Saturday, July 9, 2016

BAGR1: The Ferguson Insurrection

From Black and Green Review no 1.

The Ferguson Insurrection

The execution of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18 year old, by a white police officer on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, MO, was sadly not an anomaly. The response, however, has been.
         Within hours, the streets had filled up and shortly after, businesses were in flames. And every night for weeks, it happened again. Each night spreading wider and farther.
         The confluence of systemic racism and the feeble-minded, infantile bullying mentality of those drawn into the police force unsurprisingly creates volatile and deadly situations. Time after time, police murders occur with regularity and largely without consequence. The explosiveness of the murder of Michael Brown doesn’t arise from the particulars, but from the sheer crushing weight of this reality. That fragile boundary between the threat of state power and coercion burst and the rage flooded.
         And while that rage has waned, it hasn’t died. Coiled and ready to strike, the rage boils just beneath the surface.
         While this unrest has been called many things, it should be referred to by what it has proven itself to be: the Ferguson Insurrection.

The Promise of the Insurrection

The promise of this insurrection lies in the fact that while many groups have tried to own or direct that rage, none has succeeded. Solidarity demonstrations have shut down mass transit in major cities, but attempts to curb property destruction have faltered. Riots have broken out with regularity and fervor in an ephemeral response.
         What we have been seeing is pure rage.
         We are seeing a crack in the veneer of a proscribed social contract that we were born into. We are seeing mythos that goes back to the origins of property and the external boundaries inherent to sedentary societies amplified as domestication intensifies. States are built on the lie that we cannot exist without their structures and defense. From the armies of Mesopotamia to the police of Ferguson, MO, this is the tie that binds.
         The rallying cry throughout this insurrection remains simple: no more. No more will these communities sit idly by as the pigs target, harass and kill. Some seek reform, some seek justice, but the overarching theme is that the attempts to suppress rage will no longer work. Complicity is no longer an option.
         It would be an absolute stretch to pretend that there was widespread thinking about the relationship between this insurrection and the nature of domestication. It is not my place nor any one else’s to attempt to own this insurrection through critique and reporting. Nevertheless, the base complicity with the law is an essential part of the domestication process. Conscious or not, the refusal to accept the legitimacy of state power nor to succumb to the mounting threats of an increasingly militarized police force is, on some level, a breakdown in that process.
         This insurrection, like all insurrections, doesn’t hold answers. Even if it does not seek them, there can be no divorce from the reality that people need to eat. Societies must not only attack the state, but move beyond it. Until that step is taken, the fate of those attacking is fully interwoven with the very society under fire.
         Yet the rage still pours out.
         And that’s where the beauty of this insurrection lies: it exemplifies the limits at which the domesticated begin to bite back. Context always matters, but it is the erosion of social control that exposes the possibilities that the infallibility and inevitability of power is a lie. Plain and simple, this is what it looks like when people hit their limits.
         It is this rage that has been the final blow to civilizations past, present and future. Anthropologist and historian Joseph Tainter famously observed that the apex of collapse is the point of diminishing returns. That’s an economic positioning, but it holds true for all social, ecological and psychological aspects of life. If giving your life to serving civilization has only ever been met with systemic poverty, being antagonized by police and being a talking point for religious and political figure heads, then where is that return? Why take it?
         In this case, as in many others, this isn’t a proverbial or rhetorical question. If you’re penned up, bullied, and killed by a state that is doing you no favors, how much worse can it be once they are destroyed? The immediacy is telling. This is the response of the human spirit, the human animal. This is the fox chewing at its leg after being snared in a steel trap.
         There’s a part of the mind saying over and over again: we don’t need this. And the façade, fortunately, is flammable.

The Limits of the Insurrection

The problem with this insurrection, as with any really, is that it becomes a reified. Community leaders, that is say the would-be politicians (even the anarchist ones), eagerly champion the perceived cause, often in defiance of the words and anger coming from the streets. Rage is rarely owned by any one position, but that won’t stop the professionals from navigating it.
         We see this over and over again.
         Liberals want to right the wrongs through reform. Conservatives want to demonize and ghettoize populations. Both will do so while bolstering the overall power of their militarized arm: resulting in military grade weaponry (tanks were a common sight in Ferguson), seeking body cameras (rarely if ever helping victims, but often used to identify and prosecute “suspects”), and allowing space to deflect the “trauma of the job” onto management rather than focusing on the pig mentality and logic itself.
         That last point can’t be overstated. Being over 13 years deep into oil wars, we’re talking about a high number of PTSD-fueled jarheads flooding the police and private security sectors (the private security world, by the way, is the refuge of the discharged police). So while it’s easy to look at the increase in police violence simply as documented by an increase in cameras and social networks to share videos, that’s missing the point that this increased hostility can only be a fraction of the interactions and incidences that these former-soldiers were displaying overseas. This is a context that has not only been ignored completely, but one where grievances have been hastily suppressed.
         The insurrection at home is a part of the global response to the globalized reign of techno-industrial civilization. It’s just the part that we’re seeing. But to separate this reality from the Arab Spring or uprisings throughout the world is to buy this same lie.
         So as the well intentioned try to bring both sides to the table, they’re really only ever-taking one: the furthering of state power and, at best, a relaxation of the barbed-wire fences.
         The lack of a cohesive narrative apparent in what is an outpouring of rage lends itself to outside narration. This is especially true as our “user-generated content” society wants a Spectacle. We’re programmed to want a smooth story arch. If anger in the streets is simply saying, “we have had enough”, the sidelines are booming with a way to finish that sentence. The vacuum of power is an implicit presumption that we create to remove that rage and contextualize our external discussions.
         The limitation of insurrection is the potential that it will die out through mediation. That is the goal of so many groups, religions, and states. That is the goal of domestication: to control the human being through diversion and redirection of impulses.
         This insurrection continues to show its promise in its persistence and instinctuality. We can only hope that the narratives of ownership and compromise fail to take root. So that they won’t die off in textbooks, prison cells, and Twitter feeds. This may not bring the end of civilization in and of itself, but it is a testament to the refusal of complicity necessary to continue its existence.
         This may not be the final blow, but it is certainly a death rattle.
         Alas, as the ability of civilization to carry on requires complete subservience, may the insurrection never die.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

BAGR3: Opening Editorial - John Zerzan

From Black and Green Review no 3.
Inaugurated only last year, the focus of BAGR seems already in need of adjustment. Kevin Tucker’s “Opening Editorial” announced that the Review would emphasize the promotion of critique and discussion within the anarchist milieu. That milieu, sadly enough, now appears undeserving of much attention.
         A few years back, around Occupy time, 2011-2012, various voices proclaimed the ascendancy of anarchism. Its time has come, now is the opening to anarchism, etc. This has not blossomed into anything, and Occupy is one place to explore this failure.
         The spontaneous outburst of Occupy energy was aimed at the excesses of capitalism. Even when militant, which was rare, it only amounted to more leftism. Occupy Oakland was its high point and anarchists were quite active there, but, fatally it seems, failed to add content to the Occupy energy. Supposedly post-Left and even anti-civilization, Bay Area anarchists apparently provided no voices along these lines.
         A potential turning point of Occupy would have been, for starters, to rechristen it De-Occupy. But that would have constituted an actual turn away from the Left, in favor of waking up to the indigenous dimension, and how very much could be found there. Anarchists largely voted with the (rest of) the Left to reject such a proposed name change, having been easily fronted off by a few identity politics thugs who wanted to be in charge of the De-Occupy (or “De-Colonize”) position. Our post-Left anarchists gave no voice to that outlook overall and when Occupy fizzled out were left with the hangover of their non-presence. Even now, it seems, little insight and even less energy can be seen. A persisting postmodern haze prevails, where egoists and nihilists compete to now even deny that reality is knowable. How this is anarchist at all escapes me. It more resembles the insular scenes of cynical hipsters, offering no analysis, no inspiration.
         The very ambitious To Change Everything tour in fall 2015 was a Crimethinc. production, involving speakers from various continents. Civilization, domestication, mass society, industrialism, and other institutions foundational to our immiseration and the systematic environmental devastation were never mentioned.
         On the other hand, there certainly are those who confront the nature of things, how we got here. And put such concerns into practice, such as anarchists in British Columbia and Arizona who’ve striven to be “accomplices not allies” to Native people whose ties to the land have not been broken after all they’ve had to endure, who still resist. The DOA (Dine-O’odham-Anarchist) black bloc, Phoenix 2010, was one instance among many of collaboration in Arizona. Others find a helpful challenge in anarcho-primitivist ideas in lots of places, a phenomenon that seems to be steadily gaining ground. An indirect testimony along these lines is the Black Seed zine, which feels the need to call itself the successor to Green Anarchy, even though its overall agenda is egoist-nihilist-postmodern.

         Many things are at a low ebb these days and we don’t have a real clear picture of where the anarchist milieu is at. It is clear that everything’s at stake and that we are not interested in in-group parlor games. Anarchy seemed promising pretty recently, but lately too much of it has almost no bearing on what is going down, little interest in that, and not much relevant to offer. The conversation about technology, for example, is apparently ignored by anarchism. We are anarchists and in no way are we shutting the door on anarchists. But a mammoth challenge faces us all, so we haven’t time to waste.

BAGR2: Opening Editorial - Kevin Tucker

From Black and Green Review no 2.

Sometimes green isn’t always good.
         The weather around me has been unpredictable at best throughout the spring and summer of this year. That is unquestionably a part of the larger destabilization of weather patterns that we’ve seen mounting since agriculture and industrialism arose. But we are now in overdrive.
         The spring rains barely came. Foliage was both stunted and delayed or, in some cases, seemingly non-existent. Drought like conditions in the Northeastern United States might have missed the headlines, but it was only because they were eclipsed by raging wildfires along the West Coast, a burning boreal forest, and prolonged, epic drought, not surprisingly, preceding the fires. Not making headlines, however, doesn’t change the reality on the ground.
         Decreasing winter snow pack, irregular precipitation, storms that are more abrupt and forceful simply run off of parched, denuded lands; bodies of water become isolated and their flows disrupted. Deprived of rain, ponds, creeks, and lakes wane. This spring I witnessed many of them vanish.
         Riparian ecology is relatively delicate. The symbiotic relationships surrounding them are tightly wound around what is essentially an ecosystem in fragments: a balance based on movement, on flowing water, on the slow and continual nourishment of constant replenishment at times seeming to go on forever. Stagnancy brings demise.
         When you look across the late summer fields, it has become a sea of green and often overheated amber. Cattails are gone. The songs of green frogs are muted. The sight of elder snapping turtles becomes increasingly rare. The water has largely vanished, overgrown with grasses. The landscape where water had spent decades crossing the soil just looks like divots without causation.
         The majority of the human body is comprised of water. It is our lifeblood. It allows us to live. But it is more than that. Water, in its existence and movement, is a reflection of ourselves: it thrives in flowing movement. It is the embodiment of resilience: water will always strive to find a way to get where it needs to be. Hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding, and even mold are all evidence of this. Water is a force to be reckoned with.
         Like water, our resilience comes from movement. Our patterns leave room for change and degrees of deviation, but there are certainties as well; without rain, the waters stagnate. Patterns can shift, but patterns must remain.
         Things are heating up, both literally and figuratively. Water is a resource that we largely take for granted. Yet much of the world wars over water rights without delusion. Drought adds kindling to areas already torn by oil wars. Food scarcity and rising food costs echo into political and social uprisings. Segments of the Earth are torn by increasing political instability and the unilateral response of military force has not nor will not resolve those tensions. This couldn’t be any clearer than the current flood of Syrian refugees as they move through Europe.
         These are refugees of an instable and unsustainable climate. As goes the ecological climate, so goes the political and social ones. Tensions will continue to mount. Socio-political infrastructures will tighten their grip to attempt to divert the uncontrollable. The wildness of our body and spirit flows. Like water, it will find a way. Dams will burst. Barriers will fall and paths will divert.
         What we have learned from the story of the human being is that our being lies in and was carved by our resiliency. The lifeway of the nomadic hunter-gatherer is etched into our biology, into our minds. Like all wild beings, we are able to adapt, sometimes to a fault. But there are limits. We need movement, we need flow, and we need ecological sanity.
         If we can say anything of certainty about the crises that we now face it is that we live in uncertain times. But there’s a catch to that. We still have something. We have knowledge about how humans have thrived, about conditions under which humans have suffered, about the systems that have stilled our movements and built barriers. The wildness that has always guided our paths remains. Even if buried and misdirected, our resiliency still struggles.
        
The landscape of Modernity leaves little room for optimism. In light of the universality of the crises that we face, hope seems like the last vestige of naivety. And it certainly can be. But the history of civilization has its counter-narratives in struggles against it. As John Zerzan points out in the title essay of his new book, Why Hope? The Stand Against Civilization (out now from Feral House), hope can stand against all reason: “it is possible. Our overcoming the disease of civilization is in no way guaranteed, obviously, but clearly it is possible.” (Pg 134)
         In uncertain times, the only certainty is that stagnancy assures death. We need movement. The hyper-domesticated technological vortex that we are continually drawn into bolsters our barrier. It allows us to feel removed from consequence, to feel as though we can have our critiques and that is enough. As society turns further towards technology, using social networks for our interactions, our stagnancy turns into rot. Our continued usage of these predatory platforms confirms our complacency.
         Black and Green Review, to me, represents an attempt to reground the green anarchist, anarcho-primitivist, and anti-civilization milieu in movement. We don’t just need the discussions, we need to have them in ways that matter. The reason we focused so heavily on technology in the first issue is that it is the elephant in the room. Until we begin addressing the neurological and social effects of the Interface Revolution, then no discussion can cut through those levels of entrenched domestication. It simply became impossible to address what has happened to this milieu and to further these critiques without drawing that out first.
         The response has been good, but the response has been slow. These aren’t the times to get a physical publication up and running as even long-standing publications like Earth First! Journal are finding themselves raising printing costs with every issue. The medium that predominates offers immediate gratification, the ability to just click, like, share and comment on the most radical article of the minute without consequence. And, as we discussed repeatedly in issue one of BAGR, those things are all happening without absorption.
         It is the thoughtless integration of technology into our lives that shows its power. We live in the era of overwhelming distraction. It is easy to go along with it. In many ways, to exit the social networks is to cut yourself off from friends and family. But we need to understand that having a critique of technology, of civilization, does not make any of us exempt from its implications.
         And so we are trying to rebuild and expand on where things were. Hark back to recent memory when the discussion on pages was followed with campfires and burning infrastructure. We have a hurdle before us, but we have to find our way back to that place.
         I have heard that BAGR has helped some of those conversations again. I’ve been part of some great ones myself. I’ve heard from old friends and taken part in long standing arguments. I hear rumblings. Things might be moving slow, but good things often do. It takes a lot of work, it might not lead us to where we need to go, but I know nothing different than to continue that struggle and to push in this direction.
         In dismal times like these, it is projects like this, and, more importantly, the conversations and connections that result from them that give me a reason for hope. Given time, civilization will collapse under its own weight. That process has already begun. But every bit of resistance brings that time closer.
         And I welcome it with loaded arms.

This issue deals with numerous topics, but what you see in these pages is the result of many of those conversations that I mentioned. The editorial processes behind Black and Green Review are arduous. In order to have these discussions, to push this critique and to develop praxis, we need to continually challenge each other and ourselves. Behind these essays are in depth and often contentious discussion about things like the nature of symbolic thought, the consequences of delayed return in minutiae during the Upper Paleolithic, the depths of interspecies communication, and the biological implications of being a wild being stuck in Modernity.
         As an editor, I take pride in the level of energy that the other editors have brought on board. It has taken a lot of work pulling this together, but I hope that you will find something in it that resonates or causes a response. These aren’t easy discussions, but they are necessary ones.
         I’d like to formally welcome John Zerzan and Evan Cestari on as editors. Both have been vital since the inception of this project and, in many ways, I see BAGR as the response to discussions that John and I had been having since the last issue of Green Anarchy came out.
         In addition, Four Legged Human’s ‘Written in Stone’ is in part a response to Cliff Hayes’ ‘Stone Tools and Symbolic Thought’, but unquestionably belongs in the essays section.
         We hope that what we’ve put together for you will inspire and incite. And we thoroughly welcome response.

For wildness and anarchy,

Kevin Tucker

BAGR1: Opening Editorial - Kevin Tucker

Opening editorial from Black and Green Review no 1.


It’s now been 7 years since the final issue of Green Anarchy (US), roughly a decade since the final Green Anarchist (UK), 10 years since an issue of Species Traitor has come out, and 8 years since the last Black and Green Gathering. While claims that anarcho-primitivism (AP) and radical anti-civilization green anarchism (GA) are dead are wildly false, things have been awfully silent.
      Meanwhile the economy has collapsed into multiple recessions. The resource wars that started in the beginning of this millennium are just now starting to “officially” end while new ones ignite. Far worse post-Peak Energy production methods have reigned supreme. The programmers have found untold new means to weave themselves into our pockets and “communities”.  Climate instability worsens as storms grow larger and more erratic while droughts stretch longer and farther. Portions of the globe have gone aflame in social upheaval.
      The past 9 years have literally been a slew of headlines that would appear to be an AP checklist for the collapse.
      So what the happened?
     
Context always matters.
      Just a decade ago, the AP/GA milieu, alongside the wider earth and animal liberation struggles, had a tremendous fire blazing. Even when repression hit home, there were discussions, actions, and a semblance of community forming in the furnace of civilization’s dying flames. Our critiques were unfolding before us as tensions were mounting.
      But then came the silence.
      Close to 10 years of it. What was building with force was now trickling. Outside of John Zerzan’s steadfast and committed drive (always praiseworthy), the lion’s share of this milieu went quiet. Magazines and collectives folded and events lost their rhythms. Bloggers tried to co-opt and market our critiques in consumable packages. Nihilistic and individualistic strands retook anarchist discussions. Then social networking came in and flooded out the ground to stand on.
      Despite everything that had happened from the time of Reclaim the Streets in Eugene, Oregon in 1999 till the mid-2000s, all the repression, all the harassment, all the imprisonment, all the threats; it almost seems as if the Green Scare (a massive government breakdown on earth and animal liberation activists) got the best of us. Prisoner support groups had to abruptly end as our warriors turned into informants. Our friends faced multiple decades of imprisonment either for crimes without injury or tacit agreement that action is required.
      The very act of thinking about liberation was increasingly criminalized and targeted. Security culture, it seemed, had failed and we now longer knew where things would fall.
      I’m not pointing fingers.
      I am one of those who pulled back under the increasing repression. Most of my friends did the same, even those who weren’t legally required to do so. At times it almost felt like paralysis: watching all of the events that we predicted unfold. Seeing the worst of scenarios just playing out in a sea of systemized brutality, seeing children fear the empty skies and the drones they would bring, seeing the fracking and tar sands bubbles destroy places that we loved, seeing the community that we once belonged to fall into faceless squabbles and posturing, seeing eco-liberals discover socialist revolutionary text to try and skim the well-intentioned among us off as cannon fodder. Seeing the seasons wane and the tides rise. Seeing the sixth great extinction loom nearer.
      Sometimes being right is the worst feeling in the world.
      Many of us became spectators of a world, our world, turning towards the worst end possible.
      Nothing has changed.
      All of these things are unfolding with speed and the anarchist imagination to understand and challenge it shrinks into obscurity. The plague of social networking removes our ability to recognize experience as we fall into a post-modern place where time becomes an eternal now without presence and the ability of our minds to process information is lost as we offset cognitive functions to increasingly personalized machines.
      We are still targets of the state: as we were, as we are, as we will be, but the silence must end. I can’t stomach watching this song and dance and only tossing insults from the balcony any longer.
      I know I’m not alone in this, but this publication is a step. Hopefully the first of many to pull ourselves from isolation and to once again be the threat the domesticators so clearly saw us as.
     
This is not a beginning, but a continuation of old paths, picking up with where we went in the meantime and where we left off before. A lot of us spent that time embracing wildness, trying to stay plugged in within resistance movements, working on land projects, and seeing megalomaniacs try to commodify and reify our principles and beliefs. This is a call to challenge, spread and grow our critiques and praxis.
      But the times have changed. The purpose of Black and Green Review (BAGR) is very specific: it is not intended to replace or to revive any previous publications, but to expand these critiques and to bring discussion back into the fold. We intend to draw out old faces and serve as a basis for new ones. Our communities have been torn apart and replaced by facades of connectivity without grounding.
      For us to move forward, we must address the increasing disconnect while working towards resolving its consequences. News spreads quickly and fades faster now than before. Speed has become the form and function. One of the function of Green Anarchy through its empowering and steadfast reporting of resistance news and communiqués has arguably been replaced, but the discussion has not. At least not in lasting ways.
      We’ve fallen victim to the News Feeds.
      That part was intentional. The programmers, the domesticators of this late Modernity, know that regardless of content, context matters the most. Form determines function. While arguments might flare with regularity and an irritating sense of repetition, it might feel as though discussion is now a lost art, their presence into the electronic void only merits integration into the platforms.
      To have lasting and impacting discussions, we need to pull attention away from the machines. That is no simple task and the manifestations of techno-addiction inherent in unconsciously swiping screens are no easy enemy. And that is the function that we had in mind behind starting BAGR: how do we have discussions again that matter?
      It might not be a solution, but it’s definitely a start.

The format of BAGR is broken down into a five primary sections;
·      ESSAYS: Writings intended to challenge and push forward the AP and GA critiques of civilization.
·      DEBATES: Moderated discussions evaluating opposing opinions in terms of fighting civilization.
·      DISCUSSION: Often open-ended pieces intended to drive discussion of issues, particularly those with no clearly opposing stances or even some that are.
·      FIELD NOTES FROM THE PRIMAL WAR: A look at particular actions and movements directed at resistance to civilization.
·      REVIEWS: Engaging and drawing on relevant publications.
We’ve forgone the debate for the first issue and expanded the Essays section, but this will be a regular feature. We’re interested in anything pertaining to anti-civilization thought and praxis, but upcoming works will address the relevance or irrelevance of nihilism and egoism, the continued effort to update AP critiques in light of the impact and prevalence of the Digital Age, expanding historical, anthropological, ecological, and social underpinnings of the domestication process, evaluating actions, expressing the relationship of rewilding and resistance, espousing a love for the wild, and looking at current, future, and past land and resistance projects and campaigns.
      We aim to simply encourage discussion. We want to hear your voice. We want to encourage you to articulate your understandings and questions. We want to expand and strengthen this critique so that our words, actions, and efforts have more fire, so that our love and rage cannot be suppressed.

      So read, get pissed, get excited, and respond, but most importantly, learn from our nomadic hunter-gatherer past and present selves and get moving. The countdown to the end of time ticks on.