Peter has asked, “Anyone out there want to tell their story?” and although I have been mentioning “snippets” of it in several posts in different posts on this blog, I am glad that this topic was mentioned, since I have a disability (autism) and, although I have mentioned earlier that I personally perceive rewilding to be an impossible thing for me to do because of my autism, but have not had enough time to describe “why” that is.
I have deleted the previous post now that I have written more of an extent of the story about my struggle. And Peter, I do not think of you and Rewilders as ableist. I think what’s really happening is that many people with disabilities have realized that Rewilding is impossible and they are helpless without civilization, and feel frustrated that this “reality” is not being sufficiently acknowledged on Rewilding forums. Sure, many disabilities are the product of civilization, but that doesn’t deny that they are still out there. This post is not an accusation of ableism, just an exploration into the subject.
Due to a heavy work schedule, as well as battling a series of medical health issues, I was not able to write about this immediately, but now have been able to free myself in order to write this piece. I will warn you–I am going to share some things that are probably going to make some people uncomfortable on this forum. I am hoping just to share to others some of the harsh realities that I have dealt with in my life as a consequence of being exposed to the anti-civilization and anarcho-primitivist movements as a person with a disability.
For many people with disabilities, the collapse of civilization will be a death sentence for them, as it will be for myself, and this isn’t because they want to destroy the Earth, it’s because they don’t have a choice. Most people I know with disabilities care about the Earth and resent the mass extinction crisis, but are completely dependent on the system causing those extinctions for their survival. Here’s my example: I suffer from many chronic health issues–acid reflux, digestive impairments that have resulted in chronic malnourishment, constant spells of chills that cause me to be periodically bedridden, diarrhea, chronic gas, and chronic colds. I rely on civilization for countless medications for my health, and had it not have been for modern medicine, my parents have told me, I would have died due to a series of adenoid enlargements at the age of seven that were gradually causing me to slowly suffocate to death, and I had to have advanced surgery to stay alive. I also was a late talker, and learned language through the written word, and would not have been able to communicate without the written language of civilization.
People can oppose civilization all they want, and obviously, I don’t believe my life is worth the mass extinctions caused by civilization, but I personally don’t agree with the idea that people who have to stay within civilization due to their limitations should be blamed for it.
I first was exposed to the anarcho-primitivist movement 13 years ago, in 2003, when I was a teenager battling with a deep depression. It was via a now defunct website called Earth Crash Earth Spirit, by Oneida Kincaid. She had created a website and blog comprising news about the collapse of the Earth, along with essays that are read commonly among the anti-civ and anarcho-primitivist movements. This linked me to the Peak Oil movement, and I eventually found about the Tribe of Anthropik, in 2005, via Ran Prieur’s website, which taught me about the College of Mythic Cartography and Reading what everyone was saying made me very mentally and physically ill and caused my life to deteriorate around me. I so wanted to prove everybody wrong, and got to a point where I tried to argue on forums and websites whenever I could. I realize now why that was–when I realized that the collapse of civilization was inevitable, I realized that I could not survive, and wanted to challenge anyone who wrote about it. I did so because I thought I was fighting for my survival, and the survival of my community.
My entire survival has always depended on civilization from a young age, even though, ironically, my autism has made it very difficult for me to function within it. I’d said this before but I feel so sorry for all the people I upset and hurt in my attempt to disprove them. It was childish and delusional for me to think I could just barge people’s forums and disprove ideas that they had worked hard to prove and research, and to think I could change the minds of other people’s observations. Willem has helped me extensively understand the error of my ways. In reality, my Observations personally are so vastly different from so many of the Rewilders here, and like many civilized people, I was equating them with finding how “the way things are,” like a scientist. Willem’s mindset has helped me coexist and learn more about Rewilding paradigms, since I can still learn about the observations of others even if they differ so much from my own.
In contrast with so many people I have heard on this forum and others who have found community and a “sense of place” with rewilding, my autism has resulted in the opposite effect for me. The idea of rewilding has caused me to develop extreme psychological and physical, and each time I come back to it, it leads me to develop a mental breakdown that often disables me, forces me to withdraw from the forum, and then I return after my mental state has been restored. And then, I return, and I break down again. What keeps me back here? To learn about the perspective shared here, and explore the ways that humans can survive the coming crash even if I cannot. I’ve always been a lifelong learner, and even though I don’t share all of the beliefs posted here, I still can learn about them, understand them, and support the people who are working to survive the crash. I salute all of you and your efforts, even if I cannot be a part of them.
As a teenager, I so desperately wanted to disprove many rewilders, believing it was fight for survival. Paradoxically, my autism has made living in civilization very difficult, mind you–I have never been able to hold down a steady job, live independently, and to his day friendships I have built that appear to be stable end up falling apart without me even knowing what I am doing wrong.
From the perspective of a person with a hidden disability, I must say–anyone who is able to even join a rewilding community, and work on primitive skills–you are lucky, in my eyes. I hear so much talked about regarding the “victims” of civilization, but one thing I rarely see mentioned here is the fact that most of those “victims” are helpless to do much to rewild or abandon civilization. I was born in New York City, in the heart of civilization, and moved to the suburbs of Chicago when I was three years old. I have never been able to find my own place, or even hold down a steady job, and have never been fully independent of my family. I don’t live near Portland or Pittsburgh, two places with Rewilding groups, and there are no local “tribes” I have met in my community.
One of the things I think is important to remember is that the same “privilege” and “elite class system” that civilization has created has also created a system that determines, in many ways, who has the means to rewild and attempt to survive the upcoming collapse. Most people I know with disabilities are completely dependent on either government benefits, or their families, who themselves are entrenched in civilization. They have no means to attend rewilding sessions or wilderness areas. For example, I do not own a car and have never learned to drive one, and most wilderness areas are only accessible by car. The public transportation I rely on, for the most part, only services areas of civilization, e.g. mid-sized towns and cities. This has resulted in me, for the most part, not being able to access any wilderness in which to possibly hunt and gather.
At the same time, I have only had exposure to these movements via computer screens. I have never met a rewilder in person. My entire community, as I have said before, exists of civilized, domesticated individuals, with the exception of the Native Americans that I have social connections with as a part of my advocacy as a person with autism. Just north of the Chicago metropolitan area, where I live, is the state of Wisconsin, a state with multiple Native American reservations (and where most of the Native Americans in the Midwest were forcibly settled historically).
This dissonance has made things difficult for me in my life. I go “online” in the virtual world and see extensive, vast networks of rewilders, and rewilding discussions like on this Forum, and hear of a world where human beings are domesticated, and secretly hate civilization, and how hunter-gatherers lived better lives. Then I go “offline” into the world I live in–and everyone extols the virtues of civilization and enjoys it, and experiences very good lives within civilization, such as my Family, who opposes and despises Rewilders. What frustrates me now is that I can read the writings and discussions of Rewilders extensively, who tell me how I need to live in order to survive the coming crash, yet I have no actual social connections with Rewilders apart from the Internet. I don’t know any humans in person that believe or share any of the beliefs of the people on this forum, and I live within an entire extended family that enjoys Civilization. It frustrates me that so many people in the rewilding community insist that everyone has to feel miserable in Civilization, yet I personally know many people that enjoy Civilization, even when their health has become impaired and they have little leisure time as a result.
This is why, as I have said before, Rewilding is impossible for me. It would require me to abandon virtually everything that is a part of my life that I enjoy, my entire extended family, and my entire social network. Spending time on these forums, in fact, have strained my relationships with so many of my friends. Like so many people have mentioned here, Family and the “Tribe” are very important to Rewilding. I can’t Rewild without my Family, and I don’t really want to leave the community I grew up in and I am a part of, and values and accepts me for who I am. No human can survive on their own. I need to stay with my community, and work with them when the collapse occurs, whether or not it involves Rewilding. Therefore, I am not fighting for survival anymore. I accept the inevitability of civilization’s collapse, yet I know that, under no circumstances would I ever be able to survive.
By freeing myself from fighting to survive, I have been able to re-read so much with a different set of eyes–an eyes that gets to learn the true meaning behind what people are saying here. And I do hope to travel to Portland or other places and meet Rewilders in person, or find people locally in my hometown, apart from the Native American tribes I enjoy spending time with.
When you have autism, you have no true innate “sense of self”–because your observations of the world rarely equate to how the world actually is. I live in a bubble where my autistic “lens” causes me to observe the world in a way that very few others do, even other people with autism. I read all of the ways that Rewilders see the world, civilization, and there are so vastly different than how I perceive the world. Willem, I admire you for discussing, via the College of Mythic Cartography, your points on the Observational mode, since my Observations are so vastly different from most people that I have had to rely on the Observations of other people in the world. For example, extensive literature has been written about the mass extinction caused by civilization, but I have never actually observed any extinctions in my life. Yet I have been convinced by the Observations of others that it is indeed happening.
Finally, I also have concluded that there is a silver lining to my inability to survive. I have come to accept after hearing a lot of the evidence presented that the Earth can only support a human population of Rewilders in the millions, which necessitates at least the death of 6 billion people in order to achieve the harmony and balance enjoyed by the wild cultures mentioned here. Yet, for obvious reasons, most people I hear discuss this try to survive the die-off, and few, for obvious reasons, volunteer to be part of the 6 billion who must die.
Well, I have agreed to volunteer to be part of that 6 billion, not just because of my helplessness, but because I believe that I can still contribute to the cause by Dying in the collapse so that the people who can Rewild will be able to live. And in making that choice, reading about Rewilding no longer causes the same emotional impact it did before. And maybe, after Death, I will be reincarnated into the spirit of a wild plant or animal saved by the efforts of Rewilders. Of course, in the end, we will all die, and we have no control over what the future generations of Rewilders will accomplish.
Thanks for listening. Sorry for writing such an extensive thing, but I felt that it was important to share my story. Peter, THANK YOU for bringing up this important topic! And Willem–thank you for helping me cope with many of my struggles.