In our story, the first direct hit to industrial infrastructure is likely to be something more pragmatic and less daring, like the electric grid. Our actionists have planned well. Remember the four criteria for target selection: the grid is accessible, vulnerable, and critical, and while it is recuperable, the abundance of the first three criteria could potentially make that recuperability more theoretical than practical.
The underground networks can hit a few nodes at once, and the unconnected affinity groups, well versed in DEW and the DGR grand strategy, can follow up on the vulnerable targets to which they have access. The first DGR blackout could last days or even weeks.
An instructive event to consider from recent history is the Northeast Blackout of 2003. On August 14, a huge power surge caused a rolling blackout over a large section of northeastern US and Canada, affecting fifty-five million people. This event brought home how very delicate power grids are. Because electricity can’t really be stored, it has to be consumed within a second of being produced or else dumped. Supply and demand have to be matched very precisely or costly infrastructure can be seriously damaged by either too much or too little power. The grid has built-in protective relays to guard against flashovers, which disconnect any line that has a sudden surge in power. But with such tight correspondences, it’s amazing that any of us have reliable electricity.
August 14 saw a cascading failure that started with electric arcs between a few overhead lines and some trees in northeast Ohio. By the time the grid had finished responding, power plants all across the Northeast had gone offline and a full-fledged blackout was on. A total of 256 electric power plants shut down, and electricity generation dropped by 80 percent.
But the phrase “cascading failure” applies to a lot more than the grid. Oil refineries couldn’t operate and neither could the nine nuclear power plants in the region. Gas stations couldn’t pump gas. Air, rail, and even car traffic halted. The financial centers of Chicago and Manhattan were immobilized, and Wall Street was completely shut down. The Internet only worked for dial-up users, and then only as long as their batteries lasted.38 Most industries had to stop, and many weren’t running again until August 22. That last includes the auto industry. The major television and cable networks had disruptions in their broadcasts. In New York City, both restaurants and neighbors cooked up everything on hand and gave it away for free as the perishables were just going to have to be thrown out. Meanwhile, the Indigo Girls concert went on as planned in Central Park. And the New Jersey Turnpike stopped collecting tolls.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing any drawbacks here. The cascade was broad and deep, if short. Fossil fuel use was seriously decreased; nuclear power plants rendered useless; oil went unrefined in northern New Jersey, my child’s eyes’ vision of Mordor in that last whisper of wetlands; the rich were kept from draining the poor; and the flood of lies and vicious media images stopped drowning our hearts, our children, and our culture for a brief night. And there were parties with neighbors and music on top of that.
The DEW activists will be soundly condemned, and not just by the mainstream, but by Big Eco, and by many grassroots activists. This is to be expected. Our actionists need to prepare for it emotionally, socially, organizationally. It can’t be helped. Remember the goal: to disrupt and dismantle industrial civilization. Judged by that goal, our actionists’ first attack on the electric grid has been a raging success.
And nothing breeds success like success. More groups form, more cells divide in the network. Maybe a whole arm is dedicated to the grid while others go on to other targets. Like the tar sands. The pipelines carrying tar sands oil from Alberta to the coast are 800 miles long; sabotage is too easy. Meanwhile, the equipment necessary for the massive scale of the tar sands extraction is almost inconceivable: twenty stories high and counting. Some of it has to be carried on trucks with ninety tires on twenty-four axles, weighing a total of 917,000 pounds, which is so heavy that two auxiliary trucks are needed to help push.39 These trucks need special permits and are only allowed on the highway during daylight hours.
Our story is accelerating. A victory for the Tar Sands Brigade comes on the night the draglines are torched, and a few of the factories that make them are incinerated. Does Suncor get more? Yes. And those are burned as well, somewhere on their vulnerable route between their arrival point in Bellingham, Washington, and their departure point in Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Again, Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Eco all condemn the activists. The public overwhelmingly hates them. But in the Athabasca River, the northern pike and the tundra swans love them. More equipment is purchased. Our actionists respond by sinking the replacements on the boats before they even touch shore and, for added emphasis, a midnight demolition of a corporate headquarters or two. Native Athabasca Chipewyan and Mikisew Cree elders and more than a few Clan Mothers are smiling all week. The warriors, meanwhile, ask some questions, starting with: kakipewîcîhwin cî? Will you come and join me? It’s up to them to decide whether to move from protecting their community to offensive action. The young, of course, are all “Yes.” When the next DGR blackout rolls through the middle of the continent, a sudden blast blazes across the night as a key bridge comes down on Provincial Route 63. Try getting that million-pound equipment across the river now.
Only a few hundred people are involved at this point. There are three networks, one in the northeast US, one in the Pacific Northwest, and a smaller one in the upper Midwest. There are also affinity groups in Vancouver, Asheville, Burlington, Austin, Guelph, Montreal, and some of the First Nations’ warrior societies are now involved.
And in this story, there are people who want to join, but can’t. They make the decisions they have to make, and do what they can instead. They translate a scaled-down version of this book—the marrow, the soul—into Hindi and Spanish and Mandarin and Sámi. Deep Green Resistance becomes Résistance Verte Profonde and then Molaskaskwi Aodwagan, slipping south into Resistencia Verde Radical, crossing oceans into Djúpur Grænn Mótspyrna, Dunkelgrüner Widerstand, Mörktgrönt Motstånd, Paglaban Malalim Berde. The question only changes its sound, never its heart: K’widzawidzi nia? Ti unirai a me? Kayo ay sumali sa akin? The question is asked and asked and asked, whispered like a prayer in that moment the heart shifts from petition to thanksgiving: will you join me? Until “me” becomes “us,” because finally a resistance has quickened.
The resistance never loses sight of the targets, though it may lose combatants over it. Better to have a reliable few then an unstable more, especially when potentially dangerous activities are involved. The targets hold steady: fossil fuels, industrial logging, industrial fishing, industrial agriculture, and industrial capitalism.
Industrial logging is ripping the lungs from the earth, and the people from their homes. The Amazon rain forest once sheltered ten million indigenous, reduced now to under 200,000. If you want to talk about genocide, there is a trail of tears still wet with blood leading to the actual perpetrators: Mitsubishi, Georgia-Pacific, Unocal (now Chevron). Unocal, for instance, was sued by Burmese villagers for complicity in rape, torture, forced labor, and murder, abuses inflicted on them when Unocal put in its pipeline. They were also forcibly relocated, the happily ever after of this story every single time it is told.
DGR requires a trail of solidarity, a trail that is build up into a protective barrier, an unbreachable line of determination against industrial assault. Our actionists draw that line around every rainforest and every last stand of old growth, and they build that barrier with transfers of funds and training and materiel. They also build it with risks and courage, as corporate infrastructure is within reach of people in the United States and Canada, especially the white, native English speakers who can dress the part.
Industrial logging requires a chain of command, a flow of capital, specialized equipment, transportation routes, and end points in manufacturing centers. Every item in that list reads like a command to a general officer. Our actionists, steeped in strategy, understand what needs to be done, and some of the elves come out of the trees to join them, picking up the weapons of this war.
Industrial fishing is made possible by gigantic trawlers three stories high, with steel rollers on the bottom. The rollers crush everything, starting with the oceans’ forests, coral. Coral reefs are the oldest living communities on earth, some of them over fifty million years old. Read that again: fifty million years. They are home to one-quarter of ocean life.
Industrial fishing is the murder of the oceans along with the people who once subsisted on them. That murder—the vicious lines, the voracious nets, the silent drain of life—is an emergency that displaces metaphors. We use the oceans as a stand-in for anything vast, ineffable, eternal. But the vast is being emptied, the ineffable priced for pennies, and the eternal—fifty million years of it—is being crushed to dust.
And that murder has infrastructure, just like logging and oil and coal. It has a small handful of command centers, a few weapons manufacturers, some perpetrators, and some supply lines. Every DEW strike against fossil fuels and the electric grid will slow the industry down indirectly; direct attacks will bring it down faster. Remember this: there used to be whales in the Mediterranean. Will our children learn that there used to be fish in the ocean? Remember this as well: two out of three animal breaths are made possible by plankton, by the oxygen they produce. We owe everything to those tiny creatures, creatures whose home of water is acidifying with every hour that industrialization burns on. If the oceans go down, we go down with them.
Industrial agriculture may present fewer targets, but those targets are crucial to fish and forests and the last scraps of prairie. They’re also crucial for food security and cultural survival in the majority world. Fish are at risk because agriculture requires water, especially those Green Revolution crops, and that water is either pumped from aquifers or drained from dammed rivers. A dammed river is a dead river, and what dies first are the fish. Next to die are the trees that need the nutrients the fish bring. Trees also need the ground water that has now sunk a mile below the surface, drained out for cotton and rice. An engineered river is the exact opposite of a wetland, which were once the most species-dense habitats on the planet. Without the wetlands, the birds are gone. Rivers are essentially the blood of the world, pumped by a heart of seasonal floods and spring thaws, and their veins have been emptied for cheap agricultural commodities that leverage too well into power and wealth.
Many dams score high for industrial criticality. The Mississippi has been tamed into concrete not just for agricultural draws, but so that the waterway can be used for transport. Huge barges carrying grain travel downstream, out the Gulf, and around the world, while oil traces the opposite path. Dam removal is also critical for biotic survival, and the demolition of dams would be a cascading success for birds and fish, for wetlands and forests, for the disappearing deltas and the slim hope of prairies.
In our story, there are houses on those once and future floodplains. Our actionists warn people and warn them well, because DEW has to mean it. These are not symbolic attacks meant for media coverage. These are the last chances for that long, slow pulse of life now bleeding out around the globe.