Yeah, fuck you, John Zerzan.
There. I finally had to say it, and in the following I shall strive to put this subject—and the douchebag himself—to rest. But that can’t be it—I need closure.
Heh. Now, I have to admit that there was a time when I agreed with Mr. Zerzan, back when I felt utterly alone in my ideas (with a few key exceptions, though it was never regarding any “Return To The Primal” sorta stuff, and I’m not much into that any longer), back when I seemed to need something to belong to, some sort of group (tribe), and back when I first looked at what he was writing as a blessing. Finally, someone was on the same page as me. At last there are others who are about the same thing as I was…
So I read and read, and …some things started to rub me the wrong way…and I could not put my finger on it. I ignored it—some funny feelings are a small price to pay for a metaphysical alliance, no? After a while I began looking into John Zerzan’s life—trying to ascertain where abouts he lived in the woods and what he was doing.
He didn’t live in any woods. Nor did he live in the mountains, or the wild. Nor did he really practice anything at all that he preached. And what was it that he preached? Civilization = bad; technology = bad; wilderness = good; primitive peoples = good. Hell, he was against civilization…couldn’t I let a few things slide? Like the accumulating evidence that the guy might be some anarcho-marxist has-been and was now some extreme “green” anarchist?
Yet when I got deeper into his essays, more stuff started to turn me off. It seemed he preached: art = bad, all language = bad, all symbols = bad, all tools and weapons = bad, eating meat and hunting = bad; living exactly like a monkey = good.
Even if I agreed with some of it, it played no part in what I was doing—I didn’t want to live like a monkey…perhaps because I wasn’t one, and that wouldn’t be fucking possible unless we hit a time warp and went back a million years…
But even then I pushed that aside, even though I had lost a huge degree of (most of the) respect I’d had for the guy. Nobody’s perfect. Even radical, border-line lunatic hypocrites had something to offer. True, I did not think of him as an ally in what I was about, so basically I just quoted some of his “primitive people = awesome” bits of text and research for my own selfish purposes. And I didn’t quote anything, from him or other sources, that shat on my beliefs or what I was about, or put anything else into question.
In a way, I was doing what he had done—picking and choosing to include in my work only that which supported what I was saying, and ignoring the rest. Running all information through a very selective filter. At least I didn’t start lying, though. Phew. Once you start down that dark road, it’s a long despicable journey from which you may never recover. The lies will take you over until you start believing them, because such lies are born of memes—“lies become you.”
Later on, I came across a bit of text of his that suggested that agriculture was always a means to subdue women…
Women? The blood drained from my face, my mouth fell open, and I had to re-read, and re-re-read that. I could not get my head around it—it was like being told a cube was easier to swallow than a sphere. And the first pills were really perfect little cubes because the hard pointy edges made them easier to swallow. And men changed them into rounder edged ones because men were evil; so they should go back to being cubical again.
No, really, the idea was like square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Or it was as if I were being told that the sky was pink. When in fact it’s nearly the opposite colour of that, blue, and that only 25% of the people know it’s blue, so the other 75% will continue believing it’s pink…so saying it’s pink, even though it’s a lie, isn’t really controversial or secret knowledge, since most people believe it, thus it’s just a cheap ploy to gain support for whatever by appealing to 75% of people who believe the lie…
It was something that one would not think about twice if one hadn’t spent years researching and investigating the slide from pre-history into history, from nomadic to semi-nomadic to fully sedentary; the factors and possibilities, but, moreso, the strong healthy male traditions of hunter and hunter-gatherer societies before all this farming. Zerzan doesn’t get much into nomadic ways of life, since these are driven by hunter-prey relationships. See, migrating herbivores are not truly nomadic because they’re basically what Agent Smith in The Matrix accuses humans of being: a group of creatures that move to an area and consume every natural resource (grass, green shoots, and water) until nothing is left, so the only way they can survive is to spread to another area.
The only difference with true gatherers (semi-sedentary) like herbivores, like wildebeest, and modern humans (sedentary farmers), is that wildebeest do not set up shop on the ground they are turning into a desert, they do not build structures, they do not plant grass so they can stay there and no longer migrate.
Wildebeest and other ungulates (herbivores) have to spread to another area, else there would be no more food or water—but when they do migrate, the area is left to recover, and they return to it the following year.
Then again, predators are not truly nomadic either, since they simply follow the herbivores, and if the herbivores stayed in one spot, so would the carnivores.
Perhaps nothing is truly nomadic except for something that decides to be…or maybe plants—what other form of life wanders around without rhyme or reason, totally without purpose other than to get around and stay alive, at the mercy of the elements, of chaotic forces?
I dunno. What I do know is someone who knows nothing of all this would simply nod and keep reading (after Zerzan’s historically flippantly evidence-free and ironical statement that women are oppressed by agriculture), oblivious to the lie, which seems to be, well, it’s becoming engraved into conventional thought anyway. Part of the same set of memes that make the word “harvest” so popular these days.
I even heard the following mind-boggling statement once:
Seriously, I shit you not.
To harvest is to reap what you’re sowing, to cut the planted fields—that you planted. Gathering mushrooms is not “harvesting” them unless you planted them. Picking wild berries is not harvesting them, and for fuck’s sake, hunting deer is hunting, not harvesting…
You only harvest what you’ve planted. That’s what the fucking word means. But people don’t care about what anything means any longer; they just parrot what they’ve heard without ever thinking about it…
And that doesn’t apply to fucking animals, just fucking plants. Even if you have critters penned up and ready for slaughter and butchery, that’s still not harvesting…Jesus. It’s just killing them. In the most dishonourable way possible—helpless and fenced or walled in with no place to run—but still not harvesting.
It’s sorta like “murder” and “killing.” Swatting a mosquito is killing; stomping on the head of a newborn baby is murdering. It’s kinda like this difference, but way more pronounced when you realize that the memes involved here seem to be seeking to confuse meanings, between gathering and farming…
And of course nobody really cares, because even those who do realize even a bit of what’s going on, well, it’s just more of the same bullshit that’s around now—all to make women smile and nod, who cares what’s true or not, as long as women are appeased momentarily and shut up for a few minutes as they feel their egos swell, and get high off it…
Anyway, I’m not sure how many times I read it, but it still made no sense.
I felt quite foolish suddenly, and the realization dawned on me as I continued reading similar things, the realization that this guy was actually a feminist.
What the fuck?
I could hardly believe it. (He was also a vegetarian who praised the gatherers, believing that gathering alone was “pure” somehow. If he ever tried to go off into the wild and live in “Mommy Nature,” as a vegan or vegetarian, he’d be dead inside a month unless he farmed.)
It was like finding out the star quarterback of your favourite team was a member of NAMBLA. And that he had AIDS. And that he gave it knowingly to little boys. You just couldn’t cheer for the guy anymore—he was part of something that every instinct you had told you was fucking evil. It was a little crushing, and felt like betrayal, as though he sold out his brothers to gain female support. For we all know if you want support for your cause, you gotta bring in the women, because the men will follow them (just ask the Catholic Church how this works—or better still, study the rise of The Mother Church from about 500 AD to 900 AD).
It turned out that he’s really a shifty little cunt, and if it were not for having contact with the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski,), no one would know his name today; he’d just be another bitter, tedious, hate-filled, poverty-stricken asshole raving on the street-corner, holding a sign with unintelligible words scribbled in feces. Or so I thought back then, a little pissed off. More like betrayed, though, sold out.
Well, it all it meant I had to go it alone again, with no allies.
So, I stopped reading any more and ignored Zerzan for years, didn’t even think about it all, or very much.
Time passed, and I got over it. No longer upset, and no longer needing allies or something to which to belong, content to be alone in this. And a year has passed, and I don’t feel anymore animosity towards him, at least no more than any other lying, pandering, manipulative douche out there.
Thus it makes this a great time to be honest—right now. I’m not proud that I ignored lies he wrote about, and other things, and basically believed some bullshit because it supported my then-cause, back when I still felt it needed support, so here is a way to come clean. Now that I no longer have any cause, and do not believe we should “go back” to some primal state.
When I thought about debunking some of his work, I discovered that someone (a French communist of all people!) had already gotten there before me. So, hey, let’s try something different—a review of a debunking—and let’s examine that work…
French communist group En Attendant’s critique of two key text by anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan.
The publishers L’Insomniaque recently put out two collections of articles by J. Zerzan: “Futur Primitif’, in December 1998 (“Future Primitive” first published by Autonomedia, New York, and “Aux Sources de l’Alienation”, in October 1999 (“Elements of Refusal”, Left Bank Books, Seattle, 1998). We say that these two texts are an ideological re-writing of the history of humanity, that J. Zerzan makes use of different research works by prehistorians, anthropologists and philosophers with the sole aim of establishing a pre-conceived idea of what humanity is all about, what it has been and what it will become. The ideology of J. Zerzan is without doubt generous, and besides throws up some interesting problems, but it is only an ideology.
The theses of J. Zerzan however, among the small circle where they have been distributed, do not seem to have stirred any debate, and have only met with an approval or vague reprobation, as far as we know. The aim of this pamphlet is equally to launch this debate, but on a more concrete basis.
1. Manipulated prehistory
All that we know of the dawn of humanity, we know by the study of the material traces that the first men have left, and which have reached us. These traces from early times, are essentially, animal and human bones, and carved stones. Their arrangement in the particular sites provide equally precious information. The essential fact is that these traces are extremely fragmentary, impossible to date with any great precision. Starting from these traces, prehistorians establish hypotheses, and then set up theories, often challenged by later discoveries. Prehistory is a field of very shifting knowledge, always subjected to changes: the idea we tend to have of this period, or rather these periods, cannot be as precise as the ones we tend to have about more recent periods. Certainties are rare, and more general than precise. The last thirty years, with numerous discoveries and the evolution of methods, have considerably tuned the stereotypical image of prehistory, which has prevailed up to the middle of the XX century. At the same time, other problems have appeared, tending to render these questions even more complicated.
Even the definition of man poses a problem. It is generally reckoned for all the Paleolithic period, which spreads over 2.5 to 3 million years that there are four representatives of the Homo type: firstly the most ancient, Homo habilis, from which three more recent species descend, chronologically: Homo erectus (Pithecanthropus), archaic Homo sapiens (Neanderthal), and lastly “modern” man, the only one who is present today on this planet, Homo sapiens sapiens. Before the most ancient Homo type, we had a different species of Australopithecus that Homo habilis was for a long time close to, himself being a descendent of a type of Australopithecus called slender. These anthropoid primates used tools made of stone and bone and no doubt practiced organised hunting, but are not part (for the time being at lest) of the Homo club. It must be equally noted that whilst belonging to the Homo type, Homo habilis is generally not considered to be part of the same species as Homo sapiens sapiens.
Starting from these basic facts, one can already be aware of the manipulations operated by Zerzan. In view of the numerous quotes which he has recourse to in his articles, one cannot suspect him of being ignorant of the subject of which he speaks. The omissions, or rather the choice he makes of certain theories, to the detriment of other theses, show a deliberate willingness on his part. Zerzan wants to paint an idyllic picture of the origins of humanity: he is going therefore to seek the elements that will permit him to paint this picture.
It is first important for our ideologue to date humanity as far as possible, and this for one precise reason: the more man evolves towards his “modem” form, the more the elements showing the existence of what Zerzan calls “alienation” (religious and artistic practices, articulated language, sense of time and project, etc.) become unquestionable. He must then turn towards the most archaic moments of human history. The Neanderthal even (300 to 400 000 years) seems a bit too “cultured”. He will thus seek his examples preferably among the very first humans, the famous Homo habilis. But even this solution poses quite a few problems. Zerzan will manage to pull through at the price of intellectual contortions verging on honesty.
Besides he himself foretells what his method will be at the beginning of “Future Primitive” after having voiced some worthy reservations about separate science, he agrees to acknowledge what he calls with contempt “specialised literature”, that is to say scientific, “can nevertheless be of an highly appreciable assistance”. And who else “could” give us this “assistance”, unless we ourselves become archaeologists, that is to say holders of the dreadful separate knowledge? Does he imagine that the first men are going to resuscitate in order to tell us how they lived? Archaeology is the sole available source for anyone who wants to know what early humanity was like. And thus, whatever one may say besides, we are compelled to reason from these discoveries onward. It is not an “assistance”, it is all that we have.
But for Zerzan scientific discoveries are just a way to develop his ideology. That is why he intends to tackle science “with the appropriate method and vigilance”, and that he declares himself “decided to go beyond the limits”. Clearly he will take no account of what hinders him; he will reserve the right of using the argument of scientific authority (with, one must note, more certainty that the scientists themselves) when it will be convenient for him, and to reject it when it will cease to be convenient to him. Here is the essential of Zerzan’s “method”, which can be found in all his texts. It is a matter of ‘instrumentalizing’ science, which, because it is nothing but a cultural institution, can never be objective, and must therefore be taken as such. This is an old conception of scientific activity put at the service of an ideology, which the brave doctors Lysenko and Mengele brilliantly illustrated during the past century.
This serious “method”, let us have a look at its development.
We can start with the problem of hunting: Zerzan is non-violent, most certainly a vegetarian, and thus he considers that eating meat is immoral, since it implies killing animals, and is bad for one’s health.
Why I cannot stand vegetarians is due to this exact hypocrisy: the killing and devouring of one form of life is all good, while the killing and devouring of another form of life is evil. And not just killing and eating: vegetarians have no issues keeping plant species captive, under absolute control, their property, their slaves, to be manipulated and messed with and then butchered when the appropriate time arrives. (The Harvest.) This is far more cruel then chasing a deer with a spear; that deer is free, and at least half of all hunts end in failure, which means that deer, that form of life, goes back to living free.
That is honourable. That is how Father Nature rolls.
Vegetarians and vegans have no honesty and no honour.
Anyway, “But for Zerzan scientific discoveries are just a way to develop his ideology” is something I discovered while reading his stuff, and ignoring some misleading shit is something I’m not proud of, and something I shall not do again. Things are what they are, for better or worse, and I know now they should not be made into something more appealing, for any reason. That’s deception. And I hate deceptions…
Moreover, it is tiring and it forces one to be organised. Gathering must have been the natural state of “good” humanity, which is to say the one that most resembles Zerzan. It remains to be proved. He does not prove it, he asserts it. According to him, “from now on it is commonly acknowledged” that gathering constituted “the principal food source”. Who acknowledges this, from what, he does not say. And the “principal” source does not mean the “whole” source. But this is not serious: this affirmation drowned in considerations about the non-sexual division of labour (Zerzan is also feminist of course.) allows, by a simple language effect, of giving the impression that the first humans were vegetarians.
Can you envision seven billion humans stomping and stumbling off into whatever wilderness they can find, and trying to survive on leaves, shoots, berries, and tubers?
Can you imagine all the people living in trees and grunting and wearing no clothes and using no tools?
That’s the scenario the “anarcho-primitivists” (or “Green Marxists” or “Earth Feminists”—whatever the fuck they call themselves) conceive. Except, no, not seven billion—they seem to support mass-murder of humanity first. Well, at least the men and the religious folk.
Anyway, the point is, this is simply impossible—there’s no word to sum up how impossible this is. It’s like an ant trying to swim to the bottom of the ocean carrying a herd of elephants…it’s toward that degree of impossible:
1. A human being, half his teeth used for munching grains and roots, the other half used for ripping flesh, is an omnivore—he eats plants and meat.
2. A human being needs both plants and meat; procreation, for example, could not take place with the fatty acids found in flesh, animal flesh, and neither could many brain functions. The body needs fat, and meat protein. As someone who went without meat in the wild, trying to live as a hunter-gatherer, let me tell you that you’re not healthy, you constantly sense-feel-know that something’s missing, no matter how much green stuff you eat, you don’t recover from the demanding and extremely draining life in the wild, not without proper meat. Red meat especially. Eating pork and chicken, as well as fish and shellfish, out in the woods enters into the same unhealthy arrangement. You don’t recover properly…I’ve fucking tried it.
I’m sure that vegetarians will argue—even the ones that go jogging—that they can get by with artificial types of protein. And for an existence indoors, sitting in an office, driving home in a car or taking the bus, yeah, sure, it probably must just do. Just. I doubt they’re as healthy as they love to claim, but anyway, not the point.
3. The point is we’re not talking about vegetarians who dwell in towns and cities; we’re talking about Zerzan and his rabid croonies, out in the bush, with seething hatred for technology and farming and hunting and language and art. I’d love to watch a series on these fucks trying to survive out in the wilderness without proper protein, trying to do everything without technology. I’d pay every last cent I have to watch that.
There’s a reason there is no such series and why none of them have ever tried it—it cannot be done!
And I bet they fucking know it. That’s why they’re so bloody angry…
But he goes further: he asserts, with a certain Binford, “that no tangible traces of butchering practices indicate a consumption of animal products until the appearance, relatively recent, of anatomically modem humans.” Here they are these goddam Neanderthal, bearers of all the ills. There is nevertheless a problem. As we indicated at first, the knowledge of prehistory rests on discoveries of archaeological sites. I do not know on what Binford relies in order to assert the absence of meat consumption, or more exactly “butchering practices” before such a “recent” date, but there is at least one site, amongst the most well-known and the most ancient (1.8 million years) which would demonstrate the contrary: the site of Olduvai in Northern Tanzania, where remains of the first Homo habilis were discovered between 1953 and 1975, our most distant ancestors, therefore. The remains of an elephant have equally been found mixed with more than 200 tools used for carving-up. One could say that this does not indicate hunting, but maybe a carrion practice, the fact remains nonetheless that carving-up is indeed a “butchering practice”.
On the same site, three skulls of the same species of antelope bearing the same fracture were also found, resulting from a blow struck with the aid of a pebble or a club. This indicates no doubt an already codified practice of slaughtering, following precise rules, and denies in any case the thesis of only an occasional consumption of meat, and even more of a generalised vegetarianism until the appearance of “modern” man.
The debunking has begun—this guy’s doing all my work for me so far. Thanks, you pinko frog bastard!
All the same, on the site of the Vallonnet, discovered in 1962, and going back 950 000 years, the remains of a whale, most likely stranded on a nearby beach, were found, which was dragged to this cave where it was carved up. The first stone tools therefore have not solely and all been used, as is quite evident, to “work with plant matter”. The quotation that the author makes on p.38 in “Future Primitive” of tools earmarked for this use, is thus valid, if it is exact, only in the particular case he quotes, particular case which he attempts, by a classic oratory method, to make out to be a generality.
Our objective in this pamphlet is not to bring debates to a close on prehistory: we have neither the means nor the desire. We simply observe that Zerzan, who is quite aware of the Olduvar site, since he mentions it on p.22 of “Future Primitive” in order to praise the beauty of the Acheulian handaxe, and certainly knows the one from the Vallonnet, purely and simply forgets them when it is a matter of speaking of the theses which do not satisfy him.
When one puts forward a thesis, in archaeology, as elsewhere, it seems evident that one must at least quote, or at least dismantle, the thesis that would contradict the one we put forward. Zerzan ignores the contradiction, or more exactly, he says nothing about it. Not wanting to bring up the contradiction is a current practice of the organised social lie that Zerzan would like to denounce. Using his methods, even with another aim, Zerzan is part of this lie.
One can equally evoke the question of Zerzan’s feminism, and of its projection in the study of prehistory. In order to back up the thesis of the non-sexual division of labour, Zerzan advances firstly the predominance of gathering as, as being “naturally” an activity non-sexually divided. Despite what we have said earlier, the predominance of gathering is more or less certain. We have only made clear that it certainly was not the sole nourishing activity of the first men. But what can we know of the sexual division or not of this task at that time? We can extrapolate from today’s existing hunter-gatherers. But today’s hunter-gatherers are not more “primitive” than we are ourselves. Clearly, they are as much sapiens sapiens as us. All that we can say of the culture of the first men from about two million years ago is that it will be nothing but extrapolations and suppositions. It is as absurd to suppose that the social conditions of these first groups have not evolved in two million years than to speak of “prehistoric man”, as one sole and same species, a unique entity. Let us not even speak of this framework of trying to evoke “the condition of woman” in prehistoric times.
Zerzan also offers us an argument, appealing this time to Joan Gero, saying that “stone tools could have belonged to men as well as being those of women”. Indeed. But this does not signify absolutely that they were. In this case, the most honest thing to do is to say that we know nothing about it. But honesty, as we have seen, is not the principle concern of Zerzan. At the same time, Poirier tells us, there exists “no archaeological proof to back up the theory according to which the first humans have practiced “a sexual division of labour”. That, which for Poirier is nothing but an absence of proof, visibly constitutes one for Zerzan. What emerges simply from all these quotes is that only we cannot say that such a division has ever existed. It is equally possible that women participated in primitive hunts, indeed even children. The problem is that in the absence of archaeological proof, we can say nothing.
As much as I dislike using logic too frequently, I have to here. We can also infer that men were outside a lot longer than were females, and they were scavenging and hunting.
How do we know?
Some basic knowledge of predators and prey helps us along—even today men still have more aspects of their behaviour that harkens back to the days when we absolutely had to hunt to survive. Women don’t have very many of these; they behave more like prey (when danger rears its head, the “fight”—scream or, more rarely used, actually fight back—“flight”—run like hell—or “freeze”—the deer in the headlights—comes heavily into play). Movement, for example, means two things in the natural world—“food” or “threat.” Something moving around can either be eaten or it’s going to try to eat you. With women, they’re more concerned with the threat prospect of movement; it’s been proposed that the eye-sight of women is a lot more like a deer’s eye-sight.
Men are more concerned with the prospect of prey. Why do you think sports is still so goddamned popular? It’s been proposed that men’s eye-sight is more like a lion’s, that we detect potential food better than women do. I wonder why…
Toss a ball to a dog, kick something past a cat, and you’ll see this—it’ll chase it. It’s no different for boys.
Watching a girl and boy play catch once, while I was playing catch also with a girlfriend, I observed something—the boy will naturally chase that ball, get into a position to catch it, anticipating where it will go. He’ll do almost anything to get it.
The girl will watch it fall, standing still, and give the boy crap for not throwing it exactly to her. How dare he make her move!
If you’ve ever played catch with a girl, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Girls just lack certain things that boys seem to inherently possess. The ability to hit a moving target is another—and, like the ball example, it comes down to the intuition we’ve developed out in the wild all those years…
But enough of that for now. Let’s concentrate on inference.
Men were (and are still) bigger, stronger, and had special physiological advantages for dealing with very hostile conditions, situations, and environments. Large bodies hold more heat, generate more energy when moving, which is necessary if you’re outside a lot. Great strength and endurance is required to trek over vast distances of rough, rugged terrain and deal with some pretty large and ferocious predators (lions and other big cats, for example). Men’s bodies were designed by Nature to withstand a helluva lot of punishment—watch a boxing or UFC match, or a football game, sometime. Or read about tales of survival from settlers over the centuries, or stranded ship crews, or soldiers caught behind enemy lines, or fighter or bomber pilots brought down into similarly hostile territory…and you’ll get the idea.
Not to mention that men were (and still are) hairier than women, a fact that hardly escapes any woman today. What does body hair do? Helps keep heat in, sure, but it’s also the warning system for the animal—it makes the skin react when the slightest breeze comes by, or when an insect lands. It increases, adds to, or magnifies the sensory input of an animal outside in a natural environment.
Men have larger brows than women—what is a large brow used for? Shedding rain and blocking sun, preventing forest debris from falling into the eyes, aided by thick bushy eyebrows, as well, of which men have had more of than women. A large brow is there to protect the eyes, basically; you don’t need one if you’re indoors a great deal of the time.
Taller stature. Even a few inches of extra height gives a big advantage when spotting things off in the distance.
A deep voice. I never really thought of this until now, but it also fits. In a realm in which you will hear blood-curdling roars from vicious meat-eating carnivores, it might help if you had a deep voice with which to bellow back now and again, no? Plus, being outside more, your voice must be louder, say, to call a friend a long ways away.
A tiny squeaky voice is just not intimidating, no matter how shrill the scream. Not to say that women’s shrieking isn’t effective; it can be. It’s basically all females seem to have—no matter what happens, a chick will scream first and ask questions later. Literally. This is because little girls do this. Go anywhere and listen to a bunch of kids playing—the garbled mix of voices will be punctured by female screams. It’s how they seem to deal with everything. Surprise, fear, pain, anger, you name it. Unlike most mammals’ young which have some sort of cammo, the human female needed to develop something; the more high pitched the scream, the smaller and more helpless the female.
A man doesn’t need to scream; he knows what to do. This is why boys used to stop squealing as they entered their teen years, when they developed the skills to deal with something using their hands and heads. Women never grew out of this, it appears.
And it’s a pretty clear indication of a defense mechanism of a gender that is not naturally suited for hunting or fighting. Better to shriek, stun the predator or enemy for a moment, and alert the nearby males, who will come running.
But the bonus of this is that small soft voices (talking, not screaming) don’t carry as far, such as a pregnant woman in a shelter speaking to her offspring or sisters or whoever—not as likely to be heard a mile away by a brown bear or cougar.
Not that men were so noisy; it’s already been proven that women today speak over three times as many words per day than men. The strong silent man of few words a few centuries ago (I’m not referring to yappy bitch men in politics; I’m talking real men here) must have spoken even fewer words. And a few thousand years before that, even less words.
Piss. Yes, piss. Urine is “the” territory marker in the natural world, and women are at a severe disadvantage—human male and female piss is different, and a human female alone in the woods cannot mark territory since a large predator, like a bear, will know it’s bullshit. It won’t be respected. It’s missing something that makes it a valid territory marker. Probably testosterone.
Not to mention that menstruation pretty much displays to every predator that she’s a wounded animal…
(When I’m with a chick in the wilderness, I know enough to piss wherever she’s been in order to validate it as an actual territorial border.)
There are probably other bits of evidence, aside from the ancient objects we find, to help illustrate that Man The Hunter has been outside hunting a very long time, and has had to be out there, while Woman was safe and warm indoors. It’s just the way it worked out.
Team work is another example…men are best when working in a team. We can accomplish anything; we can land on the moon.
Imagine a long, long time ago, say, ten thousand years: five men are stalking a buffalo on the plains of Eurasia, maybe using buffalo skins to hide, maybe just fur and using whatever cover was available. Maybe it was elk. Or deer, in a forest. But bigger prey gave the tribe more meat yet required immense team work. Like a pack of wolves hunting caribou, it’s all team work.
Do you honestly think they were gossiping about weather and shoes while doing this? You think women in the safety of the village or camp were staying absolutely still and quiet? Or were they moving around, getting camp chores done, organizing the children to help, talking constantly and trying to manage everything in their vicinity? The latter, obviously. They had the freedom to speak liberally. To chatter and gossip, just like today.
Ever watch a survival type show in which there’s a woman out in the woods? Not even when she really, fucking seriously needs to be quiet can she shut her yap… This is why the Greeks denied women access to certain theater and other events—too noisy.
But hunting is not just about buttoning your lip—you can make certain sounds to attract the attention for whatever reason of your team mate, then make a hand signal once he’s looking at you (watch a military squad in hostile territory, and you’ll see this in action). It’s also about being quiet—wearing things (like how leather used to be worn) that don’t swish and scrap through the brush, watching where you step and how you step, and so on.
Now, even hunters today know to be quiet while hunting. Fucking silence is everything. Women never learned this over the course of evolution and really couldn’t care less.
And fishing? Same bloody thing. Be fucking quiet. Be still. Be patient. And use the Force…
Now, I dunno about you, but I’ve rarely come across any women who possess any substantial degree of patience. I’m not saying it’s something we’re born with; but it is something we develop as we grow into teenagers. And people who get everything they want, are spoiled and coddled, without having to wait much…well, they develop little patience.
Any boys who play sports learn patience—you cannot hog the puck all the time, you have to pass it and wait for what might happen. You may get it right back. Or your buddy could score, or miss. You may be down five-nothing in a baseball game, and that takes a lot of patience to climb your way back into it. Playing other games also develops patience.
School is the only real “lessons” kids learn regarding patience today; but I don’t really think they’re in fact learning as much as they’re tolerating, suffering, through it so they can freak the fuck out afterwards. Going by how little kids develop any degree of an attention span, need to shorten so many words to save time (?), and by how slight their patience really is well into so-called adulthood, it’s hard to believe that they learned much in school…
And, up until a hundred years ago, boys learned how to hunt and fish from their fathers, probably the best lesson in patience known to exist. The best lessons all-around can be learned from just these two activities.
Where are they learning this today? Where and how are they learning anything?
Anyway, Zerzan knows nothing of hunting or fishing, and I’d bet he didn’t play sports, either. At least not team sports—or else he was the nerdy gimp who never got picked for the team and so went home and shoved his face in books and plotted revenge…which might explain some of his hostility towards men (yet I’d bet everything I own that it was about his father; it usually is). However, I’m not here to psychoanalyze the guy. Just rip him an new asshole…with some help from Frenchie.
Men are the dreamers, the mavericks, the comedians, the outlaws, and the outrageous and in-your-face component of humanity. Women’s good sense and practicality balances this—or used to. We’re the original artists and musicians and the fucking crazy buggers who came up with all kinds of screwy ideas over the ages, each of which women pooed all over.
But Zerzan hates art, as well as all technology, obviously knowing all about Man the Artist. Women are good at left-brained art; using their superb motor skills well, they cannot truly create and merely copy. A female surreal artist would be an astounding thing, a rare thing. Most women just work with crafts. Why? Because they’re oppressed? No, because it’s something they’ve always done. Multi-talking (edit: I meant, multi-tasking…heh) and motor skills—and little imagination required. Women were the first manufacturers—making clothes and pots and weaving baskets. Nevertheless, men are the true artists.
Like cooking, women are good at it—although the best at it are men. Because we use creativity, imagination, and intuition—we use our right brains more; we experiment and try new shit out. We don’t just follow a recipe. We don’t ask questions and don’t like following directions; we play to our strengths and figure shit out for ourselves, find out for ourselves and use intuition as a guide, we “use the Force” all the time and are hardly aware of it—that’s the ancient explorer in us. Not all men are better cooks than all women, but the few best chefs are always going to be men.
Like logic—women are better with it in general than men. That is to say they rely on it heavily, since they’re left-brained—using their left brains far more than men do, on average. But the most analytical and logic-driven people who are aces with it are men. A few men are the best with all areas of the mind (but the majority of men are not so good with it), even though all women collectively are far more practical, reasonable, cautious, rational, analytical, and logical than are most men.
As boys, we’d rather be out doing what we’re naturally suited to do—hurling spears around, using our imaginations and creativity, exploring things, playing sports, building forts and treehouses, catching frogs, working on our bikes. No masculine child wants to sit still and be bored to tears with words and paper and shit we just don’t care about. Getting shamed or praised for our behaviour in this tortuous environment, this feminine environment. All to get good grades to make Mom happy.
Boys have a fuck of a lot more trouble in school than do girls. A “patriarchal” education would consist of male elders (not women) teaching boys using experiential learning—doing, not sitting and reading and talking, all the things which are the domain of the left brain.
This is undoubtedly a right-brain/left-brain dominance thing.
What Zerzan would have us believe is that language itself is bad, probably because he believes (hanging around mostly chatty unmanly intellectuals his entire life) men were/are better with it and women were/are the strong silent types. Is it just me or does this sound especially lunatical? He can’t prove it, of course, but he’ll claim it as fact to support his bullshit.
But Truth doesn’t work like that. Men are the quiet ones, the listeners; they had thousands of years of practice out hunting deer and elk and buffalo. Patience, quietness, stillness, listening skills, perception, taking in an environment, sensing it all, and getting tuned into it, connected to it, and they used the ability to size up something quickly and—not thinking—react quickly to deal with it. Problem solving is another trait, but intuition was the biggest by far…
All of these things developed in Man’s brain over a million years. And Woman developed differently; even today women are more communicative (verbally), expressive (verbally), and talkative. How can any honest man say women today don’t talk much? Go anywhere and fucking listen to them! Are you fuckin’ shitting me??
Yes. Yes, they are shitting me, because it’s a fucking lie. And John Zerzan is a fucking liar.
In the framework of his feminism, Zerzan also produces a theory of the reduction of sexual dimorphism, and in particular the decrease in the size of canine teeth in males. He says “the disappearance of the big canine teeth in the male backs up greatly the thesis according to which the female of the species would have operated a selection in favour of “sociable and sharing males”.
But the disappearance of the big canine teeth in no way “backs up” anything of the kind, and even less “probably”. The disappearance of the big canine teeth is the result of a process; it is not there to “back up” anything whatsoever. It is hard to see how the young who “have got their fangs out”‘ would be less ‘sociable and sharing” than the others, and above all, ” being sociable and sharing” would in itself shorten their teeth. Loads of “sociable and sharing” primates still have fangs to this day. But Zerzan tells us it is so because amongst primates, the female “has not got this choice”. One of the results of the liberation of woman in Palaeolithic times would have been to shorten the teeth of young males. It is quite confusing, but this reveals above all the idea that Zerzan, American feminist, has about the “war of the sexes”, and his projection of this idea in the study of prehistory. In passing, and despite once more that our objective is not to discuss archaeological theses, we will simply point out that another thesis commonly accepted considers that the reduction in the size of the dentition at that time is due to the lengthening of the period of childhood and adolescence. The child being thus placed under the protection of adults longer, which permits him to acquire complex technical skills that Palaeolithic industry requires, later meets his needs in matters of food, which enables his dentition to grow more slowly as generations come and go. This theory is as valid as the one of the direct selection by females. But is less spectacular, less feminist, and above all it tends to show that the social organisation in these distant times had already reached such a degree of complexity that something like a specialised apprenticeship might have already become necessary The folkloric thesis of selection by females is thus there to mask the “problem” of a complex socialization frorn the very beginning of humanity.
Not a thing to add there. Go, Frenchie! Go!
At this stage of our analysis of the Zerzan text, one can see clearly that even by dating back humanity to its most ancient representatives, he does not manage, and for a very good reason, to demonstrate the existence of the “good” humanity which he is looking for. Not finding it, he suggests it by different means, essentially of rhetoric nature, and by the dissimulation of information that he unquestionably holds.
We do not say that everything he puts forward is false. We say that he seeks to draw up a uniform picture of the life of prehistoric man, based on a priori and on projections of his own ideology. Which is an essential danger when one studies other cultures, and even more in the case of cultures so remote in time, and on which we have so little information, such as the Palaeolithic culture, namely the danger of projecting one’s own culture onto other peoples, Zerzan sets it up as a method. This inherent tendency of all human sciences, from which no human science will ever be able to rid itself off (man takes himself to be subject of study being equally a subject being part of a culture, and reasoning from it), requires the greatest prudence. The surest way of being wrong in the face of whatever reality is to want at all costs to make it say something. We also do not say that it is forbidden to take risks, nor that you must banish all intuition. A number of great discoveries are the fruit of a first intuition. One can nevertheless, starting from concrete facts, formulate some hypotheses, and if these hypotheses are proven, one can even reach theory. But Zerzan does not reach towards theory, since for him the hypotheses are already the answer. And, by doing that, he is not even “mistaken”. It is worse than that. He deliberately manipulates some information. In a word, he lies, that is to say he wants to deceive others.
The cases that we have studied, the one about hunting and the one about the sexual division of tasks, are finally, nothing but details in Zerzan’s ideology. In “Future Primitive” a thesis is expressed, which one finds in all his articles and truly seems to be the central thesis (cf. “Elements of Refusal”) of his clumsy historical reconstruction. This thesis, he expresses it like this, on p.23 of “Future Primitive”: “It strikes me as plausible that intelligence, informed by the success and satisfactions of a gather-hunter. existence, is the very reason for the pronounced absence of ‘progress’. Division of labour, domestication, symbolic culture – these were evidently refused until very recently.” Once more we can admire the manner in which he uses language, which he denounces elsewhere as an instrument of domination. Once more the hypothesis becomes immediately conclusion. One goes from “it seems plausible” to “evidence”. Between the two, there is nothing, just the point that separates a phrase from another, just the void of a thought that talks a lot of hot air. The sole shade of argument which he gives in order to back up this central thesis, the thesis of the conscious refusal of progress by humanity, namely that 1) the Paleolithic humans were as “intelligent” as us, and thus they had the intellectual means of this progress 2) this progress did not take place, during more than two million years. It is thus, “evidently”, that humans have refused this progress. As one can suspect, things are a bit more complicated that this. Besides it is not necessary to possess detailed knowledge in the field of prehistory to grasp what is nasty in this “reasoning”. It is not so much that the starting point appears to be absurd as that: after all, why not? Only, you ought to be able to prove it. How could we prove this thesis? : simply by archaeological discoveries, and logical reasoning from these discoveries, since we have no other means to prove anything whatsoever about this period.
Everything is as intelligent as it needs to be. We modern humans are such fucking arrogant snobs when considering “intelligence”—which accounts only for the left hemisphere of the brain, in fact.
Nothing is stupid. No creature or being is stupid. The young seem “dumb” because they are inexperienced and ignorant. Only the mentally retarded can honestly be called “stupid”—but they are bloopers in Nature. They’re fucked in the head. In the wild, nothing survives that is retarded, limp, lame, defective. It dies, as it should. No other way to keep the species strong—it’s cruel to be kind. It’s brutal to be strong. It’s a jungle out there, folks. No room for weaklings and defectives. And that’s where predators come in—the retard won’t starve to death. It’ll serve a purpose and help out in the web of life.
Anyway, squirrels cannot “fetch” a ball, like a dog, or understand voice commands; but a dog on a leash will be tangled in no time. A squirrel will never be tangled. Each of them is as intelligent as it needs to be.
The fact that modern humans need to be “so intelligent” just to survive only proves that we are simply defective, inferior forms of life that could not adapt and survive any other way. Our senses—all of them—hearing sight, smell, et cetera—are incredibly inferior to other mammals; our strength, our running ability, our agility, our climbing and swimming ability—all suck total ass when compared to other mammals.
All we have going for us is our big old brains—no wonder we praise them so divinely; it’s all we really got to brag about! We are specialized in left-brain usage, which we call “intelligent,” and we are quick to view with disgust and drum insults into and scoff at anyone or anything that does not meet or criteria for intelligence.
I suppose this must be why so many men today cling to the “men are logical” mantra, despite all the evidence to the contrary. It’s all ego, I know, but as men turn more and more into women in almost every way, losing the physical presence and as are abilities fade, all we really have left is to try to “own” some part of the brain. Hence so many men pig-headedly fixed in the “Logic is ours!” camp.
Most men figure shit out using little to no logic at all—but when they need to explain how they know, especially to women, then they need to stop and think and rationalize and find the words (left brain hemisphere) to describe what they ideated (right brain hemisphere), and they use logic to explain it until it sounds plausible.
But logic typically had little to do with it—it just gets all the credit. The left brain gets all the credit.
It’s all right here.
Anywhat, this smug, almost defensive reaction, we do with greatly regularity and purpose when it comes to “primitive” humans.
But the fact is that they were (and even today still are) actually far superior to us in many, many ways; they had all their full, undiluted senses we do not possess, all the strength and stamina and speed all but the best athletes lack. On top of it all, they had the same brain size (the commonly portrayed plodding oaf of a Neanderthal in fact had a larger brain than we do now); but more telling is the fact that they survived the harshest possible environments and against some pretty staggering odds, as they roamed across Eurasia.
(More importantly, I think, they used and trusted their instincts to a degree that today we’d just call “ESP” or some psychic shit. These “supernatural” abilities we at times face today among humans are tiny sharp edges on an otherwise dull blade. This is how we all used to be—I’m not talking about reading minds or levitating or any of that retarded twaddle; I’m talking about knowing things we could never know using reason and any scientific methodology. There’s no such thing as a “sixth sense;” there’s just ancient perception and intuition that gets absurdly focused in some rare individuals today.)
This alone tells me how bloody smart they were—look what it takes for one human today to survive in the wild (before running joyfully back into the loving arms of Mater, civilization). Odds are she won’t. She’s a twit out there. She’s only functional in the ease and safety and comfort of a city or town, where everything is ordered and controlled; where she’s protected, provided for, and kept away from anything challenging.
This isn’t “intelligence” as I see it; this is infantilization. We’re all smug brats who never grew up, stuck in a play pen until we’re ready to be groomed for corporate slavery.
But, that’s another rant…back to the action.
Thus let us propose a problem. In order to be able to speak of “refusal”, it is necessary that the person concerned or group have knowledge of what they refuse. One only refuses that which is “proposed” to us, that which is presented to us. One can, for example, speak of the refusal of the weaving looms by the English textile workers of 1830. One would thus, in order to speak of the refusal of agriculture and rearing of animals by Paleolithic humans, that these practice which presented themselves to them, would be experimented with by them, then rejected.
Now, through my own research, I’ve seen that many aspects of early farming did spread through mainly trade—almost over the entire globe. More here.
But this agricultural system was obviously rejected, most likely due to strong tribal traditions or hearing about the social decay and enslavement of those who began incorporating bits of it, or both (even today there are still hunter-gatherers about who doggedly refuse to accept modern notions, probably for the same reasons that ancient peoples’ refused). It was force, conquering these peoples, which decided their fates; not choice.
Only the most distant tribes were barely affected or faced a diluted, distorted “product,” which they also rejected.
However, as he is about to get into, when all this started, exactly, and how it all unfolded, is not well known.
One would need thus in order to prove this thesis that a site be found proving that humans had started, at a given time in prehistory, to practice the rearing of animals or agriculture, then had brutally abandoned them to resume their life of hunter-gatherer. One could well speak in this case of “refusal”‘. But for the moment such a site has not been discovered.
There are tribes in Africa that actually were encouraged onto their own land and told to take up farming; they later abandoned it and returned to hunter-gatherer ways. If I recall the name of one of them, I’ll post it. But this has happened—there’s just no concrete proof that it happened twenty thousand years ago.
If it had been, Zerzan would have been eager to point it out, and he would have been right. But it is not the case. In fact, as soon as humans have practiced agriculture or the rearing of animals, they have never gone “backwards”.
No, this is false. There are examples and it did occur—perhaps, as I said, there is no evidence of it in pre-history, but there is in history. So, no, they have gone back.
Plus, the Native North Americans wanted to return to their ways but were not allowed. They can sorta-kinda do it on some reserves now, but it’s not the same—and it’s not nomadic. A nomadic way of life is the most loathed and—in the West—a criminal way of life in modern humanity. You can hardly control and profit from what doesn’t sit in one spot all the time…
We have cases, at the beginning of the Neolithic era, of sedentary humans practising also gathering and hunting, but these groups have afterwards evolved solely towards agriculture, and have not, to our knowledge, destroyed their “permanent” house, abandoned their fields and gone back to their nomadic life. Here is what ought to have been the thought process of Zerzan: from an original hypothesis, to search for concrete elements, articulated in a logical process, allowing it to be confirmed. For as long as no element is there to prove it, a hypothesis is only what it is: a purely theoretical view, which can be fruitful, or on the contrary proves to be inoperative. For the time being, the hypothesis of Zerzan is inoperative. We do not reproach him for having put it forward; we do not say that it will never be proved. We say that it falls within the province of a lying and ideological practice to put forward a hypothesis as “evidence’ whilst there is not a glimmer of proof to back it up.
Zerzan could have also explored another course in order to prove his hypothesis (by the way, it is quite scandalous all the same that we are forced to do this work instead of him). There are regions, even today, where hunter-gatherers mix more or less with settled farmers. One can speak for example of certain Bushmen from Africa, of which some ethnological surveys have revealed that they found agriculture to be “useless or exhausting”. [Ah, here it is. Well done, Frenchie.] There would be thus a “refusal’ with the full knowledge of the facts. However, to our knowledge, these Bushmen themselves have never gone through agriculture, which they would have rejected from “the inside”. One can say thus according to this point of view that they reject herewith, above all, a way of life that is external to their own culture. It is however noteworthy on this subject, that if nomads do not go towards settled people, settled people do not go also towards nomads. What arguments farmers would give to justify their “refusal” of the state of hunter-gatherer? Zerzan would say without doubt that they are already immediately damaged by alienated culture, and that they are incapable of returning to a “good” humanity. That may be so, but we really do not have any means to estimate the degree of alienation of a culture in relation to another one, nor even to know if the concept of alienation is pertinent in this very case. What is striking in this scenario is that groups seem to be “impenetrable” from one another and that the “refusal” of settled people to ‘re-nomadise’ themselves indicates the fact that they “prefer” their own culture rather than adopt a radically different way of life, despite any satisfaction it might give them, individually. Settled culture, once it is formed, is never abandoned, whatever the prejudice endured by the individuals who make up this culture.
As far as masses of people, perhaps—I doubt this, but let’s say “perhaps.” Now, I turn your attention to individuals who abandoned their sedentary culture and hit the fucking road. Not just settlers and explorers coming to the New World from Europe but also modern examples—gypsies, drifters, hermits, mountain men, even bikers can be viewed at least as semi-nomadic. But far more often there are single persons who give it all up and go off alone or try to join a hunter-gatherer clan.
I think Frenchie is showing some bias here; as if he were insulted by the very thought of someone rejecting the way of life he obviously adores. Or it’s as if someone were insulting his mother. Now, I’ve insulted people’s mothers, and I’ve insulted Mater—civilization—in front of people, and I can tell you the reaction is almost the same. To many (most) of us within civilization, it is very much our Mother; it is everything material, how can it not be? The ancient symbol for city or town is this:
And here’s some other female symbols, just for the hell of it…but really because Zerzan hates symbols. Seriously, though, they all came from the first symbol for “city,” which was and still is a female place.
And this one has loads of ‘em all rolled into one mess…
Besides, Zerzan knows this case of the contact between settled groups and hunter-gatherers, since he quotes the example of settled people who resort to the help of hunter-gatherers to pull them through in times of food shortages. However he does not reach any conclusions as to his “refusal” thesis, whether it is a matter of trying to prove it or to call it into question. In fact, Zerzan never draws a single conclusion, since a conclusion is the fruit of reasoning and that he seems to be allergic to all reasoning. He contents himself with quoting the conclusions of others, or at least the conclusions that please him most.
With the passage to the Neolithic one notices a real “revolution”, as it is usual to say. One can equally speak, in a less implied manner, of a gigantic rupture. A way of life, which remained more or less stable, at least in its broad lines, during 2.5 million years, transforms itself brutally in another way of life that, by pursuing its evolution, ends up by becoming radically different. All this was not done naturally in one day, but the rapidity of progression of the Neolithic rupture is, in the face of the slowness” of the Palaeolithic, nearly exponential. Three to four thousand years were enough to generalize it.
Zerzan points out, by quoting Binford that “the question to ask is not why agriculture did not develop everywhere but rather why it developed in the first place.” And this is really the question, to which our ideologue is careful not to try to answer. In order to do so we would need to put to one side the purely negative question of “refusal”, and to start getting into the details when in fact, it is well-known that “the devil lies in the details”, that it to say doubt and difficulties.
The devil’s in the details. Excellent.
Well, in order to answer it we must place ourselves back in that time and understand as much as we can about what was going on. What forces were at play that edged humans from the fully to the semi-nomadic, and then finally into the sedentary.
He can’t answer it because even if he had the answer, he’d never divulge it; it would blow his entire belief system into ruins. He’d have to admit that women were the first farmers, and they ran it all, including the government and religion, which were one under the Goddess; and that men (as worker/slaves) were seduced out or yanked out of the forests, shaved, cleaned, and put into dresses, then forced to work; that boys were raised solely by women now and had no father-son connection to the old hunter tradition of men, and that often these boys were sacrificed to the Goddess, their private parts burned as offerings or their blood drained after castration to enrich the fields and assist fertility (since this was the first religion, the fertility cult), and men were also castrated and turned into sexless effeminate personal servants of royalty, as well as being burned alive in large twig and branch structures called Wicker Men. These types of male sacrifices varied per region.
The bull mostly replaced the boy, and this animal became revered throughout the Middle-East, and even as far away as Spain and North Africa. As well as in India, where it’s sacred even today and not eaten.
It became sacred because it spared the sons who used to be butchered to some female deity.
[Preparing the bull for sacrifice in ancient Israel.]
[This is an image from the Sarcophagus of Ayia Triada, showing a ritual bull sacrifice. “Minoan religion…but it is clear that religion was an important aspect of Minoan life. There were only minor male deities; the goddesses were supreme. It is unclear whether the goddesses represent two or three goddesses or only one with different aspects. There are several distinguishable goddess identities – a goddess associated with animals, sometimes called the Mistress of the Animals, a snake goddess
who typically has snakes wrapped around her arms, a household goddess, and others.”]
He’d have to conclude that it was in fact men who were brutally oppressed until the Flood era (circa 5600 BC), and then everything changed, gradually: kingdoms emerged; polytheism emerged. This was the first civil rights movement, allowing men to take first the throne, as King (see Gilgamesh), and later other positions of power and business, if they were part of the right blood-line. The rest of the men were still slaves. I think this “covenant” was due to the Goddess and women being blamed for the Deluge in Turkey and Mesopotamia, and their entire decadent and despicable culture and system were nearing collapse anyway; people were frantic and desperate, as villages and towns elsewhere were being wiped off the face of the planet by rushing water caused by the Black Sea and Caspian Sea over-flowing.
It’s sketchy, though. Part of this covenant involved the emergence or continuation of the circumcision practice; I suspect it was a replacement, but there’s really no evidence one way or the other, and there is no evidence as to when and where it began. We can only piece some things together and inference it into context.
However, it all makes sense: the female aristocracy was helped by putting a man on the throne—he now assumed responsibility; never again would women in power be held responsible for anything, since they were going to be denied access to those positions of power, left to rule by proxy, as “Shadow Rulers” from their bedrooms. Again, women benefited from this arrangement. Men were still sacrificed, in seasonal wars. Women were not.
If it were women who were conned, forced or shamed into military service and hacked to pieces in battle, year after year, century after century, millennia after millennia, all over the world, for the last nine thousand years at least…we’d never stop hearing from feminists screaming about this horrific and systematic slaughter of only one gender—gynocide? But since it was technically androcide, nobody cares.
In short, Zerzan would have to admit a lot, the most damning of which being that agriculture is a female system and always has been, and thus civilization is also a female system, and feminine in essence and character and form. And this leads into the fact that Nature itself is not feminine but overwhelmingly masculine in essence and character and form. There are some small feminine characteristics of a tree, but it is hugely masculine as a whole. (Just look at its function, nevermind its phallic form; the object of a tree, ultimately, and spread seeds, which find fertile ground and sprout; the object of a penis, ultimately, is to rise up and inject semen into the female in order to fertilize an egg. It’s still spreading seeds, many, many seeds that look for one massive fertile location to become new life.
It’s not that a tree or a stem of grass is like our dicks; it is the opposite. All that came before mammals, and that masculine function became part of mammalian design in mammals, and, later, us.)
And this would devastate his vegetarian non-violent utopian ‘Mommy Nature’ dream for the future, and the past. His entire belief system would be upside down—since, no, it’s not the fault of men that civilization existed and became what it is today. It’s women’s fault. Women and their mangina servants, the Apollo who serves female values and enforces female memes, Mommy’s Little Soldiers, defending her farm.
He will never admit any of this; no feminist would. It’s heresy. Blasphemy. Memetic infections formed out of lies can never let Truth enter; it is not welcome.
One ought to start speaking of the climatic factors, of demography, of the very structure of pre-Neolithic societies, and of a heap of other things not too poetic. It is to be noted all the same that the passage to the Neolithic era remains quite mysterious in the current state of knowledge. There are as usual, only theories. There is the theory of a climatic change having modified profoundly the human environment, which would have driven humans to adapt by practicing agriculture. One can oppose to this theory the fact that during 3 million years, there have been enough climatic changes of this kind to permit about fifteen Neolithic revolutions”, which have however evidently not taken place.
On the relations of man and his environment, we have here interesting elements. As early as the middle Acheulian era (between 400 000 and 300 000 years ago), at the boundary between erectus and archaic sapiens during the Riss glaciations, one observes the same progression in the size of tools (the famous Acheulian handaxe which Zerzan speaks highly about), whether it is in Europe, Africa, or the Near East. This signifies therefore that we have here a similar culture, which evolves, at least in its technical aspect, independently from the constraints of the natural environment.
The much-vaunted “harmony with nature” is thus seriously put in question. The natural environment seems in fact to act very little on Palaeolithic cultures, even if these cultures do not yet bring pressure to bear massively, as with during the Neolithic, on the natural environment. But “rupture”, at least in an underlying way, is more or less sealed. That is to say that human evolution is more conditioned from the start by its own social structures than by the influence on the natural environment.
It is equally interesting to note that in this framework, the ideas of Marx on the “mastery of nature” which have contributed to the foundation of the progressive ideology of the old workers’ movement, are equally called into question, but in a different manner than Zerzan’s. The domination of nature is not inscribed in the destiny of human societies. When men carve tools, they do not seek to master “inert matter”, but to produce that which their societies need. They do not seek straightaway to master the natural environment which they found as it was during the entire Paleolithic era, that does not mean that they were more in “harmony” with it than later with the rearing of animals and agriculture. One could say almost that the “natural milieu” does not exist for human societies, if one was not afraid of lapsing into an extrapolation A la Zerzan. Human societies seem in any case to aim more to their own conservation, to the upholding of their own structures, than to the domination of the surrounding environment. What took place during the Neolithic era, is that the conservation of the social structures went through the domination of the natural environment, domination that brought about in turn the creation of new structures. This domination was not therefore the aim of humanity (its “historical task” like the one of the proletariat would be of making the revolution), but the consequence of a new socialization.
True. Using a tool is something many animals do; chimps use and form smooth twigs to coax out ants or termites, and some monkeys use special rocks in an ancient stone area to crack a certain type of nut. And these creatures are “in harmony” with their environment. Tool creation, hunting implements, and their usage do not indicate anything in terms of some urge to “dominate”—but, rather, simply survive.
What matters more is what were they used for? Tools made and used for farming might be viewed thusly; tools made and used to clear large areas of tree, also. One could say that a gun has one purpose—to kill—but there are types of guns. Handguns cannot be used for hunting—only for a human person, up close. Not many things in nature let you get so close. Rifles can be used to hunt just about anything. Is a rifle a tool made to dominate or is a handgun? Or is it neither?
Neither, I says. The use itself indicates intent. Even a pencil can kill if the intent and strength is there. You can use a large raven feather to poke someone’s eye out—something soft and fragile employed with malicious intent to maim and cause injury, suffering. That feather was not evil before it was employed as an implement to do evil. And even then, it’s not evil; the intent of the person who used it was…
According to this theory, the passage from the Neolithic period thus would neither be an adaptation to the constraints of the environment, nor, as Zerzan seems to suggest it – a kind of conspiracy of the Spirit of Domination against the Spirit of Freedom, but a mutation linked to a modification of social structure itself to what can we attribute this modification? The most probable factor is an internal social factor but also a “natural” one (although one could seriously discuss the “natural” aspect of this factor for human societies), namely the demographic increase.
It is known that the societies of hunter-gatherers, when the internal tensions or the pressure on the environment become too great, “split-up” to form another group. One can imagine that at this given time, demography, having become too important in order to allow this “split”, the process of settlement then imposed itself as the best possible solution. One would have here, with the construction of “permanent’ houses, the first appearance of “private” spaces, which allow the tensions within the group to be limited without however having recourse to a “split”, which had become problematic.
This thesis implies that humans initially were settled, and would have practiced much later the rearing of animals and agriculture. One can back it up archaeologically thanks to the Natoufian sites, in the region of Syria-Palestine, which date back to about 10 000 years, thus at the very beginning of the Neolithic period. The Natoufians used to build permanent houses, but did not practice, at least at the beginning of their settlement, neither agriculture nor the rearing of animals. In fact they still had recourse essentially to gathering and to a lesser degree hunting. But the village had become their essential anchoring point. They were still hunter-gatherers, but settled. And as they nourished themselves essentially with wild cereals, one can suppose that it is the stocking of these seeds in fixed premises that made agriculture possible. One can equally think that a village of this kind must have drawn on all sorts of animals, some of which maybe progressively domesticated themselves.
Yes. This is a subject which has deeply interested me for many years, and has driven me to explore sources and books and do research and think and write and think some more, for months on end…all to answer the question: how did agriculture begin, and why? Why especially.
It simply is not known. There are fragmented specks of some evidence of this or that, but it’s all unclear. The answer is lost in time. All that remains is speculation. It was either intentional, meaning that children were no longer initiated into the male hunter group, probably because the men had all been killed in some fight somewhere (the Greek historian Herodotus found evidence that this happened once, in Scythia, near the Black Sea; the men were off for a couple decades, fighting an Eastern invader, and when they returned, the women, having fucked their salves and raised those boys themselves into workers (farmers) and soldiers, had their sons fight the strange men returning and they killed them all—this seems to be one of the slight scraps of evidence supporting the old Amazon women myth).
Or else it happened naturally, as a result of climate and overhunting due to population increases. Or something else.
It doesn’t matter any longer to me. It’s now just trivia. Gathering became full time and hunting was phased out; for whatever reasons, the hunters were edged out of the hunter-gatherer social structure (in only that region) and a female way of life emerged, becoming the template for all societies to come, right up until present day. And the masculine memes became an endangered species in the modern human consciousness.
However that may be, this type of site seems to confirm the thesis of settlement initiated by the modification of certain social structures, a “revolution” brought about by the danger incurred by human societies for not being able to reproduce previous socialization. Paradoxically, one could say that the Neolithic period appeared because of the attempt by Paleolithic society to safeguard itself The Neolithic revolution was first the instrument of this new socialization, which would bring about the consequences that we know.
However that may be, we are in this model and it is worth what it is worth but which presents, all the same, the advantage of being able to be proven really far away from Zerzan’s thesis of “refusal”.
We are going to leave “Future Primitive” to concern ourselves quickly with the other collection of articles by Zerzan, “Elements of Refusal”. The ideology of Zerzan is essentially based on the conception that he imagines of the early time of humanity. We have proven quite clearly that this conception was biased, partial, and that the central thesis of “refusal” rested on nothing. In this case, what remains of “Future Primitive”? Not much. Almost everything in it is set out in the book of Marshall Sahlin’s “Stone age Economics”. One will gain more by reading it. To take apart “Future Primitive” there was no need to be a specialist of prehistory, or anything else for that matter. Without much preliminary knowledge, a week’s work, a bit of logic, and a sole book of reference, “l’Introduction a la Prehistoire” by G. Camps, accompanied by “Dictionnaire de la Prehistoire” by Leroi-Gourhan, was enough for us. Anyone else could have done it. Zerzan has in all likelihood bet on the fact that no one would do it. That is to say he bet on the ignorance and the lack of curiosity of his readers. He has essentially bet on the fact that his word would be believed. This attitude falls within the lowest realm of propaganda.
Right on, Frenchie.
Well, that does it for me. I was going to do two more parts, since Frenchie-Commie guy there goes on and on for a while, really tearing Zerzan a new asshole. Read the whole thing here.
But why should I? I’m satisfied and it’s long enough. Now I can get on with my life without feeling guilty or having anything unresolved regarding this twat.
Here is another essay-ish deal on the same subject of Zerzan and his Green Bolshevists.
Good work, Frenchie…you helped me despite having questionable motives and dubious beliefs…
I am now at peace. Thank you.