The few known hints that Adam Lanza left behind about his motive in the Sandy Hook shooting are all rooted in anarcho-primitivist philosophy; he linked to John Zerzan’s essays in his last post (in which he linked mass violence with anxiety and alienation) and he called Zerzan’s radio show to explain his interpretation of the Travis the Chimp incident.
It hasn’t been clear, though, exactly how Lanza stumbled across anarcho-primitivism; given the lack of attention the other forum users paid to his postings about Travis the Chimp (Smiggles several times contributes replies to the thread, despite there not having been a reply from anyone else, so he was essentially talking to himself) and similar topics (his post on trans-humanism) I had assumed that anarcho-primitivism was a subject that he brought to the forum, and it simply didn’t catch on as a topic of discussion.
I’ve discovered that this is not the case. Reviewing the Web Archive of the first instance of the forum, Super Columbine Massacre RPG! Discussion, it can be seen that Anarcho-primitivism was discussed on the forum in 2008, three years before Lanza was doing the same (the tone of the conversation I’ll be quoting here suggests that this is not the first time it has been brought up, either.)
Lanza didn’t even register until a year after the thread in question, so it should be noted, then, that he confirmed that he was already reading the forum as of late 2006, in the thread How did you find this forum?”:
Thus, while Smiggles was not around to contribute to this conversation, we can be pretty much certain that the read the thread. And after reading it, the content of the thread leaves no real doubt.
The conversation that introduces the topic of anarcho-primitivism (or at least the earliest one that I could find) was the thread Columbine, Fight Club and the copycats, posted on 25th December 2008. In the initial post, the forum user Sabratha compares “copycat” killers such as Pekka Auvinen to the dumb followers of Project Mayhem in the book Fight Club.
I just feel like making a rant.
Remember that day when you heard about the first shooting in Finland when it was Auvinen?
I do. I remember getting mad, then sad, then astonished when I found out it was someone I’ve seen on youtube.
I remember his movies, him in his “Humanity is overrated” shirt, him shooting in the forest like Eric, him making pseudo-darwinistic rants like Eric did, his name in the news when he was dying in the hospital after he shot himself. Just like Eric.
I remember the day Saari made his shooting, I remember seeing him on TV, in his backwards black cap like Eric, shooting his gun then pointing at the camera. I remember hearing his name on the news as he was dying in the hospital from a delf-inflicted shot in the head. Just like Eric.
Somewhere, inside something there is a whole ton of misunderstanding, pain, fanaticism. The more I know about the perpetrators of the last few shootings, the more I realize that they are like the blind worshippers of Cassie Bernal and Rachel Scott.
TV gave them their saints, the internet provided them with their relics, the media gave them their blessing.
The copycats didn’t understand what columbine was about and didn’t see al thelies and myths the media made and they didn’t see the faults in Erics reasoning and his writing.
Its like fight club. The 10 year anniversary of columbine is approaching and I have a dreadfull feeling that somewhere out there is a group of people who are mindlessly chanting a name over and over and its not “Robert Paulson”.
I can hear them:
“His name was Eric Harris, his name was Eric Harris, his name was Eric Harris…”
Sabratha, recall, is the user who was involved in the making of the film Bullet Time that suggested aspiring shooters join the forum (I’ve covered it in detail here). Adam had a particular liking for this film, and he consistently referred to it as “Sabratha’s Bullet Time” – the film and the forum user were closely linked for Adam, and so it follows that he had a particular respect for Sabratha. He would have been reading Sabratha’s posts.
The first reply to this thread is from the user columbin – this user is the owner of the forum, and the creator of the game the forum is named after: Super Columbine Massacre RPG. In his post, he quotes directly from Fight Club, a passage where the cult-leader-like character Tyler Durden describes a sort of post-apocalyptic hunter-gatherer society, and columbin suggests that it as a desirable existence:
That’s a really interesting comparison. In the Fight Club analogy, we should think about how to prevent the mindless adherence to Project Mayhem by space monkeys. Despite this, Tyler’s vision is a promising one:
Quote: In the world I see – you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You’ll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you’ll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.
Nonetheless, I think this would be a pretty great world to have. In fact, it may be an inevitable world to have by the 22nd century.
The next day, the user NamelessMuse replies critically to columbin’s post, and this is where anarcho-primitivism is specifically brought up (although the previous post essentially was advocating it in all but name, and NamelessMuse is expressing doubt about its merits):
I disagree Columbin and I don’t find Tyler’s description to be great at all.
While major social change is inevitable for better or worse it is never a permanant thing. If we achieved your ideal world it would not last.
I don’t understand the love for anacho primitvism. Part of the philosohpy is that modern society alienates individuals Which it does but I don’t see how dying in some cold forest is somehow better.
Some may say that our consumption based lifestyle is a bad thing and leads to shallow pleasure but how would living day to day like the unibomber be any better? I like security in my life as well as medicine and the internet. Such a lifestyle would not lead to a deeper spiritual happiness but rather simple reward based happiness. That sounds even more shallow.
Secondly anarcho primitivists who wish to activley cause the world to be thrown into a state of chaos are selfish assholes because who gave them the right to decide we need a revolution?
They are talking about killing millions of people and there is no way around that. The earth cannot support the level of people it has now if we all reverted back to a hunter gatherer lifestyle. The agriculture revolution I would argue is a great thing. I know you disagree.
Anarcho primitivists also seem to cherry pick what they consider modern. Why not just choose regular anarchism? “Modern” is a social construct of little real meaning anyway. I like things like medicine tampons and video games.
What would happen to the arts in such a world?
Exchange one extreme for the other Material based consumerism vs. minimalist survivalism. They both fucking suck.
Its not the lifestyle you need to worry about its human nature that is the problem.
Again, it’s apparent that this topic came up on the forum before, so this is probably not the specific thread where Adam first learned about the subject of anarcho-primitivism. The point is that this is another instance where Adam Lanza derived his personality and his motives from his study of mass murder, rather than a philosophy that he studied separately and then connected to his obsession.