Back to the roots
In John Zerzan’s world, people wouldn’t vote, they would grow their own food and they would communicate with each other without technology through face-to-face interaction. Zerzan, editor of Green Anarchy magazine, spoke at the Special Events Center Monday night to a crowd of about 50. The University Lecture Series and Alliance of Concerned Students sponsored the lecture and discussion.
“Acorn,” a senior in anthropology at USF and member of Alliance of Concerned Students, proposed for Zerzan to come to USF because he shared some of the same ideas as others in the club.
Zerzan has not dropped out of society to live in the woods, but he wants people to start thinking outside the rules and grid of society.
Zerzan brought up four points that people come to when they decide to become an anarchist. Someone who is anti-civilization may have a feeling that he or she cannot be free or whole within the structure of civilization.
“People get overwhelmed by society,” he said explaining the Unabomber manifesto, where the more technical society becomes, the less freedom and fulfillment there is for an individual.
The second point he made explained why some people choose to refuse civilization is the patriarchal way society thinks. He doesn’t approve of the way society objectifies women in the male-defined culture.
“That is because about 10,000 years ago there was a turn toward a domestication of culture a turn toward controlling and domination of nature as opposed to where our ancestors took what nature gave them.”
The third point Zerzan brought up was the way life was prior to civilization. Outside the stereotypes of cavemen, it was characterized by sharing in a gatherer-hunter society. “The amount of time needed for subsistence was very small,” he said. “There was leisure time.
“People used to say in literature in anthropology and archeology, ‘Why did it take people so long to figure out about farming, agriculture and domestication?’ and now the question I’ve even seen in textbooks is ‘Why did they ever do it?'” he said.
The fourth reason why some turn to green anarchy is the crisis of modern society. Zerzan said there are deep roots in institution.
“‘Earth is being ruined, poisoned and destroyed,'” Zerzan said, quoting Derek Jensen. “There’s no body of water on this planet that isn’t contaminated to some degree; there’s no mother’s milk that doesn’t have carcinogens in it … it’s all being destroyed at a rapid rate.”
Zerzan went on to explain how the tsunami disaster in December 2004 had lessons to teach. He said since mangroves were removed, coral reefs were destroyed and sand dunes were flattened, it opened up civilization to even more disaster.
According to Zerzan, technology seems to only be worsening the situation of civilization. He questions technological advances and wonders why there are multiplying hosts of infectious diseases when technology should have fixed those to begin with.
“A few weeks ago in the New York Times there was a big story about Vivian, a software thing, a virtual girlfriend,” he said. “You know, no unpleasant, messy human relationships.
“‘Postmodernism is what you get when the modernization process is complete and nature is gone for good,'” he said, quoting Duriek Hainenson.
Zerzan’s working definition is there is a division of labor that leads to a class society. There is a difference between tools and technology.
Zerzan does not believe that technology connects people, enriches society or empowers anyone.
“None of these things are true at all. If they were, why would we feel, amidst all this techniculture, so isolated and disempowered?” he said.
He said most people who protest globalization are actually not against it; they are actually trying to reform it, not slow it down.
Zerzan said political parties have a “death grip on society.” He thinks people would be happier if no one voted and everyone put that energy toward something productive. He said even the Green Party just plays part to the system, which is why he considers himself an anarchist.
“I am a person from the left, but I left it behind,” he said stating why he is now anti-left because it ignores the damage society is doing.
Daniel Fornes, a pre-education student at USF who hopes to teach history at a high school level, said that he considers himself a utopian anarchist.
“I can enjoy a sunset, sit in the grass and feel content as well as marvel at things society put together,” he said.
Fornes brought up “A Brave New World,” where there are tribes instead of countries and there would be no laws, instead unity where the people have the decision. He said the most interesting thing about the lecture was seeing how people were reacting to Zerzan.
Zerzan’s goal is to have face-to-face communities, a “ban-society” or about 50 or less people who depend on each other.
“As more people think that they don’t want to live this way and they don’t want their children to live this way, things will start to change,” Zerzan said.