Notes on utopia and anti-industrialization
The contemporary critiques of capitalism, whether in the shape of deep ecology, minimalism, or hippie new age spiritualism, all share varying amounts of anti-industralization. Can a truly emancipatory politics dispense with the productivity of labor afforded by mass production? Are the benefits of industrial production inseparable from its disadvantages?
Anti-industralization is nothing new. It is almost as old as industralization itself. Anarcho-primitivists, the Luddite movement in the 19th century and hippies in the 20th century all have erected arguments against the effects of the transformation of agrarian societies into mass societies.
Most of these arguments agree with the Marxist diagnostic, pointing out the ills of division of labor, the explotation of nature and worker’s alienation. But, while Marx notes the revolutionary potential in the modification of consciousness brought about by this mode of production, the anti-industralization discourse insists on going back to a previous idealized state.
The majority of these arguments ignore the existence of domestic unpaid work. They idealize the available leisure time by discarding care work and domestic labor.
Are consumerism, the exploitation of nature, overproduction, and large-scale, impersonal, social institutions a neccesary product of all forms of industrialization? Can we differenciate the increase in the productivity of labor from the evils of mass society?
Is primitivism the only way to attain self-sufficiency? Are they really?
To be continued…