David Watson (anarchist)


David Watson (anarchist)

David Watson (born 1951) is an American anarchist author who for many years was a primary contributor to the anti-authoritarian magazine Fifth Estate, originally founded in Detroit, Michigan and based there for many years. Watson started working with Fifth Estate in the 1960s, but has not been active in the publication for the last few years. Watson currently teaches high school Spanish at Cranbrook Schools.

As a member of the Fifth Estate staff, Watson has written under many pseudonyms, including George Bradford, T. Fulano, Primitivo Solis, Dogbane Campion, and Mr. Venom. He wrote on a wide variety of subjects for the newspaper, and was an early voice in the anarchist current of radical political ecology and anarcho-primitivism; his seminal essay "Against the Megamachine" was published in 1981, a number of years before then- Fifth Estate contributor John Zerzan completed the series of "origins essays" (about time, language, art, agriculture and number) which established Zerzan's primitivist intellectual foundations. Watson's version of primitivism had many distinctions from Zerzan's, including differences over the question of agriculture, time, and mediation. Watson argued for a "reasoned primitivism," pointedly so in his 1996 critique of social ecologist Murray Bookchin, Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a Future Social Ecology. This was in Watson's view a primitivist orientation, (following Stanley Diamond and ethno-poetics) that would affirm the insights of primitive (or original) and indigenous societies while avoiding simplistic imitation of their lifeways in the context of modern society. While defending the perspectives of indigenous peoples, Watson also worked to publish news on and to support indigenous land and rights struggles. Troubled by the views of Zerzan and other primitivist writers such as John Moore, Watson distanced himself from ideological primitivism in his 1996 essay "Swamp Fever."

Watson's poetry, translations, essays, and articles have been published in various literary magazines and journals. His work has been translated into Spanish (his book Contra la megamaquina was published by aliKornio ediciones in 2002 in Barcelona), Portuguese, Italian, and Russian. He is currently working on a book about the responses of the left to the collapse of Yugoslavia, the subsequent wars, and Western intervention. Some of his articles on this subject can be found at the Balkan Witness website.

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