From the moment I learnt that the project existed I have expected I’d feel disappointed by what would come from it. This morning I awoke to see his publishers had released the cover art to Derrick Jensen’s analysis on anarchism, with a section from the introduction – here is the link.
I’ve received some internet bashing before for defending Jensen and for quoting him in various pieces I’ve written, and received regularly emails from 1 individual accusing me of being a transphobe, informing me they’d beat me up, for having been a member of DGR for a period and for having written for their sites in the past. This always amused me, because even if I’m being hated at least I’ve done something, and that anyone would take the time to send hatemail to me is just absolutely hilarious. But anyway. I left DGR for a number of reasons, most of which can be reduced to my general disagreements with the Left, but mostly because of the organisations stifling rigidity, because of its apparent anti-pluralism (which is very much an unconscious aspect of the group), the coinciding dogma that comes from that, and because I have little desire to be tied in any way to Jensen and Keith’s words regarding trans and queer folk and on anarchists.
Before I go on, I want to state what I value Jensen for. I think Jensen and his organisation are very good propagandists for the environmental milieu and that this is something I value, as I value anything that supports the living world over this culture. I value Jensen particularly for Endgame, The Myth of Human Supremacy and the DGR book for being culture challenging works that are accessible to mainstream audiences. I value Jensen because when I have emailed him or Facebook messaged him over the past 4 years he has responded kindly, supportively and as a friend. And as much as I have many profound disagreements with the guy, have very different aesthetics on a number of aspects of what anti-civ means and/or looks like, and have found myself feeling disappointed in him often, I have a great deal of love and respect for this man who unrelentingly fights for what he loves.
There are many personal reasons why Jensen would write a book on anarchism. What political ones would he have?
The only political one I can see is to try to steer people away from anarchist projects and towards DGR and other Marxist-type projects. This seems to me to be, at the very least, a dick move (phrasing intended). To borrow from the late-great Daniel Quinn, what we are fighting is the notion that underlies totalitarian agriculture/civilisation/this culture/the Leviathan/whatever (and ALL that that entails), and embracing that there is not 1 right way to live, to fight, or to do radical praxis.
What fucking pisses me off about radical projects is mostly how much time we spend fucking up each other’s projects, rather than engaging in our own.
Jensen appears to make the mistake most “anarchists” make, which is believing that anarchy has anything to do with anarchism, socialism or capitalism. Anarchy is an entire world apart from that vision of socio-normative machinery. Anarchy is wildlife/wild-Being/Wild Nature/whatever term you like; it is the living flow of creative-destructive energies that civilisation try’s to halt, usurp and control. Anarchy is most of what Jensen loves and fights for, when he’s not trying to halt, usurp and control it.
Jensen is right in that anarchists of anarchism warrant critical analysis, but judging by the introduction section we’ve been provided, this is not what he’s done – it appears that he’s appealed to the moral sentiments of social-anarchists who share much of his Marxian mode of approach already. It appears that Jensen wants anarchist praxis to be about controlling things in-a-certain-way in the way that anarchism is mostly about – as ideology is always about. It is the same logic of civilisation. It is an attempt to remove the need to fight and dance and take joy in the activity of living – you don’t need to embrace Life if it’s under control by machinery for you.
Read this book or don’t read this book. Love Jensen or hate him. It’d be cool if we could critique and challenge without the need to try and stop or control other radical projects – support them for what is valuable in them even.
p.s. I’m expecting a great deal of the book to be straw man arguments, but we’ll see.