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Because I'm working on a related anthology chapter, I finally finished typing up a talk I gave back in April of last year. I'll post it as a document in the texts section of my website, whenever I get around to fixing that up, but here it is now, for anybody who's interested.

Natural Anarchism:
Liberation as Connection


pattrice jones

Talk given as part of the "Visions of Anarchism for the 21st Century" panel at the First New York Anarchist BookFair, 15 April 2007, NYC. This text is not a transcript but, rather, an inexact reconstruction based on notes and memory.


I live at a sanctuary for chickens. The roosters are very loud. All day long, they keep track of each other by crowing, as their ancestors learned to do in the jungles of South Asia. It's their job to look out for the flock. When they spot an aerial predator, they raise an alarm cry that sounds a lot like the word "hawk. " When a rooster shouts "HAWK!" everybody runs for cover in the coops or underbrush. Other roosters spread the alarm -- "HAWK! HAWK!" -- and then hens make a squawking sound too. It's clear to anybody within hearing: This is an emergency! And, indeed, the ducks and song birds run for cover too. Nobody comes out until the rooster who raised the original alarm crows to signal that the crisis has passed.

If only people were so smart! First some scientists started shouting "HAWK!" about climate change. Then lots of environmentalists picked up the cry -- "HAWK! HAWK!" And now we've got Al Gore saying "hawk" in a monotone. The seas are rising, islands are disappearing, ice caps are cracking, and still we go on getting and spending (or, if we're anarchists, trying to convince people to stop getting and spending) as if we weren't in the midst of a life-threatening situation. Even those of us who are doing some little things about global warming tend not to act with a felt sense of urgency equivalent to the degree of the emergency. [Fellow panelist] Autumn [who mentioned being nervous] was probably more scared of public speaking than we are of global warming!

So, the first thing that I have to say is that anarchism for the 21st century must be an anarchism of the 21st century, by which I mean an anarchism that recognizes that we are literally living on a different planet than that inhabited by the anarchist thinkers of earlier eras. In recognition of that natural fact, I think that we need to embrace what I call "natural anarchism, " by which I mean an anarchism rooted in and inspired by the ecosystemic relationships that sustain us all.

Anarchism & Climate Change

Natural anarchism is situated anarchism, located in the here and now. It's a real process rather than an abstraction. For anarchism to be real viagra line, we have to be real. We have to face facts. The most important fact facing us right now is that, according to top climate change scientist James Hansen, we'll be living on "a different planet" if we don't make enough changes to arrest climate change within the next ten years.

So, the question becomes, what must we, as anarchists, do in that context?

Climate change is caused by emissions of carbon dioxide and methane due to direct fossil fuel usage viagra line for transportation and other purposes, manufacturing of consumer goods, and the production of meat and other animal products. I want to highlight that last part. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently released a report confirming that animal agriculture is a chief cause of global warming, more important than even transportation. As anarchists, we're very good at getting people to ride bikes or give up empty consumerism. Now we've got to get good at getting people to eat their vegetables and give up those heart-attack hamburgers. And, of course, we ought to be vegan ourselves.

That said, let's look at the specific roles that anarchists can play in the struggle against [viagra line] climate change. In brief, we have to put pressure on polluting industries from both ends, by both reducing consumption and making production more costly and difficult. On the consumption side, anarchists can be both models and catalysts. We're already good at modeling how much more meaningful and satisfying life can be when our minds and time are not so taken up by consumerism and TV. Viagra line we can put that talent to use to encourage the radical reductions in energy and meat consumption that need to happen right now.

As anarchists, we can be catalysts for reduced consumption both by making reductions easier and consumption harder. We can be the ones to make change easier by starting the veganic community gardens and free bicycle repair shops. There are also plenty of ways we can help to make continued consumption less rewarding. You don't need me to tell you the many ways to make driving an SUV more difficult, expensive, or embarassing.

On the side of production, we need to remember that the industries responsible for climate change do what they do solely for the purpose of profit. Make any endeavor less and less profitable and eventually they will quit it. Anarchists can reduce profitability both by reducing demand and by using direct action to raise the costs of production. Again, you don't need me to tell you the many ways that one might toss the proverbial monkey-wrench into the gears of the industries most responsible for climate change.

In addition to actively confronting the climate change crisis, we also need to be thinking about the ruptures that are the deep source of the current emergency, by which I mean the estrangement of people from each other and our enveloping ecosystems. To heal those ruptures, we'll have to practice what I call "natural anarchism. "

Natural Anarchism

Natural anarchism is social anarchism. People are social animals living in ecosystems. Our lives depend on our relations with each other and with our environments. We cannot live apart from those relationships. Liberation for everyone can come only when those relationships are healthy. I know that some anarchists, especially male anarchists of the libertarian persuasion, like to think of liberation as freedom from others. I'm here to assert, as strongly and clearly as I can, that liberation is connection. True freedom can only be found in the context of healthy relationships with each other and our enveloping ecosystems.

Therefore, natural anarchism is eco-anarchism. Eco-anarchism understands that we are not static, disconnected objects but, rather, changing systems within changing systems. The whole time you've been listening to me, you've been changing in interaction with your environment, inhaling and exhaling our shared polluted air, digesting the lunch that used to be apart from you but is now a part of you, mixing my ideas with your own. When we understand ourselves as systems within social and environmental systems, then we understand that our organizing must be founded on solidarity not only among people but also with plants and animals and ecosystems. We realize that we need to learn not only from other people but also from plants and animals and ecosystems. They've been fighting back against capitalist exploitation too. What can we learn from a study of their strategies? Their successes and failures?

Natural anarchism is realistic anarchism. Natural anarchism looks around and says, "what do we do now?" Not in some mythical future or romanticized past but now. Natural anarchism evolves in response to changing circumstances, just like the so-called "superweeds" that survive and thrive to continually plague agribusiness. Have you heard about superweeds? That’s what they call unwanted plants that survive despite being drenched with herbicides, evolving to beat the poisons every time Monsanto comes up with a new deadly chemical. They've found a way to stand strong, never ceding to dominion, generation after generation after generation.

Superweed Energy Is In You

In summary,
liberation is connection and this is an emergency. Natural anarchism can save us. Natural anarchism is situated anarchism; natural anarchism is social anarchism; natural anarchism is eco-anarchism; and natural anarchism is realistic anarchism.

So what are the prospects for anarchism in the 21st century? The Situationists used to say "our ideas are on everyone's mind. " I wish that were true. But what is true is that our wishes are in everyone's hearts. Everybody's a lot or a little bit lonely due to the ruptures that estrange us from each other and the rest of the natural world. And the longing for more perfect communion is very strong. Also very strong is that superweed evolutionary energy, which lives in your genes too. Together, that natural desire and that natural energy are stronger than all of the guns and money of synthetic governments and corporations. We can draw on that desire and energy to bring about a state of interconnected freedom for everybody.


?? 2008-2016 Legit Express Chemist.