Feral

Fer-al adj. wild, or existing in a state of nature, as freely occurring animals or plants; having reverted to the wild state from domestication.

By John Zerzan

We exist in a landscape of absence wherein real life is steadily being drained out by debased work, the hollow cycle of consumerism and the mediated emptiness of high tech dependency. Today it is not only the stereotypical yuppie workaholic who tries to cheat despair via activity, preferring not to contemplate a fate no less sterile than that of the planet and (domesticated) subjectivity in general. We are confronted, none the less, by the ruins of nature and the ruin of our own nature, the sheer enormity of the meaninglessness and the inauthentic amounting to a weight of lies. It’s still drudgery and toxicity for the vast majority, while a poverty more absolute than financial renders more vacant the universal Dead Zone of civilisation. ‘Empowerment’ by computerization? Infantilised, more like. An Information Age characterised by increased communication? No, that would presuppose experience worth communicating. A time of unprecedented respect for the individual? Translation: wage-slavery needs the strategy of worker self-management at the point of production to stave off the continuing productivity crisis, and market research must target each ‘life-style’ in the interest of a maximised consumer culture.

 

In the upside-down society the solution to massive alienation-induced drug use is a media barrage. In the industrialized culture of irreversible depression, isolation, and cynicism, the spirit will die first, the death of the planet an afterthought. That is, unless we erase this rotting order, all of its categories and dynamics.

Meanwhile, the parade of partial (and for that reason false) oppositions proceeds on its usual routes. The greens and their like who try to extend the life of the racket of electoralism, based on the lie that there is validity in any person representing another; these types would perpetuate just one more home for protest in lieu of the real thing. Earth First! recognises that domestication is the fundamental issue (e.g. that agriculture itself is malignant) but many of its partisans cannot see that our species could become wild. Radical environmentalists appreciate that the turning of forests into tree farms is merely a part of the overall project that also seeks their own suppression. But they will have to seek the wild everywhere rather than merely in wilderness as a separate preserve.

Freud saw that there is no civilisation without the forcible renunciation of instincts, without monumental coercion. But, because the masses are basically “lazy and unintelligent” civilisation is justified, he reasoned. This model or prescription was based on the idea that pre-civilised life was brutal and deprived - a notion that has been, amazingly, reversed in the past 20 years. Prior to agriculture, in other words, humanity existed in a state of grace, ease and communion with nature that we can barely comprehend today.

The vista of authenticity emerges as no less than a wholesale dissolution of civilisation’s edifice of repression, which Freud, by the way, described as “something which was imposed on a resisting majority by a minority which understood how to obtain possession of the means to power and coercion.” 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?

 

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