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Excerpt from Deep Green Resistance

Deep Green Resistance Preface (p. 11)

From chapter "Part I: Resistance"

Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just do not dare express themselves as we did.

—Sophie Scholl, The White Rose Society

This book is about fighting back. The dominant culture—civilization—is killing the planet, and it is long past time for those of us who care about life on earth to begin taking the actions necessary to stop this culture from destroying every living being.

By now we all know the statistics and trends: 90 percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone, there is ten times as much plastic as phytoplankton in the oceans, 97 percent of native forests are destroyed, 98 percent of native grasslands are destroyed, amphibian populations are collapsing, migratory songbird populations are collapsing, mollusk populations are collapsing, fish populations are collapsing, and so on. Two hundred species are driven extinct each and every day. If we don’t know those statistics and trends, we should.

This culture destroys landbases. That’s what it does. When you think of Iraq, is the first thing that comes to mind cedar forests so thick that sunlight never touched the ground? One of the first written myths of this culture is about Gilgamesh deforesting the hills and valleys of Iraq to build a great city. The Arabian Peninsula used to be oak savannah. The Near East was heavily forested (we’ve all heard of the cedars of Lebanon). Greece was heavily forested. North Africa was heavily forested.

We’ll say it again: this culture destroys landbases.

And it won’t stop doing so because we ask nicely.

We don’t live in a democracy. And before you gasp at this blasphemy, ask yourself: Do governments better serve corporations or living beings? Does the judicial system hold CEOs accountable for their destructive, often murderous acts?

Here are a couple of riddles that aren’t very funny—Q: What do you get when you cross a long drug habit, a quick temper, and a gun? A: Two life terms for murder, earliest release date 2026. Q: What do you get when you cross two nation-states, a large corporation, forty tons of poison, and at least 8,000 dead human beings? A: Retirement, with full pay and benefits (Warren Anderson, CEO of Union Carbide, which caused the mass murder at Bhopal).

Do the rich face the same judicial system as you or I? Does life on earth have as much standing in a court as does a corporation?

We all know the answers to these questions.

And we know in our bones, if not our heads, that this culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. We—Aric, Lierre, and Derrick—have asked thousands upon thousands of people from all walks of life, from activists to students to people we meet on buses and planes, whether they believe this culture will undergo that voluntary transformation. Almost no one ever says yes.

If you care about life on this planet, and if you believe this culture won’t voluntarily cease to destroy it, how does that belief affect your methods of resistance?

Most people don’t know, because most people don’t talk about it.

This book talks about it: this book is about that shift in strategy, and tactics.

This book is about fighting back.

We must put our bodies and our lives between the industrial system and life on this planet. We must start to fight back. Those who come after, who inherit whatever’s left of the world once this culture has been stopped—whether through peak oil, economic collapse, ecological collapse, or the efforts of brave women and men resisting in alliance with the natural world—are going to judge us by the health of the landbase, by what we leave behind. They’re not going to care how you or I lived our lives. They’re not going to care how hard we tried. They’re not going to care whether we were nice people. They’re not going to care whether we were nonviolent or violent. They’re not going to care whether we grieved the murder of the planet. They’re not going to care whether we were enlightened or not. They’re not going to care what sort of excuses we had to not act (e.g., “I’m too stressed to think about it,” or “It’s too big and scary,” or “I’m too busy,” or “But those in power will kill us if we effectively act against them,” or “If we fight back, we run the risk of becoming like they are,” or “But I recycled,” or any of a thousand other excuses we’ve all heard too many times). They’re not going to care how simply we lived. They’re not going to care how pure we were in thought or action. They’re not going to care if we became the change we wished to see. They’re not going to care whether we voted Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or not at all. They’re not going to care if we wrote really big books about it. They’re not going to care whether we had “compassion” for the CEOs and politicians running this deathly economy.

They’re going to care whether they can breathe the air and drink the water. We can fantasize all we want about some great turning, but if the people (including the nonhuman people) can’t breathe, it doesn’t matter.

* * *

Every new study reveals that global warming is happening far more quickly than was previously anticipated. Staid scientists are now suggesting the real possibility of billions of human beings being killed off by what some are calling a Climate Holocaust. A recently released study suggests an increase in temperatures of 16°C (30°F) by the year 2100.

We are not talking about this culture killing humans, and indeed the planet, sometime in the far-distant future. This is the future that children born today will see, and suffer, in their lifetimes.

Honestly, is this culture worth more than the lives of your own children?

* * *

In The Nazi Doctors, Robert Jay Lifton explored how it was that men who had taken the Hippocratic Oath could lend their skills to concentration camps where inmates were worked to death or killed in assembly lines. He found that many of the doctors honestly cared for their charges, and did everything within their power—which means pathetically little—to make life better for the inmates. If an inmate got sick, they might give the inmate an aspirin to lick. They might put the inmate to bed for a day or two (but not for too long or the inmate might be “selected” for murder). If the patient had a contagious disease, they might kill the patient to keep the disease from spreading. All of this made sense within the confines of Auschwitz. The doctors, once again, did everything they could to help the inmates, except for the most important thing of all: They never questioned the existence of Auschwitz itself. They never questioned working the inmates to death. They never questioned starving them to death. They never questioned imprisoning them. They never questioned torturing them. They never questioned the existence of a culture that would lead to these atrocities. They never questioned the logic that leads inevitably to the electrified fences, the gas chambers, the bullets in the brain.

We as environmentalists do the same. We fight as hard as we can to protect the places we love, using the tools of the system the best that we can. Yet we do not do the most important thing of all: We do not question the existence of this deathly culture. We do not question the existence of an economic and social system that is working the world to death, that is starving it to death, that is imprisoning it, that is torturing it. We never question the logic that leads inevitably to clear-cuts, murdered oceans, loss of topsoil, dammed rivers, poisoned aquifers.

And we certainly don’t act to stop these horrors.

How do you stop global warming that is caused in great measure by the burning of oil and gas? If you ask any reasonably intelligent seven-year-old, that child should be able to give you the obvious answer. But if you ask any reasonably intelligent thirty-five-year-old who works for a green high-tech consulting corporation, you’ll probably receive an answer that helps the corporation more than the real, physical world.

When most people in this culture ask, “How can we stop global warming?” they aren’t really asking what they pretend they’re asking. They are instead asking, “How can we stop global warming without stopping the burning of oil and gas, without stopping the industrial infrastructure, without stopping this omnicidal system?” The answer: you can’t.

Here’s yet another way to look at it: What would you do if space aliens had invaded this planet, and they were vacuuming the oceans, and scalping native forests, and putting dams on every river, and changing the climate, and putting dioxin and dozens of other carcinogens into every mother’s breast milk, and into the flesh of your children, lover, mother, father, brother, sister, friends, into your own flesh? Would you resist? If there existed a resistance movement, would you join it? If not, why not? How much worse would the damage have to get before you would stop those who were killing the planet, killing those you love, killing you?

Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are already gone. Where is your threshold for resistance? Is it 91 percent? 92? 93? 94? Would you wait till they had killed off 95 percent? 96? 97? 98? 99? How about 100 percent? Would you fight back then?

By asking these questions we are in no way implying that people should not try to work within the system to slow this culture’s destructiveness. Right now a large energy corporation, state and federal governments, local Indian nations, and various interest groups (from environmental organizations to fishermen to farmers) are negotiating to remove five dams on the Klamath River within the next fifteen years (whether salmon will survive that long is dubious). That’s something. That’s important.

But there are 2 million dams in the United States alone; 60,000 of those dams are taller than thirteen feet, and 70,000 are taller than six feet. If we only took out one of those 70,000 dams per day, it would take us 200 years. Salmon don’t have that time. Sturgeon don’t have that time.

If salmon could take on human manifestation, what would they do?

This book is about fighting back.

And what do we mean by fighting back? As we’ll explore in this book, it means first and foremost thinking and feeling for ourselves, finding who and what we love, and figuring out how best to defend our beloved, using the means that are appropriate and necessary. The strategy of Deep Green Resistance (DGR) starts by acknowledging the dire circumstances that industrial civilization has created for life on this planet. The goal of DGR is to deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet. It also means defending and rebuilding just and sustainable human communities nestled inside repaired and restored landbases. This is a vast undertaking, but it can be done. Industrial civilization can be stopped.

* * *

People routinely approach each of this book’s authors—Aric, Lierre, and Derrick—and tell us how their hope and despair have merged into one. They no longer want to do everything they can to protect the places they love, everything, that is, except the most important thing of all: to bring down the culture itself. They want to go on the offensive. They want to stop this culture in its tracks. But they don’t know how.

This book is about creating a culture of resistance. And it’s about creating an actual resistance. It’s about creating the conditions for salmon to be able to return, for songbirds to be able to return, for amphibians to be able to return.

This book is about fighting back.

And this book is about winning.

* * *

Direct actions against strategic infrastructure is a basic tactic of both militaries and insurgents the world over for the simple reason that it works. But such actions alone are never a sufficient strategy for achieving a just outcome. This means that any strategy aiming for a just future must include a call to build direct democracies based on human rights and sustainable material cultures. The different branches of these resistance movements must work in tandem: the aboveground and belowground, the militants and the nonviolent, the frontline activists and the cultural workers. We need it all.

And we need courage. The word “courage” comes from the same root as coeur, the French word for heart. We need all the courage of which the human heart is capable, forged into both weapon and shield to defend what is left of this planet. And the lifeblood of courage is, of course, love.

So while this is a book about fighting back, in the end this is a book about love. The songbirds and the salmon need your heart, no matter how weary, because even a broken heart is still made of love. They need your heart because they are disappearing, slipping into that longest night of extinction, and the resistance is nowhere in sight. We will have to build that resistance from whatever comes to hand: whispers and prayers, history and dreams, from our bravest words and braver actions. It will be hard, there will be a cost, and in too many implacable dawns it will seem impossible. But we will have to do it anyway. So gather your heart and join with every living being. With love as our First Cause, how can we fail?

Continue reading the Deep Green Resistance book