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Magazine Review: Green Anarchy

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Green Anarchy describes itself as "an anti-civilization journal of theory and action." The magazine is produced on a quarterly basis by a collective in Eugene, Oregon. Totally devoid of ads, its Spring issue contains 80 densely packed black and white pages. You know you're in for an interesting read when the inside front cover presents the introduction from Industrial Society and Its Future by Ted Kaczynski, a work more famously known as The Unabomber Manifesto.

This issue is focused on technology. Green Anarchy's editors write that "the speed at which society is becoming completely technified is nothing short of astonishing. We now live in a techno-culture in which social existence is ever more flattened, isolated, mediated, homogenized, and unreal."

Some of the imagery in the articles exploring technology is vivid. Ran Prieur writes, "A hundred years ago, when techno-futurists imagined an automobile for everyone, nobody saw vast cities of parking lots and strip malls, or traffic jams where ten thousand obese drivers move much slower than a man on horseback while burning more energy."

An article by Helena — no surname supplied — explores the dream of some feminists to equalize the genders by using technology to create artificial womb environments, freeing women from the "burden" of child-bearing.

Green Anarchy co-editor John Zerzan offers a lengthy essay on what Karl Jaspers called "The Axial Age," the period from 800 to 200 B.C. when civilizations around the globe, including Greece and the Near East, India and China, all consolidated. Governments became stronger and more centralized, and ― no accident ― so did religions. Advances in technology were an important part of the process, as the Bronze Age was supplanted by the Iron Age and specialists (in metallurgy, bread-making, the arts of war and just about everything else) became important and powerful.

One of the more interesting essays, by an organization called the "terran hacker corps," is an exploration of the term "sustainable technology," used first by environmentalists and now by the likes of Exxon-Mobil. The article points out that man used only muscle power for millions of years, and then turned to wood and whale oil for energy. These were replaced by coal, and, a little later, by oil as well. In a surprising statement, the authors note that "the oil industry's claims of saving whales and forests are worthy of far more than mere scorn."

The terran hacker writers then explore one of the most heralded "sustainable" energy technologies, the use of photovoltaic cells to capture energy from sunlight. They describe how sand is refined to pure silicon, and how that is processed into solar collection cells and computer chips (though they skip a number of steps which they explain "bored our friends/editors when we included them"). Their conclusion: solar energy is one of the more attractive forms of energy from an ecological point of view, but it can never supply more than a small fraction of civilization's massive demand.

About a quarter of the issue's pages are devoted to short news reports from around the world about (1) attacks on authority by anarchists and (2) repression of anarchists by authorities, usually for (1). The U.S. news items, generally tamer than those from Europe, deal largely with the activities of the Earth Liberation Front (destroying construction sites and SUVs at car dealerships) and the Animal Liberation Front (freeing incarcerated animals). There are also extensive reviews of anarchism-friendly books and magazines.

About Ed Rust