Dear Auntie Civ: You’ll just have to die

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ -- the world's first anti-civilization advice columnist!

Dear Auntie Civ,

I am wondering how a post-civilization society will be able to handle chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease. You see, I have Crohn’s disease and the only treatment that works for me requires me to go to a hospital every few weeks to get a 2 hour IV treatment.

Of course, my situation is kind of a Catch-22. Crohn’s is most likely caused by some kind of environmental factor in so-called developed nations (my guess is it’s the food, but who knows). So it looks like civilization gave me Crohn’s, but I can’t survive without civilization.

I’ve met a lot of Primitivists who have flat-out told me I’ll have to die for their utopia, to which I’ve quickly replied, “fuck you.” Surely there must be some kind of way to do away with civilization without asking me and comrades with similar sicknesses to die.


— Chronic Illness

Dear Chronic,

I’m so sorry to hear you have Crohn’s Disease. Derrick Jensen, the guy who wrote Endgame and popularized a lot of this anti-civ philosophy, also has Crohn’s. I have a similar condition myself.

You wrote,

“I’ve met a lot of Primitivists who have flat-out told me I’ll have to die for their utopia”. Please tell me more about that. How many “primitivists” have you talked to? What did they say about this “utopia”?

From your letter, it sounds like you’ve talked to one “primitivist” who was kind of a jerk, and you’re misrepresenting what s/he said.

If you have names for any  kill-off-the-weak-and-sick eugenic “utopians,” send them over. Because, you know, that’s fascism, and I will call them out.

About your question: I’m here to advise people who understand and appreciate the reasons why we need to dismantle civilization. I’m not here to argue about whether that’s desirable. I suggest you learn more about the subject and then try again.


Auntie Civ

Dear Auntie Civ,

I by no means meant to misrepresent your philosophy or the anti-civ movement as a whole. I actually quite like it. Like I said, there’s a lot of evidence that would suggest civilization is a factor in diseases like mine, Derrick’s, and yours.

My question is grounded in the assumption that other sick comrades have come across the population-control crowd (although there are few of them, the internet has certainly given them a new platform that makes them seem larger than they are) and that they have also had bad experiences with people who lack a basic understanding of an anti-civilization stance while calling themselves primitivists or anti-civilization.

I thought the sickness question would be a good one for you to answer so that this misunderstanding can be curbed. I do see how my question may have sounded antagonistic, but I honestly believe this is a question a lot of sick Anarchists deal with at some point, and I’d rather they heard a good answer than someone basically saying, “Shit, sucks for you.”

Civilization is unsustainable, but the (few) Greens that say I just have to die post-civ, and the (few) Reds that say we need to try to hold on to industrial civilization as we know it, are both Anarchists who have no imagination when it comes to creating sustainable alternatives to civilization and capitalism. Since I see how my wording failed, and I really do think this is a worthwhile question for you to answer, let me rephrase.


Dear Auntie Civ,

I am wondering how you think a post-civilization society will be able to handle chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease. You see, I have Crohn’s disease and the only treatment that works for me requires me to go to a hospital every few weeks to get a 2 hour IV treatment.

Of course, my situation is kind of a Catch-22. Crohn’s is most likely caused by some kind of environmental factor in so-called developed nations (my guess is it’s the shitty food, but who knows). So it looks like civilization gave me Crohn’s, but it also looks like civilization is keeping me alive.

There must be a way that sick comrades like me can be against the civilization that gave us these illnesses without being self-destructive. Thanks,

Chronic Illness

Dear Chronic,

Thank you so much for editing the letter. I assume you live in the US, so let me ask you this. What happens to people who don’t have private insurance or public assistance? If you lost your insurance, got cut off the government program, spent all your money, and there was no charity hospital, what would you do then?

What I’m getting at – in my slow way – is that civilization is not the universal rock-solid foundation that many privileged folks take for granted. Insurance companies go bankrupt, states and cities cut programs, and people become “illegal” for whatever reason. I expect to see more of that in the coming years.

Meanwhile, millions of people are dying around the world – and in America – from preventable illnesses, because it’s just not profitable to care for them. They’re not getting any benefit from this great and mighty civilization of ours. In fact, their misery subsidizes the health care that you and I receive. US health insurance corporations cull the poor and weak and sick from their rolls, so you can enjoy the best health care in the world (as long as your insurer gets your monthly premiums).

Socialized medicine is not much different. The Canadian government, for example, rakes in billions of dollars in royalties and taxes from mining companies. Along with wholesale destruction of ecosystems, Canadian corporations profit from poisoning people at home, exploiting them abroad, and murdering them if they get uppity. Their taxes and income keep the health care system going – at least until the commodity price of minerals falls, the cost of oil rises, or people revolt.

So this is a good time to ask oneself: Where does my privilege come from? At whose expense?

Civilization is going to collapse, because that’s the end result of over-exploitation and population overshoot. We’ve exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, and there’s no way back (short of fantasies of colonizing another planet, and that ain’t going to happen.)

There won’t be any magic formula to trump that reality. There isn’t going to be any “utopia” after the collapse, either. I’m afraid it’s going to be brutal, and I have to keep reminding myself that the system is brutal now, just not for me, because I have the privilege of living in a rich country. I know what kind of violence is carried out in my name — not only against people, but all living things, right down to micro-organisms in the soil. That’s why I say this culture hates life. But life will win.

If civilization was sustainable, if it wasn’t killing the planet, we wouldn’t be advocating for an end to it. There would be no need. The problem is, civilization is unsustainable. That means it can’t be sustained, so it will come to an end. The collapse is already starting. I know many cling to a desperate belief that a  solution will come from technology or spiritual transcendence or raw vegan spirulina diets. (Much like someone who’s been diagnosed with fatal cancer.)

I’m sorry. There is no solution. That’s the bitter truth. We must rescue what we can.

As you noted, civilization sets up a Catch-22: it’s killing us (and everything else) but we depend on it to live. But even though I depend on it, I can’t defend it. Where I’ve put my energy is defending the land, the water, the climate, the air – because without those things, *no one* will survive the coming centuries.


Auntie Civ

Auntie Civ,

Thanks for the response. I think the thing that was hardest for me, and is hardest for others, is that by acknowledging that civilization is going to collapse we have to confront that we may die. Or rather, we’re going to die, at some point anyway. I realize that no one is asking me to die. That’s just what happens when you’re sick, old, or standing under the wrong rock. Anyways, the response was very nice. If I come across any more loud, belligerent eugenics folks I’ll let ya know so you can call them out.

— C


Filed under Derrick Jensen, Environment, Politics

7 Responses to Dear Auntie Civ: You’ll just have to die

  1. Amy

    The ones who think they will survive just because they are healthy, or who think that they will be living in a utopia are idiots. Being fairly healthy, I’d like to think that I’ll live through the mass die-off, but I can’t predict that I will. No one knows exactly how it will go down for the individual.

  2. That is the way of nature; most individuals think they might or even will survive, but most people actually won´t. On the other hand, by sheer power of knowledge and resulting capability to adapt, percentage of survivors will be higher among those populations and groups that have significant number of people thinking about these things and actually preparing for future.

    Collapse is in many ways here already, but the acute and horrible phase of population collapse has not reached the Western & developed world yet… Chronically ill individuals can make a huge difference on their probability of future survival by learning how to take care of themselves and stockpiling necessary medicines, while even taking into account special storing requirements for certain meds. This easily leads to topics like post collapse energy, security etc., but even every baby step is moving the individual into the realm of more probable survival.

  3. TraJo

    A VHEMT ethic, aspiring for each human to “live long and die out”, adapted to appropriate technology, might be the guiding light on this question.

  4. Amy

    Hallo, Auty Civ. I want to start off by saying, that I do believe that if nothing radical changes, civilization will run itself against the wall – probably not before taking the rest of the planet down as well. This is a horrifying scenario and I do try to find ways in my imagination how things could be better. To end Civ as we know it, even if that means returning to a medieval or “primitive” way of living certainly is a possibility as it would take away the power from humans to destroy the planet. I doubt however that it is a permanent solution, but that is another topic. On the topic of diseases, I am feeling the same dilemma as the person who asked the question here – many people in industrialized and “developing” nations do depend in medications or medical help. Many of us had life-saving medical procedures in their lifetimes. I certainly would be dead or crippled. And if I take an anti-civ standpoint, I am reminded of that by the people I talk to at every chance. And while some of these diseases are a result of civilization, many are not. And while some of them require enslavement of people, others do not. One example I’d like to point out are vaccines – they do benefit not only the rich and powerful, but also the poor and even the poor in the nations that otherwise suffer a lot from industrial civilization, who are given cheap or free versions of these. Do you think some of the medical benefits that are actually helping many people can be kept? Would it not be worth fighting to give all people equal access to healthcare instead of abolishing modern medicine? Or to put it another way – if two people fight over a flock of sheep that one of them has, would it not be worth trying to give each of them an equal share rather than culling all the sheep?
    Sincerely, Amy

  5. Unless you’re some kind of god reading this, you’ll die eventually anyway. Best come to terms with that.

    Mortals die – it’s what we do.

  6. Rosanna

    Thank you for your straight-talking, Auntie Civ. You provoke much thinking and feeling.

  7. Strange, that someone who suffers badly from a disease caused by civilisation defends civilisation. That’s like someone who suffers from cancer living next to a nuclear power station defends that same power station that gave him the cancer in the first place. It only shows me how stupid selfish people are…but then again, I’m just an anarchist, and obviously they are the ones being stupid according to this chronicle person…;-( What about the miljons of people who are dying right now today because of civilisation in Africa and South America and Asia…Have they no right to live? I’m not saying this chronicle person should die, i’m just saying he’she doesn’t have the right neither to decide to keep murdering people world wide just to keep himself/ herself alive. It’s a pretty neurotic question if you ask my opinion.

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