Against Everything That Is

John Zerzan and the Anarchist Critique of Symbolic Thought

John Zerzan’s uncompromising critique of human civilization is one of the most controversial branches of contemporary anarchism. In this analysis, Young opens with understandable skepticism. Are we really to accept Zerzan’s argument that “symbolic culture” — as manifest in human language and measured time — is responsible for our currently alienated state and loss of freedom? As incredible as such a claim appears, Young manages to make some reasonable sense of it, distilling Zerzan’s critique into a hypothesis palatable enough to be worthy of discussion rather than pat dismissal.

Originally published in issue 37.