Guerrilla Ontology: On Destruction, Violence and Direct Action

Smashing badger traps and creating psycho-geographical distress is not going to stop Empire nor the ecological collapse that is a byproduct of its violence. But this is not our task…. Our aim as guerrilla ontologists is to be agents of destruction, poetic terrorists and involutionary fighters, disrupting history and resisting its violence.

From Julian Langer



We hear about violence all the time. We talk about violence all the time.

We label this violence as good and that violence as bad. This violence as necessary and that violence as unnecessary.

This violence theirs and that violence ours. And the conversation goes on and on and on.

Often we don’t recognise when we are talking about violence, as violence takes so many forms, wears so many masks, and we’ve been raised to uphold most acts of violence as simply factors of ordinary daily life.

To the pacifist, all violence is evil and must be avoided at any cost. Pacifists believe in the great cosmic separation of forces of light from forces of darkness. They view the universe as fundamentally flawed in this way. Pacifists believe that there is such a feature of existence, which can pervade all of Being – this notion of evil and darkness – which is something that must be rejected at all points.

To say something is evil is to presuppose a moral ought, that something should or should not exist, and that each existent example of evil must be rejected and expelled from society. What evil is ultimately is that which threatens the machinery that is society.

But while we talk about violence again and again, we rarely talk about what violence is, nor what it isn’t. Oh sure, we talk about their violence and even our own on occasion (though usually sanctifying its enactors, the living as heroes and the dead as martyrs who sacrificed themselves for God, the God of the machinery of the technosphere).

Rarely, if ever, do we talk about what violence is, what are violence’s origins, and other questions that might be considered too abstract or conceptual for “realpolitik.”

Violence seems to be a very specific type of action (again embracing generalized categories), which often gets mistaken for another. So, before giving any type of definition of violence, I will discuss what it is not: destruction.

Destruction as a phenomenon is the event of a singularity whereby, due to certain physical intensities, a new situation, space, location, Thing (etc.) is created. In this way, creation and destruction are in no way a dichotomy, but rather the monist force of the flow of motion, energy, transience in an entirely physical sense.

A hurricane and a wildfire are destructive, but they aren’t violent. In their destruction they create new situations, spaces, locations; Things, from the intensity of their energetic releases. A meteor that kills most of the life on planet Earth, including the dinosaurs (arguably this planet’s most successful occupants if we assume a paleontological realist epistemology), is not violent and does not enact violence upon those it has killed. The Chicxulub meteor was destructive, and its destruction lead to the creation of a situation that resulted in mammals becoming more prevalent (as a generalized category of species-Being) as the dinosaurs died out.

Destruction and creation are the monist flow of Life, where life and death are one and the same thing. They are the same thing in each present, temporarily bound by the physical dimensions of embodied Being – wild-Being as I choose to term it. As such, destruction(/creation) is an aspect of what is wild (or natural, if you prefer).

Violence as Violation

Violence presents itself not as destruction, but as violation. This doesn’t mean that violence is defined by the intent to violate. No, the perception of an action or event doesn’t alter its physicality, only the relationships of those within or towards it. As such, violence can occur with no intent to violate.

So what does it mean to violate? To violate something is to assert authority (not power) over a given space, place, moment, individual, or group, and to interrupt the wild authentic flow of living energies into the constructions (not creations) of the supposed authority, which asserts itself through violence.

Rape is an act of violence, where rapists assert themselves as an authority over whom they are raping. Rape interrupts the wild authentic flow of living energies of those raped, via usurpation of their body, and makes of them a constructed object of the rapist’s pleasure resources.

This authority stems from the mythologies of civilisation, surrounding hierarchies of Others who are granted the ability to dominate and oppress through innate privileges. This is not to say that rape and other acts of violence do not occur outside of civilisation; rather, civilisation is the monopolisation of violence and a force that intensifies violence, to such a degree that it corrupts Being into something inauthentic and entirely different from what is wild.

Myths of authority (again, not power) are what violence is. Civilisation is defined by the machinery of the technosphere, the body of the metropolis, the materiality of its ideology. Its violence does not and cannot create, but rather it constructs. It constructs through language and through what civilisation deems as resources.

To civilise, to domesticate, to assert authority, to construct, to mechanise is to be violent; whereas to be destructive(/creative) is to be wild, living, natural.

This definition might feel uneasy to those who have been involved in (or have been active voices for) resistance groups whose tactics have included those generally considered violent. In fact, many have sought to justify the use of violence, and this is not just limited to groups within “western” nations, such as ALF, ELF, DGR etc., but also indigenous resistance fighters in their appeals to those “citizens” who seek to oppress them. But this is simply a misunderstanding brought about through the limitations of language as a means of conveying meaning.

The actions of these radicals aren’t violent, but destructive(/creative), and as such aren’t attached to the authoritarianism of violence and its ugliness. That’s not to say that there aren’t groups who call themselves radical, but actually just want to reconstruct the same machinery of violence they supposedly oppose. Rather, resistance/revolt/rebellion/etc., is destructive/creative, not violent.

Guerilla Creation/Destruction

What does this mean for radical practice, eco-anarchist, ontological-anarchist or otherwise? Simply it means we are agent of destruction; we are the creation of destruction, we support the destruction of the violent constructions of civilisation, in machinery, language, myths, socio-normative forms of interaction and all else that encompasses the metropolis, the Leviathan, the state, the economy.

This action of destroying the reality constructed by civilisation is the activity of guerrilla ontology, which amounts to destroying civilisation’s machinery and myths, and creating events, spaces, places, situations that allow for the anarchic flow of wild-Being to move freely.

Guerrilla ontology has not generally been viewed in the sense I am describing here. It was first described by Robert Anton Wilson and defined on Wikipedia as:

“The goal of guerrilla ontology is to expose an individual or individuals to radically unique ideas, thoughts, and words, in order to invoke cognitive dissonance, which can cause a degree of discomfort in some individuals as they find their belief systems challenged by new concepts.”

So with it being drawn from Wilson’s philosophy and writings, guerrilla ontology is typically associated with new-age, Discordianist spiritual practices.

Ontological anarchist Hakim Bey describes his concept of the Temporary Autonomous Zone as a practice in guerrilla ontology, and is where the term is first located within anarchist thought. We should expand the concept past mere quietism and pure lifestylism, so as to be the basis of destructive(/creative) attacks of sabotage, resisting civilisation in a revolt based in Life. But to do this we must explore what it is to be a guerrilla. Guerrilla fighters are fighters who utilise a guerrilla-based approach to conducting warfare. So what is the guerrilla mode of attack?

Che Guevara, the famous Marxist guerrilla fighter of the Cuban revolution, stated in his work Guerrilla Warfare: A Method that the objective of the guerrilla strategy is the seizure of power. Now obviously in the case of Che, and the Marxist project he was involved in with Castro, the seizure of power translated to the reconstruction of the Leviathan under their authority, not liberation, wild freedom or anything actually desirable. But this is an issue regarding the authenticity of the project in question, not in the approach itself. And given Che’s proficiency as a guerrilla fighter, I feel comfortable with this objective of the method, regardless of its ideological outcome.

So we will follow from this presupposition that the guerrilla mode of attack is based on the objective of seizing power, and for our purposes this seizure of power is a destructive(/creative) one, not a constructive violent one.

Guerrilla groups – such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, Khmer Rogue, The Japanese Red Army, The Ñancahuazú Guerrilla, M-19, The IRA, New Peoples Army, Movimiento Peronista Montonero, Democratic Army of Greece, Free Papua Movement, The Angry Brigade, J2M, Individualists Tending Towards the Wild, YPJ and YPG, Conspiracy of Cells of Fire, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and other such organisations – have all taken as their approach seizing power strategies and tactics that are based in acts of sabotage, ambushes, raids, hit-and-run style approaches and other means of attacking, while avoiding large scale head on warfare of the traditional militarist approach. This is not to advocate all the specific forms of irregular warfare these groups and groups like them use or have used – bombing “civilians” (for example) just for the sake of it is ugly and only succeeds in goading civilisation to dominate through greater authoritarian means.

Why Guerilla?

Why utilise tactics of irregular warfare with small-scale attacks like ambushes and sabotage? Why not attack head on? Lets look to a historical potential that led to ruin to discuss why not.

After she was beaten by the Romans and her daughters were raped, Celtic druidess and queen Boudicca led a guerrilla campaign that almost saw the Romans out of Briton. The Iceni tribes under Boudicca’s leadership enacted rebellions and ambushed cities held under Roman rule. Through their guerrilla tactics they successfully depleted the Roman position in Briton to near defeat.

Had they not ever directly engaged the Roman military, with its technologically superior weaponry and armour, the Iceni and Boudicca would likely have seen the Roman colonial invaders off, defeated in blood drenched Celtic victory. Unfortunately they did face the Romans in open battle and the Celts lost.

So it seems sensible to advocate guerrilla type tactics given the technological might of empire and our available means of attack.

One resistance fighter, within anti-civ eco-radical resistance, whose approach has utilised much of what can be considered a guerrilla approach, is Theodore Kaczynski (better known as the infamous UNABOMBER). Kaczynski’s infamy comes not only from his bombing campaign and his famed manifesto, Industrial Society and its Future, but from his years of eluding the FBI and other institutional agents who sought to track him down.

Kaczynski’s ideology has been a central aspect of the eco-extremist movement, who actively embrace narratives of violence. One of the things clear in Kaczynski’s writings is that, while he presents great analytic accounts on technology, his politics remain tied to narratives of history(/civilisation). The eco-extremist movement seems equally tied to narratives of history, and they mistake their sanctified deity of Wild Nature for a violent force, when the wild is destructive(/creative) and violates nothing.

Regarding the UNABOMBER (as a political entity), Kaczynski was a failure, both in historical and anti-historical terms, who, despite his many brilliant aspects, found himself in the trappings of a far more extensively intensive prison than the one you and I find ourselves located within. The eco-extremist post-Kaczynskiist movement would do well to remember this, or maybe this is something that their pseudo-active (passive) pessimist nihilism just accepts?

Perhaps I’m being unfair to Kaczynski. It is true that both the eco-radical and anarchist milieus are colossal failures in pursuing our desired outcomes outside of some smaller personal projects. Empire has now spread across basically the entire body of the Earth and ecological collapse is basically a certainty. But the energetic fury of defiant revolt that courses through my body leads me to press on, channelling the power of the wild, to be a destructive force upon civilisation, creating untame spaces/places/locations/situations.

Indigenous Resistance

Lets look at other struggles, fights, and dances.

The indigenous peoples of what we now call Australia enacted a war against the settlers that has no apparent beginning or ending outside of History; a lived reality of warfare against the reality being constructed by the British mask of civilisation. This warfare was conducted by “cheeky fella” loner-leaders, whose attacks were coordinated devoid of formal organisation, usually in the form of ambush warfare. Rather than forming organisations, militias and other general categories of organised warfare, they practiced their guerrilla far more like communities/unions of egoists, working in mutual aid to resist civilisation.

What did their resistance look like? Well, many of the guerrilla fighters took to forming bands, who focused on payback, through means of inflicting unending sabotage and psychological warfare. The sabotage is basically what we call property destruction in the form that eco-radicals are very familiar with. The psychological warfare mostly took the form of mocking, humiliating and harassing the invaders, threatening and intimidating as means of psychic-attack.

The lone-leader guerrilla fighters of the indigenous Australians include famed warrior Pemulwuy, who it was believed could not be killed with firearms. Pemulwuy fought British invaders through ambush raids and killed British officials in vengeance against their violence towards his community and the land he lived upon. Like Kaczynski and similar guerrilla fighters, Pemulwuy failed and found himself at the mercy of his enemies (the approach of a lone-leader indigenous Australian attack seems to draw in something from guerrilla ontologist attacks).

Does this mean we start killing officials or supporters of Empire like Pemulwuy? Not necessarily, as there seems to be far more prudent practical means of inflicting damage to the Leviathan. These means hold more potential for actually disrupting its narratives, not just serving as a basis for the civilised to reinstate and make those same narratives more violent. I don’t see the attempt to assassinate government officials, or to kill a few domesticated individuals, as an activity that has any pragmatic potential for desirable outcome, and it seems like a waste.

Guerrilla ontologist warfare seems best enacted through 2 types of ambush attack. The first, sabotage, is well known to eco-radicals. This type of attack through “property” destruction has had relative degrees of success for groups like the ELF, ALF, Earth First!, the Hunt Saboteurs, and other eco-anarchist groups (This is stated with the acknowledgement that, due to the sheer scale of Empire’s authority at this point, we need an honest pessimism regarding its potential and its failings in the past).

The second form of ambush attack being advocated here is the utilisation of psychic warfare, to create sensations of wildness within the consciousnesses of the domesticated. This means to shatter the technologically induced comforts that distance the domesticated from the horror of the desert of the Real, the apocalyptic situation that stands before us, into a perception that can look at little else.

Smashing badger traps and creating psycho-geographical distress is not going to stop Empire nor the ecological collapse that is a byproduct of its violence. But this is not our task. The Real is breaking through this Reality, through hurricanes, wild fires, through rust upon the metal of the technosphere and far more examples than I could ever list. Wild-Being is ultimately inescapable; civilisation is the construction of a phantasmic illusion, and it will collapse.

Our aim as guerrilla ontologists is to be agents of destruction, poetic terrorists and involutionary fighters, disrupting history and resisting its violence. And this is best done through ambushing via sabotaging the machinery of civilisation (“property destruction”) and via psychological warfare, rather than head on assaults, which always result in increased intensities in violence from civilisation and its agents.


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild Beings. Musician and activist.


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Me Too and the Production of Hierarchy

Deviation from the norm, from the ontological priorities that permeate society, increases the risk of sexual violence because the more you deviate the less your body is valued, the less agency you are granted to define and name your own life.

From Shay Woodall

CW: “me too”, Sexual Assault (SA)

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks watching the “me too” movement kick off on social media platforms. My Facebook feed has been filled with people sharing their stories with sexual assault (SA) and a lot of discourse critical of it. As a trans woman it’s been particularly difficult seeing how the language of many Me Too posts have unwittingly ignored trans, nonbinary, and intersex folks. And as a Jewish pagan, I think the topic of r*pe culture is particularly important when the pagan community so often doesn’t address abusers in our ranks. I recall an incident not long ago with a pagan community near me that did everything in their power to protect an abuser while gaslighting the victim, someone I care deeply about.

That dynamic isn’t an isolated incident either. Part of that problem has been a push from “mainstream” Pagans to turn our religion into something apolitical, but religion is inherently political. That our communities reflect the power dynamics of wider society, a microcosm of a macrocosm, is not a coincidence.

I’ve had time to reflect on this issue and a lot of the discourse and I want to take the time to give this the consideration it deserves in a way I hope embodies the compassion I have for my fellow survivors. This essay isn’t going to be an easy one, I know how traumatic this topic is, but sometimes to heal we must delve into the deep soil of our individual and collective traumas and dig out a space in which to plant a seed of healing. That’s the image through which I hope you read this and know that my solidarity is unyielding.

Please also know that this piece, like any of the things I write, is limited in understanding. All of our stories with SA are unique even as they are similar. I do not speak for other survivors, only for my experience. This is the beginning of a conversation and dialogue and I hope that to this thread which is my experience you add the thread of your own that together we can weave a tapestry.

I also want to thank all of the comrades who gave me feedback on earlier drafts of this and who sharpened my analysis of this issue. My gratitude on helping with this can not be understated.

I. Finding Roots

The “Me Too” movement began nearly a decade ago with activist Tarana Burke, a black woman. She is the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity, a group dedicated to empowering young women of color. She describes the story of its creation when she was a camp counselor. I don’t think I can tell her story more powerfully than she can so I direct you to this article.

When white women and NBWOC take the labor of black women without centering their unique experiences it is a disservice to them and to our ideals of social justice. Let us do better in raising up voices so often erased. Tarana Burke said this which I think really cuts to the heart of this:

“On one side, it’s a bold declarative statement that ‘I’m not ashamed’ and ‘I’m not alone.’ On the other side, it’s a statement from survivor to survivor that says ‘I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I’m here for you or I get it.”

II. Digging in the Soil

There’s a branch of philosophy known as ontology that deals with the nature of “being.” Ontology tries to answer questions about “being,” what the world is made, what “exists.” To do that, ontology typically categorizes matter and often places some ontological category as being “primary” or “first.”In this way, ontological hierarchies create a system of values and “priorities.”

Take as an example how only certain experiences of SA are heard, that by existing lower in the ontological priorities, if at all, certain voices get erased. In society there exists a certain “ordering” of identities, a scale that places people and then assigns them varying degrees of agency. We could say that ontological hierarchies are very similar to animacy hierarchies, but that’s an article of its own. When we are applying intersectional critiques, at heart, we are putting forth a certain kind of ontology, or more accurately intersectional critiques seek to break down ontological hierarchies.

Perhaps the best way to understand this is to see what it looks like in action. We live bound under a capitalist super structure, what Marx described as the culture, institutions, political systems, rituals, state apparatus, etc and which he contrasted with what he called the “base.” or the ordering of and relationships made from the relations of production. Later critical theorists expanded this critique to point to the reflexive nature of the system, that base and superstructure are informed by and inform each other in a way that is inseparable. Seeing the role of ontological hierarchies play out in this superstructure under which we all live will hopefully be elucidating.

Capitalist ontological hierarchies situate the pursuit of wealth through wage labor as the default mode of being in the superstructure. In doing so the capitalist superstructure seeks several things. First, it normalizes the system by painting lack of ownership of the means of production as a default mode of economic and societal organization. Second it shifts the gaze of the working class off the wealthy so as to hide their accountability in the production of oppression. Finally it breaks down a unified class consciousness by subtly gaslighting the working class, having them believe that this system is the only one possible or even desirable.

A critique of hierarchy is central to the Anarchist model of social justice. We seek to break down to the deeper roots of oppression. Which is vital to breaking down r*pe culture and the endemic of sexual violence that haunts our world and so many of our lives. To make the link more explicit: kyriarchy (or the interlocking matrix of oppressive power structures like capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, etc) uses SA as a way of enforcing ontological hierarchies. Deviation from the norm, from the ontological priorities that permeate society, increases the risk of sexual violence because the more you deviate the less your body is valued, the less agency you are granted to define and name your own life. Therefore, I want to examine how these ontological priorities impact these discussions and the consequences that result by layering together four intersections: misogyny, cissexism, ableism, and white supremacy.

1. Misogyny and Cissexism

Within the patriarchy that we live men are “normative”, their experiences the ones by which all others are judged. Yet “men” are not a homogenous group, there are cis men, trans men, nonbinary men, intersex men, white men, men of color, abled men, disabled men. Likewise, women are not a homogenous group and neither is humanity in general; each of us occupies a complex set of identities informed by our own phenomenological experiences. By homogenizing the experiences of SA victims we necessarily erase the uniqueness of each individual experience and begin to hide the forces that shape and are shaped by r*pe culture.

The model of gender that permeates patriarchy is a binary between “male/men” and “female/women”. Several ontological priorities flow from this with devastating consequences for trans, nonbinary, and intersex folks (TNI). In the same way that misogyny centers men as being normative, cissexism centers cisness as normative. Many of the posts about me too have used cissexist and bioessentialist language (see here for more information on this) creating an ontological priority that decenters the most at-risk populations.

Take for example the ontological priority of cis women in many posts. By positioning, for example, trans women, as lacking some “essential” shared experience or quality with cis women it allows their priority to be weaponized as a way of erasing experiences deviating from the “norm.” SA itself is used to police gender and reinforce the structures that underpin the cishet patriarchy. Our queerness disrupts the ontological priorities of oppressive structures and SA becomes a way of forcing queer bodies back into the binary box.

Another insidious effect of this is that it drives a wedge through the heart of solidarity in this movement for social justice and community healing. When cis women, who are ontologically prioritized by cissexism, must make room for trans, nonbinary, and intersex folks, there is pushback and we are accused of “attacking” women. In other words, we are accused of being agents of patriarchy who seek to decenter the role of misogyny and the violence cis women face instead of being viewed as active contributors to the deconstruction of patriarchy. This implication, embedded into the language of many posts, results in trans, nonbinary and intersex folks feeling as if it is not our place to share our experiences with SA. And worse, this can result in a lack of resources, access to spaces, etc which can be potentially devastating.

2. Ableism.

Ontological priorities also weave together a narrative of there being a “default” sexual assault experience. Neuro-typical folks are granted an additional amount of agency to define their experiences not afforded to neurodivergent folks. Austitic people, and autistic women, such as myself face the additional burden of being gaslit by ableist structures in society that can be internalized. By denying us full agency through the reduction of our ontological priority our experiences can be erased or dismissed. I’m not “really” a victim of SA, I’m just “cr*zy”. I don’t “really” know my own boundaries, I’m autistic. In short ontological priorities can be weaponized to gaslight victims and cause us to gaslight ourselves.

3. White Supremacy

This section will feature two modes of analysis of white supremacy. The first focusing on anti-semitism, the second widening the scope to white supremacy more broadly and the urgency of the anti-blackness and settler colonialism that underpins it.

•Anti-semitism

I’d like to begin by saying I am hesitant to write this section because I understand just how deep anti-semitism runs in leftist circles; I choose to speak truth to power regardless here in the interest of healing. I bring up Weinstein’s Jewishness, not because it absolves him of guilt, but rather because his Jewishness, animated by white supremacy and anti-semitism, becomes a shield to absolve whiteness from accountability. To be clear, Weinstein, like myself is a white passing Jew and that matters just as much in this conversation as his Jewishness. Jewishness occupies a nebulous category, orienting and aligning itself either with or away from whiteness. It is only through a complex and individual set of circumstances that white passing Jews become oriented away from whiteness as is the case here. (This article might help put some of this in context and why I choose to bring this issue up.)

What popularized the me too movement was Harvey Weinstein’s SA of women being brought to light. For those of you unaware, Weinstein is a Jewish man, and this is important to note because it reveals an ontological priority scheme not about victims but about perpetrators of SA, a scheme that *hides* the scope of the problem.

At the same time there exists a double standard in how Weinstein, a Jewish man, is held to further account than white folks who commit the same harms. Where was accountability for Brock Turner or Donald Trump or the myriad of other white abusers? And underlying this is an ontological hierarchy that masks the systemic structures of who is held accountable. By refusing to wrestle with Weinstein’s Jewishness it hides the ways white supremacy permeates r*pre culture, erases POC victims and survivors, and helps protect white men from accountability of their own actions. The ontological priorities weaponized to hold only certain groups of men accountable for their actions, rather than holding all men accountable, and further all perpetrators of SA, furthers r*pe culture, not undermines it.

•Anti-blackness and Settler Colonialism

Before I begin it is vital to recognize that I am, in social justice parlance, stepping outside of my lane. My proximity to whiteness and the myriad ways I benefit from it necessarily limit the scope of my understanding and perspective and so this section is going to miss a *lot*. Despite my own uncomfortability in writing this I will not shy away from it either as to do so increases the burden placed on POC comrades, asking them yet again to bear the brunt of the labor in the dismantling of the system which they face the brunt of. With these limitations in mind I ask you read the following as a stepping stone and that we all recognize just how vital it is to center the voices of POC, particularly the work of black and indigenous femmes and women. The following is born from a conversation I had with Raven Raines, a black activist friend (and a lot is going to be lost in translation from their experiences to my own understanding).

Black women and femmes along with indigenous women and femmes face the greatest risk of sexual violence in r*pe culture. The security to be open with experiences of sexual assault, to seek justice and healing, is far less than for white or white passing folks. The confluence of anti-black stereotypes (for example that black folks are inherently more dangerous and violent) combined with the prison industrial complex serves to silence black and indigenous SA victims and survivors. More insidious yet is that male and white notions of black liberation see silence as a necessary condition of that very liberation.

That silence is also weaponized in unique ways against black women and femmes. SA becomes a tool of white supremacy to lessen the ontological status of black women and femmes by dehumanizing and “animalizing”  their bodies. It becomes under the system of white supremacy an impossibility to r*pe black folks because they aren’t seen as human, as deserving or having bodily autonomy and consent.

In the words of Raven:

“Regardless of the white supremacist source of the Jezabel stereotype it is used to further insist that sexual abuse done to black women and femmes is both wanted and desired. To call it sexual abuse, when sexual availability is considered the very nature of black people, is seen as a joke in itself. A riotous one for those suffering under the brunt of mosogynoir”.

III. A Seed of Healing and Hope

So how might we move forward in a way that better captures the spirit me too was created in? We can use inclusive language for one, language that seeks to disrupt narratives of an “universal” SA experience. We can learn to see the sharing of these critiques and experiences as weaving the bonds of community in shared suffering. We can begin to make space for those whose voices get left behind. We can strive to lessen the material consequences faced by those placed at the bottom of ontological hierarchies. And most of all we can seek an ontological “parity” that breaks down the categorizations and priorities of the system. Breaking down, utterly destroying, the ontological hierarchies cuts to one of the core problems underpinning r*pe culture, and allows us to see all our multitude of experiences as “real”.

We can open these conversations in the spirit of communalizing trauma, where we build a culture that values consent at the deepest level and where we get real with our humanness. I think moving forward I’d like to build on that idea of a consent culture and how we can help cultivate it in ourselves and in our communities. It’s also important that as we share our traumas communally we do so in a way that gives power to victims and survivors of SA and in a way that doesn’t mask the systemic structures at play.

Different notes, different voices, different experiences joining together doesn’t have to form a cacophony, it can be a symphony if we put in the work.

PS: I’d also like to take an aside to point out one of the limitations of the me too movement. Not all SA victims and survivors are able to share their stories if they even want to. It’s important that even as we share in communal healing found in me too we don’t forget the very real forces that silence people’s stories. The onus is not on victims to share their story, the onus is on perpetrators of abuse to change their behavior and the r*pe culture they built.

It’s also important that we do not attempt to mask the power dynamics, racial, gender, etc, by using absolutely neutral language. Doing so only serves to mask the ways systemic issues are reflected in our personal experiences.


Shay Woodall

Shay Woodall is a Jewish Priestess and Pagan working to weave a queer and decolonized magic with radical politics. You can find her work here.


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Radical Semiotics and The Need For Ontological Anarchism

“radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making”

From Julian Langer

 

“The repression of an individual by the iron machinery of the State has rarely been so powerfully depicted. Yet this is only the beginning of the story.” Fredy Perlman

Anarchists have beautifully and articulately expressed many of the same criticisms and theories of classical anarchist and economic theories (predominantly classical liberalism and anti-state Marxist-style socialism), on repeat, in an eternal return that can appear never ending (and can get extremely boring). What have received far less attention within anarchist discourse are questions regarding what-it-is-we-are-actually-opposing and how do we make meaning while trapped within the culture we supposedly oppose.

This situation is basically that which Walter Benjamin discussed in his essay ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’, where the perpetual reproduction of the same critiques, ideas and theories leads to their losing their unique existence and presence in time and space.

So this piece might be considered as being an operation in friendly-fire, but as I move on to the following sections I’d like to emphasis the intended friendliness in this piece.

Well Known Feuds: Ancaps vs. Social-Anarchists

As I start this section, I want to get something “off my chest” – I am so fucking bored of arguments between anarcho-capitalists and social-anarchists, and this is largely why I avoid the bother of debating with either of these milieus (in real life or online). My choice to not bother debating them is largely because of the unending moral dogmatism that comes from both sides of this supposed cosmic-dualism, which appears more and more like theological disputes between varying sects of the same religious orders.

What do I mean by this? I mean that both of these ideological variants of anarchism worship the same deity, while remaining unable to agree on the exact meaning behind its teachings, nor the exact dimensions of its facial features. This deity is one we are all abundantly familiar with, as we navigate its body daily, through the business-as-usual of this culture. And whether or not you call it the Leviathan, the state, the economy, the nation, or civilisation, its body, with its means of consumption and excretion, regardless of who owns the means or who doesn’t, who gets paid what or whether or not they are communally shared, remains the same within both of these discourses.

This feature of social-ontics is one that green-anarchists of varying schools, as well as non-anarchist anti-civ schools of thought pick up on, but fail to fully account for; while often allying with Marxist-style and social-anarchist projects, out of a general anti-capitalist ideological commonality.

Christianity, Science, Paganism and Attacks on Wild-Being

Agriculture necessitates civilisation, which then necessitates organised religion and scientific means of technological advancement; both of which largely surmount to the same phenomenon. The unity of these apparently differing social-narratives stems from their both serving as means of violating wild-Being – the transient, organic flow of nature (for a quick definition). In the individual this surmounts to the repression of the self – as civilisation lover Freud identified – and direct technological mediation from naked immediateness, into the dressings of their narratives – the self becomes clothed and adorned with labels and categories of civilisation’s means of production.

Paganism, as a religious order distinguished from animism, arrives as a response to this violation of the wild-Being pagans long to return to. As such, paganism often stems from a desire to live outside of civilisation, but from the gaze of civilisation – so that wild-Being is something separate and not just the unrepressed metaphysical flow of Being. And because of this, while paganism can serve as a means of weakening and challenging the narratives of civilisation, unless pagans complete the process and abandon nature-as-Other, paganism can only be a practice in liberation theology, which doesn’t bring down its target.

The Christianised mask of civilisation is undoubtedly the one that has for the most part won-out, with its humanist dressings elevating science to the level of Christ, where science stands as a bridge for the civilised to cross over, in avoidance of hell on route to heaven. And industrialism and technology stand as means of transcendence from wild-Being, which civilisation attempts to escape, as it is seen as a cosmic evil Other for civilisation to overcome. This is marked by Christian morals regarding rights and scientific narratives regarding progress, whose Christian mirror is the manifest destiny of Christianised civilisation.

The reason why attacks on wild-Being largely go unnoticed is because wild-Being is viewed as the Other, rather than as part of the immediate naked self. As such, embracing the self as an extension of wild-Being, immersed in its transient flow, is of the utmost importance, if we are actual opponents of this culture that seeks to mediate us from this, through narratives that tie the self to the collective and its dressings.

Screw Society, We Want Situations and Events

Anarchism generally values society above all else – even pseudo-individualist ancap ideologies. But with this rejection of the social-ontology of civilisation we’ve arrived at as green-anarchists, society needs to be rejected too. This need not be vulgar misanthropy that deifies humans to the level of demons to be exorcised. No! Society has very little to do with those who inhabit it.

Rather, society is a set of mechanical means of perpetuating its own existence, whose physicality is the very social ontology we oppose. This might be maintained by active human participants, but their activity is largely of a passive nature and any invading force would likely see the same technological-mechanical apparatus perpetuating the same processes – so it largely doesn’t matter who it is operating it, just that it exists in-itself is the issue.

Wild-Being is the transient flow of situations through events, which are produced through the emergence of differential geo-spatial vectors – the active creation of new geographies, new topologies and new sets of relations between living beings. Semiotically, these are defined in a fluid state of ever changing meaning, which each living being will interpret based in their own subject-sensitive rationality, which makes them far messier for discussion, but makes discussion far more honest.

Neither Reform Nor Revolution: Involution (or Fuck Dialectics and Fuck Conservatism)

Time and history have largely consumed life into the slow meliorist project of progress, whether or not that is via reform (loved by liberals) or revolution (loved by anarchists and Marxists). Improvement of conditions via progress is always marked by an ideal that we remain alienated from at all points, but must strive towards. And under the name of civilisation, technology and the conditions of living in society, life is abandoned in favour of the historical project of progress.

Liberals, leftists and the right wing are all consumed by history and its slow march. History is shaped by politics and history needs to be abandoned.

History relies on a form of metaphysics, where the future exists as a destination to arrive at, whose form exists as an idealist truism, to become actual. Wild-Being is entirely physical though, and as such contradicts this notion. Rather wild-Being exists prior to time and history, in the transient present, which authentic consciousness perceives egoistically.

Because of this metaphysical rejection, our green-anarchist ontological anarchism needs to be based outside of time, in a transient-egoistic-presentism – the immediate phenomenology of the now.

This will largely involve collapsing the project of progress, in ways that are desirable in the immediate moment, so as to work towards the involutionary collapse of history and civilisation. This could be done through acts of poetic terrorism or eco-radical acts of direct action, but will ultimately look like something and be something very different from the projects of leftist revolutionaries or liberal reformists.

Meaningless Civilisation: Totalitarian Signs

The crisis of meaning currently underway within this hyperactive “stage” of civilisation, this “dialectic” of mass-technological mediation, daily terrorist violence and nuclear horror, is the totalitarianism of a semiology whose signs dictate nearly all aspects of lived experiences.

It is easy enough to recognise the construction of meaning through mediums such as the media, education, television, the internet or many other well known examples. But everyday totalitarian semiotics largely go unnoticed.

This is least noticed through the material dynamics of ideology, where the physicality of the social-environment of the techno-sphere and its means of consumption infect consciousness, so as to produce a world where meanings are nothing more than the perpetuation of its Symbolic ideology. And it largely goes unnoticed within groups and movements, unless an outsider remarks and upsets the semiotic field  (Christian means of meaning-making are unquestioned within Christianity, liberal means of meaning-making are unquestioned within liberalism etc.) and we arrive in a totalitarian situation, where other semiologies are considered as threats to be stamped out at any opportunity. The shallow dogmatism of this ideological narrative is obvious to individualists, non-conformists and other “outsiders”, but remains something unchanging within this culture.

If we are to challenge this culture, we need to challenge totalitarian semiotics and actively create our own signs and means of meaning-making.

On Radical Semiotics and Ontological Anarchism

The inescapable potentialism of what I am to write about means that I will never be able to do justice to the topics of radical semiotics and ontological anarchism.

At the very least, these projects are based in a sense of self, value and allyship drawn from wild-Being, an involutionary rejection of history and progress, the active creation of situations and events and the rejection of totalitarian semiotics and their dogmatisms.

Regarding radical semiotics, these signs cannot be limited to the dictates of socially-normative Symbolic-culture, that seeks to define all of life into the categories of its signs. Rather they are best served challenging these signs, in ways that do not become amalgamated into the Spectacle of progress and history.

In this sense, radical semiotics are largely a nihilist project; or rather they would be, if it weren’t for the fact that they include the creation of subject-sensitive signs, whose beauty is found in the authenticity of the aesthetics of the poetry of the creator. As such, radical semiotics can be seen as an existentialist activity for meaning-making – an existentialism that arrived ultimately at eco-radicalism (rather than humanism) in embrace of the responsibility of our condemnation to freedom.

The project of ontological anarchism, following from all of this, then becomes one of the active creation of radical semiotics, so as to collapse civilisation by undermining its own means of meaning-making – in the sense described in the second paragraph of this section. And ontological anarchism becomes an activity of metaphysical-terrorism, working towards collapsing civilisation/history and its social-ontics.

Within my own lexicon, the project of radical semiotics is a feral activity and the project of ontological anarchism is an iconoclastic activity. So what I am describing here I choose to call feral iconoclasm and seems to me to be the project of eco-radicals and guerrilla ontologists, within the horrors of our contemporary situation.

“In the horrible extremity of today we can see the need to return all the way to the earth, to the multi-sensual intimacy of nature that obtained before symbolisation made living a reified, separated caricature of itself.”

John Zerzan


Julian Langer

Writer of Feral Consciousness: Deconstruction of the Modern Myth and Return to the Woods, blogger at Eco-Revolt, and has been published on a number of other sites. Eco-anarchist and guerilla ontologist philosopher. Lover of woods, deer, badgers and other wild beings. Musician and activist.