I’m not sure if what is going on within the small world of eco-radical discourse is interesting or boring or even anything. Having no desire to align with a particular ideological affiliation or particular brand of Radicalism, I’m frequently disappointed by the in-fighting and he-said-she-said bickering that I witness from people I share many beliefs and values of. And it this is one of the reasons I favour the terms feral, as a physic state, and iconoclasm/iconoclast, as an action/performer-of-an-action, over any specific ideology, and group most of the ideologies and groups I find resonance with as eco-radicals. I will adopt terms like anarchist, nihilist and environmentalist, as these fit what being feral and engaging in iconoclasm mean for me, but I’m not overly attached to them.
The current goings on within eco-radical discourse that I’m referring to, excluding the stunningly boring and mass-produced-and-fetishized-radicalism of the group It’s Going Down (who always seem in a perpetual identity crisis whenever I stumble across their stuff), is the recent podcast/radio exchanges between green-anarchist/anarcho-nihilist Aragorn! and Bellamy, anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan and eco-extremist Abe Cabrera (please forgive the ideological categorising I’m using here). I am perpetually caught between love and hate for all these individuals and the projects they’re involved within, so my current sensations of emotional ambiguity towards them all are nothing new.
The reasons for my love for Aragorn! and Bellamy aren’t difficult to figure out, given that the project LBC Aragorn! is in and the public face of published my book Feral Consciousness and that Bellamy was one of the editors. And obviously as someone who’s beliefs are largely “green anarchist” and “nihilist” (yuck categorising myself makes me feel ill), I share commonality with many of their positions and sentiments. But I’d be lying if I said that I don’t find disappointing the defeatist-pessimism/quietism, vulgar eliminative materialism and unnecessary shitting-on-other-peoples-projects I’ve heard on their podcast, when it was both of them and at other points, The Brilliant and read in pieces by them.
John Zerzan is a major philosophical love of mine, though I find the anarcho-primitivist’s vulgarity and inauthenticity often disappointing. So like many of the Leftist writers/philosophers/thinkers whose critiques I find value in but whose proposed solutions I find epically disappointing, Zerzan’s works are one I can go with and love, but only to a certain point. And, apart from the one where he plugs my book, I have always found his radio show both hideously dull and borings, as well as his arrogance, particularly around ideas and concepts he clearly doesn’t understand, disappointing. All that being said, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love and find extreme resonance with Zerzan’s philosophy – much of it was drawn from in my arguments in Feral Consciousness.
Abe Cabrera first came to my attention in September 2016, basically as the voice for Individualists Tending Towards the Wild in English and as someone involved in the eco-extremist project – though he might not be a practicing member of the project. And I have loved a great deal of what I have read on his two blogs and in the Atassa Journal he organised and wrote for. I particularly love his writings and others within the eco-extremist project for the commitment to the subject of metaphysics, albeit through the onto-theology of animism and paganism, and for being fundamentally provocative. What I have consistently found disappointing about the project of eco-extremism and Cabrera’s writings – and largely agree with the Bellamy’s point’s (which I’ll comment on when discussing the podcasts/radio show later) here – is the moral sanctification of humans as the ultimate evil to be defeated at all costs, with “innocents” being evil. Their fetishizing illegalism I’ve also found disappointing, as it pertains to their general theme of moral platitudes which contradict claims of being philosophically nihilist – as actual nihilism, like how it is amoral as opposed to immoral, in practice is alegal rather than illegal. True alegalism doesn’t have the flair and flourish eco-extremists like, but it seems more desirable to me, as an approach to eco-radical action, both for pragmatic purposes and so as to not simply be adoring the chains of the very Leviathan all eco-radicals hate. I do also just find Abe Cabrera’s online personality at times thoroughly detestable and question the very reason why I in anyway acknowledge his existence, save for those moments he does write genuinely beautiful things. That being said, I do find, where I differ from typical anarchist beliefs and practices, I find some personal resonances in eco-extremist writings and arguments, including those of Cabrera’s.
On to recent events.
Now I’d not bothered to listen to Cabrera’s interview on The Brilliant initially, partly because having heard him on his videos and recordings I’d found him even more annoying than I did in his social media presence, but mainly because I just don’t listen to podcasts regularly. But when I’d seen, via the Atassa Facebook page, that the next episode of the brilliant had caused him upset I was instantly intrigued and decided to listen to them both.
What struck me about Cabrera’s interview was how thoroughly uninteresting he was as an individual and how little he actually had to say that could be considered “Brilliant”. In fact the only thing he said, amongst all the tired old criticisms of anarchists, that I found at all interesting from him, and very revealing of his personal project, was that he is more interested in talking to the 1 billion Catholics than anarchists due to the sheer mass of Catholics. This was interesting to me because, at this point, Cabrera abandons his misanthropic platitudes and reveals himself as an attention seeker wanting to be seen by the most amount of people – something I can’t help but find thoroughly disappointing, as his main interesting quality was his energetic misanthropy, but I should have probably guessed at, given the degree to which he actively wishes to troll people.
Days before listening to this I’d messaged him asking if he could recommend any books, wanting to gain insight into what shaped Abe Cabrera into Abe Cabrera, with him responding snarkily, with a “lulz” comment. And what can really be said about a troll, seeking attention from as many people as possible, other than it is a thoroughly pitiful creature and little more than that.
I then listened to episode 50 of The Brilliant and was intrigued to hear what Aragorn! and Bellamy had to say. I was intrigued, not out of any disagreement with them here, but because, to my sincere surprise, I largely agreed with both of them in areas where I expected myself to disagree. This was not on the matter of violence, where I believe there is a value in transformative-violence/destruction (though not the ITS brand), but rather on ITS’s moralist liberation-theology and on not wanting to join in the word-policing of online identity culture, which were interesting acknowledgements for them to make. The main thing I found disappointing though from this discussion between A! and Bellamy was A! attempting to distance himself from the nihilist philosophy that have been consistent within all I’ve read of his or heard from him (unless he’s had some radical transformation recently that I’ve missed), which appears to be a response to the eco-extremist usurping the term; when actually A! has (probably) just been using the term to mean something other than what they intend it to signify.
Obviously the content of ITS’s 29th communiqué is vulgar and abhorrent, and The Brilliant and LBC are distancing themselves for pragmatic purposes, as well as aesthetic and personal ones, from this movement and group they’ve served as a platform for, through the Atassa Journal.
Regarding the discussion of whether or not ITS is a nihilist group, or if eco-extremists are nihilists are not, I think the very question misses the point entirely. It’s not so much that there is or isn’t a type of nihilism being done by ITS or A!, but that there is this nihilism and that nihilism, and the desirability of either depends on the aesthetics of the individual. But it seems undeniable that eco-extremist nihilism is a type of active nihilism or pessimism of strength (however you want to word it).
When I listened to Zerzan’s shows (or rather the sections relevant to this discussion), after learning he’d jumped on with comments on this apparent splitting between eco-extremists and LBC through A! and Bellamy’s discussion, and I was again disappointed by his arrogance on the matter. Zerzan is obviously intelligent enough to understand that nihilism and/or pessimism doesn’t automatically equate to ITS style actions. And his smug self-satisfaction throughout was just incredibly boring and annoying – it would have been interesting for him to make some kind of substantial comment on what this event means within the future of potential eco-radical actions, but sadly this wasn’t mentioned.
When I reached the end of the series of downloaded voices speaking to me through my computer’s speakers, I was filled with a disappointment akin to that I feel when I read comment section debates between left-anarchists, Marxist kids and ancaps. Only this time I had more invested in the discussion. I’d gotten an interesting collapse and some sensations of disappointment, which dissipated into boredom and the nothingness of people I feel caught between love and hate towards becoming nothing through trying to be something. Which when I think about it and examine what that really means for myself is something entirely beautiful, because it reminds me not to try to be an an-prim, green-an, an-nihil or eco-extrem etc., and to just live in a state (feral) and to engage in an activity (iconoclasm).