October 18, 2012

What will your legacy be?

This message was sent by a DGR supporter who has recently written us into his will:

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

Exploring Racism

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

Money is a Multiplier

There are many major problems with the culture of the left. One of these problems is a distancing from money.

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.

Donate to Deep Green Resistance or shop at the Deep Green Resistance store.

October 1, 2012

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

By Jo Freeman; reposted from jofreeman.com

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