TEN THESES ON THE PROLIFERATION
The proliferation of neo-primitives
By Ed Clark
Human beings look for the easiest solution to any problem they
may face. This is as true for the problem of abolishing class society
as it is for the problem of securing food, clothing, shelter, etc.
Since what appears at first glance to be the easiest
solution is usually so badly misleading as to be useless, it often
takes a long time before people give up the easy answer
and begin to make real process in solving their problems.
The easiest solution to all human problems was summed
up by Walt Disney: wishing will make it so: This answer
requires no physical and very little mental work. Anyone can do
it in their spare time. Whether you use it to invent Gods and Devils
or to explain how class society will be overthrown, it remains equally
useful and always available. Of course, it does have one tiny little
shortcoming. it doesn't work.
Whenever class society finds itself in serious difficulties, the
easiest answer comes forward with renewed strength.
In its official clothing, it seeks to convince people that their
unhappiness is their own fault. What what concerns us here is how
the easiest answer puts on a revolutionary
What does the wishful revolutionary wish for? For reasons that
are not clear, he* usually has some distorted version of the past
that he wishes to re-create. Since real primitives often have a
myth of a Golden Age, I choose to call our contemporary
wishful revolutionaries Neo-Primitives.
Beginning with a vision of human freedom (instead of some ideas
based on an examination of social reality), our Neo-Primitive proceeds
to the construction of a theology. Those who support class
society become devils; those who oppose it become saints. Even those
who say they oppose class society readily slide into the grip of
the devil; thus the detection of heretics becomes a major task.
The Neo-Primitive is all too ready to respond to communication with
The vision of our contemporary Neo-Primitive revolutionaries demands
the destruction of science and technology in all its forms
their Golden Age pre-dates the machine. They regard
science and technology as authoritarian by their very natures. They
are tools of the devil (class society).
The Neo-Primitive revolutionary (like true primitives) has a basically
passive attitude towards his social environment. He views trying
to make a revolution about the same way a true primitive would
view trying to command the gods. His bold rhetoric of
burning factories translates into furtive shop-lifting
The notion that human beings can act on a rational basis (know
what they're doing) is heresy to the Neo-Primitive. He worships
the looters in New York City's recent blackout as real revolutionaries,
even though the looters themselves thought they were just stealing.
If the looters had made a conscious political decision to loot,
the Neo-Primitives would have condemned them as aspiring egocrats.
Living in a technological society, the Neo-Primitives inevitably
generate a sever internal contradiction. Unless they are willing
to withdraw into some rural paradise (like the Amish in Pennsylvania),
they find themselves using all of the technological tools
of the devil to preach the anti-technological faith. They
publish newspapers to denounce the whole idea of newspapers as a
form of communication. They write pamphlets and circulate books
to condemn the idea of writing pamphlets and circulating books.
They form organizations based on the premise that all organization
turn into counter-revolutionary gangs. In short, at every turn,
they subvert their own project. They find, as so many have in the
past, that wishing does not make it so after all!
Some of the Neo-Primitives are aware of this contradiction and
are self-critical enough to invite us to judge them by their practice.
Taking them up on this offer is a risky proposition (given their
ever-present impulse to excommunicate but why bother? Now that a
small but growing number of people are beginning to reject the easiest
answer and really try to figure out how to build an egalitarian
mass movement and construct a classless society, is there anything
to be gained by trying to drag the Neo-Primitives kicking and screaming
into the last quarter of the 20th century? It is a shame, of course,
to see otherwise admirable people waste their time and energy in
visions and theology. Perhaps the best we can hope is that when
a libertarian revolution is made, the Neo-Primitives will choose
a life of freedom over their dream of freedom.
Ten Theses on the Proliferation of Neo-Primitives: (A
reply to W.B. Jeffries' Ten Theses on the Proliferation of
Egocrats, published in the Fifth Estate, September
Published in The
Red Menace #4, Winter 1979.
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