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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 764)...

    What is the intersection between anarchism and Quinnian ideas?

    ...and the response:

    Hmmmmm. An interesting question. A bit of a puzzle, like asking for the intersection between proletarianism and my ideas. I've never talked about anarchy or anarchism, and I doubt if either word can be found in anything I've ever written. Still, I know I've been lumped together with anarcho-primitivists.

    (Hold on while I find out what anarcho-primitivism is.)

    Okay, Wikipedia has a good, intelligible definition: "Anarcho-primitivism is an anarchist critique of the origins and progress of civilization." So far so good, though I don't know how an anarchist critique differs from any other critique. To resume: "According to anarcho-primitivism, the shift from hunter-gatherer to agricultural subsistence gave rise to social stratification, coercion, and alienation." Right. So far it appears that I am perhaps the ORIGINAL anarcho-primitivist. To go on: "Anarcho-primitivists advocate a return to non-'civilized' ways of life through deindustrialisation, abolition of the division of labor or specialization, and abandonment of large-scale organization technologies." Okay, here I definitely part way with the anarcho-primitivists.

    I don't talk about "returning" to anything. The idea that we can "go back" -- to anything -- is nonsense, which is why I call my book about this stuff BEYOND Civilization, not BEFORE Civilization.

    Like all anarchists, I suspect, the anarcho-primitivists are all about what they want to get rid of, not about what they want to replace it with. I guess they want to replace it with nothing, nothing being equal to the good ole days of anarchy. If the "primitives" of anarcho-primitivists are pre-agricultural humans, it's absurd to think of their lives as anarchy. No, "absurd" is too dignified a word for it. Silly.

    I never talk about getting rid of anything. I'm fond of quoting Buckminster Fuller, who said, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Anarchists of any variety are very much into fighting the existing reality. I'm into building a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

    In BEYOND CIVILIZATION I propose a New Tribal Revolution. This revolution ignores (leaves in place) all the bugbears of the anarcho-primitivists: industrialization, division of labor, specialization, large-scale organization technologies. Let folks who actually enjoy those things go on enjoying them till they see how well something entirely different works.

    The New Tribal Revolution is for the rest of us. The tribal way worked well for humans for millions of years (and still works well wherever we haven't destroyed it), and it can work for us as well. I spend a good portion of the book about it, so I won't try to duplicate that here.

    So I guess I managed to delineate "the intersection between anarchism and Quinnian ideas" after all. Thanks for the question. It was a good one, and I can always use one of those.


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