What is Feminist-Monarcho-Primitivism?
A couple of years ago, the prospect of a wealthy TV star owning multiple corporations with no background in politics entering the presidential elections would not have been considered realistic. Fast forward to the end of his mandate, in a world where both the political, informational and the natural climate are burning and where there is little to no consensus regarding how society should look like in the current environment, more and more alternative parodic or serious political ideologies seem to arise.
In the wake of the alt-right overtaking social media, a plethora of such fringe political subcultures have started to emerge, either on 4chan, reddit, or as part of Politigram – defined by Citarella as political radicals on Instagram. However, these political subcultures are part of a larger dissatisfaction with the political ecosystem and the status-quo. Often considered mere trolling or “shitposting”, this way of manifesting unravels a certain state of affairs specific to its members: the fact that the society reached such an outrageous point in its historical existence that using irony as a coping mechanism is a go-to. However, this phenomenon is not only for the sake of humour, but rather gives voice to frustrations with an underlying layer of actual concerns and no reasonable solution to any of them.
Feminist-monarcho-primitivism – an otherwise clashing chain of political orientations, is the political subculture shaped by this paper. Before attempting to give structure to such an ambiguous entity, each part of its constitutive elements has to be considered. A feminist subculture would be characterised by reconfiguring beliefs of a men-ruled society. A monarchical subculture might seek to reconfigure the relationships of power and the main institutions of the state, while primitivists desire to abandon civilization and the luxuries of technology, in order to pursue a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
In the absence of a solution to such a wide series of issues, political fringe subcultures arise with the aim to reshape what they consider to be wrong with the world and impose a series of beliefs that should replace some of the main pillars of the current state of affairs. Thus, this report serves as a means of demonstrating how such a logic unfolds, what the specifics that ground it are and how a community would be built by a niche political subculture.
In order to properly understand how such a subculture could come into existence, we must set the scene in regards to the context it developed in. Building on the idea that Gen Xers, millennials and zoomers “inherited a world shrugging toward ecological, economic, and political disaster” (Beran, “Countering Counterculture”), Beran also argues that in this context, counterculture, which up until just recently used to have a revolutionary character to it, has been overlaid with a feeling of indifference, a “slow cancellation of the future” (Fisher in Beran, “Countering Counterculture”). At the same time, living inside the logic of ‘pure capitalism’, i.e. a form of capitalism that no longer has to deal with any “heterogeneous social forces that it must either incorporate or repress” (Balibar 12), creates a stage where younger generations are completely entrenched in immortal institutions, without even having the possibility to be in their service (Beran).
For both Beran and Citarella, nihilism seems to be the end of the journey for the younger generations, disillusioned by any promises made by the existing political scene. In this context, the emergence of Politigram (or the post-left) comes as an alternative to the traditional political orientations that have been ingrained in the status-quo. On Politigram, “every political ideology you can think of is thriving” (Citarella); the creation of a plethora of ideologies, each more contradictory and entangled than the other seems to be a symptom of late-stage capitalism, coupled with a generalised lack of belief that the situation will ameliorate. Thus, these political subcultures reject the idea that the discussion regarding our future should be held on the grounds of what is possible in the current socio-political environment, turning to fringe and radical stances, including but not limited to accelerationism, primitivism, or any permutations of suffixes and prefixes one could think of.
As with other niche or fringe political subcultures, the subcultural values that feminist-monarcho-primitivists subscribe to are not necessarily coherent. Hebdige defines homology as “the symbolic fit between the values and lifestyles of a group” (Hebdige 113); in this case, such a subculture might not seem to have a perfectly reasonable and logical ethos. Part of this could be caused by the fact that these sorts of subcultures are the “work of mostly ill-informed, angsty teenagers” (Citarella), but it could also be symptomatic of a larger and encompassing disenchantment with the capitalist logic.
Core Beliefs / Rationale
Feminist-monarcho-primitivists represent a niche subculture that thrives in spaces such as Politigram or reddit. They believe that women have been oppressed for most of the existence of humanity, oppression which has been heavily accentuated by capitalist society. Moreover, men – being in power throughout history, and also contributing to the creation and establishment of the patriarchal form of capitalism – carry the burden of being at fault for the situation at hand. Thus, feminist-monarcho-primitivists propose a two-fold solution to leave capitalism behind: on one hand, there are members which subscribe to the idea that accelerationism is the solution, arguing that it is too late to change capitalism from within, and humanity should rather focus on accelerating until capitalism breaks through, and then rebuild society in a primitivist way, in the form of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. On the other hand, there is a group that believes in a view more akin to anarcho-primitivism, which is to say that society should slowly start the process of deindustrialization, renouncing existing frameworks of labour until the need for civilization becomes obsolete. This group’s belief is that late-stage capitalism is close to the end, both ideologically and naturally. Accordingly, they reference growing political tensions across the most powerful states and the reality of a meteorological disaster caused by climate change. They therefore intend to create a framework that aims to rebuild a new system avoiding previous mistakes and which fits their demands and beliefs better.
At the same time, they recognize that humanity will not be able to start from scratch, but rather in line with pre-existing frameworks of knowledge. Thus, feminist-monarcho-primitivists acknowledge that some form of power or authority is needed. However, instead of placing men in positions of power once again, women should have the opportunity to rule over the newly-established ‘primitivist queendoms’.
Their affinity towards monarchy comes from an appreciation of historical figures, which serve as a model of female empowerment. One of their ‘patrons’ is Isabella I of Castille, who somehow “defied the odds” and became queen (Joan-Lluís Palos). Although some tensions exist regarding how they relate to her values. On one hand, she conducted Spain to become a major power in Europe. On the other hand, the Spanish Inquisition began while she was in power (Joan-Lluís Palos). The feminist-monarcho-primitivists appreciate the legacy of a female figure of power, one that stands out amidst all the patriarchal figures inscribed in history.
The rationale of feminine ruling as opposed to a male-dominated authority lays in the fact that, looking back at the history of humanity, men were responsible for some of the most destructive events: from causing physical harm, such as sending soldiers to fight a war from which they had nothing to win, to political tensions that existed throughout the past and current century, to the contemporary mass shootings, up to ideological threats such as dangerous doctrines that led to the deaths of millions. The subculture, in response, comes to associate men with the destruction of mankind, both intentionally or as a consequence of a chain of strategic or logical mistakes. On the opposite side of the spectrum, feminine power exists, associated by the feminist-monarcho-primitivists with the ability to create as well as to care for, which seems to be more suitable for a political and economical system other than capitalism. However, they reject the historical conceptualization of the woman as binded to motherhood, as simply a caretaker. Hence they desire to have a society ruled by women, where they defy the former frameworks, which could be considered as vulnerabilities by men, in order to fuel a peaceful and harmonious primitivist society.
That is not to say that they exclude men and reject masculine qualities from their ideal form of society. Men are powerful resources or assets, but in order for them to become adequately integrated, they have to denounce the pre-existing structures of the patriarchy. To be able to reinstate new, feminine values and to create and empower a new ideology, the institutions themselves have to be rethought in such a way that they do not neglect the actual state of knowledge, but adapt it to a monarcho-primitivist lifestyle. For example, drawing from the Ancient Greek conceptualization of philosophy as dealing “with a wide variety of subjects, including political philosophy, rhetoric, logic, ethics, metaphysics, biology, aesthetics, and more” (Hellenism.net), they believe that the institution of education should be reformed to better accommodate the process of learning in a primitivist way. This would imply helping people in the community to properly develop the necessary skills to adapt to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, as well as guiding individuals to become connected with nature, as opposed to having an educational institution that enforces disciplinary power in a foucauldian sense.
In terms of membership – having the subculture’s strong feminist stance in mind – is very inclusive, caring both about non-binary and LGBTQ+ people, as well as the men who want to join their fight. Most forms of anarchism (with the exception of the likes of ancaps) are seen as allies in the fight of overcoming capitalism. Their main outgroup is represented by the political right of the status quo, as well as communists, which they see as enforcers of a powerful state, battling against their primitivist beliefs.
While looking seemingly contradictory, the possible existence of the feminist-monarcho-primitivism subculture could pin the underlying issues of capitalism, through an application of ‘political fictioning’. In this sense, political fictioning does not necessarily mean that the subculture themself might be entirely fictional. As Citarella has shown, all sorts of peculiar subcultures have their place on the Internet. This idea refers rather to a dialectical approach that these niche political subcultures engage in, which can function as critique to late-stage or ‘pure’ capitalism. Faced with the prospect of a slow cancellation of the future, as well as the co-optation of countercultures by capitalism, fringe political subcultures might reveal a growing discontent regarding capitalism that might not be otherwise so readily apparent.
This discontent – in the case of feminist-monarcho-primitivism – may manifest itself in issues such as the proliferation of the #metoo movement, which brought to light numerous cases of sexual abuse and harassment. The cases were usually conducted by men in positions of power. Another cause of discontent is the increased distress caused by the ubiquity of technology with its sometimes destructive consequences and the rise of surveillance and privacy concerns. At the same time, the 2016 US presidential elections set the stage for an anti-status-quo sentiment, as evident by the outcome of the election.
While it is easy to dismiss these types of fringe political subcultures as just trolling or “shitposting”, precisely their existence reveals the instability and uncertainty of the current political ecosystem. One of the issues raised could be the fact that niche subcultures do not seem to have their ideals, wishes or values represented within society. This translates into a retreat from the public sphere and an engagement in the deep vernacular web, where they cover a wide range of approaches, from absurd humour to a nihilistic view regarding life under capitalism. Those approaches render their anxieties into different forms of political fictioning.
Balibar, Étienne.“Critique in the 21st century: Political Economy still, and religion again”, Radical Philosophy 200 (Nov-Dec) 2016: 11-21.
Beran, Dale. It Came From Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump into Office. All Points Books, 2019.
Citarella, Joshua. “Politigram & the Post-Left.” 2018.
Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. Routledge, 1991.
Joan-Lluís Palos. “To Seize Power in Spain, Queen Isabella Had to Play It Smart.” National Geographic, 28 Mar. 2019, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2019/03-04/queen-isabellas-rise-to-spanish-throne/.
Hellenism.net. “Ancient Greek Philosophy, Philosophers of Ancient Greece.” Hellenism.Net, 26 Apr. 2019, https://hellenism.net/greece/ancient-greek-literature/greek-philosophers/.