by Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance
According to an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July, the planet is in the midst of the 6th mass extinction event. Strikingly, the scientists who wrote the article call this a “biological annihilation.”
This isn’t a random sequence outcome of a natural societal development. The dominant global culture (industrial civilization) is a culture of imperialism. We can define that as a culture that colonizes and extracts resources as a standard way of operating.
Industrial civilization has become the dominant culture by violence, and violence maintains it.
Timber is ripped from forests and shredded for sale. Rivers are enslaved to irrigate fields and power cities. Oil is burned to propel commerce. Fracking injects poisons into the planet in order to extract even more petrochemicals. Traditional ways of life and sustainable relationships with the land are destroyed, so the only alternative is the toxic (and profitable) cycle of wage labor, debt, and poverty. Patriarchy teaches men to objectify and dominate women, and women to acquiesce. The result is a loss of bodily autonomy to the point that half of all children are unwanted by the mother, and a culture in which eating disorders are a leading cause of death among young women and teenage girls. The legacy of slavery underlies the modern prison system, where vast profits are made by locking up the powerless and oppressed.
As a friend put it, “oppression is always in service of resource extraction.”
The shiny gadgets used to enthrall us are made possible by child miners in the Congo, by workers toiling to the point of mass suicide in Foxconn factories in China, and by the exportation of e-waste to conveniently isolated locations.
And of course, the military, police, and private security (mercenaries) are ready to beat, imprison, or kill anyone who stands in the way of this system. Finally, this culture’s atomized families and recent trends like the rise of neo-liberalism help ensure we remain isolated physically and emotionally, without the strength that comes from being part of a community.
Between the threat of violence, bribery, and the sense of helplessness that comes from isolation, most people aren’t willing to resist. American culture has been built on genocide for 500 years; at this point, most settlers can’t even imagine a society not based on violence.
For those who can, we need to get serious about our strategies.
In the west, and especially in the United States, most activists operate within a mythic framework of non-violent resistance that’s far different than the liberation politics of the 1960’s and 70’s. In this mythology, violence doesn’t solve anything, and non-violence has a magical ability to win conflicts—even if those victories only occur in hearts and minds.
“We win through losing,” a friend says (sarcastically) of this mindset.
Don’t get me wrong. Non-violence can be a supremely elegant and effective technique for social change. Applied correctly—forcefully—non-violence can immobilize a repressive regime or corporate power, making it impossible to move in any direction. Violence should, of course, be avoided anytime it can be.
But non-violent resistance doesn’t always work. As another friend writes in his excellent multi-part series, “The destruction of our world isn’t an ‘environmental crisis,’ nor a ‘climate crisis.’ It’s a war waged by industrial civilisaton and capitalism against life on earth–all life–and we need a resistance movement with that analysis to respond…the decision about what strategy and tactics to use depends on the circumstances, rather than being wedded to one approach out of a vague ethical dogma…the choice between using non-violence or force is a tactical decision. Those who advocate for the use of force are not arguing for blind unthinking violence, but against blind unthinking nonviolence.”
So what’s next? What happens when non-violence doesn’t work? What should you do when you have voted, petitioned, demanded, protested, raised awareness, locked down, blockaded, and it hasn’t worked?
Do you keep using the same tactics that have failed again and again, hoping they’ll work this time?
Do you give up?
This is not a theoretical question.
It’s a situation that has been faced by many resistance movements throughout history. Lately I’ve been reflecting on one in particular; the Oka Crisis that went down near Montreal in 1990.
After 400 years of gradual land theft, the Kahnesetake band of the Mohawk Nation was left with a fraction of a fraction of its traditional territory. With land “development” encroaching continuously, tensions came to a head in 1990 when plans began moving forward to expand a golf course into an extremely important site: a pine forest next to the tribal cemetery.
Members of the Kahnesetake community went through various channels to fight the expansion, including petitioning local government and the federal Indian Bureau. Nothing worked, so they began a non-violent occupation of the golf course. After a gradual escalation—police beatings, threats from masked assailants—many of the Mohawks began carrying weapons. Special police forces were called in to raid the camp, and women stood them down. Someone began shooting—from which side is impossible to say—and a policeman was killed. After a weeks-long standoff during which many more shots were exchanged, the Mohawks were eventually evicted—but the land was protected from development.
Are we committed to winning as much as those Mohawk warriors?
Species extinction, fascist and Nazi extremism, global warming, police violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, resource extraction, industrial expansion, the prison industrial system. Are we committed to stopping these injustices?
If so, we must consider all means, including the use of force and violence.
This is an emergency.
HOW A REVOLUTION MIGHT BEGIN: THE CUBAN PRECEDENT
Perhaps one of the more important lessons of revolutionary history comes from Cuba, where in 1956, a small group of revolutionaries landed near the Sierra Maestra mountains. Almost immediately, the rebels were attacked and routed. Of the original group of 80, only about 20 regrouped in the mountains.
Nonetheless, over the next several years, their movement grew. They recruited locals, coordinated with underground cells in Havana and other urban areas, and built support networks elsewhere in Latin America. By January 1959, the revolutionaries had overthrown the rule of the Batista government.
Marx informs any revolutionary, but I am not a Marxist. Like China and the Soviet Union, Cuba followed a highly centralized, industrialized development path that contains much to criticize (while still representing an inspiring alternative to the capitalist model). The events that took place after the Cuban revolution are, to me, less interesting than the methods used to carry out the revolution itself. Che’s guerilla warfare techniques were well suited to the rural countryside and have influenced every revolutionary group since. And there is much to learn from how the Cuban underground organized.
The most important lesson, I think, is that the revolutionaries just got started. They didn’t wait for the perfect conditions, which they knew would never appear. They suffered major setbacks, but they persisted, and they had unshakeable confidence that they would prevail. Despite their lack of numbers, they had a good foundational strategy. By playing to their strengths, avoiding unwise confrontations, and by gradually building strength, they defeated a force that was initially much superior and initiated a tectonic political shift from capitalist vassal state to socialist nation-building experiment.
DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE SABOTAGE
On July 24th, two women—Ruby Montoya and Jessica Reznicek—publicly admitted to sabotaging the Dakota Access Pipeline in an attempt to stop the desecration of native territory, the ongoing destruction of the climate, and threats to major rivers.
In an interview with them shortly after, they explained their motivations. Ruby, who was a kindergarten teacher before quitting her job to fight the pipeline, was in tears as she explained that those kids would have no future without action.
Jessica and Ruby have repeatedly called for others to take similar actions of eco-sabotage.
Last year, I published a call for ecological special forces:
“Small forces of ecological commandos that could target the fundamental sources of power that are destroying the planet. We have seen examples of this. In Nigeria, commando forces have been fighting a guerrilla war of sabotage against Shell Oil Corporation for decades. At times, they have reduced oil output by more than 60%.”
As we noted, “no environmental group has ever had that level of success. Not even close. In the U.S., clandestine ecological resistance has been relatively minimal. However, isolated incidents have taken place. A 2013 attack on an electrical station in central California inflicted millions of dollars in damage to difficult-to-replace components used simple hunting rifles. The action took a total of 19 minutes, displaying the sort of discipline, speed, and tactical acumen required for special forces operations.
“Our situation is desperate. Things continue to get worse. False solutions, greenwashing, corporate co-optation, and rollbacks of previous victories are relentless. Resistance communities are fractured, isolated, and disempowered. However, the centralized, industrialized, and computerized nature of global empire means that the system is vulnerable. Power is mostly concentrated and projected via a few systems that are vulnerable.
“Even powerful empires can be defeated. But those victories won’t happen if we engage on their terms. Ecological special forces provide a method and means for decisive operations that deal significant damage to the functioning of global capitalism and industrialism. With enough coordination, these sorts of attacks could deal death blows to entire industrial economies, and perhaps (with the help of aboveground movements, ecological limits, and so on) to industrialism as a whole.
“Implementation of this strategy will require highly motivated, dedicated, and skilled individuals. Serious consideration of security, anonymity, and tactics will be required. But this system was built by human beings; we can take it apart as well.”
That strategy, while not sufficient on its own, would help us move towards a more effective, forceful movement. Read that article here.
This may sound drastic to you. But consider: the planet is being destroyed. We’re living through the sixth great mass extinction event. The most powerful nation in the world just elected Donald Trump. There is no sign of a looming political shift, and alternative parties and movements are largely sidelined or co-opted.
CHARLOTTESVILLE COMES HOME
As I write this, I’m at my sister’s house; she’s just given birth to my (first) nephew, who has beautiful brown skin and is what’s called “mixed race.” Before long, he will emerge into the world, and he will be perceived as a black child, and then as he grows, a black man.
White supremacy is experiencing a resurgence. Days before I write this, at a neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, hundreds of virulent racists marched, chanting “blood and soil” and “white lives matter.” In front of studiously inactive police, they severely injured more than two dozen anti-racist protestors and one fascist plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racist protestors, killing a woman and severely injuring others.
The day after, as my sister lay in bed nursing her new beautiful baby boy, more white supremacists were gathering in downtown Seattle, about two miles away. Later, the Amerikkkan president defended the supremacists, saying there were “great people” involved in the white supremacist protests.
To anyone who is paying attention, this isn’t a surprise. Our nation has been built on foundation of systematic white supremacy in service of the extraction of resources. Those are the roots of this society, and the trend continues today. The everyday violence of this culture fuels its operation. The system is functioning perfectly, exploiting every possible method for economic, social, and political gain while funneling wealth to the top.
How can I make a better world for my nephew? How can I make a survivable world? My answer—at least one part of it—is by halting that everyday violence.
It’s time that we organized and carried out a revolution.
Max Wilbert is a writer, activist, and organizer with the group Deep Green Resistance. He lives on occupied Kalapuya Territory in Oregon.
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by Norris Thomlinson / Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i
Puget Sound Anarchists and It’s Going Down have reported on four recent incidents of simple sabotage against rail operations. Using copper wire to signal track blockage (as depicted in a video on how to block trains), actionists have executed cheap and low-risk attacks to temporarily halt:
The Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy of Deep Green Resistance aims for cascading systems failure to shut down industrial destruction for good. Though these acts of sabotage are unlikely to cause more than minor inefficiencies in rail transport, they offer more return on investment than even the most successful aboveground actions.
For example, last year three DGR members halted a coal train for 12 hours before being arrested. Compared to other aboveground efforts, this was a very efficient operation, achieving a lengthy stoppage with a minimum of arrests. However, the total cost to carry out the action was high. Not only did the three activists spend significant time planning and executing the blockade itself, but a support team ensured rail employees and police couldn’t harm the activists without being documented (though this by no means guaranteed their safety.) Afterwards, the three arrestees faced multiple court dates consuming time and money, and causing stress. All charges were eventually dropped, but presumably the state would be less lenient for recidivism, raising the cost for repeated use of this tactic.
Contrast that to the statement by the Columbia River track saboteurs: “Trains were stopped for at least several hours and maybe more. Carrying out the action took less than an hour, about $40 materials, and little-no risk of being arrested.” (Presumably they also spent time beforehand to scout and plan.) Their use of underground tactics allowed them to hit and run, minimizing their risk, stress, and total investment in the action, and leaving them free to repeat the attacks at will. Not sticking around to be arrested is an enormous advantage, and our resistance movement must increase its use of guerrilla tactics to leverage our relatively meager resources.
DGR members don’t have the option of using underground tactics. By publicly opposing industrial civilization and calling for physically dismantling it, we’re obvious suspects for law enforcement to monitor and interrogate following underground attacks. Our role is to spread the analysis of the necessity and the feasibility of bringing it all down, and to support anyone who is able to carry out underground attacks.
We commend and thank those involved in these recent successful actions. We hope they’ll use the skills and confidence they’ve built in a low-risk environment to escalate their attacks to critical industrial infrastructure. And we hope none of them ever get caught, but if they do, we’ll be there to support them.
Analysis of Efficacy
On an Earth First! Journal page hosting the video on how to block trains, two commenters suggest this tactic isn’t effective at all:
“Lol if theres no reason a train should have a red signal, the dispatcher will have a crew sent out to find the problem, and in the mean time simply give trains authority past it. Try again.”
“Railroads have signal maintainers on duty 24/7/365 to troubleshoot issues like track circuits and keep trains moving on any given operating subdivision. I guess what you don’t understand is regardless of what you’re jumpering out there, trains can still move down the line.”
The posts are anonymous, and the authors express contempt for the actions of the saboteurs. Since they’re clearly not trying to give constructive feedback, it’s hard to know how seriously to take the critiques. If anyone has concrete knowledge of the impact of this tactic, please share. The better we understand the systems we want to disrupt and dismantle, the better our chance of success.
Read about more attacks on rail and other infrastructure at our Underground Action Calendar
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Featured image by Vanessa Vanderburgh
By Joanna Pinkiewicz / Deep Green Resistance Australia
Most people in the industrial civilized world will come to a point of crisis, loosely translated from its Greek origin as: “testing time” or “an emergency event.”
An ongoing feeling of pressure, instability or a threat can all bring on such crisis. These events shake our whole being, alarm our physical bodies and rupture our rational mind. The advice for dealing with a crisis that is perceived as “personal” or “individual” often follows a set of clear, practical steps:
- Slow your breath to anchor yourself in the present
- Take a note of your emotions or bodily sensations
- Open up and express your thoughts
- Pursue a valued course of action
The last step is particularly interesting, as it suggests questioning: What do I value the most? What do I stand for? How do I want to see myself respond?
As much as a crisis brings many negatives, such as anxiety and depression, it also brings an opportunity to re-examine our lives and expand our understanding of what is happening in the world or to the world around us. It forces us to examine and to make a choice: are we going to be a bystander or are we going to become courageous in the face of a looming threat?
Research on the psychology of resistance suggests, that access to support and the right type of information is crucial to help those wanting to understand what is really happening to us and the world, as well as, what can be done to address it.
The authors of Courageous Resistance, The Power of Ordinary People list certain factors that contribute to ordinary people becoming resisters in the face of injustice or impending threat. These include a combination of:
- Preconditions: previous attitudes, experiences and internal resources
- Networks: ongoing relationships with people that offered information, resources and assistance and
- The Context itself: political climate, severity of the situation
We understand courageous resistance to be a conscious process of decision making, which is affected not only by who the decision maker is, but where they are and who they know at the particular time they become aware of a grave injustice…
We define “courageous resisters” along three dimensions: First, they are those who voluntarily engage in other-oriented, largely selfless behaviour with significantly high risk or cost to themselves or their associates. Second, their actions are the result of a conscious decision. Third, their efforts are sustained over time. [i]
Humanity today faces ongoing stress from living in the civilized world. By and large, we have managed to adapt to changes that have been imposed on us, such as higher density living and working conditions. However the escalated threat of armed violence and impending effects of climate change bring on new types of crises, which needs not only immediate response, but creation of a completely new culture. The current culture likes us to believe that the crises we are experiencing are “individual,” due to a weakness or an illness. If we choose to believe this, we are more likely to suffer from helplessness and not participate in creating this new culture.
Aric McBay explains this in Deep Green Resistance, Strategy To Save The Planet:
If someone is dissatisfied with the way society works, they say, then it is that individual’s personal emotional problem. Furthermore, the individual traumas perpetuated by those in power on individual people, on groups of people, and on the land, can seem random at first glance. But if we can trace them back to their common roots—in capitalism, in patriarchy, in civilization at large—then we can understand them as manifestations of power imbalance, and we can overcome the learned helplessness…[ii]
To begin to create a culture of resistance individuals must drop loyalty to the oppressive status quo and its systems. Two things may prevent us from fully committing to resistance: fear of punishment or separation from our kin (friends, family). While loss of “belief” in “redeeming” the existing culture is a first step towards resistance, separation from dependency on the existing systems is gradual.
As building an effective resistance culture is a long process involving generations, we must be wise at preserving our health and using our resources.
Listed below are steps that effective groups or communities follow in response to a crisis that is not personal, but wide spread and caused by either natural (earthquake, flood) or man-made circumstances (occupation, oppression, ecocide).
- Prepare: clarify our values, recruit people, gather resources, and devise the strategy
- Respond: assign roles and responsibilities, implement strategy
- Recover: extend support networks, rebuild communities, and establish new organizations
Resilience building will come from commitment and co-operation in all of those stages. After the recovery from a crisis, a group gains valuable experience and is able to refine the “emergency” response plan and train newcomers.
Experience of past resisters demonstrates rise in organisational, strategic and physical skills among individuals as well and rise in strength and independence of a group.
I am thankful for my crisis. Like a loud warning siren it told me that things are not right in the world, that I must increase my awareness and prepare for the future.
My crisis led me to discover techniques and practices that reconnected me with my body. I discovered that reconstruction of mental and physical health goes hand in hand with protecting the environment. By recognising the physical and spiritual nourishment we receive from our forests, rivers, oceans, a commitment to environmental action is born.
Taking responsibility was the first step to my healing and the beginning of an authentic life. Such path does not require perfection, but courage and imagination to create new ways of living and existing. To work as a collective in the name of all nature’s communities is a revolutionary path of resistance we desperately need today.
Deep Green Resistance is a global radical environmental organization with a strategy to address our impending planetary crisis. We have recruited capable and experienced individuals to guide and work together in implementing our strategy and fulfill our vision to dismantle the industrial civilization, assist the planet’s recovery and build sustainable communities with decentralized governance.
Join the many existing chapters or start a new one! Become a conscious resister!
[i] Thalhammer, Kristina E.; O’Loughlin, Paula L.; Glazer, Myron Peretz; Glazer, Penina Migdal; McFarland, Sam; Shepela, Sharon Toffey; Stoltzfus, Nathan. Courageous Resistance, The Power of Ordinary People. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
[ii] McBay, Aric; Keith, Lierre; and Jensen, Derrick. Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011.
15 Realities of our Global Environmental Crisis
By Deep Green Resistance
- Industrial civilization is not, and can never be, sustainable.
Any social system based on the use of non-renewable resources is by definition unsustainable. Non-renewable means it will eventually run out. If you hyper-exploit your non-renewable surroundings, you will deplete them and die. Even for your renewable surroundings like trees, if you exploit them faster than they can regenerate, you will deplete them and die. This is precisely what civilization has been doing for its 10,000-year campaign – running through soil, rivers, and forests as well as metal, coal, and oil.
- Industrial civilization is causing a global collapse of life.
Due to industrial civilization’s insatiable appetite for growth, we have exceeded the planet’s carrying capacity. Once the carrying capacity of an area is surpassed, the ecological community is severely damages, and the longer the overshoot lasts, the worse the damage, until the population eventually collapses. This collapse is happening now. Every 24 hours up to 200 species become extinct. 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone. 98% of native forests, 99% of wetlands, and 99% of native grasslands have been wiped out in the US.
- Industrial civilization is based on and requires ongoing systematic violence to operate.
This way of life is based on the perceived right of the powerful to take whatever resources they want. All land on which industrial civilization is now based on land that was taken by force from its original inhabitants, and shaped using processes – industrial forestry, mining, smelting – that violently shape the world to industrial ends. Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell resources on which their communities and homes are based and do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources – gold, oil, and so on – can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to acquire these resources by any means necessary. Resource extraction cannot be accomplished without force and exploitation.
- In order for the world as we know it to exist on a day-to-day basis, a vast and growing degree of destruction and death must occur.
Industrialization is a process of taking entire communities of living beings and turning them into commodities and dead zones. Trace every industrial artifact back to its source and you find the same devastation: mining, clear-cuts, dams, agriculture, and now tar sands, mountaintop removal, and wind farms. These atrocities, and others like them, happen all around us, every day, just to keep things running normally. There is no kinder, greener version of industrial civilization that will do the trick of leaving us a living planet.
- This way of being is not natural.
Humans and their immediate evolutionary predecessors lived sustainably for at least a million years. It is not “human nature” to destroy one’s habitat. The “centralization of political power, the separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor, the mechanization of production, the magnification of military power, the economic exploitation of the weak, and the universal introduction of slavery and forced labor for both industrial and military purposes” are only chief features of civilization, and are constant throughout its history.
- Industrial civilization is only possible with cheap energy.
The only reason industrial processes such as large-scale agriculture and mining even function is because of cheap oil; without that, industrial processes go back to depending on slavery and serfdom, as in most of the history of civilization.
- Peak oil, and hence the era of cheap oil, has passed.
Peak oil is the point at which oil production hits its maximum rate. Peak oil has passed and extraction will decline from this point onwards. This rapid decline in the availability of global energy will result in increasing economic disruption and upset. The increasing cost and decreasing supply of energy will undermine manufacturing and transportation and cause global economic turmoil. Individuals, companies, and even states will go bankrupt. International trade will nosedive because of a global depression. The poor will be unable to cope with the increasing cost of basic goods, and eventually the financial limits will result in large-scale energy-intensive manufacturing becoming impossible – resulting in, among other things – the collapse of agricultural infrastructure, and the associated transportation and distribution network.
At this point in time, there are no good short-term outcomes for global human society. The collapse of industrial civilization is inevitable, with or without our input, it’s just a matter of time. The problem is that every day the gears of this destructive system continue grinding is another day it wages war on the natural world. With up to 200 species and more than 80,000 acres of rainforest being wiped out daily as just some of the atrocities occurring systematically to keep our lifestyles afloat, the sooner this collapse is induced the better.
- “Green technologies” and “renewable energy” are not sustainable and will not save the planet.
Solar panels and wind turbines aren’t made out of nothing. These “green” technologies are made out of metals, plastics, and chemicals. These products have been mined out of the ground, transported vast distances, processed and manufactured in big factories, and require regular maintenance. Each of these stages causes widespread environmental destruction, and each of these stages is only possible with the mass use of cheap energy from fossil fuels. Neither fossil fuels nor mined minerals will ever be sustainable; by definition, they will run out. Even recycled materials must undergo extremely energy-intensive production processes before they can be reused.
- Personal consumption habits will not save the planet.
Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption for organized political resistance. Personal consumption habits — changing light bulbs, going vegan, shorter showers, recycling, taking public transport — have nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet. Besides, 90% of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. Three quarters of energy is consumed and 95% of waste is produced by commercial, industrial, corporate, agricultural and military industries. By blaming the individual, we are accepting capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers, reducing our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming.
- There will not be a mass voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living.
The current material systems of power make any chance of significant social or political reform impossible. Those in power get too many benefits from destroying the planet to allow systematic changes which would reduce their privilege. Keeping this system running is worth more to them than the human and non-human lives destroyed by the extraction, processing, and utilization of natural resources.
- We are afraid.
The primary reason we don’t resist is because we are afraid. We know if we act decisively to protect the places and creatures we love or if we act decisively to stop corporate exploitation of the poor, that those in power will come down on us with the full power of the state. We can talk all we want about how we live in a democracy, and we can talk all we want about the consent of the governed. But what it really comes down to is that if you effectively oppose the will of those in power, they will try to kill you. We need to make that explicit so we can face the situation we’re in: those in power are killing the planet and they are exploiting the poor, and we are not stopping them because we are afraid. This is how authoritarian regimes and abusers work: they make their victims and bystanders afraid to act.
- If we only fight within the system, we lose.
Things will not suddenly change by using the same approaches we’ve been using for the past 30 years. When nothing is working to stop or even slow the destruction’s acceleration, then it is time to change your strategy. Until now, most of our tactics and discourse (whether civil disobedience, writing letters and books, carrying signs, protecting small patches of forest, filing lawsuits, or conducting scientific research) remain firmly embedded in whatever actions are authorized by the overarching structures that permit the destruction in the first place.
- Dismantling industrial civilization is the only rational, permanent solution.
Our strategies until now have failed because neither our violent nor nonviolent responses are attempts to rid us of industrial civilization itself. By allowing the framing conditions to remain, we guarantee a continuation of the behaviors these framing conditions necessitate. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The longer we wait for civilization to crash – or we ourselves bring it down – the messier will be the crash, and the worse things will be for those humans and nonhumans who live during it, and for those who come after.
- Militant resistance works.
Study of past social insurgencies and resistance movements shows that specific types of asymmetric warfare strategies are extremely effective.
- We must build a culture of resistance.
Some things, including a living planet, that are worth fighting for at any cost, when other means of stopping the abuses have been exhausted. One of the good things about industrial civilization being so ubiquitously destructive, is that no matter where you look – no matter what your gifts, no matter where your heart lies – there’s desperately important work to be done. Some of us need to file timber sales appeals and lawsuits. Some need to help family farmers or work on other sustainable agriculture issues. Some need to work on rape crisis hot lines, or at battered women’s shelters. Some need to work on fair trade, or on stopping international trade altogether. Some of us need to take down dams, oil pipelines, mining equipment, and electrical infrastructure.
We need to fight for what we love, fight harder than we have ever thought we could fight, because the bottom line is that any option in which industrial civilization remains, results in a dead planet.
Parts of this article were drawn from Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet, by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. If you want to help fight back, we recommend reading the book, browsing our list of ideas for taking action on your own, or volunteering with or joining Deep Green Resistance.
 Lewis Mumford, Myth of the Machine, Volume 2, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970, page 186.
 Recycled materials also usually degrade over time, limiting their recycling potential.
by Clay Cochran / Deep Green Resistance
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
President Obama announced Friday morning that he has denied TransCanada’s permit application to build the Keystone XL (KXL) oil pipeline in the U.S. Many in the mainstream environmental movement hailed this as a positive seismic shift in public policy and public perception, and a harbinger of the inevitable saving of our planet. Were it only that simple. Unfortunately, although the denial of the KXL build is in itself a good result, it carries with it some insidious dangers to the continuation of the fundamental work of saving this planet.
It is understandable that many think Obama’s denial of the KXL is a huge victory for the environment. Sadly, that view is myopic, and typical of the wishful thinking hampering the environmental movement around the world. The denial of the KXL does not accomplish what we ultimately need: the shutting down of the entire industrial, fossil-fuel driven society murdering the planet.
Unfortunately, the history of the environmental movement has many incidences where small victories have caused a loss of focus on the big picture, or otherwise misdirected us into falsely believing the one-off accomplishment sufficient to save our planet. Make no mistake, we must be ever vigilant not to let the leaders of industrial civilization (i.e. the greedy, patriarchal, conscious-less ‘leaders of industry’ and their paid-for politicians and mainstream media) characterize the globally suicidal events that are unfolding. They will always use a deceptive framework supporting their relentless need for unsustainable expansion, and lead many into losing sight of the ecologically desperate times that we are facing.
Deep Green Resistance believes the only way our planet can be saved for all species is for the current patriarchal and industrial civilization to be immediately dismantled. We also believe there is grave danger in premature self-congratulation for small accomplishments that seemingly are a win for the environment, but in truth do nothing to alter the existing paradigm of corporate power or slow the inevitable march towards unsustainable expansion and the murder of the planet. Simply stated, the processes that have been put in motion ― runaway climate change, population overshoot due to industrial agriculture, species extinctions, and ‘resource’ extraction ― are far too developed to be stopped by any means that allows the industrial complex to remain in existence.
In the book Deep Green Resistance, co-author Lierre Keith writes
”The culture of the left needs a serious overhaul. At our best and bravest moments, we are the people who believe in a just world; who fight the power with all the courage and commitment that women and men can possess; who refuse to be bought or beaten into submission, and refuse equally to sell each other out. The history of struggles for justice is inspiring, ennobling even, and it should encourage us to redouble our efforts now when the entire world is at stake. Instead, our leadership is leading us astray.”
Our leadership continues to lead us astray. President Obama gives lip service to his concern for global climate change guiding this KXL denial decision, but the truth is hidden in his message. According to a Scientific American article, among his reasons for rejection were that
…the pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to the U.S. economy, nor would it increase U.S. energy security or help to lower gas prices, which have already declined dramatically over the last year.
With these criteria for making his decision, we’re clearly not ready to take a victory lap for the environmental awakening of the global leadership.
Also in the DGR book, the authors discuss Lester Brown’s Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, pointing out that “although Mr. Brown is to be [commended] for understanding that the problems our planet is facing are systemic and interrelated, [his plan] unfortunately falls prey to what many other ‘plans’ do; it leaves the overlapping accelerants of capitalism, industrialization, and civilization in place.”
With the KXL decision in the news, it is critical to keep in mind the myriad disastrous ‘projects’ which continue unabated. As the DGR authors warn, these other projects evidence the hard truth that, so far, the work of the environmental movement has indeed left capitalism, industrialization, and civilization firmly in place. That three-headed monster has no intention of voluntarily leaving us to salvage what is left of our biosphere, so we are left with no other alternative than to terminate it ourselves, and with extreme prejudice.
A recent article in the Financial Post states:
While TransCanada Corp. has been cooling its heels on its Keystone XL proposal for the past six years, the oil pipeline business has been booming in the United States. Crude oil pipeline mileage rose 9.1 per cent last year alone to reach 66,649 miles. […] Between 2009 and 2013, more than 8,000 miles of oil transmission pipelines have been built in the past five years in the U.S., […] compared to the 875 miles TransCanada wants to lay in the states of Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska for its 830,000-bpd project. By last year, the U.S. had built 12,000 miles of pipe since 2010.
[AOPL spokesperson John Stoody said] “While people have been debating Keystone in the U.S. we have actually built the equivalent of 10 Keystones. And no one’s complained or said anything.”
A Climate Central article discusses the many alternative plans already developed to transport the tar sands of Canada:
As a way around those challenges, other pipelines are in the works. One pipeline is already operating and sending hundreds of thousands of barrels of tar sands bitumen to Texas every day.
Experts, such as Stephen Kelly, a former U.S. diplomat and a visiting professor of public policy and Canadian studies at Duke University, say that the long-term outlook for Canadian oil sands production is not closely linked to the fate of Keystone XL.
“Canada has ample financial incentive to find ways to get its oil to world markets, and it’s likely to find ways to build pipelines to its coast, despite opposition,” he said last year.
The Keystone XL decision and its accompanying self-congratulations should be a warning to us all not to lose sight of the big picture. The Keystone XL alternatives do face opposition in Canada from overlapping groups of climate activists, grassroots environmentalists concerned about local impacts, and First Nations peoples, with the Unis’tot’en Camp a prime example of a coalition for active on-the-ground resistance. We must remain vigilant in fighting pipelines and other infrastructure expansion projects wherever they’re proposed, and be skeptical of any misdirection from the fundamental work of ending the industrial-patriarchal complex.
There is some good news. Deep Green Resistance believes that the insanity of the industrial planet-killing machine can be stopped. We believe that a sustainable and just world can be achieved, and we can transition away from being a consumer society. The Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW) is a recognition of the scope of what is at stake (the planet); an honest evaluation of the potential for a mass movement (none); and an assessment that industrial civilization depends on highly vulnerable infrastructure.
DEW keeps front-and-center the understanding that there will be no comprehensively successful environmental actions if we allow the current industrial framework to remain in existence. The people in power who are driving 200 species to extinction each day have no qualms about leading humans to the same fate, and show no signs of voluntarily altering their behaviors. It is well past time to make them stop.
I urge you to take a look at the Deep Green Resistance website and to reflect on the future of this planet. The Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy is multifaceted and needs your help, with work to be done wherever your skill set and interests lead you. Get involved and save our home.
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