Often, our minds conjure images of animals running free and dignified in the wild whenever we witness a horse burdened by carrying tourists on its back. As women, we often wonder if we deserve that kind of untamed existence, where we can experience independence and freedom without burdensome obligations, without the constraints of rigid traditions, and without modernity pressuring us to follow a predetermined path that stifles our dreams and aspirations.
We yearn for the wilderness in countries lacking green spaces. Not just because we see it on screens but because we are weighed down by the pain of having to choose between paying the price for feminist independence within societies that resist our quest for freedom or surrendering to the patriarchy of family and the authoritarianism of its male figures, which society endorses.
We dream because our dreams hold a glimpse of the life we have missed every time we are asked in a job interview about our parent’s approval, when our personal lives are scrutinized - from our laughter and clothing to whom we have coffee breaks with, or when managers deploy spies to monitor our movements during our breaks. We dream of the wilderness every time we are disturbed by noise, crowds, pollution, and violence. In the wild, life is sustainable, and trees bear flowers and fruits without subjecting women to humiliation and exploitation in return for their harvest.
The concept of wild, independent living resonates with the fundamental belief of transcendentalism, which holds that inherent goodness exists in both humans and nature, and it is society and its institutions that corrupt the purity of the individual. According to this philosophy, the best state for human beings is achieved when they attain independence and self-sufficiency.
Green anarchism aims to create sustainable and socially just communities that operate independently of state power or services, challenging government control. L. Susan Brown connects anarchism to feminism, stating, “Since anarchism opposes all power relations, it inherently aligns with feminist philosophy”. When we dare to envision such a rebellious departure from societal norms and stereotypes, we are often met with surprise and discussions about the perceived sacrifices one must make when relinquishing the fruits of modernity, urbanization, and the convenience of consuming products that are difficult to produce independently. However, these discussions fall into the logical fallacy known as a “false dichotomy”, assuming that there are only two options without considering the spectrum of ideas and values, and the various intersections between them.
In a wild life, we wouldn’t be confined to playing the role of primitive beings without access to electrical appliances or clothing. Similarly, our perspective wouldn’t be limited to choosing between black and white because the multitude of colors in between is vast and captivating, allowing us to appreciate them all. This is precisely what the third wave of feminism advocated for: a departure from hierarchical binaries towards pluralism, embracing diversity instead of seeking conformity, and fostering creativity rather than adhering to rigid norms. This way of thinking envisions a future where individuals can collaborate within a system that is individualistic, collaborative, anarchist, feminist, ecological, and sustainable. In such a system, each individual —not necessarily every family— has the opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency in terms of food, water, and energy.
In his book The Future of Life, sociologist Edward Wilson argues that it is currently impossible to change the dietary patterns followed by humans. Consequently, he suggests that the maximum population that planet Earth can sustain is around 10 billion people. However, we believe that effective planning should be revolutionary in its approach, challenging the existing culture and intervening in its formation. For instance, establishing a food culture centered around plant-based consumption requires connecting individual human interests to a pattern of ethical consumption. This can be achieved by granting individuals land holdings with lifelong usufruct rights, rather than ownership rights. The size of these land holdings would only be sufficient for achieving self-sufficiency in plant-based food production. Such an approach would foster an inclination among individuals to adopt this consumption pattern, gradually transforming it into a societal culture.
If these green land holdings incorporate fruit trees spaced approximately 6 meters apart from each other, then an area of 2.5 hectares would be sufficient for cultivating around 50 trees, along with numerous shrubs and smaller herbaceous plants interspersed among them. This acreage would provide for the well-being and self-sufficiency of vegetarians, particularly when combined with environmentally conscious architecture in the construction of houses and workshops. These structures could be built using methods such as "earth shelters" or hollowed cultivated hills, ensuring minimal disruption to green spaces and offering resilience during times of war or environmental disasters. Subterranean architecture has progressed significantly, enabling individuals to have sunlit and fresh air-permeated balconies without encroaching on green areas above ground. Furthermore, having one or more workshops within the land holdings would eliminate the hierarchical dichotomy that restricts individuals to working solely in agriculture or industry, which suppresses humans’ capacity to engage in multiple fields which can mutually benefit one another. This approach would serve as a catalyst for the formation of “Transformation Cities” pursued through permaculture principles, allowing people to devote themselves to study, pursue the arts, and establishment of small projects that combine their chosen hobbies and crafts.
We inhabit a world with a land area of approximately 148 million square kilometers and a population of around 8 billion people. If we convert this land area into hectares (where 1 hectare equals 1000 square meters), the total land area in the world would be roughly 148 billion hectares. If we divide this land area into individual holdings, with each piece measuring 2.5 dunams, and assume that half of this area is allocated for roads, parks, nature reserves, clubs, service centers, and space stations, we would still have over 29 billion individual usable plots. This number is significantly greater than the world’s population. Therefore, the issue is not related to the increase in population but rather to the distribution of wealth among individuals. Specifically, the distribution of land wealth, which is inherently the common property of all. No individual or group should monopolize the ownership of land. Land provides humans and animals with the necessary resources for well-being, including food, water, and shelter, without the need for monetary transactions or the enslavement of wage labor.
In this proposition, there is no privileging of the state over its citizens, nor of humans over nature, nor of men over women, be it in terms of services, sustenance, or protection. Hierarchical leadership becomes obsolete, eliminating the power struggles and the need for resistance. The culture of giving transforms from a servile provision of money, food, and clothing to the empowerment of individuals to be self-reliant and to contribute to the empowerment of others, whereby there is no priority given to saving a captive and exploited wild bear in a zoo over rescuing a woman from a patriarchal community to live freely in a wild paradise.
Taghreed Farida is an anarchist and feminist journalist from Egypt.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.