Q: What might distinguish an anticivilization resistance from other popular movements that those in power have successfully overpowered COINTELPRO-style? Do people have new strategies and tactics that can stand up to these new systems and technologies?
Derrick Jensen: Frankly, no. People now have a tremendous disadvantage over people in the past in that people now live inside a panopticon. The ability to surveil and to kill at a distance has greatly increased over what it was in times past. Contrast the powers of the state at present with those, say, in Nazi Germany. For the Nazis, fingerprint technology was still very new. They had nothing like the capacity to surveil that modern states have. They had only rudimentary computers. They didn’t have voice recognition software. They didn’t have any software. So those in power have a tremendous advantage over historical popular movements.
Indigenous and traditional resistance movements had villages where they could be safe. They had wild places where they could be safe. They had their own territory. People now don’t have that. They do, however, have a significant advantage over the indigenous resistance movements of the last five hundred years in that they mix in. Tecumseh could not have walked into Philadelphia and not been recognized as different. People today have that advantage.
But the biggest advantage that people today have over people in times previous is that the age of exuberance is over. The age of cheap oil is over. The empires of today are on their way to collapse. It used to seem that as civilization dissolved, anyone who even remotely opposed it would be put up against a wall. But now it looks as though as civilization falls apart, its emperors may not even be able to deliver the mail, much less maintain the level of oppression that they have historically perpetrated on those who oppose empire. Think of the collapse of the Soviet Union; it just sort of fell apart instead of instigating purges or gulags. The Soviet Union didn’t have the resources.
Even the United States is falling apart. The US government can’t maintain the water systems in this country and it can’t maintain the roads. State and federal governments can’t pay for colleges anymore. Those in power don’t have the money, and they don’t have the resources, and those resources will never come back.
If someone would have taken out some important piece of infrastructure in years past, those in power would have been able to replace it. But now the governments of the world don’t have the money. The more they spend on rebuilding, the less primary damage they can do.