Host of ‘Anarchy Radio’ to speak about growth of society

By Jim Vorel

Radical speaker John Zerzan will visit the south rec room of Allen Hall, 1005 W. Gregory Drive, this Monday night at 7 p.m. Zerzan, host of “Anarchy Radio”, KWVA 88.1 FM, is a well-known figure among the community of “anti-civilizationalists.” Since 2000, Zerzan has hosted the weekly Oregon-based radio show devoted to his and other views on the problems facing a continually structured society. He will give a free presentation in Allen Hall entitled “Green Anarchy”, which is also the title of the online journal he edits: “an anti-civilization journal of theory and action.”

“I’ve never been in the Champaign-Urbana area, but I think that students there will be particularly receptive to this message,” Zerzan said. “All the college speeches I’ve given have been wonderful exchanges. Students in college have more time to think about things, which is why you’re in college I guess!”

Zerzan’s beliefs center on the conception of prehistory before the rise of organized civilization.

“Interest in non-civilization living is increasing,” said Zerzan. “I think that’s because reality is knocking on the door so insistently. Things are getting threatening, eco-cide, global warming, extinction of species, and pollution is everywhere. It’s an assault on nature. I think students and young people are aware of this and want to talk about it.”

Andy Lewis is one such young person. A live-in assistant at the St. Jude Catholic Worker House in Champaign, the 27 year old Lewis helped to bring Zerzan to the University.

“I’ve been a listener of his radio show for some time now,” Lewis said. “I heard that he was hoping to be able to do a college tour in the Midwest, so I got in touch with the University to see if we could get him to speak here.”

Lewis believes that Zerzan brings a very important message to people who may not be familiar with his ideas.

“I think that right now, he’s the only one looking at the roots of the problems of technology and civilization,” Lewis said. “Civilization may be viewed as just a deterministic process; he believes in a more holistic approach, not necessarily believing in the natural ascension of a structured civilization.”

Zerzan’s approach is bold, calling into question assumptions about the natural growth of a society that have the human race’s entire history of existence as evidence.

“I think he might be a somewhat controversial speaker, but we’re not afraid of having controversial speakers,” said Laura Haber, the Program Coordinator for Allen Hall’s Unit One, the organization that is sponsoring Zerzan’s presentation. “We actively try to seek out a variety of different types of speakers. As long as (Zerzan’s speech) promotes dialogue and discussion and gets students thinking and asking questions, then we are very happy to have him speaking here.”

Zerzan himself tries to fight misconceptions about anarchists and primitivists in his speeches.

“I think the transition towards a world without civilization has to be phased, and not just done in one burst,” he said. “Anarchists and primitivists don’t want a bunch of people to die, a mass die-off, to break from industrial society and machines, despite what critics may say. “

Nobody I know advocates that this would be an over-night thing, but it would be as fast as possible. I think we may be running out of time,” he added.

Zerzan also defends the accusations of hypocrisy that most anti-civilizationists have to deal with for using technology to promote their message.

“Yes, we are called hypocritical, et cetera, for using technology while critiquing it so heavily,” he said. “I think it’s an unavoidable contradiction. If I didn’t use it, my travel and radio show would be pretty impossible.

We just strive to be transparent about this bind and continue to attack that which we are really forced to use if we wish to make a public contribution.”