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Though anarchy is in every way more desirable than any government, without anything governmental or the monetary system most everything that provides for our current conditions of comfort, relaxation, relative safety and availability of necessities would be gone or very much limited.

Wouldn't it be advantageous to be more surgical in an approach where  the cancer is removed but the desirable tissue is saved.
by (2.0k points)
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2 Answers

+1 vote
depends on where the exchange rate is at when you do it. probably not in this market though.
by (1.1k points)
+1 vote
It would depend on the anarchist you ask (how many of my answers have started like this?).

From my perspective if a person truly values freedom, autonomy, and egalitarianism, while opposing hierarchy and domination, then yes, a more primitive lifestyle is an acceptable trade off for anarchy. But that doesn't mean that I am living the dream, either, I am plugged-the-fuck-in to the computer in my comfy home in one of the most connected urban areas on earth. That is is an acceptable trade off is like a math problem (tips hat to Broner) that an insurance wonk or accountant would use: Does this column outweigh that one?. Just because it is acceptable doesn't necessarily mean it is desirable.

It might be, but I am skeptical of anyone offering up a solution or an end point we need to work towards. I find it much more helpful to be focused on the elimination of the state, capitalism, and civilization than on a sort of prefigurative politics, even if it is an anti-civ prefiguration.  I want to be careful here though, as I am not trying to create a strawman, I think many who call themselves anarcho-primitivists feel the same way, and use that label, or focus on other aspects of resisting, such as rewilding. This is where it gets real messy.

Lots of anarchists, given the choice between the ever expanding misery of industrial civilization would say that a primitive lifestyle is "acceptable," but, at least for myself, I am not a primitivist. There is a difference between being anti-civ and being anarcho-primitivist. Anti-civ is about a critique based in negation, in knowing what we are opposed to, but doesn’t necessarily offer up solutions or programs, whereas primitivism is more of a positive vision of the future(primitive). At least that’s how I would categorize the differences. AP is anti-civ, but Anti-Civ is not necessarily AP.

Then again, there are plenty of anarchists would agree that what you call the “surgical approach” is more desirable. They tend to argue a couple of distinct (but related lines). First,  Industrial civilization can be saved if the class structure of society is jettisoned along with capitalism, the state, and blah, blah, blah. This argument boils down to that workers who are deciding what they will work on will not willingly do things that decimate their world. Since most of these anarchists tend to argue for some form of global networking that replaces the capitalist system of globalization, obviously we would all take in to account the needs of everyone else.

This is frequently supplemented with an argument that without the profit motives inherent to capitalism, green technologies would be allowed to flourish and develop in ways they are not currently. Electricity and materials would be generated without the use of petroleum products or nuclear power, commodities would be made sustainably, and so forth. I’ve gathered it would be something akin to a governmentless  version of the world described in Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach.

Even if we did maintain green technologies that would do nothing to deal with over-population (which in turn creates more issues for industrial civilization), with the alienation we experience from the world around us (including the people around us). This part of my beef with pro-civ anarchy is highly informed by anarcho-primitivism (in specific John Zerzan’s “Origins” essays). Frankly, I don't think that a globalized network of green industry is possible without government, but this is an argument that is put forward.

Related to part of your original question that I didn’t previously address, things such as level of comfort and relaxation are relative, and certainly, our current level of comfort and relaxation are predicated and maintained by the imiseration of billions of other beings. And industrial capitalism leaves me feeling hollow. I want to destroy it because of how it hurts me, and how it hurts others similarly, and I want to destroy it completely because it so completely colonizes my life.

Some further things that would be worth your time to look at:
by (22.1k points)
Wouldn't an effective way to eliminate a poor choice (which is the only choice) by developing a better choice.?

Is a transition of a society easier or more effective by bringing about a void in power or a replacement of anarchy by plan and choice?  

Isn't there a change of values that must occur in anarchy?  We have been under the spell or curse of capitalism which distorts values and promotes eccessive lifestyle of waste and indulgences.  Profit makes sales and production the objective rather than life and the planet.  

Anarchist could be the greatest set of problem solvers ever.  But seeing the problem and tearing it down is really only part of a solution.  Aren't there other methods to encourage global cooperation other than profit and slavery.  Slavery is when we work for the benefit of a few, what if cooperation was a choice where everyone benefitted.  Couldn't that be the basis of a plan.

I am not trying to say what plan is the right plan?  But a plan can change and be improve upon; where having no plan goes no where.  Can't anarchist develop a plan that is better than government based on the principles of anarchy?
The problem with having too much of a plan is that in most cases they by definition describe to others what the world would/will look like. This vision might not work for everyone or every place. When people ask me for my vision of the future, I generally turn it back on them, "what would you like the world to look like?" "how would you like to live?"

As I tried to outline in my answer, one of the reasons I am not an anarcho-primitivist is that I think in reality probably there would be varying low levels of technology that people might still employ. This is problematic for reasons I'll get to in a minute, but it is also realistic, in that I think it is possible that localized groups will find ways to maintain some technologies that help them survive, and without a group of primmie-police searching out all of these, I don't see how that could be stopped, nor would I personally want to impose my will in this way.

This is problematic though in that technology does not exist in a vacuum and tends to be expansive. If a groiup maintains their lifestyle through the use of certain technologies, at some point they will need to expand beyond their land base and require the importation of resources. THis could be to maintain the technologies they rely on, or it could be to support the expanding population allowed through the reliance on that technology. Most often these two things are intimately related.

If the above sounds familiar, that's because that is where we are at right now, and why I a more primitive lifestyle is desireable.

You ask about values shifts, and absolutely, there need to be shifts in values. How does this come about though? Do we want to tell people what their values *should* be? Do you want me to tell you what your values *should* be? Anarchists are at their best when we seek not to create a mass movement, but when we are operating on the margins and in the periphery. Our greatest strengths are in questioning and negating. In creating the void you talk about, and giving people an opportunity to step in to it. It may close up again after a few minutes or hours or days, but those opportunities to give people (not just other people, ourselves as well) a chance to experience and experiment.

I suspect I am not giving you what you are looking for, the general arc of your questions seems to be looking for a sort of road map to anarchy, and I personally just don't believe that one exists. I think it is more likely that we will experience anarchy as the journey itself (which sounds oddly like something some deadhead might tell me, having typed it out). That doesn't mean concrete goals aren't valuable, having goals can help us build momentum and energy to expand and generalize the voids (or, dare I say, ruptures?) in which we are operting, but I tend to think that these goals should be specific and limited, except when talking about the broadest of notions, like, "I want to live in a world without capitalism or the state, free from all domination."
Thanks ingrate for your responses.  
No one can say what the world should look like.     To do so is shortsighted and unrealistic.  But a plan does not need to determine how people live.  Many people go on vacations.   Few are the same, yet there are common elements and goals: reliable means of transportation, the accessibility of supplies, food, and temporary lodging; unless you want to stay where you are for rest or enjoyable activities.   Everyone determines their own vacation but those choices are supported by an infrastructure that has nothing to do with how you choose or what you choose.  Couldn't anarchy exist in such a scenario: the void of authority and capitalism but not the void of supportive of infrastructure.

Anarchy does not have to exist within a vacuum.  It exists where every one can make their own chooses with their lives and is free to live as they want to.  Yet still within any scenario  there must be an answer to how person is going to sustain themselves, where are they to sleep,  and how are they to find safety from nature and the protection from violence.   Then there are relative questions such as: the  physical difficulty, the time and effect for each answer, and the degree of quality, comfort, and conditions of interaction / cooperation with others, and the time of process and effective means to any need.  

How high are the chances some communities will just develop with low tech without some plan to make sense of the chaos the collapse of the current systems.  Isn't a worse scenario more likely where families will perish together.  Looting, hording, and lawlessness will be very intense at first until everything runs out.  Then without any existence of a developed functional community, people will die.  

It seems that we are living in a house made of matches with no fire escape plan.  Any plan of design that is made is made by the very purpose it is intention.  Of course those intentions are often abused by governments, businesses, and violence to others.  In anarchy 2 out of the three are taken care of, and the third would be greatly reduced.

All I am hoping for are ideas; not a cause, not a movement, and certainly not agreement.  I have some notion in my mind that diversity is necessary for thought and community.   Not in conflict but to use that within the contents of thought pressing forward together to find better answers.

You wrote, ... That doesn't mean concrete goals aren't valuable, having goals can help us build momentum and energy to expand and generalize the voids ...   By having such a goal as you stated ... to live in a world without capitalism or the state, free from all domination ...  every ensuing idea, concept, or action would be based upon that objective.