I’ve recently had cause to (again) reexamine things. Or not to reexamine, so much as to think about again in context of having to explain them to someone else. Have you heard of anarcho primitivism? I’ve heard the term tossed around a lot, but it was recently levied in context of my own thoughts, and I’ve since been reading up on it and realized that a lot applies. I wouldn’t call myself one- an anarcho primitivist- but there’s a lot of relevance.
I think it’s funny how our thoughts grow. We all are doing our best just to get by, day to day, and it’s not often that we pause (not ever, for some) to reevaluate the point we’ve arrived at. In reading about anarcho primitivism, I’ve suddenly become aware of what thoughts are in my head. Not that I didn’t know they were there, just that they suddenly became very clearly different from what I believed before.
When we were little my cousin and I played a game we very simply called “boss.” We played it constantly at my grandmother’s house, over and over, endless repetitions on the same theme. Essentially, she and I were performers held captive by the boss (there was a swing in the backyard, and we did tricks on it). Night after night we were forced to perform for audiences who had no idea we were held captive. We had to be very careful of what we said- we had to pretend to be totally content with our position, at least when others were present. We were told what to eat and when, what to do, what to say, what to wear. We were carefully watched, and there was surveillance all over the house. We had babies, also (in the form of American Girl dolls). And we had plans to escape.
Escape was fairly complex and was always the high point of this game. You had to very carefully climb around the entire length of the sizeable chain link fence that enclosed the backyard, your feet never touching the ground (this would electrocute you), touching each of the poles as you went around (this turned off the electric fencing). Then at the end you could climb over the fence and run away. If you touched the ground, you would be recaptured and locked in your room.
I’ve thought of this now because it didn’t occur to me until recently how much this game reflected on the actual state of things- and this is something we came up with when we were what, 6 and 9? Even then we understood- you’re always captive to the boss. You escape and then it starts all over again, especially if you have kids you have to protect. I am carefully monitored (hello, internet) and can’t say certain things publicly, or wear certain things, and I am told what to eat and wear and do. So are you. I have a vision of what it could be again- I can imagine the escape- but where do you escape to?
I’ve talked about this before on here, I think. My vision of just living- of collecting/growing/preparing food for myself and my loved ones, making clothes, surviving- and spending the rest of the time dancing, singing, making art, telling stories, talking to the trees. No where in there is there space for a “job”. A job is where you sell your time for an intermediary object that you can exchange for the things you would have naturally, if only they hadn’t been locked away by a group of people who have decided freedom isn’t free. Elephants don’t have jobs because they simply go about their business. They do “work”, if you want to call it that. They gather food, and sometimes they have to walk a long way to do it. But they don’t have “jobs.” Everyone participates.
We are so disconnected in this culture that when I explain to someone that I’m fed up with all this, they usually tell me to go somewhere else. I ask them where. They usually splutter something about West Virginia or something, someplace where it’s less populated. I argue that I would still have to buy land, I would still have to pay taxes on it, I would still have to be registered on some form somewhere. They don’t get it. They don’t realize I don’t want to be secluded, I don’t want to run away, I don’t want to live alone in the wilderness (far from it!). I want to live in a community based on mutual aid. I want to have neighbors that aren’t strangers- who help me and I them. We work together to survive. We live together. Our days are filled with the simple tasks of being alive.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again: That is not possible while you are paying taxes.
It is not possible while you need money, and therefore a job, to live. It is not possible when you have to follow the laws made by other people, not your own community. It is not possible when your labor goes to support the goals of others, not to help build your own community. It is not possible when your own joy is marginalized into “vacations”.
Here’s a bit on rewilding from the anarcho primitivism Wikipedia entry:
For most primitivist anarchists, rewilding and reconnecting with the earth is a life project. They state that it should not be limited to intellectual comprehension or the practice of primitive skills, but, instead, that it is a deep understanding of the pervasive ways in which we are domesticated, fractured, and dislocated from ourselves, each other, and the world. Rewilding is understood as having a physical component which involves reclaiming skills and developing methods for a sustainable co-existence, including how to feed, shelter, and heal ourselves with the plants, animals, and materials occurring naturally in our bioregions. It is also said to include the dismantling of the physical manifestations, apparatus, and infrastructure of civilization.
Rewilding is also described as having an emotional component, which involves healing ourselves and each other from what are perceived as 10,000-year-old wounds, learning how to live together in non-hierarchical and non-oppressive communities, and de-constructing the domesticating mindset in our social patterns. To the primitivist, “rewilding includes prioritizing direct experience and passion over mediation and alienation, re-thinking every dynamic and aspect of reality, connecting with our feral fury to defend our lives and to fight for a liberated existence, developing more trust in our intuition and being more connected to our instincts, and regaining the balance that has been virtually destroyed after thousands of years of patriarchal control and domestication. Rewilding is the process of becoming uncivilized.”