Environmental Politics, vol. 16 (2007) No. 3. pp. 470-487.
Certain forms of anarchism, especially those associated with primitivism, regard nature as a fundamental source of individual liberty, self-awareness, and self-responsibility. These distinctive varieties of ’ecological anarchism’ often combine a wild(er) ness ethos with a polemical critique of the social constraints and environmental damage they identify, to varying degrees, with ’civilisation’. To anarchists associated with Enlightenment humanist traditions, like Bookchin, such accounts epitomise an irrational and regressive form of nature worship, one supposedly shared with many deep ecologists. This critique is, though, somewhat misplaced and obscures the potential of ecological anarchism and its current failings. Re-wilding understandings of self and nature offer diverse ethico-political possibilities but only if it is recognised that self-identities, idea(l) s of nature, and even conceptions of individual autonomy are partly constituted by the same social histories that primitivism dismisses.