Frequently Asked Questions (and other illuminating inquiries), Volume I
A short detour from our regular program --- [Estimated reading time: 10 min.]
Let’s try something different today.
I expect, and, for that matter, welcome criticism. I will respond to any comments, and, if given permission, publish certain particularly insightful correspondences. If you have any questions for me, concerning my writing, my ideology, my personal life, or simply my thoughts on something, please feel free to ask in the comments or via email. Certain reoccurring questions I anticipate (or have encountered before) will be answered in the following – I haven’t had many questions since I moved my writing to Substack a few months ago – and I’ll update this section periodically (or just post a follow-up) when I encounter new good, promising, interesting, or, well, frequently asked questions.
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What does your logo stand for?
The “Three Spears” design is my own creation and symbolizes the fight against civilization and progress by any means necessary. It consists of a Sentinelese arrowhead (left), a Tagaeri spear (right) and a sharpened bamboo pole in the center.
The Sentinelese are the indigenous inhabitants of the North Sentinel Island (one of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean). We don’t know how they call themselves (presumably whatever word in their language means “the people”), since no one ever had an opportunity to ask them. They are notorious for firing arrows at anyone who comes too close to their island, and they’ve killed and wounded several who attempted to. In 2006, two poaching fishermen were killed with arrows, as was an American missionary (yay!) in 2018. They protect their way of life at all costs and refuse to let any outside influence taint it.
Similarly, the Tagaeri are a small group of former Huaorani, who split off from the larger cultural group after the betrayal of their band by a Huaorani woman named Dayuma (the actual story is a bit more multifarious) and the subsequent conversion of many Huaorani to fundamentalist Christianity (which meant abandoning their traditional way of life). The initial contact with Christian missionaries (“Operation Auca”) ended with all five missionaries being speared to death (yay again!) – a promising development for the integrity of the Huaorani – but the missionaries nonetheless managed to gain a foothold in the community. A charismatic young man by the name of Taga vehemently refused to bow to the invaders and their invisible god, and a small group around him fled deeper into the jungle, calling themselves Tagaeri (after their leader). The Tagaeri are known to spear every invader who dares to enter their territory to death, not only illegal loggers, gold miners or prospectors, but even fellow Huaorani. They’ve seen what happened to their people under civilization’s influence, and they’ve taken the most radical stance of rejection.
Finally, the “Man of the Hole” is believed to be the sole last survivor of his Amazonian tribe, a people presumably killed off by disease brought by loggers, ranchers, miners and poachers, as well as violent conflicts with those invaders. Neither his name nor the name of his tribe is known, since he skillfully evades all contact, building booby traps throughout the territory he inhabits – manhole-sized pits with sharpened bamboo poles at the bottom, intended to deter any intruders (Survival International claims they are for “trapping animals”). We can’t even begin to imagine his rage and desperation, but we can respect and admire his resolution to never give up the fight against those who took everything he had. If you’re going down, you might as well take as many of your enemies with you as you can!
All three weapons in my logo stand for people who are intent upon resisting Civilization, Progress and Technology, who are not afraid to use the most drastic measures to fight the advance of the aforementioned, and who are willing to die to defend their way of life. They are the irremovable thorn in the flesh of the official narrative of civilization being the superior way of life, and agriculture being the superior way to feed oneself. If they all are willing to fight the dominant culture to the death, the primitive way of life can’t be that bad, right? Another lesson here is that sometimes only the most drastic measurements can ensure your survival. The bearers of all three weapons are still keeping their traditions alive because they accept no compromise.
Edit: Sadly, I just learned that the “Man of the Hole” passed away this month (Aug 2022) at the presumed age of around sixty. I’ve kept this ‘placeholder article’ in my drafts for a while now, but decided that now is as good a time as any to publish it. My logo is a homage to this nameless warrior and the fight he represents. From him we can learn that we must fight Leviathan, no matter how futile it seems, and even though we know we can’t win. What matters is that we don’t give up, that we neither bend our knee nor bow our head, and continue to do whatever is in our power to try to deflect and deter the barrage of assaults civilization unleashes against the last free people. If we don’t even try, we might as well just give up.
Why do you use the pronouns “he”/ “she” and “who”/ “whom” for (non-human) animals and plants?
Well, because I consider them to be persons, in the same way as you and me are a person, and with a similar moral standing. They are living, breathing entities whose existence has inherent value in and of itself, without needing to evaluate their usefulness to humans. The English language is not particularly friendly towards the living planet, which is why airplanes, toasters, nuclear waste and factories, but also flowerpeckers, rivers and Banyan trees are all synoptically called “it”, despite the obvious differences. Calling something an “it” is an act of linguistic violence and degradation, and has been used for the same purpose among humans (some slaving societies referred to their slaves as “it”, robbing them of their personhood and “humanity”; I dislike the latter term and usually prefer the term “animality”, despite its a negative overtone – see next FAQ). An “it” is an object, without feelings or consciousness, that can be exploited at will and without moral restraints. Native American scholar Robin Wall Kimmerer has attempted to introduce new pronouns to refer to non-human living beings (ki/kin, gender irrelevant), to differentiate them from inert matter and man-made contraptions. Fundamental linguistical changes like this are difficult to implement, and will probably never enter common use in our lifetimes. I refer to non-humans by their gender (if known), and otherwise assume they’re female (because fuck you, patriarchy). I use female pronouns for all plants that are able to produce fruit and seed, and reserve the male pronouns for the individuals of the few non-hermaphrodite species that produce only flowers.
This is the discussion around pronouns that’s important in the time of the Sixth Mass Extinction Event, the thing that really matters right now. I don’t wish to downplay the very real threats faced each day by humans who identify as trans* (who try to make the whole pronoun discussion about themselves), but they are at no risk of going extinct anytime soon, whereas multiple plant and animal species go extinct every single day as a result of objectification by the dominant culture.
(* This is not a footnote. The asterisk does not refer to a comment or reference, apparently this is just how you write the word “trans” these days.)
Why do you constantly emphasize “non-human animals”? What’s wrong with calling them animals?
“Animal” is a word that is almost exclusively used to create an unnecessary and unnatural barrier where there shouldn’t be one. It creates a dualistic world with humans on one side and “animals” on the other, erecting a barrier between one species and literally millions of other often very similar others, despite the absolutely undeniable fact that humans are animals as well (and we share the bulk of our DNA not only with our fellow animals, but also with plants). I often use the broader term “non-humans”, or “non-human animals” if I want to be more specific. Where I still use the term “animal” it’s often in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, or at least not intentionally excluding humans from the picture, and is in no way meant to disrespect our kin. I always say that I am a proud human animal, and I am not ashamed of my relations to all other animals. I don’t need to put up a protective border between me and them to make myself feel better. I am proud of my animality, and I think that, in fact, animality is something beautiful, something to be cherished and celebrated. Being an animal means breathing, eating, relaxing, playing, sleeping, having sex, being part of a society of one kind or another, solving problems, mastering challenges, learning, growing, experiencing, having a family and friends. The dominant culture, on the other hand, associates brutal and violent behavior with animality, and “they’re animals!” is a common misnomer for humans who behave violently and ruthless. I’m sure anyone who has ever observed non-human animals knows that this paints – at best – a very paltry picture of what it actually means to be an animal. Some indigenous cultures differentiate between the number of legs: “no-legged” for snakes and worms and fish, “one-legged” for plants, “two-legged” for humans and birds, “four-legged” for most other mammals, amphibians and reptiles, and “many-legged” for insects. This classification is more inclusive, both of our distant and not-so-distant relatives, and I really like the idea, but as long as I write in English I will not dare to venture so far out linguistically, mostly to preserve some form of legibility. You get my point by now.
Why is each of your essays so long? Can’t you ever be brief?
Doesn’t using the word “Nature” imply a schism between us humans and the rest of the world?
Nature, for me, is ubiquitous and almighty, and therefore always written with a capital “N”. If the Christian God, my name, the days and months, and the names of cities and corporations are all written with capital letters, then guess what: so is Nature! I use the term ‘Nature’ in a semi-mystical way, like a short form of 'Mother Nature' (I dislike the New-Agey word ‘Gaia’), which of course includes us humans - we are her children as well! Where I draw the line – where the real schism is to be found – is where people start misbehaving, disrespecting, thinking (erroneously) that they can do better, and start to try to improve upon Nature (what's already there). This split happened somewhen during the Neolithic, in the long grey period that represents the shift from hunting and gathering (living within the limits of one's ecosystem) to farming (doing away with those limits and try to live limitless and to impose your egoistic and anthropocentric will on the land). It is as much a shift in subsistence mode as it is a shift in thinking, with completely new basic assumptions about life, the world, us humans, and our place in the universe.
Behavior like that of agricultural civilizations is what I would start calling "un-natural" (following the definition I explained above), since it is a clear and radical split from the previous 3 million years of human evolution, and 8,000 years into the experiment we realize that we are definitely not made for this kind of life – it is not in our "Nature" to eat a high carb, high sugar, low protein diet, to live sedentary and without much exercise, and to spend the bulk of our time in overcrowded cities and, for the last few decades, in front of screens (which results in a constant sensory overload for our poor primate brains). We don’t follow the Law of Life, we enslave or wage war on all other species, we convert diverse ecosystems into more and more carbon copies of ourselves, with disregard for any consequences.
It is unnatural because no other Living Being behaves like this, because if they would, they would eventually go extinct. Unnatural behavior leads to extinction, and – newsflash! – we’re almost there.
Where the distinction becomes even more pronounced is when people start building (and worshipping) machines. Living Beings I happily call ‘Nature’, but I refuse to use the same term for destructive, dead contraptions and gadgets. Of course, even a semi truck or concrete are ‘Nature’ in some way – the components and materials they’re made from were ripped out of the Earth somewhere and thus were once part of her – but this happened by force and without intent to remediate or compensate for the damage done.
Nature, for me, is not meant to express a schism between (modern) humans and the rest of Life, but between one culture, between one certain way of thinking, and literally everything else.
Do you want people to die? Are you an eco-fascist?!
I don’t know what that is, other than a slur slung at anyone who dares questioning the techno-industrial system, advocating its demise, or merely talking about its collapse (usually used by liberals). “But, but… People are gonna die!”, they cry. Yes. People have always died, and people always will die (no matter what the techies try). People die. All animals, trees and fungi do. This is our inexorable fate. We’ve created a system that allows billions of people to survive, basically subsisting on fossil fuels – which is how chemical fertilizers are produced, fields are cultivated, crops harvested and processed, and food transported and prepared. We’ve created a subsistence mode that is utterly dependent on nonrenewable resources, first and foremost fossil fuels, mined phosphorus, and a number of metals and plastics. Once the stocks start running low people will die, and there is nothing anyone can do about this. The dominant culture has created and exacerbated a massive imbalance between humans and the rest of Life, and that balance will be restored, one way or another, sooner or later. There is nothing fascist about wanting the system to collapse, at least not if you have any idea what fascism actually means. It doesn’t mean that poor people in the Global South are going to die for the benefit of Europeans and North Americans. If anything, it is going to be the inhabitants of so-called “developed” countries who are, for the first time in their happy-go-lucky little lives, going to have a pretty damn hard time. The exploited masses are actually going to be better off in the long term if the system collapses.
I’m not even indifferent to the hundreds of millions of deaths that will occur over the following decades – it’s a damn tragedy. But there is nothing I (or anyone) can do to stop this, and nothing I can do to ensure I won’t be one of those that doesn’t make it. Yet I still wish for a timely collapse of the system, not for egoistic reasons or because I have a death wish, but because only then does Life has a good chance to prevail. Only then can the thousands of endangered species (including us humans) catch their breath and start focusing on healing and restoration. This is not about humans, and especially not about humans of a certain genetic makeup! “The environment” doesn’t select people of a certain skin color or nationality over others, it doesn’t save “Caucasoid” types any more from starvation than it does “Negroid” ones! Humans are humans, for Earth’s sake, and no one knows that better than Nature!
Woke liberals and leftists who use the term “eco-fascist” think that because you don’t do whatever is in your power to keep alive all eight billion humans, you must be a eugenics-supporting fascist who wants to exterminate lesser races for the sake of ‘saving the environment’. Yet the damage done (both to the environment and to its human inhabitants) increases with each and every day the system is up and running, and once the inevitable collapse comes – and it will! – the suffering will be immensely larger the longer the system continues. Why? Because with each passing year peoples’ dependency on technology increases. With each year, more rivers are polluted and more poisons are spewed into the air and dumped into the environment, more babies are delivered via C-section, more allopathic medications are prescribed, and more people are made utterly dependent on the techno-industrial system for their survival. The Great Suffering is merely prolonged, not eliminated.
“But, Hitler was an environmentalist!”, they finally retort. Hell, maybe he even was the proto-eco-fascist! But Hitler’s main goal was certainly not protecting the environment. A rule of thumb: if you want to protect the environment, don’t start a war. Hitler might have loved the Alps, but he certainly didn’t plan to exterminate Slavic people just to create one vast Siberian National Park! What does this line of reasoning even imply? Hitler loved chocolate, does that mean everyone has to stop eating chocolate, lest they become a fascist?
Fascism is an ideology based on authoritarianism and hierarchical thinking, and Nature just doesn’t work like that. There are no hierarchies in Nature, no species telling other species what to do or forcing them to abide by some arbitrary rule book they invented. “Eco” means the opposite of hierarchy. Nature is a vast, interconnected web of millions of species, and no one is the absolute ruler. Not even us humans. You’ll know what I mean in a few decades.
To be continued…
An Animist's Ramblings is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Usually the content is better than the above, I promise.