Editor’s note: This excerpt comes from Volume 2 of Derrick Jensen’s 2005 book “Endgame,” a long-form exploration of the destruction of the natural world and the moral questions regarding eco-sabotage in defense of the planet. In this segment of the book, Jensen responds to common pacifist talking points. His conclusion is not that violence is desirable, but rather that the complexity of a world filled with atrocities and competing narratives about them fills many people with a deep terror of the responsibility that accompanies facing these realities and choosing to take consequential action.
by Derrick Jensen
We must, we are told, visualize world peace. My first thought on hearing this is always that the abused spouse is so often told that if she can just love her husband enough, he might change. Meanwhile her daughter may very well be wishing she gets a pony for Christmas, but that isn’t going to happen either. My second thought on hearing this is always that visualizing world peace is essentially the semi-secular new age equivalent of praying.
All that said, I have to admit that I actually am a huge fan of visualization. I just normally call it daydreaming. When I was a high jumper in college, I used to more or less constantly picture myself floating over the bar. I’d do this in the shower, driving, walking to classes, certainly all through my classes. Later when I coached high jumping I used to guide my students through visualizations as a routine part of our practice. Now I constantly daydream about my writing. And more importantly I visualize people fighting back. I visualize people knocking down dams. I visualize them taking down the oil and electrical infrastructures. I visualize wild salmon returning in greater numbers every year. I visualize migratory songbirds coming back. I even visualize passenger pigeons returning. So I guess I don’t have a problem with visualizing world peace, so long as people are also working for it. Except that as I made clear early on, civilization requires the importation of resources, which means it requires the use of force to maintain itself. This means that if these folks who are visualizing world peace really are interested in actualizing world peace, they should also be visualizing industrial collapse. And bringing it about.
But I don’t think most of the people with “Visualize World Peace” bumper stickers on their old Saabs are interested in doing the work to take down civilization. It’s too messy. I keep thinking about that line by Gandhi, “We want freedom for our country, but not at the expense or exploitation of others.” I’ve also had this line crammed down my throat more times than I want to consider—often phrased as “You keep saying that in this struggle for the planet that you want to win, but if someone wins, doesn’t that mean someone has to lose, and isn’t that just perpetuating the same old dominator mindset?”—and I’ve always found it both intellectually dishonest and poorly thought-out.
A man tries to rape a woman. She runs away. Her freedom from being raped just came at his expense: he wasn’t able to rape her. Does this mean she exploited him? Of course not. Now let’s do this again. He tries to rape her. She can’t get away. She tries to stop him nonviolently. It doesn’t work. She pulls a gun and shoots him in the head. Obviously her freedom from being raped came at the expense of his life. Did she exploit him? Of course not. It all comes back to what I wrote earlier in this book: defensive rights always trump offensive rights. My right to freedom always trumps your right to exploit me, and if you do try to exploit me, I have the right to stop you, even at some expense to you.
All of this leads us to the fuzzy thinking. Anybody’s freedom from being exploited will always come at the expense of the oppressor’s ability to exploit. The freedom of salmon (and rivers) to survive will come at the expense of those who profit from dams. The freedom of ancient redwood forests to survive will come at the expense of Charles Hurwitz’s bank account. The freedom of the world to survive global warming will come at the expense of those whose lifestyles are based on the burning of oil. It is magical thinking to pretend otherwise.
Every choice carries with it costs. If you want air conditioning, you (and many others) are going to have to pay for it. If you want automobiles, you (and many others) are going to have to pay for them. If you want industrial civilization, you (and many others) are going to have to pay for it.
If you want freedom, you will have to fight for it and those who are exploiting you are going to have to pay for it. If you want a livable planet, at this point you will have to fight for it and those who are killing the planet are going to have to pay for it.
Schiller’s line, too, that “Peace is rarely denied to the peaceful,” is more magical thinking, and the people who spout it really should be ashamed of themselves. What about the Arawaks, Semay, Mbuti, Hopi? Peace has been denied them. What about the peaceful women who are raped? What about the peaceful children who are abused? What about salmon? What about rivers? What about red- wood trees? What about bison? What about prairie dogs? What about passenger pigeons? I hate to steal a line from someone so odious as John Stossel, but give me a break.
Sometimes this book scares me. I’m calling for people to bring down civilization. This will not be bloodless. This will not be welcomed by most of the civilized. But I do not see any other realistic options. I cannot stand by while the world is destroyed. And I see no hope for reform. This is true whether we talk about the lack of realistic possibility of psychological or social reform, or whether we talk about the structural impossibilities of civilization (which requires the importation of resources) ever being sustainable. And really, think about it for a moment: this culture is changing the climate—changing the climate—and those in power are doing nothing to stop it. In fact they’re burning more oil each year than the year before. If changing the earth’s climate is not enough to make them change their ways, nothing will. Nothing. Not petitions, not letters, not votes, not the purchase of hemp hackysacks. Not visualizations. Not sending them love. Nothing. They will not change. They must be stopped. Through any means necessary. We are talking about the life of the planet. They must be stopped.
This scares me.
I sent a note saying all this to my publisher, who wrote me back, “Nothing could be scarier than this culture. I dare you to scare me.”
Back to work.
The next pacifist argument is that the ends never justify the means. While adding the word almost just before the word never makes this true for many trivial ends—I would not, for example, be willing to destroy a landbase so I can magnify my bank account—it’s nonsense when it comes to self-defense. Are the people who spout this line saying that the ends of not being raped never justify the means of killing one’s assailant? Are they saying that the ends of saving salmon—who have survived for millions of years—and sturgeon—who have survived since the time of the dinosaurs—never justify the means of removing dams without waiting for approval from those who are saying they wish salmon would go extinct so we can get on with living [sic]? Are they saying that the ends of children free from pesticide-induced cancer and mental retardation are not worth whatever means may be necessary? If so, their sentiments are obscene. We’re not playing some theoretical, spiritual, or philosophical game. We’re talking about survival. We’re talking about poisoned children. We’re talking about a planet being killed. I will do whatever is necessary to defend those I love.
Those who say that ends never justify means are of necessity either sloppy thinkers, hypocrites, or just plain wrong. If ends never justify means, can these people ride in a car? They are by their actions showing that their ends of getting from one place to another justify the means of driving, which means the costs of using oil, with all the evils carried with it. The same is true for the use of any metal, wood, or cloth products, and so on. You could make the argument that the same is true for the act of eating. After all, the ends of keeping yourself alive through eating evidently justify the means of taking the lives of those you eat. Even if you eat nothing but berries, you are depriving others—from birds to bacteria—of the possibility of eating those particular berries.
You could say I’m reducing this argument to absurdity, but I’m not the one who made the claim that ends never justify means. If they want to back off the word never, we can leave the realm of dogma and begin a reasonable discussion of what ends we feel justify what means. I suspect, however, that this would soon lead to another impasse, because my experience of “conversations” with pacifists is that beneath the use of this phrase oftentimes is an unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s own actions coupled with the same old hubris that declares that humans are separate from and better than the rest of the planet. Witness the pacifist who said to me that he would not harm a single human to save an entire run of salmon. He explicitly states—and probably consciously believes—that ends never justify means, but what he really means is that no humans must be harmed by anyone trying to help a landbase or otherwise bringing about social change.
I sometimes get accused of hypocrisy because I use high technology as a tool to try to dismantle technological civilization. While there are certainly ways I’m a hypocrite, that’s not one of them, because I have never claimed that the ends never justify the means. I have stated repeatedly that I’ll do whatever’s necessary to save salmon. That’s not code language for blowing up dams. Whatever’s necessary for me includes writing, giving talks, using computers, rehabilitating streams, singing songs to the salmon, and whatever else may be appropriate.
Setting rhetoric aside, there is simply no factual support for the statement that ends don’t justify means, because it’s a statement of values disguised as a statement of morals. A person who says ends don’t justify means is simply saying: I value process more than outcome. Someone who says ends do justify means is merely saying: I value outcome more than process. Looked at this way, it becomes absurd to make absolute statements about it. There are some ends that justify some means, and there are some ends that do not. Similarly, the same means may be justified by some people for some ends and not justified by or for others (I would, for example, kill someone who attempted to kill those I love, and I would not kill someone who tried to cut me off on the interstate). It is my joy, responsibility, and honor as a sentient being to make those distinctions, and I pity those who do not consider themselves worthy or capable of making them themselves, and who must rely on slogans instead to guide their actions.
It’s pretty clear to me that our horror of violence is actually a deep terror of responsibility. We don’t have issues with someone being killed. We have issues about unmediated killing, about doing it ourselves. And of course we have issues with violence flowing the wrong way up the hierarchy.
Derrick Jensen is author of thirty books, including A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe, and Endgame. He holds a degree in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, a degree in mineral engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines, and has taught at Eastern Washington University and Pelican Bay State Prison.
Editor’s note: This is what environmental justice looks like. Not NGOs dictating what lands will be set aside for 30×30, which is just greenwashing colonialism. It is the people whose land it is making those decisions and the governments enforcing them.
An Indigenous community in southwest Colombia established a protected reserve in the face of illegal logging, mining and coca cultivation being carried out by criminal groups.
The Eperãra Siapidaarã peoples are especially interested in protecting the extremely poisonous golden dart frog, which they historically used in their darts while hunting.
Despite establishing the reserve, the community has more work to do to fend off violent non-state armed groups.
One of the most poisonous animals on earth, the golden dart frog carries enough toxins in its body to kill 10 people. If it enters the blood stream, the toxin paralyzes the nervous system and, in only a few minutes, stops the heart from beating.
The golden dart frog (Phyllobates terribilis) is found only in southwest Colombia, where mountains and rainforest meet the mangroves of the Pacific coast. For centuries, the Indigenous communities there harvested the toxin for their hunting darts. But in recent years, as criminal activity has spread through the area, some communities have begun to worry that the frog might disappear.
“The advancing agricultural frontier, mining and the expansion of illicit coca crops impinge on the life of the frog because it’s endemic to that one area,” said Luis Ortega, director of the environmental group Fundación Ecohabitats. “All the time, there’s less and less habitat for them.”
For some Indigenous peoples in the area, such as the Eperãra Siapidaarã of Timbiqui, the golden dart frog is more than a hunting tool. It’s also a central figure in their culture, and the reason their ancestors were able to survive after being relocated to the coast during Spanish colonization.
During that time, the frog’s poison helped save the community by giving it an easy way to hunt. Now, it was the community’s turn to help save the frog.
The best way to do this, the Eperãra Siapidaarã decided, was to establish a natural reserve that they would protect and maintain themselves.
“We have the working spirit to defend this territory,” community leader Carlos Quiro told Mongabay.
Quiro and the Eperãra Siapidaarã had already worked with the Colombian government on land titling issues in their territory as well as to help preserve mangroves and other local ecosystems. But these measures weren’t stopping the habitat destruction.
Non-state armed groups, including paramilitaries and guerrillas, have been deforesting the Chocó Biogeographical Region for decades. In recent years, they have pushed into Eperãra Siapidaarã territory to plant coca for drug production, sometimes leading to violent land disputes between rival groups.
In 2009, Colombia recognized the Eperãra Siapidaarã as one of the Indigenous peoples at risk of extinction due to the country’s ongoing armed conflict.
There are also three legal gold and silver mining operations upstream from Eperãra Siapidaarã territory, which satellite data suggest have advanced well beyond their concessions, according to Fundación Ecohabitats. Some residents noticed that the fish pulled from local rivers were becoming smaller and scarcer than in previous years, likely as a result of the pollution.
The makings of a reserve
In 2017, community leaders started meeting with Fundación Ecohabitats, the Cauca department government and the Ministry of Interior about developing a protected area for the golden dart frog. It would not require demarcating new land, they proposed, but instead absorb more than half of the community’s existing territory.
With funding from the Rainforest Trust, meetings were held for the next two years to discuss where the community wanted to establish the reserve and what conservation initiatives they should prioritize. In addition to protecting the golden dart frog’s habitat, residents were interested in stewarding the area’s many watersheds and developing a land use plan that would allow them to continue harvesting forest resources for their cultural, medicinal and spiritual practices.
Younger members of the community were trained in geographic information systems to assist with mapping the boundaries of the new reserve and carrying out patrols, while others studied tourism and business in hopes of turning their artisanal forestry practices into a sustainable source of income.
In September 2019, after years of work, the community officially announced the establishment of the 11,641-hectare (28,765-acre) K´õk´õi Eujã Traditional Natural Reserve — Territory of the Golden Dart Frog.
So far, it hasn’t stopped non-state armed groups from engaging in violent confrontations over control of coca production near Eperãra Siapidaarã territory. It also can’t do anything to prevent pollution from the illegal mining operations upstream. But with the newly established reserve, residents say they feel they have more of a fighting chance.
“There are areas abundant with plants for medicinal use,” Quiro said, “and there is also another area, another mountain range, where there are many trees that are useful for families, so we are benefiting from that. They are very important to the Eperãra Siapidaarã.”
The reserve contains 41 plant species and 11 bird species endemic to Colombia, according to the community’s preliminary research. It is also home to dozens of rare and threatened species, including the night scented orchid (Epidendrum nocturnum) and Licania velata.
The community is still training its rangers in data collection that will help it better understand how these different species are faring in the reserve. Right now, there isn’t hard data on the golden dart frog population or whether it has improved since the reserve was founded. Empirical evidence suggests that it has rebounded, community members say, but they want to know for certain.
One of the Eperãra Siapidaarã’s next goals is to collaborate with biologists and the local government on scientific research projects that will strengthen their understanding of the forest ecosystem, and then to use that work to make better decisions as a community.
In October and November, for example, the golden dart frog begins reproducing. Quiro said he wants to learn more about that process and what can be done to ensure it isn’t interrupted.
“It interests me a lot,” he said. “To understand that experience and, equally important, to share it with the younger generations.”
In the midst of a long conflict and recent protest over a nickel mine in El Estor, in eastern Guatemala, police have carried out more than 40 raids and 60 arrests, and the government has declared a 30-day state of emergency.
Indigenous Mayan opponents to the mine say they were never properly consulted about the mine and its impacts on their lands, livelihoods and lake, and protested on the town’s main road, refusing passage to mining vehicles.
Four police were shot during the police crackdown on protests by what the government blames as armed protestors, although mine opponents say the assailants were not involved in the protest.
There are concerns mining operations will pose environmental damages to Guatemala’s largest lake, home to diverse fish, bird, reptile and mammal species, including the endangered Guatemalan black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra).
EL ESTOR, Guatemala — Germán Chub was still sleeping when police and military personnel showed up outside his home. It was the fourth day of a month-long state of siege, akin to martial law, in El Estor, eastern Guatemala, in the wake of the latest flashpoint in a decades-long, multifaceted conflict over a nickel mine.
Chub’s wife went out the door a few minutes before six o’clock in the morning on Oct. 27, on her way to grind the maize she would make into tortillas for the day. Police waiting in the street informed her they were there to search the house and entered with personnel from the country’s Office of the Public Prosecutor. Chub was forced to get up and get into his wheelchair.
“It scared me,” Chub told Mongabay. “They just said they were there for a raid and that they had been sent.”
It was not the first time Chub had experienced fallout from the mining conflict. During protests against the Fenix nickel mine in 2009 over land rights, he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by Mynor Padilla, the mine’s head of security, who also shot dead anti-mining activist Adolfo Ich Chamán. Mongabay first spoke to Chub in 2015 during the trial and again in 2017 when Padilla was initially acquitted. After appeals, Padilla eventually took a plea deal and was convicted this past January.
The Fenix nickel mine has been tied to conflict and violence for more than half a century, when it was formerly owned by EXMIBAL, a subsidiary of Canadian miner Inco. Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ residents were never consulted, and their exclusion from a court-ordered consultation process prompted protests, a crackdown and violence that left four police officers with gunshot wounds in October this year. The ensuing state of siege and raids targeting community leaders, outspoken mine opponents and local journalists — all Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ — have sparked alarm and condemnation in Guatemala and beyond.
“I do not even have the words to express myself about what they are doing,” Chub said. “Everything they are doing in El Estor is unjust.”
Police raided the homes of two journalists and at least nine community authorities, fishers’ guild leaders and protesters during the last week of October. In early November, Mongabay visited several families in El Estor whose homes were raided and spoke with other leaders in hiding. Hundreds of police officers, soldiers and marines were in the area, patrolling and stationed at different points around town, including fanned out along a stretch of road between El Estor and the mining complex 6 kilometers (4 miles) to the west.
The Fenix project is now owned by the Solway Investment Group, a private mining and metals corporation based in Switzerland, after decades of Canadian ownership. When it acquired the Fenix mine in 2011, Solway was based in another tax haven, Cyprus, and widely acknowledged to be a Russian company.
Protests and condemnation related to the state of siege continue to target both the Swiss and Russian embassies in Guatemala. Solway’s press office told Mongabay in a written statement that the company is fully owned by European Union citizens and that there is no Russian capital or investment in the company. Russian is one of the company’s working languages because Solway operated several projects in that country in the past, according to the company. Many high-level employees at the Fenix project in Guatemala are Russian.
The project includes mountaintop mining and ferronickel processing facilities near the shore of Lake Izabal, the country’s biggest lake. The lake, waterways and lands in the region are at the heart of sustained opposition to the mine. Indigenous communities in the region primarily live from subsistence agriculture and fishing, and want to ensure the environment can sustain those livelihoods for future generations.
“That’s why we were supporting the resistance. People want to look out for their children, their grandchildren,” Chub said.
Battles over proper consultation
The municipality of El Estor is home to some 82,500 people, more than 90% of them Q’echi’, according to the most recent national census. In 2019, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of El Estor’s small-scale fishers’ guild and other local plaintiffs, and determined that Indigenous communities in the mine’s area of influence were never properly consulted about the project. The court issued an injunction, ordering the suspension of the mining license held by Solway subsidiary CGN, pending consultation.
In a 2020 ruling, the Constitutional Court reiterated the suspension order and laid out guidelines for a consultation process to be carried out by the Ministry of Energy and Mines. Free, prior and informed consultation is required under the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, which Guatemala ratified in 1996.
The defendant in the case was the Ministry of Energy and Mines, not the company, the Solway Investment Group’s press office noted. “The company received the order to suspend the license on February 4, 2021, and ceased its operating activities at the Fenix mine as of February 5, 2021,” according to the press office.
However, the ferronickel processing plant kept running. Operated by another subsidiary of Solway, Pronico, rather than CGN, the subsidiary whose license was suspended, the plant is now processing ore from other mining operations in the region. Mine opponents say the distinction between the subsidiaries is spurious and argue the suspension should apply to the plant because it is located within the mining license area.
The continuation of mining operations, long after the court rulings, has stoked discontent, as has the government’s management of the pre-consultation process. The Constitutional Court ruling addressed how formally recognized entities ostensibly representing local populations do not necessarily represent or speak for Indigenous peoples. Many Q’eqchi’ residents say that is the case with the pre-consultation dialogue, which includes a formally recognized Indigenous council that mine opponents have argued for years is coopted by mining interests.
“They just self-elect themselves. They were not going to look out for the interests of the people,” said Luis Adolfo Ich, a primary school teacher and community leader whose home was raided on Oct. 27, along with that of his mother, Angélica Choc. Ich is the son of Adolfo Ich Chamán, the community leader killed by the Fenix mine security personnel on Sept. 27, 2009, the same day Chub was shot. Padilla, the former head of security, was also convicted on Jan. 6, 2021, for killing Ich Chamán.
“The state really does not respect the rights of Indigenous peoples,” Ich said in a telephone interview from another part of the country, where he and some other community leaders had fled out of fear for their safety. “A decision was made to organize another ancestral council,” he said.
On Jan. 30, traditional local authorities, elders, midwives, fishermen, community leaders and other Q’eqchi’ residents from around the municipality gathered in El Estor at an assembly to form a new Q’eqchi’ ancestral authorities council. They elected representatives, including Ich, from several dozen communities. Ever since, they have been unsuccessfully attempting to get the Guatemalan government to recognize the council for inclusion in the pre-consultation process.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines held the first pre-consultation dialogue meeting Sept. 28 in Puerto Barrios, 120 km (75 mi) from El Estor. Thirty-eight representatives from 13 national and local government institutions, universities, the CGN mining company, and the controversial Indigenous council participated. The Q’eqchi’ ancestral council was excluded and called a protest that began Oct. 4 on the main road into El Estor, refusing passage to vehicles related to mining activities, and in particular trucks hauling ore out and bringing in coal needed to fuel the processing facilities. The protesters stood their ground for two and a half weeks, demanding inclusion in the pre-consultation process and the suspension of the mine’s processing plant operations.
Police and company officials attempted to persuade the protesters to clear the road and allow coal trucks to pass, but were turned away. On Oct. 22, police moved in, using force and tear gas to disperse people and clear the road. Police officers later escorted coal trucks heading to the Fenix mine complex, running alongside them to ensure their passage.
Dozens of raids and a monthlong crackdown
During the crackdown, four police officers were shot in the leg. They are recovering at home, a national police spokesperson told Mongabay. Q’eqchi’ mine opponents told Mongabay that some protesters threw rocks at police but that any armed assailants who shot at police were not involved in any way in the protest. The Guatemalan government issued a public statement Oct. 24, accusing the protesters of shooting police officers “after 17 days of illegal blockades by a small group of people who it is assumed do not live in the area.”
Cristián Xol was one of the El Estor residents there, including on the day in question. “I participated but it was a really peaceful protest,” said the 25-year-old. When police cracked down, the situation became chaotic and there were shots fired, but not by protesters at the action led by Q’eqchi’ community leaders, he said.
At least two of the several pro-mine Facebook accounts sharing local news insinuated Xol may have shot police, in a post that included three unrelated photographs: one of Xol, one of someone else with a gun, and one of guns. Police had a screenshot of the Facebook post in hand when they raided Xol’s home looking for guns, he said.
Finding weapons was also the key aim of a previous search warrant covering nine other properties. “Find firearms, homemade weapons, vehicles reported stolen and objects of unlawful origin,” reads an instruction emphasized in bold, underlined, and upper case on the final page of the warrant.
The raid on the Xol family home occurred a week after the government’s declaration of a 30-day state of siege in the municipality of El Estor. However, news of the Oct. 23 decree did not surface until the following morning. Under the dictatorship-era Public Order Law, Guatemala has five kinds of states of emergency — prevention, alarm, calamity, siege, and war — under which some constitutional rights and freedoms can be suspended and military involvement warranted.
By law, the military is now in charge of civilian authorities in El Estor for the duration of the state of siege, though spokespersons for the Ministry of Defense and National Civilian Police both told Mongabay that in reality it is a very coordinated, interinstitutional effort. Freedoms of assembly and movement are restricted and a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. is in place. The constitutional rights to legal detention and legal interrogation are suspended.
“This is a textbook intervention,” said Iduvina Hernández, executive director of the Association for the Study of Security in Democracy. “It is a pattern of systematic actions to halt the progress of the Q’eqchi’ resistance in El Estor.”
Roughly 600 police officers and 300 military personnel are currently in El Estor, according to the spokespersons for the two institutions. So far, police have carried out more than 40 raids and more than 60 arrests, according to the police spokesperson.
Some El Estor residents say they’re relieved the government declared a state of siege. “When there is a state of siege, one can sleep a little easier. There are many gang members that break into houses to steal,” a woman told Mongabay early one morning shortly after the curfew lifted while she fished from the edge of a lakeshore block the military was using as a staging area. She requested anonymity, citing potential retaliation from local criminals.
“The mine has brought quite a lot of development to the town,” she said, holding the line she had baited with pieces of tortilla to catch small fish for consumption. She also sells cosmetic products and said the wives of mine and plant workers are good clients, adding that workers spend their wages at local businesses. “Blockades affect the population,” she said of the recent protests. “They are people who do not want to work.”
While Mongabay was in El Estor, a few dozen people had traveled to Guatemala City to rally in favor of mining and the state of siege. At least one protest sign was already requesting the government to extend the state of siege for another 30 days. “The residents of El Estor collected more than 1,300 signatures on open letters of gratitude to the police, the Ministry of the Interior, and the President of Guatemala,” according to Solway’s press office, which added that neither it nor its subsidiaries had requested the police presence or state of siege.
National and international human rights organizations, on the other hand, have condemned the police crackdown on protests, the state of siege, raids, and attacks on local press. “The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the use of excessive force against protesters and members of Maya Q’eqchi’ communities as well as acts of repression against journalists and media outlets recorded in recent days in the municipality of El Estor,” the IACHR wrote Nov. 4 in a Spanish-language statement.
Local press targeted
The local Xyaab’ Tzuultaq’a community radio station was a target on Oct. 24, day one of the state of siege. It broadcasts almost exclusively in the Q’eqchi’ language and is a means of news, communication and coordination for communities throughout El Estor, some of which do not have cellphone reception or even electricity. In some Q’eqchi’ areas, many people, especially women and elders, speak little or no Spanish.
“Companies have a hatred for the radio,” said Robin Macloni, executive director of Defensoría Q’eqchi’, a nonprofit local rights group linked to the volunteer-run radio it helped get off the ground in 2017. In practice, though, “the radio is the hands of ancestral authorities,” Macloni said. During the October protests, Q’eqchi’ council members used the radio to let people know which communities had turns maintaining the protest camp on which days, as they were taking rotating shifts around the clock.
When police cracked down on the protests, Defensoría Q’eqchi’ and Xyaab’ Tzuultaq’a knew they would be targeted. On the morning of Oct. 24, they read the state of siege decree on air, announced they would have to suspend broadcasting, and removed all the transmission equipment from the building, Macloni said. Police did not raid the station as no one was present at the property.
Two days later, police raided the homes of local journalists Juan Bautista Xol and Carlos Ernesto Choc. As local correspondents for Prensa Comunitaria, an independent community-based digital publication, they had been covering the protests and crackdowns, later becoming targets of police violence in the mix. Since the raids, their relatives have reported being followed, questioned and surveilled by uniformed police officers as well as unmarked gray pickup trucks with tinted windows.
“Human rights defenders and especially journalists [like Choc] who have denounced this situation … are at high risk,” Francisco Vivar, a lawyer with the Center for Human Rights Legal Action, said in early November outside the local prosecutor’s office in El Estor, where he was accompanying Choc.
Choc had fled El Estor for safety but had to sign a registry at the prosecutor’s office every month as part of his bail conditions. Four years ago, Choc had reported on El Estor small-scale fishers’ guild protests against the mine and was later criminalized alongside several fishermen. This included guild president Cristóbal Pop, whose home was also raided during the state of siege, and former guild vice president Eduardo Bin, who was arrested during the state of siege on an old, expired arrest warrant. He was later released.
Fears for Guatemala’s largest lake
Fishermen have noted changes and fish stock depletion for years in Lake Izabal. In 2017, a red patch of discolored water appeared in the lake, and the fishers’ guild blamed the mine, filed a formal complaint, and organized protests. With a surface area of 590 square kilometers (228 square miles), Lake Izabal sustains local livelihoods but also important ecosystems and protected areas home to diverse fish, bird, reptile and mammal species, including the endangered Guatemalan black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra). The lake itself, which drains into the Caribbean, is also home to a population of manatees (Trichechus manatus), the symbol of the town of El Estor.
Government studies have shown that “90% of the water pollution is generated not by the company’s operations but by the local communities residing along the Polochic River [that feeds into Lake Izabal]. The company’s contribution to the water pollution is minimal,” Solway wrote in a 2017 public statement. The company does not discharge any type of waste water and “carries out the most extensive environmental monitoring of water quality in Lake Izabal in the region,” the company’s press office told Mongabay.
Many Q’eqchi’ fishermen and community members do not trust the company or government. A private Guatemalan university, Universidad del Valle, was conducting research in the area when Solway acquired the Fenix project. The following year, in 2012, three biology students were killed on mining company property while monitoring crocodiles and taking water samples as part of a university-company exchange program. In 2019, a court convicted a CGN mining company biologist of culpable homicide and found CGN civilly responsible. The sentence was overturned in September 2021 and the legal battle continues.
The deaths fed local perceptions of mining pollution and a cover-up. “In the future we will see the consequences,” Luis Adolfo Ich said of all the mining and oil palm industry operations around the lake. “The struggle of the ancestral authorities and the guild is to protect the lake from pollution.”
Fishers’ guild protests in El Estor in May 2017 blocked the road leading to the Fenix mine, and riot police cracked down on May 27, firing tear gas and some live rounds. Local Q’eqchi’ fisherman Carlos Maaz was shot in the chest and killed, one of the latest in a long list of people killed in connection with the mine.
In 1965, a military dictatorship granted mining rights to EXMIBAL, a 50:50 joint venture between the Guatemalan government and Canada’s International Nickel Company (INCO). EXMIBAL’s operations took place during the 1960-1996 armed conflict between leftist guerrillas and the state. The military committed the first large-scale massacre of civilians in 1978 in Panzós, 26 miles west of El Estor, where Q’eqchi’ villagers were protesting for rights to their traditional lands, a massive swathe of which had been given to EXMIBAL.
Mining company personnel shot some El Estor community residents while they were on their way to the Panzós protest, according to a United Nations-backed truth commission into crimes against humanity during the armed conflict. A congressman and another member of an ad-hoc committee investigating EXMIBAL’s acquisitions were assassinated in 1970 and 1971.
Over time, EXMIBAL became CGN and Guatemala’s 50% stake decreased to 1%. In the 2000s, there were waves of evictions and crackdowns while the project was owned by Skye Resources and then Hudbay Minerals, both Canadian companies that tried to get the project up and running. Solway acquired the Fenix project in 2011 and restarted production in 2014.
“The story remains unchanged. It is the same,” said Olga Che, treasurer of El Estor’s small-scale fishers’ guild, a member of the new Q’eqchi’ authorities council, and a prominent figure at the recent protests. “The history of the armed conflict remains unchanged.”
In 1980, when Che was 2 years old, the military showed up and took away her father, who was never seen again. He was a very active member of the Catholic church at a time when the military government was targeting church figures openly sympathetic to human rights and land rights struggles. Che’s father is one of an estimated 45,000 people who disappeared during the armed conflict.
“We do not know if he is alive, if he is dead, or if they threw him somewhere. Who knows,” Che told Mongabay.
When soldiers and police showed up outside Che’s mother’s house on Oct. 26, lining the block, she was reminded of the incident in 1980 when the military took her husband. She has been unwell ever since the raid, said Che, whose own home was also raided while she and her husband and kids were at her mother’s place. Police dug holes in the dirt floor of the home.
A police officer threatened Che’s 11-year-old daughter with a beating and another grabbed her 8-year-old son by the arms, telling them to “tell the truth” about weapons on the property, Che said. Police also stole and ate tamales from the kitchen, according to the family. Che also said she and her husband were coerced into signing the written record drawn up at the end of the raid without getting a chance to read it.
Those claims are false, according to the national police spokesperson, who said that personnel from the prosecutor’s office were on site along with police during raids. Had something like that occurred, residents should have filed a formal complaint with the prosecutor’s office or the police’s inspectorate-general, the spokesperson told Mongabay, adding that “anything like that would not have been tolerated.”
While Che discussed the raid, 182 km (113 mi) away in another department, the Ministry of Energy and Mines wrapped up the third and final meeting of the pre-consultation process concerning the Fenix mine. None of the meetings took place in El Estor, and two of the three were held during the ongoing state of siege. The actual consultation process, consisting of an informational phase and then “intercultural dialogue,” is set to begin during the state of siege and wrap up in December.
“If they do not listen to us we have the right to protest,” Che said. “I was there to defend our mountains and to defend our lake.”
Editor’s note: Sandra Cuffe has voluntarily contributed to and written for Prensa Comunitaria, including reporting fishers’ guild protests and the killing of Carlos Maaz in May 2017. She has sent photos and videos of other events.
Banner image: A group of riot police advance at the outset of a crackdown on a May 27, 2017, fishers guild protest over Lake Izabal pollution they associate with the mine. Image courtesy of Sandra Cuffe.
This post briefly describes 25 anarchist thinkers, following on from the political ideology post. I took the list of anarchist thinkers from ‘Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism’ by Peter Marshall.
William Godwin (1756-1836) is said to be the founder of philosophical anarchism. In his book An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), he argued that “government is a corrupting force in society, perpetuating dependence and ignorance, but that it will be rendered increasingly unnecessary and powerless by the gradual spread of knowledge and the expansion of the human understanding. Politics will be displaced by an enlarged personal morality as truth conquers error and mind subordinates matter. In this development the rigorous exercise of private judgment, and its candid expression in public discussion, plays a central role, motivating his rejection of a wide range of co-operative and rule-governed practices which he regards as tending to mental enslavement, such as law, private property, marriage and concerts.”
Inspired by the optimism of the French Revolution, Godwin believed a time would come when the mind would dominate matter so ‘mental perfectibility’ would take physical form so it would be possible to control illness, ageing resulting in humans becoming immortal. Godwin’s moral theory is described as utilitarian. 
Max Stirner (1806–1856) is the author of Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum (1844). In English, it is known as The Ego and Its Own or The Unique Individual and their Property. It is argued that “the form and content of Stirner’s major work are disconcerting. He challenges expectations about how political and philosophical arguments should be conducted and shakes the reader’s confidence in the moral and political superiority of contemporary civilisation. Stirner provides a sweeping attack on the modern world as increasingly dominated by “religious” modes of thought and oppressive social institutions, together with a much briefer sketch of a radical “egoistic” alternative in which individual autonomy might flourish. The historical impact of The Ego and Its Own is sometimes difficult to assess, but Stirner’s work can confidently be said: to have had an immediate and destructive impact on the left-Hegelian movement; to have played an important contemporary role in the intellectual development of Karl Marx (1818–1883); and subsequently to have influenced significantly the political tradition of individualist anarchism.” 
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809 – 1865) was a French socialist, politician, philosopher, economist and the founder of mutualist philosophy. He was the first person to describe himself as an anarchist and is a very influential anarchist thinker, with some describing him as the ‘father of anarchism’.
“Proudhon became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereafter he referred to himself as a federalist. Proudhon described the liberty he pursued as “the synthesis of communism and property”. Some consider his mutualism to be part of individualist anarchism while others regard it to be part of social anarchism.
His first major work was What Is Property? (1840), where is asserted that ‘property is theft’. His work interested Karl Marx and they become friends. This ended with their disagreement over Proudhon’s The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty (1846).
Proudhon advocated workers’ councils, associations and cooperatives, plus individual worker/peasant possession over private ownership or the nationalisation of land and workplaces. He believed social revolution was achievable peacefully. “Proudhon unsuccessfully tried to create a national bank, to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists and shareholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans.” 
Mikhail Bakunin (1814 – 1976) was a Russian revolutionary anarchist, socialist and founder of collectivist anarchism. He is also a very influential anarchist and believed to be the founder of the revolutionary socialist and social anarchist traditions.
His revolutionary politics caused him to move between several countries, be deported from Germany and be imprisoned in Russia. He joined the International Worker Men’s Association and led the anarchist faction. There was a conflict between Bakunin and Marx, with the latter arguing for the use of the state to introduce socialism. “Bakunin and the anarchist faction argued for the replacement of the state by federations of self-governing workplaces and communes.” The anarchists lost the conflict and Bakunin was expelled from the International. Bakunin founded the Anti-Authoritarian International in 1872. From 1870 Bakunin wrote several texts on the State, anarchism and God. He was also involved in several European movements including insurrections in France and Italy.
Bakunin is believed to have “had a significant influence on thinkers such as Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Herbert Marcuse, E. P. Thompson, Neil Postman and A. S. Neill as well as syndicalist organizations such as the Wobblies, the anarchists in the Spanish Civil War and contemporary anarchists involved in the modern-day anti-globalization movement.” 
Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (184 – 1921) was a “Russian anarchist, socialist, revolutionary, economist, sociologist, historian, zoologist, political scientist, human geographer and philosopher who advocated anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, essayist, researcher and writer.”
“Born into an aristocratic land-owning family, Kropotkin attended a military school and later served as an officer in Siberia, where he participated in several geological expeditions. He was imprisoned for his activism in 1874 and managed to escape two years later. He spent the next 41 years in exile in Switzerland, France (where he was imprisoned for almost four years) and England. While in exile, he gave lectures and published widely on anarchism and geography. Kropotkin returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917, but he was disappointed by the Bolshevik state.”
“Kropotkin was a proponent of a decentralised communist society free from central government and based on voluntary associations of self-governing communities and worker-run enterprises. He wrote many books, pamphlets and articles, the most prominent being The Conquest of Bread and Fields, Factories and Workshops, but also Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, his principal scientific offering. He contributed the article on anarchism to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition and left unfinished a work on anarchist ethical philosophy.” 
Jacques Élisée Reclus (1830 – 1905) “was a renowned French geographer, writer and anarchist. He produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes (‘Universal Geography’), over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his political activism. Reclus advocated nature conservation and opposed meat-eating and cruelty to animals. He was a vegetarian. As a result, his ideas are seen by some historians and writers as anticipating the modern social ecology and animal rights movements.” 
Errico Malatesta (14 December 1853 – 22 July 1932) “was an Italian anarchist and revolutionary socialist. He spent much of his life exiled from Italy and in total spent more than ten years in prison. Malatesta wrote and edited a number of radical newspapers and was also a friend of Mikhail Bakunin.”
It has been described that Malatesta had a two-part strategy by the start of the nineteenth century. First, the unification of the anarchist and anti-parliamentary socialists into a new anarchist socialist party as anarchism was a minority movement on the Italian left. The other part was to advocate a syndicalist strategy to encourage socialists into insurrections and to maintain their revolutionary conscience. Malatesta’s form of anarchist communism can be described as ‘anarchism without adjectives’.
Others describe Malatesta’s form of anarchism to be ‘anarchist socialism’, which promoted the socialist character of anarchism and the need for anarchists to regain contact with workers, especially through the labour movement. 
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828 – 1910) was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. Born into an aristocratic Russian family and best known for the novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878).
“In the 1870s, Tolstoy experienced a profound moral crisis, followed by what he regarded as an equally profound spiritual awakening, as outlined in his non-fiction work A Confession (1882). His literal interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus, centering on the Sermon on the Mount, caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist. His ideas on nonviolent resistance, expressed in such works as The Kingdom of God Is Within You (1894), had a profound impact on such pivotal 20th-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He also became a dedicated advocate of Georgism, the economic philosophy of Henry George, which he incorporated into his writing, particularly Resurrection (1899).” 
Josiah Warren (1798 – 1874) “was an American utopian socialist, individualist philosopher, polymath, social reformer, inventor, musician, printer and author. He is regarded by some as the first American anarchist (although Warren never used the term anarchism himself) and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, the first anarchist periodical published, was an enterprise for which he built his own printing press, cast his own type, and made his own printing plates.” 
Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887) “was an American individualist anarchist. He was also an abolitionist, entrepreneur, essayist, legal theorist, pamphletist, political philosopher, Unitarian, writer and a member of the First International. Spooner was a strong advocate of the labor movement and anti-authoritarian and individualist anarchist in his political views. His economic and political ideology has usually been identified as libertarian socialism and mutualism. His writings contributed to the development of both left-libertarian and right-libertarian political theory within libertarianism in the United States. Spooner’s writings include the abolitionist book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery and No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, which opposed treason charges against secessionists. Spooner is also known for competing with the Post Office with his American Letter Mail Company. However, it was closed after legal problems with the federal government.” 
Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854 – 1939) “was an American anarchist and libertarian socialist. A 19th-century proponent of individualist anarchism which he called “unterrified Jeffersonianism”, Tucker was the editor and publisher of the American individualist anarchist periodical Liberty (1881–1908) as well as a member of the socialist First International. Tucker harshly opposed state socialism and was a supporter of libertarian socialism which he termed anarchist or anarchistic socialism as well as a follower of mutualism. He connected the classical economics of Adam Smith and the Ricardian socialists as well as that of Josiah Warren, Karl Marx and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to socialism. Later in his life, Tucker converted to Max Stirner’s egoism.” 
Adin Ballou (1803 – 1890) “was an American proponent of Christian nonresistance, Christian anarchism and socialism, abolitionism, and the founder of the Hopedale Community. Through his long career as a Universalist and Unitarian minister, he tirelessly advocated for the immediate abolition of slavery, the principles of Christian anarcho-socialism, and promoted the nonviolent theory of praxis (or moral suasion) in his prolific writings. Such writings drew the admiration of Leo Tolstoy, who frequently cited Ballou as a major influence on his theological and political ideology in his non-fiction texts like The Kingdom of God is Within You, along with sponsoring Russian translations of some of Ballou’s works. As well as heavily inspiring Tolstoy, Ballou’s Christian anarchist and nonresistance ideals in texts like Practical Christianity were passed down from Tolstoy to Mahatma Gandhi, contributing not only to the nonviolent resistance movement in the Russian Revolution led by the Tolstoyans, but also Gandhi’s early thinkings on the nonviolent theory of praxis and the development of his first ashram, the Tolstoy Farm. In a recent publication, American philosopher and anarchist Crispin Sartwell wrote that the works by Ballou and his other Christian anarchist contemporaries like William Lloyd Garrison directly influenced Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as well.” 
John Humphrey Noyes
John Humphrey Noyes (1811 – 1886) “was an American preacher, radical religious philosopher, and utopian socialist. He founded the Putney, Oneida and Wallingford Communities, and is credited with coining the term ‘complex marriage’.” 
Voltairine de Cleyre
Voltairine de Cleyre (1866 – 1912) “was an American anarchist known for being a prolific writer and speaker who opposed capitalism, marriage and the state as well as the domination of religion over sexuality and women’s lives which she saw as all interconnected. She is often characterized as a major early feminist because of her views. Born and raised in small towns in Michigan and schooled in a Sarnia, Ontario, Catholic convent, de Cleyre began her activist career in the freethought movement. Although she was initially drawn to individualist anarchism, de Cleyre evolved through mutualism to what she called anarchism without adjectives, prioritizing a stateless society without the use of aggression or coercion above all else. De Cleyre was a contemporary of Emma Goldman, with whom she maintained a relationship of respectful disagreement on many issues. Many of de Cleyre’s essays were collected in the Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre, published posthumously by Goldman’s magazine Mother Earth in 1914.” 
Emma Goldman (1869 – 1940) “was an anarchist political activist and writer. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Goldman was born in Russia and emigrated to the US in 1995. She was attracted to anarchism after the Chicago Haymarket affair and became a write and lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women’s rights and social issues. Goldman and Alexander Berkman attempted to assassinate financier Henry Clay Frick, as an act of propaganda of the deed. It was unsuccessful and Berkman served 14 years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times for ‘inciting riots’ and illegally distributing information on birth control. Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth in 1906. In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were given two-year prison sentences for encouraging people to avoid the First World War draft. Once released they were arrested again and along with 248 others were deported to Russia.
Goldman was initially supportive of the Russian Revolution but following the Kronstadt rebellion, she denounced the Soviet Union for its violent repression of opposing voices. She left the Soviet Union in 1923 and wrote about her experiences. In the 1930’s Goldman moved between England, Canada, France and Spain and wrote her autobiography.
“During her life, Goldman was lionized as a freethinking rebel woman’ by admirers, and denounced by detractors as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution. Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women’s suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman gained iconic status in the 1970s by a revival of interest in her life, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest.” 
Alexander Berkman (1870 – 1936) “was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century, famous for both his political activism and his writing. Berkman was born in Vilna in the Russian Empire (present-day Vilnius, Lithuania) and immigrated to the United States in 1888. He lived in New York City, where he became involved in the anarchist movement. He was the one-time lover and lifelong friend of anarchist Emma Goldman. In 1892, undertaking an act of propaganda of the deed, Berkman made an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate businessman Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead strike, for which he served 14 years in prison. His experience in prison was the basis of his first book, Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. After his release from prison, Berkman served as editor of Goldman’s anarchist journal, Mother Earth, and later established his own journal, The Blast. In 1917, Berkman and Goldman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiracy against the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with hundreds of others—and deported to Russia. Initially supportive of that country’s Bolshevik revolution, Berkman and Goldman soon became disillusioned, voicing their opposition to the Soviets’ use of terror after seizing power and their repression of fellow revolutionaries. They left the Soviet Union in late 1921, and in 1925 Berkman published a book about his experiences, The Bolshevik Myth.
While living in France, Berkman continued his work in support of the anarchist movement, producing the classic exposition of anarchist principles, Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism. Suffering from ill health, Berkman committed suicide in 1936.” 
Gustav Landauer (1870 – 1919) “was one of the leading theorists on anarchism in Germany at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an advocate of social anarchism and an avowed pacifist. In 1919, he was briefly Commissioner of Enlightenment and Public Instruction of the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic during the German Revolution of 1918–1919. He was killed when this republic was overthrown. Landauer is also known for his study of metaphysics and religion, and his translations of William Shakespeare’s works into German.” 
Johann Joseph “Hans” Most (1846 – 1906) was a German-American Social Democratic and then anarchist politician, newspaper editor, and orator. He is credited with popularizing the concept of ‘propaganda of the deed‘.”
In Germany, he edited several revolutionary socialist newspapers. He argued against patriotism, conventional religion and advocated violent action to bring about revolutionary change. He was forced to leave Germany and moved to France, then London. He founded a new anarchist newspaper there. He was imprisoned by the British state for 18 months for writing about his delight of the assassination of Alexander II of Russia. Following his release, he moved to the US. He continued publishing his newspaper in New York and was imprisoned there too for supporting the assassination of US President McKinley. 
Johann Rudolf Rocker (1873 – 1958) was a German anarchist writer and activist. Some describe him as an anarcho-syndicalist, he described himself as an anarchist without adjectives. He believed that anarchist schools of thought represented “different methods of economy” with the main aim for anarchists was “to secure the personal and social freedom of men”.
As a young man, he joined the SPD and was part of the German labour movement. He was a follower of Bakunin, a revolutionary, radical leftist and anti-Marxist. Rocker moved around Europe in the early twentieth century. He became a regular writer for a syndicalist publication and was part of the 1920 international syndicalist conference that led to the founding of the International Workers Association (IWA) in 1922. Rocker returned to Germany in 1926 and was concerned by the rise of nationalism and fascism. He was later exiled from Nazi Germany.
Rocker published a well-known text, ‘In Pioneers of American Freedom’, “a series of essays, he details the history of liberal and anarchist thought in the United States, seeking to debunk the idea that radical thought was foreign to American history and culture and had merely been imported by immigrants.” 
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) “was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule and in turn to inspire movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Born and raised in a Hindu family in coastal Gujarat, Gandhi trained in the law at the Inner Temple, London, and was called to the bar at age 22 in June 1891. After two uncertain years in India, where he was unable to start a successful law practice, he moved to South Africa in 1893 to represent an Indian merchant in a lawsuit. He went on to live in South Africa for 21 years. It was here that Gandhi raised a family and first employed nonviolent resistance in a campaign for civil rights. In 1915, aged 45, he returned to India. He set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, and above all for achieving swaraj or self-rule.
Also in 1921, Gandhi adopted the use of a short dhoti woven with hand-spun yarn as a mark of identification with India’s rural poor. He began to live in a self-sufficient residential community and to eat simple food; he undertook long fasts as a means of both introspection and political protest. Bringing anti-colonial nationalism to the common Indians, Gandhi led them in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930 and in calling for the British to quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned many times and for many years in both South Africa and India.
Gandhi’s vision of an independent India based on religious pluralism was challenged in the early 1940s by a Muslim nationalism which demanded a separate homeland for Muslims within British India. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, the Hindu-majority India and the Muslim-majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Abstaining from the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to alleviate distress. In the months following, he undertook several hunger strikes to stop the religious violence. The last of these, begun on 12 January 1948 when he was 78, also had the indirect goal of pressuring India to pay out some cash assets owed to Pakistan. Some Indians thought Gandhi was too accommodating to Pakistan. Among them was Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist who assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest.” 
Sir Herbert Edward Read, DSO, MC (1893 – 1968) “was an English art historian, poet, literary critic and philosopher, best known for numerous books on art, which included influential volumes on the role of art in education. Read was co-founder of the Institute of Contemporary Arts. As well as being a prominent English anarchist, he was one of the earliest English writers to take notice of existentialism.
Politically, Read considered himself an anarchist, albeit in the English quietist tradition of Edward Carpenter and William Morris. Nevertheless, in 1953 he accepted a knighthood for “services to literature”; this caused Read to be ostracized by most of the anarchist movement. Read was actively opposed to the Franco regime in Spain, and often campaigned on behalf of political prisoners in Spain.
Dividing Read’s writings on politics from those on art and culture is difficult, because he saw art, culture and politics as a single congruent expression of human consciousness. His total work amounts to over 1,000 published titles.
Read’s book ‘To Hell With Culture’ deals specifically with his disdain for the term culture and expands on his anarchist view of the artist as artisan, as well as presenting a major analysis of the work of Eric Gill. It was republished by Routledge in 2002.” 
Alexander Comfort (1920 – 2000) “was a British scientist and physician known best for his nonfiction sex manual, The Joy of Sex (1972). He was an author of both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a gerontologist, anarchist, pacifist, and conscientious objector.
A pacifist, Comfort considered himself “an aggressive anti-militarist”, and he believed that pacifism rested “solely upon the historical theory of anarchism”.
Comfort was an active member of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a conscientious objector in World War II. In 1951 Comfort was a signatory of the Authors’ World Peace Appeal, but later resigned from its committee, claiming the AWPA had become dominated by Soviet sympathisers. Later in the decade he actively endorsed both the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, 1957, and the Committee of 100, 1960. Comfort was imprisoned for a month, with Bertrand Russell and other leading members of the Committee of 100, for refusing to be bound not to continue organising the Parliament Square/Trafalgar Square protest of 17 September 1961.
Among the publications by Comfort concerning anarchism is ‘Peace and Disobedience’ (1946), one of many pamphlets he wrote for Peace News and PPU, and ‘Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State’ (1950). He exchanged public correspondence with George Orwell defending pacifism in the open letter/poem, “Letter to an American Visitor”, under the pseudonym “Obadiah Hornbrooke”. Comfort’s book ‘The Joy of Sex’ (1972) earned him worldwide fame and $3 million. But he was unhappy to become known as “Dr. Sex” and to have his other works given so little attention.” 
Paul Goodman (1911–1972) “was an American author and public intellectual best known for his 1960s works of social criticism. Goodman was prolific across numerous literary genres and non-fiction topics, including the arts, civil rights, decentralization, democracy, education, media, politics, psychology, technology, urban planning, and war. As a humanist and self-styled man of letters, his works often addressed a common theme of the individual citizen’s duties in the larger society, and the responsibility to exercise autonomy, act creatively, and realize one’s own human nature.
Born to a Jewish family in New York City, Goodman was raised by his aunts and sister and attended City College of New York. As an aspiring writer, he wrote and published poems and fiction before receiving his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He returned to writing in New York City and took sporadic magazine writing and teaching jobs, several of which he lost for his outward bisexuality and World War II draft resistance. Goodman discovered anarchism and wrote for libertarian journals. His radicalism was rooted in psychological theory. He co-wrote the theory behind Gestalt therapy based on Wilhelm Reich’s radical Freudianism and held psychoanalytic sessions through the 1950s while continuing to write prolifically.
His 1960 book of social criticism, Growing Up Absurd, established his importance as a mainstream cultural theorist. Goodman became known as “the philosopher of the New Left” and his anarchistic disposition was influential in 1960s counterculture and the free school movement. Despite being the foremost American intellectual of non-Marxist radicalism in his time, his celebrity did not endure far beyond his life. Goodman is remembered for his utopian proposals and principled belief in human potential.” 
Murray Bookchin (1921 – 2006) “was an American communalist, political philosopher, trade-union organizer, and educator. A pioneer in the environmental movement, Bookchin formulated and developed the theory of social ecology and urban planning, within anarchist, libertarian socialist, and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books covering topics in politics, philosophy, history, urban affairs, and social ecology. Among the most important were ‘Our Synthetic Environment’ (1962), ‘Post-Scarcity Anarchism’ (1971), ‘The Ecology of Freedom’ (1982) and ‘Urbanization Without Cities’ (1987). In the late 1990s, he became disenchanted with what he saw as an increasingly apolitical ‘lifestylism’ of the contemporary anarchist movement, stopped referring to himself as an anarchist, and founded his own libertarian socialist ideology called communalism, which seeks to reconcile Marxist and anarchist thought.
Bookchin was a prominent anti-capitalist and advocate of social decentralization along ecological and democratic lines. His ideas have influenced social movements since the 1960s, including the New Left, the anti-nuclear movement, the anti-globalization movement, Occupy Wall Street, and more recently, the democratic confederalism of Rojava. He was a central figure in the American green movement and the Burlington Greens.” 
Avram Noam Chomsky (born 1928) “is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes called ‘the father of modern linguistics’, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona and Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is the author of more than 150 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.
Born to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. He studied at the University of Pennsylvania. During his postgraduate work in the Harvard Society of Fellows, Chomsky developed the theory of transformational grammar for which he earned his doctorate in 1955. That year he began teaching at MIT, and in 1957 emerged as a significant figure in linguistics with his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which played a major role in remodelling the study of language. From 1958 to 1959 Chomsky was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. He created or co-created the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Chomsky also played a pivotal role in the decline of linguistic behaviorism, and was particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.
An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism, in 1967 Chomsky rose to national attention for his anti-war essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Becoming associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and placed on President Richard Nixon’s Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over subsequent decades, he also became involved in the linguistics wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later articulated the propaganda model of media criticism in Manufacturing Consent and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. His defense of unconditional freedom of speech, including that of Holocaust denial, generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the 1980s. Since retiring from active teaching at MIT, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supporting the Occupy movement. Chomsky began teaching at the University of Arizona in 2017.
One of the most cited scholars alive, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as having helped to spark the cognitive revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarship, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. Chomsky and his ideas are highly influential in the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements.” 
For this fascinating Green Flame episode Jennifer Murnan interviews Hanna Bohman. Hanna Bohman is a Canadian civilian who spent time volunteering in the effort to support women’s rights in the middle east, including battling ISIS and liberating women in Syria. Motivated to fight, Hanna joined an all-female Kurdish army, the YPJ. A film, Fear Us Women, was made about Hanna’s experiences as a member of the YPJ. She is an ongoing supporter of her YPJ sisters.
Hanna is a Canadian civilian who went to Syria and volunteered to battle ISIS. She joined an all-female Kurdish army called the YPJ. YPJ is pushing against the ISIS and their women hating ideology. It is liberating women forced into sex slavery by the Islamic State and participating in the education and liberation.
The Islamic State is often portrayed as a monolithic issue of terrorism and counterterrrorism. In reality, there are multiple aspects to this issue. Hanna’s interview sheds light to some complexities of this issue.
The YPJ is also part of a promising experiment in a new form of society. The model of society that they are working to build is called democratic confederation. It is a grassroots democracy, where people make direct decision of the direction of their lives, their communities and their societies. It is also incorporating the liberation of women, in an extremely conservative and religious fundamentalist area.
Hanna was smuggled into Syria, trained to be a sniper, and put into the frontlines, to defend this project and to support this liberation of women
In this episode, Hanna talks about her experience in the YPJ. She discusses patriarchy and feminism in both the Western context and in the YPJ. Hanna also talks about Jineology, the study of women. Finally, the experience also changed how it changed how she relates to women.
The Green Flame is a Deep Green Resistance podcast offering revolutionary analysis, skill sharing, and inspiration for the movement to save the planet by any means necessary. Our hosts are Max Wilbert and Jennifer Murnan.
Editor’s note: Politicians in the US and Europe, like German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas, keep repeating that “Israel has the right of self-defense”. Indeed we see that the horrible violence currently happening in Israel and Gaza tend to be framed by western mainstream as “Israel defending itself from terrorism” at worst, or “clashes between two sides” at best. Hardly do we see stories showing just how combative Israeli actions have been, how painful and traumatic these experiences are for Palestinians, and the historical and root causes of the current violence. We believe that the right of self-defense doesn’t include the right to brutally suppress a group of people for decades, to occupy and steal their land and to dispel and humiliate them. As Noam Chomsky wrote: An old man in Gaza held a placard that read: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all, but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.” We stand in strong solidarity with oppressed peoples worldwide and condemn the violence of settler-colonialism.
What’s next in the latest Middle East convulsion? Will a ceasefire between the Hamas militant group in Gaza and Israel be brokered by Arab mediators in coordination with western powers, or will the situation continue to deteriorate?
Are we witnessing the beginning of an intensifying conflict in which Israelis find themselves enveloped in a bloody confrontation with Palestinians across the occupied territories and, more threateningly, inside Israel itself?
We’ve seen all this before – in 1987 and 2000. Then, as now, violence spread from territories occupied in the 1967 war into Israel itself.
There are no simple answers to these questions as the crisis enters its second week, with casualties mounting.
In part, the next stage depends on the level of violence Israel is prepared to inflict on Hamas. It is also conditional on Hamas’s tolerance of Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire.
It will also rely on the extent to which Israel feels its interests continue to be served by courting widespread international opprobrium for its offensive against Hamas, as the militant group’s leadership is embedded in a densely packed civilian population in Gaza.
This is far from a cost-free exercise for Israel, despite the bravado from its leadership, embroiled in a lingering internal crisis over the country’s inability to elect majority government.
Political paralysis is not the least of Israel’s problems.
As always, the issue is not whether Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks on its own territory. The question is whether its response is disproportionate, and whether its chronic failure to propagate a genuine peace process is fuelling Palestinian resentment.
Israel’s continued provocative construction of settlements in the West Bank, and the daily humiliations it inflicts on a disenfranchised Palestinian population in Arab East Jerusalem, contribute to enormous frustration and anger among people living under occupation.
If nothing else, the latest upsurge of violence between Israelis and Palestinians should persuade the international community that occupation and subjugation of one population by another is a dead-end street.
Further complicating things for the Israeli leadership are the circumstances that led to the latest conflagration. This has lessened international sympathy for the extreme measures Israel is using, aiming to bomb the Hamas leadership into submission.
Israeli authorities’ attempts to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem from homes they had occupied for 70 years, accompanied by highly provocative demonstrations by extremist Jewish settlers chanting “death to Arabs”, has contributed to a sharp deterioration in relations.
This was followed by a heavy-handed Israeli police response to Palestinian demonstrations in and around Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest shrine. In turn, this prompted Hamas rocket strikes into Israel itself from Gaza.
The International Crisis Group has identified the issue that should be most concerning to Israel and its supporters:
This occasion is the first since the September 2000 intifada where Palestinians have responded simultaneously and on such a massive scale throughout much of the combined territory of Israel-Palestine to the cumulative impact of military occupation, repression, dispossession and systemic discrimination.
In a global propaganda war over Israel’s continued occupation of five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the issue of who started this latest convulsion is relevant.
So, too, are questions surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to cling to power as a corruption trial wends its way through the Israeli court system.
Collateral damage to Israel’s reputation is an unavoidable consequence of the use of a heavy bombardment against Hamas targets in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.
There are two million Palestinians in Gaza, a narrow strip of land between Israeli territory and the Mediterranean Sea. Many are living in refugee camps their families have occupied since they fled Israel in 1948, in what Palestinians refer to as the nakba, or catastrophe.
The deaths of an extended Palestinian family at the weekend whose three-storey home was demolished by an Israeli airstrike is a grating reminder of fallout from the use of weapons of war in civilian areas.
This is the reality of a population held hostage to an unresolved – and possibly unresolvable – conflict involving Palestinians living under occupation.
However, circumstances leading to the outbreak of violence, notably Israeli policing of demonstrations in places sacred to Muslims, have left Arab leaderships no choice but to condemn Israel’s actions.
A hitherto limp US response reflects the Biden administration’s hope that the Israel-Palestine issue would not be allowed to intrude on Washington’s wider Middle East foreign policy efforts. Biden is trying to entice Iran back to the negotiating table to re-energise the nuclear peace deal ripped up by former President Donald Trump.
Part of this strategy has been to calm Israel’s concerns about renewed US efforts to re-engage Iran. Those efforts have been complicated by the violence of recent days.
Washington has been reminded, if that was necessary, that the toxic Palestinian issue could not simply be shoved aside, however much the US and its moderate Arab allies would like it to go away. This was always an unrealistic expectation.
Israeli violence against Palestinians in retaliation for rocket attacks on its territory is an embarrassment for Arab states that had established diplomatic relations with Israel under pressure from the Trump administration.
The so-called Abraham Accords, involving an exchange of ambassadors between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, is at risk of being discredited in the eyes of the Arab world by the latest conflagration.
Other Arab states that established diplomatic relations with Israel, brokered by Trump officials, include Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. Sporadic demonstrations in support of the Palestinians have occurred in the latter two countries.
Finally, this latest conflict between Israelis and Palestinians exposes the failure of various parties to advance a peace agreement based on a two-state solution.
That prospect appears further away than ever, and may even be dead given Israel’s declared intention to annex territory in the West Bank. Such action would end any possibility of compromise based on land swaps to accommodate Israeli settlements in areas contiguous with Israel itself.
These are bleak moments for those who might have believed at the time of the Oslo Declaration in 1993, and subsequent establishment of relations between Israel and the leadership of the Palestinian national movement, that peace might be possible at last.