Articles, Essays, Poems and More

Protest, Rebellion and Fascism

When does a state turn fascist? I wonder at what intensity of statism does a state turn from a non-fascist, or non-fascist-like/type of state, into a fascist/fascist-like/fascist-type state. But then again, if fascism is a certain intensity of statism, then does that mean that all states have a quality of fascism or fascist-like/type qualities? Well, my anti-statist inclination is drawn towards saying “yes” to the last question, or at least “I’d say so”. 

I’ll put this into some kind of context. Over the weekend I heard a friend speak passionately about their worries regarding the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. This friend is an activist, who has organised and been involved in protests. I have seen many of my friends who organise and are involved in protest-praxis feel affected by this bill, especially those who have been involved in Extinction Rebellion. I have also seen Kill The Bill media, trying to warn the masses of the dangers of this proposed legislation. 

When I first learnt of the bill, my first instinct was, rather than fearing it, to mock it, as a means of disempowering the political establishment. I see the pursuit of greater authoritarian measures by states to be an admission of being powerless and desired the affirmation of politicians not being able to meaningfully affect the world. Mockery seems to me to be an excellent form of psychological-warfare – one of the qualities of Pemulwuy’s rebellion against colonisers that most intensely inspired me, when I read about him, was learning of his use of mockery. I wanted to see the government humiliated, rather than feared. But, sadly and with an appreciation for why not, I have not seen this – I do still desire this response, while appreciating why individuals haven’t embraced it. 

It is really difficult to mock something that you fear. Mocking a fascist, to their face, not behind closed doors, where they can’t hear you, or offline, where you don’t have the distance to keep you feeling safe, is understandably an uncomfortable notion for many individuals. This is because fascism and fascists are violent and it is understandable why individuals don’t want to risk coming to harm. With this, I appreciate that many would find the idea of mocking the bill a horrifying notion, including many individuals I consider friends, who are feeling affected by the bill. 

Outside of a historically situated political movement and ideology, what is fascism? Is this a stupid question? Isn’t it obvious what fascism is, given how often the word is used in media? Fascism is neo-Nazis, Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Britain First and Infowars, isn’t it? I don’t think so. 

If I think about what fascism means to me today I think first and foremost about technological apparatus, weaponry, technologies of surveillance, machinery designed to coerce individuals into certain activities and actions; I think about the attempt to turn living beings into state(/death camp)-machinery, such as the police, the army, politicians, informants and many journalists; and I think of death camps/work camps, which I feel is a fair way to describe too-fucking-late-Krapitalism, given the intensity of mass death its productive narratives involve. I don’t think of policies or just what is called “far right”. Rather, I think of the physical landscape of a situation, an intensely artificial topographic experience, typified by architectural brutality and rationality. I think of political optimism, faith in the state and the belief that government, progress and “authorities” can improve the world. 

(Fascism revolts me.)

Considering those qualities that I attribute to what I’d call fascism, I notice that all of these have been part of British society, as l have experienced living amidst the colonial, industrial, architectural and agricultural wreckage that constitutes British society. I imagine that they are aspects of many of the other states that are generally described as being “democratic”, liberal, moderate and other buzzwords, for “low-intensity statism”. If all the qualities that I feel describe fascism are attributable to “low-intensity statism), this inclines me towards feeling that fascism is not really about the intensity of state measures, but rather about the physical availability of state measures, which feels pretty fucking available across states today. Perhaps it would be simpler for me to just state that I feel like fascism was already here, its just that the mask is being dropped.

So what about protest? Well, I haven’t really believed in protesting for several years. I have mostly attended protests for the past 7 years going in only with a desire to meet other protestors and potentially forge friendships, as well as occasionally as militant-badger-lover-guy. My feeling has been that, given how the “right to protest” is a government provided privilege, protesting has been assimilated, systematised, spectacularised, bought, sold and basically become a tool of state apparatus, to facilitate a feeling of rebellion, up until the point that protest becomes bothersome to other aspects of state apparatus. This is not a nice or comfortable feeling that I have had and continue to have! I feel sad for all the life potential I see wasted in appeals to systems that I see as inherently abusive, particularly when considering individuals I know and the struggles that their lives involve – this is certainly not intended as an insult aimed at the passions with which they have embodied through their activities! 

“Okay Julian, if protesting, as aboveground activism, isn’t an option then obviously activists need to turn to underground activities, obviously” – this is an exaggerated version of the kind of response I have received when bringing up my criticisms of protesting and I largely disagree. I don’t feel like turning to the paranoiaist world of, largely urbanite-subterraneanist, “underground activism” is desirable. From this realm of paranoiac-politics all I see is state-empowerment, individuals who are so full of fear towards Leviathan that much of their lives is dedicated to avoiding its gaze. That this ultimately empowers state apparatus is apparent from examples such as how Ted Kaczynski’s “underground activism” basically surmounted to nothing more than facilitating opportunity for the state to improve its machinery. 

The way I navigate this culture and live out my rebellion/activism, or at least how I describe “it”, is non-localisable localism, which I am becoming increasingly inclined towards trying to encourage/seduce other individuals into embracing. Non-localisable localism is comparable to the idea of “hiding in plain sight”, in as much as it is entirely open, but largely untraceable and hard to see if you’re not very close to me, while being (basically) entirely open. Save for anti-cull activities and writings, my non-localisable localist activities are rarely ever publicised, largely because they don’t need to be – I don’t need these activities to be affirmed or rejected by others. This requires no organising, organisation or Organisation, largely because it is an individualist form of praxis – not being seen will undoubtedly be disagreeable to collectivist ideologues, whose ideology requires massification, which requires the mass seeing the mass, in order to know it is a mass (because the mass is constantly unsure of its own existence, as political/ideological identity/existential crisis). One of the more beautiful aspects of this approach to rebellion/activism is that it immediately deals with both issues regarding the distinction between macro and micro political systems. 

I am by no means suggesting that “my praxis is the answer to this bill”, as that would be ridiculously arrogant of me to suggest. I am appalled at the individuals who hide behind the names of organisations, claiming to know what “we” (whatever the fuck “we” means) need to do – generally its “organise”, “demonstrate” and/or “revolution”, or other activist cliches. There are so many unknowns and really I am largely encouraging individuals to embrace the unknown and becoming-unknowable – I would encourage anyone to read the zine-essay Unknowable: Against an Indigenous Anarchist Theory by Klee Benally [1], as it speaks to a very similar perspective, and is excellent reading! My inclination is largely not to trust answers, systems and those who preach them. My desire to encourage becoming non-localisable/unknowable doesn’t come from any optimistic belief in being able to “fix this”, but rather a pessimistic feeling of care, with a desire to not only “survive this” but to “survive this with individuals who I find beautiful”. 

This world, this life, is a difficult place to navigate. To deny this feels dishonest. With the mask being thrown off, it feels dishonest to deny that statism is fascistic, or at least fascist-like. With this recognised, perhaps it is madness to suggest mockery as a response to this Leviathan, with the laughter this mockery inspires being akin to a mode of paradoxical laughter. Perhaps it is an inappropriate affect, given the context, but equally perhaps inappropriateness is entirely appropriate! More than any notion of propriety, I want to laugh! I want to laugh and point and mock and feel the wonderful feeling of laughing fill my body and course through all that I am. Being free to laugh affirms my ontologically primal freedom, that no state could ever hope to take away from me, without killing me. Radical-sardonicism, where the tragedy is a comedy and you cry while laughing, appeals to me, not just as gallows humour, as I have no intention of being executed, but as absurdist rebellion and revolt. 

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s there?”

“Boris Johnson”

“Boris Johnson who?”

“Boris Johnson the fucking prime minister, now let me the fuck in because Extinction Rebellion are standing outside some buildings and I’m terrified of liberal pacifist hippies!”

Notes

[1] https://www.indigenousaction.org/unknowable-against-an-indigenous-anarchist-theory-zine/?fbclid=IwAR038Ya-xJFhNAJpmzHgGkYL6k-DLoK8S4wkj9ag1aWOjeQ8l27Mze3uJ7E

On Egoism and Ecology – my fifth book (my only book in Indonesian)

Several months ago I was contacted by Alvin, an individual living in Indonesia, asking whether or not I was comfortable with them translating some of my essays, in the interest of creating a book. I was immediately flattered and said that I was happy for them to do so. Since then I’ve had this as something at the back of my mind, unsure as to whether or not the book would come to be.

Today I received a message from another individual living in Indonesia, thanking me for my writing, while sending me the link to the published collection of translations. The link is this one – https://archive.org/details/eco-egoism-langer-alvin/mode/1up – I am also going to include a pdf download link at the bottom of this page.

The gratitude I feel towards Alvin Born to Burn and Publikasi pertama for creating this collection is more than I can say, as it is the biggest compliment that I think I could possibly be given as a writer.

You can access the pdf here –

Baedd and Other Poema by Twm Gwynne – a review

I am always pleased to read poetry by Twm Gwynne. There’s dramatic gentleness to Gwynne’s writings that I am continually struck by.

Environmental discourse is sadly lacking in poetry, especially poetry as powerful as many of the pieces in this collection. The stand out pieces, for me at least, are the poems On Suicide and The Tyranny of the Sun.

Gwynne brings the fury of a storm, along with the gentility of a butterfly, through these wonderful poems, which I am sincerely glad to have read.

As far as comparisons go, I would liken Gwynne’s writings to the primitivist(-type) philosophies of Perlman, Moore and Quinn, presented in a poetic style reminiscent of Jeffers, but wrapped in pagan aesthetics.

Why I Affirm Individuals and Challenge Machines!

“I will never bother you
I will never promise to
I will never follow you
I will never bother you
Never speak a word again
I will crawl away for good
I will move away from here
You won’t be afraid of fear
No thought was put into this
I always knew it would come to this
Things have never been so swell
I have never failed to fail. Pain
Pain
Pain. You know you’re right
You know you’re right
You know you’re right” Kurt Cobain

Over the bulk of my writings, particularly my books, I have focused on challenging, confronting, deconstructing and destroying abusive and revolting machinery, productive-narratives, collective-apparatus, technologies and ideas/concepts that serve the interests of the abusive processes. I have focused on these because, as I encounter the world, my desires are drawn towards rejecting abusive death machinery, which regards and uses living individuals, ultimately as nothing more than fuel, regardless of how it speciates them. I consider systems and technological apparatus as desirable targets for critique and deconstruction, and I (generally) consider individual living beings as being undesirable targets for such activities.

In my eyes, (basically) every living individual, particularly within the context of mass-extinction-culture/machinery (the near planetary death camp of too-fucking-late-civilisation), is an Endling, the last of an endangered species, who is worth the same care I’d want to show another Endling – this comes from (basically) the same place as my reject of species-being and radical-individualism/egoism. Who an individual is and how they attempt to survive amidst the wreckage and carnage that Leviathan has enacted, is a being who I am no authority over, couldn’t possibly judge or condemn (as I reject such authoritarian notions and do not know the life that they have experienced) and who I only want to affirm as a beautiful manifestation of will-to-life/power and the absurdity of “I rebel: therefore existence” (paraphrasing Camus). I am in awe of the strength and power of living individuals.

Too often, I feel, the emphasis of challenge, critique and deconstruction is focused on individuals, while affirmation is directed towards ideology and apparatus. I believe that, in part (at least), this is because it is easier to affirm ideologies and technological structures, that require no empathic affirmation of vulnerability and so is easier to idolise within this culture’s ontotheology, than it is to affirm an individual whose struggles, strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities and basic-existential condition, render them unworshipable and thus able to be empathised with. As I see it, most challenges towards individuals are generally a means of engaging in non-affirmation of the living individual’s struggle to survive amidst mass-extinction-culture and a drive to affirm the theological presence of ideology and machinery (and ideology-as-machinery/machinery-as-ideology).

To my eyes, this situation, where individuals who are struggling to survive this Reality are not affirmed as being powerful, desirable and awesome, for being the unique/individual/singular/different/egoistic/Endlings that they are (as I encounter them), is fucking dreadful. Too often the ideology, the machine, the state and so on are affirmed, with the living thrown into the engine/belly, as fuel for its feasting.

Leviathan seeks the annihilation of living individuals, to maintain its Cause of totalisation. My rebellion against Leviathan desires the affirmation of the living, the individual, the unique, the different, how they have survived, their potential as part of the creativity that is life and their presence within life as being-life/being-alive (within this near planetary death camp of too-fucking-late-civilisation), as the anarchy of total-liberation.

Why did I begin this post with the lyrics to the Nirvana song I was listening to when I started writing this? Because those who affirm ideology and technological apparatus over the individual “know” they “are right”, will avoid the affirmation of that most individualising of experiences “pain” and to them I say “I will never follow you”.

A Reflection on Being Part of Take A Hike – written before the show aired

When I was contacted to be part of a BBC2 TV series about walking in Devon I was excited for the prospect, as well as somewhat horrified. What I enjoy about television is primarily watching stimulating fictions, generally for the horror, thrill, or violence within the performance. With regards to “news”, documentaries, “reality TV” and “factual television”, I am generally revolted by my experience of what is called “the Spectacle” by Situationists and “hyper-reality” by the sociologist Baudrillard. This contradiction goes with the experience of living between the technologically-drivenurbanising mass-extinction machinery called civilisation and the wild breathing world of the living.

I will share here that I thoroughly dislike “nature shows/documentaries”, that propagate and perpetuate the ideology of the living world as one of images, disembodied factoidal objects, far away & not here or now, and that it is explainable; rather than the living world being here and now, an experience we encounter in our being-alive & when with living flora, fauna and minerals, and is not limited to the facts and explanations of “experts”. Why watch a scientist talk about trees, rivers, hares and birds of prey, on TV, when there are trees, rivers, hares and birds of prey outside your door, that you can meet in the same way that you might meet a friend, face-to-face and in-person?

So why agree to participate in the making of such a spectacle? Is it hypocrisy for me to have engaged in such activity? Well, I don’t consider it hypocrisy, though I’ll accept it being a contradiction. What this was, for me, was primarily the opportunity to infect BBC2 with my badger-loving, rebellious, guerrilla ontology, taking this moment to use the largest microphone I will ever have and not losing the potential it holds. I was also excited for the opportunity to experience this mode-of-production, to have a more tangible basis for my thoughts on the matter. After this, my reasons for being part of the show were to experience the walks and see parts of Devon that I have not yet been to. 

When it came to the week of filming the episodes, I had a nasty cough that eventually turned into a chest infection, and was getting through cough sweets and syrups at a rate I have never done before, so was not at my friendliest or most socially-agreeable – I tried my best to not be too much of a grump, while also not being insincere or inauthentic. At risk of coming off as being a dick, if I’m honest, it also didn’t help my frustrations with the situation that the other individuals on the show were less than interested in the spaces the walks were located, the experience of being-there, and how they’d agreed to be on a walking show but seemed to hate walking – the complaining about walking was stunningly ridiculous!

What I loved most about the experience was encountering beautiful spaces and affirming the intensity of life that lives here in Devon (despite encroaching urbanisation, pesicidal-machinery and cull-culture). There is a power in the rocks that constitute the coastline of this landscape, the inhuman sea, in the rivers that force their way through the soil and the hills that constitute the topography of this land. There is a dance that is danced by the wild plants, from the tallest trees to the tiniest daisy, by the wild animals, from the smallest of the insects to the mightiest of the deer, and by the winds, rains, hail, sunlight and shadows. While I am horrified and revolted by the abuse that this culture enacts upon the living here, I am in awe of those living beings who live here in-spite of it and who find joy, love, creative potential and home here. I love living here, in this beautiful part of this island in the North Sea – not for cultural or historical romance, but because I am able to walk from my home to woods where birds sing, flowers bloom, pollinators feed, badgers make setts, foxes hunt, ivy climbs walls, the waters of the sea beat against the rock throwing the scent of the salts on the air, and where I experience myself being-here, being-in-this-space, so intensely that I can cry and laugh and dance; and this is what I wanted to affirm through participating on the show, through the largest microphone I will ever have the opportunity to use. 

I don’t know if I will get what I desired from participating in the project. I hope that my presence within the spectacle affects some of those individuals who experience it, so that they seek the presence of trees and badgers and rivers in their lives. Perhaps I will only have exacerbated the spectacle and the mediation, alienation and psycho-geographic-distancing. My feeling is that taking the risk was worth the potential it contains, so I can affirm the experience and my choice to partake in the project.

Dancing & Digging by Seaweed/Shaun Woods – a review

Seaweed’s collection of proverbs is not a book, it is a cartography. It is a cartography of a space that is wild, sensuous, feeling, desiring, striving, willing, and fighting, amidst the machinery of Leviathan. There is no argument, debate or reasoning to this, as there is no need for argument, debate or reasoning – it is a work of honest, caring, loving, destructive expression; that I experienced as like drinking mead, on a sunny day, with bird song surrounding me.

Seaweed affirms that “(f)ree wanderers spread anarchy”; that “(a) cluster of free wanderers is anarchy”; that “(n)ature is the marvelous that the surrealist seeks”; and that “(l)aughter is a formidable philosophical position”. Seaweed also reminded me that “(t)he tragedy of civilization is that self-creation is absent”; that “(i)ndividual refusal is the most urgent move”; and that “(d)iversity makes life interesting, technology erases difference” – all resonating intensely with my individualist-eco-anarchist perspective!

Seaweed has beautifully expressed their experience of mystical-eco-anarchy, and I am so glad to have read this. Certainly the best writing I have read from this writer and I hope for more like this!

You can order the book here – https://www.nightforestpress.com/product-page/dancing-digging-proverbs-on-freedom-nature-by-shaun-day-woods?fbclid=IwAR0sFvvzzl_Sos0NBTWFoMdCsvRw7ziD4LlFWlC8-JXEq1C0AQ8DjHasepU

A Personal Reflection on Confrontation

Last night I woke at 1:37 am after having possibly the most significant “stress dream”/nightmare that I can remember ever having. After my experiences as a cancer patient, the death of my mother and other challenging encounters in my life, I live with fluctuating intensities of post-traumatic stress. This manifests itself most intensely during sleep; through dreams like the one I had last night.

In last nights dream, I was brought back to the school that I went to between the ages of 10-14, where, when I was 13, the school IT teacher and caretaker showed me extreme BDSM pornography, of a man with a bleeding anus and the blood dripping over his testicles. At this point in my life I was going through a personal identity crisis and was open about questioning my sexual identity, with the school, Stowford College, being aware of this. There was an investigation into the incident, after I’d told my dad what had happened, where the police accepted Arthur Miller’s account that he’d “accidentally” stumbled across the image while showing me something in class – one of my earliest points of losing faith in the system. I knew that his “accident” claim was a lie, with the smile he had on his face, when I looked at him in horror, being firmly planted in my mind, and it was agreed between my dad and the school that I would no longer have any classes with Mr Miller. He was attempting to groom me and the attempt to confront the situation through systemic processes had failed, putting all the other children at that school at risk, as well as children at the church where he was said to volunteer at. In last night’s dream, I was returning to Stowford to start a job there as an adult, but found myself walking into a scene of cock and ball torture, and as I attempted to leave found that I’d become a young child again. I attempted to leave through the front door of the school I became aware that it was a dream, but that a ghostly presence had followed me to the door, who was preventing me from walking through the door and waking up and would so until I had confronted them. As I tried to punch this spook, I became aware that the only way I was going to be able to confront the spectre was to say “I am not afraid. I am not scared” and know that that was true.

In the space between waking and sleep, I felt myself saying those words out loud and woke up with a jolt. I could feel that I needed to do something cathartic/expressive, so I picked up the book I keep by the bed for drawings and took it to my living room, did an automatic drawing, wrote a few lines of poetry and wrote some of the words from the dream. In my waking, I realised something about myself from the dream. What I had taught myself is that I have an experience of a primal desire to confront directly and authentically what I encounter as revolting, fuelled, in part, by experiences such as this one, where indirect, mediated, systemic confrontations have failed. The most significant other fuel for this desire is from having lived in a very non-confrontational family, who has through my life repressed so much desire-to-confront, mostly out of avoidance or Buddhistic-type non-violent morality, that to this day has such petty bitterness within it that as I write this I am filled with bitter feelings for the patheticness. 

Life has taught me the importance of confrontation, most brutally through cancer treatment, because the tumour was an intolerable presence in my brain. It has become so much of who I am, with a certain confrontational-quality having become a huge part of my personality. I can affirm this, as I am very comfortable with who I am. 

To be clear, by confrontational, I do not mean violent. Violence, particularly in political-systemic machinery, as in to-violate, generally disgusts me – where it does not is in the cases of hunting for food (in hunter-gather contexts), where the hunter breaks the body of the prey, in self defence, where an attacker is broken to prevent the individual being-attack being-broken, and, if honest, in sport-fighting, which I enjoy as a spectacle of bodily-power. Arthur Miller’s attempt to groom me was (psychically) violent (in the pursuit of bodily violation) and I have no tolerance for any part of what he or other violators/abusers do in their search for domination. 

Confrontation is to me a destructive/creative) process, rather than violent. This is most obvious to me in situations where individuals seek to confront abusive machinery, so as to create their destruction. To be clear, I affirm destruction as a positive-process, differentiated from annihilation – annihilation perhaps being best located in oceanic-dead zones and death camps, both manifesting from constructed Realities – with the positivity of destruction being located in its spatial-affirmation of the structure being detotalised and its creative qualities perhaps being best identified in the sight of great valleys created through the destructivity of rivers upon landscapes, with all the life potentiality they bring.  Confrontation’s positivity is also obviously manifested in my eyes through the aggression of a mother fox or mother sparrow, doing all in her power to protect her young – which is not an act of violence – and I am continually inspired by confrontation as an act of loving-care. 

I am grateful for this opportunity to reflect on my primal-confrontationality.

When We Are Human, by John Zerzan – a review

[DISCLAIMER] – following the publication of this review Zerzan has apologised publicly on his radio show for his piece on autism and I personally consider the matter to be resolved, though I can’t speak for anyone else. If you want to hear the apology, the episode can be listened to here https://archive.org/details/anarchy-radio-07-20-2021_202107 . I’ve made no changes to this review following this, but want it to be acknowledged openly.

__________________________

When I found that a copy of Zerzan’s new book, When We Are Human, had reached me I was immediately excited and keen to read. I am continually moved by Zerzan’s thought and writings, despite many points of difference in perspective or approach. It was largely a desire to encounter these differences that motivated me to email John and ask him to send me a copy of the book, to review. As I encountered these points of difference in perspective I was mostly very glad to experience them, because they affirmed my experience of John Zerzan as someone who is not me and someone I can appreciate for being-them and the thought being-theirs – there is one point of the text, which I go into more detail on in a more critical section of this review, that, I will share at this point, did offend me and is in my eyes the worst thing I’ve ever read by Zerzan; but I will state that much of this text is some of the best and most beautiful writings by Zerzan.

This book, in my eyes, is largely a response to anti-humanist thought – thought that is critical of the concept of “human” – and misanthropic thought – thought pertaining to human-hating collectivised bigotry – within anarchist and environmentalist theory and practice. I have described my thought as anti-humanist and feel that label is somewhat fair placed on me, and with this encounter this quality of the book as an attempt to save an aspect of Zerzan’s thought that is very intense – anthropological-realism. It seems clear to me that Zerzan believes in Humanity, very much from an anthropologically-centred world-view, and I appreciate this quality of his thought, as Zerzan seeks to defend Humanity from misanthropic hatred, bigotry and abuse – though it is undeniable that there is a strong anthropocentrism within Zerzan’s thought, with animal, floral and mineral life being all-but-excluded from the thought within this text (perhaps there is potential for a follow up from Zerzan, drawing from anthrozoology and zoopoetics[?]).

There are some stunningly beautiful pieces of writing in this collection. An example of this early on in the text is a section on fire, where Zerzan shares personal encounters with fire in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed. While the book is somewhat history-dense, I enjoyed Zerzan’s affirmation of the Luddite rebellions, his (attempted) destruction of Enlightenment thought and a section affirming anti-history that also acknowledges that “this book … is a testimony to the need for historical awareness” – a wonderful contradiction/paradox, which I feel truly embodies so much of Zerzan’s work. Like many other of his books, there are excellent diatribes seeking to destroy time, technology and the failure that is civilisation. My favourite section of this book, which I think might be Zerzan’s best piece of writing, is the section titled Experience, where he affirms that “(w)e must uncover, reclaim, the immediacy of lived experience …” and that “(t)he absence of mediation doesn’t last …”. These are all aspects of the book that I value and feel appreciation for. 

The positioning of this critical turn is very intentional and I believe that this would likely be obvious if I were not stating it outright here. I go into more detail on the aspects of the book that I am critiquing here than those I am affirming as valuable, as I feel that the desirable qualities of this book need my affirmation less than the undesirable qualities deserve my destruction. It should be clear that I am positing value in this book as worth-reading-and-considering and I encourage no one reading these critical points to reject the book because of them. The three areas being critiqued are a section on autism, Zerzan’s anti-philosophy and the matters of individualism, egoism, nihilism and postmodernism (and how much [perhaps] John misses the fucking point[!]). 

The piece on autism is the only piece of writing by Zerzan that has ever left me feeling utterly disgusted by him and I will not deny that it is offensive to try and save John some face. Zerzan attempts to make the argument that autism is a product of civilisation and contemporary domesticating-distance, and that Humanity is losing its humanness to becoming-autistic, relying on many stereotypes regarding individuals we call autistic that I can tell you, from my lived experience of working with autistic individuals, are often bullshit. From a primitivist historical-anthropological-realist ideology, Zerzan’s positioning of autism is easily rejectable, given the likelihood of autistic individuals having distinct advantages in hunter-gather contexts [1] and the likelihood of their being “championed” in the context of pre-civilised communities [2]. Positioning individuals this culture calls autistic as being not-desirable, or less-than(-Human), is the worst part of this book and the worst I’ve ever read by Zerzan. 

With regards to Zerzan’s anti-philosophy, while I am sympathetic to his rejection of Enlightenment thought (perhaps from a slightly different route there) and his rejection of much of the thought that Enlightenment builds from; I feel that Zerzan both misses something and thoroughly fails to affirm those aspects of philosophy – as a lived experience, not an ideology bound to the Academy – that has impacted his thought and life. Zerzan makes it clear at one point of his attacks against philosophy that he does not identify as a philosopher, which I find strange, as I certainly consider Zerzan to be a philosopher, with his anti-philosophy being a philosophy-of-philosophy – to the extent that there are these objects called “philosophy” and “philosophers” I’d affirm is only true in name, but still hold discursive relevance. Zerzan calls philosophy an “impersonal pursuit”, which (again) strikes me as bizarre, as I couldn’t imagine a more personal area of study than philosophy. In a section titled A Note On Freedom, Zerzan affirms freedom, mostly through affirming resistance from within death camps – in a very similar way to that done in the anarcho-nihilist book Blessed is the Flame – and this is perhaps the most intensely personal-philosophical act I can imagine any individual doing, as I am aware that I often experience my individuality most intensely through the experience of pain, with all the existential aspects that invokes. I do love that Zerzan’s final paragraph in his essay The Case Against Philosophy affirms Diogenes of Sinope (who is a personal philosophical hero of mine) and cynicism, while noting a peculiarity to this, given Diogenes’ mockery of Plato, who Zerzan draws from at one point (though perhaps missed Plato’s meaning in the allegory of the cave).

This final critical thought (obviously drawing from the last one) regards another paradox/contradiction within Zerzan’s writings/philosophy/thought that I can understand and appreciate, but encounter often as disappointing. Now, it seems clear to me that Zerzan’s desires are rooted in an affirmation of Life over anthropological-machinery/Leviathan/civilisation, or as I will term it here the System – this is not being questioned in any way. What I notice though is that, when Zerzan is attempting to negate art, poetry, Decadence, aestheticism and nihilism, he is not doing so from any affirmation of the Life that is the experience of being-individual, but from a Systemic-perspective, opposing them as a mode-of-Systematising – I will note here that in my book Feral Consciousness I affirm the hyper-exploitation(/acceleration) of symbolic-aestheticism, to its inevitable point of collapse, to affirm the post-collapse eco-aestheticism; in my book Feral Life affirm poetry and art for their non-systematising and animalising potential; and in my book Feral Iconoclasm affirm a life-affirming nihilism, based in absurdity. (These areas are those where I most intensely differentiate from Zerzan’s thought.) Alongside the intensely Systematic qualities of Zerzan’s writings, the individual gets affirmed in this book in his critique of ritual, his extremely beautiful (philosophical) piece on death (very relevant within mass-extinction culture) and in other sections, that are far less Systems-oriented. I notice this Systemetic quality most when, like when Zerzan seeks to negate art and poetry, Zerzan fails to recognise, or even affirm an inability to recognise, what nihilism and the destruction (de-struction/de-structuring/de-constructing [which I affirm as a positive-activity]) of value might mean to individuals who find beauty (or, dare I say, value) in them. Those individuals are life, the are alive, not the Systems that Zerzan places as more valuable than their lived experience. And it should be noted that, within all this Systematising, sadly, the individual most lacking within this book, like most of Zerzan’s writings, is the individual writing the book – I feel so much affirmation for those points where we do encounter this individual within the text. 

Being honest, I am uncertain how to end this review. This book truly embodies both the best and the worst of Zerzan’s thought, and I am sincerely grateful for having been sent the copy that is in front of me now, for the purpose of writing this review. I am intending to write John a poem, in pen, and send him a couple of my drawings, in the hopes that he might receive them and experience an affirmation of poetry and art that is individual, non-Systematic and perhaps stupid and absurd (but okay). I guess, my final thought regarding this book is that this book has really affirmed to me that it is okay to feel conflictual, contradictory and split feelings about any book, writer and individual – I can survive the confusion and, I believe, you can too!

Notes

[1] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110603122849.htm?fbclid=IwAR3kRdCe8I-ty8uTuqPGI58M3rAf3v9kF4Z8TmNUmxAuzrXTKDdj-I5tDOs

[2] https://www.zmescience.com/science/news-science/autism-stone-age-evolution/?fbclid=IwAR1DgcYRGMuC_tr4JgsWQXQpeaYCcLDOxqa9frBbJB8QhyNIuLuOUW5PbO0

My Anti-Cull Philosophy

A Crow Calling

Yesterday I felt fury, after reading reports regarding government plans to extend the culling of badgers on this island in the North Sea, for several years. I felt a hateful rage, which embodies a far less likeable aspect of my personality than those aspects most people would likely wish to encounter. 

After having been involved in anti-cull rebellion since 2015 and living in North Devon, frequently seeing dead badgers by the side of the road, I have come to experience a deep personal sense of care for these beautiful creatures. Finding a sett with healthy looking entry points brings an experience of joy to me, which would undoubtedly be considered bizarre to most members of this culture. I experienced this joy yesterday when I visited the sett that I was regularly checking during the 2020 cull season and will be checking regularly this year too. It is a huge sett and had all the signs of being active with badger life coming in and out, living as they do, despite the pesticidal, specicidal machinery attempting to negate their living presence. I do not mind sharing here that I did a small dance at the sight of these stunningly gorgeous holes in the ground – probably looking utterly ridiculous to the birds, squirrels and trees who shared the space with me in that moment. When I got back to my house my wife asked me how the sett was looking and I was so pleased to tell her, going on to say that I am probably going to write something about the cull (again).

This morning I saw more reports on the government plans to extend the cull for several years – possibly even longer than I had read yesterday. I was hit with a deep feeling of sadness and an experience of despair that hit me in the centre of my chest, sitting there like a crow calling out so often as to render forgetting its presence impossible.

I had in mind other activities to engage in today, but the crow’s calling persisted in my chest, leaving me with the awareness that a primal and immediate aspect of my Being was communicating to my conscious awareness that now another activity was more desirable. Listening to this visceral, instinctual voice within my body, I decided that I would put off those other activities and begin writing this piece. 

The most difficult part of writing anything for me is the space that comes before the writing of the first sentence. There is an intense cosmological quality to starting to write something for me, which is frankly absurd and stupid, but is undeniably the truth of my experience. Because it is an absurd activity, as I know that writing this is not going to stop cull-culture or save badgers from mass-extinction-machinery, but yet I feel this intense experience of existential responsibility regarding whether or not a choose to write about this matter and how I write about it. I have decided though that I will embrace the absurdity of the act and write about badgers and the cull, but how now to do it? Do I write an inspirational call to action, reminiscent of revolutionary rhetoric? Perhaps I will attempt to write a very logical assessment of why the cull makes no rational sense, with a moral case against the practice, detailing aspects of animal cruelty? Maybe I will write an open letter to my MP and publish it in the hopes that it might encourage others to do so, possibly motivating the politician to appeal in parliament for the end of the culling? I mean, fucking hell, how do I go about putting the caw of this crow and the beauty of those holes in the earth, into words for someone to read and maybe decide to rebel against cull-culture? 

The words “quit over rationalising this you daft tit” come into my head and I decide to write this as I have been doing so – as a personal, raw, individualistic account of my experience on the matter. I find beauty in what has been described as uncivilised writing[1] and feel happy with this approach to describe the crows calling. 

Tomorrow writing this piece will be less of a struggle, as the great cosmological event of “beginning” has occurred. There will be less anxious, confused moving from one direction to another and more moving from space to space, that will be more akin to shinrin yoku praxis. 

I will leave this here today with one story of my experiences in cull resistance that I feel to share here. In my second year involved in anti-cull rebellion, when out with a hunt sab group, we were walking across a field at night, after having checked the woods at the far side from where we had parked. We were aware of badgers playing a short distance away from us in the field, but were unaware of the shooters behind us, who must have snuck in while we checking the woods. I felt the bullet go past the left side of my torso, as it displaced the air between it and me. Moments later, we felt the badger die in our arms, as we desperately attempted to bring them to the car alive, to take them to a wildlife hospital. It was this experience, more than any other, than confirmed to me the intensity to which this culture is waging a violent campaign upon wildlife, akin to other militarist efforts in cultural-extermination. My awareness of this remains today and I remain on the side of wildlife. I will speak about “tomorrow” tomorrow … 

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

Yesterday I decided that this section would be titled as it is and took opportunities to reflect on those words. “Respect existence or expect resistance” is a phrase I have come across often in anti-cull media and is probably my favourite radical-slogan – or is equal to the line “death to Gilgamesh”, which I was informed is, or was, a popular statement amongst Rojavan anarchists, the YPG and YPJ. I’m not generally a fan of sloganing and find that it often cheapens and weakens the communication of statements that I find valuable. An example of this would be the Situationist line of “be realistic, demand the impossible”, which I’ve seen to my horror being used in electoralist party propaganda. It strikes me as utterly tragic to encounter this 5 word poem, created out of anti-Spectacle desires, to be Spectacularised into the theatre of parliamentary musical chairs. It seems to me though that those who are most responsible for this situation are those radicals who sloganized this statement of surrealist rebellion to the intensity that it has been. But moving back to the subject of “respect existence or expect resistance”, as far as slogans go, I am quite fond of this one. 

“Yeah yeah, okay Julian, we get it – you like the punchy word collection. But, so what?” Okay, yes, I will go into the phrase further, but first I am going to clarify two factors regarding what it is I am stating he. First of all, due to the egoism I am bringing to this writing, I am not seeking to morally justify this statement and encounter nothing that requires me to provide any justification than is greater than my experience of desire. After this, due to the absurdism I am also bringing to this writing, I shall not seek to provide anything more than reasoning that is absurd reasoning [2] as unreasonable reasoning, accepting the limits of this attempt to articulate any reason behind these words or reason for valuing them. You might read these stipulations and decide to disregard what comes next, favouring writings that attempt to hide the writer’s subjective-individuality and the absurdity of their attempts at reasoning – that is, of course, your choice.

Moving on now. 

Respect. Respect is one of those words that is used in so many different ways, meaning many different experiences, that your use of the word might be totally the reverse of mine. As I encounter the notion of respect though, I notice how there are two immediate qualities to it: how I experience an-other and how I treat them. To respect this other individual before me I first experience the sensation of being affected by them with the feeling of respect – I encounter their presence as a being who affects me with the affirming feeling of respecting-them, which is generally quite a pleasurable experience, with the sense of positive-relationship it brings. How I treat them, following this experience of positive affirmation, manifests out of a desire to care for them, as a presence that I encounter as valuable enough to care for. (It is hopefully apparent that this description of respect in no way pertains to the authoritarian narratives regarding “respect” that are so often drilled into the ideological rhetoric of this culture!) Towards those badgers who the cull-advocates are seeking the annihilation of, my experience of respect for their presence as an-other, who I encounter as desirable, inspires me to seek to care for them, as best I can.

Existence. Not wanting to go too deeply into the matter of existence and what that means here, I would encourage any individual reading this to read my piece regarding Gorgias’ Trilemma and my reversal of his position to state as an affirmation that “nothingness exists”, “nothing exists”, “no-Thing exists”, “existence is nothing”, “existence is no-Thing” and “existence is nothingness” [3]. (Assuming that this has been read, or my meaning here is understood, I will continue.) How this pertains to the affirmation of badgers as existing as being nothing/no-Thing/nothingness is to affirm their lived presence as not conforming to the dictates of this culture’s Thing-Reality, which does not really exist. The point here is that they are living beings, not objects for the purpose of this culture’s Man-ipulation (of which there really are none). 

Expect. The meaning of the word “expect” here, certainly in my eyes, is one of a threat, which holds the statement together beautifully. It positions the force of an active will as a being lurking in the darkness of expectation. The expectation is not an imaginary future though – some kind of utopian salvation. The expectation is a hear and now lived experience of a psychologically immediate presence, intended to bring to the attention of cull-ideologues the presence of this being in the dark, prepared to enact this threat.

Resistance. Resistance is the actualisation of the threat that was positioned in “expect”. But what does resistance mean? Well, to groups like the Jensenite organisation Deep Green Resistance, “resistance” means “organised political resistance”, generally positioned as a solution to a problem – a very optimistic notion. For myself, this is not what resistance means, largely due to my doubts regarding political organisations and my corresponding awareness of how this notion of resistance both requires the “problem”, so that they can be “solution”, and actually, generally, supports the “problem” more than challenges – an example of this being how trade unions now, for the most part, support capitalist infrastructure, by making it more comfortable for “workers”, so as to neutralise any potential challenge to capitalism, rather than actually challenging capitalism. As I encounter resistance in this statement I encounter it as a position of refusing to conform to the ideology of cull-culture and a refusal to tolerate it. The intolerant destruction of cull-ideology is the positive affirmation of the living presence of badgers – feral iconoclasm [4], as I wrote about in my book with that title.

So the statement “respect existence or expect resistance” means to me this – positively affirm the living presence, through care, of the living beings called badgers, who are not Things, or expect to experience iconoclastic-destructive intolerance of a rebellion that refuses to embrace cull-ideology. Not wanting to go too deep into the realms of differance, I am comfortable leaving this meaning as it is. 

200 Species A Day And Species-Being

As I approach writing this section an avoidant, weaker, part of my being is tempted to put off starting this section to tomorrow. I wrote about tomorrow in my piece Doomed To Deferral [5] stating – 

“Ultimately, you and I will both be doomed, if we rest our hopes on reading or writing tomorrow, but perhaps being doomed is a decent enough ending to start at.”

and, 

“Perhaps there is something to be said about being hopeless and fearless today.”

I am going to begin this section today, as I have done, and I have decided that I will finish it another day. Cull rebellion happens between many sunsets and sun rises, not as a History, with a future to achieve, but as a lived experience of being cosmically tiny, immersed in an ever changing space, which too large to ever fully comprehend.

But anyway, 200 species … 

When I try to comprehend the scale of mass-extinction devastation I am struck by the sheer horrific vastness of the situation. It is both immediately happening where I am and a planetary event, far greater than the limits of my embodied power to affect. The cosmic-pessimism that this brings would be dishonest to deny, especially considering the will-to-life it took for living beings to overcome previous mass-extinction events, with all the struggling and suffering that would have involved. The intensity of the strength and power of those beings who lived amidst those mass-extinction events is truly heroic to me, with all the tragedy that real heroism involves, given their inevitable deaths, which fuelled the births of other beings who also lived and struggled and suffered amidst mass-extinction. 

When I first encountered the statistic of 200 species going extinct a day I was awestruck by the sheer magnitude of that scale of annihilation. To comprehend this culture’s totalitarian practices as that colossal was, as they say, “mind blowing”. And as I come to write about this here I am aware of my inability to truly comprehend the entirety of this matter, feeling somewhat “mind blown”. So I am going to move away from writing this for the moment, go into my garden and sit with the wild flowers, bugs, birds and cats who generally share that space with me. I have started this section today, as I decided I would, and now feel like my energies are best put into experiencing other living beings who are also living amidst mass extinction. I will come back to this tomorrow, or more likely the day after (as I am aware that tomorrow is likely to be very busy and active, leaving me unlikely to have the mental energy to write more here) … 

… 

The pause in writing this has been a few days. As I am writing, I am sat in my living room, after just having eaten breakfast, with some ambient music playing, the window open and allowing the sound of birds chirping to be heard over the music, and it is a cloudy and chilly morning. Also, as I am writing this now, today, the G7 event is happening in Cornwall, which is a relatively short drive from where I live, with politicians and protesters having flooded to. Last night I meditated on this political spectacle of Greenification and this morning I have sat with a feeling of longing that, after G7, those who have travel through cull zones will seek to challenge cull-practitioners, on their return journeys home. I will share more about my meditations later in this piece though and return focus for now on the subject of this section.

So, mass extinction. Fucking hell; how do I write about this here? To attempt to write something on mass-extinction, through Mesodma, I engaged in speculative palaeontological-realist fiction [6]. But I am not going to do that here. I could attempt to explain the machinery/apparatus of mass-extinction culture, so that someone reading might encounter new informational nuggets that enlighten them to situation at hand – in the ways that many environmentally minded individuals and groups try to do. But I don’t believe that that approach to writing holds much value. 

I tend to focus on encouraging individuals to turn their attentions to their immediate, authentic, experience of living amidst mass-extinction culture/machinery (civilisation/Leviathan as I would generally describe it), with an affirmation of the primal life desire, will-to-life/power, that I notice in all those I see embracing their being-alive. With this affirmation of individual, egoistic, experience, I have affirmed a position of rejecting species-being throughout much of my writing, which I will also do here – this coming from an ontological perspective that fits a nominalist mode of thought, which I have also named as eco-egoism (see my essay An Eco-Egoist Destruction of Species-Being and Speciesism [7]). From this perspective an uncomfortable encounter hits me and that is the prospect that every individual is actually an Endling, the last of their kind and that every death is an extinction event. This does not neutralise the devastation that is mass-extinction culture in any way – at least, not for me – as it actually does the opposite, with every individual living being’s life being far more intensely unique and rarefied and valuable, than any collectivised analysis could pertain-to. 

How does this relate to badgers and/or anti-cull philosophy and practices? Well first of all, yes, I do talk and write about the species-collective called badgers, mostly for easy(er) communication. But as I consider the abusive practices enacted towards those living beings I might name as “badger”, my feeling of horror, disgust and revolt is not lessened by the notions of “population numbers” or “percentage being-culled”, as I feel intolerant towards the pesticidal abuse enacted towards any of these individuals. Just because the numbers of those named as Melee Melee (another name for badgers) are said to be generally increasing, I do not encounter the life of any individual to be lesser for this, nor their experience of desiring-life. Along with this, I am not attempting to “save the species”, as I know that would be a ridiculous thing for me to attempt – akin to trying to be a badger messiah, providing salvation for “the people”. Rather, I wish to defend those individuals, who share living in this space that is local to me, from cull-machinery. While I can speak to my disgust towards the cull in its entirety, my anti-cull rebellion is localistic to the cull zone that I live in and directed towards caring for individual setts fiercely, rather than the species in an exhausted manner.  

I know that it is not within my authentic power and responsability (ability-to-respond) to save any species from mass-extinction culture. I do, however, have the power, responsability and desire to care for individuals who I encounter in my life as willing their primal-life desire as a rebellion in the face of Leviathan.  

Helpful and Hopeless

With regards to the aforementioned meditation I had last night, one of the points that came into my awareness regards 4 positions that I find as fair generalisations for environmentalist psycho-philosophical “camps” – hopeless-helpless, hopeful-helpless, hopeful-helpful and hopeless-helpful. 

With regards to hopeless-helplessness, I do not feel entirely rejecting of the position, but have no desire to embrace it for myself. I can sympathise with the feelings of hopelessness and that the world is a very dark place to be, but encounter the position of helplessness as basically pathetic and weak. The individual who has no desire to help or are frozen by a lack of help in their life is not one I encounter as beautiful, but I can affirm their honesty in the sense of cosmic-pessimism. 

The hopeful-helpful position is also one that I neither entirely affirm nor reject. While I do not share their faith in political-narratives and/or green-technologies, in any way, I find their willingness to care for wild living beings beautiful and desirable. From my perspective, this it a naïve stance to take regarding hope, but the beauty of the helpful activities are wonderful to encounter. 

Hopeful-helplessness is to my eyes a position that is utterly grotesque and revolting. To place faith entirely in the political-productive machinery of Leviathan, whilst offering nothing of help or attempting to deny the responsability that being a living-free-individual involves, is revolting to my eyes. But sadly this appears to be the position pedalled most often – that we are helpless and must place our hope in abusive apparatus.

This position that I affirm in its entirety and very much occupy is that of helpful-hopelessness. To be without any feeling of hope, not believing that salvation is coming, seems to me an honest position. I feel this and encounter a sense of desire to help those who I experience care for. I encounter individuals who occupy this position as intensely beautiful, for their strength, honesty and will. 

I have no hope that the system will stop seeking to repress the lives of individuals we name as badgers, but experience a desire to help those individuals survive free from cull-machinery. It is not a comfortable place to be, but it is where I am. 

To Organise Or Not To Organise

It has been a week since I finished the last section. I’ve not written any more for this, nor have I done any sett checks in the past week. In all honesty, as I type this, I am pretty tired, after trying to do too much, recovering from my second dose of covid-19 vaccine and having to sort out unexpected car problems. This type of experience is very common to individuals who are engaged in activist activities – feelings of being burnt out and needing to rest. And activism is the focus of this section. 

So, activism, what the fuck does activism mean – or, what does it mean to me (and might do to you soon)? Well, that is a huge question really. I will start my consideration of the question by considering how my “activism” differs from (perhaps?) the definitions of other individuals who consider themselves “activists”. Then I will describe what “activism” means for me, with specific reference to my anti-cull activities. 

My “activism” is not that of “organising” or “organisation” – though I do appreciate the activities of organised hunt saboteur groups. In my experience, the energies gone into “organising” and the “organisation” are often wasted life potential, gone into constructing anthropological-machinery for the Cause, rather than seeking to deconstruct and destroy abusive anthropological-machines. Likewise, I am not interested in activism or activists as experts(/authorities) or martyrs, as that typically has the smell of vanity-missionary work, that is entirely about activists positioning themselves socially as objects for worship – I’m thinking in particular here about the media driven activities of the organisation Extinction Rebellion and its worshipers, as well as the organisation Burning Pink (another project very much infected with Roger Hallam’s vanity-missionary agenda). This form of “activism” revels in that most tragic of successes, the small incremental improvement that satisfies the appetites of those who were seeking to have their actions affirmed by state and/or corporate infrastructure – ultimately supporting Leviathan’s abusive practices, by making its violence more comfortable to live amidst so that rebellion is less likely – or, if nothing else, press attention. 

What activism means for me is care, expressed as an authentic, immediate, affirmation of the presence of life. My desire to affirm the presence of living badgers is actualised through my practice of defending setts without mediatory organisations/groups, as an individual activity. This generally involves going to visit setts and checking that they are free from abusive apparatus. But there are other aspects of my anti-cull activist practice and to describe these I am drawing from my thoughts on Massumi’s ideas on the principle of unrest (the book by the same name is excellent reading on activism and ontology) [8]. The 3 concepts I am going to focus on here are those of unrest, affectivity and capture. With regards to unrest, I agree with Massumi that there is no such phenomenon or thing as rest, and would affirm this with regards to self-care as an aspect of activist unrest, as the processes of change occurring within my body. Rather than self-care being, as many “revolutionaries” would position it, being a form of passive liberal indulgence, (my) self-care affirms (my) living bodies (as my individuality is a multiplicity of living bodies) as activist unrest, as I encounter myself as Earth and the living world extending from my body – the attempt at totalising rest(/death) being Leviathan itself. Taking the principle of unrest seriously and considering Leviathan’s anthropological machinery as an attempt at totalising rest(/death), it is impossible to not be an activist, as being alive is unrest, with death being being-impossible – where activisms differ is in what they are active in, i.e. the difference between ideological, political, work-placed activisms and life affirming activisms. The second concept of affectivities enters into my thoughts on my practice when I consider what is going to intensify my ability to affect the well-being of badgers most significantly. So today, rather than going to do sett checks, I have decided that I will self-care, through giving myself space to recover, and write here, so that I might psychically affect other individuals who read this. Affectivity in this sense is not attempting to Cause an effect, as in determinism, but to effectively affect the world as an (absurd) act of care. In much the same way that I am always at unrest, I am always affecting the world, as I affect this chair I am sat on, I affect the air through my breathing, I am affecting this piece through writing, I can affect other individuals through weird conversations and breaking social conventions through everyday activities and so on. The last concept I will comment on here is that of capture, which is very much at the core of my rebellion – rebelling against the apparatus of capture being at the core of many of the ideas in my book Feral Life. I am revolted – as both disgusted by and inspired to revolt by – by the apparatuses of badger capture and annihilation, with my desire for total liberation being my desire for the destruction of the anthropological apparatuses of capture that is mass-extinction machinery/culture. As such, my activism is foremost resistant towards the structures of capture that constitute this culture’s Reality. I describe this practice as being neither above-ground or under-ground, as I find that dualism in (so called) activist praxis to be both unhelpful and bullshit – with individuals like Max Wilbert who peddle that rhetoric succeeding only in propagating organisational theatrics. How I describe my activist praxis is non-localisable localism, which is easily differentiated from the localisable non-localism of green ideologues who are concerned only with the easily locatable matters of international green industries and politics, with no authentic relationship to the space that they are here/now. Being non-localisable, the practice is very difficult to find (if you’re not very close to me), but its intensely local to where I choose to live – as I live in the middle of one of the cull zones and actualise my rebellion here.  

Now that I have finished this section, I feel that my activist praxis is best placed in doing some dancing, cooking some dinner, bathing and then sleeping. I will likely start the next section tomorrow, which I have been planning over the past few days. 

Conservationism? No – Preservationism!

In my book Feral Life, I wrote a meditation on conservationism as “jam jar” politics and articulated my feeling of revolt towards the ideology. What I mean by “jam jar” politics is simply the Man-ufacturing of a preserve, which is reminiscent of making jams from fruits to keep the fruit longer for Humanised consumption – rather than preserving the presence of the fruit outside of anthropological systematisation by leaving it as it is where you encounter it in the world, or eating it as you encounter it and doing something to care for the space where you found it, which I put forward here as a mode of preservationism (somewhat akin to Quinn’s notion of being-a-Leaver). The jam-jar preserves of conservationism are intensely Man-aged and Man-ufactured spaces, with the ideological focus being on preserving the flavours of what was once a living space for future generations of Humans to “enjoy”, so that green-ideologues feel less guilty about the industrial ecocidal and specicidal annihilation that this culture enacts, almost everywhere at its current totalising state.  

Recently two conservationist organisations have reminded me of how intensely I dislike the ideology. The more recent of these instances is the Mammal Society spreading speciesist rhetoric about racoon dogs as being a “non-native invasive species” and a threat to the wildlife on this island on the North Sea. Calling any living being invasive for migrating from where they live while trying to survive amidst the totalitarian violence of Leviathan, whether they be Syrian refugees or racoon dogs, is just ridiculous, especially as it is coming from an intensely invasive culture, technologically, ecologically, militarily and through essentially all other forms of dialectical systemisation. I am also repulsed by the positioning of wild animals as invaders and a threat to living beings here, when cull-practitioners are blocking the entrances and exits to setts, are out with guns amd are putting cages near setts to capture living beings and annihilate them. The other recent example of revolt inspiring conservationism is learning of the John Muir Trust engaging in deer culling – something Muir would have been disgusted by, with its conservationist non-preservationism.

The distinction between conservationism and preservationism, within environmentalism, as practices has its roots in the disagreements between Pinchot and Muir. Muir, who interviewed bears and considered the preservation of forests to be defending God’s first temple [9], sought to affirm an intrinsic value in the living world through his preservationism, with his desires being that bears and forests would be left to live their lives without experiencing interference from Leviathan. Pinchot’s conservationism, which was embraced by the American political establishment and has sadly become the go-to rhetoric of many environmentalists, sought to position instrumental (systemic/machinic) value in some living beings, as being worth keeping (as property) for their usefulness to Leviathan. The difference between these perspectives is largely the difference between transcendentalism (Muir) and materialism (Pinchot). 

In my book Feral Iconoclasm I articulated my rejection of materialism (as a dead perspective), through an affirmation of hylozoic-physicalism, and don’t feel any need to differentiate from materialism further, as it is clear that I am rejecting the tendency. But while I do not embrace materialism (and conservationism), I do not share entirely Muir’s perspective regarding preservationism, for its transcendentalist qualities. Intrinsic value, God and transcendence to me are spooks and phantasms. To differentiate from transcendentalism here I will use the thoughts of two relevant transcendentalists, who have both inspired and influenced my thought and practice. 

The first of these is Henry David Thoreau, who stated – 

“This is one of those instances in which the individual genius is found to consent, as indeed it always does, at last, with the universal. …. Faith, indeed, is all the reform that is needed; it is itself a reform. When the sunshine falls on the path of the poet, he enjoys all those pure benefits and pleasures which the arts slowly and partially realize from age to age. … The winds which fan his cheek waft him the sum of that profit and happiness which their lagging inventions supply.”[10]

in his piece Paradise To Be Regained, and – 

“Ah, the pickerel of Walden! when I see them lying on the ice, or in the well which the fisherman cuts in the ice, making a little hole to admit the water, I am always surprised by their rare beauty, as if they were fabulous fishes, they are so foreign to the streets, even to the woods, foreign as Arabia to our Concord life. They possess a quite dazzling and transcendent beauty which separates them by a wide interval from the cadaverous cod and haddock whose fame is trumpeted in our streets.” [11]

in his most famous work, Walden. Thoreau’s affirmation of religious and transcendent qualities of the living world is largely shared by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, in his piece Nature states – 

“Who looks upon a river in a meditative hour, and is not reminded of the flux of all things? Throw a stone into the stream, and the circles that propagate themselves are the beautiful type of all influence. Man is conscious of a universal soul within or behind his individual life, wherein, as in a firmament, the natures of Justice, Truth, Love, Freedom, arise and shine. This universal soul, he calls Reason: it is not mine, or thine, or his, but we are its; we are its property and men. And the blue sky in which the private earth is buried, the sky with its eternal calm, and full of everlasting orbs, is the type of Reason. That which, intellectually considered, we call Reason, considered in relation to nature, we call Spirit. Spirit is the Creator. Spirit hath life in itself. And man in all ages and countries, embodies it in his language, as the FATHER.”

and –

 “To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth, becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says,—he is my creature, and maugre all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life,—no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground,—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,—all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances,—master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”[12]

From the transcendental perspective, preservationism is God’s Cause as explosive holism, as seen here in both Thoreau’s and Emerson’s writings, with the intrinsic value being an essential, soul-like, quality that is appealed to. 

How my preservationism differs is that I don’t experience badgers, or any other species or individual, as being intrinsically valuable or being expressions of God’s will. My preservationism is explosive holism reversed –implosive holism. Rather than intrinsic value, I experience badgers as egoistically valuable/desirable, not for instrumental value, but for the immediate joy of their presence in my world. The reversed holism is subscendental, in that preservation isn’t a mode of connecting to God through transcendence, but an experience of being-me, of encountering my being and the world as extending from me and me from the world, as an unending paradox. From this, badger preservationism is self-preservationism, not a Cause, but an expression of egoistic-will-to-power/life – I actualise my being through the practice of preservation. Subscendence, as I encounter it, is individualising, rather than collectivising – in the same way that I described earlier on species-being. I also want to note here that one of the key differences between transcendental-preservationism and subscendental-preservationism is the difference between spirituality and mystical-experience – (transcendental-)spirituality being something bound to words and (subscendental-)mystical experience being ineffable. There is an obvious absurdity to any self-preservation, which my absurdism is happy to accept.

Anarchy!

Anarchy is here. Anarchy is now. I experience anarchy most intensely when among the living, usually while surrounded by badger setts, trees and bird song, but it is not separate from my body. My bodily presence is the ontological actualisation of primal-anarchy – not as anthropological performance, but as the free expression of my will. 

The anarchy of my anti-cull rebellion is my refusal to accept systematisation, to accept the systemic abuse of these living beings I encounter as egoistically valuable. It is primal in two senses. The first of these senses is that it is not bound to secondary or other mediatory “higher levels” of activity (rejecting that hierarchy), which are bound to organisational practices. It is also primal in that it is an expression of becoming-animal.

My anarchy is individualist and subscendentally-holist – psychic-nomadism as being here, being nowhere, being-in-the-world and being-the-world. My anti-cull rebellion is individualistic and subscends to affirm the lives of badgers as being valuable to my self-preservation. 

The Cull

Today it is really difficult, for me at least, to find a starting point to discussing the cull – in a similar way that anti-cull practice is really difficult to find a place to start with. It has been a few days since I last added to this piece and as I am sat here I am unsure how to begin this section. I can say quite easily that I hate and despise the cull with an intensity that I experience an immediate bodily reaction while writing now. But from there it is less easy. I hear that crow cawing though and wish to not give in out of weakness.

Last night I attended my first gig/concert since the pandemic and lockdowns started over a year ago. The night was comprised of a lot of folk rock music, fiddle playing and dancing, I saw more folky and crustie friends than I expected to, and my legs are now very achy from all the dancing. Among the friends I saw there were two who are active in radical rebellions, one an activist involved in Extinction Rebellion and the other a hunt saboteur also engaged in anti-cull rebellion. I was immediately intensely joyful to see both of them, after extended periods of distance. I am starting my description of the cull here because I encounter this experience of joyful affirmation of the living presence of other individuals, particularly those with a conflictual relationship to this culture, as to be an intense point of differentiation from the philosophy, practice and attitude of cull-culture. 

It takes very little research to affirm that badgers are being cull as a means for the infrastructure of agro-politics to be seen as “doing something” to address bovine TB, while actually doing nothing of the sort, as the disease is being spread due to horrendous agricultural practices. Several years ago, I did some work experience on a small free-range, organic, dairy farm, and I can remember the farmer spitting venom about the cull, the horrendous practices and the farms where TB was spreading, because the cows were being kept to close together and the farmers were spreading TB infected muck across their fields. So I don’t believe that the cull is a matter that is based in poor information or a lack of information, and I’m not bringing here any information, facts, figures, or knowledge, so as to present an analysis of the cull – I sincerely doubt such an attempt would produce the desired result, in much the same way that statistics regarding global warming don’t result in any response. The description of the cull that follows from here is intentionally expressive, rather than attempting factual-realism. 

The cull is nothing short of a Man-ufacturing effort attempting to produce death, through systematic-machinery, as a mode of anthropological-machinery that seeks to exclude these living beings, called badgers by this culture, who do not conform to the narratives of the Humanised Reality. Put more simply, it is a systemic effort in mass killing, which is only not-comparable to genocidal war efforts and the politics of ethnic-cleansing from a position of revolting speciesism. As a dialectical-effort, the cull is seeking to negate the presence of badgers, in the pursuit of Absolute-agricultural domination, as they are positioned as an antithesis to the collective endeavour. 

What else is the cull? The cull is a narrative of the production of mass-extinction. The cull is lies and deceit and cowardice and a failure to affirm the failures of farming-practices. The cull is state-apparatus and approved by the government. The cull is practiced in the open, in a culture that keeps its doors closed.

How do I experience the cull? I experience the cull as right here and right now, as it is happening where I live, today. I experience the cull when I go rambling through woods and find cages close to setts. I experience the cull with a burning hatred for its practice, feelings of disgust and detest, and a desire to revolt. I experience the cull as an effort in erasing my ability to experience beautiful living anarchic beings. I experience the cull as a Cause attempting to effect the negation of badgers, which my egoism is revolted by and wants to see collapsed.

I am ending this piece of writing on my anti-cull philosophy here. My anti-cull rebellion is not ended and will not end, even if the badger cull ends, as any and all cull-practices are revolting to me. The logic of cull I reject. The machinery of cull I detest. The culture of cull is horrendous and ultimately one of life-renunciation, which I refuse to conform to. This will continue off of these pages, as I journey through cull zones and within my being, as a primal experience of life affirmation. 

I long for a night with no cages to capture living beings. 

Notes – 

[1] Uncivilisation, 2014

[2] The Myth of Sisyphus, 2005

[3] https://ecorevoltblog.files.wordpress.com/2020/12/on-gorgias-trilemma.pdf

[4] Feral Iconoclasm, 2018

[5] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/julian-langer-doomed-to-deferral

[6] Mesodma, 2019

[7] https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/julian-langer-an-eco-egoist-destruction-of-species-being-and-speciesism

[8] The Principle of Unrest, 2017

[9] https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1021&context=jmb

[10] http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/henry-david-thoreau-paradise-to-be-regained

[11] http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/henry-david-thoreau-walden

[12] http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ralph-waldo-emerson-nature

If you want to print this piece to read off screen, here is a downloadable PDF.

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