Max Wilbert and Derrick Jensen Discuss Deep Green Resistance

Max Wilbert is a third-generation organizer who grew up in Seattle’s post-WTO anti-globalization and undoing racism movement. He is a co-founder of the group Deep Green Resistance and longtime board member of Fertile Ground, a small, grassroots environmental non-profit with no employees and no corporate funding. His first book, a collection of pro-feminist and environmental essays, was recently released. It’s called We Choose to Speak, and Other Essays.

He is also the co-author of the forthcoming book “Bright Green Lies” (with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith) which looks at the problems with mainstream so-called “solutions” such as solar panels, electric cars, recycling, and green cities. The book makes the case that these approaches fail to protect the planet and aim at protecting empire from the effects of peak oil and ecological collapse.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:


I’m not a Leninist, but I think it’s worth reading Lenin and all those famous revolutionaries throughout history, I think it’s very worth studying and reading their work even if you disagree with large portions of it, even all of it depending on who you are, but Lenin talked about revolution as not being something that people make happen. Ultimately, revolution comes about more or less organically because of those interactions between people, and society, and environment, and that whole socio-political, ecological context gives rise to these revolutionary conditions, and whether or not there is a revolution that depends on people’s ability to harness and change the situation in some way. This whole conversation I’m always thinking of this quote of James Connolly who was an Irish Republican around the early 1900s, active around the 1900s in the independence movement in Ireland, and James Conolly said “revolution is never practical until the hour the revolution strikes, then it alone is practical and all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers become the most futile, unvisionary of human imaginings, and the whole idea of revolution to me is fascinating because in this context that we find ourselves in  today, so many people have trouble imagining, you talked about this in your work Derrick, so many people have trouble imagining another way of life. People can imagine the end of the world, the collapse of the biosphere, the end of all human life and perhaps, most non-human life as well before they can actually imagine living a different way of life or living without the conveniences, and the consumption, and the high energy lifestyle of modern civilization. So, I think part of revolution, part of building towards revolution is how do we envision a future world that is better than the one we live now, and then how do we concretely begin to work for that world in here and now, and be prepared for those revolutionary moments that we know are coming, because that’s the truth as we know these revolutionary fractures in society are coming, and if you were in Paradise California when that fire came through,  as the James Connolly quote talked about, all the efforts of the conservatives and compromisers were the most futile, unvisionary of human imaginings in that moment when the inferno is sweeping through your town and the climate apocalypse is upon you, and that is just a small taste of what’s coming. This collapse has been an on-going process for a long time, but it’s getting so intense as the ecology of this planet really has taken such a hammering over the last hundreds and thousands of years, but specially in the last hundred years and the last decades as this culture’s hyper powered on so much fossil fuels, and so much energy that is destroying and extracting the last of all the resources of the planet, blowing up as many mountains as it can and exploiting everything, right? In that context we need to begin to build the seeds of the future and I think it has to combine that imagination, that ability to imagine a different future with like a very hard-headed, a very practical organizing mindset.

Browse all of my Resistance Radio interviews here.


0:11 – Introduction
1:22 – The Need for Change in Large-Scale Social and Environmental Movement Approaches
6:59 – Reform Can Be Very Helpful but Doesn’t Address the Fundamental Problem
12:26 – Revolution as a Consequence of Ecological Collapse
18:26 – Deep Green Resistance: Luck is Where Preparation Meets Opportunity
24:34 – We Can’t Out-muscle the Empire, We Have to Be Able to Out-think It
29:19 – Strategy and Organization is How We Build Power
35:06 – Where Does the Power to Exploit Comes From?
41:01 – Dismantling is Scary and Difficult Yet We’re Not Alone
44:05 – Pre-revolutionary Phases and How to Reach Out


3 thoughts on “Max Wilbert and Derrick Jensen Discuss Deep Green Resistance”

  1. excellent piece. this needs to be incorporated in our understanding on how to bring out this much needed change

  2. I find that most Americans have trouble even understanding the concept that “the American way of life” could somehow be a crime against Nature. More to the point, merely questioning human supremacy is widely regarded as blasphemous by the religious community, and as almost treasonous by just about everyone else.

    The human “dominion” claim is raised in the 26th verse of the Bible, and defines the fundamental difference between civilization, and the small minority of us who see humans as being just as subject to the laws of Nature as butterflies and buffalo.

    And that’s the basic problem with winning humans over to the idea of having less — not to mention the idea of living as subjects of Nature, rather than its masters.

    We can’t unlearn technology, and put the genie of “human progress” back in the bottle. Indeed, even primitive tribes use technology. And the more I think about it, the big difference between arrows and guns, candles and electric lights, adobe huts and skyscrapers isn’t so much the technology, but the philosophy.

    The difference between the those who live within Nature and those who live outside it is that animists see animals, plants, and the Earth as having the same rights as humans, while “civilized” people think “animal rights” is a subversive concept.

    And that’s why all religions other than animism are false. They were all invented to justify human supremacy. They pretend that man was made in the image of the gods, when they really created their gods to legitimize human domination.

  3. @Mark Behrend
    Your comment clearly shows why DGR’s idea of bringing down industrial society won’t work. In fact, despite feeling good and like the right thing to do at the time, the sabotage DGR advocates would have a harmful effect because of the major backlash it would cause, for exactly the reasons that you articulate. The sabotage advocated at the top of this page WOULD work if there were enough people with enough equipment, training, and knowledge to pull it off, but there aren’t, not even close.

    “We can’t unlearn technology, and put the genie of ‘human progress’ back in the bottle. Indeed, even primitive tribes use technology.”

    But humans CAN change their attitudes toward life, the Earth, and everything else that lives here. If humans focused on wisdom and on empathy for the Earth and all life on it instead of obsessing on their egos and themselves, they wouldn’t want to or even allow environmentally and/or ecologically harmful technologies, because the Earth and everything naturally evolved on it would be given priority over human conveniences and self-centered desires.

    Using “technology” in the broadest sense of that word is not a problem; even some non-humans use some very basic “technology” in order to survive. But the technology that’s not necessary for survival — basically everything from agriculture to all technology discovered/invented afterward — is the bad stuff that needs to be eliminated.

    The problem here is that because humans have an overdeveloped intellect and ego, because they walk upright and can therefore use their hands at all times, and because they have opposable thumbs, they are exponentially the most powerful beings on Earth. But like spoiled children, humans have neglected the great responsibility that comes with that great power, to the detriment of the Earth and all that lives here.

    Spirituality is a very good and necessary thing, and without it humans will never stop their evil destructive behaviors. Be very careful not to confuse religion with spirituality. With the exception of Buddhism and possibly Hinduism, all the major religions are actually ANTI-spiritual. For example, one of the basic tenets of spirituality is the oneness of everyone and everything, and religions teach false dualities, which is the exact opposite (heaven and hell, body and soul, etc.). To put it in a nutshell, spirituality good, religion bad.

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