Frequently asked questions
Click on a question to go to the corresponding answer
Q1: Why do you use technologies if you don’t appreciate them?
Q2: Technology is neutral, and industrial activity is only a problem due to the greediness of its current owners and the intentions of capitalism; if the working class controlled the means of production only the necessities of life would be produced, without causing the pollution we suffer now.
Q3: Isn’t “technology” just phones and cars? How are these negatives?
Q4: Aren’t you running with the tired old “noble savage” myth, ignoring the many objectively good developments of technological society?
Q5: How could primitive stone age life have lost out to objectively superior forms of human organization if it was so great?
Q6: Technology’s advances have enabled economic growth, which lifted innumerable humans out of poverty and increased their standards of living; how can you be against those things?
Q7: What do you think of technologies which improve Nature, such as water filtration treatments and carbon-capture machines? Don’t we need such tech to repair damages done by techno-industrial society?
Q8: If technology is eliminated, billions of humans will perish; how can you justify such a genocide? Will you even survive this absence of tech, or are you suicidal?
Q9: Ted Kaczynski killed people - how can you consider the ideas of a murderer?
Q10: Wouldn’t you consider your beliefs reactionary and emotional? How is that a stable basis for a social movement?
Q11: Why advocate for a revolution rather than laws which protect the environment? Why don’t you run a candidate and lobby the politicians?
Q12: If you believe technological progress and the trend toward ever-increasing efficiency to be autonomous and inevitable, why oppose the coming of the A.I. gods?
Q13: If the system has an inherent instability and cannot forever persist in preying upon Nature, do we actually need to do anything more than let it falter and collapse?
Q14: Let’s say you get your way: the current industrial civilization falls, the human population collapses, the forests start regrowing, etc. Won’t there be groups of people itching to turn the engines back on, to see the pillars of black smoke, to get back the luxuries and power of technological society? If the System will just restart, there really isn’t any point in sacrificing yourself to try and temporarily halt it.
Q15: Okay, I agree: to save Nature and preserve our freedom, the whole technological system needs to go - but how to achieve that? The system is massive and I'm just one person with little power.
Why do you use technologies if you don’t appreciate them?
Personally avoiding usage would not solve the problems that technology presents to humanity and Nature. Moreover, to use technologies to work for and hasten the end of this technological society puts the technological system in a bind: it can either remove the technologies from availability, so that they cannot be turned against it (in which case we succeed) or it keeps the tech available even though defenders of Nature can use the powers provided by the technologies to undermine technology’s dominance of our world.
Our focus from the get-go has not been removing advanced technologies from our individual lives, but to encourage the destruction of the technological system at large by whatever means are most efficient. Members may abstain from using some technologies, but at the group level our goal is to employ technologies against the technological system which dominates and deforms our lives and the natural world.
Technology is neutral, and industrial activity is only a problem due to the greediness of its current owners and the intentions of capitalism; if the working class controlled the means of production only the necessities of life would be produced, without causing the pollution we suffer now.
The history of every industrial society indicates otherwise, as does the ‘Conservation of Matter’ principle of physics: molecules can never be destroyed nor created, only transformed, so every object manufactured is taken from natural materials provided to us. Since human existence requires the world we evolved in, and not the manufactured products of the industrial era, our longevity as a species and keeping Earth habitable compels us to defend Nature and what predates the development of technological society. Communism or socialism do not prioritize the natural world so much as the comfort of civilized people, even at the expense of the other Earthlings nurtured through their existence by Nature.
The idea that technology is neutral is naive in the extreme, oblivious to the motivations and desires of those who engineer and deploy technologies, and the drive of technology toward its own autonomy. Technology never regresses, even where its impacts are obviously harmful to Nature and mankind, and its impacts are often more negative than positive overall, even if this is apparent only long after the technology has been released as an experiment upon the world.
While the ecological impacts may become visible soonest, the impacts to human society - especially the infringements upon human freedom - are often more difficult to see, and usually not before much time has passed and the specific technology become ingrained within human cultures worldwide.
Isn’t “technology” just phones and cars? How are these negatives?
At this point we know far more about the negative impacts from phones and cars than was understood or even foreseen upon their initial creation and release to the world. There are the detrimental effects to Nature, with the materials being taken and transformed to create the components of cars and phones, as well as the pollution which results from the usage (and discarding) of both phones and cars. But somewhat less obvious are the effects upon humanity: connection with people far away, rather than locally; expectation of ability to communicate at all times and travel long distances rapidly; bodily harm from traveling at fast speeds, sitting, staring at screens, instantly learning of happenings across the world while being powerless to help them; the channeling of power to the few who will watch over and pursue the many, anywhere. And we have only relatively recently begun to understand the power of influence and command of attention that such things can wield, with the devices and the apps manipulating our youngest in ways we did not consciously and knowingly assent to.
Furthermore, no; “technology” doesn’t refer just to this or that device, gadget, or machine. When we talk about technology, we have in mind the entire system that makes these specific developments possible as well as the psychology that this system requires from the humans that build it.
Aren’t you running with the tired old “noble savage” myth, ignoring the many objectively good developments of technological society?
We don’t believe that low-tech people were morally superior to, or more noble than, modern humans, only that by lacking the powers of our modern technologies they were more connected to Nature and less empowered to devastate the world due to their human flaws and errors. Whatever aspects of techno-industrial society that may seem beneficial when viewed through a focused lens can be seen to be seriously detrimental from a wider view. We can start with the objective truth that all of our modern creations are entirely unnecessary, as is electricity for a species estimated to be 200,000 years old (in our current form). Given that we don’t need any of the gadgets and comforting luxuries of modernity, none of it seems justifiable due to the obvious and undeniable ecological toll.
With deeper inspection, we start to see that technological “benefits” remove us from the world we were born into and adapted for: a life in small groups, having to exert ourselves to be fed, create shelter, stay safe and free, but also being fully capable of survival in almost any situation we were likely to find ourselves. If our forebears had suffered our modern frequency of crippling anxiety and suicidal ideation, broken identity and lack of purpose, they would never have survived. We are plagued with modern ailments of mind and body not only due to the effects delivered by the technologies deployed upon mankind, but due to the change from having very purposeful and immediately-rewarding survival work to do (ensure food, shelter, warmth) with our family and closest allies, to now being at the mercy of persons unknown and unaccountable as well as abstract concepts which exert actual force over our lives (laws, the economy, politics and its prospect for apocalyptic conflict). To say we are maladapted to modern life in technological society is to make an extreme understatement, but the reality is that finding relative sanity here requires adjustment on an individual level, because the system asserts its needs as primary. To believe that the system should retreat so that humanity may live and assert its needs as developed through evolution is to take a defiant position, which ends at the doorstep of seeking revolution against the technological system.
How could primitive stone age life have lost out to objectively superior forms of human organization if it was so great?
Were the conquistadors from Spain superior to the many tribal people they subjugated in the New World? Were the Whites of Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain, and America superior to the Africans they enslaved? Were the Nazis superior to those they conquered? Was Jeffrey Dahmer superior to the men he murdered? Is cancer superior to the host it kills? The fact that the low-tech ‘primitive’ people living at a Stone Age level of tool use were militarily inferior and unable to resist domination says nothing about their quality of life, except to indicate that they did not invest their time and energy primarily in developing means for continuous conquest of others.
In fact there are many cases of civilized colonists coming to the New World and leaving their colonies to “go native” and live primitively as ‘mountain men’ or even among the nearby tribe; there are very few cases of tribal people abandoning their culture and community to go live within the more regimented societies practicing agriculture and imperial conquest and monotheism.
Technology’s advances have enabled economic growth, which lifted innumerable humans out of poverty and increased their standards of living; how can you be against those things?
People living in Nature may be illiterate and lack hospitals and toilets, but they aren’t “poor”. The notion of “poverty” doesn’t apply within Nature, where free animals have the skills for living. The judgment of “standard of living” as acquired material goods reflects a consumerist mindset which has been induced to the denizens of techno-industrial society. Humans who live in Nature are not enticed from their habitat and cultures by the option to work and consume our modern trinkets and gizmos. The produced materials of technological society have a severe cost associated with them, and not only in ecological terms (because Nature’s creations must be altered and ruined, or at least seriously transformed, to attain our trinkets), but also in terms of how they further alienate humanity from the life it was born and evolved to live, in Nature, among other elements of Earthly life evolved alongside us, rather than plastic, concrete, steel, glass, etc. People in Nature don’t have the suicidal ideation, depression, ennui, homicidal rage, identity crises, addictions, or other physical and mental health disorders as we see within techno-industrial society.
Zoo animals are protected from threats, get regular and reliable feedings, have veterinary care, and may even have a longer than average lifespan than their wild counterparts. But they are completely dependent upon their caretakers and are not truly free. The same “benefits” (and lack of freedom) apply to humans who are fed and kept safe behind bars.
What do you think of technologies which improve Nature, such as water filtration treatments and carbon-capture machines? Don’t we need such tech to repair damages done by techno-industrial society?
As human foods have become manufactured and supplied everywhere, heretofore uncommon health problems have arisen for humanity, from hypertension to obesity to diabetes to cancer to heartburn. And rather than retract the cause of these problems (unnatural foods, provided throughout the seasons and to every corner of the world) we instead have deployed the techno-medical means to mitigate the problems and suppress symptoms.
To the degree that waters can be cleansed of pollutants and CO2 can be withdrawn from the atmosphere and sequestered, the thinking will persist that such contaminations of Nature are tolerable because they can be counteracted by our technologies (technologies that will have unintended negative consequences of their own). It is similar to the disposal of “garbage” by removal from our surroundings and its placement somewhere else: it still exists, but it’s out of sight and thus forgotten and accepted that industrial activity is producing “waste” and “garbage” to pile up elsewhere. We’re better off to not have it removed from our awareness and instead to be confronted with the results of industrial activity, that we are then more compelled to counteract the initial production of waste materials or unnatural foods in the first place.
If technology is eliminated, billions of humans will perish; how can you justify such a genocide? Will you even survive this absence of tech, or are you suicidal?
If zoos are dismantled and their captives released, many may not survive without being fed by caretakers and attended-to by veterinarians - but they are clearly not free animals within the zoo. Because the human population has been unnaturally raised by technological means to its present level of eight billion, the end of technological society will see human numbers decrease, but to not lessen the human population is to guarantee that many other entire species of Earthlings will be eradicated, primarily those not valued by civilized people.
Desiring to not reduce the human population is accepting to keep humanity dependent upon technological caretaking, which is untenable mostly because it is becoming clear that having so many human beings provides no real utility to the furtherance of the technological system: the system can do with far fewer of us (thus the recent propaganda about reducing our species’ natural birth rates and the individual impulse toward parenthood). History and psychology both indicate that the greater our numbers grow and the more crowded are our societies, the more certain becomes violent conflict; with the technical capacity to exterminate entire populations with relative ease, the elimination of much of the population lies both in the hands of a very few technologically empowered people as well as the technological system itself, nearing autonomy as it is. It is better that we eliminate this threat to our existence (and freedom) and suffer a consequential precipitous lessening of population by retaking the reins of our destiny, than that we allow it to progress and suffer its decisions (or, at best, perhaps the decisions of a few humans in positions of power) to annihilate many of our species, while allowing technological progress against Nature.
We are not suicidal any more than were any people fighting throughout history, pursuing a goal at great risk to themselves. To allow the continuation of technological ruination of our world is suicidal. As we see it, our backs are against the wall: if we do not fight, and if we do not succeed in this fight, technology will eradicate anything not of use to its own development and expansion, which is certainly wild Nature and probably all of humanity; any people allowed to remain will surely not be free animals created by Nature but only those performing some service to the technological system.
Ted Kaczynski killed people - how can you consider the ideas of a murderer?
Kaczynski is also the most prominent anti-technology revolutionary and perhaps the only person known to A) leave civilization in order to live by his own efforts, B) address technology as the core problem for humanity and Nature, C) call for anti-tech revolution as the only sufficient response, and D) strike back at the system with some efficacy.
As rational adults, we can analyze the claims anyone puts forth, and give a judgment on those ideas and assertions; we see no point in dismissing the arguments made by Kaczynski (or anyone) simply because the claimant has said or done something disagreeable. Assessing Kaczynski’s arguments against technology, we find him to be correct. Individuals may disagree about the utility of any given strategy, or Kaczynski’s use of violence as a tactic, or the morality or ethics of deploying violence in principle, but it is beyond argument that power is never relinquished due to the aggrieved merely pleading, without some leverage to force the concessions.
Wouldn’t you consider your beliefs reactionary and emotional? How is that a stable basis for a social movement?
It is no crime to feel discontent while living in modern society and to subsequently examine the foundations of that society to try and understand what caused one’s discontent. If one earnestly examines the society and discovers that it is fundamentally and diametrically opposed to one’s own fundamental values (here, nature and freedom), should one not become diametrically opposed to the society? We are no more emotional than leftists complaining about white males and inequality or conservatives complaining about feminists and the homeless, for example.
Furthermore, we are not anarcho-primitivists. We do not advocate for this or that level of human development. Not only is it impossible to recreate the past in any situation, it would be doubly impossible to specifically replicate the rich, bio-diverse world that our earliest ancestors found themselves in thanks to the relentless destruction of Nature by the Technological System over the past few millennia. We care only about the destruction of this System so that Nature can again be the leading force in this world. What happens after the collapse is not a part of our discourse or a concern of our ideology.
Why advocate for a revolution rather than laws which protect the environment? Why don’t you run a candidate and lobby the politicians?
Whatever the system will concede with reforms are inconsequential trivialities; what it will not concede is to allow humans more freedom from its controls and less pressure for conformity, nor will it concede more Nature to be wild and free from domination and conversion. Reigning-in our freedom and eradicating more of Nature are requirements to the flourishing of the technological system, so those are the two goals not achievable with reforms, as they conflict with the system’s interest. No politician is likely to be elected for advocating such things, so it would be foolish and wasteful to spend time, effort, and finances on pursuing election for our candidate; if an empowered politician were to enact measures which restrict and inhibit technological advancements for the sake of preserving wild Nature and human freedom, the politician would suffer the wrath of the voting public as the resulting economic contraction and decrease of consumer “living standards” would displease the population of techno-industrial civilization, which would then depose that politician.
Additionally, consider the scale of what we want (effectively the complete rewilding of the entire globe). How could this possibly be voted into power when standard fare political issues like homelessness, waste management, immigration, or even funding for public parks cannot be meaningfully addressed by our political system? There is no way to out vote the popular consuming mass which has been psychologically conditioned and socialized by the technological system to demand technological comforts. Radical action by a minority of the population, akin to revolutionary sweeps seen numerous times through history, is the only realistic approach.
If you believe technological progress and the trend toward ever-increasing efficiency to be autonomous and inevitable, why oppose the coming of the A.I. gods?
We believe that technological progress is inevitable and necessary within a technological society, but we do not believe (and actively disagree) that a technological society as such is inevitable and necessary for mankind. Yes, historical factors and natural laws basically ensured that the most exploitative and energy-commanding cultures would destroy and replace the rest, but this does not mean that the current society is impervious to instability and destruction as it runs out of energy to easily consume and places higher and higher psychological toll on its human constituents. While people can argue over whether or not every human culture given the same environment would have mutated into something akin to the historical monstrosity we got, the more important point is simply that humans are entirely capable of living without the Machine, and that the current system is destroying our world. We can choose to accept destruction, or stand against it.
If the system has an inherent instability and cannot forever persist in preying upon Nature, do we actually need to do anything more than let it falter and collapse?
Any rampaging psychopath or pillaging marauders will eventually tire and need to rest, but nobody would wait for them to tire and pause of their own accord. Indeed, sanity demands that all possible intervention and counterattack be made to permanently end their assault. Similarly, a house fire will eventually extinguish itself when it has fully consumed the structure, but if you care about the residents of that home you will want to arrest that fire as soon as possible, to leave intact more than less. So too do we desire and need to end the damages wrought by the worldwide technological system to Nature, lest we be left with no home by the time the system collapses upon itself.
While it seems only logical that the consumption of our very foundations for existence cannot long sustain, it is conceivable that the technological system will find a way to persevere in a world so decimated that Nature is beyond recovery and humanity cannot survive; technology may at that time be ready to abandon Earth and move elsewhere. Because we cannot know when the system will collapse, and how much of wild Nature will have been destroyed by then, or how severe will be the technological damage to our Earth, or at what point our freedom and ability to counteract the destruction will be fully eliminated (if we ourselves are not), we must prepare to act in the moment of the system’s greatest weakness hitherto.
If the system could have been stopped in 1710, Earth’s forests would not now be so decimated; if technological society could have been toppled in 1895, plastics and dioxin would not contaminate our waterways and humans’ bloodstreams; if technology had been killed in 1962, space junk would not be swirling above and around us all. The longer it continues, the more the techno-industrial system erodes our realization of true freedom, and the more damage it does to Nature.
Let’s say you get your way: the current industrial civilization falls, the human population collapses, the forests start regrowing, etc. Won’t there be groups of people itching to turn the engines back on, to see the pillars of black smoke, to get back the luxuries and power of technological society? If the System will just restart, there really isn’t any point in sacrificing yourself to try and temporarily halt it.
Obviously we cannot know how the future will play out exactly, and we have repeatedly stated that we do not engage in post-collapse thought. That said, there are a few things to mention that challenge the pessimism and defeatism of such a question.
Firstly, even if the System manages to restart at some point in the future after a relative collapse, the intervening time–however short–is invaluable time for Nature and humanity to rest and recover. Maybe it’s only a decade, maybe several human generations, maybe it will take a few million years and a new sentient species at the helm. In any case, even one second of truly unmitigated natural living is worth every ounce of sacrifice that we put forth now.
Secondly, we can ask if the material and energetic resources will be available for System 2.0 to kick off. The longer our System goes on, the more energy it must consume but also the more energy it must expend to attain energy for consumption. For example, the earliest days of the industrial revolution made use of relatively easily exploitable coal, and then they started digging deeper, or in new ways, or in new places, or for new fuels using the initial surplus they got from coal. Is there enough easily accessible coal for a society to start this process from scratch? If there is coal, is there enough oil to make it to the next stage? How about the basic ores or rare earth metals necessary for the pumps, engines, or electronics? And so on. There may very well be insufficient or insufficiently accessible resources for this disaster to happen again.
Thirdly, we can ask if the broader ecological and environmental disruptions of this civilization won’t eradicate the fundamental conditions making possible industrial civilization. For example, agriculture (a seemingly necessary condition for industrialism) requires not just this or that temperature and annual precipitation, but it requires a generally stable and predictable climate. If people can’t rely on the weather or rainfall being the same or similar year after year, they won’t reasonably invest time learning how to grow their food instead of focussing on hunting and exploiting what grows naturally. Let’s say the climate remains relatively stable, but we get some of the worst-case scenario global warming. In this case, most arable land would probably turn to desert or be under water. Former non-arable land might become potentially arable (such as in the arctic), but it would likely require time on a geological scale for arable soil to form and be exploitable by humans without synthetic fertilizers. Moving away from climate, there is plenty of potential for the various pollution and wastes of industrial society to render large swathes of the world uninhabitable for advanced civilization.
Lastly, and most optimistically, there is a possibility that the experience of industrial civilization and its subsequent collapse will cause such deep trauma within the collective human cultural psyche that none will dare even think about restarting the monster. Thinking technologically itself might become as taboo as, or even more so than, any taboo we currently have. Myths in the future might be established to ensure we do not make the evolutionary mistake of overshoot ever again by referencing the realities of our civilization. Or perhaps the people who lived through the civilization and its collapse will do their best to erase its existence from the collective memory, and the emphasis will be simply on living in harmony with nature.
Okay, I agree: to save Nature and preserve our freedom, the whole technological system needs to go - but how to achieve that? The system is massive and I'm just one person with little power.
Power comes from organization and coordination. Connect with other people committed to the end of technology’s domination of humanity and Nature. Below you can find links to join the Anti-Tech forum, to join the ATC channel on Element; you can subscribe to the ATC Quarterly. Educate yourself (visit a library, read works of Anti-Tech thinkers). Write, propagate the notion of being opposed to technological society with its destruction as the only adequate solution. Unplug and reconnect with Nature, create and sit with a fire, put your feet in the dirt, sleep under the stars, sing out loud. Those who are unable or unwilling to do public activities for the cause of building a revolutionary movement to end the technological system can support those who will do that work, by donating to ATC (here).
This modern system is like Goliath, dually empowered and weakened by the very same properties. When the system is seriously dysfunctional and lurching due to its intrinsic faults, it will be in the interest of the human species and our ability to have here on Earth an indefinite existence. At that time, you must be with a trusted group of competent and dedicated people in order to know when and how to strike at the system in order to fell it most quickly and widely. Now is the time to prepare for this eventuality.