December 24, 2012
by Aric McBay
When they asked for those to raise their hands who’d go down to the courthouse the next day, I raised mine. Had it high up as I could get it. I guess if I’d had any sense I’d’ve been a little scared, but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do to me was kill me and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember.
—Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights leader
Methods of outreach and recruitment vary depending on whether a group is aboveground or underground, how it is organized, and what role is being filled. There are really two kinds of recruitment, which you might call organizational and mutual recruitment. In organizational recruitment, an existing organization finds and inducts new members. In mutual recruitment, unorganized dissidents find each other, and forge a new resistance group. When resistance is well established, organizational recruitment can flourish. When resistance is rare or surveillance extensive, dissidents mostly have to find each other.
Recall that a movement can be divided into five parts based on roles: leaders, the cadres or professional revolutionaries who form the movement’s backbone, combatants or other frontline activists, auxiliaries, and the mass base.
Leaders, if they are recruited at all, are likely to find each other early on or be recruited from within the organization (especially in the underground, for the obvious reasons that they are known, have experience, and can be trusted).
The cadres and combatants or frontline activists are recruited in person, screened, and given training. Recruiting such people may require the bulk of recruitment resources, but that commitment of resources is necessary; cadres form the backbone of the resistance as professionals who give their all to the organization, and combatants are, of course, on the front lines.
Auxiliaries may be easier to recruit because they require a lesser commitment to the group, and the screening process may be simpler because they do not need to be privy to the same information and organizational details as those inside the organization. However, there generally should be some kind of personal contact, at least to initiate the relationship.
The mass base does not require direct recruitment because they support the resistance because of their own circumstances or experience, combined with propaganda and outreach from the resistance. Outreach to the mass base can take place through inexpensive mass media like books and newspapers, so that they require minimal effort per person to “recruit,” but they also offer little or no material support to the resistance. However, they may take some action on prompting from the resistance, and participate generally in acts of omission or noncooperation with those in power.
So how does one recruit? It depends. Aboveground groups have it pretty easy in terms of recruitment, because recruitment plays to their strengths. It’s relatively easy for them to engage in outreach and to publicize their politics and actions. Of course, because of this they are more vulnerable to infiltration. Underground groups need a somewhat more involved recruitment procedure, largely for security reasons, and they have a much smaller pool of potential recruits. All of this brings us to one of the most important conundrums for modern-day militants, what you might call the paradox of militant radicalization.
Most people who want to change the world start with low-risk, accessible activities, things like signing petitions or writing letters. When those don’t work, activists may escalate to protests, disruption, and civil disobedience. Maybe they are teargassed or beaten at a protest, and they become radicalized. If they care enough about their cause, they will continue to ratchet up their action until it works. Unless their issue is popular enough to be solved with legal action, activists eventually hit a wall at which further escalation is illegal or dangerous. At this point, some people choose to act underground. And here’s the paradox: aboveground action is based on getting attention. The people who have been the most persistent and relentless and most successful at raising awareness—the very people with the dedication and drive needed to go underground—may be the people who are at the most risk in going underground.
People living in overtly oppressed groups do not have the privilege of ignorance, and are more likely to be radicalized younger and in greater numbers. But within a surveillance society that doesn’t alter our fundamental problem: the process of militant radicalization is liable to draw counterproductive attention to the radical, simply because most people don’t turn to militant action until they have personally exhausted the less drastic and lower-risk avenues. Many of the most serious and experienced members of aboveground resistance thus become cut off from further escalation.
There’s no perfect solution; serious resistance entails risk, and all members have to decide for themselves what levels of risk they are willing to take on. Keeping a low profile is part of the answer. Someone who is considering serious underground resistance should avoid prominent, militant aboveground action; it’s important not to draw unwanted attention in advance. That doesn’t mean that people should stop being activists or stop being political, but militant aboveground action is a definite disqualifier for underground action.
This paradox must be addressed by individual communities of resistance having a culture of resistance. We must offer alternatives to the traditional routes of radicalization. Rather than simply following the default path, budding activists need to be told that there is a choice to be made between aboveground and underground action. Activists can privately discuss these options with trusted friends, but without planning specific actions (which would entail extra risk). This applies regardless of whether a movement is willing to use violence or not. As we have discussed, repression happens when a movement is effective, regardless of their tactics: witness Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Furthermore, it’s our assumption that successful resistance will grow, gather attention, and progress toward more militant activity as needed. That growth will increasingly draw unwanted attention and infiltration from intelligence agencies. That means any resistance movement that plans to eventually succeed needs to incorporate excellent security measures from the very beginning. Because the situation has been worsened by the rapid development of electronic surveillance, we radicals have been a bit behind the curve on this. Recruitment is a crucial area to apply good security.
Read the entire chapter by purchasing Deep Green Resistance or borrowing it from your local library.
December 17, 2012
"Next 1st of January will mark the first 18 years of the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN). A country that was on the threshold of modernity was surprised that thousands of insurgents, mostly indigenous, had taken up arms as a last resort, to fight for a better life for indigenous peoples and for the country.
The mobilization of thousands of Mexicans forced the state to negotiate with the insurgents for a decent and fair solution. After more than two years of intense negotiations, they managed to come to the first agreement between the federal government and the EZLN on indigenous rights and culture, which was signed on February 16, 1996, in the municipality of San Andres Larrainzar in Chiapas.
When an attempt was made for the agreement to be transferred to the Mexican legislative system through a bill drafted by the Commission for Agreement and Pacification (Cocopa), the state’s reaction was brutal, cynical and stark. The initiative contained the most important items agreed between the federal government and the EZLN, there was not one idea in it that had not been agreed by the parties."
Read more: http://intercontinentalcry.org/the-moral-and-organizational-strength-of-the-ezln/
December 3, 2012
Waziyatawin is a Dakota writer, teacher, and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe (Yellow Medicine Village) in southwestern Minnesota. After receiving her Ph.D. in American history from Cornell University in 2000, she earned tenure and an associate professorship in the history department at Arizona State University where she taught for seven years. Waziyatawin currently holds the Indigenous Peoples Research Chair in the Indigenous Governance Program at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
November 19, 2012
Excerpted from Endgame vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization , by Derrick Jensen. Page 317-319.
Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.
William S. Burroughs
I learned about e-bombs from one of my students—Casey Maddox, an excellent writer—at the prison. He wrote an extraordinary novel about someone who is kidnapped and put through a twelve-step recovery program for an addiction to Western civilization. The book’s title is The Day Philosophy Died, and, as we’ll get to in a moment, that title is related to E-bombs.
E-bombs are, to my reckoning, one of the few useful inventions of the military- industrial complex. They are kind of the opposite of neutron bombs, which, if you remember, kill living beings but leave nonliving structures such as cities relatively intact: the quintessence of civilization. E-bombs, on the other hand, are explosive devices that do not hurt living beings, but instead destroy all electron- ics. Casey calls them “time machines,” because when you set one off you go back one hundred and fifty years.
At one point in the novel the kidnappers are going to use a small plane to drop an E-bomb over the Bay Area. They carry the bomb on board inside a casket. The main character asks, “Who died?”
“Philosophy,” someone says. “When philosophy dies,” that person continues, “action begins.”
As they prepare to set off the E-bomb, the main character keeps thinking, “There’s something wrong with our plan.” The thought keeps nagging him as they do their countdown to the celebration. Five, four, three, two, one. And the main character gets it, but too late. The E-bomb explodes. Their plane plummets.
One of the kidnappers clutches his chest, keels over. He’s got a pacemaker. Even nonviolent actions can kill people. At this point, any action, including inaction, has lethal consequences. If you are civilized, your hands are more or less permanently stained deep dark red with the blood of countless human and non- human victims.
Long before he finished the book, Casey showed me where he first read about E-bombs. It was in, of all places, Popular Mechanics. If you check the September 2001 issue out of the library—which even has rudimentary instructions for how to construct one—make sure you use someone else’s library card. Preferably someone you don’t like.
The article was titled, “E-bomb: In the Blink of an Eye, Electromagnetic Bombs Could Throw Civilization Back 200 Years. And Terrorists [sic] Can Build Them for $400.”
And that’s a bad thing?
The author, Jim Wilson, begins: “The next Pearl Harbor will not announce itself with a searing flash of nuclear light or with the plaintive wails of those dying of Ebola or its genetically engineered twin. You will hear a sharp crack in the distance. By the time you mistakenly identify this sound as an innocent clap of thunder, the civilized world will have become unhinged.”
So far so good.
He continues, “Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, despite being turned off. The aroma of ozone mixed with smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt. Your Palm Pilot and MP3 player will feel warm to the touch, their batteries over-loaded. Your computer, and every bit of data on it, will be toast.”
I know, I know, this all sounds too good to be true. But it gets even better.
Wilson writes,“And then you will notice that the world sounds different too. The background music of civilization, the whirl of internal-combustion engines, will have stopped. Save a few diesels, engines will never start again. You, however, will remain unharmed, as you find yourself thrust backward 200 years, to a time when electricity meant a lightning bolt fracturing the night sky. This is not a hypothetical, son-of-Y2K scenario. It is a realistic assessment of the damage the Pentagon believes could be inflicted by a new generation of weapons—E-bombs.”
When I mention all this at my shows, people often interrupt me with cheers.
The core of the E-bomb idea is something called a Flux Compression Generator (FCG), which the article in Popular Mechanics calls “an astoundingly simple weapon. It consists of an explosives-packed tube placed inside a slightly larger copper coil, as shown below. [The article even has a diagram!] The instant before the chemical explosive is detonated, the coil is energized by a bank of capacitors, creating a magnetic field. The explosive charge detonates from the rear forward. As the tube flares outward it touches the edge of the coil, thereby creating a moving short circuit. ‘The propagating short has the effect of compressing the magnetic field while reducing the inductance of the stator [coil],’ says Carlo Kopp [an Australian-based expert on high-tech warfare]. ‘The result is that FCGs will produce a ramping current pulse, which breaks before the final disintegration of the device. Published results suggest ramp times of tens of hundreds of microseconds and peak currents of tens of millions of amps.’ The pulse that emerges makes a lightning bolt seem like a flashbulb by comparison.”
The article concludes on this hopeful note: “Knock out electric power, computers and telecommunication and you’ve destroyed the foundation of modern society. In the age of Third World-sponsored terrorism, the E-bomb is the great equalizer.”
Read more excerpts from Endgame, or purchase the book from Derrick Jensen's website.
November 14, 2012
The root of the word ‘radical’ comes from the latin word ‘radix’, meaning ‘root’. Radish comes from the same root word.
When we say we are radicals, we are referring to a distinct political tradition that seeks to address the roots of social issues, rather than only addressing the symptoms or surface manifestations of deeper problems.
When people use that word against us, they use it to mean “Departing markedly from the usual or customary; extreme.” They mean we are fringe, crazy, deranged.
By asserting this, they claim the mainstream political space for themselves. They claim rationality, logic, and centrism, and in so doing they assert a great power. In order for us to be successful, we cannot allow them to claim the mainstream any longer.
This is a battle that has been conceded by many radicals for hundreds of years, and has contributed to the sidelining of movements. Many groups have faded into obscurity, complaining of alienation while divorcing themselves in every way from the trials and tribulations of average people. This is a political dead end.
Withdrawing from political engagement can take many different forms: self isolation is, unfortunately, one of the most common in radical groups. If we wish to succeed, we must buck this trend. We must remain engaged with society. We must claim that political space for ourselves.
WE are the normal ones. WE are the mainstream. The capitalists, the bankers, the CEOs, the businesspeople, and those who follow them blindly - they are the crazy ones. They are ones who occupy the political fringe, measured in both historical and commonsense terms.
This may seem like a purely rhetorical change, but by changing the narratives we act within, we take an important step toward expanding the effectiveness and scope of our work.
November 11, 2012
From Deep Green Resistance, by Lierre Keith, Aric McBay, and Derrick Jensen
Within both aboveground and underground activism there are several templates for basic organizational structures. These structures have been used by every resistance group in history, although not all groups have chosen the approach best suited for their situations and objectives. It is important to understand the pros, cons, and capabilities of the spectrum of different organizations that comprise effective resistance movements.
The simplest "unit" of resistance is the individual. Individuals are highly limited in their resistance activities. Aboveground individuals (Figure 8-Ib) are usually limited to personal acts like alterations in diet, material consumption, or spirituality, which, as we've said, don't match the scope of our problems. It's true that individual aboveground activists can affect big changes at times, but they usually work by engaging other people or institutions. Underground individuals (Figure 8-la) may have to worry about security less, in that they don't have anyone who can betray their secrets under interrogation; but nor do they have anyone to watch their back. Underground individuals are also limited in their actions, although they can engage in sabotage (and even assassination, as all by himself Georg Elser almost assassinated Hitler).
Individual actions may not qualify as resistance. Julian Jackson wrote on this subject in his important history of the German Occupation of France: "The Resistance was increasingly sustained by hostility of the mass of the population towards the Occupation, but not all acts of individual hostility can be characterized as resistance, although they are the necessary precondition of it. A distinction needs to be drawn between dissidence and resistance." This distinction is a crucial one for us to make as well.
Jackson continues, "Workers who evaded [compulsory labor], or Jews who escaped the round-ups, or peasants who withheld their pro duce from the Germans, were transgressing the law, and their actions were subversive of authority. But they were not resisters in the same way as those who organized the escape of [forced laborers] and Jews. Contesting or disobeying a law on an individual basis is not the same as challenging the authority that makes those laws.'"
Of course, one's options for resistance are greatly expanded in a group.
The most basic organizational unit is the affinity group. A group of fewer than a dozen people is a good compromise between groups too large to be socially functional, and too small to carry out important tasks. The activist's affinity group has a mirror in the underground cell, and in the military squad. Groups this size are small enough for participatory decision making to take place, or in the case of a hierarchical group, for orders to be relayed quickly and easily.
The underground affinity group (Figure 8-2a, shown here with a distinct leader) has many benefits for the members. Members can specialize in different areas of expertise, pool their efforts, work together toward shared goals, and watch each others' backs. The group . can also offer social and emotional support that is much needed for people working underground. Because they do not have direct relationships with other movements or underground groups, they can be relatively secure. However, due to their close working relationships, if one member of the group is compromised, the entire affinity group is likely to be compromised. The more members are in the group, the more risk involved (and the more different relationships to deal with). Also because the affinity group is limited in size, it is limited in terms of the size of objectives it can go after, and their geographic range.
Aboveground affinity groups ( Figure 8-2b) share many of the same clear benefits of a small-scale, deliberate community. However, they may rely more on outside relationships, both for friends and fellow activists. Members may also easily belong to more than one affinity group to follow their own interests and passions. This is not the case with underground groups-members must belong only to one affinity group or they are putting all groups at risk.
The obvious benefit of multiple overlapping aboveground groups is the formation of larger movements or "mesh" networks (Figure 8-3b). These larger, diverse groups are better able to get a lot done, although sometimes they can have coordination or unity problems if they grow beyond a certain size. In naturally forming social networks, each member of the group is likely to be only a few degrees of separation from any other person. This can be fantastic for sharing information or finding new contacts. However, for a group concerned about security issues, this type of organization is a disaster. If any individual were compromised, that person could easily compromise large numbers of people. Even if some members of the network can't be compromised, the sheer number of connections between people makes it easy to just bypass the people who can't be compromised. The kind of decentralized network that makes social networks so robust is a security nightmare.
Underground groups that want to bring larger numbers of people into the organization must take a different approach. A security-conscious underground network will largely consist of a number of different cells with limited connections to other cells (Figure 8-3a). One person in a cell would know all of the members in that cell, as well as a single member in another cell or two. This allows coordination and shared information between cells. This network is "compartmentalized." Like all underground groups, it has a firewall between itself and the above ground. But there are also different, internal firewalls between sections.
October 18, 2012
How does it make sense to repair one acre while 1,000 get deforested for each one that we repair, and the climate continues to get hotter? A few months ago, I realized that it really doesn’t make much sense. Sure, permaculture, Transition Towns, natural building and similar efforts will help during the coming transition, but a transition to what? A dying planet, unfortunately.
Time is out and we don’t have decades to make the needed transition; we need major changes now (actually years ago), not next year or the year after that.
While thinking about this, I realized that, similarly, it doesn’t make any sense at all for me to leave my assets to my children and grandchildren through my will—not when they will have survival issues to cope with far more important than any of the money and property that I can leave them. They do not really need more stuff, they (and all other living things) need me to do something to stop this insanity—and stop it now!
The question then becomes, “How do I best do that?” One way, of course involves learning and becoming more politically active, which I have started doing. Then it struck me: Organizations (such as Deep Green Resistance) doing this critical work need all kinds of support; then this dawned on me:
Probably tens of thousands, if not millions, of senior citizens such as myself, and many others as well, want to help but do not know how they can help or they don’t feel as though they have the time and energy. But we can still help tremendously! We can leave our assets to organizations such as Deep Green Resistance to support them!
Perhaps I cannot help much right now, so late in my life, but I can still help greatly through my death! I had a clear, exciting vision of the power to produce immediate, critically needed changes if just a few thousand people did this! What if tens of thousands did this? A few million?!
So, I have changed the beneficiary on my retirement accounts from my children to Deep Green Resistance, and altered my will as well.
Feel free to contact me or contact Deep Green Resistance if you would like to discuss any of this further.
Thank you, Bud, for your generosity.
October 15, 2012
Racism is one of the most effective tools of oppressive power. The concept of 'race' was created in the 1700's by European scientists, who mostly based their practice on skulls. They went to the Caucasus Mountains, in western Asia/SE Europe (modern Chechnya) and measured skulls from this region, and compared them with other skulls from around the world. They found that skulls from the Caucasus region were larger, and decided that Caucasian people must be more intelligent than the other races: Negroid, Mongoloid, Malay, and American (Indigenous).This classification was explicitly and implicitly stratified - white people were at the top, with the most intelligence and virtue, and black people were at the bottom - this helped justify chattel slavery. Asian people were treated as the "next best" race after white, and so on. This hierarchy still exists, and is still manipulated for political purposes. For example, after the 9/11 WTC bombings, Arabic or Middle Eastern people went from being relatively high on this hierarchy to the being the lowest of the low.
This "science" was used to denigrate people of color and justify the colonialism, land theft, and slavery flourishing in this period of expanding capital.
Understand: race was created. There is no such thing as race, scientifically. Genetically speaking, an Inuit person may have more genes in common with a Bushman from southern Africa than with an American Indian or Sami person.
The definition of race that is often used in anti-racism organizing is this:
Race is a specious classification of human beings created at a certain point in history by Europeans who came to be called white, which assigns human worth and social status using "white" as the model of humanity and the height of human achievement for the purpose of establishing and maintaining privilege and power.
Note: the word "specious" means "false but appearing to be true."
This does not mean that race is not a social reality. It is a powerful idea that has been ingrained in us for 300-400 years, and it doesn't just disappear because it's based on a lie. Race has powerful and deadly consequences in the real world.
Everyone raised in this culture is exposed to race prejudice from a young age. It is practically impossible not to assimilate some of the racist stereotypes played out in this culture - an issue that plays out in many of us that is called internalized racism. At some level or another, all of us have internalized the lessons of race prejudice. Only by looking at these prejudices head on, analyzing what is behind them, addressing the role of power and hierarchy implicit in the race system, and working to dismantle this system at both personal and societal levels can we move forward.
October 9, 2012
The roots of this tenuous relationship are certainly honorable. In the culture of empire (civilization), social behaviors that destroy earth and exploit humans are rewarded with money and wealth. Developers, slavers, agriculturalists, factory owners, CEO’s, feudal lords, and capitalists of all sorts: they thrive on the blood of the land, the blood of the people.
Of course, paying jobs exist that do not directly require this sort of exploitation. But regardless, people on the left have been understandably distant from high paying jobs and steady careers. Instead, the trend has been to “drop out” – to find ways of avoiding the necessity of gainful employment.
This manifests in many ways. Many people on the left live in poverty, either voluntary or involuntary. Many of us rely on thrift stores, dumpster diving, squatting, social support programs, or the generosity of friends and family. This is sometimes appropriate. Capitalism is a brutal hierarchy of power, and escaping that system makes sense.
However, withdrawal is not going to save us. Historically, gainful employment within society is a critical element of resistance movements. In America, Abolitionists, Suffragettes, and Irish Republicans are all examples. These organizations encouraged their members and supporters to work and support the movement with sustained funding.
Through international tours, speaking events, advertisements, neighborhood collections, religious institutions, membership dues, and personal appeals, these political activists gathered the resources that they needed to do their work.
Today, the needs of activists are the same. We print materials, pay for travel, advertise, create media, support allies, secure gathering spaces, pay legal costs, gather supplies, and see to the health and hunger of our comrades. Without the funding to support these efforts, serious activist work is impossible.
Social change requires money, and it requires a great deal of money.
Money is a multiplier. It expands the effect of our work many times over. If our resistance is to be successful, it will require many of our supporters to join the ranks of the workforce and contribute substantial amounts. This is a hard role, but vitally important. It is supplying the lifeblood of the resistance.
It is a righteous and honorable path.
October 1, 2012
During the years in which the women's liberation movement has been taking shape, a great emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless groups as the main if not sole- organizational form of the movement. The source of this idea was a natural reaction against the over-structured society in which most of us found ourselves the inevitable control this gave others over our lives, and the continual elitism of the Left and similar groups among those who were supposedly fighting this overstructuredness.
The idea of structurelessness, however, has moved from a healthy counter to those tendencies to becoming a goddess in its own right. The idea is as little examined as the term is much used, but it has become an intrinsic and unquestioned part of women's liberation ideology. For the early development of the movement this did not much matter. It early defined its main goal, and its main method, as consciousness-raising, and the 'structureless" rap group was an excellent means to this end. The looseness and informality off it encouraged participation in discussion, and its often supportive atmosphere elicited personal insight. If nothing more c concrete than personal insight ever resulted from these groups, that did not much matter, because their purpose did not really extend beyond this.
The basics problems didn't appear until individual rap groups exhausted the virtues of consciousness-raising and decided they wanted to do something more specific. At this point they usually foundered because most groups were unwilling to change their structure when they changed their tasks. Women had thoroughly accepted the idea of "structurelessness" without realizing the limitations of its uses. People would try to use the "structureless" group and the informal conference for purposes for which they were unsuitable out of a blind belief that no other means could possibly be anything but oppressive.
If the movement is to grow beyond these elementary stages of development, it will have to disabuse itself of some of its prejudices about organization and structure. There is nothing inherently bad about either of these. They can be and often are misused, but to reject them out of hand because they are misused is to deny ourselves the necessary tools to further development. We need to understand why "structurelessness" does not work.
Formal and Informal Structures
Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities, personalities, or intentions of the people involved. The very fact that we are individuals, with different talents, predispositions, and backgrounds makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness and that is not the nature of a human group.
This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an "objective" news story, "value-free" social science, or a "free" economy. A "laissez faire" group is about as realistic as a "laissez faire" society; the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because the idea of "structurelessness" does not prevent the formation of informal structures, only formal ones. Similarly "laissez faire" philosophy did not prevent the economically powerful from establishing control over wages, prices, and distribution of goods; it only prevented the government from doing so. Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women's movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.
For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized. This is not to say that formalization of a structure of a group will destroy the informal structure. It usually doesn't But it does hinder the informal structure from having predominant control and make available some means of attacking it if the people involved are not at least responsible to the needs of the group at large. "Structurelessness" is organizationally impossible. We cannot decide whether to have a structured or structureless group, only whether or not to have a formally structured one. Therefore the word will not he used any longer except to refer to the idea it represents. Unstructured will refer to those groups which have not been deliberately structured in a particular manner. Structured will refer to those which have. A Structured group always has formal structure, and may also have an informal, or covert, structure. It is this informal structure, particularly in Unstructured groups, which forms the basis for elites...
Read the full article here: http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm
September 25, 2012
Each day that passes, more energy builds up to drive the new global warming storms. More forests fall and more prairies are plowed under. Every day, new coal power goes online, new cars roll off assembly lines. Every day, more species are driven to extinction and more humans and non-humans are driven into slavery and suffering. Every day, more women and children are sexually assaulted, and more boys are taught that this is normal.
The trajectory of this culture is clear, and it is not hopeful. Dozens of generations have now grown up in a culture that not only systematically destroys life, but that validates and rewards this cultural and individual behavior as normal. This is why we can’t wait: the world is heading in the wrong direction.
And not only the environment is being made sick. Our minds are being progressively more poisoned too – cajoled into thinking consumption is the answer to happiness, while our souls are being drained of their substance. Our morality is being dismantled bit by bit. Greed and self-gratification are the attitudes of our time. Our leaders decry abuse and terrorism while facilitating the biggest system of slavery, incarceration, disenfranchisement, and mass murder the world has ever seen. The culture trumpets freedom and democracy while enforcing both a brutal patriarchy that uses pornography, pop culture, and violence to enforce its hierarchy; and a brutal racism no less violent and frighteningly effective.
These systems need dismantling – no, they need to be absolutely destroyed; but there are other aspects of the world that need regrowth. We need more compassion. More conviction. More service. More courage. We need to reach inside ourselves and find the power to drive this historical moment. And historic it is – this is a pivotal time. What happens in the next few decades will decide the fate of our species and many millions of others.
September 17, 2012
It takes a forest approximately 1000 years to create 1 or 2 inches of topsoil. In extremely fertile conditions, grasslands and forests can create topsoil at double this rate.
The last 10,000 years, the length of agricultural civilization as a way of life, has been an unmitigated disaster for soil. In many regions, the soil has been completely eroded, compacted, denuded, salinized, or otherwise destroyed. This has been the fate of the "Fertile Crescent", of North Africa, Ethiopia, the Mediterranean regions of Europe, much of Eastern Europe, and of much of the interior of China, Mongolia, and India.
Other regions have 'merely' suffered a massive decline in soil health and thickness - this includes all the major food-growing regions of the world: the Sahel, the American Great Plains, the Pampas, and a wide swathe of Central Europe and Eastern China.
Healthy soil is rich in organic matter, very well aerated, holds and captures water (humus), and rich in life forms (there are sometimes more than 1 billion living creatures in one teaspoon of healthy soil). The soil is the skin of living Earth.
In a natural state, the lands tends towards a climax ecosystem - a mature system that maximizes biodiversity, soil production, and complexity. When a disturbance occurs, such as a flood, a fire, or a civilization, bare soil is exposed. Exposed soil is a planetary emergency. It is an open wound on the skin of Earth.
Like our body responds with blood and clotting, Earth responds with a first aid crew - weeds, grasses, and other quick-growing annual plants. These plants quickly cover the soil and begin to heal the wound, preparing the soil for perennial grasses, shrubs, trees, or whoever else belongs there.
If you measure the balance of a society by its relationship with soil, the current globalized industrial civilization is drastically out of balance. Over the past 40 years, about 30% of the total agricultural land has been so degraded it is no longer usable. That land will take hundreds or thousands of years to recover, if it can ever do so.
A healthy human culture is one that cultivates relationship with climax communities and encourages their continued growth and flourishing, and does not destroy them.
September 10, 2012
This is no excuse for cultural appropriation. I have no right to steal parts of other cultures and spiritualities, nor do I deserve pity for being part of a culture that severed it's humanity in order to gain riches. What I do have the responsibility to do is regain a connection with my roots.
My ancestors came from several regions - Norway, Ukraine, Portugal. I want to regain some of the biocentric traditions of my culture, the ancient ways developed over long years immersed in a living, breathing world, a world alive with intention, with spirits and cold flowing waters, with great winds and bright starshine.
For me, the first steps involve learning the history of my people. How did they become colonized? When? What came before? What came after? In these questions, and in beginning to regain connection to our ancestors, we may be able to gain some of their wisdom and once again learn to live as connected peoples.
September 2, 2012
Certainly there are good reasons for us to fight back. We have had the misfortune of being born into a devastated world, a desecrated world, a world robbed of meaning and community and life. Instead of a world that has been watched over by our ancestors, we have been born in a time when we cannot be sure if there is a future.
The soil is gone. The forests were long since felled. The grasslands are ghosts. The oceans are bleeding out. The climate is in chaos. Rape is epidemic. Addiction is rampant, to drugs and pornography and alcohol and technology. We are living at the endgame of industrial civilization.
Earth is dying, and for many of us young people, this is all we know. Many of us have never seen an old-growth forest. How are we to know that trees as thick as the length of a car used to blanket this land? How are we to know, really know, that salmon used to return every year to feed the people and the forest and the land?
We have forgotten much. Civilization has successfully broken the bonds between the young and the old. This is critical to the success of empire – if we cannot remember our history, our triumphs and defeats, our traditions and our ways, how can we survive? How can we fight?
The young people have so much to offer. We have energy. We have conviction. We have rage. We have love. We have the discontentment of living in the system that is using us like slaves. These are gifts; we need to use them on behalf of this life. But for our gifts to be truly effective, we need to work together with our elders. This struggle needs to be multi-generational.
“Breaking the natural bonds (could there be a deeper bond than the cross generational one between mother and child?) between young and old means that the political wisdom never accumulates. It also means that the young are never socialized into a true culture of resistance. The values of a youth culture-an adolescent stance rejecting all constraints-prevent both the "culture" and the "resistance" from really developing. No culture can exist without community norms based on responsibility to each other and some accepted ways to enforce those norms. And the "resistance" will never amount to more than a few smashed windows, the low-hanging tactical fruit for an adolescent strategy of emotional intensity.” – Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save The Planet, page 144.
Deep Green Resistance is building a movement to fight back, and we mean to win. This is one way that young people can fight back: join us. There is much to be done, and time is short. Everyone can contribute – every mind and every set of hands brings us that much closer to a culture of resistance. We do not pretend that DGR is the only path. There are many organizations and groups of people around the world who are fighting back. Find these communities. Learn about the struggle. Learn your revolutionary history. Find elders who also see the necessity of fighting for life, and learn from them.
From here, we begin building. This movement has been a long time in coming, but now it is on its way. This may not look like a war, but it is a war. We need warriors.
August 28, 2012
McMahon calls the stigmatization of counter-cultural views “psychological terrorism: labeling and pathologizing a person’s emotional reactions when they are perfectly appropriate given the situation or threat that faces us.” To describe those who practice this terrorism, McMahon has coined the term “Panglossian Disorder”: The neurotic tendency toward extreme optimism in the face of likely cultural and planetary collapse.
Robert Jensen, a journalism professor at the University of Texas, has written extensively on topics as widely ranging as pornography & masculinity, racism and ecology. His passage on the psychology of collapse is worth quoting at length.
“I think not only leftists, but people in general, avoid these realities because reality is so grim. It seems overwhelming to most people, for good reason. So, rather than confront it, people find modes of evasion. One is to deny there’s a reason to worry, which is common throughout the culture. The most common evasive strategy I hear from people on the left is “technological fundamentalism”—the idea that because we want high-energy/high-tech solutions that will allow us to live in the style to which so many of us have become accustomed, those solutions will be found. That kind of magical thinking is appealing but unrealistic (Jensen 2010).”
Avoiding grim realities is a full-time job for many people in this culture. Confronting these realities means acknowledging that despite the heroic work of the mainstream environmental movement for the past decades, we are losing on every front. To quote Paul Hawken.
“Every living system on earth is in decline. There hasn’t been a peer-reviewed scientific paper released in 40 years that contradicts that statement.”
We face a truly horrific future: four degrees C warming by 2060, with the attendant droughts, floods, intensification of storms, accelerating species loss (some studies suggest 1/3 of all species will be lost by 2100), growing dead zones in the oceans - the list goes on and on. I was in Siberia in summer of 2010 with a group of climate scientists, and I saw the permafrost starting to thaw. This is only one of the most horrifying positive feedbacks, one among many: the dieback of Amazon and Boreal forests, the ice albedo feedback, shifts in monsoon patterns.
To move forward, we are going to need to peer ever deeper into the psychology of the culture, searching for new strategies and tactics and inspiring new levels of commitment. If we want a world that has more salmon every year than the year before, more songbirds every year than the year before, cleaner air and water and food every year than the year before, we are going to need to come up with serious strategies that address the oppressive power structures of civilization that are abusive, violent, and non-repentant. We must match the destructiveness of the culture with our determination to see it stopped.
Read Decisive Ecological Warfare, a strategy to match the scale of the problem with a realistic solution.
August 26, 2012
“For over 100 years the women of the Oglala Lakota nation have been dealing with an attack on the mind body and spirit of their relatives. We have been silenced through chemical warfare waged by the corporations who are out to exploit and make a profit off of the suffering and misery of our people. The time has come to end this suffering by any means necessary.” –Olowan Martinez, Oglala Lakota
WHITE CLAY, NE—Five activists with Deep Green Resistance were arrested on Sunday, August 26th, at 7:40pm for blockading the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska. Taken to jail in a horse trailer while still connected to each other by lock-boxes, the arrestees were later released on their own recognizance when they agreed to unlock themselves.
The blockade shut down the town and four infamous liquor stores that define the 14-person municipality, for more than six hours, and preventing an estimated $5,250 in liquor sales. They were being held at Sheridan County Jail in Rushville, NE. A solidarity legal fund has been set up to raise money for bail, legal, and court.
We need to raise as much money as we possibly can to support those brave individuals—Alexander Knox, Rachel, Alex Rose, Val Wesp—who put their bodies on the line against the chemical warfare being waged against the Oglala Lakota. We need to work to make sure that those arrested are supported for the sacrifices they made. Their collective fines are estimated to be, at maximum, $10,000. Anything you can give will go a long way towards alleviating the immense costs facing the five full-time activists.
Donated funds will also go towards supporting a juvenile Lakota boy who was pepper-sprayed and arrested by police, after defending himself in a physical altercation with four adult males (some of whom are associated with Whiteclay liquor stores).
Whiteclay has a population of 14, yet 4 liquor stores in the town sell 12,500 cans of beer each day. The stores have been documented repeatedly selling to bootleggers, intoxicated people, minors, and trading beer for sexual favors. 150 years ago, it was the U.S. Calvary and smallpox-infested blankets; today, Whiteclay is the face of genocide for the Oglala Lakota.
Find out more, and keep up to date with the campaign against Whiteclay here: http://shutdownwhiteclay.wordpress.com/
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
- Donate to the Solidarity Legal Fund here: http://www.gofundme.com/WhiteClay5Solidarity
- Spread the word to your friends, families, and networks. We’ll be putting out updates on the situation as things change.
- Stay tuned to join the battle against Whiteclay. This fight is just beginning.
Ben Barker of Deep Green Resistance / (262) 208-5347, email@example.com
Deep Green Resistance is committed to the battle against the exploitative Whiteclay. Read more about the first action that DGR members were part of in June 2012.
August 25, 2012
McMillan, a cartoonist based out of Florida in the United States, has two main cartoons. The first, Minimum Security, is a daily comic strip in the form of a long-form narrative, about a group of friends trying to stop ecocidal maniacs from destroying the Earth. The second, Code Green, began in August 2009 as a weekly editorial cartoon focused on the environmental emergency.
From the author, Stephanie McMillan:
"I’ve been thinking of quitting drawing “Code Green,” my weekly editorial cartoon about the environmental emergency. My income from paying clients has crashed; if I’m going to continue it, it needs to be supported by readers. So I’ve started a fundraising campaign.
I’m not going to be pushing this much at all. This is the only post I’m going to make about it. I’m okay with quitting this cartoon. But because some readers seemed dismayed when I talked about quitting, I didn’t feel right about ending it without giving you a chance to keep it going."
Support Stephanie McMillan's Code Green here: http://www.indiegogo.com/codegreen
These technologies do nothing to address global power imbalances. The US military is spending a great deal of time and money researching alternative energy technologies for the armed forces; tactically, it’s a smart move. But as always, the technology ends up benefiting the powerful while further abusing the natural world and the poor.
Before we can move forward as a movement for natural justice, we must recognize that global power structures are not going to change willingly. These systems are not driven by truth or ethics, but by profit. The exploitation is not an accident; it’s a deliberate system to maintain and expand power.
No amount of education will stop sociopathological behavior; only some sort of force will do so. This is a fact that many social movements have come to understand. The words of the famous Frederick Douglass immortalize the lesson: “Power concedes nothing without a demand — It never has, and it never will.”
Electricity is not sustainable. Alternative energy is not sustainable. It is another dead end, another false solution, another greenwashing project to divert legitimate grievances into political quagmire.
The lake of toxic waste at Baotou, China,
dumped by the rare earth processing plants in the background
August 18, 2012
View a video recording of one of the stops on this tour:
A SPECIAL THANKS! to all who helped put this report back together, and an EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS! to all the wonderful people who helped us along the way with donations, roofs, and well-wishes. We couldn't do this without your support!
The frontline of the struggle for indigenous sovereignty – against industrial extraction, against corporate pipelines - is not in Washington D.C. or Victoria, British Columbia. It is not in the offices of Greenpeace or 350.org. To get to one of the many places the where the battle is being waged, you have to travel an hour and a half down a dirt logging road in central British Columbia. Surrounded by forests of Black Spruce and Lodge Pole Pine on the bank of the Morice River, at the edge of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory, is the Unis’tot’en Action Camp. Here, the Wet’suwet’en are holding their ground, defending their traditional lands from a set of 9 oil & gas pipelines the Canadian government (and a host of multinational corporations, collectively worth hundreds of billions of dollars) want to build. Earlier this month, for the third year in a row, they invited their allies and supporters to take part in the week-long Action Camp, which included workshops, discussions, trainings, mutual aid, and relationship building.
But our story begins almost three weeks beforehand.
A few of the roadshow crew hanging out
by the trusty van waiting for the others to catch up.
From left: Val, Dillon, Andrew, and Spencer (Photo by Max Wilbert)
Over the last several weeks, organizers from DGR have been traveling up the Pacific Northwest on our way to the Unis’tot’en Action Camp. Along the way, we stopped in cities to gather donations, funds, and messages of support and solidarity for the Wet’suwet’en.
Max, Val and Xander started the tour in Eugene, OR, where about 20 people met in the Meitreya Straw Bale House, which is squeezed into the corner of a packed garden. Our first talk went smoothly, with some great discussion afterwards. We got some great donations and got a chance to visit with some interesting, unique folks. Thanks to the people in Eugene who helped put this event on!
In Bend, Rachel and Alex joined the tour and caravan, and we were treated to a meal consisting of some of the chief foods of the region - fresh local salmon, berries, and greens - as well as great discussion about activism, solidarity, and the Cascadia bioregion. Those who hosted us in Bend are also working hard on a documentary called Occupied Cascadia, which includes interviews with Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen, and DGR's Dillon Thomson and Max Wilbert. You can watch the trailer here.
In Portland, Val and Rachel spent three days at RadFem Reboot, a conference on radical feminism that they found to be a valuable experience of woman-centered learning and solidarity. The rest of us went hiking in the Columbia River Gorge, where we picked huckleberries and listened as a local friend told us about the horrific role of damns in destroying the land. We also rendezvoused with supporters in several parks to collect donations of food, camping, and clothing.
(Photo by Max Wilbert)
In Olympia, we only had a handful of folks come out for the talk. Max and Xander were the only two at Last Word Books, with the rest of the crew staying back in Portland. With a small audience we decided to go with more of a discussion format than a presentation/q & a arrangement. Max and Xander gave a short version of their talks, then proceeded into a discussion about Indigenous support and some of the issues faced by Indigenous communities.
Immediately after Olympia, it was on to Seattle, where we spoke at Couth Buzzard Books and were treated to live music by not one, but two fantastic local musicians, Jeremy Serwer and Mads Jacobson. After some great discussions about militant strategy and class-based politics, we took a late-night ferry to Vashon Island, to spend a short 24 hours at the Localize This! Action Camp, organized by the Backbone Campaign.
We were fortunate enough to have several days of rest in Bellingham, where Dillon, Tarun, Andrew and Spencer joined our northward journey. We were hosted at the local Co-op by the Fertile Ground Environmental Institute (a local non-profit founded by some current DGR members), and the event had the largest turnout of the tour. We received LOADS of food donations from our many wonderful supporters in Bellingham. We also spent time swimming at Whatcom Falls and exploring a rare patch of old-growth forest, before leaving for Vancouver and our rendezvous with a caravan organized by Zoe Blunt from Forest Action Network among other organizations.
After crossing the border without any hassles, we spent a slow afternoon playing Frisbee, reading, and napping in a park, before heading to the Purple Thistle Centre (where we met up with Ivor and Lona), where our event in Vancouver was held. We had some wonderful conversations with folks about security culture, prisoner support, and preventing the infiltration of masculinity into our movements. After the event, we headed to nearby Calvary Baptist Church, which had reached out and offered us sleeping space. The next morning, we met around sixty folks traveling with the caravan, and after a last-minute oil change, we embarked on the 700 mile trek to the action camp.
between Vancouver and the camp
(Photo by Max Wilbert)
We didn’t arrive at the camp until 4:00 am two days later, after getting lost in the endless and confusing matrix of unmarked logging roads that snake around through the hills and along rivers. It was cold and dark, with the earliest hints of daylight beginning to creep up along the eastern edge of the sky as we rolled to a stop at the bridge over Wedzin Kwah (Morice River). Wet'suwet'en territory, the location of the action camp, lay beyond the bridge on the other side. After honking a car horn, we waited to be met on the bridge by the hosts of the Action Camp. The Unis’tot’en call the protocol for entering their territory ‘Free, Prior, & Informed Consent’.
Those seeking to pass through or stay on their lands wait at the edge of the territory until they are met by Unis’tot’en, who ask who they are, where they come from, what their business is on Unis’tot’en land, and of what benefit it will be to the Unis’tot’en. The protocol is tradition to
the Unis’tot’en, and those permitted into their territory are expected to respect and abide by Unis’tot’en law. After filing one by one to meet and introduce ourselves to the hosts, we rolled wearily across the bridge and into camp, set up our tents, and collapsed for a much needed, if brief, sleep.
The next day was spent settling into camp, meeting the other participants, and helping erect some basic infrastructure. After a late oatmeal breakfast, we broke out into informal work crews, some of us building a camp-kitchen, others dug and built latrines, cleared and built a camp gathering circle & benches, and set up ropes for tree-climbing trainings. After a productive day of getting to know one another, we were honored with a performance by the ‘Ewk Hiyah Hozdli Dance Group Co-op, singing and dancing traditional Wet’suwet’en songs.
Beautiful Sky in the land of the Unis'tot'en
(Photo by Max Wilbert)
The morning was spent as a whole group, meeting and introducing ourselves to the Chief and some of the elders of the Unis’tot’en Clan, and hearing their words about the Unis’tot’en resistance against the pipelines. We also were updated on some events from the previous night, when logging contractors with the company Canfor tried to enter the territory for a logging operation. The Unis’tot’en met them on the bridge over the Morice River, at the edge of their territory. The loggers were surprised by having to identify themselves and justify their entrance onto Unis’tot’en land. They were asked to present the maps of the area they were operating in, and when the Unis’tot’en saw that the Canfor contractors were logging out a right-of-way for a pipeline, they denied access. While upset at being turned away, the loggers hopefully left with a new appreciation for Unis’tot’en protocol and sovereignty.
We all spent that afternoon together at the first half of a two-part Decolonization & Respectful Race Relations workshop, led by a Coast Salish woman. She talked about her experience of decolonizing herself and the struggles that accompanied that journey, as well as addressing the systemic oppression and colonization that affect her people.
(Photo by Max Wilbert)
The next day (Wednesday the 8th) saw a surprise visit by three members of the Warrior Alliance, a coalition of members from different First Nations warrior societies. Together with a former member of the Black Panther Party, they put on a full day workshop. In the morning, they talked about what a warrior is and what it means to be a warrior. Needless to say, the criteria they presented are glaringly different (and incalculably more honorable) than those of soldiers within Settler (or Invader) Society. After breaking for lunch, the topics turned to organizational strategy & security, and protecting ourselves and our movements from the COINTELPRO & counterinsurgency tactics so often employed against us by police and state forces. It was incredibly informative and eye-opening; an invaluable experience to say the least. Sitting around a small fire on sentry duty down by the bridge, with our minds still churning from the discussions earlier in the day, some of us had time to talk about how this all applied to DGR, and where we’d like to see ourselves move as an organization. That night, a women's circle was also convened around a fire near the camping area, providing both indigenous and settler women with an opportunity to share their experiences.
Thursday was a day of serious workshop-ing; beginning with the second half of the Decolonization workshop, which discussed about cultural appropriation, settler/invader privilege, and how indigenous peoples are often outnumbered by white outsiders. In the words of the presenter, the workshop was aimed at making people ‘uncomfortable’, and it was openly discussed how those acting in ‘solidarity’ with indigenous struggles so often put their own spiritual and emotional needs ahead of the cause at hand, effectively commodifying indigenous cultures and ways of being, rather than fully respecting and standing in solidarity with those struggles. It was one of the most powerful and necessary topics & discussions that took place at the camp, and left everyone with lots to think about and (more importantly) act on.
(Photo by Max Wilbert)
Deep Green Resistance had the honor (and challenge) of following the Decolonization workshop. Xander and Val spoke briefly about the destruction & oppression inherent to civilization, the Decisive Ecological Warfare Strategy promoted by DGR, and some of our own guidelines for indigenous solidarity work. There were a lot of great points brought up, and great answers and discussion. One man asked whether bicycles were part of the future we envisioned, and after a lengthy answer about the horrors of industrial mining & manufacturing, someone else summed it up beautifully & succinctly, saying “Who cares about bicycles?” When the health of the world is at risk, technological trinkets that require mining and production (and therefore destruction and oppression) should not be our focus.
That afternoon, we split among several different workshops; some of us went for a plant walk guided by some of the Wet’suwet’en, some attended a film-making workshop led by Frank Lopez (of Submedia & END:CIV fame), some helped construct a smokehouse, and others practiced tree-climbing.
Friday, the last day of the camp, saw another fast-paced series of workshops: “Nonviolent Direct Action”, “Creative Action Planning”, and “Systems Change not Climate Change” (during which Indigenous peoples from across so-called Canada spoke about how climate change was affecting & damaging their traditional lands and ways of being).
At the same time, a crew of us spent the morning digging holes for food caches, where dried and non-perishable foods would be stored for future use. Later in the day, we wove willow-mats and cut pine boughs to cover the holes before burying them with dirt. As a surprise, our hosts took us on a short walk to show us an old pit-house, where Unis’tot’en had lived decades before, and trees they had marked.
Our last night saw more drumming and performances, with several heartfelt goodbyes and folks beginning to leave the camp. We found our hosts after things died down and formally thanked them for inviting us into their territory, and promised continued solidarity and support. We made a hasty departure very early the next morning, leaving early in the morning, about the same time we had arrived, as the first pale fingers of daylight started to stretch across the quickly fading stars. Our time in Unis’tot’en territory was brief, but the connections and relationships we made will last much longer. Having set foot on Unis’tot’en territory, having drunk from the water and eaten from the land, we are indebted to defend this place and stand in solidarity with the Unis’tot’en people to protect their landbase.
August 7, 2012
It is corporations that are perpetrating this ecocide, with the help of local law enforcement acting as their private armies. They must be held accountable for the devastation they are committing.
Deep Green Resistance stands in solidarity with those who took accountability into their own hands on July 28th at the Hobet Mine in West Virginia. It makes our hearts sing to see people nonviolently reinforcing a line in the sand, defending the rights of communities to clean air and water as well as the rights of the majestic Appalachians to stand unmolested.
We hope that others follow the example of R.A.M.P.S. and the brave folks who shut down the Hobet Mine. Those seeking to destroy life for profit are feeling the pressure. As they ratchet up the repression, we must call in unison: “We shall not be moved!”
We stand with the twenty who were arrested; we stand with the countless others who were harassed and abused on the 28th; we stand with those on the front lines of devastating extraction all over the world; and we stand with the mountains whose very existences are threatened.
To the Hobet 20: Thank you. Your sacrifices will not be forgotten.
To the West Virginia State Troopers: Your violations have not gone unnoticed, and you will be brought to justice.
To the Barons of Industry: Your days are numbered.
Deep Green Resistance
Donate to the ramps general fund: https://www.wepay.com/donations/57022
August 2, 2012
The roadshow crew from left: Sam, Rachel, Cooper, Xander, and Val
Noam Chomsky gave the dedication at the opening of the Civic Media Center, a radical bookstore and community space in Gainesville Florida, and a signed photograph of the author smiled bemusedly from the wall as myself and four other members of Deep Green Resistance set up a table with our information and arranged chairs into rows. Most of the walls in the CMC are covered in bookshelves to the ceiling, filled with titles that make me wish that we had hours here to sit and read, instead of less than an hour to finish editing the presentation for our second stop on what we’ve been calling a Culture of Resistance Roadshow. We’ve been up late and awake early writing, editing, and discussing the minutiae of what we’ll be trying to get across, but we’re still feverishly tweaking the wording and checking our sources as the first of our talk’s attendees come in and greet us. Three of us will speak today, one for each of the three sections into which we’ve split our material. Behind the projection screen over our heads, a poster reads: “Until the lions have their historians, the tales will always glorify the hunter.” — African Proverb. Though we don’t yet know it, that proverb will become a slide in a later version of our talk — one among many additions and edits the presentation will go through in the next two weeks. In fact, we’ll learn so much from the discussions, questions, and experiences of each stop on the tour that no two presentations will be exactly alike. In each variation, the idea that proverb addresses is one that we wanted to challenge and talk about with others – who do the histories of our culture glorify, who do they erase, and what do the answers tell us about power and how to resist it?
Our first presentation two days earlier was at Florida Atlantic University’s Biscayne Bay campus in Miami. It was structured differently from the ones that would follow, because we shared time and discussion space with both the Miami-Dade Green Party and South Florida-based anti-capitalist group OneStruggle. Each group spoke for about twenty minutes. First, OneStruggle organizer and political cartoonist Stephanie McMillan lead us through her illustrated explanation of capitalism's contradictions. (Read Stephanie's great webcomic about the environmental emergency, Code Green.) She also explained that OneStruggle is focused on connecting capitalist exploitation with other, intersecting social justice struggles including the ecological crisis — a focus that DGR shares.
Next, a representative from the Green Party gave us a detailed rundown of some of the most critical threats to the area, with an emphasis on the risks imposed by the Turkey Point nuclear plant in nearby Homestead, Florida, which was fined $140,000 by federal regulators back in April of this year for failing to adequately protect employees from radiation exposure, not to mention the surrounding environment from contamination. Last, Sam and Xander from DGR spoke about our group's basic premise — that civilization is unsustainable by definition, and that it will continue to destroy more of our land and communities until we dismantle it. They also emphasized the need for decisive, coordinated direct action that can address the common roots of the overlapping problems that OneStruggle, the Green Party, and DGR are targeting. Topics addressed in the discussion that followed ranged from local, specific issues of destruction and exploitation, to the larger strategies and principles that guide each of the three groups.
In between Miami and Gainesville, we stopped by the Night Heron Activist Center in Lake Worth to help some great folks from Everglades EarthFirst! stuff, stamp, and seal the envelopes of the EarthFirst! Journal's latest fundraising mailout. Afterward, we all headed to nearby Jupiter to visit and swim in the Loxahatchee River. Myself and two others on the tour are Florida natives, and it was great to spend some quality time with Florida's prehistoric-looking ferns and pine scrub before heading North out of the sunshine state.
A fair portion of the discussion in Miami had focused on the details of how civilization destroys landbases, and on debate over whether reforming the civilized system is possible or desirable. With more than an hour to fill in Gainesville, we felt we could shed more light on the issue in a longer, more detailed presentation. In the introduction of our talk, we began by addressing the fundamental question: what is happening to the air, water, and land, and why? We didn't only want to try and answer that question, we also wanted to ask it of the community members who attended our talks. Different types of destruction, extraction, and oppression are occurring in every region we visited, and we wanted to hear about them from the people who are experiencing them directly. We were also interested in placing each local issue within the context of the global ecological crisis. For myself and others in DGR, learning the true definition of the word civilization was a major step toward identifying and understanding the destructive patterns of industrial culture.
Civilization is the phenomenon of people living in cities, more or less permanently, in large enough numbers to require the routine importation of resources. From this definition, we tried to explain the effects of civilization as a social system and arrangement of resources. When the land a group of people lives on cannot support them, the resources need to come from somewhere else. Sometimes those resources have to be stolen from other human communities, the way North America was taken through genocide and terrorism by civilized European cultures. Sometimes they have to be extracted from the surrounding biotic community - think industrial logging, fossil fuel extraction, industrial agriculture - at devastating cost to human and nonhuman life. The antagonism between capitalist, industrial civilization and the nature world is basic: infinite growth cannot be maintained on a finite planet.
In addition to talking about the physical, material implications of the civilized system, we also wanted to examine the myths of civilization. Certain ideas and narratives crop up again and again to justify the violence inflicted by the system. For instance, humans are separate from and above the rest of the natural world. Or, survival is dependent not upon cooperation with the land, its species, and other humans, but upon the domination and exploitation of them all. Dismantling the apparatus of civilization will also mean dismantling our unspoken adherence to the myths that the culture propagates.
Our second section asked: how do liberal and radical approaches to political change differ, and how likely are each of those approaches to help us dismantle civilization? We used historical and contemporary examples to illustrate some main distinctions between liberalism and radicalism. Greenwashed consumer choices and trendy, industry-approved lifestyle changes are the logical conclusion of liberalism's core tenet of individualism. Despite their ongoing failure to halt or even slow the murder of the planet, individual lifestyle changes are persisting within activist culture and even growing in popularity. Now, fifty years after Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, these lifestyle changes have posed no significant challenge to the environmental destruction she wrote about. The point is not to devalue the changes that we can each make to our lives.
In addition, liberalism is idealist in nature, which means that it identifies the locus of social change in changing people's minds instead of in changing physical reality. Radicalism values education as a necessary part of a resistance movement, but accepts that material reality shapes our experiences and therefore our ideas, not the other way around. The liberal approach also tends to emphasize an adherence to abstract principles, like dogmatic nonviolence, where a radical approach means a diversity of tactics and a practical focus on what can be effective within a particular context.
In this section, we also talked about what a culture of resistance means to us in DGR. A singular approach does not a culture make – we need everyone's ideas, talents, and dedication, using whatever means can be effective for halting the ecocide our planet is experiencing at the hands of our culture. However, differing tactics and approaches are most effective when they each fit into a larger strategy, and work toward a common goal. We also spoke about how systems of oppressive power like civilization, capitalism, patriarchy, and racism interlock to keep oppression and ecological destruction in place. They share common roots of domination, marginalization, and enforcement through violence, and if we want to effectively challenge any of these systems, we need to address them all.
Our third section focused on general strategic principles for resistance, and also on the specific strategy that DGR is working from, which is called Decisive Ecological Warfare or D.E.W. We examined the successes and failures of historical acts of resistance like the British Suffrage movement in order to discuss target selection and the nature of asymmetric conflicts like the one we find ourselves in today, where one side wields vastly more capacity for force than their opposition.
We went into a lot of detail in these sections during the Gainesville presentation, particularly with the first section's explanation of civilization's effects. We felt it was very important to address each of these topics in Gainesville, but attempting to address everything in our presentation meant that it ran a lot longer than we had hoped, and left too little time for discussion afterward with the group. We found that cramming too much information into a short time didn't make the concepts we were addressing any easier to convey. In fact, the attempt to preempt every possible question with a pre-written explanation seemed to make it even harder to get a productive discussion off the ground.
In the twenty four hours between Gainesville and our next talk in Atlanta, we reexamined the approach we'd taken to our presentation. We needed to pare down the information, focus on fewer, more fundamental concepts, and allow as much time for discussion as possible. Also, we felt that the physical set up of our last talk – seats for attendees in rows, facing us speaking at the front of the room – needed changing. We resolved to sit in a circle whenever possible, and also to focus on conscientious facilitation of discussion in order to avoid only a few voices dominating the conversation. That night and on the drive to Atlanta the next day, we considered and reconsidered each section that we had written, adding some minor points but cutting out and revising many more in order to allow more time for discussion as a group.
By the time we arrived at the Little Five Points Community Center in Atlanta, I felt better about our talk with the changes we had made. We didn't end up giving our presentation in Atlanta, however, because the film End:Civ by director Frank Lopez was being screened at the community center right before we were scheduled. Since that film addresses so many of the points we planned to cover, we decided it would avoid redundancy and be more productive to move straight into discussion. We arranged ourselves into a large circle with everyone in the room, and did go-around introductions as well as a short rundown of the topics we had planned to present on. We started out writing down the names of those who raised their hands to speak within the large group, and there were a lot of crucial topics brought up that needed to be discussed: the nature and role of technology within civilization, the relationship between aboveground and underground actions, what it means for land to have a carrying capacity of organisms. We also spent some time talking about the local resistance to the Vogtle nuclear plant.
The idea of carrying capacity ended up being a common focus of discussion during many of our tour stops. The idea that the planet can only support a certain number of organisms was challenged by some who attended our talks. In order to illustrate the concept, we talk about an experiment done in the sixties on St. Mathews Island. Twenty nine reindeer were introduced to the island, where there existed no natural reindeer predators. As a result, their population exploded to six thousand in a short time. The island's ecosystem could not support that many deer, and they quickly began to degrade the landscape by overfeeding. Eventually, there wasn't enough sustenance left to sustain their numbers, and the population underwent a crash die-off to less than fifty animals. This sequence of events is not unique to the deer population. The trajectory of their population graph is the same as it would be for any species that overshoots the carrying capacity of the land.
For me, learning about carrying capacity and overshoot added a lot of urgency to my critique of civilization. During our presentation, we placed the graph of the reindeer population from the experiment next to the human population graph – the curve is strikingly similar. Industrial agriculture, which essentially creates food out of fossil fuel with the use of petroleum-based fertilizer and mechanization, has allowed the human population to stave off the crash experienced by the reindeer and other species. We can delay the effects, but we cannot defy the limits of the natural systems we exist within.
Some who reacted to us with hostility at our presentations when we brought up carrying capacity seemed to interpret our analysis as a kind of misanthropic agenda to reduce the population by any means necessary, but it seems to me that such an interpretation misses the point. The civilization and the population it supports isn't going to crash because DGR says it will; it's going to crash because a finite planet cannot support an infinite number of organisms. The real question is, what will be left of natural systems when the artificial systems that support us can no longer do so?
After meeting a lot of wonderful activists in Atlanta, we headed to Asheville, North Carolina where we had a great time doing a talk at Firestorm. We spent some time in the city but were also excited to be able to camp for two nights out in the black mountains, right along the Blue Ridge parkway. I've lived in heavily developed areas all my life, and I've never before been able to appreciate how many stars are visible once you get away from the artificial lights of the city. Combined with the fireflies, the night sky near the South Toe river outside of Asheville took my breath away.
In the city, we stayed at a collective house with members of the Katuah EarthFirst chapter, and had a relaxing night browsing through their huge and amazing library. Some Katuah members explained the current problem of gentrification in the city, which is seeing an influx of corporate chains and a gradual removal of the local economy, as well as an oppressive police crackdown on communities of color and the homeless. We sat on the porch and watched the fireflies, playing guitar and singing songs about resistance.
After Asheville, we traveled east to Chapel Hill, also in NC, to speak at The Internationalist. The discussion here centered heavily on specific issues of strategy, particularly on the relationship between the aboveground and an underground segment of resistance. This great conversation carried over into the next morning, when members of the Croatan EarthFirst! Chapter made us an awesome breakfast before taking us hiking and swimming in the nearby Haw river.
We then headed to Knoxville, Tennessee to give a talk at the Birdhouse community center. A volunteer named Rachel who attended our talk showed me the community garden afterward, which is beautiful, and the food it produces is free to anyone who needs it. The strawberry she gave me from the garden was sweeter than any I've had from a grocery store. Before heading to DC, we stopped at the Wingnut anarchist collective in Richmond to do an interview with Weekly Sedition, a radio show on 97.3 Richmond Independent Radio.
We also got to visit the folks working with R.A.M.P.S. Campaign (Radical Action for Mountain People Survival) in West Virginia, who organize direct radical action against mountaintop removal coal extraction. We got to spend some time in the mountains with the fireflies, but we also went to see a mountaintop removal site. I had never seen one before, and the way the trees suddenly gave way to the barren dust of the extraction site was extremely disturbing. On a happier note, we also spent time swimming at one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, a lake surrounded by craggy cliffs. Val, Xander, and Cooper from DGR were even brave enough to leap into the water from the highest among them, about fifty feet. Sam and myself weren't quite as adventurous, but had fun jumping into the water from some of the smaller precipices.
By the time we arrived at our last talk, at Radical Space in Washington DC, the content of our presentation and the structure of our discussion had both changed quite a bit. At each stop, we learned more about how to convey our message, and more about what that message needed to contain. We narrowed down some of the more abstract, theoretical concepts we had started out talking about. While the philosophy behind our critique of civilization is compelling to some of us on the Roadshow, we found that it wasn't as accessible to talk about with others as concrete examples and local issues. Toward the end of the tour, we also began having a short discussion toward the middle of the talk as well as a longer one at the end, in order to address as many questions and comments as possible. Each stop brought us into contact with a very diverse group. We met a lot of environmental and social justice activists, but we also talked to many people who were less involved with activist culture. In some places, we spent a lot of time discussing the definition of civilization, and the reasons that this system is fundamentally unsustainable. In other places, like Chapel Hill, we felt like we were preaching to the choir on the issue of civilization, and spent much more time talking about a strategy for bringing it down. The diversity of viewpoints within our discussions sometimes made facilitation a challenge, but that diversity also made each stop a learning experience about what kind of issues each community is dealing with, and how different individuals are dealing with those issues.
We ended our trip by traveling to the Earth First! Round River Rendezvous in Pennsylvania, where we were more focused on learning and participating in discussion instead of leading them. DGR is a new group, and we're very aware that we need to be learning and cooperating with those who have vastly more experience with direct action than we do. We facilitated a workshop and discussion on strategy, where we talked about how to apply basic strategy and target selection to direct action. After we got through the workshop section, the discussion turned to DGR specifically, and the specific strategy that we are advocating. Since DGR is such a young group, it was a great opportunity to talk to the many activists at the rondy who had many years of experience on us. We also talked about the kind of relationship we'd like to build between DGR and other radical environmental groups like Earth First! After the rondy, two of our members were able to stay and participate in the blockade of an EQT well pad in the Moshannon State Forest.
Our East coast tour is over, but we'll be taking the knowledge and experience we've gained on it to other projects. A West coast tour begins on July 25th in Eugene, Oregon. This tour is intended to raise awareness and support for, the 3rd Annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp in Unis’tot’en territory in the north of Unceded Occupied so-called British Columbia. In addition, several DGR members will be traveling up the west coast holding public events to build opposition to these genocidal and ecocidal pipelines and gather donations of food, blankets, money, and other supplies, and then attending the 3rd annual Unis’tot’en Action Camp August 6th-10th. Please donate to this project!