"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Aug 20, 2011

If you meet a Luddite on the road, kill him.

Tools aren't the problem. Complex tools are just that - tools. Yes, tool usage has consequences. Living has consequences. If you don't like that, kill yourselves. Because that's the only way you'll ever escape contingency.

High energy technology isn't the problem. There's no going back, anyway. People quite rightly enjoy not living in mud huts and festering shanty towns run down the middle with open sewers and rounded about by shit dumps and cesspools.

Wealth concentration, power concentration and capitalist control and ownership of the means of production are the problems.

The proximate causes of human suffering cannot all be attributed to human organizations - because microbes and viruses and earthquakes and hurricanes are inhuman, and laudably disobedient -  still, we do have some capacity to organize differently. And a good start is to get rid of the rich.

If you are instead counting on collapse and a "return" to some prior or old-new pristine state of grace, please - fuck yourself in the eyeballs with a loaded rifle. Pull the trigger while you are doing it. Collapse isn't going to restore a lost balance. There was never a balance. Never any harmony. Never a bright moment of equilibrium with "nature." It's a golden age myth, and it takes a moron to believe in it.

There is only beating death for a while. And then there's losing out to it. Why not use these nifty fore brains to make it easier for everyone instead of pretending a lone wolf "autonomy" to avoid thinking about consequences, eh? Why not tackle the real issues, the control of the means of the production and the control of states to enforce inequity, instead of waiting for death and disaster to solve the problem for educated white people. Because...

The collapse of our high energy complex of systematic techniques and specialized tool use platforms equals exactly the death of billions. Starting with all the poor fucks still living "close to nature," you know, the ones already on the ass end of the distribution and extraction networks.

Want to know who's going to escape the worst consequences of collapse and the "restoration of balance"?

The people who are already buffered by the rest of us. The wealthy, and powerful.

Every time a fucking luddite bitches about tools, or technology, remember what he's advocating by way of a thoughtless elision:

The murder and death of billions.

A luddite fucking clown is making the argument of our masters. They'll survive "collapse." In fact, they are counting on it.

So...

If you meet a Luddite on the road - kill him.

53 comments:

Will Shetterly said...

+1.

Jonathan Versen said...

You've been reading Orlov again, huh? I guess I better tell him to stay in his boat if you're on the road. I don't think he'd describe himself as a Luddite, but you know, just in case.

Jack Crow said...

Thanks, Will.

Jonathan, I like Orlov. I don't think he's a Luddite, at all. Orlov, like the lesser light Kunstler, is a prognosticator. A Cassandra, maybe.

I happen to agree with them, that our superstructure is going to shit, but also that this process, to put it in the vulgar, sucks.

Orlov and Kunstler aren't celebrating collapse. Well, Orlov isn't. Sometimes I think Kunstler confuses upstate New York for the entire planet.

I'm fond of Cassandras, anyway. Thankless task and all that.

What I despise are people who, unlike Cassandra, want the terrible outcome. People who think that tools are inherently evil. Or that complex, technological existence is a plague on the planet. Or who use computers - a damned computer, tapped into the largest machine in the history of the planet, the North American power grid - to complain about technology.

Those sorts are just about as hateful as the unthinkers who believe that because Angola is a shitty place to live, so too should be Worcester, Massachusetts.

They've aimed their leveler gaze at the wrong targets - both the anti-techs/primitives/Zerzanites and the prophets of the equality of the graveyard. There are actual culprits. They live in large houses. They drive around in German engineering.

And, sometimes it gets worse right before it gets even more terrible. There's no reason to believe that everything getting worse will suddenly make a bunch of people wake up and want better. That's the rotten faith towards which I've aimed my home made arrow.

Blaming complex or high energy technological platforms is a cop out. It's often enough the argument of the "lone wolf" "anarchist" who can wander the woods for a few days, or manage to avoid really poor people, and from that derive a warped, Idealist and parochial image of common existence.

Peter W said...

Fuck technology! [Sent from Apple iPad]

Jonathan Versen said...

...There are actual culprits. They live in large houses. They drive around in German engineering.

And some of them build their own islands. I've been thinking about the Libertarian island item you posted the other day. I went to Peter Thiel's wikipedia article, hoping for a gotcha post about him, if he was still at Paypal when they shut down payments to Wikileaks.(But he'd already left several years previously.)

I think my problem with most of Libertarianism is they seem like people who, like Thiel, have personally benefited from the apparatus of the modern state but now that they're pretty secure and comfortable, want to retract the ladder leading up to the level they're at, lest the rest of us hoi polloi want to try to get up there too.

Maybe there's an element of that in the people you refer to as actually wanting to see a general unraveling of society. I suspect so, and wonder if the apparent longing for the scenario of the book of Revalations represents a Christian fundamentalist iteration of the same theme. I'm guessing Thiel and his cohort mostly see the fundies as ridiculous, but are happy to use them when possible.

Justin said...

Jack,
99% agreement.
Some brief commentary:
The lone wolf fantasy really annoys me.

Industrial technology in its current implementation is a problem, consumer capitalism's and an insatiable thirst for oil and blood is the problem.

Third, owing to that thirst, collapse is coming whether we cheer for it or not. I do not cheer collapse for a return to nature, or on aesthetic grounds, but I cheer a collapse of the current capitalist model because I think it is destroying us in such a way that every year of its continuance makes the aftermath even harder to survive.

Your statement that it should not be hard from a few posts ago should be a universally understood truth.

Jack Crow said...

Peter,

I understand the sentiment, and the stab at irony.

The original, above, has been sort of broiling lately because I'm mildly annoyed by the refusal to understand Jensen and Zerzan for what they are: people who argue, with degrees of persuasiveness, for a golden age and Restorationist naturalism, or a primitivism, which are iterations of an especially ugly mysticism with inquisitorial urges barely concealed by a doctrine which is nothing short of death worship.

Perhaps some people will object especially to my characterization of Jensen, who is beyond a doubt sensitive to the many dangers industrial civilization presents to biodiversity, as a death worshiper.

But, having read Endgame and despite being more than once persuaded by his arguments, I could not help by take away, in the end, that his restorationism depends on a number of us dying. He doesn't speak it, but his formula assumes it.

Jack Crow said...

Jonathan, Justin:

Last year I tried to map out over the course of a month or so how and why our current dominant civilization will rescue itself from its own waste by way of triage.

Triage is the raison d'etre of austerity...

Jack Crow said...

...Think of a colony of ships on a lake. A whole town of house boats, or something. It has been dumping waste into that lake for twenty generations. Now, the feedback loops are looping around each other. The lake is toxic.

The people who own the ships like living on them. So too do the people who work for the owners. Ship living is better than grubbing on the shore. It's certainly preferable to living right in the water. There are forests beyond the lakeshore, but forest living will eventually present the same problems as lake living. You've got to cut down trees to live among them. So, why fuck with what works, or almost works, right?

Anyhow, there are whole lot of people in this flotilla now, and a lot of them are superfluous, from the vantage of the ownership. Their parents and grandparents weren't unnecessary. They worked long and hard to improve the operation of the ships. To make the owners wealthier, and carve out niches for their own middling selves which was more or less comfortable. These middlers were decent enough folk; they even lamented the plight of the hold dwellers and bottom feeders who lived off the scraps which fell from above - you know the type, the almost humans who live roughly just to stay alive, and out of the water.

The middling middlers supported charity, police action or both used against the bottomers, as the circumstances required it. They trusted the owners, for the most part. They trusted the operation of the ships.

But, now the lake is polluted. The boat town is over-populated. And the bottomers and excess middlers are living ever more precariously. Many of them aren't sure why, but they can sense it. Or something.

Ownership has come up with a novel plan. They're gonna give up on boating, at least in the short term. They've designed a solution: hot air levitation. So, the economy of the floating town has been given over entirely to the manufacture of hot air balloons, ballasts and the appropriate infrastructure to operate and maintain them. They're going to float the boats out of the lake entirely. They don't need as many middlers and skilled workers as they used to, but those with the right techniques locked up in their noggins can earn ride. Lake bound boats and air bound ones have different operational requirements. And there are even a lucky few who are really good at getting the mass of boat dwellers to believe that the hot air balloon plan is good for everyone. They get a lot of face time at meetings and public celebrations.

Problem is, ownership can't float the boats off the lake when there are so many people, and their stuff, weighing them down all heavy like. They can't just come out tell people to give up on their toys, and nice wardrooms and Sunday recreation - because that's legitimately scary. It makes people think there's something wrong with the boats. Or worse, with the lake itself.

But, somethings and someones have got to go over the edge. So the boats can float. Lots of someones.

It's best, too, if a number of the middlers can be persuaded to do the throwing to their selves, you know, for the good of the ships. It's only temporary, the owners say. And it's good for you. You need to learn how to swim. It'll make you a better boat owner, come your day to own a boat.

As for the bottom dwellers - not too many people are going to bitch when they get tossed. The filthy animals. Every hold rat tossed off the ship is a space that a worried middler might get.

That's triage. That's austerity. That's American Libertarianism, as well.

I just don't think that the correct response to the "problem of the lake and the boats" is to burn them, scuttle them and sink them.

I like the lake, sure. But, I also prefer living in the boat to treading water until death takes me.

Anonymous said...

"If you are instead counting on collapse and a "return" to some prior or old-new pristine state of grace, please - fuck yourself in the eyeballs with a loaded rifle. Pull the trigger while you are doing it."

this is repulsive. you veer into violent fantasies far too often. vile, frivolous crap. try forming arguments without "ironically" inciting murder.

now tell me how much i don't understand.

Jack Crow said...

Heh.

Justin said...

I like the lake, sure. But, I also prefer living in the boat to treading water until death takes me.

Does this mean you would prefer to just keep on the boat until the whole thing capsizes and everyone drowns?

One thing about talk about civilizational collapse is that we can get caught up in metaphors that end up more complex than the trouble they are worth, I say that just as a way of suggesting that if you abandon the boat metaphor entirely and answer what I am really asking, then you won't lose me. (And I am not going to get into the game of trying to extend your analogy into some absurd corner.)

The problem as I see it is that the longer we just accept the status quo, which we can probably agree is doomed to collapse, then the worse the aftermath is going to be. I mean, imagine that we stave off collapse by ramping up nuclear energy for a couple of decades until that stops working. Now we have collapse, + 20 years of stockpiled nuclear waste, + 20 years of more industrial waste, the oceans have gone extinct, the land is even worse shape, and so on.

I don't know what the answer is, I go back and forth all the time on different ideas.

I don't think the answer is pogrom or get with the program. Yes, you are right that elites will triage everyone before them if we let them. And if we pretend they will just do it nicely, then we are in for a rude awakening.

But, you still stop short of following your analogy to its end. If the boat capsizes, you are going to be treading water just the same as if you jumped in.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

Analogy and metaphor aren't analysis. Agreed.

To stay within the moving image, for a moment, I suppose you could argue for (a) the theft of materials, a flotilla of refugee craft built surreptitiously, and a break for the nearest shore, or (b) to seize all of the boats, putting the owners over the side and into the drink, and the redistribution of berths and tasks, or even (c) saidsame seizure, owners over the side, balloons still built, and everyone else tries to leave the lake.

*

The original analogy was just an attempt to take a few frames and back light them.

Will Shetterly said...

(d) don't put owners over the side; give them a fair share.

Jack Crow said...

You are more generous than I, Will. I figure there's got to be some testing out of their preferred libertarian bootstrapping theory. Like, in the controlled experimental environment of the toxic lake, before they'll really get it. Otherwise, they're going to take all those memories and skills they've accumulated from a lifetime of owning and bossing, the connections and pre-existing loyalties they've got in residuum, and build themselves up a power base again.

Will Shetterly said...

I would be slow to put them in positions where they could easily sabotage the revolution.

(Comment deleted and reposted 'cause blogger doesn't have a decent way to fix typos.)

Justin said...

Moot point, fellas. Sell them on the idea as sea-steading, and they will toss themselves over willingly!

Jack, more to the point. As I see it, from a broader perspective, if they are not to be destroyed, then these tools need to be siezed and repurposed; swords into plowshares. This is where your point that it should not be hard is important to keep in mind.

We have achieved all we need from a materialist perspective to have a utopia free of physical hardships like starvation and exposure to elements and disease. Where we are now failing is from an ideological and social perspective from distributing these things. Those are programs of the mind.

At a personal level with specifics, the only answers I can come up with is to ignore moral claims to material wealth coming from a perspective that I consider illegitimate or oppressive (see London Riots and looting) and to try and be fair and right by those I deal with in my day to day. It would be nice if we could just seize the machinery of capitalist elites and be done with it, but its going to take some boat sinking before that happens, because that is the only way to show how illusory the current order is.

I am putting together a business plan right now to harvest, cure and sell bamboo as lumber as part of a perma-culture farming operation where I am going. If it works out, I will probably have to hire help at some point. Assume that all comes together, if I do not insist on a flat pay scale, meaning we share the work and reward equally, even if our roles in the work are different, then I will have failed in this personal ethic. If I exploit the land base, or try to go beyond what I need for a satisfied life, I will have failed.

To switch gears slightly, I tend to shy away from big programs of change or master plans. I think those solutions are discussed in deterministic, watch maker design schemas. To get more generalized for a moment, I think much of the current problems plaguing our species to a misplaced faith in Cartesian science to control human affairs. We have tried to apply scientific systems and rules to our societies in the hopes that with the right system, we will be infallible. Another law, another check, another balance is what we always seem to be missing.

I am saying something different; the next step for us will be a loss of faith in any kind of deterministic system that decides who gets what (or who lives and who doesn't.) What we need is to retool our internal selves, we need to become our own internal cops, politicians and judges so that the external ones become unnecessary.

I believe we can do that, and we have a better than zero chance of doing it, but its also why I am uncomfortable digging into overarching discussions like who gets to live and who doesn't in the wake of collapse, or designing some new program of perfect order.

JM said...

Douglas makes a good point about Orlov

Anonymous said...

'if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him'

You are a stupid dude, Karl/Anon.

You are gonna be gratefull you dont have to carry Karl Oxtrot on your back any more Jack

Jack Crow said...

Heh. Anon appears to have understood the reference to an old Buddhist aphorism, at least. Surprised it took this long, honestly. I don't know about ever having carried people, but, I wasn't making a case for literally murdering Luddites.

Killing the Buddha is killing the idea of the Buddha, so that impressions of and belief in the majesty and uniqueness of the Buddha don't get in the way of working out one's own enlightenment.

I was snarking sarcastically, yes. But, you "kill the Luddite" as an obstruction to clearly seeing the problem, which is not technology, but accumulation.

mp said...

jack-
okay, i've read it twice. i don't think you're out of your mind angry or murderous, but i do think your ideas are headed in a direction that can't end well, even if (maybe especially if) they come to fruition. basically, it's the "either you're part of the solution or part of the problem" element of your writing. luddites in particular who wish to detach or remain detached as much as possible from the grips of power are harmless. do they actively try to convert people to their ways? are they actively doing anything to make their lives ours? not in my experience. the polemic itself asks luddites to make a choice: either join in this system or you're a piece of shit, tacitly in the service of the federal government precisely because you refuse to use the internet to organize and fight. revolutionaries generally have long lists and long memories, so that anyone who didn't help them is on the shit list if they ever are successful. so, yeah, charles probably took it too far (he has that way), but i still disagree with the basic thrust.

Will Shetterly said...

"revolutionaries generally have long lists and long memories, so that anyone who didn't help them is on the shit list if they ever are successful."

That worries me, too. Sometimes I wonder what would've happened to the French Revolution if the vindictive folks hadn't taken power. To succeed, a revolution can't ignore the past, but it can't be obsessed with it either.

Jack Crow said...

mp,

I'm not making any argument about what Luddites should do with their lives, though. I haven't suggested that they should be prevented from speaking, organizing or promoting their ideas. I think primitivists are as wrongheaded as it gets, from the vantage of a critique of power, and that their preferred future requires a Great Dying. But, I don't think they should be killed for it. I also don't think "the owners" should be killed either. They should simply be invited to live according to their bootstrapper ethic. In the case of the extended analogy above, I think it's personally reasonable to invite them to spend some time in the drink, since, according to their managing theory of everything, that's a character and self-reliance forging experience.

I'm not even close to proposing an either/or, despite claims (elsewhere) to the contrary. This isn't a case of join or die, and while I'm certainly not a pacifist (I quoted Arundhati Roy a while ago, as to why) I think I've been fairly clear with who I think deserves murder: no one.

I don't think placard waving, "peaceful protest" and electioneering will change the way people organize. I also don't think Che Guevara's bloodyhanded tribunals will make things better. That written, in any uprising which isn't just suicide by SWAT, people will die. Especially the sorts whom abused and oppressed people think got it coming to them. Americans and Brits might be queasy, as a rule, about the guillotine and the sabot, but them's the facts. If the grimies (Lucy Parsons reference, here) are going to settle accounts, let's have it be with the rich.

With regard to Jensenists (who are New Jansenists, in a pique of farcical historical redundancy), Zerzanites and Luddites, my argument is only a presentation, admittedly with a healthy dose of snark and bitter root, "get what you want, follow it to its logical conclusion, and lots of people will actually die."

I'm also not suggesting that they should stop being anti-technology, or that they have irrational concerns about the impact of human existence upon non-human ecosystems.

I just think they're like medieval (ah fuck it, even modern) priests, who look upon social ills and draw the conclusion that demons must be cast out.

Jack Crow said...

Will,

I'm not a booster of the Terror. I'm also not a critic. The Prussians and Austrians would still chime in eventually, but the King was actively seeking it.

The Revolution's mistake wasn't removing the heads of the aristos. It was turning on each other.

Does violence encourage paranoid internal cleansing? Youbetcha. But, when you've got outside powers looking to topple a challenge to the sacred order (see, er, every even partially successful revolution since the failures of 1848), you get evolutionary pressures on the form of self-preservation.

Will Shetterly said...

Well, I understand why those rulers lost their heads, and anyone who blames the people entirely misses the point, but you've got to find a way to break out of the death spiral of violence. When things go far enough, turning on each other becomes inevitable because you know that if you can just kill enough enemies, everything will be perfect.

This is vaguely related to something I learned from watching a few musical bands. There will always be the most annoying person in a band. Treasure that person. If you get rid of that person, someone else will become the most annoying person, and then the band will break up.

Justin said...

Jack, I have read both Zerzan and Jensen. Their critiques are grounded in systemic analysis that follows observations to their conclusions.

When you say stuff like they are priests who wish to cast out demons, you are retreating to unnecessary euphemism. If what they are saying does not hold together, talk specifics. If what they are saying does hold together, but there is another way to resolve the issues they raise, then speak to those.

If I am to be honest to you, this is the problem I see. You are accepting their premises and analysis, but the conclusions are horrifying so you retreat from the whole thing into comments like the above.

Personally, I agree with much of what they are saying about industrial capitalism and its toxifying effect on the world. It is already killing and impoverishing millions, billions, of people right now. That is already happening. I also agree with you when you say stuff like, it does not have to be hard. I don't think it is misery in the mud hut with pogroms to weed out the weak or industrial capitalism. The problem now is allocation. The problem is in our heads.

The system is collapsing regardless, I am not sure that it needs any help from primitivists. Anyway, I am trying to make sense of your critique generally.

On the one hand, you write that violence is going to be necessary to prevent elites from impoverishing and murdering most of the rest of humanity.

On the other hand, you are calling people who recognize the same problem, and also would agree with the observation that they are already doing this, primitivists. So what actions do you think are a reasonable response? The Jerzen/Jensen crowd are saying that the first step is a violent seizure of the elites tools of destruction and to stop them from killing the planet and fellow humans. I would like to know what your disagreement is, and what your alternative course of action is.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

It's not euphemism. What is Jensen's prescription for restoring holy nature, er, "liberating the Earth from civilization"?

Blowing up dams?

Living rightly?

That's about it.

Zerzan and Jensen are priests. That's not figurative. I'm not euphemizing. They believe that people are (a) fallen, (b) must restore themselves to a true or original nature and (c) if they don't, the world will be damned.


The reference, above, to Jansenism was not accidental.

Jack Crow said...

And just in case I've given the impression that Zerzan and Jensen are allies, or share a similar set of solutions - this is not the case. Zerzan is dismissive of Jensen as one more statist, if I remember correctly.

Jack Crow said...

[Justin,

"Primitivist" is not my term. It's Zerzan's.]

dr-gonzo said...

fucking blogger ate my homework

Jack Crow said...

Just checked "spam," Dr. G. Not there. Sorry about that.

dr-gonzo said...

Let's see how much I can remember....

I'll take a break from trying to skullfuck myself with a rifle to say that I think you are shooting the messengers and not looking at the message enough.

As Justin has said it seems like you support some of their analysis but are merely recoiling from the horror that no doubt awaits us.

Festering shanty towns are very much a product of civilization, and they cover the globe today without any help from primitivists.

Our modern caves are quite comfortable with their AC, computers, and televisions. But in order for some to have these comforts, oppression of others must follow. You don't get a silicon chip and printed circuit board without massive mining operations, pollution, and slavery. Hell, a computer and most of our modern tools would never exist if it weren't for the state. Could the situation for all be better if we were to allocate resources more justly? Sure, but the problem isn't just allocation, its the perverse idea that every human can live like western capitalists do, which is impossible.

dr-gonzo said...

We agree on the need to smash the rich and take control of the means of production aka the state. But I think the only sane choice once you have that control is to dismantle it.

Jack Crow said...

Dr. G.

I'm familiar with the message. As I wrote above, I'm not immune to some of Jensen's arguments. It's his giant leap from "pollution sucks" to "blow up all the dams and everything and everyone gets back to nature" to live in sacred harmony with the saintly indigenes shtick, where I part company. I even actually for once agree with the Chompers, about it. Chomsky called primitivism "genocidal."

dr-gonzo said...

I agree that Jensen's vision of nature warriors blowing up the dams and radio towers would not do much in the long run. In fact, if we were to haphazardly rip up tech and the structures of civilization everywhere at once it would without a doubt be suicidal (the thousands of Fukushima's that dot the landscape would end us all pretty quick). I think the only path to survival is a slow controlled deconstruction, which ain't likely. Even in the best possible case, death and destruction are inevitable.

Chomsky may have called primitivism "genocidal", but the state is a living breathing genocide factory today. And Chomsky refuses to give up on lesser of two evils. I met him at some uni speech he gave last year, and the only thing that kept me awake was watching the lefty audience drool over his every word. Chomsky has a real comfortable house too, being a professor and all. Note my derision here is intended for Chomsky, not you.

Jack Crow said...

Dr. G,

I'm not persuaded by "it's bad now, therefore criticizing a bad tomorrow is pointless" argumentation, honestly.

*

I won't go so far as to state that all tools are neutral, but tool usage, technique and technology are not as pathway determined as Jensen's argument requires them to be.

Will Shetterly said...

Dittoing Jack here. It's easier to see the problem than it is to see the solution.

Jack Crow said...

Will,

My snarky hyperbole stashed in a hidey hole for a bit, I'm wary of any argument which depends upon and implicit or explicit "well, if you're going to criticize, you'd better have a solution."

It's reductive.

I don't believe I need to fill in the gaps over which Jensen leaps, especially in Endgame, in order to earn the right to point out that he is leaping.

Oddly enough, I just happened across this Camus quote which probably says it better than I:

"If the mind is only a reflection of events, it cannot anticipate their progress, except by hypothesis. If Marxist theory is determined by economics, it can describe the past history of production, and not the future which remains in the realms of probability. The task of historical materialism can only be to establish a method of criticism of contemporary society; it is only capable of making suppositions, unless it abandons its scientific attitude, about the society of the future."

(from The Rebel)

Will Shetterly said...

Oh, I think it's fine to criticize without a solution. I should've expanded my comment. Dr. G seemed to be criticizing you for buying part of the analysis of the problem and rejecting the proposed solution. I just meant that it's fine to agree with someone's analysis and still reject their solution. There's something in humans that's susceptible to Underpants Gnome logic. That's as true of the pessimists as the optimists.

As for the Camus quote, Marx said very little about the future, perhaps for the reason Camus offers.

dr-gonzo said...

Certainly many tools are neutral, but the ones that give us some level of comfort today are decidedly not neutral. The grocery store across from my hood makes it easy for me to walk over and acquire food, but the trip that food took to get there is front loaded with all manner of violence. Technology and tools will always be a part of human existence for as long as we persist, but the role these tools have in our lives doesn't have to be a dominating one. We have become prisoners to our own "advancement".

I don't see any problem with criticizing a bad tomorrow alongside the present. Which is why I don't advocate my fellow humans get to the nearest dam with their pick axes. As you say, a more productive move would be to go after the state, for it is both the deadly inventor and user of the worst tools of civilization.

Justin said...

Jack, I agree that you are not obligated to say what you think the answer is to offer a critique. I was requesting more than demanding or saying that your disagreement was invalid without an alternative. However, when you write posts like this and this, where you explicitly call for what amounts to revolution, I do not think it is out of bounds for someone to ask what exactly you mean.

And as for the comments about pick axes and dams being meaningless, I swear there is nothing unique about American character anymore except for our insurmountable learned helplessness. Take a lesson from recent history, insurmountable odds can be mounted with less than you think. See Libya, Egypt, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. It's not pretty in many cases, but it is possible to defeat an elite and highly industrialized military power with relatively low tech tactics.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

I don't think one has to jump from "people should rise up" to "that means we should murder everyone with an ideological disagreement."

If possible, could you clarify "learned helplessness"?

Are you implying that a disavowal of dam bombing is helplessness?

Dr. G,

Any disagreement I have with Jensen, Zerzan and primitivism has less to do with the idea that technology can be destructive of niches and more to do with what they want human sociality to look like once holy restoration with nature and right human living is achieved, and how they will achieve it.

Jack Crow said...

Justin,

Was reading the "bread prices cause riots" piece, over at Shotwell.

I wonder how much the folks studying this from their tenured Mass. offices spent before they dipped into Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, Chinese, French, English, Russian, Polish, German, Indian, [insert any time or place] history.

Justin said...

Jack, by learned helplessness I was referring to prior comments in this thread that all resistance such as taking pick axes to dams was relatively pointless as compared to attacking the state. I keep coming around to this, how do you attack a fictional construct of social organization?

Justin said...

Jack, two quick replies.

I am not sure what you mean by the Mass. offices. I took their 'finding' to be of no surprise and something that I thought was relatively known. Bread lines translates into unrest. So I am not sure if you are suggesting that it was a no shit shirlock 'discovery', or if you disagree with and are saying it is ahistorical.

The second point is to clarify, in the past, when I have requested you to speak to what you think it means to follow the revolutionary rhetoric you engage in, I mean that in the sense of, "I think it would be interesting if you shared what you think about this". I realize now that you might have interpreted my meaning differently in light of this thread.

If you have no thoughts or ideas on the subject, that does not lessen your analysis or point of view of the status quo in my view.

That is all. I have more writing to do.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat unfair to the original Luddite movement which was much more a class struggle of workers vs capital than an anti-technology movement as such. They broke the machines because that's the manifestation of capitalism that they could get their hands on. Capital responded by making "frame breaking" a capital crime, which should tell you something.

Will Shetterly said...

Anon, I was tempted to bring that up, 'cause I admire the actual Luddites, but is there a more useful name today for folks who want to destroy modern civilization in the hope of creating their fantasy of a simpler life?

Jack Crow said...

Anon,

I'm also aware of the differences. But, as the case with the more appropriate term "primitives" illustrates, it's easier to use "Luddite."

That written, it would be nice to see anti-toll groups calling themselves Rebeccas again.

Will,

That's highlighting the essential: the fantasy of a simpler life. And it isn't a failure of imagination to suggest as much. Eight billion people aren't going to become hunter gathering niche respecters.

Justin,

I'm not really promoting revolution. I think uprisings are just fine. Revolution, not so much. The conditions aren't right.

W. Kasper said...

The Luddites were just trying to protect their working way of life (like every generation does). 'Luddite' ended up as bourgeois insult, but I guess that definition has stuck.

I read a few Zerzan essays years ago. The treatment of agriculture was interesting w/r its relationship to class stratification, gender, health and environment etc. but when I got to his longer stuff it was clear he was just misanthropic to the point of genocidal. It's entirely useless, unless you need an ideology for post-apocalyptic society. But then, it's unlikely you'd be able to add his books to an Amazon basket when that happens.

Jack Crow said...

Wayne,

I'm not sure "if you meet a primitive on the road, kill him" would have garnered the same conversation.

*

Zerzan is a wand waver. But, he's forthright about it. When he makes an argument about a paleo-diet, for example, he waves his wand completely over how the gathering niche is going to be occupied by an additional six or seven billion people without niche depletion inside of a decade.

Jensen, in my own view, is much worse (despite making any number of salient points, also especially about gender) because he's far more adept at waving the wand without being obvious about it.

You can make it through both volumes of Endgame, despite the relentless doom and gloom, without him admitting the single salient point beggared up by his argument: ecological balance is a fairy tale, and he's willing to have a lot of people die to achieve it.

*

Now, I know I've been accused of being a bloodthirsty bomb-thrower, but for fucks sake, not even my "when the time is right, perhaps less rich people would be a good thing, and yeah, some people will get dead" depends upon a wand wave.

I just come out a state it: if I ever get my hands on any of the people who helped to weaponize ticks, or who ran the Deer Island biological weapons center, I'm going to be hard pressed not to kill them. They did it for wealth, and they did it in the service of wealth and power. That's a level of complicity which doesn't ever merit my forgiveness.

Christopher M. said...

I find it kind of hilarious whenever anyone gets all angry and spluttering at the primitivists. The only thing people like Jensen and Zerzan are really saying is this: civilization, especially industrial civilization, is going to collapse; it's too fucking destructive to sustain itself. Given this: it will actually be much better for all concerned if the crash comes sooner, rather than later - because the later it comes, the less there's going to be left.

All the moralizing in the world can't get around the fact that industrial capitalism has spent the last couple centuries destroying the soil, poisoning the land, water, and air, wiping out wildlife and the habitat that supports it, boiling the atmosphere, depleting every natural resource we depend on, and generally turning the world we live in into an uninhabitable clusterfuck. "Oh, the death of billions, the death of billions!" Dude, the fucking oceans are going extinct. Billions are already going to die. The only question is whether there's going to be a world left for anyone at the end of that.

They're gonna kill that poor woman! They're gonna kill that poor woman! She kidnapped herself.

Jack Crow said...

No one is angry here, Christopher.

I just happen to think that the core belief system of primitivism is genocidal.

Which says absolutely nothing about the core functionality of equally genocidal late industrial capitalism.

Do I think the prims have a chance at influencing public policy?

Nope.

Because they strike all the wrong notes: while capitalists would love everyone making less than $200k to suck on the austerity pipe, prims want the whole planet to suck it.

The capitalist wins that argument every time, Christopher. Because no one wants to be poor.

No one.

The answer to forced scarcity isn't universal scarcity.

It is, instead: Eat! The! Rich!

Anonymous said...

lol nice story. did someone you call a "luddite", make you feel bad? :DD weep little more and wipe your religious nut arse.