Far too many times, we as anarchists can get locked into ideology and blueprint making rather than thinking critically and acting to meet current challenges. The idea of challenging capitalism and the state was one that was relatively new to western civilization when the first people to be called anarchists in a political sense first put forth their ideas. We should not be satisfied to stop there. They didn’t face issues such as climate change, neo-liberal globalization, or peak production. That doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore those issues. Most early anarchists didn’t challenge extraction, economics, technology, domestication, agriculture, mass society, or civilization but that should not bar us from doing so.
What is civilization?
Civilization can be defined as a way of life based around growing urbanization and the social relationships that result. Urban areas, also known as cities, are defined as populations so dense as to require the importation of the means to sustain the city itself and its population.
Upon an initial landbase, a city is built, including houses, businesses, government buildings, infrastructure, etc. This gives people a place to live, but not the means. Because of this, the civilization must seek out external landbases to exploit in order to harvest the resources to keep it going, to build and maintain houses, bridges, roads, sewer lines, water lines, electrical lines, public transportation, food for restaurants, clothing for the stores, luxury items for the civilized, personal transportation, entertainment, and so on ad infinitum.
Eventually, as cities grow and populations increase and the civilization requires more and more external land to provide the civilized with goods, the civilization will run into land with people on it, usually people whose way of life depends on that land. When the civilized encounter such people, they usually have the option (if they aren’t killed outright) of working highly exploitative jobs to provide goods or services for the civilized on their traditional lands, moving to the cities to find work, or fighting back.
Because most civilized people do not grow their own food or make their own clothing or build their own houses, access their own water… because the civilized pass these responsibilities on to others, some kind of exchange must take place. As the demands of civilization increase, more and more land is needed to produce goods and services for the civilized. Eventually this means that the civilized will run into traditional communities or other civilizations sitting on top of the land they wish to exploit…
Civilization always views the natural world as “natural resources.”