Commencement Notes

The following essay appears in Reflections #1.


I.

A fully developed radicalism will look inward, on the self, as much as outward, to society; to childhood as much as to economics.

II.

The past was different, other societies are different: true enough, and a good starting point for examining the possibilities of life. The knowledge broadens our vision from the narrowness of progressivism. But we can never fall into the error of prescribing a possibility. Our argument for action is wholly negative, its aim the destruction of the walls that keep all the thousands upon thousands of possibilities from bursting forward.

These walls inhabit every level of our lives — the relational, the psychological, the political… They are nuanced, diverse, and particular; but also there are walls that plainly and generally limit our potential, and choke out the various possibilities for living according to our wills. One of these is the industrial-technological system.

III.

For too long I have been distracted by a deceptive vision: I believed a course of action could be logically and incontrovertibly derived from an analysis of the world combined with some basic value judgements. Reality is much more complex — you cannot even be sure that this or that judgement is correct, or that this or that value will remain a part of you past your various stages of personal development. Living — in the sense of willing — is solely a matter of placing your bets. A man who wills forcefully, therefore, is less a man of conviction than a man of wisdom. “I call that man awake, who, with conscious knowledge and understanding, can perceive the deep, unreasoning powers in his soul, his whole innermost strength, desire, and weakness, and knows how to reckon with himself.”

IV.

“Wild” is more about “let” than “do,” and more about “lo” than “behold.”

V.

The industrial-technological system, which props up so many limits to our wills, can be destroyed. Despite the critics’ naysaying, this is plainly true, restricted more by the bounds of morality, which can be unbounded, than by the bounds of material reality. There are many weaknesses to the technological basis of world society, and only the destruction of a few nodes of its power would open up vast regions of the earth for bolder, more powerful attacks against the enemy.

Not every vestige of the system would disappear. Traces here and there would remain for decades or centuries to come. But the system would be in disarray; the vision of world society would only be in the sights and minds of the most fanatical dreamers of the technician class, while the rest, tempered by political reality, would realize that their opportunity is gone for a long time yet. In the meantime, traditional and new forms of society would proliferate, and all the economic and political systems that constrain our wills — private property, world economy, police — would necessarily start to deteriorate.

In other words, the wisest rewilders know their fight is not like Israel against Jericho. A few shofars won’t bring the walls tumbling down, subtracting them from the political equation entirely. But the critics misunderstand the point of these myths, which emphasize immediacy because that is the psychology that will exact the needed changes. No matter how true, to emphasize the gradual nature of collapse is to instigate hesitation. But do you think the men who destroyed whole nations, gradually, thought in gradual terms? No! It takes an immediacy and recklessness to instigate any great process, which happens slowly regardless of the desires of those who instigated it, by necessity.

VI.

In our current world a Reaction against the industrial-technological system will be helped more by men of words than men of action. The analyses against the enemy require a period of sifting: they are too stifled by mystical ideas and magical distractions. The work of rewilders today is to lay foundations.

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