I write this letter because in a recent episode of your show ‘Anarchy Radio’, you characterized me as an “anti-primitivist anarchist” with a “great antipathy” towards your views. You then proceeded to heavily misrepresent my views, blurring them out of all coherence, really. You even suggested that I was “postmodern”, which is possibly the most bizarre charge of all, given how strongly I share your disdain for that entire tradition.
I therefore want to remove any misunderstandings that may have led you to your comments. I want to do this because: I think it benefits me (by having my ideas better explained, they might be more effective); I think it benefits you (by engaging you in good faith, I hope to alert you to how severely you are misunderstanding critiques that come from sources that are not explicitly AP-centric); and I think it benefits anyone else that might read this exchange and learn a thing or two from it.
For the record, I did write to you before, and also wrote on an old blog (now discontinued) about your conversations on the topic of ‘ego vs. origins’ with Bellamy. In both cases, I never really got much of a response back from you. You name-dropped that blog for literally a matter of seconds on your radio show, and said it was “covering the debate”, but didn’t offer any thoughts of your own in response. So…since you responded to my comments on anarchistnews.org, I hope this means that you have opened up a channel through which we might finally discuss the relationship (and tension) between your ideas and mine. If am wrong, at least I will finally know for absolute certainty that you are totally disinterested in the dialogue you often go on about.
OPEN LETTER TO JZ !
I will also be speculating as to why, in the wider world of anti-civ ideas, misunderstandings such as these persist between people that I think really ought to have better connections, and certainly ought to have a better appreciation for each other’s ideas, given their overall high level of affinity. In other words, although you have positioned me as an ‘enemy of primitivism’, I am not, and I want to show you why I think you are frequently seeing enemies where none exist. Finally, since it is my main area of focus, and because I believe that it is truly relevant to this entire discussion, I will bring up the notion of society itself, and how I think that it is our perspectives on society that more than anything, defines the differences between you and I. So, in order to show you how I am neither “anti-primitivist”, nor an anarchist, and how our ideas are closer than you might realize, I will lay out my ideas according to a step-by-step structure.
What is civilization?
The first challenge that I face in trying to compare my own perspective with yours is that, despite you having written more prolifically, and more brilliantly than anyone else I can think of on the topic of civilization, exactly what you mean by the term remains somewhat vague. Now, one could take the approach that since you describe yourself as anti-civilization, that everything you write about – agriculture, symbolic thought, time, number, gender, etc. – are to be taken by the reader as the constituent elements of civilization. Certainly, that has been my approach in the absence of a direct definition from you. It is also helpful to deconstruct the concept into parts if I am to demonstrate the relationship of your views to my own.
In one of your essays, you do say that “civilization, very fundamentally, is the history of the domination of nature and of women”. I agree with the general sentiment this sentence evokes, but I don’t think it serves me all that well as a working definition of the totality that I am opposed to, since it does not mention many characteristics of modern heteronomous social interactions that I find abhorrent. For starters, it does not mention the domination of men (by other men), which I feel is a behavior that has the same basic roots as the drive to dominate women and nature. Perhaps this is what you mean? But then why not say ‘domination of the other’? That would then include other humans, animals, plants, and natural forces such as the weather; is this too much of an individualist focus or something?
So yes, in general I agree with you that civilization is a modular force of component behaviors, that have a common root in domination (which I term ‘heteronomy’). At one point you describe this as “the attempt to bring free dimensions under control for self-serving purposes”. This focus on the agency and relational aspects of autonomy, gets rig ht to the heart of things, for me. For me, it’s enough to have a single nominalist ontological principle that rejects those things that are not real (including reified spooks like ‘class’); and a single ethical principle that rejects heteronomy.
But I’m the kind of person – for better or worse – that is increasingly motivated to improve my own critiques by making them clearer and clearer as time goes by, so that’s why I want to finecomb the details of exactly what is meant by civilization, what is meant by domestication of nature. Part of the purpose of ‘Dispossess’ is to pinpoint more precisely what our objections to civilization are.
So the point that fell out of Episode 3 of ‘Dispossess’ was that since non-human animals engage in agriculture and slavery, we can no longer simply say that they are ‘unnatural’. We can still point to the the dominating aspects, and to the consequences, we just can’t pretend that we’re the only species that has attempted to shape our environments or subjugate other beings. I’m certainly not excusing the worst crimes of the civilizing force: the worst consequences of human civilization are many orders of magnitude more destructive than anything that animals of any other species have done. I think I also made this point quite clear in the same discussion – perhaps you missed that?
To be clear, because we talk about the ants that engage in domination and agriculture, and ask what it means for our own critiques, does not mean we don’t agree with the general thrust of those critiques – i.e. that they are negative forces – it is just that we want to be able to articulate more precisely why we oppose them. Non-human behavior that parallels certain elements of civilization does not excuse civilization, it just means we have to be a bit more careful in our language and our arguments. When we talk about ‘control of nature’, we need to be precise as to what we mean by ‘control’ and ‘nature’.
What is ideology?
Now, this will perhaps be the most controversial part of this letter for some people, but since you took issue with us calling what we are doing “a non-ideological critique of civilization”, let me briefly explain exactly what I mean by that. There are lots of different definitions of ideology, but the one that I work with, given my background and existing philosophy (which has been influenced by epistemological and existential egoism) is to say that an ideology is a concept that becomes palpable when a person’s ideas have become in some way reified, so that an element has been created within their ideational framework that is no longer subject to criticism, but nonetheless remain as a reference point. Without exception, I think. this leads to the ideas taking control of the person. It is, if you like, a possession of that person’s autonomy by the spook of that reified idea. Their behavior changes measurably, and you can see the ideology’s effect on the individual.
To use myself as a first example, I am a big believer in free will. This has very important implications for every other philosophical concept that I consider. But I am not so closed on even this key idea that my view is totally immutable. In fact, in the last couple of years, through conversations with people who have more ‘relational’ views, like Bellamy and Jeriah Bowser, I have begun to re-examine every part of my philosophical framework to see if it isn’t about time that I revised my thoughts on this matter.
I am not a rationalist but I do champion a basic state of being that involves an effort to maintain a constant state of hypercriticism. The underlying process of my epistemology is one of integration, but unlike most ‘rational egoists’, when I integrate an idea, I do not allow it to become unquestionable. For one thing, I recognize that I am fallible, and any given integration may have been an error. More importantly, I think that, far more than any writer I’ve come across has ever really laid out, I recognize that context is paramount. So I see my philosophical framework as a toolset to help me analyze the world and live in it by making good choices, rather than as a code that I must live by. This applies equally to ‘moral’ and ‘practical’ considerations, and I actually I do not think that it is a useful dichotomy to make. Now, this process of hypercriticism takes time, but it is how I try to ensure that none of my ‘beliefs’ become master of me. Conceivably, it could be argued that actually, it is truer to say that I am possessed by an ideology that constantly changes, but then I would say that such an argument would be a contradiction in terms. Ideologies are those sets of ideas that do not change, but force the possessed mind to bend their perceptions and analyses to fit the ideology.
What I have is a toolset, not an ideology. Or to use Trump as another example, although he doesn’t subscribe to an easily demarcated ‘ism-based’ political ideology, and is almost entirely populistic and even whimsical in his discourse, he draws on a number of ideological aspects that are never once questioned. The reified concepts of ‘America’ as nation, ‘the economy’, ’success’ and others, are all things that operate Trump, not the other way around.
I think, John, that if you were to truly come to understand what epistemological egoism fundamentally means, you would realize that when a person’s support for or opposition towards something is based on reasons that are first and foremost personal to them and their values, that it is a very different kind of opposition to them opposing it because it conflicts with some absolute tenet – i.e. an opposition on ideological grounds. So there is definitely room for people to oppose elements of civilization but not others, when viewed from that egoistic perspective.
But to make it clear, I am not speaking of myself in the preceding paragraph. I do oppose civilization in its entirety, and I join you in criticizing those who want to have their cake and eat it when they realize how uncomfortable the transition to a post-civilized future primitive might be. As I will touch on again later, I often feel like I am somewhere in the middle between the AP and the egoist sides in different debates. And in this case, I can oppose civilization on a personal, egoistic level as well as on a wider moral level.
So for you to say that my “assumptions, starting points [and] axioms” are as ideological as those of AP in general, is pretty lazy, I would say. You’ve not done your homework in learning where my assumptions and axioms even come from, for starters! Secondly, when you back up your argument by saying that “they’re every bit as ideological…they simply are” you are making a statement in place of an argument; you are not backing it up. If you want to tell me how and why you think I’m being ideological, then actually find something substantial to offer, rather than just conjecture.
So in conclusion of this, and to be more specific, a non-ideological critique of civilization means that I am operating with a toolset of ideas that I have painstakingly drawn from different sources, considered, and integrated, and which I continually revisit, second to second. It also means that they are not lifted wholesale from AP or any other ‘ism’. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for AP, and I think that it is far less calcified than any other ‘school of thought’ I have come across, and as I want to make abundantly clear, I am largely in support of most of the ideas put across by AP theorists, and I am grateful for them. But although you are my favorite writer, and I find myself in overwhelming agreement with what you write, I will not allow myself to forget that I must still examine each idea on its own merit. Furthermore, your reactions when challenged, actually serve as evidence that suggests you underestimate the possessive nature of your own ideology. If you don’t want anyone to conclude you are being excessively ideological, I recommend trying to return the subject to the ideas. A person that is always willing to discuss ideas and is open to changing their mind (with good cause, not willy-nilly) will find it much easier not to succumb to ideology.
A final point: I think it could well be our different outlooks on epistemology that lead to our different conclusions on what to do with anti-civ ideas, an outcome that has created further distance between us, as I will come onto shortly.
What is ‘anti-civ’ ?
Well simply put, since civilization is the result of behavior, then anti-civ is all behavior that treats civilization as unwanted and attempts to replace it with something else. Some would naturally tend to make a division between thought and actions, though I think that thought is in itself a big step. For those people who have a mental opposition but whom are reluctant to do anything about it, I would try to encourage them to see the direct benefits to themselves and their kin, but I would also praise them for having had the energy to complete what is necessarily a long course of reflection and analysis.
So I am certainly anti-civ at the level of thought, but in terms of action, I am sadly limited by my means, and by my location. If I had far greater means, and were in a more suitable location, I would create a sanctuary at the fringe of – or preferably outside of – civilization, and live there according to quite de-civilized lifeways – in a simple wooden structure or tipi, foraging from and enriching a food forest, and putting into practice a philosophy of touch and unmediated connection with all the people around me. And I would do this not to ignore the wider problems, but because I actually think it is an effective approach (more on this later).
But presently I am also engaged, in writing, and podcasting, so as to have a limited level of outreach. I am not trying to spread my ideas to conventional people living in cities who value entertainment and comfort, since I think that those people are presently unreachable. But within the wider radical space I try to put out ideas that might be of interest and value to people who are dissatisfied with previous frameworks and are looking for useful new ideas. I am also looking for people that are sufficiently like-minded that they might one day become my friends, and then eventually maybe even want to be part of a kinship group that actually takes the big step of founding a consentient community to put our ideas into daily practice.
In particular, I engage in critical conversations with anarchists, since disaffected and disillusioned anarchists have proven to be just the kinds of people who are most interested in having dialogue and listening to the ideas that I am putting forward (I know this from experience, having looked in many other places). Likewise, I also find that the ideas that I have been exposed to by communicating with these people, have been useful to me. So far, only only a small proportion of anarchists seem open to anti-civ ideas, but in absolute numbers, I have a dozen or so valuable acquaintances since I started communicating with the anarchist world about two years ago. By the way, if all anarchists held to the definition of anarchism that you gave in your interview with Jensen, I would contemplate making use of the label. But let’s be fair, the overwhelming majority don’t. This is just one of the many reasons why the world of ‘anarchism’ as a whole is so horrible to me, and so problematic. If you wish to understand this any more, I have written at length about my reasons for seeing most anarchists as being on a completely different trajectory to myself.
In fact, the distinction that I make between pro-civ and anti-civ thinkers, also means that I don’t consider the pro-civ mob to ‘be’ radical in any meaningful sense. I speak of them in a similar way to how you spoke about me, but with better cause. I mean, as a prominent ‘post-left’ anarchist, you don’t need me to point out how ridiculous it is to describe wanting control of factories as ‘radical’? What is radical about the standard knee-jerk response to the serious question of ‘who will go into the mines’: that of ‘we’ll send robots in there’ ?
You commented on AR that lots of anarchists were paying lip service to anti-civ thought. I agree that this is partly true, but conclude from it that such people are just full of shit and not worth considering. I’m able to make this distinction by examining their writings and comments more broadly. That you’d concluded that I’m full of shit tells me there is a better chance that you haven’t figured out where I’m coming from, than the likelihood that I am actually full of shit. I also think that this number of pretenders is smaller than you might think. I would estimate that pro-civ types outnumber genuine anti-civ types by at least 10 to 1, even in ‘post-left’ anarchist circles.
You have also equated anti-primitivism with ‘not thinking there has to be a future primitive’, as if criticism of AP entailed the latter. Now, I think there must and shall be a future primitive at some point, because of the undeniable facts of sustainability alone, but that doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t small problems with AP that I want to address. You even made an even more bold claim, that if someone ‘doesn’t want the grid’ then they must be a primitivist. Is this for real your genuine definition? Do you not understand how there are things that have been written by you and Tucker than others might want to argue, without being smeared as pro-civ or “anti-primitivist” ? Please, don’t take out your frustration with the dilettantes and poseurs on those people that are legitimately anti-civ and with whom you might have meaningful dialogue. For me then, to be anti-civ is to be anti-work, anti-technology, and above all, anti-society, and I am all those things. But I’m more pro my values than I am anti anything. Work is the theft of life, and I am pro-life. Technology is mediation, and I am pro-directness. Society is the normalization of dishonesty, and I am pro-honest, and pro-community.
Do you then see yet how strange it is for me to hear you describe me as “not even remotely anticivilization”? Or do you still stick to what you said? If so, do you have anything to actually offer as evidence besides your own short-sighted and cursory remarks? You know, I hate to dwell in the negative, but it is perhaps an unavoidable theme of this letter that some of your behavior suggest that sometimes, you seem to sometimes find reasonable argumentation like a bit too much hard work. As another example of this (more will come later), you describe me as ‘post-modern’ for wanting to say that the distinction between natural and artificial is not always helpful. But that’s not an argument. Could you offer, as a rejoinder, an explanation of why you think otherwise? If you don’t want to attract further criticism, then responding to arguments people have made rather than just blithely caricaturing them, is in your interest, I would say.
What is resistance?
Beyond the level of merely being critical of civilization, the question then arises as to what one wants to do about it. What, conceivably, could any person do, to try to undermine it? If they wish to bring another way of life into being, what could that be? Why would it be preferable to other alternatives? What is the best path to a ‘future primitive’?
I will tackle these in a slightly unusual order, but I hope it will be apparent why.
- Destruction of infrastructure
Jensen, Kaczynski, and others have expounded the value of sabotaging the concrete materiel of civilization, in order to force a collapse of industrial society. I have no moral problem with this, it’s just that I don’t think it’s ever going to be effective. For one thing, I think it’s clear that the thoughts that are ‘inside’ people’s minds affects the kind of world they are going to engender ‘on the outside’. So even if there were some kind of really effective campaign that took out a large number of very important infrastructure targets, (which I think is almost unthinkably improbable) I think that several things would happen that would render the whole exercise pointless: I think that the perpetrators would be found and prosecuted; I think the masses would be manipulated into seeing this kind of act as highly dangerous and anathema, and their sympathies would still remain with the controllers; and I think that the things themselves would be rebuilt.
- Fighting with the ‘authorities’
This kind of thing I actually do have a couple of problems with, and both relate to the fact that people only ever fight an authority in order to replace it. Even if a modern capitalist industrial society were to be replaced by a post-left green anarchist medieval society, I would still see that as heteronomous and therefore oppose it. Bob Black has done perhaps the best work on explaining exactly everything that is wrong with this. But let’s not kid ourselves, the people who talk about this kind of struggle are not even vaguely post-left or ‘green’, and ‘revolution’ has always been about getting control of factories, and you and I don’t want factories or work or any of that, right?
And as for modern society being replaced by some kind of anti-civ post-left anarchy, this would require the vast majority of people to actually know how to live without the machine, so I can’t see a ‘from here to there’ blueprint for how the present ‘niche of a niche of a niche’ is going to have any chance. [On a side note, you also said that I was anti-blueprint in my views. As you shall see shortly, I’m really not, I just think that blueprints should be consentient] At the end of the day, any form of change that leaves society intact is not going to undo all those terrible forces of civilization that you and I both oppose, and society cannot be dismantled, I would argue, except by a mass dropping out, not by organized struggle. The other problem I have with ‘revolutionary’ activity is that it gives real liberatory ideas and actions a bad name by association. A corollary to Perlman’s question of why people desire their own oppression is ‘will they feel more or less positive about freedom if the people who talk about freedom most often are belligerents with the incumbent mob?’ My summary view of both the last two kinds of resistance is that without a majority of support for it, they will fail. And with a majority of support for it, they are unnecessary.
- Outreach through media
Clearly I am not totally opposed to this, since I have participated in a number of projects now that attempt to spread ideas beyond the confines of my skull. But neither do I think that this outreach should be geared towards a societal approach. Since the internet and the real world both operate according to well-defined norms (that are themselves determined by the dominant culture of hypocrisy and oppression), I can’t see anything good coming from an attempt to persuade people en masse.
Conversely, you often speak of an optimism about how dissatisfac tion with civilization and an enthusiasm to explore new ideas, is something you see as common in society. I just don’t see this. Perhaps this is because you have a wider reach, and are in contact with a larger number of people? Who knows? But regardless, if the ideas spread organically, as people encounter them and make changes to their own lives, I am totally in support of this. But I would say that most people are so dumbfounded that they are effectively unreachable. So this is again not a moral issue, just one that I am very pessimistic about.
- Disengagement / dropping out / societal erosion / intentional communities Perhaps my biggest criticism of you, John, is that for all your brilliant writing on the subject, it seems to me that you gave up way too easily, I feel, in trying to find a less civilized and freer existence for yourself. I know that y ou did this because you want to remain part of the dialogue (hence the quote, and title of this piece of writing), but since I do not myself see much value in that dialogue, I can’t help but feel that there are lots of experimental pathways towards a future primitive that you’re just too closed-minded about. I’ve written at length about my idea of consentient communities at the fringe of, or outside of, civilization, and I truly believe this is the most under-considered method of opposition of all. I do not consider this to be a form of resistance purely because my own conception of the word resistance denotes only those behaviors that lead to a clash, a pushing back against something. And since actions that lead to dismantling are not pushing against society so much as eroding it from within, like effervescent liquid inside a pumice stone, I do not consider this to be resistance. If you do, then this is the kind of resistance that I am for. Here is a quote from one of my pieces on the subject:-
“this approach, which I call ‘consentient communities’ has the following advantages:– it shifts the spatial focus from ‘what has to be done’ to ‘what can I do to help myself and my kin?’, and therefore makes individual and community sustainability and enrichment the main goal – what could be of higher value than that?
– it shifts the temporal focus from ‘after the revolution’ to ‘right here, right now’, and gives people greater reason to brighten each others’ days and, without having to sacrifice longer-term goals, to ‘seize’ the day; – it allows each consentient community to develop their own foundationalist philosophies and critical toolsets, and experience for their selves the important experimental environments of learning to live with others, relate to them, to provide for their selves, and each other, and do all the things that would be necessary in a non-civilized paradigm anyway; – it provides psychosocial spaces where a philosophy of touch, direct communication, healing and nurturing can blossom; – it provides an example, that if and when shared carefully with selected others outside the community, can inspire others to similarly ‘drop-out; – it improves the land that the community lives on, and assists them in establishing a closer connection with everything living there;
– it removes people from the largely harmful elements of civilization (such as computers) by giving them alternatives that enrich instead of drain them. Instead of surrogate activities, it gives them real, positive, life-affirming, loving, spiritually lifting, esteem-boosting, health-improving, direct, unmediated and playful activities that become truly possible in such enclaves;
– it removes the majority of conflicts that take up so much time with bickering and endless critiques;
– it makes security culture easier by essentially having no traceable presence;”
Also, since you expressed some intention to listen to more of our podcast, you might be interested to know that Episode 5 will be about Goals. But anyway, I’ve never once heard you discussing the merits of people forming these kinds of communities. Perhaps you could now take this opportunity to address the points I’ve made on this subject? If you like I could point you to what I consider to be my key pieces on the matter.
Why the misunderstanding?
OK, so we come to my final angle. I’ll try to put it as simply as possible, John. I think that you’re failing to misunderstand where critics of AP are coming from, you’re not treating them in good faith, and much of the time when you address them, you are condescending and rude. In your recent recording you extolled the virtue of “those who still bother with the truth, with the facts, and try to learn something from that” and asked, of your audience in general, “does it not matter to you that one of these things is truthful and that the other is just crap, just made-up, tailor-made to try to patch on to their own views, which is contempt for life?”
Now this kind of rhetoric, aimed at no-one in particular, about no statement in particular, just makes you seem like you aren’t interested in discussing any of the ideas at all, and really want just to label anyone who disagrees with you at all as being “desperately ignorant and hateful”. It’s also impossible to respond to, since we don’t know who or what you are actually addressing.
To make a couple of assumptions (which you are free to correct if wrong), if you were addressing people who criticize certain aspects of AP while remaining anti-civ themselves (perhaps you would say they are posturing), then I would argue that it is you who has not seriously addressed critiques of AP that come from well-intentioned anti-civ thinkers who have no other interest besides meaningful criticism and dialogue. Where others have written about the intersection of egoism (properly understood) and anti-civilization, you, so far as I know, have not. In that last episode of AR that started all this, you asked “why the venom?”, referring to some written attacks on AP, most of which are admittedly puerile and some of which actually are rather hateful. As a genuine (I hope I’ve convinced you of that at least by now) anti-civ advocate, I am often the recipient of much of the same venom.
But by the same standard, the moment I made remarks that brought under question some aspects relating to your AP writings, you’ve lashed out at me with some really rather inflammatory language. Listen back to yourself talking about our podcast. Does that sound like a man wanting dialogue or wanting to deflect it? Tucker, likewise, on the couple of occasions I have encountered him, just wrote nonsequiturs to me that amounted to nothing more than saying ‘you’re wrong and you’re stupid for being wrong’.
It’s disappointing, given the remarkable quality of argument in your books, that you would be a part of such a low level of discourse. I mean, calling people “goofball of the week… pathetic…a farce…hilariously stupid”, among other such slurs, simply cannot be defended as serious debate. If you want to rectify the impression that many currently have of John Zerzan as “making shit up and saying whatever suits him when his views are questioned”, besides seeing this kind of stuff as venom (which it undoubtedly is, I agree), I think you might also want to consider the tone of your own output and ask yourself if you are provoking some of this venom.
Also consider being direct about who are you are addressing, and the precise points on which you disagree with them. During the section in which you discuss our podcast, your focus strays from being about us (myself and Osmia) and instead you evoke a nebulous ‘they’ to attack, and you bring back into play the people who wrote apparently scathing responses to a critique of Calusa (I don’t even know what this is, but I listened closely to what you said), associating us all together into the mix as if we were somehow comparable, let alone similar. “They can’t defend that, they don’t even go near that, it’s a know-nothing approach” you remark. Who are you talking about? By treating individuals as completely interchangeable in this way, you betray not only a shitty approach to communication, but poor scholarship and especially a bad understanding of what individualism really means.
How would you feel if I lumped you in with Chomsky in general and started referring to you as ‘they’, rather than (as I did) making a direct comparison of one aspect of your behaviors, and always taking care to make it clear who I was talking about?
Finally, when you responded on anarchistnews.org you asked for an example of what I had called your gross misrepresentation. Probably the best (or worst) example of this is when you claimed that we are saying on Dispossess that “…it’s an illusion also to try and find the problem of civilization in domestication and delayed return, in sedentism and other forms of what approaches and founds civilization…” and are arguing that because ants didn’t have a turning point, then domestication can’t have been the turning point. You even go so far as to suggest that we are denying that agriculture and domestication began around 10,000 years ago, and say that “…by bringing up this argument they think they will defeat primitivism…cuz that’s their big enemy…”
Literally none of this is true. Simply nowhere did either of us say anything like this…which is why you wouldn’t have been able to quote us saying it…which is why you had to say it yourself as a complete straw man of what we were actually saying.
From my perspective, the most disappointing thing about this distortion is that it actually occludes actual analysis of what domestication means, which is what we were trying to get at. Of course domestication was a huge turning point, but that doesn’t make human agriculture ‘unnatural’ does it? Unnatural means not found in nature. If other animals do something similar to humans, then that behavior – however repellent or destructive or world-changing – cannot be unnatural. Again, the point we were trying to make is that we need to have better arguments against civilization than just “it’s unnatural”. I’m unsure as to how you’ve actually managed to misconstrue this, and I wonder why it bothered you at all. “At least say something intelligent”, you challenged, towards the end of your section on Dispossess. Hopefully I have done that with this piece of writing, and so now I’m throwing the challenge back at you, John.