Re: Interview with the enemy

From: J. Goard (
Date: Wed Apr 18 2001 - 14:00:32 MDT

At 12:19 PM 4/18/01 +0100, Charlie Stross wrote:
>See:,3604,474332,00.html --
>Duncan Campbell talks to John Zerzan.


"You can't take a totally alienating technology and use it for anything
except more alienation, more destructive impact on every level from the
psyche to the rest of the biosphere."

It all comes down to alienation, doesn't it? Technology must be rejected,
the division of labor must be rejected, because they alienate people. The
cardiologist will never know what it's like to grow his own food; hell, he
might hardly ever get out of the city, and the closest thing to a farm he
sees might be Central Park. Never mind that he is able to save the lives
of a few hundred people, who do a few hundred different things for
different people who eventually do things for the farmer, and for this the
farmer helps feed people who eventually help the doctor. All this is too
alienating. Hell, we can't even see what's going on.

I might say that such a process occurs much better under this mysterious
alienating system called the market, than could exist in a left-anarchist
scenario sans "property" (=investment capital). Except that I don't think
it could happen without property, because without the information provided
by market prices, individuals wouldn't know what skills were needed from
them, let alone far more complex calculations like just how much time and
effort they should expend to become more educated in their field and then
whether they should be one of those who, rather than directly working in
the field, devote themselves to educating new people. Such a scenario
should not even be achievable, because long before you get there,
calculations will be distorted enough to make people's lives so
comparatively poor that they'll either re-create markets (complete with
capital expenditures), create a fascist backlash, or experience mass death
through starvation and other fun causes.

So, back to alienation. Nihilism and existentialism haven't gone away, nor
should they. They are the most refined reflections upon just what it is to
be a subjective entity in a beautifully complex (now joylessly ordered, now
psychotically random) world. It is hard to be an nihilist, which may
partly explain the growing anaesthesia of eastern philosophies in the west.
 I believe that Zerzan, like Marx and the left-"anarchists" alike, gets one
important thing right. Industrialization, capitalism, the division of
labor, almost certainly would have led to a growth in alienation, for at
least three reasons:

1) that because it brings people to a standard of living far above anything
that could reasonably be called "subsistence", their lives are not
seriously threatened by their devoting time to a search for self-accepted
meaning, nor by their rejection of some social (religious, ethical) rules,
which in the past were necessary to make sure noone failed in his
life-or-death duties.

2) that the division-of-labor under capitalism allows a large number of
people, probably most of those who truly want it, to work in areas
conducive to such a belief system.

3) that the idea that everything has a price is closely related to the idea
that nothing is sacred, a pillar of nihilist thought.

Marx, a consummate anti-nihilist, thought that hard toil to produce one's
own necessities, by virtue of being an unalienating life, constituted an
ideal life. Having been acquainted with left-"anarchists" for quite some
time (by virtue of our fight to reclaim the A-word for anarcho-capitalism),
I believe that their fundamental philosophy is the same. Ignorance of
economics reinforces and is reinforced by a childish unwillingness to set
sail in a world much more complex than bare survival. Or perhaps I insult

J. Goard,
e-gold account #100592 (
The Beyond outside us is indeed swept away, and the
great undertaking of the Enlightenment complete;
but the Beyond *inside* us has become a new heaven
and calls us to renewed heaven-storming.
                                      --Max Stirner

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