I stumbled acrossed something the other day that really got me thinking. Civilization, as depicted in the Bible, was a creation of man that was forbidden by God. Throughout this book, the concepts of civilization and the resulting cities meant evil, corruption, vice, destruction, apathy, worldliness, consumption, gluttony, slavery, warfare, conquest, subjugation and colonization. These trends continue today.
I’m not going to entertain the accuracy, veracity or the numerous other meanings that can be inferred from the Bible, because I’m trying to make a specific point here concerning civilization and what it has historically meant for mankind, and what it will always mean for mankind.
The Bible, as a history book, reveals an oft-overlooked perspective concerning mankind and his desire to build kingdoms. A few points – Adam and Eve were commanded to live in the Garden of Eden and to care of it. Unwilling to obey, they were cast out into the outside world, cursed to till the ground. God equates agriculture with a curse.
When Cain and Able brought their offerings before the Lord, Cain’s offering of tilled-grain is rejected, while Able’s sheep offering is accepted. After Cain kills Able, he flees. Again the tilled ground is cursed. Cain is not even permitted to be a farmer anymore. One of the first thing he does is build a city.
The wickedness of men reach up into the heavens and God intervenes, sending a flood. Noah and his family survive and live the rest of their lives in tents. Later, the tower of Babel (city) is being built and God also destroys this and scatters the inhabitants, confounding their language to prevent it from happening again, but man is persistent.
Abraham lived in a tent throughout his entire life. When his wandering herds get too big, he chooses to live in the distant mountains, forsaking the nearby cities. Lot cast his eyes upon the nearby cities and is soon drawn into their seduction, giving up on tent living. God is displeased and tells Abraham he will destroy the cities. Abraham bargains him down to just ten righteous men, but Abraham’s bargain was really for the city. He could have simply agreed to lead the ten righteous souls out of Sodom.
Lot is rescued from the city. Lot flees, taking his family with him, not to the wilderness, but begging to flee to the little city, Zoar. When his wife looked back in longing, she turns into a pillar of salt. Lot is then sent from Zoar into the wilderness, where he gets drunk and his two daughters rape him, both getting pregnant.
Pharoah enslaved the Hebrews to build his cities. Moses delivered the Hebrews to the wilderness, but not content with their lot, the people complained, “where is the land of milk and honey you promised?”. The people clearly hate the wilderness, never learning to adjust (a very common theme for most of mankind). And these guys had it easy. After forty years of wandering, they invade the land of their neighbors and take over their cities.
The end result was the destruction of the tribes of Israel. Eventually, the people demanded themselves a king to rule over them (government) and this created a succession of kingdoms that brought nothing but war, death, destruction, poverty and misery as they fought over land, cities and pride. The entire Old Testament chronicles the warfare by the inhabitants of the cities. Over and over again, we find that the cities in the Old and New Testaments are cursed by God, including Jersusalem, which is eventually totally destroyed, as is the vast majority of the Holy Land.
Cities are a very recent occurrence and completely define what civilization is. They are a concrete hierarchy and everything in them, from structure to raw materials speaks eloquently of those who build and maintain them. Cities are the product of specialization and cannot exist without creating an institutionalized division of labor which requires people to do certain tasks, whether they like it or not (as we all can relate). They are an imposition not only upon the earth, but upon those who live within and outside of them.
Christ railed against the Roman and Jewish government, oftentimes preferring the wilderness and surrounding countrysides over the city. His curse against Jerusalem as the capital of Judea was to tear it down, stone by stone, occurring in 70 A.D.
He taught that we should not be concerned with clothing or adornment or even what we shall eat, but this is not what we find today, even among Christians. Where we live, how we live, what we wear and what we eat are top priorities, irregardless of what the Bible has to say about it. Indigenous cultures are (and have always been) frowned on by Christians as “heathen savages” who weren’t bright enough to dress properly. Christians took great relish in Christianizing the conquered nations at the point of gun (to the survivors). The rest were enslaved in work camps or simply shot. Clearly, modern Christianity hasn’t learned a thing concerning civilization (or humanity).
Civilization brings patriarchy, control, domestication and modification to the earth (for personal benefit, at the detriment of all other species). The reality is, humans have lived by hunting and gathering for 99.99% of their entire existence. God’s admonishment to not dwell in cities was long understood and has only relatively recently been ignored, but not by all cultures. There are a handful of indigenous cultures that survive today, but they are fast becoming assimilated (or destroyed) by the surrounding world.
The original (and only) civilization advocated in the Bible is an egalitarian hunter-gatherer culture. All other cultures wound up in ruin and despair, misery and death, as ours is today. Oft accompanied by resource destruction, pollution, depredation and massive overpopulation, non-egalitarian cultures have historically failed, consistently, every single time.
The objective of civilization is to subjugate the entire earth into a synthetic and artificial hierarchical existence. Every aspect of our natural existence and hereditary roots is to be manipulated, modified and controlled – by someone other then our own selves. We become slaves, as we are wont to do, because we are subjugated to the controlling hierarchies found within civilizations.
The success of civilization can be gauged by just how much it has limited our vision and our aspirations. It’s nearly impossible for any one of us to really grasp just how much we have lost by our domestication. Our senses have been dulled; we’ve been trained to not trust our instincts, subjugated to a fully dehumanized, mechanical hierarchy; living in boxes within boxes within boxes. We mow our lawns, we play along, and we spend our entire lives being pushed through the linear future that has been scientifically determined to breed the most efficient consumers. We play along, yet everyone one of us has that urge, that feeling that something is wrong, or there could be something more. For millions of years we have lived in a way that is completely different from this. We always have to remember that when we’re looking at “savages” and “primitives” we are really looking at wild (or more wild as the case may be) versions of ourselves. They are no different from us in any physical or mental sense, other than the fact that they have not been beaten down.
In order to understand just how deep civilization’s tentacles are, it is necessary for us to begin by looking at its origins. This is essentially the drive of the anarchoprimitivist critique of civilization. It is not so much an attempt to lay out a “paradise lost” as it is a recognition of the state we have lived for the majority of our existence within the community of life, or “natural anarchy”. As anarchists, we should be questioning all that systematically denies the ability of self-determination and autonomy. From the anarcho-primitivist and green anarchist perspective, that thing has a name and origins; and like everything else, understanding how it arose gives some indication of how it could be made to fall.
It’s been well said that “Domestication seems to lay the seeds for a history of perpetual collapse.” We are in the death-throes of that collapse today. We have ignored sound advice and historical proof and are about to receive the thrashing of our lives as a result. This repeatng pattern of collapsing civilization has occurred since time immemorial. It remains the height of arrogance and indifference and insufferable greed to keep pretending that “this time” it will be any different. Very little actually seperates us from ancient man, what we have today can accurately called a significant net-loss compared to what “they” had then. The empty-idea that our science and technology will yet save us (and free us) and our present or future civilizations is unfounded on fact and logic and is absolute pipe dream with no basis whatsoever in reality.
This has always been the dream of mankind, unreachable, unrealistic and always with devastating consequences. The empty promises of science and technology have not resulted in our salvation, but our further enslavement and destruction of our planet and way of life.
There is exceeding little, if anything, that mankind has done that has not resulted in toxic, poisonous culture detrimental to all life and existence. The never-ending scientific quest to rectify this situation persistently fails to identify the main remedy, the root cause, the source of our toxic conditioning, which is civilization. Mankind by himself is no greater threat to the planet then any other mammal, but combine him with civilization and they becomes a binary chemical capable of the worst kinds of pollution and planetary destruction ever seen.
Neutralizing this deadly combination has become a prerequisite for the survival of the species and the greater planet. Mankind with his intellect and capacity for thought and reasoned logic has the capacity to make a choice, the right choice, but he is usually ill-suited to do so because of avarice, apathy and indifference. When life becomes too easy for hard decisions what usually happens is to do nothing. This will very likely be the case again.
What is needed then is to do what Noah did. A life-boat is needed for the species. Like Noah, the preservation of all life will be absolutely crucial for our future (and their) survival. This will probably result in the last best hope for mankind – and the planet. But I should point out that this would be absolutely pointless if we were to insist on “rebuilding” our failed civilizations as it was before. There would be no point.
We can begin to do this now. Every one of us, which is, after all, where it need begin. We are the forerunners to the surviving populations (and species) of the world. What we do now will greatly affect what they can do then.
The choice is yours – what are you willing to do to stop the destruction?