Against Civilization. Readings and Reflections Enlarged Edition. Edited By John Zerzan. Illustrated By R.L. Tubbesing. With mass poisonings, global warming. A new anthology edited by the anarchist philosopher John Zerzan, Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections. The book is composed of. Against Civilization Readings & Reflections John Zerzan, editor Introduction 4 Section One: Before Civilization fi Roy Walker: The Golden Feast ( ) 7.
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Introduction 4 Section One: Before Civilization fi Roy Walker: Against His-story, Against Leviathan! A Bouquet of Theses” 26 Theodor Adorno: Reflections from Damaged Life 28 Section Two: The Coming of Civilization 29 Civilizatioh P.
Elements of Refusal 39 Paul Shepard: Nature and Madness 1 42 Mark Nathan Cohen: Health and the Rise of Civilization 46 Robin Fox: The Search for Society 51 Chellis Glendinning: The Nature of Civilization 54 Friedrich Schiller: Civilization and Its Discontents 57 John Landau: Eclipse of Reason 1 59 Aaginst Horkheimer: Dawn and Decline 61 Richard Heinberg: Toward a History of Needs 1 70 Zygmunt Bauman: Modernity and the Holocaust 72 T.
The Pathology of Civilization. Where civilzation Wasteland Zerzna The Parable of the Tribes: Critique of Cynical Reason 92 Fredric Jameson: Memories and Visions of Paradise Section Five: The Resistance to Civilization Rudolf Bahro: Avoiding Sooal and Ecological Disaster: Future Primitive 1 William Morris: News from Nowhere 1 Feral Faun: Rebels Against the Future: Lessons from the Luddites Derrick Jensen: Under the pavement, the beach.
Full text of “Against Civilization”
Paris, Permissions Biographical Note. To assail civilization itself would be scandalous, but for the conclusion, occurring to more and more people, that it may be civilization that is the fundamental scandal. I won’t dwell here on the fact of the accelerating destruction of the biosphere. And perhaps equally obvious is the mutilation of “human nature,” along with outer nature.
Freud decided that the fullness of civilization would bring, concomitantly, the zenith of universal neurosis. In this he was evidently a bit sanguine, too mild in his prognosis. It is impossible to scan a newspaper and miss the malignancy of daily life. See the multiple homicides, the percent increase in teen suicide over the past thirty years; count the ways to be heavily drugged against reality; ponder what is behind the movement away from literacy.
One could go on almost endlessly charting the boredom, depression, immiseration. The concept of progress has been in trouble for a few decades, but the general crisis is deepening now at a quickening pace. From this palpable extremity it is clear that something is profoundly wrong.
Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections by John Zerzan
How far back did this virus originate? How much must change for us to turn away from the cultural death againstt we are on?
At the same time, there are some who cling to the ideal of civilization, as to a promise yet to be fulfilled. Norbert Ellas, for example, declared that “civilization is never finished and always endangered. Richard Rubenstein found that the Holocaust “bears witness to the advance of civilization,” a chilling point further developed by Zygmunt Bauman in his Againsr and the Holocaust. Bauman argued that history’s most gruesome moment so far was made possible by the inner logic of civilization, which is, at bottom, division civiilzation labor.
This division of labor, or specialization, works zwrzan dissolve moral accountability as avainst contributes to technical achievement in this case, to the efficient, industrialized murder of millions. But isn’t this too grim a civillzation to account for all of it? What of other aspects, like art, music, literature -are they not also the fruit of civilization? To return to Bauman and his point about Nazi genocide, Germany was after all the land of Goethe and Beethoven, arguably the most cultural or spiritual European country.
Of course we try to draw strength from beautiful achievements, which often offer cultural criticism as well as aesthetic uplift. Does the presence of these pleasures and consolations make an indictment of the whole less unavoidable? Speaking of unfulfilled ideals, however, it is valid to point out that civilization is indeed “never finished and always endangered. Marx and Freud, among others, agreed on the incompatibility of xgainst and nature, which is to say, the necessity of triumph over nature, or work.
Obviously related is Kenneth Boulding’s judgment that the achievements of civilization “have been paid for at a very high cost in human degradation, suffering, inequality, and dominance.
For Morgan it was writing; for Engels, state power; for Childe, the rise of cities. Renfrew nominated insulation from nature as most fundamental.
But domestication stands behind all these manifestations, and not just the taming of animals and plants, but also the taming of human instincts and freedoms. Mastery, in various forms, has defined civilization and gauged human achievement. To name, to number, to time, to represent symbolic culture is that array of masteries upon which all subsequent hierarchies and confinements rest.
Civilization is also separation from an original wholeness and grace. The poor thing we call our “human nature” was not our first nature; it is a pathological condition. All the consolations and compensations and prosthetics of an ever more technicized and barren world do not make up for the emptiness. As Hilzheimer and others came to view domestications of animals as juvenilizations, so also are we made increasingly dependent and infantilized by the progress of civilization.
Little wonder that myths, legends, and folklore about gardens of Eden, Golden Ages, Elysian fields, lands of Cockaigne, and other primitivist paradises are vivilization worldwide phenomenon. This universal longing for an aboriginal, unalienated state has also had its dark flip side, a remarkable continuity of afainst beliefs and prophets of doom – two sides of the same coin of a deep unhappiness civilizaation civilization.
Centuries of the persistence of Utopias in the literature and politics of the West have more recently been replaced by sgainst strong dystopian current, as hope seems to be giving way to nightmare apprehensions. This shift began in earnest in the nineteenth century, when virtually every major figure. At the time that technology was becoming a worldwide unifying force, social scientists such as Durkheim and Masaryk noted that melancholy and suicide increased precisely with the forward movement of civilization.
In terms of the current intellectual domestication, postmodernism, despite a certain rhetoric of rebellion, is merely the latest extension civilizatiom the modern civilizing process. For its moral cowardice as well as its zero degree of content, a horrific present is thus captured all too well. From every camp, voices counsel that there can be no turning back from the path of progress, the unfolding of still more high-tech consumerist desolation.
How hollow they sound, as we consider what has been lost and what may yet, one desperately hopes, be recovered. Before Civilization Neandertals did not paint their caves witti the images of animals.
Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections
But perhaps they had no need to distill life into representations, because its essences were already revealed to their senses. The sight of a running herd was enough to inspire a surging sense of beauty.
They had no drums or bone flutes, but they could listen to the booming rhythms of the wind, the earth, and each other’s heartbeats, and be transported. James Shreeve 1 his collection opens with some reflections about agalnst it was like for our species prior to civilization. In a literary vein, the pages from Roy Walker’s classic treasury of poetry, Golden Feastremind us that from Ovid to the American Big Rock Candy Mountain folk legend, the memory or vision of an uncorrupted original wholeness persists.
In fact, Utopian anticivilization longings reach back at least as far as the earliest Greek writings. From Hesiod’s Works and Days, dating from the early seventh century B.
Current anthropology tells us that the pre-agricultural foraging life did not know organized violence, sexual oppression, work as an onerous or separate activity, private property, or symbolic culture.
Richard Heinberg’s Memories and Visions of Paradise is, by the way, an unexcelled recent exploration of this theme. Fairchild’s eminent study Noble Savage introduces the innocence of native New World peoples, soon to be lost to disease and warfare, upon the arrival of early conquerors. Rousseau, the origin of Fairchild’s title, describes the felicity and freedom that once obtained.
The excerpt from Thoreau is a brief but lively one: Perlman’s intensity, in his superb Against His-story, Against Leviathanleaves little doubt as to the nature-based authenticity of those not subdued by civilization, as seen in their sense of play and autonomy, for example. DeVries summarizes features of nondomesticated robustness and vitality in sharp contrast to later degeneracy in health.
Sahlins’ offering is an early statement of the central point of his Stone Age Economicsnamely, that paleolithic peoples are truly affluent, with no artificially produced or unmet needs.
Against Civilization : Readings and Reflections
Lynn Clive objects to the sacrifice of birds to skyscrapers and jetliners, while Landau offers a personal response to all we have lost. In a marvelous meditation, Adorno describes the Utopian component of children’s make-believe play.
He recalls the pretamed stage civiliztion humanity in which productivity as a value is clearly refused, and exchange disregarded, as such nonutilitarian activity “rehearses the right life.
The last and greatest book of the Metamorphoses is devoted to the Pythagorean philosophy, and bears that title. In Dryden’s translation this zwrzan book is the starting point of our endeavour to trace this tradition through the eighteenth century, and although the poem is a Roman achievement we may defer consideration of it.
Ovid’s first book deals with the grandest metamorphosis of all, the transformation from the Chaos that preceded Nature’s birth to the comparative clvilization of Caesar’s time. In that great change an empire greater than Caesar’s is won and lost, a Golden Age of zsrzan and plenty, lost to be found again by those who carry a vision of it through darkness and observe its precepts of peace and harmlessness to all that lives. Civiilzation is the golden legend that has haunted the imagination of Europe’s prophets, regardless of their own temperaments, habits or cultural environment.
In essentials it is also the story of Genesis and its history is inevitably joined with that of the first book of the Bible. Then sprang up first the golden age, which of itself maintained The truth and right of everything, unforced and unconstrained.