There is work to be done—desperately important work—aboveground and underground, in the legal sphere and the economic realm, locally and internationally. We must not be divided by a diversionary split between radicalism and reformism. One more time: the most militant strategy is not always the most radical or the most effective. The divide between militance and nonviolence does not have to destroy the possibility of joint action. People of conscience can disagree. They can also respectfully choose to work in different arenas requiring different tactics. I can think of no scenario in which a program to provide school cafeterias with food straight from local, grass-based farms would be advanced by explosives. In contrast, a project to save the salmon would do well to consider such an option.
Every movement for justice struggles with the subject. Violence, including property destruction, should not be undertaken without serious reflection and ethical, even spiritual, investigation. Better to accept that as individuals we will arrive at different answers—but that we have to build a successful movement despite those differences.
That shouldn’t be hard, considering that this entire culture has to be replaced. We need every level of action and every passion brought to bear. The Spanish Anarchists stand as a great example of a broad and deep effort to transform an entire society. Writes Murray Bookchin, “The great majority of these [affinity] groups were not engaged in terrorist actions. Their activities were limited mainly to general propaganda and to the painstaking but indispensable job of winning over individual converts.”10 The café was where all that discussion and proselytizing happened, just as it happened in pubs for the Irish and the IRA. The anarchists in Barcelona took over railroads, factories, public utilities, retail and wholesale businesses, and ran them by workers’ committees. They also created their own police force to patrol their neighborhoods, and revolutionary tribunals to mete out justice. Before the Fascist victory, the anarchists in Andalusia created communal land tenure arrangements, stopped using money for internal exchange of goods, and established directly democratic popular assemblies for their governance. They also started over fifty alternative schools across the country. Their educational ideas spread through Europe, landing in England where they were taken up by A. S. Neil at his famous Summerhill. From there, the concept of free schools migrated to the US. If you are involved with any student-directed, alternative education, you are a direct descendent of the Spanish Anarchists.
Every institution across this culture must be reworked or replaced by people whose loyalty to the planet and to justice is absolute. A DGR movement understands the necessity of both aboveground and underground work, of confronting unjust institutions as well as building alternative institutions, of every effort to transform the economic, political, and social spheres of this culture. Whatever you are called to do, it needs to be done.
It is unlikely that a political candidate on the national or even state level will have a chance of winning on a platform of truth telling, at least not in the United States. The industrial world needs to reduce its energy consumption to that of Brazil or Sri Lanka. That this reduction is inevitable doesn’t make it any more palatable to the average American, who will likely only give up his entitlement when it’s pried from his cold, dead fingers.11At the local level, the political process may be more amenable to radical truth telling, especially in progressive enclaves. For those with the skills and interest, running for local office could yield results worth the effort. It could also scale up to other communities. What kinds of institutional change could be affected at the local level is a question worth asking.
From outside, a vast amount of pressure is needed to stop fossil fuel and other industrial extractions. Legislative initiatives, boycotts, direct action, and civil disobedience must be priorities. We need to form groups like Climate Camp, which started in 2006 with a teach-in and protest at a coal-fired plant in West Yorkshire, England. They’ve blockaded the European Carbon Exchange in London, protested runway expansion at Heathrow Airport, and are taking action against BP for its participation in the tar sands. In their own words,
The climate crisis cannot be solved by relying on governments and big businesses with their “techno-fixes” and other market-driven approaches.… We must therefore take responsibility for averting climate change, taking individual and collective action against its root causes and to develop our own truly sustainable and socially just solutions. We must act together and in solidarity with all affected communities—workers, farmers, indigenous peoples and many others—in Britain and throughout the world.12
If the referendums and court decisions and market solutions fail, if the civil disobedience and blockades aren’t enough, a Deep Green Resistance is willing to take the next step to stop the perpetrators.
In the UK, someone is feeling the urgency. On April 12, 2010, the machinery at Mainshill coal site was sabotaged, machinery that was Mordorian in its destructive power: “a 170 tonne face scrapping earth mover.” The coal was slated for the Drax Power Station, “recognised as the most polluting in the UK.”13
Sabotage against the coal industry will continue until its expansion is halted.
This is a simple vow, an “I do” to every living creature. Deep Green Resistance remembers that love is a verb, a verb that must call us to action.