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Excerpt from Dreams

Softening the Enemy (p. 395)

From chapter "Blasphemy"

A few months ago I was talking with my friend Waziyatawin about how much each of us gets attacked, primarily by those who pretend to be on our side. My “weirdness” folder now contains more than a thousand e-mails—only two from right-wingers—attacking me for everything from not being a dogmatic-enough anarchist; to my having used the word “panties” in one of my books instead of the phrase “women’s underpants” (“No true feminist would ever use the word panties!”); to the fact that I write books at all (“When are you going to do something majorly illegal, Mr. Jensen?”); to my expressed belief that resistance is not only necessary but possible (You wouldn’t believe, or maybe you would, how many “lifestyle activists” have written me angry letters stridently arguing that we must not resist because resistance never works. The letters have always seemed to be protesting a bit too much; if you think resistance never works, fine [not really], but then why is it so important to you to try to make sure no one else resists, either?).

Waziyatawin has suffered similar attacks. Sometimes she calls me and we commiserate. One day she was especially down, having been sharply attacked by ostensible allies for being “too militant” in the defense of her people.

I said, “Sometimes it helps me to remember that I’m putting myself in a position to be attacked so that those who follow won’t be.”

She asked me to explain.

I said, “In battle, sometimes you need to send wave after wave of troops to soften up your enemy so that the troops who come after are able to win. That’s our job: to rhetorically soften up the enemy so that others don’t have to. The first, second, and third people who say something make it possible for the fourth, fifth, and sixth to accomplish something. There’s that great line by Gandhi about how at first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they attack you, and then you win—within a capitalist culture I’d add a stage where they attempt to co-opt the ideas to use in marketing campaigns.”

Which brings us to one of the reasons I knew I had to write this book: my blaspheming against the tenets of the cult of the scientific, materialist, instrumentalist, mechanistic, managerial perspective may make it easier for others to also blaspheme, to trust their own experiences, to open up to nonsociopathic and far more complex relationships with the living world that (who) this culture insists isn’t really living, and with other sides this culture insists don’t exist.

Just tonight I received a note that read: “I am a logger. DO NOT HATE ME YET! The trees won, I broke my back twice on the job (20 years ago now). Don’t laugh, I know you know they did it to me. In fact, without doubt, two freshly cut long logs from the same tree screamed out to me to move away from them once, which saved my life. I had just hooked them both to a choker and sent them up a mountain and despite this they saved me. Until this very moment I’ve pretended that never happened. I never told that to anyone. Not ever.”

This silencing of our experience is crucial to the continuation of this culture.