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Green and black flag of green anarchism.

Green anarchism, or ecoanarchism, is a school of thought within anarchism which puts a particular emphasis on environmental issues. An important early influence was the thought of the American individualist anarchist Henry David Thoreau and his book Walden[1]. In the late 18th century there emerged an anarchist naturist current within individualist anarchist circles in France, Spain and Portugal[2][3]. Some green anarchists can be described as anarcho-primitivists (or anti-civilization anarchists), though not all green anarchists are primitivists. Likewise, there is a strong critique of modern technology among green anarchists, though not all reject it entirely.

Important contemporary currents are anarcho-primitivism and social ecology.



Anarchism started to have an ecological view mainly in the writings of American individualist anarchist and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. In his book Walden he advocates simple living and self-sufficiency among natural surroundings in resistance to the advancement of industrial civilization[1]. "Many have seen in Thoreau one of the precursors of ecologism and anarcho-primitivism represented today in John Zerzan. For George Woodcock this attitude can be also motivated by certain idea of resistance to progress and of rejection of the growing materialism which is the nature of american society in the mid XIX century."[1]

In the late 19th century Anarchist naturism appeared as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies.[2][4] Mainly it had importance within individualist anarchist circles[3][5] in Spain[2][3][4], France[3][6] and Portugal[7].

Important influences were Henry David Thoreau[1], Leo Tolstoy[2] and Elisee Reclus[8]. Anarcho-naturism advocated vegetarianism, free love, nudism and an ecological world view within anarchist groups and outside them[2][5].

Henry David Thoreau, influential early green-anarchist who wrote Walden

Anarcho-naturism promoted an ecological worldview, small ecovillages, and most prominently nudism as a way to avoid the artificiality of the industrial mass society of modernity[9]. Naturist individualist anarchists saw the individual in his biological, physical and psychological aspects and avoided and tried to eliminate social determinations [9]. Important promoters of this were Henri Zisly and Emile Gravelle who collaborated in La Nouvelle Humanité followed by Le Naturien, Le Sauvage, L'Ordre Naturel, & La Vie Naturelle [10] Their ideas were important in individualist anarchist circles in France but also in Spain where Federico Urales (pseudonym of Joan Montseny), promotes the ideas of Gravelle and Zisly in La Revista Blanca (1898–1905)[11].

This tendency was strong enough as to call the attention of the CNTFAI in Spain. So Daniel Guérin in Anarchism: From Theory to Practice reports how "Spanish anarcho-syndicalism had long been concerned to safeguard the autonomy of what it called "affinity groups." There were many adepts of naturism and vegetarianism among its members, especially among the poor peasants of the south. Both these ways of living were considered suitable for the transformation of the human being in preparation for a libertarian society. At the Saragossa congress the members did not forget to consider the fate of groups of naturists and nudists, "unsuited to industrialization." As these groups would be unable to supply all their own needs, the congress anticipated that their delegates to the meetings of the confederation of communes would be able to negotiate special economic agreements with the other agricultural and industrial communes. Does this make us smile? On the eve of a vast, bloody, social transformation, the CNT did not think it foolish to try to meet the infinitely varied aspirations of individual human beings."[12]

Contemporary Green anarchism incorporates a set of related political theories that is derived from or inspired by philosophical and social movements such as Anarcho-primitivism, Eco-socialism, Deep Ecology, Social Ecology, Feminism, Egoism, Post- and Anti-leftists, Situationists, Surrealism, Neo-Luddism, anti-industrialism, and hunter-gatherer societies.[citation needed]

Although green anarchism develops themes present in the political action of the Luddites and the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, when primitivism emerged it was influenced more directly by the works of theorists such as the Frankfurt School Marxists Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse; anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Richard Borshay Lee; and others such as Lewis Mumford, Jean Baudrillard and Gary Snyder. Many advocates of Green anarchism and primitivism consider Fredy Perlman as the modern progenitor of their views.

Notable contemporary writers espousing green anarchism include those critical of technology such as Derrick Jensen, George Draffan, and John Zerzan; the techno-positive Murray Bookchin; and others including Alan Carter[13] and Stewart Davidson [14]



The green anarchist critique focuses on the institutions of domination that make up society, all grouped under the broad term "civilization". Such institutions include the state, capitalism, industrialism, globalization, domestication, patriarchy, science, technology, and/or work. These institutions, according to green anarchists, are inherently destructive and exploitative (to humans and the environment) – therefore, they cannot be reformed into anything better. This movement generally rejects furthering their cause through current political lines, favoring direct and autonomous action, sabotage, insurrection, bioregionalism, and reconnecting with the wild to create meaningful change.

Civilization is taken to be the totality of institutions (described above) that are responsible for the destruction of human freedom and the environment. Physically, civilization is demarcated by the domestication of plants, animals, and humans (though its beginning has been traced back through time, language, art, and symbolic culture – see John Zerzan). Agriculture introduced the concept of a surplus along with the conditions for the rise of these institutions. Before agriculture, humans often lived as autonomous bands of hunter-gatherers. Essentially, hunter-gatherers are perceived to be part of human anarchist ancestry since all humans practised that mode of life for around two million years. Civilization is often seen as more of a paradigm of systems rather than a tangible thing, and one that places human beings above and outside of the natural world. This is seen as the first step towards, and justification for, the destruction of nature (humans included).


Technology is seen as a system rather than a specific physical tool.[15] Technology, it is argued, requires the exploitation of the environment through the creation and extraction of resources, and the exploitation of people through labor, work, and slavery, industrialism, specialization and the division of labor. There is no "neutral" form of technology as things are always created in a certain context with certain aims and functions. Green technology is rejected as an attempt to reform this exploitative system, merely changing it on the surface to make it seem environmentally friendly[16], despite sustained levels of human and natural exploitation. In place of modern technology, green anarchists favor small-scale technology, using more sustainable and local resources.[17]


Veganarchy symbol; combining the 'V' from vegan with the anarchist 'A' symbol.[18]

Some green anarchists see veganism as an intrinsic part of the struggle for a free, healthy way of life. Veganarchism is the political philosophy of veganism (more specifically animal liberation) and green anarchism, creating a combined praxis as a means for social revolution.[19][20] This encompasses viewing the state as unnecessary and harmful to animals, both human and non-human, whilst practising a vegan diet. Veganarchists either see the ideology as a combined theory, or perceive both philosophies to be essentially the same.[21] It is further described as an anti-speciesist perspective on green anarchism, or an anarchist perspective on animal liberation.[20]

The term was popularised in 1995 with Brian A. Dominick's pamphlet Animal Liberation and Social Revolution, described as "a vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism".[18] The 18-page pamphlet explains how many young anarchists in the 1990s had been adopting deep ecological (animal-inclusive and anti-speciesist) mindsets as part of an overall green anarchist political philosophy. Similarly animal liberationists were becoming increasingly influenced by anarchist thought and traditions, thus becoming veganarchists and adopting an overall praxis.[20]


Many green anarchists argue that small eco-villages (of no more than a few hundred people) are a scale of human living preferable to civilization, and that infrastructure and political systems should be re-organized to ensure that these are created.[17] Green Anarchists assert that social organizations must be designed to work with natural forces, rather than against.

Many green anarchists consider traditional forms of social organization such as the village, band, or tribe to be preferred units of human life, not for some Noble Savage concept of spiritual superiority, but because these social organizations appear to work better than civilization.[22][23] Family is considered to be more important to many green anarchists than work roles. Green anarchist philosophy can be explained as an interpretation of anthropological and biological truths, or natural laws.

Some green anarchists, identifying themselves as primitivists, advocate a process of 'rewilding' and a return to nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles while other green anarchists only wish to see an end to industrial society and do not necessarily oppose domestication or agriculture.[24] Key theorists in the former category include Derrick Jensen and John Zerzan while the 'Unabomber' Theodore Kaczynski belongs in the latter, though the boundaries are blurred at times, both Jensen and Zerzan making positive references to some forms of permaculture. Other green anarchists, mainly techno-positivists, propose other forms of organizations like arcology or technates.

Many green anarchists choose to focus not on philosophical issues for a future society, but on the defense of the earth and social revolution in the present. Resisting systems in the present, and creating alternative, sustainable ways of living are often deemed more important than frivolous protesting.

Direct action

An ALF raid removing 82 beagles and 26 rabbits from Interfauna in Cambridge on St Patrick's Night 1990.[25]

Most Green Anarchists hold their ideals passionately and some engage in direct action. Organizing themselves through groups like Earth First!, Root Force, or more drastically, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), Earth Liberation Army (ELA) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF). They may take direct action against what they see as systems of oppression, such as the logging industry, the meat and dairy industries, animal testing laboratories, genetic engineering facilities and, more rarely, government institutions.

Such actions are normally, though not always, non-violent. Though not necessarily Green anarchists, activists have used the names Animal Rights Militia, Justice Department and Revolutionary Cells among others, to claim responsibility for openly violent attacks.


Rod Coronado is an eco-anarchist and is an unofficial spokesperson for the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. On February 28, 1992, Coronado carried out an arson attack on research facilities at Michigan State University (MSU), and released mink from a nearby research farm on campus, an action claimed by the ALF, and for which Coronado was subsequently convicted.

In 1997, the editors of Green Anarchist magazine and two British supporters of the Animal Liberation Front were tried in connection with conspiracy to incite violence, in what came to be known as the GANDALF trial.

Green anarchist Tre Arrow[26][27] was sought by the FBI in connection with an ELF arson on April 15, 2001 at Ross Island Sand and Gravel in Portland, torching three trucks amounting of $200,000 in damage. Another arson occurred a month later at Ray Schoppert Logging Company in Estacada, Oregon, on June 1, 2001 against logging trucks and a front loader, resulting in $50,000 damage.[28] Arrow was indicted by a federal grand jury in Oregon and charged with four felonies for this crime on October 18, 2002.[29] On March 13, 2004, after fleeing to British Columbia, he was arrested in Victoria for stealing bolt cutters and was also charged with being in Canada illegally.[30] He was then sentenced on August 12, 2008 to 78 months in federal prison for his part in the arson and conspiracy ELF attacks in 2001.[31][32]

In January 2006, Eric McDavid, a green anarchist,[33][34] was convicted of conspiring to use fire or explosives to damage corporate and government property.[35] On March 8, he formally declared a hunger strike due to the jail refusing to provide him with vegan food. He has been given vegan food off and on since.[36] In September 2007, he was convicted on all counts after the two activists he conspired with pled guilty testified against him.[35][37][38] An FBI confidential source named "Anna" was revealed as a fourth participant, in what McDavid's defense argued was entrapment.[39] In May 2008, he was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.[40][41]

On March 3, 2006, a federal jury in Trenton, New Jersey convicted six members of SHAC, including green-anarchist Joshua Harper,[42][43][44] for "terrorism and Internet stalking", according to the New York Times, finding them guilty of using their website to "incite attacks" on those who did business with Huntingdon Life Sciences HLS.[45] In September 2006, the SHAC 7 received jail sentences of 3 to 6 years.

Other prisoners
  • Daniele Casalini; Italian green anarchist accused of arson against electricity pylon.[46][47]
  • Nicole Vosper; green anarchist who pleaded guilty to charges against HLS.[48][49]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Su obra más representativa es Walden, aparecida en 1854, aunque redactada entre 1845 y 1847, cuando Thoreau decide instalarse en el aislamiento de una cabaña en el bosque, y vivir en íntimo contacto con la naturaleza, en una vida de soledad y sobriedad. De esta experiencia, su filosofía trata de transmitirnos la idea que resulta necesario un retorno respetuoso a la naturaleza, y que la felicidad es sobre todo fruto de la riqueza interior y de la armonía de los individuos con el entorno natural. Muchos han visto en Thoreau a uno de los precursores del ecologismo y del anarquismo primitivista representado en la actualidad por John Zerzan. Para George Woodcock, esta actitud puede estar también motivada por una cierta idea de resistencia al progreso y de rechazo al materialismo creciente que caracteriza la sociedad norteamericana de mediados de siglo XIX.""LA INSUMISIÓN VOLUNTARIA. EL ANARQUISMO INDIVIDUALISTA ESPAÑOL DURANTE LA DICTADURA Y LA SEGUNDA REPÚBLICA (1923-1938)" by Xavier Diez
  2. ^ a b c d e EL NATURISMO LIBERTARIO EN LA PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA (1890-1939) by Jose Maria Rosello
  4. ^ a b "Anarchism, Nudism, Naturism" by Carlos Ortega
  5. ^ a b "Les anarchistes individualistes du début du siècle l'avaient bien compris, et intégraient le naturisme dans leurs préoccupations. Il est vraiment dommage que ce discours se soit peu à peu effacé, d'antan plus que nous assistons, en ce moment, à un retour en force du puritanisme (conservateur par essence).""Anarchisme et naturisme, aujourd'hui." by Cathy Ytak
  6. ^ Recension des articles de l'En-Dehors consacrés au naturisme et au nudisme
  7. ^ ["Anarchisme et naturisme au Portugal, dans les années 1920" in Les anarchistes du Portugal by João Freire]
  8. ^ "The pioneers"
  9. ^ a b "EL NATURISMO LIBERTARIO EN LA PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA (1890-1939)" by Josep Maria Rosell
  10. ^ The daily bleed
  11. ^ "Los origenes del naturismo libertario" por Agustín Morán
  12. ^ Anarchism: From theory to practice by Daniel Guérin
  13. ^ Ward, Colin (2004). Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, USA. ISBN 0192804774. 
  14. ^ Stewart Davidson, 2009, 'EcoAnarchism: A Critical Defence', in the Journal of Political Ideologies, volume 14, pp. 47-67
  15. ^ Zerzan, John (1994). Future Primitive and Other Essays. Autonomedia. ISBN 1570270007. 
  16. ^ Zerzan, John (2008). Running on Emptiness: The Pathology of Civilization. Feral House. ISBN 092291575X. 
  17. ^ a b Pepper, David (1993). Eco-socialism: from deep ecology to social justice. Routledge. ISBN 0415097193. 
  18. ^ a b Dominick, Brian. Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism, Critical Mess Media, 1995.
  19. ^ Dominick, Brian. Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism, third edition, Firestarter Press, 1997, page 6.
  20. ^ a b c Dominick, Brian. Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism, third edition, Firestarter Press, 1997, page 5.
  21. ^ Dominick, Brian. Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism, third edition, Firestarter Press, 1997, page 1.
  22. ^ Theodore, Kaczynski (2008). The Road to Revolution. Xenia Editions. ISBN 2888920654. 
  23. ^ Parker, Martin (2007). The Dictionary of Alternatives. Zed Books. ISBN 184277333X. 
  24. ^ "A Dialog on Primitivism: Lawrence Jarach interviews John Zerzan", Anarchy: A journal of Desire Armed, Issue 51
  25. ^ "The man, the activist", first published in Arkangel.
  26. ^ Anarchist Eco-Terrorist Tre Arrow To Be Deported, Toronoto Sun, May 6, 2006.
  27. ^ Tre Arrow says he’s not guilty of burning trucks, Portland Tribune, May 4, 2008.
  28. ^ Tre Arrow sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison, Oregon Live, August 12, 2008.
  29. ^ "EPA Misled Public on Quality of U.S. Drinking Water". Environment News Service. March 16, 2004. Retrieved 17 June 2007. 
  30. ^ Hunting America's Most Wanted Eco-Terrorist : Rolling Stone
  31. ^ Eco-arsonist Sentenced to 78 Months Prison, Most Wanted Hoes, August 13, 2008.
  32. ^ Denson, Bryan (March 1, 2008). "Fugitive Tre Arrow back in Portland". The Oregonian. 
  33. ^ About Eric McDavid's Sentencing, Animal Liberation Front Website]], May 11, 2008.
  34. ^ Update, Support Eric, February 16, 2006.
  35. ^ a b Eco-Terror Suspect Guilty in Bomb Plot, News 10, September 27, 2007.
  36. ^ Updates, Support Eric.
  37. ^ Walsh, Denny (26 September 2007). "Leader or led by the FBI?". The Sacramento Bee (The McClatchy Company). Retrieved 13 March 2008. 
  38. ^ ["ECO-TERRORIST CONVICTED: Sacramento federal jury convicts Eric McDavid with conspiracy to commit domestic terrorism". Federal Bureau of Investigation. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2008. 
  39. ^ Weigel, Rafal (27 September 2007). "Convicted Of Plotting To Blow Up Nimbus Dam". CW31. Retrieved 27 April 2008. 
  40. ^ McDavid Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison as a “Terrorist”, Green Is The New Red, May 9, 2008.
  41. ^ 'Eco-terrorist' gets 20 years for plotting bombing campaign 'Eco-terrorist' gets 20 years for plotting bombing campaign, Turkish Press, May 9, 2008.
  42. ^ Statement from Joshua Harper - SHAC 7, Infoshop, July 17, 2008.
  43. ^ Eco-Terrorism: Extremism in the Animal Rights and Environmental Movements, Anti-Defamation League, 2005.
  44. ^ Conflict Industry, Fur Commission USA, August 12, 2001.
  45. ^ Six Animal Rights Advocates Are Convicted Of Terrorism, New York Times, March 3, 2006
  46. ^ Newsletter 150, The Nuclear Resister.
  47. ^ Prisoner Addresses, Earth Liberation Prisoner Support Network.
  48. ^ Support Nicole
  49. ^ Support Nicole Vosper - Green Anarchist / SHAC Prisoner, Indymedia UK, March 19, 2009.

External links

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