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Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  366 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
“Read it and you will never think of civilization in the same way again.”—Kirkpatrick Sale

This anthology about "the pathology of civilization" offers insight into how progress and technology have led to emptiness and alienation.
Paperback, 276 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Feral House (first published December 31st 1998)
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Community Reviews

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Jun 15, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some really good essays in here. I like the ideology of the primitive movement but it's pretty much impossible to go completely back to nomadic existence without killing 99% of the human race, given the planet's inability to provide foraging. If you want to get something out of this book it's best to accept their main point at face value, that civilisation is destructive and Stone Age life was immeasurably richer than modern life in all the ways that really count.
Lance Grabmiller
Sep 02, 2009 Lance Grabmiller rated it did not like it
Dacia spied this beside my chair recently, flipped through it and muttered that it sounded like just a bunch of angry old men. Sadly, it didn't even live up to that. The way themes overlap in the first half of the book is a textbook case of how NOT to do an anthology - the repetitions were pointless and/or borrowed from each other or the same choices. What saddened me most was finding a few good pieces in this awful mess of sloppy analysis and even sloppier anthropological allusions. I have been ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Mack rated it liked it
At the outset I feel I need to make it very clear that prior to reading this book I was already well aware of the existence of both Green-Anarchism and the Anti-Civ Movement. But even though I had been aware of them and had engaged in discussion with some individuals I had not had a chance to really read over some related literature until this time. This was my first foray into that sub sect of Anarchism.

I read the first edition of this book, which was published in 1999. The one listed here in
confession time: used to be hugely into anarchoprimmie stuff
another confession: it's really not a hard argument on a theoretical level and like there is this weird tendency for everyone to kind of cite the same thing and this collection ends up feeling *really* homogenous. Like, given the popularity of the arguments: just include most of Stone Age Economics rather than have a bunch of people cite it? Also was Lord of the Salmon himself really a necessary inclusion? like, of all of the essays in
Enrico Ferla
Jul 01, 2013 Enrico Ferla rated it did not like it
Não é de todo ruim.
"Earning a living reduces activities to interchangeable, abstract labour-time. The quality of things ceases to be their essence and becomes the accidental appearence of their value.
The infant lives entirely in the present moment in a state of pure lust and guilelessness, deeply
bonded with her mother. But as she grows, she discovers that her mother is a separate entity
with her own priorities and limits. The infant’s experience of relationship changes from one of
spontaneous t
Vijay Rangachari
Sep 01, 2015 Vijay Rangachari rated it it was amazing
This is a scintillating book, which is a collection of gems of thought on anarchistic basis of life. Collectively they argue that primitive ways of life is what makes us human, and that the so called 'development', as in civilization, is actually a deviation form what we are to say the least. Every single work this book depicts is brilliant, and my personal favorite is the one from Sigmund Freud. Overall, John Zerran has elegantly laid out reasoning to question our own ways of life, and to ponde ...more
Aug 28, 2011 Laurin marked it as to-read
I read this while sitting on a mountain in the middle of the Linville Gorge wilderness. I'll just say that if you're wondering what the whole "anti-civ" thing is about, this books is an excellent way to get your feet wet and get a little bit of exposure to a lot of the people who are writing about deep ecology and anti-civ. It's a collection of short essays and excerpts of essays or longer works centered around the topic of civilization (more accurately, critiques against civilization). IT is di ...more
Feb 10, 2014 Brendan rated it it was amazing
An expertly curated collection of thoughts against civilization. I thoroughly appreciate the inclusion of texts both old and new, and the cohesive picture they paint of the pathology of civilization.
Sep 25, 2014 Dave rated it liked it
This is basically just anti-civ porn. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing.
Oct 21, 2015 Adam added it
Writing an online review of Zerzan strikes me as funny.
Courtney Evelyn Cecale
Weird place.
Apr 14, 2008 Dylan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: radicals
A short and diverse compilation of excerpted writing from the Greeks to the present that comes from the anti-civilization and primitivist currents that, the editor argues, have rightly opposed "progress" since the origins of civilization.

I found it to be a powerful and uncommon illustration of the potential depth of a critique of domestication and an exploration of wildness in all domains of human being.
Nov 23, 2010 MV rated it it was ok
One of the essays in this book was amazing. I think it was called The Pit. It was only an excerpt, though. The complete piece, even more amazing, is called HERE: A Small History of a Mining Town in the American Southwest, which can be found (in its entirety!) here:
Ryan Mishap
Sep 11, 2008 Ryan Mishap rated it liked it
Shelves: anthology, anarchy
Excellent collection about just what the title says. Essays by Derrick Jensen and a host of other authors, some anarchists and others not. Good introduction to anti-civ thought because many of the essays are more emotional and personal rather than dry and academic.
Nov 25, 2013 Roger rated it really liked it
The most striking parts of this book are the selections that come from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Reading them, but for the Author and Date, one could believe that these critiques were directed at 21st Century Western society. An OK book.
Jan 23, 2011 Peter rated it did not like it
While primitivist philosophy may be interesting, this "collection" is not worth your time. Nor are most other books written by or edited/collected by Zerzan. A waste of time and money.
Nov 25, 2015 Christy added it
Shelves: read-2014
Decided not to be a volunteer content provider for Amazon anymore. I rated and reviewed this book on LibraryThing:
Sep 08, 2008 Ashitaka rated it it was amazing
After reading this book, I am convinced that our so-called civilized world is destructive.
Aug 27, 2011 Raleigh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Finally finished this jawn. What a great collection Zerzan put together!
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American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author.

His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocate drawing upon the ways of life of hunter gatherers as an inspiration for what a free society should look like.

Some subjects of his criticism include domestication, language, symbolic thought (such as mathematics and art) and the concept of time.
More about John Zerzan...

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