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First there was the Word, then Came Civilisation: How Fiction Structures the Reality of Predation and Violence

May 7, 2013

At Shakti Rock Climbing Gym

Saturday, 29th June, 2013 at 6:30 pm


How we inhabit space, how we live in it and with the other living and nonliving beings ultimately depends on whether we see the world as wild, existing for its own sake or whether we understand existence as a food chain, where everything exists for the purpose of consumption: to eat someone else or be eaten by someone else. In this conversation, Layla AbdelRahim will discuss how our stories of origins explain the existence of things on earth and thereby structure our relationships with each other and across species with the world. Based on the research done for her book, Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education (Fernwood, May 2013), the ontological premises in our fundamental anthropological narratives justify coercive relationships of dominance and splinter our sense of community with our environment. In this sense, what and how we “consume” is intimately intertwined both with our stories of origins and with the domestication of sexuality thereby structuring a culture of predatory socio-economic relationships that manifests itself as a culture of rape, carnivorism, exploitation of human and nonhuman “resources”, and forced, obligatory schooling.
Filmed and produced by Média Rechere Action.

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Academic Presentations – abstracts:

February 11, 2012


  • “Radical Sustainability, Beyond Green Capitalism: Anarcho/a-Primitivism, Feminism and Christianity in Conversation for an Endangered World” – guest on a panel with John Zerzan and Ched Myers, organised by the In the Land of the Living Collective, held at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, Friday 1st – Saturday 2ndApril 2011.
  • Digby Highschool: two 45 minute talks addressed to 11th and 12th grades; 2nd September 2009.
  • “Definitions and Implications in Children’s Books: from Christopher Robin’s Scientific Expotition with Piglets, Rabbits, and Winnie the Pooh to the Violent Science of Harry Potter and the Order of the Chosen Wizards”. Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, Honolulu, Hawaii 9th-12th January 2009.
  • “Learning in the Age of the Smart Machine or the Proportionate Relationship between Intelligence and Empathy: from Case Study to a Theory of Practice in Anthropology of Education”. Hawaii International Conference on Education, Honolulu, Hawaii 4th-7th January 2009.

* “Crime and Punishment in Children’s Literature”

* “On Objects, Love, and Objectifications” (also published in The Paulinian Compass. St. Paul University;                                     Manila: Vol. 1, Issue #2, June 2009)

* “Modernism and Education: Revised Perspectives” also published in The Paulinian Compass. St. Paul                                       University; Manila: Vol. 1, Issue #3, Fall 2009

  • Conference: Off to See the Wizard: Quests for Memory and Culture in Children’s Literature, at Monroe College, Rochester, NY. Presented paper (19th March 2005). Title: Order & the literary rendering of Chaos in children’s literature.


Stockholm University (1995-97):

  • “Gender & Islamic representations by literary authors and western anthropologists: Fazil Iskander, Chingiz Aitmatov, Tahar Ben Jelloun, and others.” . “Terms are germs – a critique of concepts and terminology in International Migration & Ethnic Relations studies.” . “Introduction to the particularities of Chilean and Eritrean Migration to Sweden.” . “Ethnicity, gender, and human rights: two case studies.”

Participation in conferences and workshops:

  • Stockholm University: Crime Prevention Association, Stockholm (April 1998).
  • Transformation of the Pluralist City, IMER (International Migration & Ethnic Relations Centre), Bergen, Norway (May 1997).
  • Sheba – an international conference on black minorities in Europe, Driebergen, Holland (March 1994).
  • London Black Women’s Health Project, London (April 1994).
  • Tattoos of Alienation, by Layla, Bryn Mawr Bulletin, Bryn Mawr, PA. (fall’95).
  • Reporter on war in North East Africa – Sudan Times (1987-88) 3 hour interview with guerrilla leader Col. John Garang in South Sudan was broadcast on BBC and Voice of America (August 1987).




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How Ivan the Fool Defeats Civilized Pedagogies

How Ivan the Fool Defeats Civilized Pedagogies

A Guest Seminar on Globalization, Education and Change

12pm, Wednesday 8 February 2012, Room 133, Education Building (3700 McTavish)

with Layla AbdelRahim,  author, educator, Wild Children - Domesticated Dreams: 
Civilization and the Birth of Education

At the very root of the anthropogenic world we have marred with divisions by class, race, gender, species, and other isms lies the ontology of humanism deeply cemented in consumerism or the idea that everything exists in a hierarchy of “food chain”. Conceptualizing inter-species relationships in these terms ascribes a consumerist purpose for all of existence and provides the foundation for civilized epistemology and, by extension, is the cause for pedagogies of domestication, where the behaviour, dreams, and self-knowledge of human resources as well as other animals has to be appropriated and modified to fit the civilized labour and consumption order. Appropriation of wilderness, dreams, and lives requires an epistemology that refuses to know the other’s suffering and to feel the other’s pain. However, heroes such as Ivan the Fool from Russian folk tales, oblivious to the domesticated purpose, antagonistic to all forms of oppression and labour, and dependent on empathic and intricate relationships of cooperation with the wild point to different, unDarwinian and uncivilized ways of knowing.

Drawing from her research for her forthcoming book (Fernwood Publishing) entitled: Wild Children – Domesticated Dreams: Civilization and the Birth of Education, Dr AbdelRahim will discuss the importance of the anti-civilized hero in exploring the possibilities of overcoming the very ontology of education as rooted in the civilized need to separate the knower from the unknower, the possessor from the dispossessed or more accurately from the possessed, the person from the non-person, the male from the female, among endless other ways of othering and domesticating.

Born into an academic, multilingual, multicultural, and multinational family, Layla AbdelRahim began her journey through disciplines, cultures, and the world from the day she was born. She has reported on war, interviewed rebels, military commanders, and politicians while working with war refugees in north east Africa, has conducted anthropological research on medical practices, law, and parenting cultures in Europe, and has studied at top universities of the world: Bryn Mawr College in PA, Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris, Stockholm University, finally obtaining her Ph.D. from the University of Montreal. Her fields of expertise range from arts, through social sciences, to hard science all of which converge into her critical perspective on civilized practices, domestication, and education.

All are welcome to attend this brownbag lunch seminar.

Organized by Aziz Choudry, Assistant Professor, International Education, Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Phone: 514 3982253/Email: aziz.choudry@mcgill.ca


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A Leap Into the Future Primitive: Anarcho-Primitivist Ontologies As New Directions In Anthropological Theory

December 14, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Montreal Convention Center Rue Poster- Purple (Palais des congrès de Montréal)
Layla AbdelRahim (na)
Ontological concepts have the power to direct desires, formulate beliefs, and inform our actions. In this regard, genesis stories of human and non-human origins that human animals narrate inform epistemologies and determine the ways in which human animals relate to the world and understand kinship with other beings including ways of constructing differences be they across the lines of gender, racial, ethnic, tribal, or species. Even though anarchist critiques of domesticated ontologies have challenged civilized theory for more than a century (e.g. the research on evolution and empathy by Peter Kropotkin), a critique of the basic premises underlying the narratives of domestication and civilization from an anarcho-primitivist perspective, where language and symbolic thought constitute the tools for discrimination, organized violence and exploitation of the environment, can offer new venues for anthropological understanding of humanity challenging the socio-economic culture at the root of scientific theory and practice. Wild ontologies, I argue, are based on narratives of genesis that generate horizontal kinship models often inclusive of non-human forms and consciousness that are accessible through transformation into animals or objects thereby fostering intimate socio-economic relationships across species leading to biodiversity and presenting the purpose for the existence of beings as outside the realm of human control. In contrast, civilized ontology structures linear relationships of progress as based on utilitarian purpose for the existence of beings as “resources” for humans but also locked in a “cycle of life” of inter-species’ consumption and predation, ultimately leading to domesticated relationships.

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The Failure of Civilized Occupy

December 11, 2011


A Critique of Occupy: Our Culture of Domestication

Interviewed for Deep Green Philly on 8th December 2011


45 minute EXCERPT

submitted to OCCUPY Philly Media on Sat, 12/10/2011 – 14:19


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From The Ontological Roots Of Knowledge To A New Sociology Of Being

June 28, 2011

Title: “From The Ontological Roots Of Knowledge To A New Sociology Of Being”

Paper presented in the section on New Directions in Sociological Theory (TS2-A)

at the Canadian Congress for Humanities and Social Sciences, Fredericton, Canada,  Friday, 3rd June, 2011: 10:30 am.



Whether in its classical or “contemporary” expression, the very concept of sociology has been contingent on an anthropocentric understanding of society in its civilised, sedentary nation state form. Because of that, more than any other discipline (excepting political science and economics), sociology has constructed its theory and practice in response to the state’s needs for a civilised, technological, and technocratic organisation of human resources. I.e. its study objects as well as self-examination have consistently relied on anthropocentric definitions of the reality it helped to define and concurrently construct. This paper invites a cross-disciplinary examination of the ontological basis of  social relations and of the concept of “resources” (human and other animal) as well as a critique of the definitions that distinguish human society from non-human animals, for instance: language, time, empathy, intelligence, and “environmentalism”. John Zerzan’s critique of civilisation offers dynamic possibilities for sociological theory. Examined in conjunction with sentience (Bentham) and empathy (Kropotkin and Goethe), Zerzan’s critique of symbolic thought, language, time, and the technological evolution of humanity responds to the urgent demands of economic and political global crises for re-definition of sociological interests and therefore non-human and human animal
evolutionary trajectory.


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For Children about U.S.S.R.

September 9, 2010

Actually, it is about everyone else too:

More great animation films are available in section ANIMATION DELIGHTS. Enjoy!
Thursday, 9th September, 2010

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the mythical predator

September 5, 2010

The Mythical Predator

September 2010

Much of my recent research focused on surveying the latest findings in ethology and primatology. Inspired by the plethora of new work that attempts to overcome the civilised bias and mythology and learn about the animal world for what it is: an attempt at diversity, proliferation of life in all forms, and wilderness, I posted the following update on my facebook wall:

“Reason 1 for NOT eating meat and fish should be compassion; not in the sense “I’ll kill and eat you compassionately”. That doesn’t hold in court when the victim is a human animal, and so it shouldn’t when it is other animals.

Reason 2: Our bodies are not intended for the consumption of our animal siblings. Our sleeping patterns and the proteins we best absorb show that we are meant to be berry-eaters, fruitarians with veggie supplements” (1st September 2010).

This comment developed into a lengthy debate, which I believe would be of interest to a wider public, particularly that just a few weeks prior to that, Nekeisha Alexis-Baker asked me to expand on vegan-vegeterianism and the killing of animals during my presentation in Portland, Oregon.

The discussion that followed my FB post demonstrates how deeply people believe the lies that help civilised human animals rationalise murder and fear and construct them as “natural” and as “facts” and how self-contradictory and illogical the civilised rationale is. It also shows how much deeper and more dangerous it becomes the higher up the ladder of “success” the persons get: the more education, professionalism, and professional prestige they receive – the more confused, arrogant and deaf in their beliefs they become, blinded by the authority vested in their words. I recently had a similar debate on Human and Other Animals on Open Anthropology coop.

I thank all the participants in this debate and hope that it will be helpful to others. Andrea starts with an astute observation:

* Andrea C: Your last point is really interesting – you know how pediatricians (or books at least) tell you not to worry about babies & small children fussing about what they eat because their body tells them what is necessary? My nearly-4 yr old nephew left to his own devices will only eat fruit….i wonder if that is his true digestive system speaking out?
01 September at 23:46


* Maria NR: You should look into nutrition according to blood types that make your politically correct notion of not consuming meat, difficult for some, unhealthy for others, and contradicts your point 2. Look forward to more. Bisous

Thursday at 04:59


* Layla AbdelRahim: Who told you I haven’t? The problem with the concept that people’s genetics and blood-types differentiate them and their needs is a racialist and ultimately racist theory. My starting point is that we as a human species and as groups within this species are not as different as certain evolutionary theory adherents insist. So, regardless of our blood-types, we should eat locally wherever we end up moving. And moving is part of living. So, frontiers, border control, division into blood-types, ethnic groups, species is all part of the pain and destruction we have caused and are symptoms of death.

It is enough to look at our closest siblings, the primates. The vast majority are fruitarian. Very rarely – not even 10% of their diet do chimps hunt and that’s been linked to the encroachment of humans, deforestation, and the fact that humans believe that their blood-type or their nature by divine will or by natural design demands the meat of the “bush” – they hunt and eat the primates. Cannibalism at its best. If you include all animals as connected into one family – then eating chicken is also cannibalism. Finally, regardless of the different blood-types, we do not need to sleep sixteen hours like the lions do after a hunting spree. We need frequent feeding at much shorter intervals and we best absorb what I listed above. The buffalo and the elephant have different blood-types, but eat the same grass, only locally.

Also, I don’t understand why you call my “notion” “politically correct”, when the politics that depend on the economy of domestication, racism, sexism, speciesism and meat consumption demand the opposite of what I state. Being politically correct means that you eat your hamburger and be hostile to including animals as sentient persons along with humans. Being politically correct means not to offend the rich and to accept the poor as a natural fact, namely, to accept discrimination and the division of beings into “naturally” and therefore “rightfully” powerful and their victims. Being politically correct means to accept inequality and discrimination by blood-type, genes, skin colour, lips, curliness of hair, eyes, height, etc. So, it is your acceptance that diet is linked to blood-type that is very politically correct and stinks of democratic White Supremacy as much as of Nazi German science.

Thursday at 08:57


* Roger P: I agree with the moral sentiment but not number 2. And number 3 vegetarians have got a much smaller carbon and methane (much wors than carbon) footprint. Since the cows and pigs fart so much and the whole agribusiness machine would be so much smaller.

But on number 2 I disagree. Modern humans came about through genetic mutations leading up to proper humans not too different from us around 200,000 years ago. Between then and 2,000,000 million years ago the fossil record shows that our deep ancestors ate meat (and other stuff of course incluiding berries). There is a fossil record showing old bones cracked open to get at the marrow with teeth marks; there are knife marks as well. The oldest evidence recently dug up in Ethiopia stretches this evidence back to tool use to around 2,000,000 million years … stone knife marks on goat like animal bones.

There is strong circumstantial evidence that for much of the missing link time between the fossil record and 60,000 years ago our ancestors lived close to the sea. The water ape theory. We are the only apes whose babies are born able not to sink like a stone and drown when thrown in the water .. i tested this myself. Our bodies are incredibly well adapted for swimming. All humans love the sound of the sea and running water. We need to drink a lot of fluids compared to animals that have not evolved close to water. The record is missing due to rising sea levels but if true fish must have been a key part of our diet. Palentolic neurologists say the fish diet was key to our brains being able to evolve beyond the dimwit ape size with the same reasoning going for other sea mammals like whales and dolphins. And fish oils seem to be an important part of our diet e.g. the Omega 3 fatty acid dietary supplement craze for those who don’t eat fish.

Thursday at 10:24


* Layla AbdelRahim: ha ha ha – feels like the old days in Adams Morgan with Maria, Roger, and I arguing about the ways of the world.

Actually, Omega 3 can be found in veggies, seeds, nuts, beans, and seaweed. Much of the latest research points to that humans, like chimps, supplemented their diet by scavenging carcasses in times of ecological changes or their movement. But the idea of domestication might have come about with the conscious decision to consume more meat with hunting and with symbolic thought that caused alienation from our animal siblings and from ourselves, which then gave rise to the tool industry. The work and perspectives of such researchers as Matsuzawa, McGrew, Zerzan, Ingold, among others, show that domestication and civilisation were a matter of choice to use the environment differently and not a survival necessity. Genes are not that well understood yet in order to allow us to draw any definitive conclusions on etiology; which means that the ideas we get and the perspective with which we approach the world is what makes the difference in our brains (such as atrophying or developing certain physiological areas of it) and, so, choosing to be a cannibal will affect your physiology as well as the environment, but it would be wrong to conclude that because now one consists of dead cow one is biologically destined to always kill and eat cow.

Thursday at 11:28


* Roger P: nice one .. was a proustian sentence too … well now you taking us back genetically to our ancestors over 2 million years ago … and of course there has been quite a bit of genetic change since then .. nice to be in touch anyway

Thursday at 14:34


* Layla AbdelRahim: did proust talk about dead cows? nice. If you like to think of time as a linear dimension, then, I’m not taking you back, I’m offering you my hand and my knowledge to jump with me forth into the chaos of the Future Primitive (John Zerzan’s, that is, I don’t know about Proust) and we can further change our genes in a million ways with respect to the sentience of the beautiful chickens, goats, cows, and all.
yes, good to see you in pixels. hope to see you in flesh too.

Thursday at 15:12


* Layla AbdelRahim: an addendum:
why is it so difficult for the civilised cannibals to renounce this diet and way of living when it can be so easily demonstrated that we eat meat not because our well-being depends on it but because we choose to maintain a “genetic” make-up that we have invented for ourselves, regardless of the fact that it causes great suffering to the domesticated non-human and human animals and regardless of the fact that the civilisation we built in order to maintain this “biology” exterminates hundreds of species each day, pollutes, kills, desertifies whole oceans?

Thursday at 15:40


* Maria NR: Wasn’t Hitler a vegetarian??

Friday at 09:41


* Maria NR: Genes, my dear are not made up or invented by us, we are born with them… isn’t that common knowledge??… it appears that you are reinventing facts to support your cause, and find that, frankly, highly unacademic. Debates should be based… on facts, not manipulations of the facts, a dangerous preoccupation of our greatest dictators and butchers of the world. I don’t mind vegetarians at all… Hitler, of course, being the exception and find your violent use of words against us meat eaters as rather degrading and very simply detracts from the important points of your arguements… I also think that the scientists who have conducted studies on blood and nutrition would find your use of their work as “racist” to be highly unpolitically correct, especially as some are “people of color”… keep eating leafy green veggies!!! I love them too! Bisous!

Friday at 10:16


* Layla AbdelRahim: Even if Hitler was a vegeterian, how is his vegeterianism and his reasons for it relevant to what I am saying above? I am talking about categories of knowledge (whether we know ourselves as related to the rest of the world) and about sentience (if any act of cruelty motivated by my selfishness causes pain to another living being, am I in the right to continue my “genetic” or whatever other traditions of causing pain simply to satisfy my “cultural” and “genetic” whims – even if my “society” claims that I have a right to cause and ignore this pain?). How does Hitler figure here, when his vegeterianism (if he was one) was stemming from an egomanic desire to live a young, happy, long and parasitic life based on the extermination of whole groups whom he hated? The ultimate question is: do you choose not to hurt your animal siblings because you care for life or do you choose “food” because you care only for yourself and don’t give a crap about others?

Friday at 10:19


* Layla AbdelRahim: Maria, you obviously are not familiar with the epistemological critiques in the field of anthropology and sociology of medicine and science. I wonder why do you have this strong urge to dismiss me as “unacademic”? Not that I identify myself with academia – in fact, I do not, but still interesting.

Friday at 10:35


* Layla AbdelRahim: As for genes, if they are not affected by experience, then how could evolution be possible? Or do you believe that non-human and human animals were created “as is” with people devouring their planet always? Then how come life existed in the diversity that we know for millions of years and 12-15 thousand years of civilisation has brought it to the brink of extinction? And today there are at least a billion people in the world who are vegan/vegetarian (check out India for instance) – so were their genes created different?

Friday at 10:41


* Maria NR: Hello agiain, Hitlier has absolutely nothing to do with what you are talking about, but this discussion reminds me of a dispute that lasted perhaps months on a University Campus in which militant vegetarians claimed that eating meat made people more violent, and meat eaters were therefore the cause of brutality, cruelty, and bloodshed in the world. The response to this was Hitler’s photo, with the slogan: Wasn’t Hitler a vegeterain? I suppose your comment about Nazi German Science, triggered my reaction, which by the way has nothing to do with whether or not nutrition is linked with blood types. The fact is, nutrition is linked with blood types, and that biological fact, whether or not it has been used to support racial theories, should be considered.

I am not dismissing you as unacademic, but find the reinterpretation of facts to support ones own ideas ie: that the destruction of the world is caused by meat eaters, instead of having constructrive discussions according to the facts dangerous – racial theories, as you have pointed out, is an example of how scientific facts about our biology (different blood types, different needs) are reinterpreted to support ones own cause.

I am not, by the way, calling you dangerous… and believe you are very much an academic…

Friday at 16:48


* Maria NR: Genes and evolution, evolution takes thousands, billions of years, in which time, we could have all evolved to have 3 eyes, and 4 arms. What evolutionist call early evolution occured perhaps over the past 5000 to 25000 years, our genes in …our life time (unless we were exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals), no matter what we eat now, could never change, that is a biological fact.

People in India, are our genes very different from theirs… recent studies have shown that we are not very different from one another, but we must not confuse genetic differences with genetic expression. The same amount of pigmentation exists in all of us, but their expression has evolved out of the environment in which our ancestors lived, we are therefore a world that is multi-colored, not because of genetic differences, but due to necessity (active pigment for protectection against the harmful effects of the sun’s rays). Even though I might decide to live in the high northern regions where the sun does not shine as long or as frequent throughout the year, I will always have dark skin and my children, as well as their children, will also have some varying levels of this genetic expression.

Nutritional needs, is an example of varying genetic expressions created from varying enviromental conditions (types of food available, weather, terrain etc.).

When you discuss how other non meat foods could just as well sustain us in with the same nutritients found in fish and meat (seaweed, nuts, veggies and beans), you cannot ignore the fact that, as Roger notes, those who do not eat fish have nutritional deficiencies.

Your point is well taken, we are destroying our planet due to the way in which we consume, but are meat eaters the cause of this destruction and is the answer in converting meat eaters, and those meat eaters who refuse to convert, eradicated or forced into camps to make them comply to the new world order of vegetarians?

Friday at 17:26


* Maria NR: What would this world be like? We could imagine an overpopulation of animals and a destruction of our natural environment, an ecological disastor in which our oceans seaweed is eventually destroyed due to increased demands, the domesticati…on of animals replaced by increasing lands dessimated by overcropping to feed the masses who must eat more inorder to obtain all essential protiens to support life…

What is required is balance, not one evil replaced by another in response…

We need to change our level of consumption, not eat more then we need, be concious of the environment by chosing to buy foods that were grown/raised with this conciousness… but these are notions of the priviledged, that are largely inaccessible to the poor.

We have also known for a very long time that the increase of population to support and feed is a main factor… this fact has caused the rise of increased technologies to feed these populations. Should we then move to mass destruction of our population or perhaps forced sterilization as some extremists have suggested?

Our answers should be guided by humane solutions that take into consideration the scientific facts we have before us and to search for root causes and corresponding solutions to our world’s ills; meat eaters and baby mongers are not root causes, but easy targets that have found their way into anthropological, sociological, and militant publications.

Friday at 18:13


* Layla AbdelRahim: Ok. now I see; you are not responding to my argument, but to the argument of the “vegetarians on campus”. Because my etiology is different. My argument is that ontological categories and “identity” (human, ethnic, national, blood-type, male, female, among other identities) is what makes people violent and allows them to consume non-human and human others in a variety of ways. My point about the millions of vegans and lacto-vegetarians is precisely that the fact that these people still exist and live healthy and happy lives points to that we have not evolved for millions of years into meat eaters. In fact, the heavy reliance on meat is a very recent occurrence that came with domestication. So, the millions of years of evolution to the state we are in now is a lie. But we know that the whole system of domestication is based on lies. Also the concept that without us devouring the planet there would be too many of all sorts is a warped way of convincing people that the fact that their civilised consumption is leaving none is the best thing to have happened and to call it balance is really crooked. Plenty of research on all that on my website and on the net and in the publishing industry in general. Finally, I am not twisting facts, I am pointing out to their logic – the logic of civilisation and the logic of wilderness. All the facts that I work with are either from my own anthropological fieldwork or from other scientists. If no one questions the politics and the perspectives behind “the everybody knows this”, how can we attempt to know? Unless you think everything is already known or that some people can question and others shouldn’t be trusted with a new perspective.

Friday at 19:49


* Andrew Mandelbaum: For what its worth I can’t sleep and felt like commenting

There is a fair amount of reasoned and persuasive critiques of the blood type diet easily available on this web. I researched it earlier this year and found D’Adamo’s claims shaky at best though I was not leaning either way entering the ring. Is there some answer to the extensive critiques of his work?

We know we can “survive” as individuals across the whole spectrum of diets from vegan to carnivore. Though recent epigenetic research on methylation would suggest the meat eaters end of the spectrum to be full of increased cancer risk. I don’t see how genes are much of a compass in this journey. A childlike examination of the realities of butchering a mammal versus cutting up a radish I suspect would yield more light. We learn more and more about the feelings and desires and intelligence present in animals and the knowledge we gain, if cleanly faced, demands that we follow are childlike aversion to slaughtering the animals we recognized as children to be our friends.

I also recognize that nature is not always childlike or necessarily in line with my desire for less pain and blood. So what. There are clearly times when we must tell genes, or habit, or nurture, or civilization to fuck off.

There are two reasons why something is an easy target.
1) Its a minority habit easily scapegoated by the masses to release tension without threatening the majority of the herd.

2) Its a clearly violent act that has been smuggled into our everyday life by the sheer force of the common everyday adjustments we have made to rationalize the violent or oppressive nature of the act
Again. Tape the butchering of a mammal on the friendliest of farms. Show the tape to a child. Ask the child which is violent, the butchery or the outrage against the comfortable acceptance of the butchery?

Btw I still have some animal in my diet..I just recognize what I am part of and refuse to say my hands are clean or that its the best we can do.

The population problem will soon open a tear in our world that will be immune to balanced reactions and we will be passed the point of flux and action and enter a time when necessity will make all the hand ringing about population reduction obsolete. I hope that as a species we will back of the cliff and figure some thing wonderful out but vegas (or the history books) isn’t giving very good odds.

Yesterday at 01:18


* Maria NR: @ Layla: Yes, I am responding to your argument by drawing on the similarities of an argument of vegetarians on a University Campus and the potential dangers that these militant attitudes embody (labeling meat eaters as cannibals that draw on Nazi German Science to support their choice of diet, and scientists that show through there work that we are different are racists).

Which, by the way, you completely evaded. A new perspective, or even a perspective, on this would be welcome, and wonder why you evade the question. That is what I mean by unacademic… not that you are unacademic… we should not be afraid to accept hard truths and find ways to devalue them degrading those who have provided these hard facts, just because we think that these truths will take away from a political perspective important to us.

I am not asking you not to question the politics and perspectives, but to take into account hard scientific facts that anthropologist, sociologists and hardliners make political. The fact that we have different sexual organs that differentiate us from male and female are hard scientific facts that “everyone knows”, the politics of people of all walks of life behind these hard facts are aligned towards supporting their own agendas. I am simply speaking about biology, and you are speaking about politics and perspectives that have been discussed and rediscussed over biological truths.

Placing your politics on biological truths does not change those truths, but are just another line of interpretation added to the many theoretical perspectives, another political theory.

Why is it so difficult to accept biology? We should not be afraid to say that we are different. I am a woman and my biology differentiates me from men. These differences have caused inequalities in the world and our political perspectives provide us with a new way of looking at these differences. But a discussion is possible, new perspectives possible, because we do not deny that differences exist.

Roger, who is a nutritionist, has already given you information on how we have evolved as meat eaters, yet this too you evade and continue on in your hardline fashion. Domestication would have never come to be, if it was not in response to increasing population demands. That is not a lie, but logic. That which you claim to adhere to in your arguments.

You are right when you say that these discussions are like those we had years ago in Adams Morgan or even New York, where we could never agree on this topic.

If you remember, you lived with me for a month in New York while Roger was on mission, and as a form of respect for your perspective and way of life, I ate no meat. I did NOT, however, feel very good because I lacked the quantity of important nutritients needed for my biology, my blood type: O+, the Original blood type (therefore, O = origin), the blood type that can donnate to all other bloodtypes. My stomach was also upset, I had a stomach ache for a good 2 months afterwards, because my biology just cannot support the grains that people of AB and A, B blood types seem to beable to digest easily. If I remember correctly, you are a blood type A. A = Agriculture, those who descended from a line of ancestors who ate mainly fruits, vegetables and grains and cannot, on the whole, support meat. You are therefore following the diet that suits you.

We can learn alot about blood types, about our biology and our evolution.

Yesterday at 08:47


* Maria NR: Hello Andrew, welcome to the discussion! I agree with you, Layla’s FIRST POINT has nothing to do with genetics, and on the whole I agree with this notion. However, we have been debating about Layla’s SECOND POINT, which hard science contradicts.

More on this later if you would like. I have a little boy who needs my attention. Cheers, Maria

Yesterday at 08:54


* Andrew Mandelbaum: The molecular evidence puts the abo blood type diiff. at around 5 million years ago…way before agriculture. Gorillas and chimps have similar variations.

Yesterday at 08:58


* Andrew Mandelbaum: hi back Maria.
yes I am interested in the second point as well. I take issue with the blood type diet being tagged on the hard science side. And I would like to hear more on the hard science in point 2 also.

But…isn’t the ultimate question if faced with a violent history genetically driven and culturally enforced whether or not we can choose freedom from that violence and use our lifestyle, our science, art, and culture to enable an abandonment of this violence. Maybe even in this action pushing the genetics in a new direction.

and just saw Roger’s first note…Salut the Aquatic Ape theory…I love Elaine Morgan’s work…

Yesterday at 09:28


* Layla AbdelRahim: Hi Andrew, good to hear from you and good post. The only thing I disagree with is the Darwinian acceptance that “nature” is violent. I prefer Kropotkin’s interpretation of that violence has been exaggerated for political/civilised purposes and hat cooperation and proliferation is the norm of a balanced and diverse world. This perspective changes much in civilised science. Which brings me to Maria’s posts.

Yesterday at 10:20


* Layla AbdelRahim: Hi Maria, you say
1. “the potential dangers that these militant attitudes embody”. First potential dangers to whom? What about the real dangers that categorising people as different from each other and as species different from each other an…d then killing out 90% of diversity (see the statistics I cite in my work on genealogies on my web-page)? Just because you have learnt to accept the incredible violence as normal and stopped seeing it as violence doesn’t justify you fear of the “potential dangers of militant attitudes”. The militant attitudes of the civilisation you are defending have killed and are still killing non-humans and humans around the world: the gulf of Mexico, the Amazon forests, Iraq Afghanistan, et al.

Yesterday at 10:27


* Layla AbdelRahim: @ Maria: 2. your comment: “labeling meat eaters as cannibals that draw on Nazi German Science to support their choice of diet, and scientists that show through there work that we are different are racists”.
I am not labelling, I am working with categories here. If you call people eating other “persons” cannibalism and accept non-human animals as sentient persons then eating sentient persons is cannibalism. Again, the Semai people of Malaysia (among others) see someone who raises a chicken and then eats the chicken as cannibalism.

Yesterday at 10:33


* Layla AbdelRahim: @ Maria: Nazi German science was based on your argument of people being biologically different. So was slavery. So is the slavery of animals.
Finally, about hard science and facts. Those are completely manipulated by the political perspectives and motivations. There’s plenty written on that (including in my work), so I don’t want to repeat. It’s easily accessible. Again, Nazi German politics stood on a whole platform of “solid” “scientific” inquiry and “respectable” institutions. So has the extermination of Indians, the fear of the Yellow Peril, British and French colonial wars and all and everything. Scientists in this political and economic structure are domesticated by the hand that feeds them. Some fresh critique from those who reject domestication will only enrich our knowledge and increase the possibility of letting life be in the diversity it was meant to be and not in the mono-speciesist disaster that civilisation has inflicted on it.

Yesterday at 10:42


* Layla AbdelRahim: @ Maria: Of course you are free to choose whose knowledge you feel more comfortable with – Roger’s or mine – even though Roger’s was taken from manuals and not from recent analyses in the field (for example, the assumption that we have millions of years of evolution to meat eating is simply wrong, among others). But that’s a choice of personal bias. However, to claim that you know what domestication responded to without examining the evidence that points to that civilisation caused the human population growth (and not because of the faulty Malthusian explanation) is a political position of defending the status quo. 50 years ago people were forcefully sterilised in the U.S. because of respectable scientists, geneticists, doctors, accepted these distinctions and the Maltusian faulty logic (see Natalia Molina’s studies, e.g. Fit to be Citizens).

Yesterday at 11:20


* Layla AbdelRahim: @ Maria And yeah, I’ve forgotten about NY, because I mostly remember you with the Nick – Elizabeth – Yuval crowd on east 13th. But when Roger appeared in this discussion, I suddenly remembered that day you and I spent on the rock under a waterfall in Shenandoah Valley. We fell down the waterfall, and I remember the deer that was so amazed with our screams that it came to stare at us and then followed us on the trail.

Yesterday at 11:30


* Andrew Mandelbaum: hey layla
with you on kropotkin and mutual aid 100 percent but the realities of predator prey relations still disturb me even when some of the red in tooth and claw exaggeration is peeled back. but I would welcome any relief from that

23 hours ago


* Layla AbdelRahim: @ Andrew: The predator-prey issue is precisely what my point 2 is about: our sleeping pattern and the absorption of nutrients (proteins, omegas etc.) indicate that we are not meant to be living the way Darwinian evolutionist claim we have evolved. Lions sleep 16 hours and eat rarely. We need to eat frequently and sleep less. I have the bibliography in the final part of my dissertation, which will be available soon. Further, Kropotkin’s notion of mutual aid explains why the basis of wilderness is the diversity of species, because predators eat less and share more – no private property, domestication of prey, and butchering them and selling them to the impoverished masses. In the Darwinian-civilised narrative, on the other hand, there is fear that there will be too many yellow people, too many animals, to many free-spirited freaks, etc. But this premise is self-contradictory, because 1. when the civilised humans will kill everyone else, who will they eat? Soylent Green film is about imagining that.
2. the mono-speciesist and mono-culturalist (globalist) perspective makes the human predator-cannibal overpopulate the world – that is a problem that they acknowledge, but because they don’t want to re-evaluate the basic premise, we end up talking about who wants to kill the over-fertile, over-sexual, biologically different yellow and black and brown people. When the issue is that these people’s population growth is a response to the mono-speciesist and agricultural/domesticating perspective itself, because the people who grow the food, just like during feudalism, are not the people who eat the food. But they are the ones who have the children, because they and their children are the resources for the domeseticators-predators-cannibals.

So, the argument that because lions eat gazelles we should torture, murder, and devour everything else is based on faulty logic and twists “facts”. Also, the claim that we have evolved into cannibals biologically falls apart when we examine the evidence that until the spread of agricultural civilisation in Asia (and the domesticated civilisations of the Aztecs and Mayans), brought to its logical conclusion by the European conquest of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia most people in the world were either completely or predominantly vegan-vegetarian. If people feel that they need some examples from nature on who to emulate, why not choose to be bonobos? Much healthier, no conflict, berries and sex all day – the hippies of the animal kingdom – the poets of love!

I hope that explains better my posts above.

21 hours ago


* Layla AbdelRahim: PS. Andrew, I remember that you’d like to talk about education – after I submit the thesis, we’ll discuss it at length. For the time being, I’d like to mention the excellent point Andrea makes above: that left to their own whim, children wi…ll eat mostly fruit and berries. Education is really important in order to train them not to follow their desires and not to listen to their beings and bodies but to listen to experts, nutritionists, politicians, doctors, etc…. and to participate in this model of “predator-prey” relations. The curriculum in this education has a concrete perspective and that’s what much of my work is about. And education is about changing people’s natural behaviour and scaring them that their nature is evil, predatory, etc. However, if we take this same genetic foundation as an indication of anything, then we are closer to bonobos and chimps than to lions and other predators.

20 hours ago


* Maria NR: @ Layla: You say that categorizing people as different is dangerous, and then you allow yourself to categorize others and find that normal and not dangerous. Lovely. I’m sure that you have a good answer for this one as well, but spare yourself the trouble of explaining it, it doesn’t really matter. In any event, we at least seem to share some of the same political views. Nothing more to add, you apparently have all the right answers on your website, I’ll be sure to take a look when I have a moment. A nice memory, by the way, take care.

19 hours ago


* Andrew Mandelbaum: @ Layla: morning
i think we are agreed
I too find the hope in the bonobos
I too think any modeling on the predator prey relation is a mistake
I mention the predator/prey realities only to say I find nature a bit harsh at times and cold. Its an emotiona…l reaction that i suppose sheds little light on the talk except to say I am glad we can choose not to model the violence in chimps and our past and to embrace other ways.

Yes….lets talk about kids when it works.

off thread—-A couple of your comments resonated with a section in a book I am reading on the rise of capitalism, the witchhunts and the rebellions in europe. Ever read The Caliban and The Witch by Silvia Federici Silvia.

6 hours ago


* Layla AbdelRahim: Good morning Andrew,
Glad to hear we agree. Just a little correction on the myth of chimp violence. As it turns out, Goodall was feeding the chimps and for at least fifteen years she hasn’t observed any violence. Feeding is domestication of course. The chimps started scheming political games, Goodall says. A Japanese team of pimatologists was working on the other side of Gombe and noticed the eruption of violence at the same time. Kinji Imanishi’s interpretation of animal nature is very Kropotkian (I don’t know if he’d read Kropotkin or if it’s simply the empathy aspect that was observed as a strong drive in the animal world even before Kropotkin and obviously well known in non-domesticated, oral traditions). Goodall herself and other primatologists also have observed that the eruption of war among the chimps could have been caused by the “post” colonial desertification and the violence of the city growth in Africa. Goodall observes that when the standard of living improves among the human populations around Gombe, they are willing to cede parts of their farming land to reforestation of the jungle and for the chimps. When the people don’t have anything, they hunt the chimps and other primates and sell them as “bush meat”.

I discuss all this in my dissertation – so soon, more will be out in addition to the “genealogies” piece. This, of course, is not to deny that violence exists, but it’s greatly exaggerated by the Darwinists, since empathy and cooperation are the norm. Every now and then it erupts as an organised, civilised force. However, Zerzan, among others, has observed that the majority of non-human and human animals make a conscious decision not to go down that path. My point is that, epidemic eruptions caused by viruses or bacteria are the closest thing to human civilisation, even though they don’t appear to have ever been as global and as deadly as ours.

Thanks for mentioning Silvia’s book. It’s on my bookshelf, awaiting my better and freer day. But I have met her in Portland a year and half ago and much of what she said resonated. I wasn’t certain, though, how far she goes in her critique of the State and of civilisation. So, if you have any thoughts on that, I’d love to hear.

So, till soon,

Sunday 5th September 1pm


Andrew Mandelbaum: huh…I guess I have taken the accounts of chimp aggression without considering how clearly understood or consistent the observations

More later

Sunday 5th September 3pm


*** *** ***

I didn’t point out at the time that many of Roger’s statements are simply wrong. For example: “Palentolic neurologists say the fish diet was key to our brains being able to evolve beyond the dimwit ape size with the same reasoning going for other sea mammals like whales and dolphins” dismisses the latest publications on the high intelligence of even chickens and fish. Even the “mainstream” now publishes reports on how apes outsmart people:

My own presentation on the “Evolution of Idiocy” at the commemoration of Darwin conference at the department of anthropology, University of Montreal discusses how civilised human knowledge is based on the purposeful dumbing down of the masses that has grown into a global epidemic; Roger’s insult to the apes is a good illustration how the humans have turned dimwit in their arrogance, alienation, and destruction (including of the self).

who claim that we need fish in our diet for the development of the brain is erroneous, since the majority of people didn’t live near the coast and fish entered human diet …. For example, the Amero-Indians living around the Bay of Fundy did gather what was left after the highest tide in the world receded. However, the peoples living in the forest, didn’t. The brains didn’t evolve any different and many of them spoke a language that was understandable by at least 10 peoples (see my report on the Maritimes in Travel).

Finally, I didn’t even bother to respond to the amazing logic in Maria’s comment that supposedly:

“Blood type A = Agriculture; and O = Origin”.

Well, A in English also stands for Asshole, Apple, Anorexia; B stands for Bullshit, Boring, Banana; and O stands for Orgasm, Oblivion, Orifice of the Great Behind. In short, we all eat the same shit.

Frankly, I don’t even remember my blood type, but just in case Maria’s recollection is correct, luckily, I was born in Russia, and in Russian A stands neither for Asshole nor Agriculture (nor does it in Arabic, my second language). In Russian A stands for Avtobus (the Bus), Arbuz (watermelon), Angel (that’s in English as well). So, am i to eat them all? And then of course, B stands for Bukhat’ and O for Okhrenet’.

Layla AbdelRahim

Sunday, 5th September 2010, 4pm

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Race, Racism, and the Nation-State: A Christian-Anarchist Perspective

September 3, 2010

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker’s presentation at the “In the beginning: Anarchism, Christianity, and the roots of
resistance” conference, 6th August 2010, Portland, OG

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker part 1

Nekeisha Alexis-Baker part 2
Layla AbdelRahim, respondent:

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Anarchy for All: Expanding the Horizons of Practice Beyond Privilege

Open Forum shared with Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, John Zerzan, and partly with Wes Howard-Brook “In the beginning: Anarchism, Christianity, and the roots of resistance” conference, Portland, OR 7th August 2010

My original reasons for proposing this topic were described below. But because of the strong resistance from Wes Howard-Brook to talk about issues of race, Nekeisha edited the original proposal to the second version below. Wes proposed to take the issue of race out completely and proposed the following:

“This session will engage the question of anarchy and Christianity from a variety of perspectives, seeking to explore diverse ways of getting to the bottom of our captivity to ‘civilization’ and routes out into a truly liberated space for all creation.”

Even after Nekeisha abbreviated my original proposal, Wes still insisted that he didn’t want to talk about the subject and proposed to make fun and entertainment of the topic. He left in the middle of the session. I discuss this more in-depth in a follow up essay.e

1st version:
Synopsis: The nature of civilization is to classify and stratify. The pyramid, both, as a metaphor and a real structure of civilization is not a coincidence and throughout its history, human and non-human animals have been discriminated, marginalized, exploited, neglected, and abused based on different, random criteria: such as mythical origins and birth, as in the caste of the untouchables, the size of the cranial skull, the color of the skin, circumcised genitalia, height, tails, diet, quadrupedalism, et al, ad infinitum. After having suffered from discrimination through “knowledge”, the resulting economic and social disadvantage of the discriminated groups is then taken in itself as a criterion for further discrimination.

Yet, as long as there has been abuse, there have also been revolutionaries – the prophets who fought these injustices from the religious, the political, the literary, the scientific, and all other domains. The tactics, the rationale driving these expressions and movements of resistance, the theory and the actions, however, have been multi-varied and not always clear. Often, the repercussions of questioning and rebellion end up forming new categories of those to be exploited and marginalized: for example, feminism made it more rewarding for western (mostly white) women to give their time to the labor market, yet, the women of color from the third world have replaced the “emancipated”, mostly white upper middle class women, in the still discredited and under-valued exploited domain of family care (for the elderly, children, or the ill), sex, and house-keeping. Hence, while the European and North American feminists had important contributions in challenging the oppressive patriarchy, the practice only reshuffled the categories of exploitation. The same goes for anarchist theory. The anarcho-primitivist direction, in particular, draws greatly from aboriginal traditions and has one of the greatest possibilities to challenge the root of civilized abuse. Yet, it still remains largely a domain of white male privilege.

The intention in this open forum is to address the real structural and epistemological problems that hinder the voices and acts of resistance of the people of color from accessing public space and the spheres of the production of knowledge and media. Our aim is to identify the structural values that guide individuals in their personal dispositions that, even when unintentional, foster racist behavior and spaces of privilege that exclude and deny legitimacy to the expressions and reactions of the people of color and the oppressed non-human species. Finally, we plan to explore the areas that can be rectified and respectfully acknowledge the critiques of where the theory fails the needs and the realities of the majority of the oppressed people on earth and of our non-human compatriots. Acknowledging these critiques will point to where individual practice and privilege, which have become ingrained in the inter-racial and inter-species socio-economic relations, counteract the anarcho-primitivist thought and will help find feasible ways in making this theory inclusive for the practice of all and allowing the movement to move forward with strength and confidence demolishing the civilized borders of alienation.

2nd version:
Anarchy for All: Expanding the Horizons of Practice Beyond Privilege
The nature of civilization is to classify and stratify. Throughout
history, human and non-human animals have been discriminated,
marginalized, exploited, neglected, and abused based on different, random
criteria. Yet, as long as there has been abuse, there have also been
revolutionaries. The intention of this discussion is to address the
structural and epistemological problems that hinder the voices and acts of
resistance from those who are oppressed—especially people of color—from
inhabiting a place at the table within anarchist theory and discourse.
Together, Layla AbdelRahim, Nekeisha Alexis-Baker, Wes Howard-Brook and
John Zerzan will explore these and other issues related to anarchism and
Christianity from a variety of perspectives, with the particular aim of
exploring diverse ways of understanding our captivity to ‘civilization’
and routes toward a truly liberated space for all creation.

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