“Each Apache decides for himself whether or not he fights. We are a free people. We do not force men to fight as the Mexicans do. Forced military service produces slaves, not warriors.”
-“Grandfather”, quoted in, In the Days of Victorio: Recollections of a Warm Springs Apache, by Eve Ball and James Kaywaykla
The context of this quote is of interest as it is uttered in a meeting of Apache leaders concerning whether or not they should continue resistance against the invading white man or succumb to the powerful invading force. With hindsight, one could state that such a stance is foolish: had the Apache stood as a “united front” instead of the diverse bands that they had always been, they could have had a shot at victory, or so the reasoning goes. Instead, their inability to adapt their social organization to new conditions led directly to their downfall. In the face of a society of interchangeable citizens constituting a massive unified Leviathan, the Apache continued to be the untame, indomitable people of before. And they paid the ultimate price for it: defeat, humiliation, exile, and in many cases, premature death.
But perhaps, even then, the ends do not justify the means. Or rather, the “ends” are really the “means” projected and amplified into a monstrous and logical conclusion. Even if the Apache chiefs had conscripted every warrior and forced them to fight, even if some of the warriors hadn’t run off and become scouts hunting their own people for the white army, even if they could have held off the U.S. Army for a few more years, they would not have done so as Apaches, or as the people that they always were. Here it would be something akin to, “in order to save the city, we had to destroy it”. Or better, in order to prevent the city from being planted in the land of the Apache, they had to become the city in civilized reasoning. And they knew what that meant: slavery in one form or another. They accepted the consequences of their refusal, even if they had second thoughts about it.
We can apply the lessons here to our own situation. Many “green anarchist” or “green post-leftist” groups like Deep Green Resistance and the like very much have a “militaristic” or “militant” attitude toward “dismantling” or “destroying” civilization. There are even “pro-Unabomber” groups in existence that dream of a “revolution” against “techno-industrial society”. But what if, as Grandfather says above, in their efforts to fight slavery, they are just making more slaves? Is this not the essence of the leftist / revolutionary project: one last “slavery”, one last “martyrdom” that will end all slaveries and martyrdoms? Just one more great big push and we will establish the place where there is neither sorrow, nor sighing, nor anymore pain. Leviathan has dreamed this dream before, a myriad of times now, and people have thrown themselves against the wheels of Progress in order to make it a reality. They are still dead, and we are nowhere closer to freedom.
Sharing because this is very similar to what I was trying to say in my Gods & Radicals piece, No Hope, No Despair. Pretty much everything posted to that blog is great stuff to think on either way, though.