurred to us to object that they do not get undressed, if that is what they prefer.

Liberation: liberation from wearing clothes, or really of the constraint of wearing a costume that has always been, and can never be anything but, a hypocritical disguise insofar as it increases the importance of what covers the body — of the accessory — and not the body itself, whose cultivation, however, is the essential thing. Liberation from one of the main notions on which the ideas of “permitted” and forbidden, of “good” and “evil” are based. Liberation from coquetry, from the conformism to an artificial standard of appearance that maintains the differentiation of classes.

Let us imagine the general, the bishop, the ambassador, the academic, the prison guard, the warden — naked. What would be left of their prestige, of the authority delegated to them? The rulers know this well, and this is not the least of the motives for their hostility to nudism.

Release from the prejudice of modesty, which is nothing but “shame of one’s body.”

Release from the obsession with obscenity, currently provoked by the uncovering of body parts that social hypocrisy requires us to keep hidden — freedom from the restraint and self-control implied by this fixed idea.

We will go farther. We maintain, taking up the perspective of sociability, that the practice of getting naked is a factor in better camaraderie, a less narrow camaraderie.

There is no denying that for us a less distant, more intimate, more trusting comrade is the one who reveals her or himself to us not only without intellectual or ethical ulterior motives, but also without hiding their body.

The critics of nudism — moralists or conservative hygienists of the State or Church — suppose that the sight of nudity, or the regular association of nudists of both sexes, exalts erotic desire. This is not always the case. However, contrary to most gymnist theses — for which opportunism or fear of persecution is the beginning of wisdom — we do not deny it either. But we maintain that the erotic exaltation engendered by nudist projects is pure, natural, and instinctive. It cannot be compared with the artificial excitement of the half-naked, the gallant in revealing clothes, and all the artifices of make-up relied on in the dressed, half-dressed, or barely dressed milieu in which we currently operate.” Emile Armand