Featured image: The successful Sobibór uprising, 1943. Prisoners at the Nazi Sobibór extermination camp in Poland revolted against the Germans. About 300 of the camp’s 600 prisoners escaped, and about 50 of these survived the war.
Editor’s note: The following is from the chapter “Decisive Ecological Warfare” of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet. This book is now available for free online.
by Aric McBay
There is one final argument that resisters in this scenario made for actions against the economy as a whole, rather than engaging in piecemeal or tentative actions: the element of surprise. They recognized that sporadic sabotage would sacrifice the element of surprise and allow their enemy to regroup and develop ways of coping with future actions. They recognized that sometimes those methods of coping would be desirable for the resistance (for example, a shift toward less intensive local supplies of energy) and sometimes they would be undesirable (for example, deployment of rapid repair teams, aerial monitoring by remotely piloted drones, martial law, etc.). Resisters recognized that they could compensate for exposing some of their tactics by carrying out a series of decisive surprise operations within a larger progressive struggle.
On the other hand, in this scenario resisters understand that DEW depended on relatively simple “appropriate technology” tactics (both aboveground and underground). It depended on small groups and was relatively simple rather than complex. There was not a lot of secret tactical information to give away. In fact, escalating actions with straightforward tactics were beneficial to their resistance movement. Analyst John Robb has discussed this point while studying insurgencies in countries like Iraq. Most insurgent tactics are not very complex, but resistance groups can continually learn from the examples, successes, and failures of other groups in the “bazaar” of insurgency. Decentralized cells are able to see the successes of cells they have no direct communication with, and because the tactics are relatively simple, they can quickly mimic successful tactics and adapt them to their own resources and circumstances. In this way, successful tactics rapidly proliferate to new groups even with minimal underground communication.
Hypothetical historians looking back might note another potential shortcoming of DEW: that it required perhaps too many people involved in risky tactics, and that resistance organizations lacked the numbers and logistical persistence required for prolonged struggle. That was a valid concern, and was dealt with proactively by developing effective support networks early on. Of course, other suggested strategies—such as a mass movement of any kind—required far more people and far larger support networks engaging in resistance. Many underground networks operated on a small budget, and although they required more specialized equipment, they generally required far fewer resources than mass movements.
Continuing this scenario a bit further, historians asked: how well did Decisive Ecological Warfare rate on the checklist of strategic criteria we provided at the end of the Introduction to Strategy.
Objective: This strategy had a clear, well-defined, and attainable objective.
Feasibility: This strategy had a clear A to B path from the then-current context to the desired objective, as well as contingencies to deal with setbacks and upsets. Many believed it was a more coherent and feasible strategy than any other they’d seen proposed to deal with these problems.
Resource Limitations: How many people are required for a serious and successful resistance movement? Can we get a ballpark number from historical resistance movements and insurgencies of all kinds?
- The French Resistance. Success indeterminate. As we noted in the “The Psychology of Resistance” chapter: The French Resistance at most comprised perhaps 1 percent of the adult population, or about 200,000 people.26 The postwar French government officially recognized 220,000 people27 (though one historian estimates that the number of active resisters could have been as many as 400,00028). In addition to active resisters, there were perhaps another 300,000 with substantial involvement.29 If you include all of those people who were willing to take the risk of reading the underground newspapers, the pool of sympathizers grows to about 10 percent of the adult population, or two million people.30 The total population of France in 1940 was about forty-two million, so recognized resisters made up one out of every 200 people.
- The Irish Republican Army. Successful. At the peak of Irish resistance to British rule, the Irish War of Independence (which built on 700 years of resistance culture), the IRA had about 100,000 members (or just over 2 percent of the population of 4.5 million), about 15,000 of whom participated in the guerrilla war, and 3,000 of whom were fighters at any one time. Some of the most critical and decisive militants were in the “Twelve Disciples,” a tiny number of people who swung the course of the war. The population of occupying England at the time was about twenty-five million, with another 7.5 million in Scotland and Wales. So the IRA membership comprised one out of every forty Irish people, and one out of every 365 people in the UK. Collins’s Twelve Disciples were one out of 300,000 in the Irish population.31
- The antioccupation Iraqi insurgency. Indeterminate success. How many insurgents are operating in Iraq? Estimates vary widely and are often politically motivated, either to make the occupation seem successful or to justify further military crackdowns, and so on. US military estimates circa 2006 claim 8,000–20,000 people.31 Iraqi intelligence estimates are higher. The total population is thirty-one million, with a land area about 438,000 square kilometers. If there are 20,000 insurgents, then that is one insurgent for every 1,550 people.
- The African National Congress. Successful. How many ANC members were there? Circa 1979, the “formal political underground” consisted of 300 to 500 individuals, mostly in larger urban centers.33 The South African population was about twenty-eight million at the time, but census data for the period is notoriously unreliable due to noncooperation. That means the number of formal underground ANC members in 1979 was one out of every 56,000.
- The Weather Underground. Unsuccessful. Several hundred initially, gradually dwindling over time. In 1970 the US population was 179 million, so they were literally one in a million.
- The Black Panthers. Indeterminate success. Peak membership was in late 1960s with over 2,000 members in multiple cities.34 That’s about one in 100,000.
- North Vietnamese Communist alliance during Second Indochina War. Successful. Strength of about half a million in 1968, versus 1.2 million anti-Communist soldiers. One figure puts the size of the Vietcong army in 1964 at 1 million.35 It’s difficult to get a clear figure for total of combatants and noncombatants because of the widespread logistical support in many areas. Population in late 1960s was around forty million (both North and South), so in 1968, about one of every eighty Vietnamese people was fighting for the Communists.
- Spanish Revolutionaries in the Spanish Civil War. Both successful and unsuccessful. The National Confederation of Labor (CNT) in Spain had a membership of about three million at its height. A major driving force within the CNT was the anarchist FAI, a loose alliance of militant affinity groups. The Iberian Anarchist Federation (FAI) had a membership of perhaps 5,000 to 30,000 just prior to revolution, a number which increased significantly with the onset of war. The CNT and FAI were successful in bringing about a revolution in part of Spain, but were later defeated on a national scale by the Fascists. The Spanish population was about 26 million. So about one in nine Spaniards were CNT members, and (assuming the higher figure) about one in 870 Spaniards was FAI members.
- Poll tax resistance against Margaret Thatcher circa 1990. Successful. About fourteen million people were mobilized. In a population of about fifty-seven million, that’s about one in four (although most of those people participated mostly by refusing to pay a new tax).
- British suffragists. Successful. It’s hard to find absolute numbers for all suffragists. However, there were about 600 nonmilitant women’s suffrage societies. There were also militants, of whom over a thousand went to jail. The militants made all suffrage groups—even the nonmilitant ones—swell in numbers. Based on the British population at the time, the militants were perhaps one in 15,000 women, and there was a nonmilitant suffrage society for every 25,000 women.36
- Sobibór uprising. Successful. Less than a dozen core organizers and conspirators. Majority of people broke out of the camp and the camp was shut down. Up to that point perhaps a quarter of a million people had been killed at the camp. The core organizers made up perhaps one in sixty of the Jewish occupants of the camp at the time, and perhaps one in 25,000 of those who had passed through the camp on the way to their deaths.
It’s clear that a small group of intelligent, dedicated, and daring people can be extremely effective, even if they only number one in 1,000, or one in 10,000, or even one in 100,000. But they are effective in large part through an ability to mobilize larger forces, whether those forces are social movements (perhaps through noncooperation campaigns like the poll tax) or industrial bottlenecks.
Furthermore, it’s clear that if that core group can be maintained, it’s possible for it to eventually enlarge itself and become victorious.
All that said, future historians discussing this scenario will comment that DEW was designed to make maximum use of small numbers, rather than assuming that large numbers of people would materialize for timely action. If more people had been available, the strategy would have become even more effective. Furthermore, they might comment that this strategy attempted to mobilize people from a wide variety of backgrounds in ways that were feasible for them; it didn’t rely solely on militancy (which would have excluded large numbers of people) or on symbolic approaches (which would have provoked cynicism through failure).
Tactics: The tactics required for DEW were relatively simple and accessible, and many of them were low risk. They were appropriate to the scale and seriousness of the objective and the problem. Before the beginnings of DEW, the required tactics were not being implemented because of a lack of overall strategy and of organizational development both above- and underground. However, that strategy and organization were not technically difficult to develop—the main obstacles were ideological.
Risk: In evaluating risk, members of the resistance and future historians considered both the risks of acting and the risks of not acting: the risks of implementing a given strategy and the risks of not implementing it. In their case, the failure to carry out an effective strategy would have resulted in a destroyed planet and the loss of centuries of social justice efforts. The failure to carry out an effective strategy (or a failure to act at all) would have killed billions of humans and countless nonhumans. There were substantial risks for taking decisive action, risks that caused most people to stick to safer symbolic forms of action. But the risks of inaction were far greater and more permanent.
Timeliness: Properly implemented, Decisive Ecological Warfare was able to accomplish its objective within a suitable time frame, and in a reasonable sequence. Under DEW, decisive action was scaled up as rapidly as it could be based on the underlying support infrastructure. The exact point of no return for catastrophic climate change was unclear, but if there are historians or anyone else alive in the future, DEW and other measures were able to head off that level of climate change. Most other proposed measures in the beginning weren’t even trying to do so.
Simplicity and Consistency: Although a fair amount of context and knowledge was required to carry out this strategy, at its core it was very simple and consistent. It was robust enough to deal with unexpected events, and it could be explained in a simple and clear manner without jargon. The strategy was adaptable enough to be employed in many different local contexts.
Consequences: Action and inaction both have serious consequences. A serious collapse—which could involve large-scale human suffering—was frightening to many. Resisters in this alternate future believed first and foremost that a terrible outcome was not inevitable, and that they could make real changes to the way the future unfolded.
Editor’s note: The following is from the chapter “Decisive Ecological Warfare” of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet. This book is now available for free online.
by Aric McBay
It’s important to note that, as in the case of protracted popular warfare, Decisive Ecological Warfare is not necessarily a linear progression. In this scenario resisters fall back on previous phases as necessary. After major setbacks, resistance organizations focus on survival and networking as they regroup and prepare for more serious action. Also, resistance movements progress through each of the phases, and then recede in reverse order. That is, if global industrial infrastructure has been successfully disrupted or fragmented (phase IV) resisters return to systems disruption on a local or regional scale (phase III). And if that is successful, resisters move back down to phase II, focusing their efforts on the worst remaining targets.
And provided that humans don’t go extinct, even this scenario will require some people to stay at phase I indefinitely, maintaining a culture of resistance and passing on the basic knowledge and skills necessary to fight back for centuries and millennia.
The progression of Decisive Ecological Warfare could be compared to ecological succession. A few months ago I visited an abandoned quarry, where the topsoil and several layers of bedrock had been stripped and blasted away, leaving a cubic cavity several stories deep in the limestone. But a little bit of gravel or dust had piled up in one corner, and some mosses had taken hold. The mosses were small, but they required very little in the way of water or nutrients (like many of the shoestring affinity groups I’ve worked with). Once the mosses had grown for a few seasons, they retained enough soil for grasses to grow.
Quick to establish, hardy grasses are often among the first species to reinhabit any disturbed land. In much the same way, early resistance organizations are generalists, not specialists. They are robust and rapidly spread and reproduce, either spreading their seeds aboveground or creating underground networks of rhizomes.
The grasses at the quarry built the soil quickly, and soon there was soil for wildflowers and more complex organisms. In much the same way, large numbers of simple resistance organizations help to establish communities of resistance, cultures of resistance, that can give rise to more complex and more effective resistance organizations.
The hypothetical actionists who put this strategy into place are able to intelligently move from one phase to the next: identifying when the correct elements are in place, when resistance networks are sufficiently mobilized and trained, and when external pressures dictate change. In the US Army’s field manual on operations, General Eric Shinseki argues that the rules of strategy “require commanders to master transitions, to be adaptive. Transitions—deployments, the interval between initial operation and sequels, consolidation on the objective, forward passage of lines—sap operational momentum. Mastering transitions is the key to maintaining momentum and winning decisively.”
This is particularly difficult to do when resistance does not have a central command. In this scenario, there is no central means of dispersing operational or tactical orders, or effectively gathering precise information about resistance forces and allies. Shinseki continues: “This places a high premium on readiness—well trained Soldiers; adaptive leaders who understand our doctrine; and versatile, agile, and lethal formations.” People resisting civilization in this scenario are not concerned with “lethality” so much as effectiveness, but the general point stands.
Resistance to civilization is inherently decentralized. That goes double for underground groups which have minimal contact with others. To compensate for the lack of command structure, a general grand strategy in this scenario becomes widely known and accepted. Furthermore, loosely allied groups are ready to take action whenever the strategic situation called for it. These groups are prepared to take advantage of crises like economic collapses.
Under this alternate scenario, underground organizing in small cells has major implications for applying the principles of war. The ideal entity for taking on industrial civilization would have been a large, hierarchal paramilitary network. Such a network could have engaged in the training, discipline, and coordinated action required to implement decisive militant action on a continental scale. However, for practical reasons, a single such network never arises. Similar arrangements in the history of resistance struggle, such as the IRA or various territory-controlling insurgent groups, happened in the absence of the modern surveillance state and in the presence of a well-developed culture of resistance and extensive opposition to the occupier.
Although underground cells can still form out of trusted peers along kinship lines, larger paramilitary networks are more difficult to form in a contemporary anticivilization context. First of all, the proportion of potential recruits in the general population is smaller than in any anticolonial or antioccupation resistance movements in history. So it takes longer and is more difficult to expand existing underground networks. The option used by some resistance groups in Occupied France was to ally and connect existing cells. But this is inherently difficult and dangerous. Any underground group with proper cover would be invisible to another group looking for allies (there are plenty of stories from the end of the war of resisters living across the hall from each other without having realized each other’s affiliation). And in a panopticon, exposing yourself to unproven allies is a risky undertaking.
A more plausible underground arrangement in this scenario is for there to have been a composite of organizations of different sizes, a few larger networks with a number of smaller autonomous cells that aren’t directly connected through command lines. There are indirect connections or communications via cutouts, but those methods are rarely consistent or reliable enough to permit coordinated simultaneous actions on short notice.
Individual cells rarely have the numbers or logistics to engage in multiple simultaneous actions at different locations. That job falls to the paramilitary groups, with cells in multiple locations, who have the command structure and the discipline to properly carry out network disruption. However, autonomous cells maintain readiness to engage in opportunistic action by identifying in advance a selection of appropriate local targets and tactics. Then once a larger simultaneous action happened (causing, say, a blackout), autonomous cells take advantage of the opportunity to undertake their own actions, within a few hours. In this way unrelated cells engage in something close to simultaneous attacks, maximizing their effectiveness. Of course, if decentralized groups frequently stage attacks in the wake of larger “trigger actions,” the corporate media may stop broadcasting news of attacks to avoid triggering more. So, such an approach has its limits, although large-scale effects like national blackouts can’t be suppressed in the news (and in systems disruption, it doesn’t really matter what caused a blackout in the first place, because it’s still an opportunity for further action).
When we look at some struggle or war in history, we have the benefit of hindsight to identify flaws and successes. This is how we judge strategic decisions made in World War II, for example, or any of those who have tried (or not) to intervene in historical holocausts. Perhaps it would be beneficial to imagine some historians in the distant future—assuming humanity survives—looking back on the alternate future just described. Assuming it was generally successful, how might they analyze its strengths and weaknesses?
For these historians, phase IV is controversial, and they know it had been controversial among resisters at the time. Even resisters who agreed with militant actions against industrial infrastructure hesitated when contemplating actions with possible civilian consequences. That comes as no surprise, because members of this resistance were driven by a deep respect and care for all life. The problem is, of course, that members of this group knew that if they failed to stop this culture from killing the planet, there would be far more gruesome civilian consequences.
A related moral conundrum confronted the Allies early in World War II, as discussed by Eric Markusen and David Kopf in their book The Holocaust and Strategic Bombing: Genocide and Total War in the Twentieth Century. Markusen and Kopf write that: “At the beginning of World War II, British bombing policy was rigorously discriminating—even to the point of putting British aircrews at great risk. Only obvious military targets removed from population centers were attacked, and bomber crews were instructed to jettison their bombs over water when weather conditions made target identification questionable. Several factors were cited to explain this policy, including a desire to avoid provoking Germany into retaliating against non-military targets in Britain with its then numerically superior air force.”19
Other factors included concerns about public support, moral considerations in avoiding civilian casualties, the practice of the “Phoney War” (a declared war on Germany with little real combat), and a small air force which required time to build up. The parallels between the actions of the British bombers and the actions of leftist militants from the Weather Underground to the ELF are obvious.
The problem with this British policy was that it simply didn’t work. Germany showed no such moral restraint, and British bombing crews were taking greater risks to attack less valuable targets. By February of 1942, bombing policy changed substantially. In fact, Bomber Command began to deliberately target enemy civilians and civilian morale—particularly that of industrial workers—especially by destroying homes around target factories in order to “dehouse” workers. British strategists believed that in doing so they could sap Germany’s will to fight. In fact, some of the attacks on civilians were intended to “punish” the German populace for supporting Hitler, and some strategists believed that, after sufficient punishment, the population would rise up and depose Hitler to save themselves. Of course, this did not work; it almost never does.
So, this was one of the dilemmas faced by resistance members in this alternate future scenario: while the resistance abhorred the notion of actions affecting civilians—even more than the British did in early World War II—it was clear to them that in an industrial nation the “civilians” and the state are so deeply enmeshed that any impact on one will have some impact on the other.
Historians now believe that Allied reluctance to attack early in the war may have cost many millions of civilian lives. By failing to stop Germany early, they made a prolonged and bloody conflict inevitable. General Alfred Jodl, the German Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command, said as much during his war crimes trial at Nuremburg: “[I]f we did not collapse already in the year 1939 that was due only to the fact that during the Polish campaign, the approximately 110 French and British divisions in the West were held completely inactive against the 23 German divisions.”20
Many military strategists have warned against piecemeal or half measures when only total war will do the job. In his book Grand Strategy: Principles and Practices, John M. Collins argues that timid attacks may strengthen the resolve of the enemy, because they constitute a provocation but don’t significantly damage the physical capability or morale of the occupier. “Destroying the enemy’s resolution to resist is far more important than crippling his material capabilities … studies of cause and effect tend to confirm that violence short of total devastation may amplify rather than erode a people’s determination.”21 Consider, though, that in this 1973 book Collins may underestimate the importance of technological infrastructure and decisive strikes on them. (He advises elsewhere in the book that computers “are of limited utility.”22)
Other strategists have prioritized the material destruction over the adversary’s “will to fight.” Robert Anthony Pape discusses the issue in Bombing to Win, in which he analyzes the effectiveness of strategic bombing in various wars. We can wonder in this alternate future scenario if the resisters attended to Pape’s analysis as they weighed the benefits of phase III (selective actions against particular networks and systems) vs. phase IV (attempting to destroy as much of the industrial infrastructure as possible).
Specifically, Pape argues that targeting an entire economy may be more effective than simply going after individual factories or facilities:
Strategic interdiction can undermine attrition strategies, either by attacking weapons plants or by smashing the industrial base as a whole, which in turn reduces military production. Of the two, attacking weapons plants is the less effective. Given the substitution capacities of modern industrial economies, “war” production is highly fungible over a period of months. Production can be maintained in the short term by running down stockpiles and in the medium term by conservation and substitution of alternative materials or processes. In addition to economic adjustment, states can often make doctrinal adjustments.23
This analysis is poignant, but it also demonstrates a way in which the goals of this alternate scenario’s strategy differed from the goals of strategic bombing in historical conflicts. In the Allied bombing campaign (and in other wars where strategic bombing was used), the strategic bombing coincided with conventional ground, air, and naval battles. Bombing strategists were most concerned with choking off enemy supplies to the battlefield. Strategic bombing alone was not meant to win the war; it was meant to support conventional forces in battle. In contrast, in this alternate future, a significant decrease in industrial production would itself be a great success.
The hypothetical future historians perhaps ask, “Why not simply go after the worst factories, the worst industries, and leave the rest of the economy alone?” Earlier stages of Decisive Ecological Warfare did involve targeting particular factories or industries. However, the resisters knew that the modern industrial economy was so thoroughly integrated that anything short of general economic distruption was unlikely to have lasting effect.
This, too, is shown by historical attempts to disrupt economies. Pape continues, “Even when production of an important weapon system is seriously undermined, tactical and operational adjustments may allow other weapon systems to substitute for it.… As a result, efforts to remove the critical component in war production generally fail.” For example, Pape explains, the Allies carried out a bombing campaign on German aircraft engine plants. But this was not a decisive factor in the struggle for air superiority. Mostly, the Allies defeated the Luftwaffe because they shot down and killed so many of Germany’s best pilots.
Another example of compensation is the Allied bombing of German ball bearing plants. The Allies were able to reduce the German production of ball bearings by about 70 percent. But this did not force a corresponding decrease in German tank forces. The Germans were able to compensate in part by designing equipment that required fewer bearings. They also increased their production of infantry antitank weapons. Early in the war, Germany was able to compensate for the destruction of factories in part because many factories were running only one shift. They were not using their existing industrial capacity to its fullest. By switching to double or triple shifts, they were able to (temporarily) maintain production.
Hence, Pape argues that war economies have no particular point of collapse when faced with increasing attacks, but can adjust incrementally to decreasing supplies. “Modern war economies are not brittle. Although individual plants can be destroyed, the opponent can reduce the effects by dispersing production of important items and stockpiling key raw materials and machinery. Attackers never anticipate all the adjustments and work-arounds defenders can devise, partly because they often rely on analysis of peacetime economies and partly because intelligence of the detailed structure of the target economy is always incomplete.”24 This is a valid caution against overconfidence, but the resisters in this scenario recognized that his argument was not fully applicable to their situation, in part for the reasons we discussed earlier, and in part because of reasons that follow.
Military strategists studying economic and industrial disruption are usually concerned specifically with the production of war materiel and its distribution to enemy armed forces. Modern war economies are economies of total warin which all parts of society are mobilized and engaged in supporting war. So, of course, military leaders can compensate for significant disruption; they can divert materiel or rations from civilian use or enlist civilians and civilian infrastructure for military purposes as they please. This does not mean that overall production is unaffected (far from it), simply that military production does not decline as much as one might expect under a given onslaught.
Resisters in this scenario had a different perspective on compensation measures than military strategists. To understand the contrast, pretend that a military strategist and a militant ecological strategist both want to blow up a fuel pipeline that services a major industrial area. Let’s say the pipeline is destroyed and the fuel supply to industry is drastically cut. Let’s say that the industrial area undertakes a variety of typical measures to compensate—conservation, recycling, efficiency measures, and so on. Let’s say they are able to keep on producing insulation or refrigerators or clothing or whatever it is they make, in diminished numbers and using less fuel. They also extend the lifespan of their existing refrigerators or clothing by repairing them. From the point of view of the military strategist, this attack has been a failure—it has a negligible effect on materiel availability for the military. But from the perspective of the militant ecologist, this is a victory. Ecological damage is reduced, and with very few negative effects on civilians. (Indeed, some effects would be directly beneficial.)
And modern economies in general are brittle. Military economies mobilize resources and production by any means necessary, whether that means printing money or commandeering factories. They are economies of crude necessity. Industrial economies, in contrast, are economies of luxury. They mostly produce things that people don’t need. Industrial capitalism thrives on manufacturing desire as much as on manufacturing products, on selling people disposable plastic garbage, extra cars, and junk food. When capitalist economies hit hard times, as they did in the Great Depression, or as they did in Argentina a decade ago, or as they have in many places in many times, people fall back on necessities, and often on barter systems and webs of mutual aid. They fall back on community and household economies, economies of necessity that are far more resilient than industrial capitalism, and even more robust than war economies.
Nonetheless, Pape makes an important point when he argues, “Strategic interdiction is most effective when attacks are against the economy as a whole. The most effective plan is to destroy the transportation network that brings raw materials and primary goods to manufacturing centers and often redistributes subcomponents among various industries. Attacking national electric power grids is not effective because industrial facilities commonly have their own backup power generation. Attacking national oil refineries to reduce backup power generators typically ignores the ability of states to reduce consumption through conservation and rationing.” Pape’s analysis is insightful, but again it’s important to understand the differences between his premises and goals, and the premises and goals of Decisive Ecological Warfare.
The resisters in the DEW scenario had the goals of reducing consumption and reducing industrial activity, so it didn’t matter to them that some industrial facilities had backup generators or that states engaged in conservation and rationing. They believed it was a profound ecological victory to cause factories to run on reduced power or for nationwide oil conservation to have taken place. They remembered that in the whole of its history, the mainstream environmental movement was never even able to stop the growth of fossil fuel consumption. To actually reduce it was unprecedented.25
No matter whether we are talking about some completely hypothetical future situation or the real world right now, the progress of peak oil will also have an effect on the relative importance of different transportation networks. In some areas, the importance of shipping imports will increase because of factors like the local exhaustion of oil. In others, declining international trade and reduced economic activity will make shipping less important. Highway systems may have reduced usage because of increasing fuel costs and decreasing trade. This reduced traffic will leave more spare capacity and make highways less vulnerable to disruption. Rail traffic—a very energy-efficient form of transport—is likely to increase in importance. Furthermore, in many areas, railroads have been removed over a period of several decades, so that remaining lines are even now very crowded and close to maximum capacity.
Back to the alternative future scenario: In most cases, transportation networks were not the best targets. Road transportation (by far the most important form in most countries) is highly redundant. Even rural parts of well-populated areas are crisscrossed by grids of county roads, which are slower than highways, but allow for detours.
In contrast, targeting energy networks was a higher priority to them because the effect of disrupting them was greater. Many electrical grids were already operating near capacity, and were expensive to expand. They became more important as highly portable forms of energy like fossil fuels were partially replaced by less portable forms of energy, specifically electricity generated from coal-burning and nuclear plants, and to a lesser extent by wind and solar energy. This meant that electrical grids carried as much or more energy as they do now, and certainly a larger percentage of all energy consumed. Furthermore, they recognized that energy networks often depend on a few major continent-spanning trunks, which were very vulnerable to disruption.
by Lauren Smith
When it comes to the ruling elite’s corporate plunder and crimes against humanity, the U.S. national memory’s short and no one, not even its political henchmen, assume blame or suffer real consequences: take Halliburton and former chief executive and U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for example. Not only did Cheney plan and justify the invasion, occupation and pilferage of Iraq’s oil, gold bars and national museum treasures under treasonous false pretenses, but its subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR Inc.), overcharged the U.S. taxpayer to a tune of more than $2 billion due to collusion engendered by sole source contracting methods and shoddy accounting procedures. It’s even forgotten that Cheney received a $34 million payout from Halliburton when he joined the Vice President ticket in 2000, in advance of his unscrupulous maneuvers, according to news commentator, Chris Matthews; because on November 5th 2018, in celebration of its 100-year anniversary, its chief executives rang the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) opening bell.
Sadly, as a nation, the U.S. doesn’t recall Cheney’s lies, or his role in planning the contemptible “Shock and Awe” saturation bombing campaign that destroyed a sovereign nation, which posed no threat to the United States, and left the world’s cradle of civilization in ruins. Conveniently, it doesn’t recall the over 500,000 deaths from war related causes, as reported by the Huffington Post in its 2017 updated article; nor does it recall that obliterating Iraq’s government created a sociopolitical vacuum that enabled the exponential growth of the CIA’s unique brand of Islamofascism and its resulting terrorism, which has culminated in war-torn Syria and Yemen.
Iraq’s only “crime” against the United States, if you want to call it that, was being hogtied by Washington’s sanctions and embargo against it – in what can only be called a Catch 22 situation. Iraq couldn’t do business with U.S. corporations not because Saddam Hussein was unwilling to, but because the U.S. government effectively barred Iraq from doing so. This Catch 22 situation is presently being repeated in Venezuela and Iran in advance of its planned invasion and occupation.
Then there is the cost of war itself: according to The Costs of War project at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, “The wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq (the war in Pakistan refers to U.S. counterterrorism efforts there, such as drone strikes and other efforts against al Qaeda) cost $4.4 trillion. Included in the cost are: direct Congressional war appropriations; war-related increases to the Pentagon base budget; veterans care and disability; increases in the homeland security budget; interest payments on direct war borrowing; foreign assistance spending; and estimated future obligations for veterans’ care. By 2053, interest payments on the debt alone could reach over $7 trillion.”
Keep in mind that the U.S. taxpayer directly subsidizes the profits of the military industrial complex, and oil & gas industries. Yet, no U.S. protests against Halliburton are found in the media later than 2007. And, there are no organized disinvestment campaigns of record.
So Wall Street celebrates Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary with a clear conscience, because no one has graffitied its large four column wide sign or is disinvested from its stock. The nation only recalls, according to IBTimes, in their 2013 article on Iraq war contracts, that Halliburton’s subsidiary, KBR, had the most: KBR’s war contracts totaled $39.5 billion in just a decade.
Other than the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, which found Cheney and President Bush et al guilty of war crimes in absentia for the illegal invasion of Iraq, there remains no lasting acknowledgement in the U.S. consciousness of Cheney’s evil doings. Cheney had recent book deals and continues to ramble on with speaking engagements. He was scheduled by Cornell University to issue a keynote address as recent as May 2018. In short, the ruling elite protects those engaged in their dirty work until they prove unnecessary. In this regard, consider the fact that Saddam Hussein was a former CIA asset and a good corporate customer – as the weapons of mass destruction (WMD), he once possessed, were sold to him by the U.S. and Britain. However, according to the former United Nations (UN) chief weapon inspector, Scott Ritter, the UN destroyed Iraq’s stockpiles after the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) – well before the 2003 invasion. This report was ignored because it contradicted the prevailing narrative that justified the invasion, occupation and looting of Iraq.
Just as the ruling elite engineered Saddam Hussein rise to power when he was useful, they ensured Cheney’s political ascent, and the success of his campaign against Iraq. To illustrate the persuasive power of the oil & gas industry in politics, note that according to Open Secrets.org, oil & gas lobbyists spent over $175M in 2009 (Obama’s first year in office). Of that amount, ExxonMobil spent the most at $27.4M and Chevron Corp., in second place, spent $20.8M. For the record, ExxonMobil and Chevron are successors of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Prior to President Obama & Vice President Biden, the Oil & Gas Industry lobbyists spent approximately half that amount at $86.5M in 2007. Thus, Bush & Cheney represented a 50% savings for oil & gas lobbyists.
When seeking to “out” the elite, keep in mind that the Rockefeller clan describe themselves “as ExxonMobil’s longest continuous shareholders.” In Iraq, ExxonMobil has a 60% share of a $50 billion market contract developing the 9-billion-barrels southern West Qurna Phase I field, and ExxonMobil is expanding its oil & gas holdings into the semiautonomous Kurdish region in the country’s north.
Within this context, the enemy is not a corporate office, an oilrig, pipeline or refinery; it’s the ruling elite that own and control the means of production. If people of conscience don’t hold them accountable for their crimes, they will continue to commit them in countries such as Venezuela and Iran, which are presently locked in their sights. While henchmen change, the ruling elite remains. Why should the U.S. allow its military and secret service to be pimped out as corporate stooges and glorified security guards?
Imperialism is insatiable and fascism expedient. The time to hold the ruling elite accountable is now before another invasion and occupation is executed against a fake enemy that just so happens to coincidentally have a large desirable oil reserve. Let’s follow Iceland’s lead and seek the prosecution of white-collar criminals that hide behind a facade of corporate stock holdings now, before its too late and they strike again in Venezuela and Iran.
So for Halliburton’s 100-year anniversary wish, let’s wish its stock tanks and that its guilty are remembered, held accountable, and that justice is ultimately served.
Lauren Smith has a BA in Politics, Economics and Society from SUNY at Old Westbury and an MPA in International Development Administration from New York University. Her historical fiction novel based on Nicaragua’s 1979 revolution is due out in 2019.
Editor’s note: The following is from the chapter “Introduction to Strategy” of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet. This book is now available for free online.
by Aric McBay
This shift toward more militant defiance of slavery was all wonderful, of course. And it certainly increased the success of the Underground Railroad if a slave catcher knew that a trip into strongly abolitionist areas might end with a bullet in his chest. But, again, there was a problem. Even this rapidly growing and increasingly defiant abolitionist movement had not been able to successfully challenge the institution of slavery itself. The situation continued to get worse. Writes Stewart, “More than two decades of peacefully preaching against the sin of slavery had yielded not emancipation but several new slave states and an increase of over half a million held in bondage, trends that seemingly secured a death grip by the ‘slave power’ on American life.”41 Cotton agriculture in the South often destroyed the landbase, and that, combined with a growing slave population, meant that it was profitable—according to some historians, even imperative—that slaveholders expand westward in order to maintain the slave economy. Each new slave state shifted the balance of political power in the Union even more toward slavery.
Enter John Brown, an ardent abolitionist and deeply moral man who had clashed with proslavery militants on several occasions before. Brown, a wool grower by trade, had fought in the struggle to make the new state of Kansas an antislavery state. He was apparently not much interested in making speeches, and thought little of rhetoric alone given the seriousness of the situation. Brown was frustrated with mainstream abolitionists, reportedly exclaiming, “These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!”
And action was exactly what he had in mind. In 1858, Brown ran a series of small raids from Kansas into Missouri, liberating slaves and stealing horses and wagons. He helped bring the liberated slaves to Canada, but his main plan was much more daring. Secretly raising funds from wealthy abolitionist donors, buying arms, and training a small group of paramilitary recruits, Brown planned a raid on the armory at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The plan was simple. Brown and his troops would raid the armory, which contained tens of thousands of small arms. They would steal as many arms as they could, then liberate and arm the slaves in the area. They would head south, operating as guerrillas, liberating and arming slaves and fighting only in self-defense. Brown hoped for a movement that would grow exponentially as they moved into the Deep South, a cascade of action that would unravel and destroy the institution of slavery itself.
Although some historians—especially those impugning Brown—have considered him an insurrectionist, that’s not an accurate reflection of his intended strategy. Brown’s biographer, Louis A. DeCaro, has discussed this very fact: “Brown nowhere planned insurrection, which is essentially an armed uprising with the intention of eliminating slave masters. Brown planned an armed defensive campaign. His intention was to lead enslaved people away from slavery, arm them to fight defensively while they liberated still more people, fighting in small groups in the mountains, until the economy of slavery collapsed. Brown did not believe in killing unless it was absolutely necessary.”42
Tragically, things were not to go as planned. Part of the problem was numbers. While a draft plan for the Harpers Ferry raid called for thousands of men, on the day of the raid Brown had only twenty-one, both white and black. In an unusual situation for resistance fighters, Brown had far more guns than men. From Northern abolition societies, Brown had received about ten carbines (short rifles) for each fighter available. Nonetheless, Brown, deeply driven, decided to proceed.
At first the raid went smoothly. They easily entered the town of Harpers Ferry, cut the telegraph wires, and captured the armory. But Brown made a tactical error—the worst tactical error a guerrilla can make—by failing to seize the arms and move on as soon as possible. As a result, local militia were soon firing on the armory from the town while the militants remained inside. After continuing exchanges of fire and several deaths, US Marines under the command of Robert E. Lee arrived, surrounding and then storming the armory. Five of Brown’s fighters escaped, ten were killed, and the rest captured. Those captured were imprisoned and stood trial. John Brown and five others were subsequently hanged.
It’s extremely important to understand why the raid failed. The problem was tactical, rather than strategic in nature. Although he was unsuccessful, even his enemies at the time said that “it was among the best planned and executed conspiracies that ever failed.”43 In fact, even on the tactical level Brown’s planning was excellent. But instead of employing the hit-and-run tactics asymmetric forces depend on, Brown got bogged down in the armory. According to biographer Louis A. DeCaro, “The reason the raid did not succeed was because he paid too much concern to his hostages, including some whining slave masters, and undermined himself in trying to negotiate with them.” Furthermore, rather astonishingly, DeCaro notes that Brown even allowed “his prisoners to go home and see their families under guard and send out for their breakfast.”44 Indeed, Brown was in Harpers Ferry for almost two days before the marines arrived. According to DeCaro: “Had he kept to his own plan and schedule, he and his fugitive allies would have almost walked away from Harper’s Ferry without facing any significant opposition, and could have easily retreated to the mountains as planned. Contrary to the notion that he was a crazy man and a killer, it seems that John Brown was actually too tender-hearted and still hoped to resolve some of the issue by negotiation. This was his greatest error.”45
News of the raid spread swiftly. The knee-jerk response among many abolitionists and their sympathizers was one of contempt for Brown’s actions. Even Lincoln (perhaps afraid of offending the South) called him a “misguided fanatic.” Henry David Thoreau, notably, was one of the few who immediately sprang to Brown’s defense. He begged his fellow citizens to listen: “I hear many condemn these men because they were so few. When were the good and the brave ever in a majority?”46 (Now is a good time to ask that question of ourselves and our allies, especially if we are waiting for someone else to act.)
DeCaro notes that Brown’s reputation in history has been consistently attacked and “the ‘facts’ of his case have been mediated from slave masters, pro-slavery people, and pacifists.”47 (Those in the latter category will hopefully find it relevant, if embarrassing, that they are lumped in with such dreadful company.) But not everyone has been so easily convinced that Brown was wrongheaded. Malcolm X, not surprisingly, had great respect for John Brown and little patience for white liberals who criticized his methods. “John Brown … was a white man who went to war against white people to help free slaves. And any white man who is ready and willing to shed blood for your freedom—in the sight of other whites, he’s nuts.” In other words, those who hate Brown do so in large part because he was a “race traitor.”
The raid on Harpers Ferry increased tensions between the North and South. Some historians rank it among the proximal causes of the Civil War. This is ironic, as Brown despised unnecessary bloodshed, and, like many at the time, was aware that a war between North and South was very likely looming. It was his hope that his strategy of guerrilla warfare would end the slave economy while averting a civil war, which could be even bloodier. It’s possible that, had he been more ruthless, he might have succeeded. His hesitation to be ruthless, then, may have resulted in a much greater number of deaths. Brown’s problem, as with many of those who fight injustice, was that he was simply too nice, even when dealing with vicious oppressors. Brown himself realized this too late. On the day he was hanged he wrote the following: “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.”48
Outright Civil War
Brown’s failed attack was a flashpoint for the rising strain between North and South, and outright Civil War shortly followed. This is not the place to discuss the full history of the Civil War or all its causes, but there are a few points that are relevant to understanding how outright Civil War impacted resistance. Many people have been taught that the Civil War was “fought to end slavery,” but this is not true. Social justice was not a main driving force behind the Civil War, and prior to the outbreak of hostilities, Abraham Lincoln insisted that slavery was a choice for each state to make. It might be more accurate to say that the Civil War was precipitated by the growth of “slave power” (that is, the power of slaving-holding states) and by the tensions between conflicting economic and political institutions. The immediate cause of the Civil War was the secession of slave-holding states into the Confederacy, which Abraham Lincoln would not allow.
The outbreak of Civil War (and especially the invasion of the Confederacy by Union forces) resulted in two distinct changes for abolitionists. First, slave resistance in the South was vastly increased, and second, many Northerners who were not abolitionists were forced to come face to face with slavery.
The impact of the Civil War on slave resistance was extensive even where armed conflict was not yet occurring. Many slaves attempted escape to get across Union lines where they would be ostensibly free, and many of those escapees joined the Union army to fight for the end of the Confederacy and the end of slavery. But even those slaves who did not run were roused to active resistance—or at least withdrawal of their labor. As in France in 1943, more and more slaves began to resist when it became clear that the slave owners might lose.
Historian Bruce Levine notes that:
The wartime breakdown of slavery became apparent beyond those Southern districts actually penetrated by Union troops. In still-unoccupied parts of the Confederacy, masters, army officers, and government officials clashed repeatedly over which of them had the greater need for and claim to the labor of remaining slaves. This process eroded the real power of Rebel masters—and emboldened those still under their formal control. A South Carolina overseer bemoaned the “goodeal of obstanetry” he faced among “Some of the Peopl” working on his plantation, “mostly amongst the Woman a goodeal of Quarling and disputing and telling lies.” James Alcorn, a Mississippi planter, found that Union raids in his area had “thoroughly demoralized” his slaves. (This phrase was common planter parlance for saying that power over a slave—and a slave’s fear of a master—had faded.) That change, moaned Alcorn, had rendered his human property “no longer of any practical value.” Even among those field laborers who had not fled, a Louisiana overseer reported to his employer, “but very few are faithful—Some of those who remain are worse than those who have gone.” In one district after another, bondspeople began to call for improvements in their conditions as well as implicit but no less momentous alterations in their status—and they withheld their labor until such demands were met.… “Their condition is one of perfect anarchy and rebellion,” Georgia plantation mistress Mary Jones confided in her journal. “They have placed themselves in perfect antagonism to their owners and to all government and control. We dare not predict the end of all this.”49
The nature of slave resistance changed as well, with organizers shifting from the survival-orientated operations of the Underground Railroad to decisive military operations. Many former slaves worked with the Union forces, including Harriet Tubman, who worked as a scout and led raids and mass liberations of slaves.
The war also forced nonabolitionist northerners to confront the nature of slavery head-on. Writes Levine, “The wartime crisis of slavery left a deep imprint not only on southern whites but also on Union troops. As Lincoln and others had feared, and as the 1862 elections made clear, the decision to add the destruction of slavery to the North’s war aims at first provoked fierce opposition in parts of the Union. Few Union soldiers had gone to war committed to abolition … the Union soldier’s firsthand exposure to the real nature of slavery did much, however, to change minds and soften hearts.”50
When a destructive system is deeply entrenched, and when average people are isolated from the costs of that system, real change doesn’t come just from speeches. Real change happens—and only can happen—when that system is broken down by force. Then the oppressed gain the breathing room needed to fight back, and the apathetic can get their first look at that system’s real face.
Editor’s note: This is the paper produced for a South African Student Organisation Leadership Training Course in December 1971.
by Steve Biko
We have defined blacks as those who are by law or tradition politically, economically and socially discriminated against as a group in the South African society and identifying themselves as a unit in the struggle towards the realization of their aspirations.
This definition illustrates to us a number of things:
- Being black is not a matter of pigmentation–being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.
- Merely by describing yourself as black you have started on a road towards emancipation, you have committed yourself to fight against all forces that seek to use your blackness as a stamp that marks you out as a subservient being.
From the above observations therefore, we can see that the term black is not necessarily all-inclusive, i.e. the fact that we are all not white does not necessarily mean that we are all black. Non-whites do exist and will continue to exist for quite a long time. If one’s aspiration is whiteness but his pigmentation makes attainment of this impossible, then that person is a non-white. Any man who calls a white man “baas,” any man who serves in the police force or security branch is ipso facto a non-white. Black people–real black people–are those who can manage to hold their heads high in defiance rather than willingly surrender their souls to the white man.
Briefly defined therefore, Black Consciousness is in essence the realization by the black man of the need to rally together with his brothers around the cause of their oppression–the blackness of their skin–and to operate as a group in order to rid themselves of the shackles that bind them to perpetual servitude. It seeks to demonstrate the lie that black is an aberration from the “normal” which is white. It is a manifestation of a new realization that by seeking to run away from themselves and to emulate the white man, black are insulting the intelligence of whoever created them black. Black Consciousness, therefore takes cognizance of the deliberateness of the God’s plan in creating black people black.
It seeks to infuse the black community with a new-found pride in themselves, their efforts, their value systems, their culture, their religion and their outlook to life. The interrelationship between the consciousness of the self and the emancipatory programme is of a paramount importance. Blacks no longer seek to reform the system because so doing implies acceptance of the major points around which the system revolves. Blacks are out to completely transform the system and to make of it what they wish. Such a major undertaking can only be realized in an atmosphere where people are convinced of the truth inherent in their stand. Liberation therefore is of paramount importance in the concept of Black Consciousness, for we cannot be conscious of ourselves and yet remain in bondage. We want to attain the envisioned self which is a free self.
The surge towards Black Consciousness is a phenomenon that has manifested itself throughout the so-called Third World. There is no doubt that discrimination against the black man the word over fetches its origin from the exploitative attitude of the white man. Colonization of white countries by whites has throughout history resulted in nothing more than sinister than mere cultural or geographical fusion at worst, or language bastardization at best.
It is true that the history of weaker nations is shaped by bigger nations, but nowhere in the world today do we see whites exploiting whites on scale even remotely similar to what is happening in South Africa. Hence, one is forced to conclude that it is not coincidence that black people are exploited. It was a deliberate plan which has culminated in even so-called black independent countries not attaining any real independence.
With this background in mind we are forced, therefore, to believe that it is a case of haves against have-nots where whites have been deliberately made haves and black have-nots.
There is for instance no worker in the classical sense among whites in South Africa, for even the most downtrodden white worker still has a lot lose if the system is changed. He is protected by several laws against competition at work from the majority. He has a vote and he uses it to return the Nationalist Government to power because he sees them as the only people who, through job reservation laws, are bent on looking after his interests against competition with the “Natives.”
It should therefore be accepted that analysis of our situation in terms of one’s colour at once takes care of the greatest single determinant for political action–i.e. colour–while also validly describing the blacks as the only real workers in South Africa. It immediately kills all suggestions that there could ever be effective rapport between the real workers, i.e. blacks, and the privileged white workers, since we have shown that the latter are the greatest supporters of the system.
True enough, the system has allowed so dangerous an anti-black attitude to build up amongst whites, who are economically nearest to the blacks, demonstrate the distance between themselves and the blacks by an exaggerated reactionary attitude towards blacks. Hence the greatest anti-black feeling is to be found amongst the very poor whites whom the Class Theory calls upon to be with black workers in the struggle for emancipation. This is the kind of twisted logic that Black Consciousness approach seeks to eradicate.
In terms of the Black Consciousness approach we recognize the existence of one major force in South Africa. This is White Racism. It is the one force against which all of us are pitted. It works with unnerving totality, featuring both on the offensive and in our defence. Its greatest ally to date has been the refusal by us to progressively lose ourselves in a world of colourlessness and amorphous common humanity, whites are deriving pleasure and security in entrenching white racism and further exploiting the minds and bodies of the unsuspecting black masses. Their agents are ever present amongst us, telling that it is immoral to withdraw into a cocoon, that dialogue is the answer to our problem and that it is unfortunate that there is white racism in some quarters but you must that things are changing.
These in fact are the greatest racists for they refuse to credit us any intelligence to know what we want. Their intentions are obvious; they want to be barometers by which the rest of the white society can measure feelings in the black world. This then is what makes us believe that white power presents itself as a totality not only provoking us but also controlling our response to the provocation. This is an important point to note because it is often missed by those who believe that there are a few good whites. Sure there are few good whites just as much as there are a few bad blacks.
However what we are concerned here with is group attitudes and group politics. The exception does not make a lie of a rule–it merely substantiates it. The overall analysis therefore, based on the Hegelian theory of dialectic materialism, is as follows. That since the thesis is a white racism there can only be one valid antithesis, i.e. a solid black unity, to counterbalance the scale. If South Africa is to be a land where black and white live together in harmony without fear of group exploitation, it is only when these two opposites have interplayed and produced a viable synthesis of ideas and modus vivendi. We can never wage any struggle without offering a strong counterpoint to the white racism that permeate our society so effectively.
One must immediately dispel the thought that Black Consciousness is merely a methodology or a means towards an end. What Black Consciousness seeks to do is to produce at the output end of the process real black people who do not regard themselves as the appendages to white society. This truth cannot be reserved.
We do not need to apologize for this because it is true that the white systems have produced throughout the world a number of people who are not aware that they too are people. Our adherence to values that we set for ourselves can also not be reversed because it will always be a lie to accept white values as necessarily the best. The fact that a synthesis may be attained only relates to adherence to power politics. Someone somewhere along the line will be forced to accept the truth and here we believe that ours is the truth.
The future of South Africa in the case where blacks adopt Black Consciousness is the subject for concern especially among initiates. What do we do when have attained our Consciousness ? Do we propose to kick whites out ? I believe personally that the answers to these questions ought to be found in the SASO Policy Manifesto and in our analysis of the situation in South Africa. We have defined what we mean by true integration and the very fact that such a definition exists does illustrate what our standpoint is. In any case we are much more concerned about what is happening now, than will happen in the future. The future will always be shaped by the sequence of present-day events.
The importance of black solidarity to the various segments of the black community must not be understated. There have been in the past a lot of suggestions that there can be no viable unity amongst blacks because they hold each other in contempt. Coloureds despise Africans because they (the former), by their proximity to the Africans, may lose the chances of assimilation into the white world. Africans despise the Coloureds and Indians for a variety of reasons. Indians not only despise Africans but in many instances also exploit the Africans in job and shop situations.
All these stereotype attitudes have led to mountainous inter-group suspicions amongst the blacks.
What we should at all times look at is the fact that:
- We are all oppressed by the same system.
- That we are oppressed to varying degrees is a deliberate design to stratify us not only socially but also in terms of the enemy’s aspirations.
- Therefore it is to be expected that in terms of the enemy’s plan there must be this suspicion and that if we are committed to the problem of emancipation to the same degree it is part of our duty to bring to the black people the deliberateness of the enemy’s subjugation scheme.
- That we should go on with our programme, attracting to it only committed people and not just those eager to see an equitable distribution of groups amongst our ranks. This is a game common amongst liberals. The one criterion that must govern all our action is commitment.
Further implications of Black Consciousness are to do with correcting false images of ourselves in terms of culture, Education, Religion, Economics. The importance of this also must not be understated. There is always an interplay between the history of people i.e. the past, their faith in themselves and hopes for their future. We are aware of the terrible role played by our education and religion in creating amongst us a false understanding of ourselves. We must therefore work out schemes not only to correct this, but further to be our own authorities rather than wait to be interpreted by others.
Whites can only see us from the outside and as such can never extract and analyze the ethos in the black community. In summary therefore one need only refer this house to the South African Student Organisation Policy Manifesto which carries most of the salient points in the definition of the Black Consciousness. I wish to stress again the need for us to know very clearly what we mean by certain terms and what our understanding is when we talk of Black Consciousness.