by Ben Axiom
I think of the global human-ecological dilemma as a scaled up model of “Musical Chairs.” You walk in a circle around chairs in a zombie-like manner as music plays. When it abruptly stops everyone jumps for a chair, yet there’s an ever-diminishing number of chairs so someone gets literally assed-out.
If the chairs represent vanishing natural resources and the musical procession represents the mass hypnosis of industrial capitalism, we can foresee the bleak end- point of this game for those human populations far removed from bioregional land bases.
One thing you can’t do in Musical Chairs that you can in reality is replace the chairs while the game’s in progress. But you can’t just manufacture them, pull them off a shelf, and have them delivered to save your ass at the last minute. You have to build them sustainably, naturally, and renewably from the ground up. In essence, that is what all d-i-y projects are, all community gardens, all homesteading communities, etc. Whatever work is done to create new human-eco niches in or close to nature is what effectively builds back more “chairs”. Now it’s obvious that the rate of chair removal is much faster than that of chair rebuilding so ultimately a lot of people are going to lose this game.
You can be a racist Bible-Belt survivalist and fear that poor immigrants are going to come for your crops, cows, and daughters. You can be a misanthropic enviro and desire the rapid death of the entire human “virus”. Or you could be a more sensible philanthrope like the environmentalist engineer Buckminster Fuller. He did the math and was able to prove that the Earth plus technology (under the right direction) is more than capable of feeding, clothing, and sheltering us all. There’s only one problem, one that he was not in denial about like so many utopians: so long as government and capitalism exist, the reapplication of science and technology towards the immediate and total restructuring of global human-ecology will be difficult if not impossible. So the enemy is not poor people of color, its not humanity as a whole, it’s in fact capitalism and the state; the masters of technology.
The viral and cancerous behavior of our species on Earth is undeniable, however it’s an imbalance that is an innocent symptom of a disease that’s only cure would be a unified global uprising to overthrow the entire system of domination. This is easier said than done…
The recent history of anarchist discourse has seen a major rift that has manifested in various bitter sectarian debates. Without going into the gory details, my understanding is that there are those who’ve spent more time studying ecology and those who’ve spent more time studying Marxian revolutionary theory. After much divisive and ego-driven infighting, it’s become clear to me that the conflict is simply a question of time. How much time does either camp have to design, model, and replicate its unique meme sequence to bring about a human success? How much time is there really to build, test, and implement theories into action? How much time is there to prepare for whatever type of anarchy you desire? Some say 10 years, some say 50, some 100 or more. I say 5 years: 2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar. Why not, it’s a good timeline to achieve a set of short term goals. It’s a good motivator. I work well under deadlines, literally. I’m not a cult zealot freak (contrary to the perceptions of some), I don’t really foresee apocalyptic Armageddon happening at this exact time, but why not pretend? What would be the psychological effect of that thought experiment on us anarcho-punks? Might it give us an extra push to work on more d-i-y projects, gardens, training exercises, wilderness/survival skills, etc. Wouldn’t it give us a good reason to do all the things that we know we should be doing that we’re lagging on?
Let’s be honest, we’re shamefully procrastinating on the task of preparing for our dear anarchy. We’re not earnestly taking daily steps to secure first our independence from the system, then our autonomy and liberation from it. We’re drunk on booze and entertainment and when shit hits the fan we’ll be the first to curl up and die in the gutter. The “DOOM” we so cheerfully await will only be for us as other less full-of-shit eco-visionaries and autonomists “BLOOM” into a new world of evolutionary opportunity.
A more enlightened view of 2012 is not of the end of the world, but the beginning of a new world, one that has destabilized the infrastructure of industrial society so that all the King’s men can’t put it back together again.
Whoever is sitting in one of the remaining musical chairs at that point, or has rebuilt their own, will be able to get up and dance on the ruins of the system that kept snatching the chairs away. I guarantee it won’t be rich privileged white people who’ve lost all knowledge of natural healing, horticulture, foraging, navigation, etc. Indigenous people, rural farmers, horticulturalists, and gatherer/hunters will all just wake up one day and take curious note of the fact that ships and planes have stopped arriving to yank forced planted cash crops out of their sacred mother Earth. They’ll promptly tear out the coffee and sugar and begin to re-volve back within natural limits. If any anarcho-punks survive, we’ll be knocking on the tee-pees, thatch huts, and hammocks of the people who will be quite un-doomed, begging for them to teach us all the shit we could have been learning now. We may have the luck of avoiding such embarrassment though, we may just be dead.
On a positive note, we’re not totally helpless. Some of the more adventurous among us have lived in tree-sit eco-village autonomous zones, traveled, squatted, trained dogs for nomadic existence, learned to garden, learn to heal, learned how to make fire, etc. We are very far ahead of the game in many ways. We are some of the only non-traditional peoples who even care to learn hand-crafts, “primitive-skills”, etc. However our graphic depictions of surviving in anarchy are more abundant than our authentic skills.
It’s inarguable that survival in anarchy will require more skills than most of us have. Unfortunately the prospects for the survival and evolution of our subculture in anarchy are hindered by a more insidious looming reality then our distracted laziness: the wave of violence that will be unleashed in the fall of empire. Unlike the recent History Channel program Life After People, there won’t be an instantaneous disappearance of all the patriarchal dominating hierarchical energy that runs like electrical current though human biological, psychological, social, political, economic, and technological systems. It won’t be just anarcho-punks, peaceful tribal peoples, farmers, and urban communes left to hold hands and roast veggie dogs on the smoldering corpses of cities and their less adept citizenries. We’ll be seeing the absolute most vile tidal wave of rape, murder, enslavement, exploitation, and disease ever known to our innocent ever-giving Gaia.
There exists metaphysically a sort of reservoir of patriarchal violence. For the last several thousand years since the departure of the male ego from sacred balance among sexes and species, there has been a constantly generated and stored “charge” of violence in the Noosphere (the metaphysical field of all human psycho-kinetic thought energy). Few political ideologies have adequately identified and prescribed solutions for this problem. It would be nice to pretend that abolishing the state would just make it all flicker out of quantum existence. But it doesn’t seem to be the nature of this energy to just go away. No, in my estimation (which is by no means right or the gospel truth) there are only two things that can happen to this energy in the absence of the state: 1. There is a massive global unified meditation, sort of like the Ghostbusters proton packs that beam positive vibes at this ethereal ball of evil and hate. This effort might actually dissolve it or reverse the polarity from negative to positive and we’ll see a sort of grand cosmic wave of healing that sweeps Gaia like at the end of the eco-apocalyptic Anime film “Princess Mononoke.” 2. There are only a few pure hearted peace-niks, punks, nuns, monks, and shaman meditating on reversing the polarity of this charged cloud of Doom who in sum have no luck diminishing its size. Unrestrained by the bureaucracy of government, this energy will operate according to its nature and indiscriminately flow through whatever human systems remain or emerge.
You see the government is a violence refinery. It generates, trains, directs, stores, distributes, regulates, and amplifies human violence. In the absence of government, violence will no longer be systematically generated so whatever new violent energy wells up will be much weaker and more diffuse. But while government exists, the river of violence is constantly filling up like water in behind a dam wall. The state funnels the violence flow to serve elite interests, when the dam is breached, that river will flow with immense speed and force until it finally reaches sea level, neutrality, equilibrium, peace. Here’s the catch though, just as a breached dam floods and submerges the land in water, the violence wave will drown the land in blood.
Imagine the evolutionary timeline of weaponry going backwards. Over the course of thousands of years humanity will go back through the Ages of swords, arrows, and eventually sticks and stones. We’ll start by exhausting all the bullets, at which point we’ll loot museums and load muskets and cannons, next will be swords, and so on down the line until every sharp object has been dulled on human bone. (If you don’t believe me, watch a little Jeopardy on the fate of Easter Island which is thought by many to be a microcosmic case study depicting the global future of ultimate cannibalistic chaos til barren extinction. Pretty crustaceous eh?)
This “Wave of Doom” is inevitable and essentially what we are asking for when we ask for anarchy. Be careful what you wish for… It took me about 10 years of being in denial as a utopian anarchist before I finally admitted that the skeptics were in fact right all along. As a naïve 12 year old, I’d argue with adults that peaceful autonomous anarchy was possible. They say, “maybe for you but what about all the crazies, what about all the Rednecks, it will be an orgy of violence.”
The popular morbid vision of anarchy is really how it will be. I have to admit that now, because semantically “anarchy” is just the absence of the state. It’s not a proactive positive word like autonomy, which denotes the existence of self-government not simply “no government”. If I could go back to those frustrating first debates I had about my beloved anarchy I would say this in defense of peaceful anarchy, “Yes, when the government is gone there will be an orgy of violence. But those who recognize this now can begin to build peaceful yet well trained autonomous communities, villages, neighborhoods, etc. that can survive the wave of violence. Furthermore, the government isn’t necessary to protect me, my family, and my community from some innate human-natural brute violent urge. Rather, the state is responsible for generating the violence that exists and will be unleashed in its absence. The sooner the state ceases to exist, the sooner violence can be phased back out of our evolution. It’s human-nature to live in co-operative peace and harmony. Just pick-up any anthropology textbook and open to page one of the introduction where it will essentially scientifically state that all of humanity lived in tribal eco-anarchy for 3 million years before the state came into being and ruined everything for everyone…
Back to the dam metaphor, I don’t think the dam was designed well enough to last. It will collapse under its own weight and the violence it’s dammed up. Anarcho-punks will, I believe, have little to do with the actual physical breach despite how fucking cool looking and tough we think insurrection is…
We’d be smart to get as far away as we can. “Get the skills and hit the hills” as I like to say. In the meantime, as we party and shred amplified riffs in Babylon, we could be spending a more balanced portion of our time utilizing the Information Age’s ample resources to educate and train ourselves. Not to mention learning from living traditional peoples, farmers, homesteaders, home-bums, and survivalists whenever they welcome us and we can reciprocate with work-trade, money, or other offerings.
Tragically, we prove that we’re not in fact in the Information Age any more, we’re in the Entertainment Age. While there exists an astonishing unprecedented abundance of free educational communication tools, we’re more intent on objectifying ourselves in online profile pics, posting porned-out pathetic surveys, texting about how drunk we are, and cell phone photographing our passed-out friends than using these high tech devices to map edible and medicinal plants, support each other’s safety, document our travels, research, share skills, model positive and productive behavior, etc.
Whether its 5 years, 50, or 500 hundred, the “Wave of Doom” will eventually hit. The faster we learn, practice, and master the arts and sciences of autonomy the more of a chance we’ll have. As Bruce Lee said, “prepare for opportunity.” If we want Anarchy tomorrow, why are we not preparing for it today? Do we really want it? Or do we want the state and capitalism administered toys and toxic party substances? Do the Pirate Punx really want to sail the high seas fishing, drinking home-brew, and rounding up the last capitalists for a plank-walk? Do the eco-punks really want to be living like Ewoks in the forest with gardens and orchards aplenty? Do the Street Punx and Chaos Punx really want to be scavenging through bombed out urban streets looting liquor stores and squatting the White House? Do the Bike Punx really want to be fixed-gearing-it-up with welded giant wheeled off-road bikes that can roll easily across the cracked and buckled cement? Do the red Anarcho-Punx really want to be taking over the factories and making whatever they want, however they want, however many hours a week they want?
I’ve spent so many precious hours in endless debates about anarchist theory. So few seemed to agree that basically the game of musical chairs is almost over and we ALL need to focus on a few basic things. Why don’t we start with a simple check-list. We can call it the Anarchy Checklist, it could go something like this: 1. Able to Feed Self, 2. Able to Hydrate Self, 3. Able to Heal Self, 4. Able to Clothe Self, 5. Able to Shelter Self. 6. Able to Defend Self. I can’t check one of those items! I know few people who can check even one and I know no one who can check them all. Take a minute to imagine how fucking bad-ass it would be to be able to check them all off. Look at yourself in this moment, then close your eyes and imagine a self-fed, watered, healed, clothed, sheltered, and defended anarcho-punk ready to survive and thrive with or without the system! Attractive no?
Once we cover the “bare necessities” we can then go off into our sectarian tangents, but at this point we’re all nursing at the cancerous mechanical breast of the system. Meanwhile our true mother struggles to get our attention and offer her organic milk to us again. If you watch Life After People you’ll see the unequivocal science backing the ecotopian dream of a return to Eden. It’s as if our mother is reaching her hands out to us and whispering “jump, jump” as we stand on the edge of the city walls.
There is hope to be had, and hard daily work to be done. I hope that we all realize how fun it is to prepare. If nothing happens in 5 years, other than we’ve built just about every bit of d-i-y autonomous social and ecological infrastructure we need to be independent of the system while living under it, then we’ll be half way to our dreams as opposed to where we are now which all the way in our nightmare. We have the choice to enhance parties into work parties, shows into potlucks, hang-overs into push-ups. But that wouldn’t be easy so fuck it right? I know it’s a leap of faith but I promise that fulfillment is to be found in deep neo-tribal bonds that are built in daylight culture building activities. In this “scene” state of our evolution, we’ll never be truly happy, fulfilled or anything near independent or autonomous. Bluntly, we’ll just be unconsciously killing ourselves slowly and setting ourselves up to be killed quickly when the time comes that strength, health, and knowledge are matters of survival not lifestyle.
by Ben Axiom