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