A sketch of Wildism in contrast to leftism

Editor’s note: The following piece, written by one of our editors, John Jacobi, explains some of the basics of Wildism, the official editorial position of this magazine. As our about page explains, you don’t have to agree with the editorial position to submit to, enjoy, or even work (as staff) for the magazine. But we do encourage readers to interact with the editorial position, to push back when the editors are wrong, and to maybe help us find out what we can do about the current industrial disaster.


I.

A friend recently sent me an email in which she complained about the poverty of Wildist critiques of leftism:

You and other wildists have spent a lot of time articulating what leftism is so that you can later say “we are not that.” And usually your rebuke of leftism is hardly explained well. The only real reason I understand is that it inundates a movement with all sorts of causes, so weakens the one or two most important ones. But it’s obvious you reject leftism for more reasons than just that. And even if those reasons were clear, you would be better off explaining what you’re for, since any number of political belief systems could be “non-leftist,” and if what your [sic] for really has no similarity to left-wing groups, they would not be attracted to it anyway.

My friend is correct that, now that the critique of leftism is out of the way, Wildism should devote more time and energy to explaining what Wildism is. In this essay, I do not intend to give an exhaustive exposition of all the principles of Wildism and their consequences, but I do hope to give the general character and approach of the Wildist ideology, especially in the places that it differs from the left. In this way we might take some steps toward a positive articulation of our ideology and, consequently, the way it differs from some other non-leftist ideologies as well, such as laissez-faire libertarianism.

But first, a note on why it was necessary to begin with a critique of leftism. I believe that my friend has undeserved faith in the left to recognize its incompatibility with a given ideology and to walk away from the ideology without conflict. As Ted Kaczynski pointed out in “Industrial Society and Its Future,” as Último Reducto pointed out in “Leftism,” and as a recent study on “victimhood culture” on college campuses pointed out,[1] the psychological character of the contemporary left is characterized largely by a quest for power. Of course, the left’s ideological battles against sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. are serious commitments for many, especially among the oversocialized; but the quest for power as an underlying psychological motive often determines how those battles play out. For example, if the left were seriously committed to ending sexism and racism, you would think they would dedicate most if not all of their time attacking the most powerful structures in our society producing these ills. Instead, a significant portion of the left focuses on attacking relatively powerless or insignificant figures or groups. For example, at a recent Earth First! Rendezvous (2015), a clique of rather noxious individuals threw a great fit about the white people with dreadlocks. A leftist might be able to look at this event positively: perhaps, he might think, we have done so well at achieving our goals that these white people are the only ones left to attack. But given the race riots that have recently flared up all over the US, I think we can all agree that this perspective would be delusional, and the unpleasant individuals throwing their temper tantrum could have engaged in much more productive work. Another example: earlier this year a petition began circulating that called for an all-white, all-male rock band named “Black Pussy” to change its name or suffer a boycott. The petition got significant press, and at least one venue cancelled on the band after complaints and threats.[2] One Facebook event description for a protest against the band called the band’s refusal to change their name “an act of racialised, sexist violence.”[3] All this, despite the band not being well known before the petition and almost definitely benefitting from the controversy. These kinds of things are typical of the contemporary left, and it is because a significant amount of left-wing activists are more interested in getting fulfillment from exercising collective power than they are interested in the actual cause they profess to be fighting for.[4]

The underlying quest for power means that at least a faction of the left often flocks to movements once they begin to become influential, and sometimes this includes movements that are decidedly not leftist in character to begin with. An elegant example of this can be seen in the history of Earth First!, which provides us with historical evidence that even if a movement’s original principles are not compatible with leftist values and currents, the movement may still become subject to “leftist swarm.”[5] This might occur for no other reason than the leftist need to embark on a noble crusade to eradicate all the perceived evil -isms from a movement. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance to clearly and explicitly articulate a rejection of leftism, and to maintain due diligence in avoiding the terrible disease of “leftist swarm.”

There is an added complication. Several currents in the “New Left” talk about “rejecting leftism” and have the delusional belief that they themselves are not part of the left-wing. (This is especially popular amongst anarchists and New Left types.) Usually these currents mean three things by “the left.” First, they sometimes mean only the most innocuous of left-wingers, the liberals or progressives, who are derided because they are “not radical enough.” Oftentimes the progressive application of left-wing values (through NGOs, international bodies like the UN, etc.) are seen as “co-optation” of left-wing struggles. But this is not “co-optation” in the normal sense. Che Guevara t-shirts are an example of capitalist co-optation: they depict and idealize a left-wing hero, but only after he has been drained of all meaning and detached from any significant challenge to capitalism. The “co-optation” of NGOs and international bodies, however, are real applications of left-wing values. Survival International really does want to see an eradication of “settler culture”; the NAACP really does want to see black equality in the US; and the UN really is fighting for gender equity, among other things. They may have differences with more extreme left-wing groups concerning analysis and strategy, but the values are basically the same. The second use of the term “leftist,” as it is used by other leftists, refers to the “Old Left.” Usually the cited reasons for rejecting the Old Left include its reliance on hierarchical organizations (or even “organization” itself), its emphasis on ideology rather than “lived experience,” and its focus on the working class rather than a focus on “all forms of oppression.” Finally, not everyone on the left likes the power-seekers who spend more energy attacking other leftists and left-wing movements than they do governments and elite classes. Oftentimes these people are derided as “identity politicians” or something else, but sometimes they are the meaning behind a left-winger’s confusingly derogatory use of the term “leftist.” All this again indicates that without an explicit statement of what leftism is and an accompanying rejection of it, a movement could easily become vulnerable to left-wingers and their web of causes. For all these reasons, we started with a statement of rejection and are now moving on from there.

II.

We can divide the tenets of a political ideology into two categories: analysis and values. Analysis concerns an understanding for what is: where does the problem come from, how can it be solved, etc. Values, on the other hand, are the principles, objects, or qualities that the group that believes the ideology holds in high regard. The two categories are not strictly separate of course. For example, the question “What is the problem?” involves both analysis and values. And since analysis is an epistemological issue, it involves at least an implicit set of “epistemological values” such as a preference for simplicity, scope, etc. But the categories are separate more or less, which ends up meaning that two ideologies can have an identical analysis but diverge in extreme ways because of a difference in values, and vice versa.

The Wildist analysis relies on the principles behind scientific materialism and — especially — one of its most important theories, the theory of evolution. Scientific materialism is simply the idea that all things in the universe are material (i.e., made of matter or energy) and all phenomena are a result of material processes. (This idea cannot be absolutely proven, nor, for that matter, can any of our knowledge, but, as I explain in “The Revolutionary Importance of Science,” this is not a very strong argument against it.) Our scientific materialism also comes with a set of epistemological values that prefer “accuracy, consistency, scope, simplicity, and fruitfulness”[6] (or, as the philosopher of science Imre Lakatos put it, “predictive” and “explanatory power”[7]); and it accepts, at least by way of a modest metaphor, that an “out there” exists, and that we can both discover it and more or less accurately represent it with our language, theories, and models.[8]

The Wildist analysis also relies on a concept called “consilience,” which is, according to Merriam-Webster, “the linking together of principles from different disciplines especially when forming a comprehensive theory.” In other words, it is the belief that our ideas about culture should not contradict our ideas about psychology, which should not contradict our ideas about biology, which should not contradict our ideas about physics, and so on; rather, all these disciplines should complement and inform each other.[9] This is an especially important principle to keep in mind when trying to understand social processes and culture, since a lot of literature on the subject agrees with Emile Durkheim’s opposite idea that social phenomena are autonomous from the material world and can therefore only be explained by other social phenomena.[10] For example, Durkheim’s idea, or a version of it, is the inspiration for the alleged difference between sex and gender, with idealist theorists often claiming that gender is completely unrelated to sex, or, at the very least, that gender, a “social construct,” is best explained by other social phenomena, like power. In contrast to Durkheim’s idea, an analysis of social life that is consilient with other scientific disciplines can be found, for example, in the work of evolutionary psychologists, who point out that many ideas around gender are rooted in material sex differences.[11] In fact, a consilient view, such as the one offered by Diane Halpern in Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities,[12] would find that even the division between gender and sex is dubious.

Scientific materialism immediately separates Wildism from the majority of other ideologies in existence today, including all ideologies that believe in a supernatural realm and those that believe in a realm autonomous from material processes. The former includes almost every religion, except for a small group of quasi-religions like Unitarian Universalism (and even then only some of the time). The second includes many leftist currents, including the social constructionism common among feminists, and orthodox Marxism, which relies on “the dialectic.” Indeed, the left has had a rather tumultuous relationship with Darwin’s idea of evolution. The Soviet communists called genetics “a bourgeois pseudoscience” and replaced Darwinian evolution with Lamarckism and Lysenkoism. And the anarchists were so upset at Darwin’s recognition that competition played the dominant role in evolution that one anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, outlined his alternative theory that cooperation was just as important a factor, if not more important.[13] Even today, Marxists like Stephen Jay Gould continue to have trouble accepting the full implications of evolutionary psychology.[14]

Some important clarifications: we do not believe that science and reason have any intrinsic morality, nor do we believe that education based on the principles of science and reason will somehow eradicate the “darker” sides of human behavior (i.e., usually the sides of human nature that are an obstacle to the proper functioning of civilization). These are all delusional Enlightenment ideas, and they have been partially debunked by science itself.

By “science,” we mean “scientific thinking,” and when we advocate scientific thinking, we are only necessarily advocating it for the small group of revolutionaries dedicated to aiding the collapse of industry. This is because science, despite its real problems, is simply the best tool we have to understand our reality, explain it, and in some limited ways predict it. This matters for revolutionaries in particular, because without a proper understanding of reality, they significantly increase their likelihood of failure. Think of the countless hours revolutionaries with a religious ideology have spent praying, studying scriptures, or doing some other task that does little to breed useful knowledge for their cause. Furthermore, without scientific reasoning or some measure by which to evaluate empirical claims, we are left politically impotent: the king who claims he has divine authority, the climate-change deniers, the touters of racist pseudoscience all have as much claim to truth as we. Obscuring the truth has been a great tool for the powerful to exercise their power over mystified populations.

Of course, these reasons for a scientific analysis means that we believe it would benefit most people in their day-to-day lives in some way. However, and this point cannot be overstated, the goal of Wildism is not to indoctrinate or evangelize to the general population; it is to have a tangible effect on the functioning of industrial society. For various reasons, an ideology is conducive to this goal, but for the most part these reasons do not make it necessary for anyone beyond the core of committed revolutionaries to believe it.

And finally: we do not advocate scientific exploration at the expense of freedom and wild Nature. It is utterly disgusting to tear up a forest for a massive lab that will only be used as a playground for technocratic physicists who like to smash atoms together. What is worse still is that the findings of those physicists contribute to some of the most dangerous threats we face today. Knowledge is important, but we must always ask, “Knowledge at what cost?” Thus, the importance of values.

III.

A different analysis alone does not differentiate us from leftism. Indeed, many of the most convincing left-wing currents agree with our analysis one-hundred percent, but their values result in different obligations and conclusions regarding the same issues. In the following paragraphs we will examine the political views of Peter Singer, Steven Pinker, and Noam Chomsky, three people who believe in scientific materialism yet maintain left-wing viewpoints. While we review their beliefs, keep in mind the three values that Último Reducto discerned were present in all forms of leftism: equality, indiscriminate solidarity, and justice (or “liberation”) for victims or alleged victims.[15]

In 1999 Peter Singer published a book entitled A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution and Cooperation, in which he argued that the left should not:

  • Deny the existence of a human nature, nor insist that human nature is inherently good, nor that it is infinitely malleable;
  • Expect to end all conflict and strife between human beings, whether by political revolution, social change, or better education;
  • Assume that all inequalities are due to discrimination, prejudice, oppression or social conditioning. Some will be, but this cannot be assumed in every case…[16]

…and that the left should use knowledge of human nature to better actualize its values, one of the most notable being compassion for victims. Indeed, in his book Singer defines the left by this value: “If we shrug our shoulders at the avoidable suffering of the weak and the poor, of those who are getting exploited and ripped off, or who simply do not have enough to sustain life at a decent level, we are not of the left.”

Singer argues against an appeal to nature — that what is natural is good — and says that despite the fact that competition is a central part of evolution, the left should “promote structures that foster cooperation rather than competition.” This echoes statements made by Richard Dawkins, who has said we humans should be “deliberately cultivating and nurturing pure, disinterested altruism — something that has no place in nature, something that has never existed before in the whole history of the world.”[17] All these goals, Singer argues, would be easier to achieve with a proper understanding of reality.

Singer outlines his idea of equality, which is “not a description of an alleged actual equality among humans” but “a prescription of how we should treat human beings.”[18] Of course, the idea of granting equal moral consideration to every human being is rather new. But Singer is also the author of a book The Expanding Circle, in which he argues that, although altruism developed in order to protect kin and community members, this biological inclination is now the basis for an ethical choice that expands the circle of moral consideration to all human beings and even, as Singer argued in another book, to animals.[19] (This is to what Último Reducto refers when he mentions indiscriminate solidarity.) The expansion of our moral circle is, according to Singer, a sign of “moral progress,” which we achieve through the application of our reasoning abilities.

Pinker has similar opinions as Singer. For example, he says of equality: “The ideal of political equality is not a guarantee that people are innately indistinguishable”; rather, “it is a policy to recognize inalienable rights in all people by virtue of the fact that they are sentient human beings.”[20] The mission to institute policies and structures that include all vulnerable populations into this vision is, according to Pinker, an important part of achieving the ideal. Again, in this he is in complete agreement with Singer. What Pinker does better than Singer, however, is illustrate the infrastructure, organization, and complexity necessary to achieve and maintain an expanded moral circle. More on this later.

Chomsky is not much different from the other two in his beliefs. I only mention him here because he is loved by (or at worst innocuous to) most portions of the left; Singer and Pinker, on the other hand, have received very significant and visceral hatred from factions on the left, so a left-winger reading this essay might be tempted to say that what I have written here does not accurately represent leftist views. I doubt anyone can say such a thing about Chomsky. Chomsky also offers to us an added insight into the left-wing idea of equality, which is only vaguely articulated sometimes because of the discrepancy in possible meanings:

The distinction between equality of condition and equality of rights loses its apparent sharpness when we attend to it more closely. Suppose that individuals, at each stage of their personal existence, are to be accorded their intrinsic human rights; in this sense, “equality of rights” is to be upheld. Then conditions must be such that they can enjoy these rights. To the extent that inequality of condition impairs the exercise of these rights, it is illegitimate and is to be overcome, in a decent society. What, then, are these rights? If they include the right to develop one’s capacities to the fullest, to realize what Marx calls the “species character” of “free conscious activity” and “productive life” in free associations based on constructive, creative work, then conditions must be equalized at least to the rather considerable extent required to guarantee these rights, if equality of rights is to be maintained. The vision of the left, then, blurs the distinction between equality of rights and condition, denies that inequality of endowment merits or demands corresponding inequality of reward, rejects equality of condition as a principle in itself, and sees no intellectual dilemma in the conflict between egalitarian principles, properly understood, and variability of endowment. Rather we must face the problems of a repressive and unjust society, emerging with greater clarity as we progress beyond the re[21]ssity.[21]

Now, I promised in the introduction that most of this essay would be spent outlining what Wildism is, not what leftism is, and we will certainly get to that. But the previous exposition was not only necessary to accent the ways Wildist values contrast from the left; the exposition was also necessary to make an added point about why criticizing leftist values is such a priority. The leftism outlined above is, with only minor deviations some of the time, the dominant ideology of contemporary industrial civilization. That is not to say that it is the most common ideology, although that certainly may be true, depending on the scope of consideration. No, leftism is “dominant” in the sense that it has extraordinary persuasive power, general acceptance, and naturalized tenets. In other words, it is “dominant” in the sense of power, not numerical superiority. Just think: even if in practice a man grants greater moral consideration to his family and close friends, he will not question the dominant assertion that all of humanity deserves equal moral consideration. And even though politically significant ideologies that do challenge this claim operate in our world, they are certainly not the ideologies preached by the UN, NGOs, the mass media, or the elite classes. As Kaczynski points out in “The System’s Neatest Trick,” some self-professed radicals have been duped by this ideology just as effectively as the supposed non-radicals. And we can see the likes of Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Murray Bookchin, and now even the Pope spewing out a grotesque blend of green convictions and red socialism that further obscures the problem. Wildism attacks leftism because, more than any other ideology, its promises of inclusion, an expanding circle, and moral progress are vehicles of legitimacy for more of the technological infrastructure that is tearing apart our wild earth. For this reason it must be rejected, delegitimized, and sent to the burning fires of hell where it belongs.

IV.

Now we’re going to move into the realm of tangible facts, which, as I mentioned earlier, is difficult for some factions of leftism. The factions that disagree with the facts and their proposed explanations as stated here should be dismissed from the reader’s mind, as they are not the factions meant to be represented in this section. Rather, the important part of this section is where we differ from the scientific left in how our values are applied to the facts, and what moral obligations this application produces.

Violence has generally decreased since the advent of human civilization. This fact is disputed by some, but, with a few notable exceptions, the ones who dispute this are usually accompanied by profound ideological commitments (e.g., indigenous rights activists). Otherwise, I have heard nothing but support for this idea from credible sources, many of them skillfully collected and presented together in the book The Better Angels of Our Nature, by Steven Pinker. In Better Angels, Pinker makes the case that the advent of the state, democracy, communications technologies, and so on bring a decreased chance of a violent death to individuals within the realm of influence of those exogenous factors. This contributes to the overall trend of violence decreasing amongst all humans worldwide.

Pinker points out six statistically significant trends — the Pacification Process, the Civilizing Process, the Humanitarian Revolution, the Long Peace, the New Peace, and the Rights Revolutions — and he dedicates one chapter to each. For example, the chapter dedicated to the Pacification Process outlines the effect the advent of the state has had on violent deaths. Pinker spends this chapter explaining the evolutionary logic behind violence and presenting various statistics concerning homicide amongst hunter-gatherer and horticultural societies, both prehistoric and modern. The presence of a state has a striking effect (see figure 1.1). Pinker also suggests that another statistically significant trend, during which people denounced torture and the like, was caused largely by the advent of new communications technologies, such as books, which helped sustain an expanded moral circle that was mentioned earlier.

Figure 1: Graph from Pinker’s Better Angels. View…

…And so on. I’m not going to try to restate Pinker’s whole argument here. The book is over 800 pages and jam-packed with numbers, graphs, and citations, so a summary within a short essay would hardly do it justice. But suffice it to say that the book is convincing, as are his many sources, including Homicide by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson; War before Civilization by Lawrence Keeley; Retreat from Doomsday: The Obsolescence of Major War by J. Mueller; the Human Security Report Project; and so on.

So what are we to make of all this? The main lesson to be learned is that leftist values cannot be instituted without artificial infrastructure to uphold them. The value of “peace” is the most obvious example, as it is the subject of the book, but this lesson applies to other values as well. For example, for “humanity” to be a valid unit of moral consideration, as is required for the humanism that sprung out of the Enlightenment, there must be some sort of communications infrastructure in place to constantly reinforce this idea; similar reasoning applies to the human rights revolutions occurring right now, both partially spurned on and reinforced by digital communications technologies. Should infrastructure break apart so as to make concern for all of humanity impractical, it is unlikely (I don’t think it is a stretch to say “impossible”) for such a morality to arise. Consider the absurdity of the people of ancient Egypt being concerned with the welfare of gays in the Indus Valley, or even the people as a whole, to the extent that NGOs are concerned with the welfare of “developing” nations today.

Of course, this is all a matter of values. If you are not concerned with the creation of bubbles of artifice to escape, albeit temporarily, the ins-and-outs of wild Nature, or if you think this is a small price to pay for peace, solidarity, justice, and equality, then there is no arguing with you. Someone can either agree with the value you place on those things or he can’t. And being a Wildist means the latter. A Wildist accepts only wild Nature as his primary value; all other values are subordinate. Insofar as the actualization of specific values implies development against wild Nature, those values are incompatible with Wildism.

But why do we value wild Nature so much? This question invokes the core issue of ethics: intrinsic versus extrinsic value. The topic has been subjected to much debate over the years without any clear answer arising, so in many ways this question is unanswerable. However, two points are relevant here.

One, any moral system has to rest on first principles that cannot be proven. At some point we have to take the position that some thing or action is valuable in itself, where its value cannot be derived from anything else. This is the point at which we have reached “intrinsic value.” There is no way of getting around it. There is a similar problem in science, which was outlined by the philosopher David Hume. Hume pointed out that empirical knowledge comes from our senses, but that there is no real reason to trust our senses. Because of this, the position of radical skepticism is irrefutable. Yet, no one lives out their day to day lives as a radical skeptic. We simply accept that empirical knowledge is valid (or we do not).

Second, we might ask what imbues something with intrinsic value, according to Wildism, and this is best explained by way of analogy. A left humanist places intrinsic value on those things that have the ability to flourish and the ability to experience pain. Traditionally this has included only humans, but the question of what has the ability to flourish and experience pain is at least partially a scientific one, and as a result some circles have expanded the humanist project to include some kinds of animals. In a similar way, a Wildist places intrinsic value on those things that are natural (in the sense of “non-artificial”) and have the capacity to be wild (in the sense of “autonomous”). Thus, just as the flourishing of human (or sentient) beings is primary for the left humanist, the wildness of Nature is primary for the Wildist. This would include the non-artificial aspects of human beings (called their “human Nature”), it would include ecosystems such as those in the Grand Canyon or the Amazon rainforests, and so forth. There is always going to be some level of ambiguity in the Wildist ethic, just as with the humanist ethic there is ambiguity over which animals are sentient and which are not. These ambiguities are an indication that we should tread lightly and take potential consequences seriously, but they do not by themselves invalidate an ethical system.

V.

There are some consequences of the Wildist ideology that are mentioned frequently enough to bring up here. Still, keep in mind that the core value is wild Nature itself, especially since the following concepts have been interpreted in many ways that do not consider wild Nature primary, such as the concept of freedom.

First, Wildists emphasize the individual and his relations (allegados in the writings of the Spanish Wildists). “Relations” is perhaps a vague term, but it is all that is left after the fascists have taken “kith and kin” to reference their respective racial groups. A man’s “relations” are different than a racial group, as a relation can be anyone with whom one has a deep and powerful connection. (Racial solidarity is, like solidarity amongst all humans, indiscriminate solidarity.) Generally, humans only have the capacity to sustain about 150 or so relations (usually much lower), after which stable and cohesive groups require more restrictive rules and regulations. This number, by the way, is known as “Dunbar’s number,” conceived of by the anthropologist Robin Dunbar in his article “Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates.” Other similar studies report higher estimates, but as far as I know they never exceed 300.

It is clear that civilization, and especially industrial civilization, is abrasive towards or, at worst, destructive of the individual and his relations. For example, nepotism is the scourge of many areas attempting to industrialize, and in-group loyalty with “no snitching” codes often get in the way of effective law enforcement. Industry requires that an individual’s loyalty to his relations be kept at a non-threatening level or that the loyalty be broken down completely. Kaczynski writes more about this in “Industrial Society and Its Future,” although he refers to “relations” as “small groups.”

Another consequence of wild Nature as a primary value is the veneration of freedom (defined in the Statement of Principles as the autonomy of human Nature, or the non-artificial part of humans). This is related to the above point, which advocates for the autonomy of the individual and his relations, even at the expense of larger social structures. Primitive man had a fairly reasonable amount of control over the circumstances of his own life. He could make decisions about when to eat, how to eat, what to eat; he could decide whether to engage in warfare or not; and so on. In modern industrial society, man’s choice is restricted by large corporations and governments. Even a man who has escaped into the forest to live alone cannot avoid the consequences of industrial development, if not directly, then indirectly from pollution, possible disasters, climate change, and so on. One might correctly point out that primitive man’s choice was restricted by nature, and technology would allow him to escape from this restriction. But as I stated a few paragraphs above, the primary value is wild Nature, so this is, to a Wildist, acceptable.

The value system might seem absurd. Why would someone detest restrictions enforced by an artificial system but be okay with the restrictions caused by wild Nature? But consider this idea again, keeping in mind that it operates in many places. Today there are men and women all over who go into the wilderness for what they describe as freedom and peace of mind. But certainly the crickets at night are not peaceful and the winters are not always conducive to freedom. Yet these same men and women often detest the noise and restrictions from civilization: the noise of development and cars, the smothering atmosphere of modern work, and so on.

Some explanations for why humans tend to behave in these ways come from the theory of evolution. If we evolved for thousands and millions of years as nomadic hunter-gatherers in the Pleistocene, then unless our physical bodies are changed through technics, we are bound to desire or require many things that are actualized by that way of life. Consider, for example, the work in evolutionary aesthetics, which suggests that many ideas about beauty are innate to human beings, the result of physiological responses that evolved in response to our Stone [22]ments.[22] These kinds of explanations are not sufficient, however, since some of valuing wild Nature comes from the application of reason, not direct experience, emotion, or intuition. One might compare this to the way empathic abilities have sometimes granted left humanist movements potency, as did the emotions stirred by Uncle Tom’s Cabin during the abolitionist movement, even though the philosophy of humanism stands or falls based on abstract moral reasoning, like the concept of rights and sovereignty.

It is more of this abstract moral reasoning that is required to solidify the foundations of Wildism, and now that the critique of leftism has been solidified, there is room for such an endeavor. Hopefully this essay has provided a foundation for us to take our first steps in that direction and toward a wild world.

For the wild,
John Jacobi, September 2015

Notes

  1. Campbell, B., & Manning, J. (2014). Microaggression and moral cultures. Comparative Sociology, 13(6), 692-726. An excellent summary of the article can be found at Friedersdorf, C. (2015). The rise of the victimhood culture. The Atlantic. Note how victimhood culture only arises among those who have the ability to defer to third party authorities and when the victims (or alleged victims) have no option to deal with the issue by dueling or fighting.
  2. O’Hara, M. E. (2015). Black feminists are furious about this all-male, all-white band’s racist name. The Daily Dot.; Patrick, E. (2015). Concert canceled after name controversy and threats. Citizen Times.
  3. Boise Musicians Against “Black Pussy” Protest [Facebook event].
  4. More analysis of leftism from a Wildist perspective can be found at www.wildism.org/lib/collections/leftism.
  5. Lee, M. (1995). Earth First!: Environmental Apocalypse. Syracuse University Press.; Wolke, H. (2006). Earth First!: A Founder’s Story.
  6. Kuhn, T. S. (1977). Objectivity, value judgment, and theory choice.
  7. Lakatos, I. (1978). The methodology of scientific research programmes.
  8. Sokal, A., & Bricmont, J. (2004). Defense of a modest scientific realism.
  9. Tooby, J., & Cosmides, L. (1995). The psychological foundations of culture. The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture, 19-136; Wilson, E. O. (1999). Consilience: The unity of knowledge.
  10. Durkheim, E. ( 1895/1962). The rules of the sociological method. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
  11. See, for example, Gearhart, J. & Reiner, W. ( 2004). Discordant sexual identity in some genetic males with cloacal exstrophy assigned to female sex at birth. New Engl. J. Med. 350:333-341.
  12. Halpbern states: “I cannot argue (in this book) that nature and nurture are inseparable and then… use different terms to refer to each class of variables. The…biological manifestations of sex are confounded with psychosocial variables…The use of different terms to label these two types of contributions to human existence seemed inappropriate in light of the biopsychosocial position I have taken.”
  13. Kropotkin, P. (2012). Mutual aid: A factor of evolution. Courier Corporation; see also Jacobi, J. (2015). The revolutionary importance of science.
  14. Kalow, W., Pinker, S., & Kalant, H. (1997). Evolutionary psychology: An exchange. NY Rev. Books; Pinker, S. (2003). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature.
  15. Reducto, U. Leftism: The function of pseudo-critique and pseudo-revolution in techno-industrial society.
  16. Singer, P. A Darwinian left for today and beyond.
  17. Idem.
  18. Singer, P. (1995). Animal Liberation.
  19. Idem.
  20. Pinker, S. (2003). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature.
  21. Chomsky, N. (1976). Equality: Language development, human intelligence, and social organization.
  22. Denis Dutton gave a good overview of evolutionary aesthetics in his TED Talk “A Darwinian theory of beauty.”

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  • I’ve just learned about your journal/blog and want to praise the above editorial for incorporating the contributions of evolution and culture to human behavior and society,and for its astute critique of the left. It did not mention the term “Post-modernism”, however, whose cultural relativism, Identity Politics and anti-science attitudes are major contributors to the present academic protests that are dangerously contributing to a disastrous racial and gender politics that is undermining the most important kind of diversity: diversity of
    discourse. In fact today’s left is a new kind of Lysenkoism, seeking to control not only speech but thought, and
    in my view is an emergent neo-fascism that is spreading its germs into otherwise progressive circles. I believe the American left is now the greatest threat to democracy and free speech extant, and so I am dedicating myself to exposing and delegitimizing it at very chance. I greatly appreciate the sentiments of your editorial and the mission of your journal. They are desperately needed. (Your mushroom looks like Agaricus campestris).