Thursday, February 25, 2010

Green Anarchy

If I wait until I feel ready to explain green anarchy in my own words, I will never write that post.  So I decided, instead, to give you the link to a great introductory article on the subject, and to comment a bit on specific parts of that article.

Before going into that, I'm going to say this: I'm not looking to start debates, and as I've mentioned previously, I find posting highly politicized posts to be nerve wracking.  I've decided to keep the comments on this post open for now (depending on the nature of the comments, I *may* choose to close commenting at a later date.  I don't think I will, and I don't want to, but I also want to keep that option open in case I find the feedback I'm getting is stressing me too much!  Yeah, I know, I'm overly sensitive.), but I ask that you please refrain from attempting to start any big political debates!  I feel a need to add a bit extra to this anti-debating thing, that I feel in my last couple of posts I didn't address as much as I should have.  I have no problems having my opinions questioned.  I do have a problem with my opinions being questioned in a confrontational, adversarial, disrespectful, way.  I love talking in person about my views with people whom I know to be open-minded and respectful, and the person I spend the most time having in-depth conversations with is my sister.  She's a more analytical thinker than I am, and we complement each other wonderfully in discussions.  She'll often point out things I may not have seen, or tell me when something I say doesn't seem thought through very thoroughly.  I don't, however, like having those conversations online, where it's often hard to tell how the other person feels.  But I seriously digress.

There's a lot of information to be found on green anarchy online, but almost none of it is information for "beginners", just for those who already have a basic understanding of green anarchist philosophies.  So I was very happy to find this article, from Green Anarchy magazine, called An Introduction to Anti-Civilization Anarchist Thought and Practice.  I warn you, it is quite long, but it's also a wonderful introduction to the types of things that most green anarchists question and think about.

This article covers many different things, including the all important thing, when talking about being anti-civilization, of What Is Civilization?:
"Green anarchists tend to view civilization as the logic, institutions, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. While different individuals and groups prioritize distinct aspects of civilization (i.e. primitivists typically focus on the question of origins, feminists primarily focus on the roots and manifestations of patriarchy, and insurrectionary anarchists mainly focus on the destruction of contemporary institutions of control), most green anarchists agree that it is the underlying problem or root of oppression, and it needs to be dismantled."
And in the section Biocentrism vs. Anthropocentrism, it talks about one of the things I consider to be my core values:
"Biocentrism is a perspective that centers and connects us to the earth and the complex web of life, while anthropocentrism, the dominant world view of western culture, places our primary focus on human society, to the exclusion of the rest of life. A biocentric view does not reject human society, but does move it out of the status of superiority and puts it into balance with all other life forces. It places a priority on a bioregional outlook, one that is deeply connected to the plants, animals, insects, climate, geographic features, and spirit of the place we inhabit. There is no split between ourselves and our environment, so there can be no objectification or otherness to life. Where separation and objectification are at the base of our ability to dominate and control, interconnectedness is a prerequisite for deep nurturing, care, and understanding. Green anarchy strives to move beyond human-centered ideas and decisions into a humble respect for all life and the dynamics of the ecosystems that sustain us."
In Division of Labour and Specialization, another important point is brought up, that of how disconnected we are from the mechanics of our own well-being:
"The disconnecting of the ability to care for ourselves and provide for our own needs is a technique of separation and disempowerment perpetuated by civilization. We are more useful to the system, and less useful to ourselves, if we are alienated from our own desires and each other through division of labor and specialization. We are no longer able to go out into the world and provide for ourselves and our loved ones the necessary nourishment and provisions for survival. Instead, we are forced into the production/consumption commodity system to which we are always indebted."
It also talks about decentralization, something I think is incredibly important. From Against Mass Society:
"We reject mass society for practical and philosophical reasons. First, we reject the inherent representation necessary for the functioning of situations outside of the realm of direct experience (completely decentralized modes of existence). We do not wish to run society, or organize a different society, we want a completely different frame of reference. We want a world where each group is autonomous and decides on its own terms how to live, with all interactions based on affinity, free and open, and non-coercive. We want a life which we live, not one which is run."
Of course, as the author even says in Influences and Solidarity, many green anarchists come to different conclusions on various points from those of the author:
"It is also important to remember that, while many green anarchists draw influence from similar sources, green anarchy is something very personal to each who identify or connect with these ideas and actions."
However, I definitely think that this is a very good introduction!

I hope that if you're interested in truly learning about green anarchy, you choose to read the entire article, not just the bits I've included in this post, because those bits really only give you a part of the whole story (hell, they just give you part of the whole story, taken from an article that is itself just a small part of the whole story!).  And I hope that it gives you a better understanding of where I'm coming from, as well!

How I ended up considering myself a green anarchist was actually by process of elimination: anything that didn't jive with my core values, I just didn't agree with.  I had no faith in politicians or governments, and had been interested in anarchy, in a very vague sense, for years.  However, I just always believed everyone around me when they said that it was a load of crap, and so I didn't look into it myself for a while...  But when I did, I sure liked it!!  However, with most anarchist philosophies, I saw a major flaw: they were concerned entirely with humans and with human society, and didn't really seem to consider the environment or the greater web of life.  So when I found green anarchy, it just felt right.  Here was something that finally made sense to me!

I also hope that by reading that article, it'll cause you to think about and question some things that you may never have thought of before...

For a currently small but ever growing resource list of interesting stuff on green anarchy and post-leftist anarchy, go to the bottom of my Links and Resources page!



  1. Awesome and inspiring post! I'm currently finding it really difficult to break my attachments to civilization, which obviously can't be an overnight process, but it's still really helpful to read inspiring perspectives and information like this. What I want is to *live* anti-civ, and to participate in the re-emergence of tribal life. It seems like such a faraway ideal though, but we're slowly picking away at it and working toward that direction, making little inroads when opportunities present themselves. Such a struggle though - the Machine's chains run deep... but the more people pulling against them, the more hopeful it becomes.

  2. Thanks for the great links and intro. To be honest, I have never heard of it before, nor do I tend to get 'involved' with any 'movements'. However, I'm going to read the article and other resources because a few of your points have caught my attention. A few things that I cannot relate to include 'countries', 'governments', 'religions' and human hierarchies. I really can't stomach all the division in society such as democrat/republican so I tend to distance myself from certain topics (such as politics, television, advertising and immigration), not because I am not informed about them but because they are too abstract and I don't choose to relate to them.

  3. I've never really thought about myself in terms of 'anarchist' before, but what I read makes a lot of sense... thanks for sharing, I'll definitely check out the article :)

  4. Idzie, I've wondered for a while what "green anarchy" was, so thanks. "There are no groups; there are only individuals" (Stefan Molyneux, an anarchist, but not a green one). Groups are an abstraction of the human mind, or of those in government, because it suits them when we forget our individual self-worth. Anyway, animals are also individuals, as is the earth an individual life.

    I respect your principle not to debate online, that's for sure. It is very hard (to impossible) to gauge whether the ideas you are presenting are having a positive or negative effect on another person (and of course you want it to be positive, even when you disagree) when you can't see their face or body language, or hear their tone of voice.

  5. Thank you for sharing that article. I read through/skimmed most of it, and actually found myself agreeing with quite a bit of it! It definitely makes me question my whole view of reality and what society really is.

  6. Idzie, you are truly inspirational. Thank you for sharing your views and your wonderful spirit! I am an unschooling mom, even though my children are only 2 and 7 weeks! :) Reading your blog fills me with joy and hope for my children and the world they can help to create.

  7. Hi Idzie. Great post! I hadn't come across that label but I think I may be living the green anarchist's dream.
    6 years ago the sight of bulldozers knocking a forest near Dublin was giving me such a pain in my heart, that my husband, two daughters and I joined an ecovillage. We're now building a small cob house by hand and foot with help from friends and family. In the meantime, we're living in a tiny 18ft yurt in a friend's orchard with a compost loo and a lovely stove cooker. We're trying to grow food ourselves - beginners! We're also members of a CSA community farm here. The ecovillage members all have small individual house plots, and then the rest of the land is communally owned - lots of community gardens, farm, horses and woodland- all in its infancy. The decision making strives to be consensus based - lots to learn there. People differ in their views of how well it works. I like it. Most of the running of the organisation and work is done by voluntary working groups which have some autonomy and are open to anyone to join, so if you really care about an issue you can input. Some still prefer not to input themselves and rather complain about how things got done. No system with people will ever be perfect I reckon!. The whole system is called VSM, which can apparently be used to run larger orgs and countries. (see Schumacher Briefing book by John Jopling.)
    My life in a nutshell.
    Thanks for your lovely writings.

  8. 'civilisation' doesn't have the negative connotations for me though. (does this constitute debate of the forbidden kind? Hope not :[])
    I would use 'global monetocracy' and 'consumer-driven society'. Civilisation at it's most basic to me means people banding together into organised communities to survive. I think we're going to need that if/when the oil economy crashes and we have to rely on our own communities for food, medicine etc.
    (*gulps* What an invitation to rants that last sentence is!)

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  10. Idzie, I've been reading your entire blog since yesterday, starting from the beginning, but I couldn't wait to read more about your thoughts on anarchy. I really enjoyed what you said about your beliefs around this beautiful and natural way of living. I totally agree with the basic principles you expressed and I'll try to read the full article another time (I have some other things to read first).
    I used to think (just like you used to think :p) that anarchy was something really wonderful, but couldn't take place yet. Only after my boyfriend showed me the reality of unschooling (that seemed to be a missing part of my soul) I started to believe that anarchy is perfectly possible.
    (I'm sorry for my bad writing - I was schooled :P)