John Zerzan, an anarchist from Eugene, Oregon has claimed that civilization as we know it is pathological. We risk the extinction of all species so we can have momentary comforts. Thus, “green anarchism,” or “anarcho-primitivism,” traces the origins of the problem lie far back in human history with the first domestication of plant and nonhuman animal life. Repeating much of what anthropology has known for years, green anarchism shows that agriculture was the first step in human exploitation of the earth and one another. It was out of this sedentary existence that patriarchy, war, and other forms of social domination arose. As such, we ought to be looking at what anthropologists have found out about nomadic bands. Though not completely free from all violence, many of these bands have never known warfare and are arranged in an egalitarian fashion. There are no kings and rulers amongst them who dominate.
Thus, civilization is a target of green anarchism because at its root, civilization is inherently violent and sets up various relationships of domination. As a way of life characterized by the growth of cities, civilization inevitably destroys its environmental surroundings. This is because as the population grows, it must denude an ever expanding swath of the landscape of the raw materials the civilization needs to survive. For example, the first civilization grew up in what is now southern Iraq (the Sumerians), but today, all that is left of those first cities is a vast desert, a testament to the massive ecological destruction that civilization wreaked. Though he does not subscribe fully to green anarchism, Jared Diamond has provided ample and detailed looks at this aspect of civilization in his book Collapse.
When the resources a civilization needs to survive run out, to survive the civilization must either conquer other lands or form trade partnerships (or both). While trade may seem less violent, this cannot be the case indefinitely. If a trade relationship breaks down, such as happened in the 1970′s between the west and the OPEC nations, the nations who depend on the resources will attack the other countries because their survival depends upon the goods. Thus the Carter administration made plans to invade several countries in the middle east. So violence is written into the very fabric of civilization. It sustains our lifestyle, one way or another. In a nutshell, this is the critique of green anarchism, or anarcho-primitivism.
Articles for further reading:
———. “The Primitivist Critique of Civilization.” Unpublished paper presented at the 24th annual meeting of the International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, June 15, 1995