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An Anarchist Communist Strategy for Rural, Southern Appalachia

category north america / mexico | community struggles | feature author Thursday January 11, 2007 21:34author by Randy Lowens - supporter of the Capital Terminus Collective, Atlanta, GA, USA (personal capacity) Report this post to the editors

Class Struggle in the Mountains

Class antagonism takes a multiplicity of forms: Environmental struggles can also pit the impoverished against the profiteers. In the mountains of Appalachia, anger against Mountaintop Removal coal mining overshadows labor struggles, or even the war in Iraq, as the single issue that most arouses the passions of the common folk.

Class antagonism takes a multiplicity of forms: unionists on the picket line; youths burning draft cards, railing against the exemptions of the privileged; neighborhoods demanding a voice in local development. Environmental struggles can also pit the impoverished against the profiteers. In the mountains of Appalachia, anger against Mountaintop Removal coal mining overshadows labor struggles, or even the war in Iraq, as the single issue that most arouses the passions of the common folk.

In the following article, I will

  1. argue that opposition to Mountaintop Removal is the foremost expression of class struggle in Southern Appalachia,
  2. briefly describe the landscape of the movement against Mountaintop Removal, and finally
  3. construct an analogy between the historical strategy of bringing a revolutionary perspective into mass organizations, and doing so in the particulars of the given place and time, Southern Appalachia in the early 21st century.

Resistance to Mountaintop Removal as Class Struggle

First, what exactly is Mountaintop Removal coal mining? Mountaintop Removal (MTR) refers to the practice of employing explosives to blast the tops off of mountains in order to reveal the veins of coal underneath. The practice costs less than traditional mining techniques and, not coincidentally, provides fewer jobs for the surrounding communities. (What labor is employed is often imported, contributing to the exodus of impoverished locals from the land, in the process making more acreage available for MTR). In contrast to community struggles against more traditional forms of strip mining in decades past, the few, specialized number of workers required to set a charge and then bulldoze the debris back into place, robs the pro mining camp of a favorite argument, that support for mining is "pro jobs", and any opposition to it, implicitly anti-worker. [1]

For the revolutionary who seeks opportunities to intervene in the class struggle in rural Appalachia, few options present themselves. One could pine for the heyday of militant miner struggles, and attempt to resurrect them. One could resolve to start from scratch, and attempt to organize the local coffee shop barista's or other retail workers. Or one might appeal to the self interest of the locals, and patiently explain that inhabitants of the rural byways should oppose capitalist war, at least as fervently as do members of the urban enclaves. But, for good or ill and for all practical purposes, these struggles are not currently taking place. For the anarchist communist whose strategy is, not to create and then lead mass struggles, but rather to participate in and bring a libertarian, revolutionary sensibility to existing struggles, resistance to Mountaintop Removal is not merely a wise strategic choice, but practically the only game in town.

With a few notable exceptions (such as a pair of recent Latino farm worker victories in Florida and North Carolina), labor struggles in the rural South (including Appalachia) follow the national trend, declining in frequency and militancy. And whereas resentment towards the rich man's war in Iraq has the potential to serve as a flashpoint for class struggle elsewhere (and should certainly not be categorically dismissed anywhere), still, rural Appalachians tend towards a certain xenophobia, that limits the potential effectiveness of using the war to exploit the class divide. Only the hatred of Mountaintop Removal mining sparks an immediate fire in the eyes of locals down to the corner store, while simultaneously presenting a stark contrast between the interests of the wealthy (mostly absentee) corporate titans, and residents who grew up farming, hiking, hunting, and fishing the endangered mountaintops and nearby, similarly threatened bottoms and streams. Only Mountaintop Removal serves to immediately, passionately, unite the community against the oppressors.

The Current State of Resistance

Resistance to MTR generally take one of two forms, that may be categorized according to either tactics or ideology: the liberal community groups who prioritize fundraising and government lobbying, and the champions of direct action within Earth First!, who operate under the influence of Deep Ecology and primitivism. Though neither approach should be summarily dismissed, both offer obvious weaknesses. Ideologically, what the two spheres share is a certain conservatism, a desire to return to a former, presumably better state of existence, the liberals harking back to the ideals of the USA's Founding Fathers, the primitivists reaching considerably further back into the mists of history in their quest for a mythical Eden. What both schools of thought lack is a coherent vision of how to go forward, given the current morass. At any rate, let is look closer at each type of grouping.

The former probably bears little description, being the typical reformist groups that adhere to the ideals of liberal democracy, ranging from the huge, impotent Sierra Club down to a plethora of similar, but smaller organizations. Such groups are typically organized and dominated by middle class liberals, and prioritize fundraising and lobbying; but their membership (and also a large number of nonaligned, but sympathetic community members) includes a wide swath of the working class. (The very quantity of such organizations may bode well for the possibility of penetration by anti-hierarchical voices, implying as it does a decentralized, community oriented structure.)

At a glance, the latter type groups, the Earth First! groupings, might appear closest to the ideals of the historical anarchist project, championing as they do "direct action" in lieu of reformist strategies. (I do not refer to direct action in the classical syndicalist sense of strikes, boycotts, and sabotage, but instead militant actions taken by community members to halt construction projects, often in the form of chaining oneself to a piece of equipment. By way of full disclosure, the author of this article spent the better part of two years intimately involved in just such a group, and continues to count several such activists among his personal friends.)

Within these circles, the influence of primitivist thought ranges from conscious, self-described adherents of primitivist ideology, to latent, knee jerk reactions against anything that smacks of a technological development. (I was once privy to a hilarious discussion, in which someone argued passionately against constructing an e-mail list on technological grounds, offering in its stead… a phone tree!) The temptation is to dismiss such groups as primitivists, and thereby hostile to the principles of anarchism. The leaders and members of these groups, however, insist that primitivism is a form of anarchism. However vehemently an anarchist communist may disagree with this formulation, the fact remains that they, themselves, consider it true. As a result, many admirable traits and habits typical of anarchist collectives adhere to them, including earnest efforts to organize in a non-hierarchal fashion, and taking a respectful attitude towards local working class communities (about which more will be said).

Surprisingly, in my experience the differences in ideology between the prevailing sentiments of primitivism and Deep Ecology as opposed to a class struggle perspective, presented few immediate impediments to successful cooperation. Adherents of both schools of thought threw themselves wholeheartedly into producing and distributing literature within the community detailing the perils of MTR, organizing protests outside the local TVA office towers, and eventually planning and attempting the disruption of a mining site.

(The latter operation I only learned of after the fact, though I did not disapprove. Also, while this article focuses on MTR, our group was simultaneously opposing the construction of a proposed superstore, to be built on a wetland. There too, a combination of literature distribution, visible demonstrations, and direct action work stoppages was employed. Though involved in both campaigns, I was more deeply and directly involved in the campaign to stop the store. So to an extent, some of my conclusions are extrapolations from the superstore campaign, applied to the campaign against MTR).

Over time it became apparent to me, that our direct action scenarios were not building links with the community at large. This, in spite of the fact that a surprising degree of cooperation existed between the militants and reformists. The leadership of the two groups actually worked in close coordination, employing something of a good protestor, bad protestor strategy, playing on the authorities fears of widespread vandalism on the one hand, while offering a moderate voice to negotiate with, on the other. The strategy, though not wildly successful, may have been sound, given the circumstances. Ultimately however, I came to the conclusion that the use of dramatic lockdowns only served to widen, rather than narrow, the gap between the anti-authoritarian pole of the movement, and the mainstream environmentalists (as represented by the rank and file of the reformist community groups.) The image of the no holds barred, militant warrior, though arguably tactically useful, and certainly an image in which an activist might glory- I was guilty of such myself- became, I am convinced, ultimately alienating to the very folks whose timidity and passivity we lamented.

Paralleling theory to tactics, it is worth noting that the divide I refer to, that might be described as the distance between the "freaks" and "square" society, between the activist subculture and the citizenry, is celebrated somewhat on the pages of the more intelligent primitivist literature such as Fifth Estate magazine. (I can't comment on other primitivist publications, as I long ago stopped reading them). This dichotomy between the masses and the activists appears to be a conscious choice. [2]

Still, again, there is much to like in the functioning of the Earth First! groups. The Mountain Justice Summer campaign, an Earth First! led initiative, draws inspiration from the west coast's Redwood Summer (which in turn was inspired by yesteryear's Freedom Summer). It has proven to be an impressive organizational effort that has brought many of the various community groups opposing MTR together under a common umbrella to present a united front against the coal bosses. Furthermore, the campaign was launched with a "listening project", essentially canvassing door to door to learn directly from community members how they are affected by MTR, or how they fear they might in the future be affected. Finally, the Earth First! people, being activists coming in from outside the community, volunteered to forgo property destruction as a tactic (while refusing to condemn any community members who choose to do such. Even so, certain reformist groups disassociated themselves from the Justice Summer effort. [3] ) Such a respectful approach to working class communities is sorely lacking in political circles of all stripes.

So it would be a mistake to dismiss wholesale the work of these folks, on ideological grounds. Nevertheless, the fact that Earth First! activists work in cooperation with the community groups- but ultimately outside of them- separates their efforts from an anarchist communist approach. The content of the membership of the reformist community groups, makes them a more attractive terrain for the anarchist communist revolutionary. The community groups opposing MTR are the nearest thing in existence to the workers organized against capital, within modern, rural, Southern Appalachia. Defying the control of these groups by liberals (who defend the interests of a relatively privileged strata of the middle class) is the front line in the Appalachian class war.

At this juncture we can only speculate regarding the ways in which a community organization controlled by the local working class might differ from the status quo. Certainly the more impoverished residents, without the last resort option of selling some capital and relocating to another area, could be expected to be more militant and ultimately, more radical, in their opposition to Mountaintop Removal coal mining.

A Strategy for Rural, Southern Appalachian Anarchists

I have described, in brief and to the best of my ability, the activist and social landscape of Southern Appalachia. I have argued that Mountaintop Removal mining, though perhaps not the ideal terrain for taking on the bosses- the lack of any leverage at the point of production is notably lacking- is, nevertheless, the best, perhaps the only option for a revolutionary anarchist seeking to intervene in the class struggle. During the previous century Malatesta argued that revolutionaries, rather than attempting to build the perfect union before inviting workers to join, should instead take their efforts inside the existing workers organizations. In a similar fashion, community organizations opposing MTR are where the workers of Southern Appalachia may be found, congregating in gymnasiums, schools, and yes, Baptist churches, to mount a united defense against the bosses of the coal mining corporations. These fellow workers are in dire need of a revolutionary voice countering the middle class, liberal orthodoxy, reminding that such rearguard actions as the struggle against MTR will remain an ongoing necessity, until the administration of the community's affairs is at last assumed by the community itself.

The job is enormous, the obstacles may appear overwhelming, and our numbers are likely miniscule, but this is the task before us. May this little article serve as an invitation to fellow class oriented anarchists around the region who labor fruitlessly in other struggles- or perhaps who are currently active in opposing Mountaintop Removal coal mining, but in isolation from fellow class struggle anarchists- to establish contact, set some common long-term goals, identify the immediate chores, and set to work. We have nothing to lose but our chains, and our homes in the mountains to regain.

Written for

[1]- The AF of Ireland interviews a Wobbly in Appalachia:

[2]- The most recent (Fall, 2006) issue of Fifth Estate includes at least two extensive treatments of Beat literature, examining the naturist poet and Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Snider, and also Alan Ginsburg of Howl fame. A case could be made for Beat writer Charles Bukowski as a poet for the masses, but I will leave that topic for another day, and another author.

[3]- The website of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition contains a discussion regarding this controversy

author by Joe - WSM - personal capacitypublication date Tue Jan 02, 2007 00:35Report this post to the editors

Thanks for this interesting article. Are you aware of the struggle against the experimental gas pipeline in Rossport, Ireland?

It shares some similarities with the MTR struggle but also is interesting because the 'activists' in the Rossport Solidarity Camp tend to be of 'class struggle' anarchist background and focused on building solidarity with the actions of the local community rather that being 'action warriors' out in front. There is quite a lot about this struggle on Anarkismo and a quite detailed index of articles on the WSM site at

There is a good theoretical article called 'Environmentalism, Class and Community' by a WSM member who has lived at the Rossport Solidarity Camp for most of the last 12 months and who was previously involved in road protests at

author by Yespublication date Sat Jan 13, 2007 05:07Report this post to the editors

Seriously! Who gives a fuck about debating "primitivism" versus "platformist anarcho-communism." This shit is relevant in certain journals maybe, but more appropriate in person-to-person interaction, but completely irrelevant for anarchist organizing and fighting mountain top removal. Nobody gives a god damn shit if you're against civilization or just against the state and capitalism, as long as you agree on fighting certain struggles for the Earth like the one against mountain top removal.

Yes, there is indeed serious class conflict in Appalacia, there are your "average" everyday people living in small towns fed up with the corporations destroying the mountains, average people talking about armed revolt. But picking apart what you view as primitivism is such a waste of time. It is also rediculous for primitivists to be referred to as conservatives, are you kidding me? Moreover, to imply that anti-civilization anarchists are NOT anarchists is astounding. I've interacted with very few people, no matter how stauchly against their ideas, who would go as far as to say they're not anarchists. If anything, they're even more so anarchist given the deep analysis of parts of society usually not touched on in most anarchist discussions to see elements of hierarchy played out. Seriously, you can disagree with whoever you want, but to imply that anti-civ anarchists or primitivists aren't anarchists is rediculous. To my knowledge there is really one person that's specifically primitivist, but not anarchist, and that's the Unabomber, and I've never met anyone that agreed with his ideas and actions completely, most think he's a rediculous asshole.

I'm extremely interested in reading more about class conflict in Appalacia and regarding MTR as I've met many people over the summer involved in such struggles, but this article reveals what is all too present from "class-struggle" anarchists (As if such a category even existed before someone invented it to separate themselves from those "other" anarchists) is criticism of green anarchists WITHOUT ACTUALLY KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT GREEN ANARCHY. Don't deny it, because I used to do the same thing, passing off any criticism of technology or other things has being stupid, not AT ALL bothering to even read into it, analyze it, or think about it myself. It is evident in most criticisms of green anarchy that no actual critique is going on based on real knowledge of the subject at hand but rather wholesale rejection of things based on how a book's cover looks.

author by Andrewpublication date Sat Jan 13, 2007 06:11Report this post to the editors

Green anarchism is not the same thing as primtivism, nor is it opposed to 'red anarchism'

Primitivism is opposed to the historic goals of anarchism - thus has been analysed in great detail on this site and the core arguments have yet to be answered. If you want to have a go try

And it makes a lot more sense to argue this out online then to disrupt local campaigns with such train spotting.

author by Randy - ctc supporterpublication date Sat Jan 13, 2007 23:36Report this post to the editors

I'm disappointed that "Yes" feels called upon to rant against the article I wrote. To begin with, the article was not written to, for, and only tangentially about, primitivists or primitivism. Still- even though I find primitivism to be a rather silly group of ideas- as I say in the article, I know several folks who call themselves primitivists, who I do not consider silly people at all. For that reason, I would prefer that anarchists who advocate social revolution, and primitivists who advocate the overthrow of society itself (I think), adopt a more cordial tone when discussing our differences.

The gist of Yes's argument seems to be that it is okay to debate the difference in ideologies on the pages of journals (and presumably on web sites as well) so long as the discussion remains entirely abstract, and actual concrete struggles are not discussed. ("…relevant in certain journals maybe, but more appropriate in person-to-person interaction, but completely irrelevant for anarchist organizing and fighting mountain top removal…") I am not sure how to respond to this. I think that when theory is entirely divorced from experience, it becomes a useless, intellectual exercise. Perhaps Yes could explain why applying theory to practice is so objectionable?

(I'm camping this weekend, but will continue asap.)

author by mitchpublication date Sun Jan 14, 2007 14:17author email wsany at hotmail dot comReport this post to the editors

Heard about this struggle here in the NY metro area a while back.

Interesting artcile.

author by Randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Mon Jan 15, 2007 03:26Report this post to the editors

As I have already stated, the idea that theory should be strictly quarantined from practice, is an idea that strikes me as odd at best. Until an argument is presented to support the assertion, I can hardly discuss it.

"Nobody gives a god damn shit if you're against civilization or just against the state and capitalism…"

It does matter if a person is against civilization, or against capitalism and its supporting state. Of course there are areas where anarchists and primitivists can work together (such as opposing MTR). Still, to say one's politics don't matter, is to say that one's ultimate goals are irrelevant. Once again, this is asserted rather than argued, and I think most reasonable people would reply, "Huh?"

When I said primitivism was a conservative viewpoint, I did not mean in the sense of the liberal/conservative poles in mainstream U.S. discourse. I meant in the sense of "tending to oppose change." Since primitivists actually wish to return to a bygone era rather than defending the status quo, perhaps reactionary would have been more accurate.

Andrew has already pointed to the discussions establishing primitivism as being at odds with anarchism, so I will not reply to that.

As for my supposedly dismissing "green anarchism" out of ignorance: that is simply not true. I researched the tenets of Deep Ecology before getting involved with Earth First. I still read Fifth Estate on a regular basis, have had an article (on home schooling) published in that mag, and recently had a letter printed there. I read AJODA for a while some years ago, and even had one ( very critical) letter printed there. I have read issues of Green Anarchy. I still surf infoshop on occasion. I have even suffered through a couple of articles by Zerzan. If anything, I have devoted more time to the study of this topic than its importance merits.

In closing, I will say that someone who is so all fired up for action against MTR, I would expect to look favorably on an article that calls for anarchists to take coordinated action in campaigns to that effect.

author by Yespublication date Mon Jan 15, 2007 07:21Report this post to the editors

In retrospect I didn't mean to totally come off as hostile. I have a few intended points, one is that green anarchists in general are passed off as crazy without even being listened to. Second is that you don't need to agree with the goals of green anarchy to aknowledge that it IS anarchist and that many tribes of people have been living in states of anarchy for tens of thousands of years, maybe not your desired form of anarchy, but anarchy nonetheless. Also, saying that primitivism is against the core tenets of "traditional" anarchism, what core tenets are you talking about, industrial federations? If so then yes, primitivists would be against industrialism but that also implies that anarchism has only be relevant for the past 200 years. And how Marxist to hold industrialism on such an important pedestal as if it's our only hope for a non-hierarchial society, come on. Thirdly, the division made between "green" and "red" anarchists is not appropriate for most situations and creates unnecessary division on points both would agree on. Overall green anarchists and other anarchists tend to support the same kinds of actions, participate in similar campaigns, and participate in the same projects. So then, to say that there should be division and exclusion within these things that ALL anarchists have interest in is absurd. I'm not saying you necessary are advocating that but I have seen many say just that. So in relation to MTR my argument is that more anarchists should be fighting this horrific environmental tragedy and that it is relevant to everyone and doesn't matter in this sense what you believe in, as long as you're unified at least on points that this should not be done to the Earth. I'm of the opinion that anarchists spend too much time fighting each other rather than fighting the system. The various pamplets made critiquing green anarchy and vice versa....who are these relevant to? Who's the audience? If the answer is one subsection of the anarchist movement, who really gives a shit. This is the kind of shit marxists do, a model we should stay VERY FAR away from. If you give a pamplet to someone on the street entitled "A Leninist-Maoist Marxist critique of the aims of Libertarian Socialism," the first thing the person is going to think is "What the fuck language is this written in?" and secondly, "What does any of this mean?" and thirdly "Why are these people fighting so much with each other?" and then probably throw it out, righly concluding that this has nothing to do with their life. This is what I'm talking about, that a lot of energy is wasted channeling it toward sectarian division rather than actual revolutionary activity. Take the G8, everyone goes there to riot, destroy corporate property, fight the police, in hopes of creating some insurrectionary moment where people could take over and use their power in numbers to overcome the state in one place and begin something better. This is in the dreams of every anarchist who would go to this event, so who cares what stripe of anarchist you are if you're going to be all doing the same things? Likewise, we shouldn't be looking at MTR with "What ideology should I approach this with?" but "What tactics will be effective in stopping this and who can I work with?"

author by Randy - ctc supporter (per cap)publication date Mon Jan 15, 2007 09:29Report this post to the editors

Yes says that green anarchists "are passed off as crazy without even being listened to." Maybe so, maybe not. But beyond doubt, the above article is not guilty of such. I said "…The temptation is to dismiss such (Earth First!) groups as primitivists… (but) many admirable traits and habits typical of anarchist collectives adhere to them… The differences in ideology… presented few immediate impediments to successful cooperation… There is much to like in the functioning of the Earth First! groups… (Their) respectful approach to working class communities is sorely lacking in political circles of all stripes." This hardly constitutes being "passed off as crazy", with or without a fair hearing.

And of course, of course, I am not a champion of industrial capitalism. I oppose MTR strip mining, for one obvious example. But being critical of industrialism, does not make anarchists of primitivists. (I am not going to go into that debate here, as it has already been ably handled on another thread.)

Nor did I make the "absurd" case that primitivists (or anyone else opposed to MTR) should be excluded from campaigns. I simply said that I thought class struggle anarchists who are actively opposing MTR, should coordinate their efforts.

"…who are these relevant to? Who's the audience?"

Now I think we get to the heart of the matter. This article was written for It was never intended to be passed out on street corners to the un-politicized. Had it been, I would agree that it is bad, bad, bad. But it was not. Nor was it intended for a general leftist audience. It was written by a platformist, for an audience of like minded folks, to discuss how best to apply a set of principles *on which we all already pretty much agree on* (employing specifically anarchist organizations within mass struggles to advance anarchist communist ideals), to a given place and time, rural southern Appalachia at the dawn of the third millennium. You, or anyone else, are more than welcome to take part in the discussion, and even to criticize. But the intended audience of this particular article is, frankly, quite narrow. If two, no, if even one anarchist in Appalachia contacts me as a result of this piece, I will consider it a success. But Yes insists that my desire to link my efforts with other likeminded revolutionaries in the area is divisive and sectarian. How so?

Finally, I am not, as Yes contends, shopping for an ideology to apply to MTR. I have been committed to the ideals of anarchist communism for some years now. I am studying out how best to apply those ideals in a particular place and time.

All theory with no organizing or tactical conflict, is just so much navel gazing. But similarly, all action, any action and who cares what direction we are going as long as we are in motion- that is weak as well. Theory should inform tactics, and experience in turn inform theory. It's a called a dialectic relationship (a word in use before Marx picked it up, thankee very much).

author by Randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Mon Jan 15, 2007 20:25Report this post to the editors

Perhaps it is because I seek to make contact specifically with other class struggle anarchists, that Yes considers my efforts sectarian. However, I would hope such contact would bear fruit, in the form of literature contending that "such rearguard actions as the struggle against MTR will remain an ongoing necessity, until the administration of the community's affairs is at last assumed by the community itself." In other words, such battles will be necessary until capitalism is overthrown. Anyone (such as a primitivist, or a Leninist, or a liberal) who does not share the vision of a self-managed post revolutionary society, could hardly play a useful role in the project. That's not sectarian, that's just common sense.

Now, I do not propose the production of such literature in the stead of tactical measures against the coal companies and their state, actions in which a mass of people would take part. I propose such literature *in addition to* such measures. But even in the choice of tactics to argue for, theory can (should) play a part. While I would never be so dogmatic as to automatically rule out a lawsuit in any particular struggle, in general, mass direct action takes us closer to community self management than a legal challenge ever could. Empowering the community is immensely important, for one who advocates ultimate community self management (that is, an anarchist communist.) One's political theory does in fact affect one's choice of actions. Theory does not exist in a vacuum (unless, for whatever reason, one has adopted a theory with negligible practical application.)

author by Ned - nonepublication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 05:09author address appalachiaReport this post to the editors

Ok. So the Appalachian coalfields are my home and I was scanning around the internet and came across your article.

First the overall tone of your article is arrogant and self-righteous. Second, it misses the point about the issues here in the coalfields and how we "feel" about MTR and other issues. It is good to understand so clearly that there are many radicals or trend following activist types that would look on our region as an opportunity to live out their political fantasies. But for those who live and work here this is a community. The main issue is you think that your urban outlook is something to import to bring us liberation and freedom and that an activist issue is going to spark the passions of the “locals” to rise up.

Think about how crazy this sounds. You want to use people to prove a political point and see an issue as an entry point to get to the masses. Not a lot of real soul in that is there?

Instead, you should try teaching in a rural school for ten year or work for a community center that is building small local enterprise if you want to do something in this region. While these opportunities take hard work and lack the radical garb it is where the real change in the mountains is occurring. Do I want to stop MTR? Yes, and I’ve spoken out, fought permits, protected my families land, and encouraged my neighbors to do the same.

But, your take on it is offensive and does not leave a good taste in my mouth. Work in your own community, but don’t look at where I live as an opportunity to live out some fantasy life.

author by randy - ctc supporter (personal capacity)publication date Fri Feb 02, 2007 06:10Report this post to the editors

Ned's comments are difficult to respond to, as they appear to be based on assumptions that are incorrect. He assumes that the author of this article lives in an urban area far from Appalachia. Perhaps this fits some preconceived notion that he has of "radicals". But he is mistaken. Certainly how locals "feel" is a subjective assessment, and reasonable people might disagree. But that he knows these feelings beyond doubt, whereas I am only guessing (because I'm an urban outsider) is simply wrong. I AM working in my own community- that is the entire purpose of this document, to propose a plan of action for my area. If Ned has any specific criticisms of the article, beyond a general complaint that he doesn't want his neighbors writing from a revolutionary perspective, I would be glad to respond.

author by jeff - wcsupublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 03:24Report this post to the editors

I was really looking forward to some substantive analysis; instead this seems to take cheap shots at primitist theory.

The author (who?) seemed more interested on criticizing very superficial aspects of primitivism or green anarchy in general. There is merit in critiquing any tactic or ideology labeled as anarchist, but it seems, from the beginning the context given to what green anarchy is about was an unfair and dishonest one. This makes me seriously question the validity of the description of so-called primitivist tactics. Referring consistently to an imaginary primtivist ideology, the author conveniently ignores developing a real criticism of green anarchy by defining it in simplistic terms.

Some of the examples given are classic leftist anarchist tactics backing the ideas of primitivism into a corner without seriously examining some of the basic concepts. I won't really elaborate on this because many of these observations were made by previous comments.

I also want to say that if anarchists are opposed to hierarchy, domination, patriarchy, social/ecological exploitation, it's a good idea to develop a theory that understands the roots of all of these. Beause all of this is (relatively) absent before agriculture, private property and civilization, whether "primitivist" or not, it is a nessescary aspect that should not be dismissed as silly or, even worse, as the author labels it "conservative". While I don't agree with all primitivist theory or practice, it's pretty clear that humans lived for roughly 99% of their history as anarchists-without state, without instituions, classes, patriarchy, organized warfare, ecological degredation, etc.

Those who dismiss primitvisim as a silly, conservative ideology that tries to essentialize a fantastical eden in the distant past really need to question whose ideas of progress and history they are swallowing and whether or not they are in line with any belief in the dismantlement of hierarchy

author by Randy - supports Anarkismo statementpublication date Fri Jan 02, 2009 19:13Report this post to the editors

If Jeff wants to learn more about the anarchist critique of primitivism, he should see I'm not going to be drawn into an extended discussion on the topic, in the comments section of an article about a strategy for resistance to Mountain Top Removal.

By way of response, I will only say that I have yet to read a "substantive" response to the article's only (rather understated) criticism of primitivism: that while it has an extensive analysis of history (and there's certainly nothing wrong with that, in itself), it offers no realistic program for moving forward. Anarchism does.

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