People & Groups Archives: Activists » Deep Green Resistance

Visit the global Activists » Deep Green Resistance archives for posts from all DGR sites.

Open Letter to Reclaim Environmentalism

Once, the environmental movement was about protecting the natural world from the insatiable demands of this extractive culture. Some of the movement still is: around the world grassroots activists and their organizations are fighting desperately to save this or that creature they love, this or that plant or fungi, this or that wild place.

Contrast this to what some activists are calling the conservation-industrial complex–­big green organizations, huge “environmental” foundations, neo-environmentalists, some academics–­which has co-opted too much of the movement into “sustainability,” with that word being devalued to mean “keeping this culture going as long as possible.” Instead of fighting to protect our one and only home, they are trying to “sustain” the very culture that is killing the planet. And they are often quite explicit about their priorities.

For example, the recent “An Open Letter to Environmentalists on Nuclear Energy,” signed by a number of academics, some conservation biologists, and other members of the conservation-industrial complex, labels nuclear energy as “sustainable” and argues that because of global warming, nuclear energy plays a “key role” in “global biodiversity conservation.” Their entire argument is based on the presumption that industrial energy usage is, like Dick Cheney said, not negotiable–­it is taken as a given. And for what will this energy be used? To continue extraction and drawdown­–to convert the last living creatures and their communities into the final dead commodities.

Their letter said we should let “objective evidence” be our guide. One sign of intelligence is the ability to recognize patterns: let’s lay out a pattern and see if we can recognize it in less than 10,000 years. When you think of Iraq, do you think of cedar forests so thick that sunlight never touches the ground? That’s how it was prior to the beginnings of this culture. The Near East was a forest. North Africa was a forest. Greece was a forest. All pulled down to support this culture. Forests precede us, while deserts dog our heels. There were so many whales in the Atlantic they were a hazard to ships. There were so many bison on the Great Plains you could watch for four days as a herd thundered by. There were so many salmon in the Pacific Northwest you could hear them coming for hours before they arrived. The evidence is not just “objective,” it’s overwhelming: this culture exsanguinates the world of water, of soil, of species, and of the process of life itself, until all that is left is dust.

Fossil fuels have accelerated this destruction, but they didn’t cause it, and switching from fossil fuels to nuclear energy (or windmills) won’t stop it. Maybe three generations of humans will experience this level of consumption, but a culture based on drawdown has no future. Of all people, conservation biologists should understand that drawdown cannot last, and should not be taken as a given when designing public policy–­let alone a way of life.

It is long past time for those of us whose loyalties lie with wild plants and animals and places to take back our movement from those who use its rhetoric to foster accelerating ecocide. It is long past time we all faced the fact that an extractive way of life has never had a future, and can only end in biotic collapse. Every day this extractive culture continues, two hundred species slip into that longest night of extinction. We have very little time left to stop the destruction and to start the repair. And the repair might yet be done: grasslands, for example, are so good at sequestering carbon that restoring 75 percent of the planet’s prairies could bring atmospheric CO2 to under 330 ppm in fifteen years or less. This would also restore habitat for a near infinite number of creatures. We can make similar arguments about reforestation. Or consider that out of the more than 450 dead zones in the oceans, precisely one has repaired itself. How? The collapse of the Soviet Empire made agriculture unfeasible in the region near the Black Sea: with the destructive activity taken away, the dead zone disappeared, and life returned. It really is that simple.

You’d think that those who claim to care about biodiversity would cherish “objective evidence” like this. But instead the conservation-industrial complex promotes nuclear energy (or windmills). Why? Because restoring prairies and forests and ending empires doesn’t fit with the extractive agenda of the global overlords.

This and other attempts to rationalize increasingly desperate means to fuel this destructive culture are frankly insane. The fundamental problem we face as environmentalists and as human beings isn’t to try to find a way to power the destruction just a little bit longer: it’s to stop the destruction. The scale of this emergency defies meaning. Mountains are falling. The oceans are dying. The climate itself is bleeding out and it’s our children who will find out if it’s beyond hope. The only certainty is that our one and only home, once lush with life and the promise of more, will soon be a bare rock if we do nothing.

We the undersigned are not part of the conservation-industrial complex. Many of us are long-term environmental activists. Some of us are Indigenous people whose cultures have been living truly sustainably and respectfully with all our relations from long before the dominant culture began exploiting the planet. But all of us are human beings who recognize we are animals who like all others need livable habitat on a living earth. And we love salmon and prairie dogs and black terns and wild nature more than we love this way of life.

Environmentalism is not about insulating this culture from the effects of its world-destroying activities. Nor is it about trying to perpetuate these world-destroying activities. We are reclaiming environmentalism to mean protecting the natural world from this culture.

And more importantly, we are reclaiming this earth that is our only home, reclaiming it from this extractive culture. We love this earth, and we will defend our beloved.

-Derrick Jensen

*If you agree, please sign the letter

Video from “Creating Strategies for Revolution” Panel talk

About the Event

Industrial civilization and capitalism are currently harming or killing billions of humans and countless nonhumans, and threaten to destroy all life on our planet. On August 27, Deep Green Resistance New York held a discussion on an appropriate and even necessary response: revolution. About fifty people attended to hear panelists including Jen Bilek & Frank Coughlin of DGR NY, Chris Hedges, Ted Rall, David Valle of OWS Zapatista Solidarity, Kiki Makandal of One Struggle NY, and Itzy Ramirez & Javier of Associated Indigenous Movement. The speakers addressed many aspects of revolution:

  • What Is Revolution?
  • The Role of Women in a Revolution
  • What Is a Culture of Resistance?
  • Destruction of and Role of Indigenous Cultures in a Revolution
  • How a Revolution Happens

Highlights

We need systemic change, not regime change. Many historically momentous events, such as the Indian independence movement and the success of the ANC in South Africa, are incorrectly termed revolutions even though the classes dominating and dominated didn’t actually change. For true revolution to occur, dominated classes need to overthrow the dominating classes and restructure society to eliminate exploitation.

We need to avoid sectarian interfeuding with those who could be allies. Many individuals and groups with different approaches or philosophies on some points can still work side by side to take down capitalism and civilization. We can sort out our differences after we defeat our common enemy and defuse the immediate threats of catastrophe. There are, of course, groups with whom we’ll decide we can’t work, but we should base those decisions on rational analysis of where we have fundamental differences vs where we can agree to disagree. We do have to be careful to avoid a neoliberal approach of hyperinclusivity and hyperindividualism. We should deliberately build anti-individualism, countering the dominant trend of privileging individual autonomy and identity at the expense of the group. It’s crucial to say “It is inappropriate to do certain things, regardless of your politics.”

Along those lines, a common pitfall for militant resistance movements is to embrace machismo and hypermasculinity. We must emulate the Zapatistas, consciously putting women in positions of power, challenging internal patriarchy, and changing deeply held cultural paterns and behaviors to increase participation of women. Deep Green Resistance, thanks to its code of conduct and interview process, is an example of a radical feminist organization creating safety for women to work alongside male allies.

The actual mechanics of revolution depend on a long process of building both non-violent and violent capacity. Ted Rall points out that true revolutions have, historically, always included violence because people with power and prividlege do not give it up voluntarily. Chris Hedges focuses on the final stage of successful revolutions, which typically depends on the foot soldiers of a regime refusing to protect the elite any longer, or to carry out their orders for repression. This non-violent non-participation is critical.

See more

Leigha Cohen edited video footage of the event into “A Progressive Voice.” Watch it below, and visit the Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel for more videos from other DGR events.

PIELC 2014 Sketchnotes – Lierre Keith

Here are some sketchnotes Doug Neill took during the early part of Lierre Keith’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference talk on the current state of environmental activism:

PIELC Sketchnotes Lierre Keith Bordered Web - Doug Neill, civilization and resistance, dust storms, sustainable agriculture oxymoron, biological cleansing

Watch her full talk here (start at 2:02:00), and be sure to check out sketchnotes from the other PIELC keynote addresses.

Originally published by Doug Neill, The Graphic Reporter

Let’s Get Free!: Radicalizing Pro-Feminist Education for Men

By Kourtney Mitchell / Deep Green Resistance

By Kourtney Mitchell / Deep Green Resistance

The following speech was originally given at the Stop Porn Culture Conference at Wheelock College, Boston, in July 2013.

Hello everyone, my name is Kourtney Mitchell and I am a political activist and a member of the group Deep Green Resistance. We are a radical organization dedicated to social, political and environmental justice. As an organization we ally ourselves with indigenous communities, women, people of color and the poor. Our aim is to stop the destruction of the planet and the oppression of people and animals.

We are a relatively new organization just a couple of years old but we are growing and have numerous chapters with hundreds of activists around the world who are all dedicated to stopping the genocide of the planet.

So, I’ll offer just a brief background on my experience as a man with pro-feminist activism and educating men. I attended university and it was there that I first received academic and activist training in feminism and anti-violence through the peer education program on campus.

The peer education program consists of graduate students, faculty, and staff who train undergraduate volunteers. The training includes education about the widespread violence that women face and volunteers learn to give presentations to peers on rape, sexual assault, relationship violence, and feminism.

In turn, peers would then join our organizing efforts and events. This was the most profoundly significant and life changing time for me. To travel around the country raising awareness of violence against women, facilitating workshops, speak-outs, and protests was fulfilling, not to mention meaningful. The training threw me into another world, one in which violence and misogyny could no longer be ignored. Our advisors did a really comprehensive job of giving us an adequate scope of the problem, and creating a sense of urgency about these issues.

They helped facilitate the creation of a student culture based on the belief that it is possible to end violence against women, and knowing that possibility helped galvanize us to take action. Many of us went on to make this our life’s work.

My primary role in the campus activist community was recruiting and teaching men about pro-feminism and anti-violence. I helped lead the male ally program, which included a weekly discussion group, activism in the community, pro-feminist art and performance, and collaborations with other similar programs around the country.

I remember vividly the anxiety of pouring over every detail of presentations I would be giving to men, worrying if the way I presented concepts was too complicated or if men would shut down for the rest of the talk if I said something too complicated. I left some events feeling like no one was reachable, but I also walked away feeling really good about the successes which were accomplished.

Many men joined our organizations and became quite active – some because they just felt it was the right thing to do, but many more because of personal experiences and the experiences of their loved ones. Several men randomly wandered into our office and left planning to attend the next ally meeting, and sure enough did continue coming. This was just one of the many things that kept me optimistic about bringing more men to pro-feminist ideas and activism.

Unfortunately, the campus activist community was largely liberal and very much influenced by queer theory. Pornography was widely accepted, and a real revolution against the patriarchal order was more joked about than seriously considered. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the radical feminist perspective that I began to see the flaws of the liberal approach to pro-feminist education.

Continue reading

Earth at Risk: Waziyatawin

blah blah

Calling All Defenders of the Land

For our second installment of our EARTH AT RISK film series, we welcome you to watch the interview with historian and anti-colonial activist, Waziyatawin.

Author of For Indigenous Eyes Only: A Decolonization Handbook as well as other books, Waziyatawin is a Dakota professor and activist from Pezihutazizi Otunwe in southwestern Minnesota. Her books are about indigenous resistance and decolonizing strategies. She is also the founder of Oyate Nipi Kte, a non-profit organization dedicated to the recovery of Dakota traditional knowledge, sustainable ways of being, and Dakota liberation.

As an activist she was most notably arrested multiple times in 2007 protesting the Minnesota sesquicentennial celebration while raising awareness of broken treaties and colonial violence – including the hanging of 38 Dakota men during the Dakota War of 1862 (the largest mass execution in American history).

– – – – – – – – – –

This event is free and open to the public. For space accommodation please be sure to RSVP. If you have any questions, need directions, or need any further information, please contact us at newyork@deepgreenresistance.org

Wednesday, October 30th
7pm – 9pm

Bellevue Hospital
Room A-342
462 1st Avenue
(between East 26th/28th)

Earth At Risk: Thomas Linzey

Our planet is under serious threat from industrial civilization. Yet environmentalists have not considered strategies that might actually prevent the looming biotic collapse the Earth is facing. Until, Earth at Risk.

EARTH AT RISK was a conference convened by acclaimed author Derrick Jensen, featuring seven thinkers and activists who are willing to ask the hardest questions about the seriousness of our situation. Each of the speakers presents an impassioned critique of the dominant culture. Together they build an unassailable case that we need to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor, and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. They offer their ideas on what can be done to build a real resistance movement – one that can actually match the scale of the problem.

This film series will present the interviews of each of the seven thinkers, including Derrick Jensen, Stephanie McMillan, Lierre Keith, Arundhati Roy, Thomas Linzey, Aric McBay, and Waziyatawin, followed by an in-depth group discussion of each of the ideas presented.

– – – – – – – – – –

In our first installment, we welcome you to watch the interview with Thomas Linzey, executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

CELDF has worked with hundreds of communities across the United States and the world facing unwanted corporate development projects such as chemical trespass, factory farms, gas drilling and fracking, mining, and sewage sludge. CELDF has now become the principal advisor to activists, community groups, and municipal governments struggling to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stopping those harms by asserting local, democratic control directly over corporations.

In November 2010, CELDF worked with the City of Pittsburgh to become the first community in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

In this interview, Thomas Linzey presents the CELDF model and discusses how communities can dismantle corporate “rights” by recognizing and asserting the rights of their community and the rights of nature.

– – – – – – – – – –

This event is free and open to the public. For space accommodation please be sure to RSVP. If you have any questions, need directions, or need any further information, please contact us at dgrnewyork@riseup.net

Monday, September 30th, 2013
7pm – 9 pm

Bellevue Hospital: Room A-342
462 1st Avenue
(between East 26th/28th)

Beautiful Justice: No Heart Unbroken

By Ben Barker / Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin

By Ben Barker / Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin

I wish this was just a nightmare. My friend is gone and I want her back. She was killed several weeks ago—violently, sadistically, suddenly—and for several weeks I’ve been crying. My head keeps shaking. I whisper to myself: “No. No. No.” Over and over. More than anything else right now, I want this to not be real. But it is the victim herself who would have been the first to remind me: men’s violence against women, the cruelty of this culture, is all too real.

The pain of the world has come home. What words could do it justice? I dredged some up to speak at her funeral, but even then this tragedy felt like a bad dream. It still does.

Just one night before her death, we were making dinner plans for the coming week. Just a few days before that, we were on the phone expressing how much we’ve missed one another. “I’m listening to Regina Spektor and thinking of you,” I said. “Aw, thank you for thinking of me,” she said. “I’d love to see you soon.”

After one unfathomable instance, after one piece of the most horrible of news, our plans are shattered, our relationship gone, my heart broken.

Jessie and I met because we both wanted to change the world; because we both believed that, in the words of a feminist writer we mutually admired, “there are certain kinds of pain that people should not have to endure.”

With her easy smile, a lot of laughter, and a propensity to start so many deeply profound conversations in one sitting, Jessie was a gust of wonder, passion, and beauty. She asked the big questions and, as best she could, tried to live out the answers every day. Her wish was only for others to try, too.

The personal and political were inseparable for Jessie. She was at once a musician, an activist, a daughter, and a friend. She was so much more than any one title could describe. And every aspect of who she was depended on the other; their coming together is what made her life as rich as it was, what made her as dynamic a person as she was, what moved her to change her corner of the world, as she did.

Continue reading

Civilization is a pragmatic vampire

By Jonah Mix / DGR Bellingham

By Jonah Mix / DGR Bellingham

Henry Ford is a shining example of two great American traditions: Amoral, hardheaded industrialism and unapologetic racial hatred. He hated Jews; his pamphlet The International Jew was singularly responsible for the anti-Semitism of Hitler Youth Leader and mass murderer Baldur von Schirach, while the Holocaust’s chief architect, Heinrich Himmler, praised Ford as a “great man” and “one of our most valuable, important, [and] clever fighters.” He hated the disabled; along with John Kellog, Andrew Carnegie, Woodrow Wilson, and dozens of other illustrious Americans, Ford openly advocated for the obligatory sterilization and involuntary imprisonment of the mentally ill and retarded, as well as unwed mothers and criminals with brown skin. I’ll let the reader guess how he felt about immigrants, homosexuals, and people of color; let’s just remember that Hitler proudly proclaimed in 1938, “I shall do my best to put [Ford’s] theories into practice in Germany.” This might be a good time to mention that I’ve now written two essays that mention Henry Ford – the first was in seventh grade, when I picked his name off a sheet of potential subjects in my history class. It was labeled “American Heroes.”

Henry Ford hated a lot of people – Jews, women, the poor, immigrants – but that didn’t stop him from utilizing them as easy fodder in his factories. He often paid black teenagers half wages to work on steel presses, partly because it was easier to unleash crooked cops on them if they tried to form a union. Unwed mothers who escaped sterilization and imprisonment often performed menial labor, both on the factory floor as cleaners and outside as unofficially corporate-sponsored sex workers. Men who had lost limbs, either in the war or in Ford’s own steel presses, occasionally worked for slave wages. Ford’s corporate website refers to this history as one of “diversity and inclusion.” When Henry Ford died, he was worth 188 billion dollars.

Where did Henry Ford’s hate end and his business sense start? Derrick Jensen once said that hatred, if felt long enough, just feels like economics. Wherever the line between the two falls, one thing is certain: a vicious practicality underlies both. The famously industrious anti-Semite undoubtedly hated people of color, and his hatred almost certainly allowed him to rationalize to himself and others their continued exploitation – but mangled hands and broken limbs also objectively cost less when they were brown instead of white. Ford had a deep personal hatred of labor organizers, but simple pragmatism was all that one would need to call for the savage beating of unarmed men and women, as he proudly did at the Battle of the Overpass in 1937. Sustained brutality and intimidation was the best way to keep his factories running smoothly. These choices were as much business moves as his later decision to move away from ethanol and towards gasoline. Gasoline goes into an engine because that’s the best way to make an engine run. Young black bodies get destroyed by steel presses because that’s the best way to get steel made. Indigenous people die of cancer when toxic waste is dumped into their rivers and forests because that’s the best way to get rid of toxic waste. The planet is ripped apart and hollowed out because that’s the best way to get at what’s inside.

Continue reading

An Open Letter to Fellow Environmentalists

By Alex Budd

The earth isn’t dying; it is being killed. And “clean energy” will only make things worse.

I should probably begin by introducing myself; my name is Alex, and I’m a recovering renewable energy advocate. For years, I was a victim of desperation and hope; I petitioned and parlayed, chanted and canvassed; I brimmed with excitement at the prospect of “green jobs” and a “renewable energy economy.” I still see much of myself in many of you.

I know what it’s like. I know exactly how it feels to look around and see a world not just dying but being suffocated, being tortured and maimed, sacrificed on the twin altars of profit and production. As a young person today, I know what it’s like to fear the future, to fear for my future. I—like many of you—have read all the studies and reports I need to see to know what’s coming, what disaster is now screaming, all but unchallenged, down the track upon us.

I know what it’s like to want a way out, a path from this desert of despair to something, anything that will shift us from the deadly course our society is on, some simple solution, the kind of sane idea that even a politician could support.

Like many of you, for years I thought “clean energy” was the answer to the despair that weighs heavier on our collective shoulders and conscience every day. It seemed realistic. It seemed achievable. It seemed aesthetic. And most importantly, I thought it would save the planet.

And I was dedicated whole-heartedly. When I was 14, I volunteered with The Climate Project, a grassroots climate-education initiative created by Al Gore to “awake the masses” to the threat of global warming. I went to classrooms, churches and community centers for years, preaching the good gospel of “green” energy, that we just needed to elect some compassionate democrats. I wrote letters to the editor, hoping to inspire people to be climate voters. I went to city council to beg, and organized protests to demand that the authorities swap the local coal plant for some 21st century renewable energy.

Continue reading

Why I Fight – A Personal Essay

By Jonah Mix / Deep Green Resistance Bellingham

By Jonah Mix / Deep Green Resistance Bellingham

“Their blind gaze, the diminutive gold disc without expression and nonetheless terribly shining, went through me like a message: “Save us, save us.” I caught myself mumbling words of advice, conveying childish hopes. They continued to look at me, immobile; from time to time the rosy branches of the gills stiffened. In that instant I felt a muted pain; perhaps they were seeing me, attracting my strength to penetrate into the impenetrable thing of their lives. They were not human beings, but I had found in no animal such a profound relation with myself. The axolotls were like witnesses of something, and at time like horrible judges.”

-Julio Cortázar, Axolotl

I want to talk to you about axolotls, but in a way I can’t. They have to be seen. I’ve only seen one in my life, at an aquarium 2,831 miles away from their ancestral home at Lake Xochimilco in Central Mexico. There is one other lake where axolotls once lived, Lake Chalco, but it no longer exists. I’ll get to that soon.

There’s something in the face of an axolotl that is blessedly human – or, perhaps, there is something in the face of human beings that reflects the beauty of axolotls. Their neotonic bodies and knowing expressions transcend any notion of age or era. Ominously primordial, with their slow gait and mournful gaze, axolotls feel less like animals and more like manifestations of the Earth itself, incarnations of the rivers and lakes of their perpetual youth.

I first learned of them through Julio Cortazar’s story quoted above. I encourage everyone I know to read it. It’s a beautiful piece, full of incredible prose and disquieting sensuality. It’s also a requiem for these little salamanders. Even in Cortazar’s time they were dying, being found more in aquariums and fish tanks than the bodies of water where they had lived for millennia. The ancient lake Chalco, once the center of early Mesoamerican culture, is gone now, drained to prevent flooding in new housing and business developments. Xochimilco is a shadow of its former self, existing mostly as canals and shallow, oil-slicked pools. Pollution, urban sprawl, and encroaching industrial development will rid the world of wild axolotls soon. Look into the face of an axolotl. It carries the judgment that we deserve.

In Nahuatl, the intricate and beautiful language of indigenous central Mexicans, axolotl means “river monster.” And now the Nahua people are being slaughtered, exported as modern-day slaves and driven off their land. The axolotl is dying with them.

Continue reading