Resistance News for May 2019

Resistance News

May 8, 2019

by Max Wilbert

Deep Green Resistance

max@maxwilbert.org

https://www.deepgreenresistance.org

Current atmospheric CO2 level (daily high from May 6th at Mauna Loa): 414.49 PPM

A free monthly newsletter providing analysis and commentary on ecology, global capitalism, empire, and revolution. For back issues, to read this issue online, or to subscribe via email or RSS, visit the Resistance News web page. Most of these essays also appear on the DGR News Service, which also includes an active comment section.

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In this issue:

  1. New DGR Podcast: The Green Flame
  2. A Modern Eco-Sabotage Manifesto
  3. The Legal System Will Not Save the Planet
  4. The problem with putting a price on nature
  5. Fighting for the Rights of Southern Resident Orcas
  6. All Oppression is Connected
  7. Submit your material to the Deep Green Resistance News Service
  8. Further news and recommended reading / podcasts
  9. How to support DGR or get involved

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Revolution is never practical – until the hour of the revolution strikes. THEN it alone is practical, and all the efforts of the conservatives, and compromisers become the most futile and visionary of human imaginings.

— James Connolly, “Socialism Made Easy” (1909)

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New DGR Podcast: The Green Flame

We are proud to announce a new project: The Green Flame, 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.

First episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmZHyll9FtQ

Our first episode features Elisabeth Robson on why she calls The Green New Deal a “moral hazard,” a beautiful interview with the incomparable Saba Malik, who shares stories of gifting and receiving, of embracing and defending communities that are worth fighting for, and a poem by Michelle Lynn Jones that will leave you feeling as integrally a part of this living planet as you actually are.

You can subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts. More episodes coming soon.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-green-flame/id1460594346

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/max-wilbert/the-green-flame

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/DeepGreenResistance/videos

RSS: https://greenflame.libsyn.com/rss

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A Modern Eco-Sabotage Manifesto

[Link] By Max Wilbert

The woman places an arrow on her bow, draws to her cheek, and fires.

The arrow arcs over a high-voltage electrical transmission line, carrying a non-conductive rope. She jogs to her arrow, and begins to reel in the rope. As she pulls it over the lines, a conductive cable is revealed to be attached to its end. As the cable bridges the three-phase power lines, a short-circuit ripples down the lines. Miles away, an aluminum smelter grinds to a halt.

This is the opening of the new film Woman at War from director Benedikt Erlingsson. The film follows a one-woman ecosabotage campaign against the Icelandic aluminum industry.

Whenever I watch a film, especially a film grappling with the ecological crisis, I expect it to disappoint me. Ethan Hawke’s First Reformed, for example, started with a promising premise and then veered into self-flagellation and misogyny.

Woman at War, however, did not disappoint. Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir gives a masterful performance as Halla, a happy middle-aged woman who appears content with her life as a choir director in an Icelandic city. She moves about her life with grace and serenity, riding her bicycle through the streets, swimming in the ocean, and talking with her sister and other friends.

But Halla leads a double life. Her apparently tranquil existence hides her true mission, a campaign against heavy industry that is destroying Iceland. A portrait of Nelson Mandela hangs on her wall at home, a constant reminder that yesterday’s terrorists may become the freedom fighters of history. This is, no doubt, a reference to the ANC sabotage campaigns that Mandela helped to lead in Apartheid South Africa beginning in 1961.

In his testimony when he was sentenced, Mandela describes his reasoning: “I do not deny that I planned sabotage,” he said. “I did not plan it in a spirit of recklessness nor because I have any love of violence. I planned it as a result of a calm and sober assessment of the political situation that had arisen after many years of tyranny, exploitation and oppression of my people by the whites.”

The same reasoning is true for eco-saboteurs today. In the era of climate chaos and government inaction, “extreme” acts like ecosabotage are not extreme at all. They are, in fact, some of the most reasonable responses imaginable.

The argument for sabotage in Woman at War is as undeniably real as the industry it tackles. Iceland’s abundant geothermal energy and hydropower extraction give it very low electricity prices, and has made it a global hot spot for aluminum smelting. The three aluminum smelters in Iceland use a full 73 percent of all electricity generated in the country.

Their power is supplied by geothermal energy harvesting facilities as well as a highly controversial hydroelectric dam that was opposed by environmental and community groups in the courts, via protest, and with direct action and ecosabotage. The smelters themselves are major polluters linked to birth defects, cancer, and bone deformations in nearby communities.

In the film, Halla’s attacks are not spontaneous. Like Mandela, she has obviously conducted a rigorous assessment of the situation. Her actions are meticulously planned. She receives intelligence from a friend high in the Icelandic government. She operates carefully, intelligently, implementing reasonable security precautions while avoiding wholesale paranoia.

At one point, Halla evades her face being recorded by a drone by wearing a Nelson Mandela mask, in an echo of Mandela’s words in his book Long Walk to Freedom: “Living underground requires a seismic psychological shift,” Mandela wrote. “One has to plan every action, however small and seemingly insignificant. Nothing is innocent. Everything is questioned. You cannot be yourself; you must fully inhabit whatever role you have assumed… The key to being underground is to be invisible.”

Like any effective underground figure, she follows the maxim that “Clandestine operational activity must be compartment[aliz]ed, it must be planned, it must be short in duration, and it must be rehearsed (or at least, composed of habitual actions).”

Rebecca Solnit, who has written some wonderful things, critiques Woman at War, writing that “our largest problems won’t be solved by heroes.” But Solnit then lauds Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, an organization which (like the entire American environmental movement) has failed to stop even the growth of fossil fuel burning. McKibben’s entire approach hinges on a transition to green technology that, as I explain in my forthcoming book Bright Green Lies, has thus far failed to reduce emissions even by a fraction.

In contrast, eco-sabotage groups like MEND (the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) have reduced oil output in Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer, by up to 40 percent on a sustained basis.

So which approach is really effective? Show me a country in which mass action has significantly reduced carbon emissions, and perhaps Solnit’s argument would hold more weight. Just two people conducting eco-sabotage against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) were nearly as effective in slowing the construction as tens of thousands were at Standing Rock. Imagine if a few more people had joined them. And a few more. And more.

As director Benedikt Erlingsson said of Halla in a recent interview, “She’s not a terrorist, she’s not creating terror, she’s not harming people. She’s only sabotaging structures. But she is doing what all fighters have been doing: for non-violent protest to work, it always needs to have an economic fist.”

Petitioning those in power to change things simply isn’t working. To have a chance of planetary survival, we need the most direct of direct actions.

Practically, there are a few lessons to be learned from Woman at War. For example, the film showcases perhaps the high end of effectiveness for a single saboteur. By acting in coordinated groups or securely linked cells, a larger number of people could be more effective. Additionally, the film shows the importance of building a culture of resistance. Halla is saved early on by a nearby farmer who detests the transmission lines and police crisscrossing the land his family has lived on for a thousand years. This element shows the importance of building a support network that can house, feed, transport, and otherwise support underground resistance—and won’t ask too many questions.

There is much to love about this film. Aesthetically, it is beautifully done. The music is superb. The Icelandic tundra, glaciers, rivers, hot springs, and stones are a presence all their own, and Halla inhabits this landscape throughout, repeatedly pressing her face into the thick moss as if into the embrace of a dear friend. She also demonstrates quite clearly that, in an asymmetric struggle, bushcrafts, physical fitness, and wilderness travel skills are a serious advantage for clandestine eco-resistance.

Woman at War bypasses American sexualization, casting a strong female lead acting on her own terms, without a hint of objectification. It even tackles prison well, showing that (to quote Mandela once again) “The challenge for every prisoner, particularly every political prisoner, is how to survive prison intact, how to emerge from prison undiminished, how to conserve and even replenish one’s beliefs.”

Ending a movie like this is hard. In reality, revolutionary work is likely to end with prison time, death, or international exile. But Woman at War closes deftly, in the same way it tackles tricky topics like morality, jobs, and family. Halla visits Ukraine to adopt a young girl, and on her return to the airport, is forced to carry her through a slowly-rising flood that has blocked the road. It is tranquil but daunting slow-moving emergency submerging the entire world. A fitting metaphor, then, for the theme of the entire film.

As I finish writing this review, spring is in full bloom. The birds are singing outside my small cabin in the Oregon woods. But I know that the slow-moving floods of climate change, species extinction, toxification, overpopulation, habitat destruction, and refugees are rising. Year by year, we are slipping into a nightmare. Woman at War is not exactly a template, but it is a great beginning point for a movement that could save us from the worst of what is coming, if only we are ready to listen.

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The Legal System Will Not Save the Planet

[Link]

DGR member and lawyer Will Falk explains why the legal and regulatory system is structurally incapable of defending the natural world from threats, because it was never designed to do this. His conclusion is that communities must organize around revolutionary, ecological principles to defend the land themselves. We cannot rely on government to do it for us.

Video here: https://dgrnewsservice.org/resistance/indirect/lobbying/the-legal-system-will-not-save-the-planet/

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The problem with putting a price on nature

[Link] By Beth Robson / Art for Culture Change

I love the cover of the New York Times Magazine, by Pablo Delcan, for this week’s big story, “The Problem with Putting a Price on the End of the World.”

The article discusses the challenge with pricing carbon emissions properly so that we use less fossil fuels: because fossil fuels are so fundamental to every aspect of how we live in this modern culture, to price emissions higher means bringing a world of hurt to people who just want to be able to afford a home, or to commute to work, or put the next meal on the table.

The basic problem with pricing carbon as a solution to climate change is not, as the article states (and most people like to claim), that it is a “market failure”.

The problem is that pricing carbon doesn’t address the underlying issue: that our modern culture is inherently unsustainable, no matter how much we pay for the energy to run it.

The article argues that pricing carbon leads to a sluggish economy, which is bad.

No, what’s bad is the economy, period. Our modern economy is based on continual growth. We can’t “fix” the economy; we have to abolish it. Eliminate it. And to do that we need a vision of what is to replace it (and no, not “clean energy”!!) — because without a vision, people just get angry when they can no longer afford the necessities of life.

Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, this article pins hopes for the future on “clean” energy (something that doesn’t actually exist), and a growth economy based on renewables, within the framing of shifting away from fossil fuels not because carbon is expensive, but because renewables are a better, cheaper option, cause less pollution and less carbon, and will create jobs (i.e., basically the same argument as The Green New Deal). This approach simply changes the energy source that runs our unsustainable economy; it doesn’t change the underlying problem: the economy and the way we live our lives because of that economy.

Read on.

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Fighting for the Rights of Southern Resident Orcas

[Link] By Will Falk and Sean Butler / Voices for Biodiversity

On December 18, 2018, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Fish Conservancy threatened the Trump administration with a lawsuit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for allowing salmon fisheries to take too many salmon, which the critically endangered Southern Resident orcas depend on for food.

The impulse to protect the orcas is a good one. Southern Resident orcas are struggling to survive — only 75 remain. According to the statement by the Center for Biological Diversity and Wild Fish Conservancy, “The primary threats to Southern Resident killer whales are starvation from lack of adequate prey (predominantly Chinook salmon), vessel noise …that interferes with … foraging … and toxic contaminants that bioaccumulate in the orcas’ fat.”

You probably assume, when reading that list of primary threats to the orcas, that the threatened lawsuit would demand an end to these harmful activities. But it doesn’t. Instead, the organizations are merely asking the National Marine Fisheries Service — the agency responsible for issuing permits to Pacific coast fisheries — to deal with alleged violations of the ESA.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Fish Conservancy aren’t asking that activities harmful to Chinook salmon, and consequently to the Southern Resident orcas, be stopped. They aren’t asking for noisy vessels that disturb the whales’ foraging behaviors to be prohibited. They aren’t even asking for an end to the toxic contaminants that accumulate in the whales’ fat.

Why aren’t they asking for any of these things? Because under American law they aren’t allowed to ask for them.

All they are asking is that these harmful activities receive the proper permits.

Right now, laws like the Endangered Species Act are the main legal means for protecting threatened species and habitat in the United States. But these laws only allow us to challenge permit applications and ask that projects complete the permit process.

While it may hard to believe, these permits are designed to give permission to cause harm. Regulatory agencies only regulate the amount of harm that takes place. They do not, and cannot, stop ecocide. Instead they allow for softer, sometimes slower versions of ecocide.

To understand this, it helps to know a bit about how the Endangered Species Act actually works. The Act prohibits any person, including any federal agency, from “taking” an endangered species without proper authorization. “Take” is defined as: “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct.”

You might expect that the Act completely prohibits any activity that “takes” an endangered species. But it doesn’t. Under the Act, federal agencies may harm members of an endangered species as long as the activity is “not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered species.”

While that may sound more promising, it isn’t. When a proposed action is likely to jeopardize an endangered species, the agency can then issue an Incidental Take Statement (ITS), which merely sets a limit on the number of individuals of an endangered species that can be taken.

In other words, a species that has already endured so much destruction can legally be further harmed if that harm is in compliance with certain terms and the correct forms are filled out.

Read on.

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All Oppression is Connected

[Link] By Elisabeth Robson / Art for Culture Change

All oppression is related to resource extraction.

Whether that resource is black Africans forced into slavery, a massive energy resource that powered settler-colonial America….

or the resource is women’s reproductive power, exploited by men who restrict women’s bodily autonomy and oppress women in the process….

or the resource is land taken from indigenous cultures and from wild animals for colonial settlers to farm….

or the resource is land taken from indigenous cultures and from wild animals for wind farms and solar farms…

or the resource is iron ore, copper, gold, coal, oil, gas, or sand taken from the land, taken from indigenous cultures and the poor for corporations and the rich people who run them…

or the resource is fresh clean water and fresh clean air, taken from us all by corporations to use as the dumping ground for their pollution, as commerce reigns supreme and supreme courts grant corporations more rights than people…

all oppression is related to resource extraction.

Read on.

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Contact Deep Green Resistance News Service

[Link] To repost DGR original writings or talk with us about anything else, you can contact the Deep Green Resistance News Service by email, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

Email: newsservice@deepgreenresistance.org

Twitter: @dgrnews

Facebook.com/dgrnews

Please contact us with news, articles, or pieces that you have written. If we decide to post your submission, it may be posted here, or on the Deep Green Resistance Blog.

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Further news and recommended reading / podcasts

Deanna Meyer of Prairie Protection Colorado—Derrick Jensen Resistance Radio—May 5, 2019

Leslie Kline of Triple Divide Seeds—Derrick Jensen Resistance Radio—April 28, 2019

Thomas Linzey of CELDF—Derrick Jensen Resistance Radio—April 21, 2019

Irakli Loladze: food nutrition collapse—Derrick Jensen Resistance Radio—April 14, 2019

23 Reasons Not to Reveal Your DNA

The Corporate and Security State Recognizes Movements Are a Threat to the Power Structure so they Study Our Efforts

Cities are sucking our countryside dry, scientists say

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How to support DGR or get involved

Guide to taking action

Bring DGR to your community to provide training

Become a member

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Although we still have a long way to go before an insurrection, we should consider every struggle, however small, as a school of war to prepare us for those decisive revolutionary moments.

–      Jimena Vergara

 

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to those who will find it valuable. Permission is also granted to reprint this newsletter, but it must be reprinted in whole.

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