Coming from a green anarchist, anti-civilisation background, and heavily primitivist-leaning myself, I can say there is a significant section of primitivists that are essentially eco-activists that enjoy being outdoors. There is therefore significant crossover with the realms of green activism, student organising, drum circles, and pacifism, and as a result, often, more militant anarchist folks get frustrated. I have witnessed instances whereby folks advocate to ‘drop out’ of civilisation and not give it any ‘energy’, as a primary mode of resistance. Obviously, this does not go deep enough or address the crisis seriously. It is important to recognise how dire the situation is and what level of resistance would be necessary to disrupt the onslaught of techno-industrialism. An acceptance of practical resistance has usually been a major facet of primitivism but I would say this has been dwindling of late, in its place a deluded idea that knowing traditional skills will miraculously heal the entrenched pathology of civilisation. I disagree. A level of philosophical support and solidarity for attacks on civilisation, at the least, should go with the territory.
This is not the case, perhaps due to the co-option/dilution of terms like rewilding and the ongoing campaign of greenwashing by environmental groups, have had the effect of making primitivist concepts palatable to moderate and fluffy hippy activists. I wish it wasn’t so, but I have to concede that it has been an observable phenomenon at gatherings and primitivist encampments I have attended. Conversations around primitivism seem more common but fighting back against the ever-growing tendrils of civilisation is less frequently discussed. Much of this could be self-censorship, attributable to the green scare and the rise of the surveillance state, so the conversations may take place elsewhere. But in many cases it appears some folks just don’t see the point to fighting back and have given up any hope for personal or collective liberation and action. Others pursue change via the mundane, reformist and futile channels of activism and politics.
It is a fine thing to tell stories, foster community, pursue spirituality or magic, and enjoy the fire and stars, and ‘drop out’ of civilisation so that it does not poison one’s psyche. I would argue that all of this can be helpful. Without the flipside of a generalised antipathy towards mass society and decisive strategic self-defence component though, this can be a frustrating waste of time for those genuinely fed up with civilisation. An over-reliance on positivity, hope and magic is absurd. A degree of anger, resentment, bitterness, and a desire for destructive change is a healthy sign and should be encouraged and supported. Without this balance, a paralysing sense of morality tends to take over, and a regression to milder ‘green/eco’ politics. This soon becomes the default setting; and broader, unauthorised actions are condemned as ‘jeopardising all we have worked for’, and careerist eco-activist politicians hijack any struggle for their own purposes.