Monday, August 07, 2006


It's a bit ironic to use a computer to blog about this Luddite tome, but John Zerzan's 'future primitive' take on philosophical anarchism is enchanting; I like particularly his little essay on the banal evil of timekeeping, and his suggestion based on recent archeology that everything went wrong with humanity only after we started cultivating food I find most agreeable. Most of his essays are interesting, funny, challenging, and display a breadth of research and interest unparalleled in the Tom Friedman world in which we live.

I disagreed of course with Zerzan's ad hominem attack on Chomsky; it's fine to take issue with his linguistic theories--I do as well, and for reasons not dissimilar to Zerzan's. It's also okay to disagree on fundamentals about Chomsky's degree of commitment to anarchism and its ideals, although I'd point out that Noam has written and spoken about his anarchism as an ideal achievable only after a profound spiritual transformation of humanity--which is what Zerzan himself suggests is necessary. Criticizing Chomsky as a phony anarchist because he's currently for strengthening the federal government makes sense--there is a ring of 'dictatorship of the proletariat' about the idea--but in the face of an unprecedented assault on human rights by corporate power, it's not completely wrong-headed to suggest a strengthening of the one institution that can protect us from pillage.

Zerzan says Chomsky doesn't give a shit about women's rights or minority rights or the environment because he focuses on foreign policy; this displays complete ignorance of Chomsky's writings and speeches. Chomsky focuses on foreign policy because it's the area where most Americans are most deluded about our true role in the world, but civil and human rights and women's rights are always primary in his books, as is environmental degradation. I'm sure there are many anarchists who regard Zerzan as a poseur because he doesn't loft bombs at Bill Gates.

For more musings about 'return to primitive' potentialities, check out The Archdruid Report: The Butlerian Future.

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