Industrial civilization is killing the planet. It is, by its very nature, entirely dependent upon tearing & rending apart the fabric of the living world for the raw materials which sustain industrial society. As civilization fells ever more forests, blows apart ever more mountains, dams ever more rivers, vacuums ever more fisheries, drains ever more wetlands, plows ever more prairies, and replaces ever more of the natural world with concrete and fields growing food for solely human use, the bloody hands of empire must reach ever further afield to grasp for new pockets of wilderness to seize.
As industrial society becomes more and more globalized, so too does industrial destruction. Wild places that may once have been too remote to access find the crushing weight of civilization brought to bear upon them.
While the reach and presence of this way of life accelerate around the planet, the privileges and material prosperities afforded by its war against life remain the property of a small minority at the center of empire. It is to this center that the overwhelming portions of planetary plunder flow. It’s coded into the way empires—and civilizations—operate. The center of power conquers outlying lands, colonizing them and forcefully extracting resources, which flow back to feed the bloated power base.
The pattern is the same, whether we’re talking about cities extracting food via agriculture from the surrounding lands or the global economy extracting oil, steel, wood, etc. from the Global South. It is the same dynamic of empire—of colonies and conquerors. We may rationalize the pattern through complex social and economic theory, but it doesn’t change the underlying relationship of exploiter and exploited.
Central to the smooth function of this way of life are the logistics and transportation necessary to physically transport those materials from the site of extraction to the center of empire. The global economy is incredibly complex, so much so that how exactly it operates in the physical world may seem inexplicable, and only comprehensible in the abstract. But despite this, there are very specific infrastructures—foundations of support—that are fundamental to its function. The infrastructure of globalized transportation and logistics is among these; without them, the precarious balance of industrial society would collapse.
In the incessant drive towards ever-greater efficiency—the drive to expand “economic production” (read the conversion of living landbases into private wealth) beyond any limitations—the industrial economy is becoming ever more dependent upon fast-paced transportation and logistics. It’s why most grocery stores only have a 72 hour supply of food in-store. By reducing inventory capacity and relying upon “Just-in-Time” transportation systems, industrialism has accelerated its pace, but at the expense of its stability.
For those who understand the destruction and horror that is this way of life—those who understand that it must be stopped and dismantled at any cost—the centrality and fragility of the systems responsible for the transportation of resources & goods presents a strategic target for disruption and sabotage.
Fortunately, these transportation networks are large and poorly defended. A paper recently released by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, written by Douglas Bland, cited the criticality and vulnerability of Canada’s rail transport infrastructure as weaknesses which could be exploited to cripple the entire Canadian economy. The report talks specifically about the potential of an “aboriginal uprising” in Canada and how such a mobilization could impact the industrial economy of the nation:
In the event of an insurgency, the Canadian economy could be shut down in weeks. The 2012 CP Rail strike cost an estimated $540-million a week, as it hit industries including coal, grain, potash, nickel, lumber and autos. Some First Nations leaders like Terry Nelson in Manitoba have already concluded that a covert operation involving burning cars on every railway line would be impossible to stop.
This vulnerability in the structure of modern civilization is present outside of Canada; indeed, it is characteristic of the global economy. These transportation and logistical networks—those that connect and maintain the flow between the different nodes of industrial production—are fragile, sprawling, and poorly guarded. And they’re very vulnerable to sabotage.
As just one recent example, some anonymous folks sabotaged rail lines in Central Oregon in celebration of May Day a month ago. In their own words,
Late at night on May Day we sabotaged a rail line in Central Oregon to interrupt the flow of commodities. Capital depends more than ever on the metropolis, the constant flow of commodities, services, capital, information, and any interruption of that flow is a small victory… This action was quick and easy. Using copper wire with the ends stripped, we wrapped both ends of wire around the rail and buried the middle section. This sends a false signal that there is a train on the tracks, delaying any other movement until the blockage is cleared.
Like many forms of sabotage, it doesn’t take much, as the communique issued by those behind this particular action so kindly describes.
Of course, while we understand that disrupting a single rail line on a single night will have little to no measurable impact on the masticating gears of industrialism, such sustained actions—as described by Bland’s paper—could translate into effective systems disruption. With the whole of the globalized economy so dependent upon such a precarious & precisely balanced transportation infrastructure, the impacts of such a campaign of sabotage could have massive and far reaching effects.
This way of life cannot last. It remains steady and standing only through actively destroying and consuming the fabric of the living world. The movement of materials—the blood soaked corpses of its victims—through the industrial system is central to this. To stop that movement is to stop the machine. While it may not be the first course of action many would turn to, and while it may make some uncomfortable, sustained and coordinated sabotage against the industrial transport infrastructure presents a strategic way to disrupt and halt the monstrous activity of industrial civilization.
Civilization is not static; it is a holocaust in motion. As we all know, an object in motion stays in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force. It’s long past time to apply that force.
Time is Short: Reports, Reflections & Analysis on Underground Resistance is a biweekly bulletin dedicated to promoting and normalizing underground resistance, as well as dissecting and studying its forms and implementation, including essays and articles about underground resistance, surveys of current and historical resistance movements, militant theory and praxis, strategic analysis, and more. We welcome you to contact us with comments, questions, or other ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org