John Zerzan

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Anarchism is the attempt to look even into those parts of our everyday lives we accept as givens, as part of the universe, to see how they, too, dominate us or facilitate our domination over others... Most fundamentally, I would see Anarchism as a synonym for anti-authoritarianism.

John Zerzan (born 1943) is an American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author.

Quotes[edit]

If we once — and for so long — lived in balance with nature and each other, we should be able to do so again. The catastrophe that’s overtaking us has deep roots, but our previous state of natural anarchy reaches much further into our shared history.
  • If we once — and for so long — lived in balance with nature and each other, we should be able to do so again. The catastrophe that’s overtaking us has deep roots, but our previous state of natural anarchy reaches much further into our shared history.
    • "Whose Future?", from the book Take My Advice : Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two (2007) by James L. Harmon

Elements of Refusal (1988)[edit]

  • Agriculture has been and remains a “catastrophe” at all levels, the one which underpins the entire material and spiritual culture of alienation now destroying us. Liberation is impossible without its dissolution
  • Domestication involved the initiation of production, vastly increased divisions of labor, and the completed foundations of social stratification. This amounted to an epochal mutation both in the character of human existence and its development, clouding the latter with ever more violence and work.
  • Logically, humanity itself will also become a domesticate of this order as the world of production processes us as much as it degrades and deforms every other natural system.
  • The process of transforming all direct experience into the supreme symbolic expression, language, monopolizes life. Like ideology, language conceals and justifies, compelling us to suspend our doubts about its claim to validity. It is the root of civilization, the dynamic code of civilization's alienated nature. As the paradigm of ideology, language stands behind all of the massive legitimation necessary to hold civilization together. It remains for us to clarify what forms of nascent domination engendered this justification, made language necessary as basic means of repression
  • Everyone can feel the nothingness, the void, just beneath the surface of everyday routines and securities.

Future Primitive and Other Essays (1994)[edit]

  • Never before have people been so infantalized, made so dependant on the machine for everything; as the earth rapidly approaches its extinction due to technology, our souls are shrunk and flattened by its pervasive rule. Any sense of wholeness and freedom can only return by the undoing of the massive division of labour at the heart of technological progress. This is the liberatory project in all its depth.
  • We can either passively continue on the road to utter domestication and destruction or turn in the direction of joyful upheaval, passionate and feral embrace of wildness and life that aims at dancing on the ruins of clocks, computers and that failure of imagination and will called work. Can we justify our lives by anything less than such a politics of rage and dreams?

Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization (2002)[edit]

  • Anarchism is the attempt to eradicate domination. This includes not only such obvious forms as the nation-state, with its routine use of violence and the force of law, and the corporation, with its institutionalized irresponsibility, but also such internalized forms as patriarchy, racism, homophobia. Also it is the attempt to expose the ways our philosophy, religion, economics, and other ideological constructions perform their primary function, which is to rationalize or naturalize — make seem natural — the domination that pervades our way of life: the destruction of the natural world or of indigenous peoples, for example, comes not from the result of decisions actively made and actions pursued, but instead, so we convince ourselves, as a manifestation of Darwinian selection, or God's will, or economic exigency. Beyond that, Anarchism is the attempt to look even into those parts of our everyday lives we accept as givens, as part of the universe, to see how they, too, dominate us or facilitate our domination over others... Most fundamentally, I would see Anarchism as a synonym for anti-authoritarianism.
  • Culture has lead us to betray our own aboriginal spirit and wholeness, into an ever-worsening realm of synthetic, isolating, impoverishing estrangement. Which is not to say that there are no more everyday pleasures, without which we would loose our humanness. But as our plight deepens, we glimpse how much must be erased for our redemption.
  • Considering that our culture invented napalm and nuclear weapons, I'm not sure we're in a position to judge the smaller scale violence of other cultures. But it's important to note that none of the cannibal or headhunting groups were true hunter-gatherers. They had already begun to use agriculture. It is now generally conceded that agriculture usually leads ot a rise in labor, a decrease in sharing, an increase in violence, and a shorter life expectancy. This is not to say that all agricultural societies are violent, but rather that violence is by and large not characteristic of true hunter-gatherers.
  • There's been a revolution in the fields of anthropology and archaeology over the past thirty years, and increasingly people are coming to understand that life before agriculture and domestication — of animals and ourselves — was in fact largely one of leisure, intimacy with nature, sensual wisdom, gender equality, and health.
  • You hear people say that all the time: "You can't put the genie back in the bottle"; "you're asking people to forget." But that's just another attempt to rationalize craziness by calling it human nature. And it's a variant of the old racist intelligence theory: because the Hopi didn't invent backhoes, they must not be curious. Sure, people are naturally curious but about what? Would you or I aspire to create the neutron bomb? Of course not. But the fact that I don't want to create a neutron bomb doesn't mean I'm not curious. Curiosity is not value-free. Certain types of curiosity arise from certain mindsets, and our culture's curiosity follows the logic of alienation not simple wonder, or the desire to learn.
  • Division of labor is central to our way of life. Each person must perform as a tiny cog in a big machine. If, on the other hand, your primary goal is wholeness, egalitarianism, autonomy, and an intact world, then there's quite a lot wrong with it.

External links[edit]

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