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Excerpt from Endgame

The First Step (p. 716)

From chapter "What It Means to Be Human"

To reach the middle of the ocean, those in power must have oil to run their ships and metals to build them. To deforest, they must have gasoline to power their chainsaws and metals to build the saws. No oil, and the ships have no capability to reach the center of the ocean, which means that the oceans can begin to live again. No oil, and chainsaws sputter—actually they don’t even do that— and forests must only contend with local use. If those in power have no oil, they cannot rebuild the dams we remove. Part of taking down civilization is the destruction of the oil economy.

Of course in the longer run we must remember how to live in place with what the land willingly gives, but before we can even seriously think about doing that we must remove this threat to the entire planet. To do otherwise is the equivalent of trying to decide how we shall live next summer as we ignore the upraised butcher’s knife in front of us.

The first step in taking down civilization is to realize in our own hearts and minds that the dictionaries lied to us, that civilization is not “a high stage of social and cultural development,”or “a developed or advanced state of human society.”I am not talking about convincing some hypothetical mass movement of people, which will not happen within this culture. As I said earlier, when fathers are raping daughters, when lovers are beating those they purport to love, there is no hope for the salmon. I am talking about me realizing this in my own heart, and you realizing it in yours.

The next step in taking down civilization is finding a few other people who feel the same. It is hard enough to take on this entire abusive social structure— where everything is set up to protect the abusers—without having to fight our friends as well. It can be lifesaving to have friends who will say, and mean, with courage, love, and determination glistening in their eyes, “Yes, it is unacceptable to me that salmon be exterminated from this river. I will do what it takes to save them.” I am talking about small groups of people—small enough to know and trust each other with your very lives—coming to this understanding, and beginning to act upon it.

Next, taking down civilization means understanding that we are in the midst of a war, that war was long ago declared on the natural world, including on humans, and that we must fight back. I am not speaking metaphorically.