August 28, 2012

Power and Pathology

The social and emotional costs of grappling with the issues of industrial collapse have been extensively documented by Kathy McMahon, a psychologist who focuses on issues of energy and collapse. She has characterized a typical set of reactions that people experience upon awakening to the cultural/ecological reality: shock, disbelief, insomnia, lack of focus, nostalgia of the present, shame, frustration, isolation, and depression.

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

Support DGR Blockaders Arrested in White Clay

Breaking News:


“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 Ivey, 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:



  • 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.


CONTACT:

Ben Barker of Deep Green Resistance / (262) 208-5347, ben_dgr@riseup.net

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

The Mentality of a Warrior

Cartoons Against Capitalism

Cartoons may seem like a questionable choice of medium for conveying complex political theory, organizational strategy, and scathing critique of mainstream movements, But then, if you feel that way, you must not have read the work of Stephanie McMillan.

 

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






Is "Alternative Energy" Sustainable?

Alternative technologies cannot replace easily transportable, liquid fossil fuels, nor are they sustainable; they require mining, smelting, refining. Most of the rare earth minerals required for wind, solar, and battery technologies are mined in Mongolia and western China by near-slaves. Lakes of toxic waste mark the production sites.

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

Report Back from West Coast Speaking Tour and Unis'tot'en Action Camp

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.


Dillon and Xander keeping watch by the fire
(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.


Camping the first night on the caravan
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.


Elders preparing moose meat for camp dinner
(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.


The Unis'tot'en welcome mat for Pacific Trails
(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

In Solidarity with the Hobet 20

Resource extraction is killing families, tearing apart communities, and threatening our very existence on this planet.

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.

Sincerely,
Deep Green Resistance

Donate to the ramps general fund: https://www.wepay.com/donations/57022

August 2, 2012

Report from the East Coast Roadshow


The roadshow crew from left: Sam, Rachel, Cooper, Xander, and Val

Update: East Coast Roadshow videos available

By Rachel Ivey

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!