The Case of Band Society

ImageHunter-gatherer bands usually lack or minimize social distinctions that other societies employ – social clubs, classes, and formal kinship groups, such as clans. Apparently their small number permit individual, face-to-face interactions among members and eliminate the need to subdivide and classify the members of the group.

Such groups tend to minimize their formal politics. Group decisions are commonly made by consensus. To the extent that leadership is recognized at all, it is commonly informal, ephemeral, and limited to spheres in which individuals have demonstrated particular prowess. One man may lead a hunt; someone else will lead the dance. Such leadership is reinforced by the prestige and authority conferred by demonstrated skill and wisdom; it is rarely if ever reinforced by coercive power. Leaders retain their special position only so long as their leadership decisions satisfy their fellows. Continue reading

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Health and Civilization

Image[Human] activities can create disease or increase the risk of illness just as surely as medical science reduces the risk. Most threats to human health are not universal, and many are not ancient. Most threats to health do not occur randomly, nor are they dictated solely by natural forces: more are correlated with patterns of human activity.

-Mark Nathan Cohen, Health and the Rise of Civilization

 One strong argument made by those who are hesitant to critique civilization is that of healthcare. While not everyone who critiques civilization is interested in such a single-issue, for whatever reason (the dissatisfaction of modern life may be self-evident to some, or someone’s primary interest may have more to do with the destruction of power systems than personal survival), it has been helpful for some to mesh out these more specific questions.

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The Dialectic of Experience

ImageIt is often easier to describe tendencies of any kind through dichotomies. This can be useful; isolating something in order to understand it in itself is a tool that can and should be utilized, but only insofar as the walls of that isolation can be dissolved and topics at hand related back to the whole. When discussing experience, it is valuable to distinguish between the objective and the subjective, but it if ultimately a limitation if we do not extend our analysis to the ways in which the objective and subjective are constantly changing, interweaving, and presenting itself in a totality. Continue reading

The Lure of the Cosmos

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[The moon] is not dead. But maybe we are dead, half-dead little modern worms stuffing out damp carcasses with thought-forms that have no sensual reality. When we describe the moon as dead, we are describing the deadness in ourselves. When we find space so hideously void, we are describing our own unbearable emptiness. Do we imagine that we, poor worms with spectacles and telescopes and thought-forms, are really more conscious, more vitally aware of the universe than the men in the past were, who called the moon Artemis, or Cybele, or Astarte? Do we imagine that we really, livingly know the moon better than they knew her? That our knowledge of the moon is more real, more “sound”? Let us disabuse ourselves. We know the moon in terms of our own telescopes and our own deadness. We know everything in terms of our own deadness. – D.H. Lawrence (p.53) Continue reading

Ahistorical Break: A Bridge Between Worlds

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The following is the final draft of an ongoing analysis of temporal metaphysics and its usefulness to subversives the world over.

A Bridge Between Worlds

Throughout the continuum of historical progress, a parallel compilation of antagonistic breaks and prolonged resistance has acted as a barrier against its momentum. What is the nature of this opposition, and from where does it find its strength? Peering through the lens of metaphysics, we can explore the memory of animistic presence and mythical culture to gather insight on the everlasting tension between the spirits of the past and the dominating powers of progress. The ruptures in time that pervade the collective unconscious each and every time these forces collide are survived by those who carry the winds of struggle today, and in understanding the past all dissidents share, the contemporary adversaries of progress may grasp a uniquely powerful weapon in the struggle against domination: remembrance.

Of course, the mythical as a source of power is no foreign concept to totalitarian regimes, social democracies or the vanguards of faux revolutions. How has this power been co-opted from the hands of free people and transformed into religious juggernauts of terror? Can our only response be the total rejection of the spirit, and if not, how do we reclaim the intangible? This essay is not simply a request to consider the potential role of metaphysics in contemporary struggle, but a challenge to experiment, delve deeper, and grasp the practices it implies for the sake of not overlooking what could be yet another tool at the disposal of those who strike against civilization. Continue reading

Review of “Woman the Hunter” by Mary Zeiss Stange

woman the hunterWoman the Hunter

Mary Zeiss Stange

Boston:  Beacon Press

1997

I first heard murmurs of Woman the Hunter several months ago.  A friend of mine who I hold in high regard was quoted by another as saying that this book was “everything Paul Shepard left out or got wrong.”  Being the neo-shepardian anarchist that I am, it’s an understatement to say that my ears perked up.  And yet, this book continued to elude my grasp for a long time thereafter.

The wait is over.  I am genuinely surprised that this book is not more well-known in eco-anarchist, or even just deep ecologist, circles.  I suppose I could chalk it up, at least partially, to the fact that it’s often the best stuff that is left unsung.

It is a long-term goal of mine in reading through the deep ecological literature, and more specifically, in illuminating the contours of human ecology as theorized by the likes of Shepard, to excavate from it all that is vital to the anarchist perspective while simultaneously critiquing its shortcomings.  It became clear at the outset that one of the main topics at which this critique would have to be leveled is that of gender and sexuality.  Where to begin in this huge task?  My own ideas about gender and sexuality, even as someone firmly against patriarchy for years, are ever evolving, nuanced, and at times confusing even to myself.  Furthermore, my command of the body of theory dealing with these topics is tenuous at best.  Suffice to say that with Woman the Hunter, Mary Zeiss Stange at the very least has provided a leg up for anyone concerned with a task such as mine.  Stange has provided something of a starting point. Continue reading