Hi, I'm John Jacobi, one of the main popularizers of wildism. The major text explaining wildist ideas is "The Foundations of Wildist Ethics" in the first issue of our journal, Hunter/Gatherer. Because it is long and can be simplified, I'll do that here. It really focuses on three elements:
1. Acceptance of our material condition
We believe that the natural world is the real world. This is technically a philosophical jump, but there's no reason to get into all that here. What's important are the consequences of this philosophical naturalism: (1) nihilism, or the belief that there is no objective morality; (2) fatalism, or the belief that everything is predetermined, or at the very least it is outside of human control in any real sense; (3) philosophical pessmism, which is hard to explain, but I recommend reading the Wikipedia page; (4) psychological egoism, or the recognition that all desires, values, moral imperatives, etc. come from an individual's "will" or "nature," which combined with the rest of our philosophy (evolutionary perspectives, fatalism, etc.) is not something we can really choose. In other words, "You can do what you will, but you cannot will what you will."
2. Rejection of all forms of progressivism
"The Myth of Progress" is defined as the belief that modifying and dominating nature is a moral imperative, a moral good. The dominant progressivist narrative today is humanism, which believes in the equal moral value of every human person. It is used to justify much of industrial development, since further development includes marginalized classes in industrial life, it is the only path forward for universal medicine, etc. We reject this. We believe it is dangerous to view nature, including human nature, as something to be "improved" upon, as if that were some kind of divine imperative. This includes ESPECIALLY social progressivism, such as ideologies like feminism, gay liberation, pro-democracy movements, etc.
3. Acceptance of the imperative to rewild
Because our values come from our will, and because no morality is objective, wildists believe that those with a "wild will" or "indomitable spirit" have nothing holding them back from accepting in accordance to that will. As a result, we accept the imperative to rewild as borne from our own will. We simply want the world to collapse into a less managed place. It matters little whether this is through natural disasters, revolution, and so forth. In fact, it doesn't even matter if it is impossible. What matters is that while these things are here, we do not have to respect them.
Wildism is less of an expansive ideology and more of a discourse and set of values that unites the people who claim the name. The discourse is really simple:
- The Cosmos --- the Cosmos, or capital-N Nature, or Reality, or "the material world," is all that exists.
- Nature/Artifice --- nature is the part of the Cosmos that is not made or controlled by humans or their technical systems. Artifice is the part that is made or controlled. "Naturalness" is more of a quality on a spectrum with "artificialness," so those things that are less controlled or dominated are called "nature" and those things that are more controlled or dominated are not. It's just a rough way of talking about our values. Note that artifice is not inherently bad; the distinction is only descriptive. It is progressivism that we reject.
- Wildness --- wildness is the "not controlled" part of nature. It is the defining quality dividing nature and artifice. For example, a caged animal doesn't immediately lose its naturalness, but because of its immediate loss of wildness, its naturalness starts to deteriorate as it is domesticated. Conversely, a dammed river becomes more natural after it is un-dammed, or rewilded. Our concern with nature is secondary to our concern for wildness. Nature is simple what we would expect in a more wild world--we can't expect amenities of industrial life, for example, because those are highly artificial or rely on highly artificial systems.
- Progress --- the myth of Progress is the belief that artificialization of nature is a moral good, a moral imperative. Progress is the process of artificialization. Progressivism is an ideology that is based on the myth of progress, like humanism, colonialism, etc.
- Humanism --- humanism is an ideology that states that every human being has equal moral worth. Associated are the imperatives to bring marginalized people into the fold and to extend moral consideration where it is due. For example, just like in previous times racial progressivist ideologies expanded to include blacks and whites (creating humanism), now humanists are being pushed to include some sentient creatures by animal rights proponents, or even all of nature by some progressive environmentalists.
Our VALUE is the value of wildness. We want the world to move from a less artificial and managed state to a wilder and more natural state. In particular, we feel no loyalty to artifice at the level of civilization, or life based around cities, enabled by agriculture and later industry.Thus, in the course of rewilding, we advocate acting without regard for civilization, with no loyalty to it whatsoever, so far as that is manageable.
We differ from anarcho-primitivists in several ways, but the most important of these is our rejection of progressive humanist values. Zerzan still talks of equality, connections between human beings, a more peaceful life, a life without any authority, and that sort of thing. We reject all that. A good explanation for why we reject these values is in my essay "Misanthropy," published in Hunter/Gatherer 1.3.
It is also important to note that AP does not necessarily imply action. Many APs seem to regard it as some sort of academic or philosophical mind game they can play sometimes. But wildist eco-radicals are united by their desire to ACTUALLY rewild. This means attacks, defense, and personal changes. It means it all.
Finally, AP is a brand of anarchism, which we reject. There is some overlap, of course, especially with the egoists and nihilists, but there is nothing to little of use in the labor movement, social justice movements, and most progressive green anarchist movements.
If you'd like to discuss this further in a non-public place, just email me (see first issue of HG). Otherwise I'll keep replying here.