Anarcho-primitivists view civilization as the logic, institution, and physical apparatus of domestication, control, and domination. They focus primarily on the question of origins. Civilization is seen as the underlying problem or root of oppression, and must therefore be dismantled or destroyed.
Anarcho-primitivists describe the rise of civilization as the shift over the past 10,000 years from an existence deeply connected to the web of life, to one psychologically separated from and attempting to control the rest of life. They state that prior to civilization, there generally existed ample leisure time, considerable gender equality and social equality, a non-destructive and uncontrolling approach to the natural world, the absence of organized violence, no mediating or formal institutions, and strong health and robustness. Anarcho-primitivists state that civilization inaugurated mass warfare, the subjugation of women, population growth, busy work, concepts of property, entrenched hierarchies, as well as encouraging the spread of diseases. They claim that civilization begins with and relies on an enforced renunciation of instinctual freedom and that it is impossible to reform away such a renunciation.
Anarcho-primitivists, based on several anthropological references, state that hunter-gatherer societies are less susceptible to war, violence, and disease.
Some authors have criticized the anarcho-primitivist argument that hierarchy and mass violence result from civilization, citing the example of dominance and territorial struggles observed in chimpanzees. Some thinkers within anarcho-primitivism such as Pierre Clastres offer an anthropological explanation of the necessity of a certain amount of violence, while embracing anarchy as the natural balance for primitive societies.