Wild Reaction: A Sketch

The last article I wrote on strategic thinking was years ago, entitled “Organization“; and, before that, “The Question of Revolution.” Both need to be updated, so here I will give a sketch of my strategic thinking as it stands today. Think of this as a preview of From Conservation to Reaction. See also “Notes on Revolution, or Reaction.”


The ladder method. A good grand strategy sees struggle as a ladder — each rung should take us closer to the top, even if it is not itself the final rung. For example, Dave Foreman says that he supports traditional conservation because it mitigates the damage an economic collapse would do: “My point is the system is going to come down, one way or another way, on its own. My task is keeping all the building blocks of future evolution that we can.” This is ladder method thinking. The same goes for various other of my suggestions: investing in childhood education, psychotherapy, raising children, strengthening community bonds, all variously part of how I imagine “human rewilding.” Imagine a capable and strong-willed generation that is shown from early on how the modern world keeps them from bodily health, sexual stamina, well-formed characters … Even if the conditions were not ripe for full-scale reaction, much stronger reactions would be possible. See “Organization,” sec. 3.


The tactical spectrum. The “tactical spectrum” is an abstraction used to talk about the composition of a healthy movement, which should host both radical and moderate factions that are “linked” to, or beneficial to, each other. For instance, Earth First! provided a radical wing to the conservation movement, allowing the Sierra Club to make more impressive demands and resulting in gains for both organizations. Radical political efforts are successful when they can pull many elements of the movement to the more radical end of the spectrum in a sustainable way. This is called “radicalization.” Early work, then, is to build, link, and radicalize the spectrum. See “Forget Ecomodernism — This Is Ecoreaction!

Note that “linking” the spectrum does not necessarily mean open and full cooperation between different “levels.” It is usually best for different “levels” to remain openly distinct. See also note VI, network thinking. “Linking” simply means that, regardless of intentionality, organizations are benefitting rather than undermining each other’s efforts, especially where these efforts take us up the ladder another rung. For example, when the Earth Liberation Front was in its heyday, and arsons were being committed all over the U.S. against industrial corporations, the Sierra Club began issuing condemnations of the ELF. They believed, of course, that by doing so they would preserve their legitimacy, which ELF threatened in the eyes of many people. Usually, though, the condemnations were entirely unnecessary — unless really prodded to give your opinion, you can usually just say “I don’t condone violence” — and wasted the opportunity to focus on the environmental problems the arsons were responding to. In other words, Sierra Club broke the tactical spectrum. See “Organization,” sec. 3; “The Question of Revolution,” sec. 3.


The state question. Trying to take over the state may be a true possibility for the complex of problems I and Kaczynski have spoken about. They are at the front of nearly every industrial citizen’s mind, including those in powerful, elite positions in society. This is tempting, but we must remind ourselves that we are shaped by our systems more than we shape our systems. The state creates a certain consciousness in diplomats that fractures them from the reality of those they purport to represent or speak for. Note that I am not condemning government — which exists in every society — only states.


Nihilism. I have outlined what I mean by “nihilism” already. Essentially, it is rooted in an epistemological/metaphysical position: humans are really, really manipulable. They’ll believe just about everything. But if we can somehow take humans out of the matrix of their own narrow worldview, show them that other modes of thinking and living are possible, we may be able to create a mentality that is able to harness other worldviews. Imagine a chaotic pile of metal files that stand rigid and straight as soon as a magnet comes near. A nihilist faction of our proposed reaction may be able to infiltrate all kinds of worldviews and demonstrate how they conflict with modern technological society. This doesn’t even require lying! I think I and Kaczynski have demonstrated well enough that almost all of humanity’s most deeply-held values are being thrown into question because of technological progress. For critiques of industrial society, see “Industrial Society and Its Future” and Repent to the Primitive. For comments on nihilism, see again “A Provisional Synthesis” and “Review of Earlier Works and Their Merits,” sec. ‘Dialogue on Wildism and Eco-Extremism.’ For strategies of infiltration, psychological effect, and training, see The Organizational Weapon by Philip Selznick, The True Believer by Eric Hoffer, and Training the Nihilists by Daniel Brower. For a proposed unifying enemy (“world society”), see “A Critique of the Concept of ‘The System.’


The leader question. The nihilist strategy would work best if there was no central nihilist movement. It should be quiet, content with the background. Figureheads are necessary in each of the peripheral movements, of course. But leaders are generally a bad idea. They tend to bring their movements down with them, because the hope of the movement becomes embodied in the leader himself.


Network thinking. We should think more in terms of networks than hierarchies; of infecting than converting. See Networks and Netwars Arquilla and Rondfeldt.


The rewilding program. One of the strongest tools of the proposed nihilist faction is the environmentalist and conservation movements. Although nihilism is based on the idea that human knowledge systems are “free-floating,” in a sense, what we today call “the material world” or “Nature” clearly effects us. More, it is the only thing we can really turn to if we reject complex society; societies at simpler technological levels rely much more on natural processes to do the work required by human and machine labor nowadays. This is why I propose using the concept of “human rewilding” to re-root individuals (i.e., give them a sense of community, identity, at-homeness again); and conservationist rewilding to guard and create spaces shielded from technological development, and therefore surveillance and environmental degradation. See “Organization,” sec. 3, and, especially, the Edward Abbey quote in sec. 8.


These first steps — forming community strongholds with human rewilding and strongholds of land with conservation — overlap with a variety of views on the outlook of industrial civilization. It appeals to radicals because it provides bases for stronger action. It appeals to those who want to escape or believe collapse is inevitable because it focuses on “building blocks.” It appeals to nearly anyone against globalization and world society — localist environmentalists, anarchists, sovereign citizens, traditionalists, anti-GMO activists, the anti-vaxx movement, new world order conspiracy theorists, etc. In other words, the tactical spectrum is extremely broad, and the outlook for technological society grim — we wait only for the faction of nihilists.

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