Endgame Premises Archives: 17: Don't base decisions on fence-sitters

It is a mistake (or more likely, denial) to base our decisions on whether actions arising from them will or won’t frighten fence-sitters,
or the mass of Americans.

Visit the global 17: Don't base decisions on fence-sitters archives for posts from all DGR sites.

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.

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Feel of Poppies

Words by A. Person; Music, edits and talking by Jordan B.

The way you felt about Game of Thrones, when that whole family was slaughtered – oh, no! – that’s how I feel most days. That’s how anyone feels when they turn away from the screen with such regularity (and long enough) to witness the most intricate, mass-scale human drama in the history of the Earth.

We stand at the end of an epoch, at the end of a civilization, at the end of an empire – at the start of something else. Nobody knows what will happen in the next season but people have got some inklings.

We’re moving into a new geological era – the sixth mass extinction spasm. Every civilization – man, beast, plant, rock, mineral, oil – is under silent siege. Everywhere you look, billions and billions of stories and we’re missing all of them while we stare at something that is not happening – that’s essentially a lie. It’s all in your minds.

What is happening is the planet is awash with slaves, and all of them are heroes just waiting to happen, if only we’d give it some of our attention. People told me that I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Indeed, that’s why I beg a hand in carrying it – spread the load around. But it’s not – people aren’t watching. They’re staring into bright lights like rabbits before impact and it freaks me out.

Because I am not watching Game of Thrones, I’m watching history rot itself and it’s the most thrilling, exhilarating, troubling, terrifying, evocative meta-story that’s ever been written. And it’s happening right here, right now, in real time.

The stories, the characters, the lives.

You think what happens on TV is bad, you should see what my granddad had to do with knives. You should see how your iPhone comes together – now there’s some stories. We’re wearing stories – slave stories. Every day new episodes. And if you did see it, you’d feel it every day. You might feel like I do.

We’re not so different, we’re just tuned into different stations.

I feel a bit alone when everyone’s tuned into Game of Thrones. I feel like everyone’s missing out, not only on watching the greatest drama on Earth unfold, but to participate in it, to script it ourselves.

While we watch the screen, the directors prime the scene – and it’s a very interesting scene. And we think the plot is so complex, not really up to us to figure out. But actually, it’s just all the background noise getting in the way of some very simple things. Slaves, profits. Cunning as foxes in a henhouse. Sweet deal.

There’s a ruse going on – it’s part of what makes the plot so exciting, fascinating, creepy. And the ruse is not so elaborate – it’s simple. Flash a light in their faces while you round them up for labor. Keep them distracted while you steal the land right out from underneath them. Justify the acquisition in a foreign dialect. Take by stealth and not by siege. Capture the people intact and have them do your work. Sabotage those who resist – kill them if you have to.

It’s in the killing where things get really interesting. A whole lot of killing going on. Lots of stories. The feelings.

If I’m the only one I know tuning into this show, is it really happening? I tell you where its up to and you look at me as if I’m crazy, like, “Where do I get all of this stuff from? These ideas, these opinions, these projections?”

What really freaks me out – and a lot of you do this – is when you look me in the eye and say, “It’s not happening.” The conspiracies, the theft, the propaganda wars, the homicides, the homicides, the homicides, the homicides. The lies. A colossal inter-species genocide – a holocaust. “Not happening.”

Tin-foil hat conspiratard, feminazi, luddite, greeny, hippie, feral, extremist, terrorist. Sheesh, man, I’m just watching the show. Game of Thrones is not actually happening.

Poppies, poppies will make them sleepy. Stare into the lights, my pretties.

See also Jordan B’s video adaptation of Derrick Jensen’s “Forget Shorter Showers”

Time is Short: Resistance Rewritten, Part II

By Lexy Garza and Rachel Ivey / Deep Green Resistance

By Lexy Garza and Rachel Ivey / Deep Green Resistance

This is the second part of a two piece series on strategic resistance. Read Part I here.

Humans are storytelling creatures, and our current strategy as a movement is a story, with a beginning, middle, and end.  We need to ask whether that story matches up with reality, and with the way social change has happened throughout history.

So here’s the story as it stands:

  • By raising awareness about the issues, we will create a shift in consciousness.
  • A shift in consciousness will spark a mass movement.
  • A mass movement can successfully end the murder of the planet by using exclusively pacifist tactics.

We all know this narrative, we hear it referenced all the time, and it resonates with a lot of people, but we need to examine it with a critical eye along with the historical narratives that are used to back it up. There are truths behind these ideas, but there is also the omission of truth, and we can decipher the interests of the historian by reading between the lines. Let’s take each piece of this narrative in turn to try and find out what’s been omitted and those interests that omission may be concealing.

So let’s start with the idea of “a shift in consciousness.”  The idea that we can educate society into a new and different state of consciousness has been popularized most recently by writers like David Korten, who bases his analysis on the idea:

“The term The Great Turning has come into widespread use to describe the awakening of a higher level of human consciousness and a human turn from an era of violence against people and nature to a new era of peace, justice and environmental restoration.”

Another way that this idea is often mentioned is in the form of the Hundredth Monkey myth. A primatologist named Lyall Watson wrote about a supposed phenomenon where monkeys on one island began teaching each other to wash sweet potatoes in the ocean before eating them. Myth has it that once the hundredth monkey learned to do it, monkeys on other islands who had no contact with the original potato washing monkeys spontaneously began washing potatoes, exhibiting a kind of tipping point or collective jump in consciousness. The existence of this phenomenon has been thoroughly debunked, and even Watson himself has admitted that he fabricated the myth using “very slim evidence and a great deal of hearsay.” This hasn’t stopped optimistic environmentalists from invoking the hundredth monkey phenomenon to defend the idea that through raising our collective consciousness, by getting through to that hundredth monkey, we’ll spark a great turning of humankind away from the behaviors that are killing the planet.

Unfortunately, this line of thinking doesn’t pan out historically. Let’s take the example of resistance against the Nazi regime and the genocide it committed. And let’s look at some omitted historical information. In 1952, after the Nuremberg Trials, after all of the information about the atrocities of the holocaust had become common knowledge, still only 20% of German citizens thought that resistance was justifiable during wartime which, under the Nazis or any other empire, is all the time. And mind you, the question was not whether they personally would participate in the resistance; it was whether they thought any resistance by anyone was justifiable.

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Time is Short: Nonviolence Can Work, But Not for Us

By Alex Rose / Deep Green Resistance Redwood Coast

By now we should all be familiar with what’s at stake. The horrific statistics—200 species driven extinct daily, every child born with hundreds of toxic chemicals already in their bodies, every living system on the planet in decline—haunt us as we go about our work in a world that refuses to hear, listen, or act on them. After decades of traditional organizing and activist work, we’re beginning to come to terms with the need for a dramatic shift in strategy and tactics, and indeed in how we conceptualize the task before us.

It is not enough any longer (if it ever was) to build a reformist social movement, one more faction among many attempting to fix the failings within our society. With industrial civilization literally tearing apart the biosphere and skinning the planet alive, we can afford no other goal than to build a resistance movement capable of—and determined to succeed in—bringing down industrial civilization, by any means necessary.

We know this will require decisive underground action to be successful, and starting all but from scratch, this begins with promoting the need for militant resistance; trying to garner acceptance and normalization of the fact that without militant resistance—including sabotage and direct attacks on key nodes of industrial infrastructure—there is little, if any, hope that earth will survive much longer.

However, the pervasive ideology of the dominant culture leaves most of its members unwilling to even consider dialogue on the topic of militant resistance, much less adopting it as a strategy. One manifestation of this is the all-too-widely held belief that nonviolent resistance is always more effective than violent resistance.

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