Domestication is a technology of control in which organisms are prevented from living according to their evolved expectations and forced into a way of life that suits the needs of another species.
Humans aren’t the only domesticators. There are several species of colonizing insect that practice simple forms of agriculture, for example. Some ants practice animal husbandry by herding aphids and milking them for a sweet liquid excretion called honeydew. And a species of African ant has recently been found that apparently runs rudimentary factory farms in which other insects are raised for meat.
A domestication-based lifestyle has dramatically different repercussions for humans than it does for social insects, however. Ants don’t risk altering their authentic wild nature in the process of cultivating mushrooms or herding aphids. The ants are colonized to begin with. But whenever humans adopt domestication-based ways of life, they invariably end up domesticating each other. They also end up directing technologies of control inwardly, colonizing and taming their own wild and authentic human nature.
Human lifestyles based on domestic domination didn’t exist anywhere on the planet until 9000 years ago, and didn’t become the norm until sometime during the last couple millennia, perhaps. What that means is that each of us is born with the physical, psychological, and social expectations to live as wild and authentically-human beings.
We still carry wild nature within us—every one of us, in every cell and during every breath. The proof of this is all around us.
The proof is in the massive and ever-expanding prison industrial complex. The proof is in the militarized police. The proof is in ubiquitous surveillance and pervasive monitoring. The proof is in the thinly disguised state propaganda called public education. The proof is in the behavioral pharmacology force-fed to school children who have difficulty ignoring the pulse of life that beckons to them from the center of their being. The proof is in the locks on our doors and the security lights around our houses, arrayed like the searchlights of a concentration camp.
Why would any of these be necessary unless we were, at our very core, wild creatures forced to live like captive animals in zoos, wild creatures forced to live in concrete and asphalt enclosures that bear little similarity with our natural habitat, wild creatures who would surely escape the moment we discover a hole in the fence.
If you can read this you have been domesticated, but the tendrils of domestic control just barely penetrate the surface, and their grip is shallow and tenuous and in need of continual reinforcement.
The first moments in the journey toward rewilding, re-embracing your own authentic humanity, involve little more than a quick convulsive shake. Eradicating the global culture of domestication itself, however, may involve a bit more time—and convulsions on a tectonic-scale.