Anarcho Primitivism and accusations of ableism

Hi everyone,

Recently i had a discussion with different individuals about primitivism, rewilding and anti-civilization, one of the strongest critique i had to face were the accusations of ableism, “survival of the fittest” myth and so on, although i think civilization is the first cause of ableism and destruction of natural mutual aid, which has been replaced with technological development, i still have a hard time to make people aware of these facts.
From physical disability to mental illness.
What is your opinion about that?


Hey Sacred Wolf,

Can you be more specific about what you are meaning by “ableism?”

I’ve similarly had people say things along those lines, but want to make sure its the same thing before I respond.

Did this person say that rewilding excludes people with physical disability and mental illness?

[quote=“Peter Michael Bauer, post:2, topic:1676”]Hey Sacred Wolf,

Can you be more specific about what you are meaning by “ableism?”

I’ve similarly had people say things along those lines, but want to make sure its the same thing before I respond.

Did this person say that rewilding excludes people with physical disability and mental illness?[/quote]

By “ableism” i mean something that excludes those who do not conform physically and mentally to a certain society, from obese people to autistics, to those with wheelchairs, schizophrenics and so on.
Rewilding and anarcho-primitivism are considered ableists because only physically and mentally strong individuals could live that way.

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Thanks for the clarification.

Generally, I would say that it is true.

Modern medicine has allowed many of us (myself included) to live in a world that we otherwise would not have. As a child I suffered many illnesses that I would not have survived without the aid of anti-biotics, for example. I do not think that any humans life is worth the industrial complex that is causing the largest mass extinction in history. If I became disabled, I may utilize modern medicine to continue living simply because it is available (depending on the severity of the disability). I would recognize though, that the system that saved my life did so at the cost of other-than-human lives. How would this effect my efforts to rewild? I don’t know. I have a mental “disorder” (ADHD) and a physical “disorder” (IBS). Those effect me to the point that I have to plan my life around them, and plan my rewilding around them. They limit me in ways, but if I am creative I can find routines that will make it work. Those are not severe “disabilities” however. I would be curious to know if there are folks with more severe disabilities and what they have done to work around them in order to rewild.

There are examples of skeletons of disabled people who lived long lives in prehistoric times, and it is hypothesized that these people were taken care of, and perhaps found a role to play within a cultural context. Just because you may not have the physical abilities to hunt, or weave baskets, or go foraging for food doesn’t mean you can’t have a role within the culture, or that you won’t be taken care of. I have also read accounts of parents practicing infanticide with children born with birth defects. So, I think it is all a matter of specific cultures and practices and what works for them.

Mental “illness” is very different I think. Prior to the establishment of the DSM ( many of these “disorders” or “illness’s” were not considered such. These people generally played important spiritual roles in prehistoric and historic cultures.

Also, many of modern “disorders,” both physical and mental, are directly related to the civilized diet, exercise, sleep, and environment (or lack their of).


Does what I said make me an ableist? Honest question. I would like to hear from folks with disabilities.

If they aren’t here to talk about them, then perhaps they feel excluded, further making us appear ableist.

Anyone out there want to tell their story?


There is an interesting video about it

By the way, i think we should analyze what is disability:
When we talk about mental disorders: most of them come from socio-cultural socio-economics environmental dynamics. Foucault and other anti-psychiatry theorists do not believe in a biological cause of mental disorders. I suffered depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and i realized that all of them come from civilization.

Physical abilities: If we consider that mutual aid is a natural gift then we do not need to address this point, if an individual X cannot walk, run, provide food for himself or his group then his community will help him, although it is a decision that could change based on the situation of a certain group: we often see that even today a lot of couples refuse to continue a pregnancy when they discover their unborn could be mentally or physically disable, while others do not have a problem with that, as you said it depends on the context. and modern society is the first who separates ourselves from our cooperative nature, giving all the responsability to technology, therefore giving us automatically dependence on modernity because if techno-industrialism will collapse, who will think about disables?

Sickness: well not only primitivists agree on the fact human´s health sucks because of sedentarism, lifestyle, diet, pollutions, psychosomatic issues and so on, plus we developed diseases since the rise of agriculture, we are the only animal species on earth who struggle so much to survive.


I also think about the idea of abundance/scarcity and amount of labor/leisure time. If someone feels they have to labor more to help another, then in times of scarcity and more laborious activities that could impact a communities ability to care for others with disability. Since the hunter-gatherer world is generally more abundant and requires a lot less labor, it seems there would be a lot less pressure in this regard.


These are crucial points for any culture I would want to be part of.

Im glad this topic was brought up, and I apologize for making this misconception as well. I should have read into this beforehand. I have autism and felt the same way. Personally, I have concluded that my autism makes rewilding impossible for me, but that is my own opinion. And I remain on this forum to salute and admire the abilities of others who are working towards this goal.

I personally feel that there is merit to both sides, but that for the most part, people with disabilities live in a paradoxical situation in our civilization–they fail to function within it (I’ve never been able to truly hold down a job or earn enough money to support myself, and will soon be on disability benefits by the government), but often have no means to actually leave civilization as well.


Hi James_Williams,
Just a quick note to thank you for your post. This is a complex topic with many threads to unravel in ongoing conversations. I would like to contribute some of my own perspectives, but will need some time to think the subject over as it is deeply personal for me too. Hope to hear more from you on this - would you like to share a bit more? What are some of the specific barriers you face to rewilding, and I’m also curious how you define rewilding? A lot of folks seem to think of it as an “all or nothing” run to the wilds type scenario, in which it would definitely be a survival of the fittest dynamic. Perhaps it really is more of a multi-generational transition process… many who would not be able to survive or thrive in the “idealized” or romanticized “end-goals-realized” type scenario can definitely engage in the process of transitioning to a more natural, wild, and sustainable way of living… warm regards :slightly_smiling:


The context of community seems like a huge qualifier here. The romanticized notion of the big strong survivalist white guy running around in a loincloth wrestling grizzly bears still runs rampant I’m afraid. Culture and community, inter-relationships and diversity will be necessary…


Tracie, that’s precisely why I made the conclusion as to why rewilding was impossible. I know no rewilders in person, just read their stories and listened to their conversations virtually. My entire Family is committed to civilization and enjoys it. My entire social community refuses to live in any way except Civilization, and all my inter-relationships are within it. And having autism, you have few means to learn primitive skills. I’ve never even held down a job that enabled me to earn enough money to support myself, and have been living off the inheritance from a wealthy ancestor. I’ve been able to earn enough money to travel anywhere to learn those skills, and soon will be forced to get Disability from the US government just to support myself.


thank you for elaborating James,
it makes me sad that rewilding = money to access “it” in so many cases - either literally, or perception wise. i wonder if anyone here on the forum and / or in the facebook group could help you locate others in your area who are not “in it” for profit? there are some amazing people who are happy to share their knowledge and build community. have you tried posting something with your general location already? warm regards :sun_with_face:

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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.


Thank you for sharing your story and your thoughts James :blue_heart:

Tracie_Moon, you are welcome. And thank you, Urban_Scout, for at least acknowledging these limitations. When I first heard about you and your book “Rewild or Die,” I have to admit, it seemed like a form of “ableism,” because if people really all have to either rewild or die, then I, along with a lot of people will disabilities, will certainly die. And messages like that caused me to behave in horrific ways to so many Rewilders.

But things have changed. By acknowledging my imminent, inevitable death at the hands of collapse, I no longer can accuse anyone of any discrimination. And I thank you for acknowledging that the people that are indeed, as you said, alive due to modern medicine are not bad people. The truth is, many people don’t have the option of rewilding. But then, many domesticated animals don’t ever have a chance of returning back to the wild either. That doesn’t make them bad animals (since humans are also animals as well). Heck, we have all written here about the victims of civilization, and probably the worst victimization that civilization has brought is that many of its own victims are unable to, due to lack of money and other means, escape from the “prison.”


My inspiration for Rewild or Die wasn’t “if you don’t rewild you will die,” it was, “I will rewild, or I will die trying.” There is no other option for me. There is absolutely an amount of ableism in that idea. Modern civilization has made a world some people cannot survive without it. It’s a very strange predicament. Many of my friends must take medications or they will die. Yet, some of them still have taken up the rewilding concept, and are working on it to the fullest extent that they can, within the limitations of their disabilities.



Thank you for this clarification! I misunderstood your inspiration and I deeply apologize for this misunderstanding. Hmm…maybe I need to look into some of my other mistakes as well. Thanks.


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There is an arrangement as a tribal community called for with moving to live separately from civilization. I would only like such a one where the people in it have care for one another, and those coming to them in need. The natural and wilder way of living does not have to be such where some should be excluded, such as according to what their abilities are, where there is caring for survival as a community, and it can be low impact in the world, not with greater impact on natural systems in this world that there in fact is from people generally that this should be separate from. I also think civilization in a way owes us, for all that it had us forget, to separate us from our natural living in this world, and we would be right to take advantage of access to medications useful to some of us, at least until the natural remedies that are accessible naturally for such things that those wanting the medications suffer are learned.



I think that is important. Remember, too, that not all small groups necessarily are accepting. As a person with autism, I was horribly bullied in small groups while in school and elsewhere.

However, one thing that often causes me to feel disturbed by many proponents of tribalism and Rewilding is their insistence that they have to impose tribalism to everyone else. Granted, the people here on the forum do express a desire to Rewild, but I’ve always been a believer in diversity. I know many people who would despise Rewilding as well.

One thing I have always felt is that one of the biggest flaws in Civilization is it’s insistence that their way is the way everyone should live. Civilization used this mindset to displace a lot of tribal cultures, a tragic reality of our history. Yet to me, even with the arguments that tribalism is the way humanity is the most “evolved” to live, imposing tribalism and rewilding on all of humanity and telling everyone how to live seems just as wrong, and locked into the same “civilized” mindset that we are trying to fight against.

Probably the biggest tragedy is just how much many people would have to sacrifice things that are important to Rewilding in order to pursue the hunter-gatherer, neo-tribal future. I agree with many others here on how important Family and Community is to Rewilding. Yet, as I’ve said before, my entire family is tied to civilization, and so is my social community. And my autism has made it difficult for me to live independently–in fact, despite being in my late 20s, I’m still legally living with my parents and my family within civilization, which limited abilities to go out on my own.

Rather than repeating myself again, I’ve concluded that I would rather stay with my family and community within civilization (who will never be convinced to leave or abandon it), than go off and find a community or tribe with people I have only heard of via the Internet or people I have never met, and separate from the people who are there for me in person. Sadly, civilization has put me in this position, but I personally don’t think that in any hunter-gatherer society, a person would value the idea of leaving their community to go elsewhere. As people have noted on the forum, not all of rewilding consists of connecting with a “more-than-human” world, rather, rewilding also involves building tribes and family networks within your family. And I shall go down with my family and the community I belong to.

And I also will try to implement some of the brilliance I see here regarding rewilding. I may have initially tried to fight and challenge the notions, as Dickens, for example, regarding the verb “to be,” but that was because I was only 18 back then and didn’t really understand what was being said. In retrospect–I actually agree with the spirit of “E-Prime,” even though I often find it hard to say everything without the verb “to be,” due to the limitations of English. I always hated people using “god-like” statements in their work, and ironically, it was the same “god-like” attitude I sensed due to the verb “to be” that caused me to defend that very verb, not realizing what I was actually doing! It’s amazing how a little time and maturity can cause you to become so much more respectful and aware of others.

Again, those are just my thoughts. I wish everyone the best here in their efforts to rewild.