Three weeks ago we looked at the Preppers, and this week we covered the Anarcho-Primitivists. These ideological networks foresee the same future: modern industrialized society is about to collapse, and mass-starvation will follow. They offer the same advice: better start learning those wilderness survival skills now. They both think the government’s spying on them. And both have active communities online in social media, blogs, videos and forums trying to spread the word.
So their stuff must be pretty much all the same, right?
Nope. Not even close.
The Anarcho-Prims and the Preppers happen to fall pretty cleanly along America’s notorious Red State/Blue State divide. Anarcho-Primitivists tend to live in the most coastal parts of the most coastal states. Preppers tend to live in places like Texas or Idaho. Both are sufficiently outside the political process for that not to mean too much politically (their only argument would be whether the Obama Administration represents the lesser of two evils of our two totally rotten political parties, or the greater). It’s the cultural and philosophical gaps that are profound.
But if you come across something online about wilderness survivalism, you might wonder which of the two camps you’re reading. Here’s a handy cheat-sheet.
Pro Hints On How To Tell A Prepper from an Anarcho-Primitivist Online
1) Check the Writing Style
Finding prophecies of doom? Anarcho-Prims and Preppers are both great for that! Finding prophecies of doom cloaked in turgid academic prose? That’s a sure signal it’s an Anarcho-Primitivist site. Jog through their blogosphere and you’ll run across passages like:
In an effort to convey the particulars and subtleties of primitivism, pedantic definitions will (perhaps ironically) be necessary. For those versed in the terminology and who understand the basic concepts of the philosophical positions promoted by primitivism, these definitions may seem over-wrought and excessive.
Hint: if the writing sounds like something from a 36-year-old grad student seventeen-semesters-deep in a PhD program – think Anarcho-Primitivist. If it sounds like an ex-police officer just giving you straight advice – Prepper. Dead give-away: does the word “praxis” make an appearance?
2) Note the Tone Toward Post-Apocalypse: + or -?
Preppers believe what we have now is pretty good; it’s just built on false promises. They are preparing for the hellish aftermath of America’s Fall. Anarcho-Primitivists believe that what we have now is hell. Once we’re forced back into nature after the Fall, everything will be groovy.
Quick quiz: which group hosts “Preemptive Post-Apocalyptic Survival Summer Camp?” You wouldn’t be able to guess based on the title. But try this:
Rewild Camp is a Saturday afternoon social networking picnic where people make new friends and hang out with old while sharing skills, ideas and strategies for creating new cultures based on our hunter-gatherer ancestral heritage.
If you come across an event that seems like Cubscout Camp for hipsters, it’s Anarcho-Primitivist. If it sounds like a training session for people who believe something seriously unpleasant is about to happen, it’s Prepper.
3) Count How Frequently Guns Are Mentioned
This is the clearest give-away of all. Does the blog never mention guns at all in relation to planning for the post-Apocalypse? That’s Anarcho-Primitivist. Does it mention guns repeatedly, obsessively, going into great detail about which specific models the author favors for which particular disaster scenarios – and not only end-of-the-world scenarios either, but even the author’s picks for everyday usage such as how you should never repeat NEVER drive into an urban area without a shotgun in the trunk (in addition to your usual concealed handgun of course) lest you run into an urban disturbance? That will be a Prepper talking.
4) Finally: Who’s the Enemy?
Preppers speak darkly about outsiders; Anarcho-Primitivists speak darkly about friends.
Preppers believe that once the veneer of civilization collapses, mankind will revert to a violent state. So they’re readying themselves to put bullets in the heads of the feral hordes with designs on their food stashes. But within their community, Preppers are nothing but friendly. Welcoming to newbies. Anxious to help each other and form “retreat groups” with like-minded people they trust.
Anarcho-Primitivists run the opposite. They just don’t believe that after the police and armies melt away, some starving humans might be more interested in a “take all your vegan brownies” plan than their “let’s share my vegan brownie recipe” proposal. Instead, they concentrate all their suspicion, anger, and bile on each other (or their close ideological comrades). Their blogosphere contains lots of in-fighting.