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Editorial Reviews

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". . . a new anthology edited by the anarchist philosopher John Zerzan, Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections. The book is composed of excerpts from the works of a wide range of authors who've offered radical critiques of industrial society. . . . Among my favorite excerpts is a darkly cynical piece, "Civilization is Like a Jetliner," by T. Fulano. . . . Against Civilization is not all poetic rage; the various contributions include reasoned analyses of the inherent contradictions of industrial capitalism, celebrations of vernacular culture, and inspiring visions of worlds beyond systematic domination and exploitation. As Kirkpatrick Sale has said of the book, 'It is its collective refusal to say 'Here is civilization: just accept it' that makes this volume so important. Read it and you will never think of civilization in the same way again.'" -- Richard Heinberg; MuseLetter, January 1999

"A provocative anthologypresenting the likes of Freud, Friedrich Schiller, William Morris, and the Unabomber, along with bright contemporary thinkersthat raises the question of whether our elaborately structured, technology-driven society creates more problems than it alleviates." -- Jay Walljasper; Utne Reader, March/April 1999

"Twist the popular Earth First! slogan from "Visualize Industrial Collapse" to "Actualize Industrial Collapse" and you have the gist of this new anthology from John Zerzan. To many it has seemed that John has been alone in his attack on the totality of civilization. Now the reader can see a chronology: diversity and passion from hundreds of years of resistance against the nightmare we have inherited today. This book will introduce ecologists to anarchists and anarchists to ecologists; intellectuals to activist perspectives; and vice-versa. I think Chellis Glendinning's description in her Foreword is accurate when she says "Herein the reader will discover the questions that need to be asked and insights that beg to be nurtured if humankind and the natural world as we know it are to thrive in the future. This book is that important." -- Chris Kortright; Feral: A Journal Toward Wildness, Spring 1999 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Well known for his anarchist critique of technology and his work on the origins of our contemporary society in crisis, John Zerzan offers an anthology of critical commentary on civilization itself, from the Greeks to the Unabomber. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: Feral House; Enlarged edition (May 10, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922915989
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922915989
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By blobby bloyar on December 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Transcend the misery of the last 8000 years of Empire and join the Paleolithic heritage of over 2 million years of tribal life, ecstatic in wildernesses of soul, forest, and desert! Zerzan collects the feral souls of the ages, insurging to overcome this inhuman leviathan that seeks to swallow us all and spit us out as lifeless cogs! This book demonstrates a possibility to really go for the gold, to stop whining and demanding the petty-possible of Democrepublican corporate sellout mediocrity, and to reimagine how Wild life could really be! Especially noteworthy is the article on the Animals Fighting Back... It is high time we put the whole nonsense of civilization on the table to be debated and overcome. Why is civilization nonsense? Because it means war, hierarchy, class oppression, environmental degradation, et al. True "progress" will involve going beyond civilization to something more "civilized" and something more paleolithic and intense! Buy this book! It will provoke your thoughts! It will take you outside media culture!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Grabill on January 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Against Civilization by John Zerzan is a great compilation of writings from the hands of many different authors.

The essays/excerpts cover a variety of subjects, including: topsoil depletion, deforestation, the loss of bio-diversity, pollution, and the human influence on the natural world. Many of the essays also discuss the harms of modern life, the emptiness of civilized living, and the pervasive unhappiness that pervades so many human lives.

My favorite writings were:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality
Fredy Perlman, Against His-story, Against Leviathan!
Marvin Harris, Our Kind
Chellis Glendinning, My Name is Chellis and I'm Recovering from Western Civilization
Ivan Illich, Toward a History of Needs
Tamarack Song, The Old Way and Civilization
William Koetke, The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and The Seed of the Future
Theodore Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends: Politics and Transcendence in Postindustrial Society
Feral Faun, Feral Revolution
Kirkpatrick Sale, Rebels Against the Future: Lessons from the Luddites

All in all, this book is a great read for those willing to take an honest, hard look at what we call civilization.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kyle Danley on February 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
This I a beautiful collection of work from the most important thinkers of our time. John Zerzan put this amaizing book together for people who know the horrors of civilization. I would reccomend this book to anybody and everybody living in our destructive modern culture. This book brings up points of an all around great perspective of civilization, with words from my personal favorite authors. Another plus is it is short but still a very percise and accurate read. You could finish it in a day or weekend. Over all beautiful piece of work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dolores on August 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Well written and informed, a must read. I read books of this nature all the time and my mind has not been stretched this far in a decade.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By DarkCloud on August 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Will keep this short because I hate the "review novelists!!" (who reads it all anyway?.....) My first introduction to Zerzan and look forward to more to come. A collection of essays.....related by characteristic....and what is so eye-opening are the essays from the late 1700's and mid 1800s that identify "civilization" (you'll gain a new perspective of that word) as having the same ills and frustrations as we lament now. In short, "we're" not sustainable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Symplokê on September 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
I really like this book. It's a great primer for critically thinking the many facets of what we call civilization as we confront our civilization's destruction of life on this planet. As such it contains an interwoven approach to the effects of civilization upon the non-human world as this destruction simultaneously includes human domestication socially, psychologically and spiritually in the form of dominating institutions of State, capital and organized religion. There is no distinction between 'man' and 'nature.' (I'm reminded here of Nietzsche when he pointed out the perniciousness of the word 'and' in this very context.)

Today, as civilization is taken as *the* given, as *the* inevitable, I wonder why this is so when there have been, and still remain, demonstrable alternatives for human flourishing within the whole web of life. And in terms of the rhetoric of 'sustainability,' what exactly is to be sustained? There is no 'greening' of consumptive, exploitative, institutions of State and capital, each seeming bent upon endless expansion, centralization, management, class-stratification, order, and of course, obedience.

Detractors may whine that there's no going back to the Stone Age, but I don't think that's what this book is necessarily about. Nor is it some ridiculous apologia for some 'perfect' Golden Age. It's perhaps better received as an introduction to alternatives that have, and do, allow for the flourishing of all life. As such it's a book which may provide for much needed critical thought and creative action against the Leviathan (civilization) which has, in actuality, produced and maintained the very war of all against all old Hobbes fraudulently blamed the conditions of 'nature' for producing. It is the re-examination of this lie for Leviathan, the deep implications which remain almost religiously axiomatic today, and the solution Leviathan always supplies for itself: a bigger, better Leviathan.
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