Resistance Profile: Earth Liberation Front

Editors note: this material is excerpted from a Deep Green Resistance  database called “Resistance Profiles,” which explores various movements, their strategies and tactics, and their effectiveness. We encourage you to study all social movements to learn from their successes and failures.

Goal

Stop the exploitation and destruction of the environment.

Strategy

Stop environmentally destructive businesses through attrition: inflict more economic damage than they can absorb.

Tactics

Economic sabotage via attacks on property using arson, sabotage, and bombings.

Organization

Leaderless, non-hierarchical, small autonomous cells.

Above/Underground

​Actions are carried out by underground cells. The North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office (NAELFPO), an aboveground support group, focused on outreach, prisoner support, and raising funds and awareness.

Security

​When security culture is followed, its decentralized autonomous cells make the ELF difficult to infiltrate, and if a member is arrested they can give little information to authorities. The NAELFPO allowed underground cells to securely publicize actions.

Recruitment

Mostly indirect. Public outreach and press releases about underground actions inspire individuals and affinity groups to carry out actions of their own. A direct action can be considered an ELF action if it causes economic damage to those exploiting the environment, educates the public, and takes all reasonable precautions to avoid harming human or non-human life.

Effectiveness

The ELF’s strategy of attrition has not inflicted enough losses to offset the profits of extractive and destructive industries. Though activists have caused more than $100 million in damages in various attacks, and slowed or halted many projects, the impact has been negligible on industrial expansion as a whole.

Despite being named by the FBI as the leading domestic terrorism threat, relatively few arrests have been made and most cases remain unsolved.

Further learning

Featured image by vj_pdx. Used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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