The recent Kaczynski-style attacks aimed at Mexican nano-technology researchers has lead to another wave of anti-primitivist rhetoric on the internet. Condemning targeted bombings of scientists is one thing, but insulting a wide range of people holding techno-skeptical views is quite another. I’ll leave off the relevant distinctions between anarcho-primitivism and the Individuals Tending Toward Savagery for another time, because right now I want to focus on something of larger scope.
Some claim that primitivism and anarchism are mutually exclusive tendencies. The primitivist fixation on searching out the origins of hierarchy, oppression and alienation easily belie this claim. There is at least a strong overlap between the two, but where do they part ways? “Primitivism” implies a conservative ethos, a harkening back to the good ol’ days. Though primtivists rarely speak of “returning to the caves” as the anti-primitivists claim, they do tend to maintain an Edenic mythological worldview.
If anarchism is conceived as a Left movement, then it must be construed as a champion of the novel, of progress. Indeed, much of historical anarchism has positioned itself in such a manner. Anarchists have echoed the progressive rhetoric of Leftism in describing various liberatory trajectories. But the mythology of progress is not merely the domain of Leftists. Imperialists, Fascists, and Capitalists all speak of progress when advancing their programs. The vaunted rhetoric of technological progress is susceptible to appropriation by any of these political tendencies.
I look askance at all myths of a purported Golden Age, whether that age is located in the past or the future. The positions of uncritical pro- and anti-technologists are alike simplistic and facile. Some older forms of society, culture, technology, or what-have-you are worth preserving or resurrecting, while others deserve to be abolished. Likewise some new forms are emancipatory and others are not. We do ourselves a disservice by maintaining such myopic views. We should form our own mythologies of liberation, rather than relying on the detritus of Christianity and the Enlightenment.