1. Tell us about your name. Why Peregrine? And tell us as well about your activities as a band, do you have similar interests, do you work as a collective, are you involved with any other activities besides the band?
I’ve had a long standing obsession with birds of prey. I think it’s a fairly common thing, but I’m just mesmerized by them. Peregrines in particular stand out to me, for whatever reason, but they’re the fastest animal in the world, they’ve rebounded from near extinction as a result of DDT, they are one of the most wide spread birds in the world. The Latin-derived name also means ‘wanderer’. It just seems to embody so much about wildness and its resilience.
The band right now is resituating after I took it with me back up to Pennsylvania. The intent with the new line up is to be more than a band and not just have some metal dudes filling in, as it pretty much was before with the exception of Clem (who I started Peregrine with in Georgia). So things are changing and it’s very much intentional to have it so no one is yawning or irritated when I talk about anything real between songs at shows.
2. What has been the acceptance to your ideas and music in the so called punk hardcore scene…?
The hardcore scene is the hardest to break. There’s a lot of scene shit going on and I’m not that interested in getting into that. I’m just way over it. I avoided the punk scene for so long after the serious political basis seemed to have dropped out. It’s gotten to be way more about the scene itself and an insular sense of building up some liberalized sense of community instead of being angry and pro-active about what is going on in the world.
I think punk has a lot farther to go in really pushing the forefront on ideas anymore and it’s pretty pathetic. I think punk got caught up in this very crimethinc-ish mentality and people are too afraid of criticism to go out on a limb and say what they think or challenge other people when they regurgitate the same old, stuck-in-the-left ideals. There’s just nothing engaging about it anymore and there’s little room left for that.
I do think the words are getting out there. I think green anarchism and anarcho-primitivism have moved into the vocabulary and, to some extent, the ideals of most anarchist punks, but the scene is really just to populist to welcome the divisions that the anarchist scene has.
I’m hardly an ‘all for one’ kind of person. I know the differences between anarcho-primitivism and anarcho-syndicalism are massive. I am explicitly against civilization and I have no interest in reform, be it a political system or an industrial one. And it’s outside of punk and hardcore that you really see the surprises. The collapse of civilization is so apparent that we barely have to point it out anymore. It’s the top stories on the news everyday and people can’t ignore it anymore. They don’t use the same terminology or have the same perspective, but people aren’t dumb; they can smell the rotting corpse in the room, but it’s a fear issue when it comes to trying to understand what it means or what to do about it.
So when I’m putting it out there as honestly as I can and trying to add perspective and some context to what we’re all feeling, it’s the people with no stake in leftist ideology who are more willing to give up on blind faith and want to hear more. The punks try to write shit off cause they’ve got so much at stake in trying to maintain some semblance of their punk ‘way of life’ now into some anarcho-utopia, but it’s just not possible. There’d be some shitty shows that we’d get stuck on in Georgia and I just didn’t feel like bothering to talk about the songs cause of the atmosphere, but it was normal folks that’d come up to me and ask me why I didn’t say anything.
Any contradiction at this point is necessary. I think people get hung up on this all around, but there’s no way out. I see a major driving force behind my existence right now as spreading these ideas, this context for what is going on around us.
I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for being a part of this civilization that is innately ecocidal. That as I am sitting on this computer to write this, mountains are being destroyed for coal, I live five miles from a nuclear/coal power plant and every single thing we do here, from breathing forced air indoors to touring on the road, is ecocidal as it is a part of this system. It’s easy to point to the hypocrisy of contributing to all this and saying the things we do, but it’s easy to use that as a way to write this off. Civilization is dying and it is killing the planet. People need to hear this. I’ve tried lecturing through smoke signals, and it just doesn’t translate at all. The only way these ideas are going to spread is through the system that we’re fighting against.
To be honest, I’d feel more guilt for not at least trying to spread these ideas. The ideological grasp that the domestication has on the mind, body and soul is so totalistic, that it needs any glimpse of light to let people know that it has fatal flaws. There’s so much of me that wants to try and live a nomadic gatherer-hunter lifestyle now. It’d be really hard and it can last only as long as you can evade pretty much anyone else, but it is possible. I hope people try that, but for me, it’s a compulsive feeling to try and get this out there as much as I can.
But realistically, we’re all hypocrites. It’s just easier to point to the primitivists because there’s a knee jerk reaction when someone questions the most basic principles about the way we all live and the machines that keep us going this way. Communists sell papers with the cash of capitalism, right now the free market system is getting an injection from the capitalist state. Ideals are ideals until they are lived, and until then, we’re all going to be hypocrites. I guess there’s just a point where you have to get over it and go on with what needs to be done.
4. Like many others, most of you seemed to have been through a long and gradual ideological metamorphosis from punk rockers to political vegan straighedgers and into primitivist minded people, how do you envision this progression? Do you see in them a logical of continuity with next step closer to your end? How do you feel about all those phases and the importance or not that they had in your own personal agenda?
I have to state from the outset here that Peregrine was never a vegan straightedge band and that most of the folks in it before and probably the future haven’t necessarily ever been. The new line up shares that background, like I do, but not entirely.
However, I got into anarchism and punk about the same time, and I think there’s a clear line that can be drawn in the development on my ideas going back through my sixteen years as an anarchist. I’ve done the demos, the protests, made thousands of fliers, I still write, edit and promote magazines, books and pamphlets, and so on. I was an anarcho-syndicalist for the first five or six years and came into primitivism as I realized my own understandings of indigenous, earth and animal liberation didn’t really mesh with my cautious ideas of worker solidarity. For example, I could never sit well with the idea that Crass did their last show as a benefit for striking miners. How could you decry the destruction of the Earth and then support the miners? It just shows the bankruptcy of punk ideals and ability to challenge the ‘all for one’ mentality.
But that was just a part of it. I think there are a lot of good ideas that can either serve to expand your understanding of the world through experience, or they can turn ideological. I’ve been straight edge for about fifteen years now, but it was never an ideological thing. In fact, I’ve come up with the concept of ‘feraledge’ as a half joking evolution of the idea because I hate the pompous, douche baggery that sours so much of straightedge. I’m really against drugs and anything that dulls the blunt smash to the face that civilization and domestication impact on our lives. Alcohol and consciousness altering plants only come into the picture after nomadic bands of gatherer hunters settled into sedentary ones (by ‘choice’ or coercion, as is so often the case). The drug trade is riddled with communist militants suppressing indigenous peoples worldwide and it’s the global disaffected that get the repercussions.
I despise the whole cycle, but I understand why people need that break from reality and I understand it’s a self-serving cycle. I’ve lost people very close to me to overdose and I despise the straightedge naivety that it’s simply a matter of self-accountability. This way of life sucks horribly, but getting violently enraged at people for drinking or doing drugs is just naïve. The system as a whole needs to be understood and targeted for what it is: another element of domestication.
And on the flipside, I’m glad I was vegan for so many years. The toll it’s taken on my body could be done without, but I was vegan because the systemic exploitation of animals, not simply because I thought killing is wrong. But, even as early as the late 90s, being vegan was a lot harder than it is now. It forced you to really look at things and have to cook for yourself and look more carefully at the foods you were eating. It’s not that hard now and I don’t think it’s as likely to shape anyone’s relationship with foods the way it did in the past. Most vegan foods are labeled as such, so people don’t even need to see the gnarly shit that still goes into the ingredients and the purely synthetic additives and ‘nutrients’ that saturate it. So people really don’t have to think about it and it gets easier to just solidify an ideology because it just doesn’t take much thought.
The evolution of my understanding came by trying to come to terms with the origins of oppression; political, social, psychological, whatever form it may take. That started with an understanding how governments oppress and expanded into a search for the origins of racism, sexism, and this innately separated and destructive view and the Earth and all other life. Through my experiences, my research, everything, it just all came down to civilization, and went even further into domestication. In hindsight, it’s like dominos falling down, but it’s been a long path and the simplicity of our primal anarchy, our primal nature continues to set me back. Things really are simpler than they seem and it’s amazing how much of civilization is really just smoke and mirrors. That isn’t to negate the insanity and scope of its destructiveness, but just to show how tied it all is to domestication: how the subjugation of our primal selves demands a response. The cage needs to be continually modified to fit a cast ideology of what being human means. The cage and the electronic leash are both crumbling; but being free is a going to be a lot more instinctual than we’ve let ourselves believe.
I’d say I’ve come a long way from where I was when I initially became ‘aware’. I’ve seen in myself and a handful of close friends that there was a progression and a progressiveness to what was going on within punk and hardcore and anarchism ten years ago that we got so much more out of it. But things are different now. The internet has really changed things and a lot of great ideas just get blogged away as snippets of information that don’t take much thought from the writer or the reader. There are message boards and back and forth kinds of arguments, but the whole process of taking an idea and putting it out there, in a zine, a book, a record, whatever, that’s just gone now, and the response is to treat it like that.
I’m not sure how to respond to it. I’ll continue to put things out there the same way I’ve always done it, but how do you combat the lethargy and sheer laziness that keeps ideas and momentums from evolving, or even just for people to take things seriously and really put some thought into what they say and feel instead of offer lip service to the ‘all for one’ ideals that have get passed around punk and hardcore?
5. How do you envision am ideal society? Or ideal situation for human beings, is there any past or present tribe or time when this was in practice?
For 99.9% of human history, we’ve lived in nomadic bands of gatherer-hunters. That is small bands of egalitarian peoples living without any kind of social or political power with larger affiliations between those living anywhere near. It was and is rooted in a pure sense of adaptivity and a flowing sense of ecological ties.
That is what shaped us as human beings. Our sense of sight and memory are rooted in our connection with the land and our senses are tied to take in thousands of stimuli coming in from the movement of plants, the tracks and signs of animals and the changing weather. That’s what formed our primal anarchy, our human nature. It’s a way of life that addresses the issues that will invariably rise when we live in close contact with our communities.
I fully believe that this is how we are meant to live.
The common misconception is that there was some choice made at some point to settle, or some total turn in history when people stopped living this way. Reality is quite the opposite. I can’t say for sure why it happened, but domestication is a slowly creeping marriage to power. And that started to come into the picture about 10-13 thousand years ago with the settling of the nomads around storable grains and proteins.
What followed is that one problem leads to a solution that becomes another problem almost immediately. Sedentary life runs counter to our gut reactions on how to respond to any crisis that may arise. And so you have the birth of political power, a new sense of self and a defined idea of tribe and property (nomadic bands are marked by their ever-changing membership and ties to a land base are far looser and defined by a central point rather than a border, all things that help make war impossible), a rising sense of sex-based identity and values which is almost entirely rooted in a rising and detached religious core, and you have warfare, chiefs, storage, and al the vestiges which make inegalitarian life possible and likely. And this pattern bred the conditions that make civilization possible.
But I don’t want to give the impression that any of this happened quickly and it’s not until relatively recently that many of the decisions were made with their eventual repercussions in mind. We’re talking about 6 thousand years before the first consequential settling of nomads until the origins of the first cities. It’s more like an oddity of history that civilization was born, rather than the Progress oriented wonder that it took ‘so long’.
The spread of civilization is the history of force and occupation. More domesticated societies have failed than have ‘succeeded’, but all share the same fate in time. It is a predatory and self-consuming state that cannot ever be sustained. When this civilization inevitably meets its end, as they all have; outside of the wreckage and fallout that remains, that nomadic gatherer-hunter mind, body, and spirit remain.
My hopes are to one day live this way again. I can’t say that it’s possible, but I know this civilization will meet its end very soon. We’re not seeing the peak, we’re seeing the decline and it is happening even faster than I might have envisioned. I like to think in terms of generations. I’d like to think that we’re not as selfish as we’ve become and are interested in the survival and health of the planet and those who will be living wild again, our grandchildren and theirs, and that we’ll base our actions now on how to contain the damage for them.
6. I know that some of you decided to in line with your ideas to stop being vegan and focusing on those issues. What is your current opinion on veganism, do you find it a natural and possible diet in a tribal primitivist realm? Do you see it solely as the product of green capitalism in the era? Your views…
Veganism, as an ideology, is, in my opinion, completely antithetical to wildness. I think it’s based off of some ‘enlightened’ moralistic fear of getting your hands dirty and is rooted entirely in the separation we all have been our lives and our subsistence. It’s bred in an unnatural aversion to death that comes with depressive, meaningless lives we live as civilized peoples.
More to the point, wildness is about cycles of life and death, without the one, you can’t have the other. Decay becomes top soil and the ‘food chain’ is far from a line. I think that fear is what leads people to believe that we can live without animal products or that we should. And it leads people to find alternatives that are synthetic or ecologically insane. Soy is one of the largest cash crops in the world because it’s so cheap and it’s filler (like grains), not because it’s good for us. It’s simply an economic issue that it’s so pervasive.
But all modern nutrition is based off of supplements, so it’s no surprise when people talk about how you can live well off a vegan diet when all the food is synthesized shit. I have no beef with vegans though. I’ve got bigger problems than the diets of individuals; it really doesn’t matter to me. It’s the ideologies that get me. I’ve always been against animal rights. That’s simply an anarchist argument; I don’t believe the State should determine worth. It’s not going to happen and it’s just an attempt to amend the level of suffering that animals are subjected to. When you see domestication as a humiliating condition, then it doesn’t make sense to justify adding another link in the leash.
It comes back to civilization. Animal liberation, in any true sense of the word, demands the collapse of this domesticating force. It means dropping a sense of value that was created by civilized humans and breaking the iron grip of dependency.
I can understand veganism though as a response, I felt that way long enough. I think it’s been manipulated as a ‘compassionate’ choice by green capitalists. No consumption is cruelty free, ever. I’m appalled by the conditions of animals in factory farms and ones that are called free range because there are no cages. I don’t want to contribute to that any more than die hard vegans do. And you don’t have to. I eat primarily wild meat or animals that are totally pastured. There’s a huge movement now towards pastured meats and I think it’s a more justifiable option to have animals living in a near wild state and eat them than depend on soy and synthetics shipped from around the world.
Essentially, I’m bashing ideology more than people’s choices. I’ll state my own, but I’m not passing judgment. I just think people need to separate issues with eating animals and issues with domesticating them. Separate animal liberation from animal rights.
7. Your opinions on freeganism and urban resistance?
Freeganism has never been a concern of mine. Eating garbage is great if you’re down. I’d rather nothing be bought or sold, so living off the excesses makes perfect sense. I was never freegan myself, I had no interest in eating animal products at all, till I ate meat, but I still care a lot about what I eat. I have enough health problems that I don’t need to add rotted, factory farmed meat or processed crap into my diet. But that’s just my personal opinion.
The only real problem I have with freeganism is when people think it’s a solution. That’s just hilarious. It’s so clearly tied to an excessive system that I shouldn’t have to elaborate on that.
Urban resistance? That can be pretty huge. I know mass protests aren’t going to solve anything, but I know that I like seeing people at least making a physical manifestation of their rage. Let the fuckers know you’re angry. I guess urban anything is always going to be limited. I’m far from being an urban person myself and I just feel like the cities are a trap. Cameras on every corner and light, cops patrolling, too many eyes, and too many variables; I’m just a leery person I guess!
I won’t say I’m opposed to anything like that, especially when it can mean so many things. But I’m not a revolutionary and I’m not the literary tooth-fairy of revolution either, an insurrectionalist; there’s simply nothing, in my eyes, to be gained from engaging the state directly. The State is far too strong militaristically to even think about it. Like I said, I love seeing people act out their rage, but the real problem isn’t the power the State wields, but the existence of power itself. If you want to make change, there’s much simpler ways of targeting that source of power itself: the grid.
8. You seem to base at least some of your perspectives in John Zerzan’s writings? Is there any other writers contemporary or dead and gone that you look for inspiration?
John is a really good friend of mine. He’s been writing about these issues for 30 years from an anarchist perspective and he’s still going strong. When I was undergoing a lot of questions about the inconsistencies of my critiques with anarcho-syndicalism and started looking at technology and agriculture, I found John’s work and it all just clicked. A lot doors opened and my own work, based primarily on expanding a critique of domestication and looking more closely at the anthropological works to see how our human nature is targeted by the domesticators and how they adapt.
John and I have our differences in our critiques and how we see things going, but they’re more in the direction we’re coming and going. We’ve done speaking tours together, work together often and will continue that. I always encourage people to pick up his books. And an aspect of his writing that I’ll always appreciate is to have confidence in people being intelligent and capable. Way too much anarchist writing is based on this dumb-it-down deal and I think it’s patronizing and weakens all around.
There have been a lot of other writers out there though that have been really influential for me and I could go on. I’ll go for the run down; Paul Shepard – ecologist that really understood the role of our primal anarchy in shaping human nature and how bastardizing domestication has been. Fredy Perlman – late anarchist writer who really internalized the struggle of the wild and laid waste to Progress-based thinking and could just shred any aspect of civilization. Lewis Mumford – historian that cut technology down to shreds from the start and laid to waste the mechanics of civilization. Marvin Harris – anthropologist and founder of cultural materialism, very accessible. James Woodburn – anthropologist, blew open gatherer-hunter studies and brought my thinking to a whole new level. R. Brian Ferguson – anthropologist, cultural materialist; shreds faces in regards to the origin of war. William Catton – ecologist, his book ‘Overshoot’ will make you shit your pants, and he can totally say “I told you so”.
I could go on…
9. Tell us a bit about the Hadza and the benefit in question…
The Hadza are a band of nomadic gatherer-hunters living in Tanzania. They suffer all the problems that existing gatherer-hunters do, but they’ve got less attention than some of the others. And the entire situation is just pathetic. All across the world, you have this suicidal culture pushing into every last place and telling the people who live there (if they don’t just kill them outright) that their way of life is outdated. All the while we’re there mining, drilling, and fencing off the last resources to prolong the electronic death rattle of civilization! It’s simply disgusting imperial garbage.
These societies live in a way that goes back to the Paleolithic. They’ve survived incursions from neighboring farmers, past colonialists, and everything we’re doing to this earth, and right on the brink of the collapse of this civilization, they face the extinction of their life way and their own existence.
I think it’s hard for civilized folk to really understand what the land and culture mean to those living a rooted existence. It’s everything. I spent years trying to understand why native resistance was always so much more solid than anything revolutionaries had taken part in, and it’s simple: they’re not fighting for ideals, they’re not hoping for some magical outcome, they simply know and feel what it is they want. They don’t need to have some utopian vision or naivety, they know what they are, and they know what they want. And they will fight for it.
I’ve come to understand it myself as I’ve come to understand and submerge myself into wildness. It’s something different than what I’d know before because it’s not an ideal. It’s something real, something that is always present and always there.
As people living in civilization, peoples perpetuating the system that is wiping out systematically those who continue to live with the earth, I feel the need to talk about this, to show my anger and acknowledge that we are linked. These people need to know that the missionaries are bullshit, that the N.G.O.’s are spreading the myths of Progress, and that this civilization will end. I’m not entirely sure what that entails, but raising money and awareness remains a part of it.
The Hadza have faced a particularly ironic situation. They’re not being booted from their land solely for mining or anything like that. The affluent domesticators want to keep the ‘Wild Africa’ of our origins as their own playground. The land the Hadza are on has been turned into a wildlife reserve where subsistence hunting is outlawed and rich assholes fly in to trophy hunt from vehicles with high powered rifles. Directly mocking the situation and the life way that is being stolen from the Hadza! And they get missionaries, alcohol, day labor, and berated for being ‘savage’. Fuck that.
The benefit in question is a little iffy. It was supposed to be a split with killtheslavemaster, but that may or may not happen. Whether KTSM end up recording again goes back and forth, but I’d still love to do a benefit for the Hadza regardless, and it might possibly be with some new band from some of the same folks. We’ll have to see.
10. Pro-Collapse, ok, Collapse and then what??? Your post-cataclysmic visions please?
I’m always leery about playing this out too much. I have my visions, I have my nightmares, but we’ll never know.
What I do know is that the Mad Max vision is a Hollywood thing. I have faith in human nature and less faith in the myths of the domesticators. We’ve been taught to fear each other, to fear ourselves, and to fear wildness. They profit from that fear and the uncertainty they place in our heads about what will happen. But when the electricity is gone, and they can’t remind us daily about the ‘necessity’ of domestication, then what? It all falls to pieces. Slowly but surely, it withers away.
Like I said earlier, I like to think in terms of generations. Civilizations have collapsed before. Even horticultural societies have lapsed before. There is a precedent here, but we’re looking at a monumental scale. It’s hard to say how things will go down, but, in the end, we’ve been so arrogant about the strength of this civilization that we’ve just wiped out any possibility for ‘stepping back’ to some earlier agrarian form. We don’t have that knowledge, and frankly, it’s far more counterintuitive than hunting and gathering. Our minds and body are meant for that way of life. As things wither away, I think that is where we eventually end up again.
I’m not sure where we end up, but I know that as things continue to fall apart, I’ll constantly put my emphasis on showing where we’ve come from and the depths of domestication; on adding some context to all this. The myths of Progress have been so ingrained in us and they need torn apart. They don’t hold much ground, but if we don’t have some other idea floating around, then what else would people believe? Pushing these ideas, chiseling away at the grid, all these things just decrease the down time between the fall out and living a way of life again that is fulfilling.
11. Any other bands you know that share the same views and perspectives?
We just did a split CD with Auryn, also from Pittsburgh. That’s a Green Scare benefit for folks who’ve been caught in the current round up of the state of earth and animal liberation sympathizers and ‘activists’ (for lack of a better word). That’s something really important to me as well as the folks in Auryn and I can say they’re definitely down. killtheslavemaster are fellow anarcho-savagists and down for the feraledge. Undying, Rally the Fray, write back soon, Gather, Ictus are all GA bands. I’m going to kick myself immediately after I send this for forgetting lots of others!
There’s a lot that have pushed the ideas without the labels. There have been a lot of punks bashing at Progress for years, but I’m not sure if any of them would self identify as green anarchists, or even anarchists. Who knows, maybe more will start popping up!
take care and congratulations for the band!