Means and Ends: On land projects and community

Not sure this is kosher yet or not, but sharing a writing of mine from newest issue of Black and Green Review which should be back from the press next week.
Means and Ends: BAGR4
I’m interested in discussing these projects. I have been a vocal opponent of domestication for nearly two decades, particularly have been critical of understanding what I consider our human nature, rooted in the primal anarchy of nomadic hunter-gatherer life, and how the domestication process strips us down to a core of wants and needs, then redirects those impulses through domesticated life. I think we can learn a lot about that from looking at the minutiae of change between nomadic versus settled life, hunters versus collectors. These massive changes all start small and in their lesser forms, we can see a mirror for how domestication works within our own lives.
That degree of critique, from an ideological perspective, comes off as hardline in a lot of ways. There is a difference between critique and condemnation. I want to live wild, I strive to push aside all domestication. But I consider civilization my target. Not horticulturalists, not permaculturalists.
That doesn’t mean I’m not critical. More than anything, I want to set the stage for honest discussions. There is a tendency to think that we can or would reinvent the hoe, so to speak. We exist in ecological time, but see in technological moments. The world we set out to (re)create may end up vastly different than the one we imagine. It is through understanding what has happened, how things like procurement or production, settlements or movement have shaped cultures. We are predictable and, frankly, we’ve tried a lot of things over the past 10,000-20,000 years which we know have not improved the human condition.
This writing is my attempt to clarify that space between critique and condemnation, praxis and practicality. It is easy to respond to circumstances and get lost in feeling as though we have made changes or to settle for steps when we need to take leaps.


The link you posted says the page does not exist. Here is the essay:


Thank you, good sir.

So fucking good. Thank you. I loved this:

“To embrace our wildness is to trust in our own resiliency.”


I loved this essay. It really speaks to what I’ve been turning around in my mind as of late. I have so much to add but want to give it some time… Thank you for sharing. :smiley:


Thanks for sharing this KT. I read the whole thing, despite white on black text giving me migrains! Anyway, over all I thought it was one of the better pieces I have seen you write. It felt like the was more room for seeing the other side of things than sometimes. I am still left with some questions. There were a couple places where it seemed like you were acknowledging that Permaculture/horticulture etc. could be worthwhile, as long as they were done with an aim of using them as a bridge to IRHG. Is that correct? Thanks.

Looking forward to that!

More like, I’m less concerned with what people are doing than where it is they think they are going. There’s parameters on that, I’m never for people using roundup or planting aggressive invasives, but big picture. If people think permaculture is going to save them, then good luck. If people want to do what they can to try and bring life back to areas wrecked by agriculture and its parasitic friends, then I see the good there.
Personally, it’s not my interest, but, again, I’m not sure that should really matter to anyone. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a trend towards looking for a goal closer to home. I get why that happens, but to pretend it’s solving problems is another thing.
Personally, I don’t see why IRHG life wouldn’t be upheld as a solid goal, albeit one that might feel further away. But as I set out to show here and elsewhere, it is the most resilient.

This thing lags. Not sure if it’s actually posting any of this.

What if the ones entrenched in civilized / domesticated thinking were civilized on a different world in their past lives and never had hunter-gatherer instincts during the evolution of their souls?

What if in the afterlife those of us fortunate enough to have a ‘happy hunting grounds’ find ourselves in a situation best described as angelic harmony?

I can see the argument for IR being the most resilient, but I also think there are some complications, that make it not quite so clean cut.

  1. So over the long term it looks pretty clear, but we are in a different situation than we have ever been before. It seems to me like given the current situation, for the forseeable future, a patchwork of different subsistence strategies would be the best. Heck, it might even be nice for people who do the IRHG thing to have farmers around to raid.

  2. This has always been my lingering doubt about this stuff. Where did DRHGs and farmers come from? What cultures were the original cultures to start resource intensification? Wasn’t it IRHGs that 1st started it?

  3. What about the idea of balance? If the whole world was IRHGs, then great, no tending the wild needed, but once you start resource intensification, don’t you then become obliged to tend the wild? Aren’t we the culture that most needs to learn to tend the wild?

  4. I know you have done huge amounts of study of the anthropology of all this, but anthropology isn’t everything. As my friend Joe (Deleware/Caddo) has pointed out to me, anthropology will always be an outsider’s perspective of indigenous cultures. I get why we need to use anthropology at this point, but isn’t it also a little difficult to say from an outsider’s perspective (especially one from the very culture that committed genocide) what lifeways are the best for a particular land/people?

I have other reservations, but will leave it there. Thanks for the conversation, and glad you joined this group!

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So… I’m just going to throw some random thoughts out there. (These are not responses to Nathan)

  1. I wonder what resistance looks like from a “resilient” perspective. Meaning, is fighting back against civilization in and of itself a form of “control?” Is so, is there a kind of resistance that emerges from a more “wild” perspective?

  2. Back in the day here Willem coined the term “Rewild Haven” which equates I believe to this “Node” ideas of having land projects that people seasonally rotate through. Finisia introduced the concept of “The Hoop” in terms of nomadic sites on a circuit that people rotate through throughout the year. Ideally, these would be places either large in acreage, or bordering public lands. How would something like this be managed in the contemporary framework of empire? A land trust? Is FeralCulture a land trust?

  3. Since I’m a city slicker, I think in terms of “resources” both physical and social. Since most of the abundant places were historically river front property, most of civilization currently inhabits what used to be more “abundant” places. They are also where the social forces are at work. The biggest complaint I have heard about land projects, is that “no one comes to visit” (depending on the size of course). What if there were urban nodes to this project? In my ideal scenario, Rewild Portland would act as a node (or multiple nodes) in this kind of a project. We would own urban property (as a sort of reverse-outpost) and rural/wild property bordering public land. This way, people could have the best of both worlds: a place to go in the city and a place to live in the wild. This would create a sort of bridge-culture. Rewild “Portland” has the identity of a city place, but clearly our ideal is more wild. But by operating within a city, we are able to “reach” more people with concepts of rewilding. Yet, once we have land we will also be able to put more people on the land in a collaborative way. We used to jokingly call urban/wild property idea the “The Underground Rewild Road.” I imagine some mix of land use in terms of wild/permaculture as a transition (with the same thoughts about this that you presented in your essay). What are your thoughts on this urban-wild connection?

  4. In terms of community being hard. Yeah. I’m reading “The Egalitarians: Human and Chimpanzee” by Margaret Power right now and it’s actually making me feel like an egalitarian situation is impossible anymore. Combine that with research I’ve done on sociopathy after having several projects get destroyed by people (and looking to figure out why). Considering that civilization is entirely a sociopathic culture, and breeds and encourages sociopathic behavior, I’m not sure if we’ll ever seen anything remotely egalitarian until our population plummets and empire becomes simply impossible. I have a hard time trusting anyone these days. Even if someone isn’t a sociopath, they are not on the lookout for them, and if you try to explain to someone about it, they will probably not believe you. So, in terms of community, I’m super fucking jaded and untrustworthy. Which is fucked, because that simply leads to me wanting to maintain total control over the direction of the community (in this case Rewild Portland) because I’m afraid it will get co-opted and turned into something not that actual rewildy. Not sure if there is anything to do about this at the moment. When I read Rebecca Solnik’s “Paradise Built in Hell” it made me think that total collapse is the only way real autonomy will be possible.

Those are just some initial thoughts I wanted to throw out. :smiley:

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Please excuse all of my typos I was just typing very fast and didn’t go back to proof read. lol

Hey Nathan, seems like these questions should be in their own topic. Kevin said he didn’t want to debate this idea here of “tending.” Just talk about land projects and their place on the continuum.

It’s important to keep this on topic. You and I have gone back and forth on a lot of these topics, in some regards not necessarily making any headway, so I’m not going to go full bore into them again here.

  1. We aren’t in a different situation, we are facing a difference of scale. Every prior civilization has collapsed or been absorbed by its predecessors. In that regard, there’s nothing new under the sun. Even the degree of devastation isn’t unique, but the longevity and scale of it is different.
    Where I live in the Ozarks, it’s not far from the area that was completely deforested and destroyed by the Cahokia, a civilization that collapsed hundreds of years before European contact. On the regional level, that would have looked as insurmountable as it would over six hundred years later when the region was decimated again to build company towns for mining. Yet, here we are. It’s not pristine, but it is wild. Nuclear waste, industrial chemicals, yes, those are new. Will gardens help them? Doubtful.
    But, back on topic, I think you’re missing a central part of the argument in this piece: because things have changed and because the scale is so unprecedented, we have to predict that our future is even more uncertain in terms of ecology than any previous era or epoch. Humans survived the last Ice Age because we adapted from nearly carnivorous hunter-scavengers to advantageous foragers. Mobility and flexibility are key. That is the opposite of farming.
    In regards to farmers being an advantage, flexibility in movement and subsistence is far more appealing than having farmers for potential raids. Farmers are pretty horrible neighbors. They build and grow unsustainable civilizations, they conquer for new lands, they steal women to breed armies, and they are prone to sacrificing children to appease gods. Hunter-gatherer strategy is risk aversion, they run from farmers, not towards them. The only time this doesn’t fit the case is post-contact, mounted hunter-gatherer cultures, notably in the West and Plains where they just intensified their DR culture rather than become more IR focused.

  2. There is a big question. I would encourage you to read some of the stuff I’ve written on it, particularly lately. In fact, PM me your address and I’ll mail you the two newest issues of Black and Green Review. In short, civilizations were built by sedentary hunter-collectors. Societies that, for whatever reason, settled longer than usual around large growths of starches and grains. There wasn’t intentionality around it, but the change in patterns erred towards unsustainable quickly. Tending wild plots lent itself to farming and intensive agriculture. From there, they grow and spread by force, not choice.
    On an evolutionary scale, it was IRHGs that technically started everything, but it doesn’t mean that they set out to do so nor that it was a good move. Clearly, it’s wasn’t and it isn’t.

  3. Now this is at the heart of it. What is a goal and what is a means? That’s the central question here and it’s not something I intended on answering for anyone. It’s a question that I posed.

  4. I’m well aware that anthropology isn’t everything and I haven’t said that. “Immediate-return hunter-gatherer” is an anthropological term to describe an ecological reality, one that defines upwards of 2.5 million years of human lineage. You can call it history. I call it biology. That the terms are anthropological in nature doesn’t change the reality of human history nor the fact that I, you, everyone reading this is, biologically and socially speaking, a nomadic forager. We’ve just been trained to not act or see that way, but domestication is a diversion of our nature, not a shift from it.
    Again, my goal isn’t to prescribe for anyone, but to be honest and realistic. I have and will fight on the side of the Lenni Lenape, just as I promote and have solidarity with slave-owning hunter-collector societies fighting liquified natural gas and tar sands in the Pacific Northwest. They are, as it stands, not my problem. Their way of life isn’t what is causing the Sixth Extinction event.
    But that doesn’t mean that they have all the answers either. The Lenni Lenape took part in the Haudenosaunee expansion during the fur trade. The place I considered home (exiled by fracking) is land that they were granted by the French established “Iroquois Confederacy” was cleared of its prior inhabitants (Erie, Monongahela and Susquehannocks) through warfare. To ignore that is doing no one favors.
    In terms of sustainability, I’ve spent too much time looking at rattles made from the skulls of children sacrificed by the barely agrarian Cahokia peoples to believe that next time it might have turned out differently. I’d rather focus on the 2.5 million years where we seem to have gotten it right.

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I like this one. Getting at the heart of it.
In 2003, I spent a lot of time looking at the concept of “revolution,” wondering aloud if it could be salvaged from a political pitfall. I came up with a reluctant answer: maybe. Immediately afterwards, I wondered why I held on to the concept at all. I don’t see fighting back against civilization as a form of control. Removed from political constraints, it can simply be ecological correction in nature. Stop letting the thing happen rather than attempt to control or redirect it.
That is why I focus on disabling the grid in terms of potential targets, if, of course, one was so inclined as to attempt to target civilization. In effect, I think the “resilient” thing to do is to disallow “control” by targeting the means by which civilization asserts itself. In our case, that is unquestionably electricity.
Revolution is control. Revolution is hope that you can commandeer the ship long enough to steer it straight. I’d rather just sink it.

No question that I love the Nodal concept. I think a lot of us are trying to figure this out, but none of us have gotten there yet. I’m excited about the fact that I have two families coming here tomorrow (one has land in Minnesota, the other in North Carolina and Georgia) to talk more about this face-to-face. We are all out there. I think a lot of people rooted when times got tougher and that’s a good thing. I think now is the time to start pulling this together and building it up.
That’s another question I came to in this piece and it came from my own search: I wanted a land project and now we have land. But there’s complications to it all and complexities of life that make things more challenging. There are awesome things about where we live and then the summer heat makes you wonder what is so great about life in the first place.
The answer, in so far as I think there is one, is coming back to relying on current networks and expanding them: embracing the idea of flux and mobility. How do we focus on building community when we’re spatially dispersed and individually anchored in different ways and places. It’s not an easy situation, but I think it means being honest and focused on the parts that matter: how and when we connect and build that network, rather than just being the best of being zero-impact wild superheroes with cooler pictures on social media.
The hard part is trying to do that online. It’s where everyone is and it’s also where noobs come to posture. I get the excitement and all, but the rewilding community needs a shot of DIY enthusiasm and a lot of humility if anything solid and real is to come of it. How does that get started? A whole lot of this: be honest and connect as humans.

In terms of the questions; Feralculture is not a land trust, but might, at some point, become one.
There’s a lot of potential there and a lot of questions about how it moves forward. Is FC the Alaska nodes or is it the entire network. I support the Alaska stuff, but there are also reasons why going there might be impractical. Lots of discussions about the land trust idea though, online and off. It’s a really good one, but the more that network can get a leg up, the better off it will be once things are ready to roll on a larger scale than just face-to-face and friends-of-friends.

This speaks to my points above. I think there’s honesty and practicality here, though personally I’m not drawn towards any cities. I get the deal though. I don’t think of it necessarily as an “urban-wild connection” than I do “we need people to build communities, where the people at?” And there’s a lot to be said for that.
To a certain degree, it’s kind of a “let’s put our dicks away and figure out how this really works.” Or could be. And I think that’s good. If the land is the place and the community is the project, then there you have it.

RE: Peter’s point 4, I look forward to your thoughts on my behemoth of an essay in BAGR 4: ‘Society Without Strangers’ on conflict resolution and community.


Civilization itself is what should be the target of criticism. Simple farming needs acceptance as a viable alternative, rather than just dependence on hunting and gathering. The hoop of “nodes”, places far apart where such using those rotate for living that way, will be on a small scale always, with the settling of moving through civilization and using it along the way. But the low scale farming with more dependence on the useful vegetation is more, much more, sustainable, so this needs acceptance rather than dismissal. With this, there will be the possibility for more to break fully from civilization, and have stable groups of people in community with what they need in the locations without harm coming to the world with its environments still as has been happening. This is good use of land available for it.

Did you read the essay that this thread is about? Farming may not be viable due to climate instability. Again, I’m not here to judge, do what you want. Obviously a garden is less impacting than monocropping, but just claiming it is viable doesn’t make it true.

That is a good answer, and I am aware of it certainly. I think of that as the fly in the ointment. That uncertainty is from the hazards that civilization is producing for us. It still isn’t as hazardous as staying with civilization in the same way. The best approach is for a group coming into such change to have supplies for contingencies, with other things possible to grow in a climate that a location changes to. The way to work through changes is to be adaptable, those going into this should have understanding for that. It would be as true for those who just forage or scavenge as well, and for those hunting though it isn’t sustainable in that way.