For Zerzan, being alienated means being ‘estranged from our own experiences, dislodged from a natural mode of being’. Zerzan argues that exploitation lies at the heart of alienation because it has brought into being a colossal industrial system that forces individuals to regard the world as an object of consumption. Dependent on industrial technology to provide for their wants, people destroy the only thing they really need: the natural world. In America the effect has been to create a ‘jarring contrast between reality and what is said about reality’. People are encouraged to think in terms of ‘dreams’ but are frustrated by the impossibility of their achievement. The ‘nightmare scenario is that the ‘contrast can go on forever: people … won’t even notice there’s no natural world anymore, no freedom, no fulfilment, no nothing. You just take your Prozac every day, limp along dyspeptic and neurotic, and figure that’s all there is’.

Zerzan, Running on Emptinesss, 80.


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