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Deep Green Resistance in the UK
16th April 2014
Had enough of being a 'good environmental liberal' - trying to do the right thing while the world gets ever worse? Adam Herriott argues for a Deep Green Resistance that attacks the power structures that perpetrate environmental destruction.
No matter how much positive stuff that we do or 'try to change the system from the inside', the destruction of our world continues.
After 50 years of the modern environmental movement, life on this planet teeters on the brink of total collapse. And it's being pushed: by capitalism, by patriarchy, by industrial civilization.
Any movement worth the name will push back. With everything left to lose, and a whole world to gain, we need to push back hard and we need to push back now.
One response to this is Deep Green Resistance (DGR): an analysis, a strategy, and the only organization of its kind. As an analysis, it reveals civilization as the institution that is destroying life on Earth.
As a strategy, it offers a concrete plan for how to stop that destruction. As an organisation, Deep Green Resistance is implementing that strategy.
We have all been 'good environmental liberals'
The DGR movement started in 2011 with the release of the book Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Aric McBay.
The UK chapter (DGR UK) formed in early 2013 so its very early days but everyone involved knows that some of us must try to stop the destruction of our world.
Since then, the chapter has begun networking for action: attending environmentalist gatherings, participating in blockades, being the voice of promotion for decisive disruption of industrial infrastructure.
Its members have all been good environmental liberals. We've recycled, tried not drive too much or go on too many flights, we've gone on climate change, anti nuclear and anti badger cull protests, grown our own food, some have been involved in Transition Town and Permaculture groups.
A few have wwoofed on organic farms and eco-communities. One member has worked for the UN and EU, another in the UK Parliament.
"Rather then trying to erode the material basis of power, we've been hoping that eventually they will run out of bad things to do, and perhaps then they will come round to our way of thinking." (1)
But does it make any difference?
What we have all realised is that no matter how much positive stuff that we do or 'try to change the system from the inside', the destruction of our world continues. Britain is our home and it is being devastated by coal mining, road building, pollution, deforestation, nuclear waste, fracking and more.
Those in power don't seem capable of considering the consequences. Where is the democracy when these decisions are made. The State which is meant to be serving the people of Britain but obviously isn't prepared to make the changes that are needed.
DGR now has above-ground chapters all over the world. You may be asking yourself, "Why do we need another umbrella organisation?" The key difference between DGR and other environmental and social justice groups is that we have a broad long term strategy.
Seizing the initiative
This is called Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW). It has two main goals.
- The first is to disrupt and dismantle industrial civilization, to remove the ability of the powerful to exploit the marginalised and destroy the planet.
- The second is to defend and rebuild just, sustainable, autonomous human communities, and to assist in the recovery of the land. For more details read the strategy online.
The DEW strategy is based on the fact that industrial civilisation is collapsing anyway. We in DGR believe that if it left to collapse on its own there is no chance of a liveable planet in the future. We are argue that this collapse needs to be sped up so as much life as possible might survive.
When we say dismantle industrial civilisation, DGR is advocating for a separate underground network to strategically sabotage infrastructure.
DGR believes the coordinated and repeated attacks against systemic weak points or bottle necks by an underground network, can cause systems disruption and cascading systems failure, resulting in the collapse of industrial activity and civilisation.
The DGR book looks at past and present resistance movements and draws on what worked and what didn't.
"Direct actions against strategic infrastructure is a basic tactic of both military and insurgents the world over for the reason that it works." (2)
An example - taking Kingsnorth power station
The best UK example of what we are advocating for is the 2008 solo action against Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent. Someone climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading "no new coal".
This person walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence. Their actions halted power for four hours and illustrate the potential which direct action has to really make people sit up and notice. This action also shows the vulnerability of industrial infrastructure and what's possible if someone is motivated enough.
But such actions alone are not enough. In the words of Derrick Jensen "We need it all". Aboveground / underground, the militants and the nonviolent, the frontline activists and the cultural workers. As the systems that supply peoples needs unravel communities need to be supported to adapt to the change.
DGR does not have any ambition to take power. We hope for a dramatic reduction in complexity so that people live in decentralised human scale communities that work to allow our world's ecosystems to recover.
So those in DGR the aboveground organisation are exploring options for alternative food/water systems and governance structures. There are many people already doing great work around this in Transition, permaculture and eco-community groups.
"A sustainable and just society cannot be a consumer society, it cannot be driven by market forces, it must have relatively little international trade and no economic growth at all, it must be made up of small local economies." (2)
Civilization and patriarchy
Oh and if bringing an end to industrial civilisation wasn't enough then how about dismantling gender as well? DGR is a radical feminist organisation which believes that gender is a socially created hierarchy. Civilisation results in men dominating and domesticating women, animals and the land.
"Patriarchy is a political system that takes biological males and females and turns them into the social categories called men and women, so that the class of men can dominate "people called women." (3)
There has been a bit of controversy around having safe spaces for women at DGR gatherings but we make no apologies for this. We do not think of DGR as a panacea.
We believe there are many groups doing great work out there and that it will take many more working in tandem to bring down the system we currently live in.
Adam Herriott is the Deep Green Resistance UK coordinator and is involved in anti-nuclear and anti-industrial biofuels campaigns in and around Bristol. He currently works for a local organic veg box scheme in Bristol.
He has also worked as a Parliamentary Manager for the legislators organisation GLOBE International/UK. He has been involved in Transition Brixton and Edinburgh. He has volunteered at a number of organic farms and intentional communities around the UK, and also lived at an eco intentional community in SW Wales. He has studied Permaculture with a particular interest in People Care.
This article was originally published in The Land magazine.
- Aric McBay, Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet,2011. Seven Stories Press, US.
- Derrick Jensen, Deep Green Resistance: A Strategy to Save the Planet, 2011. Seven Stories Press, US.
- Lierre Keith, DGR Radical Feminist FAQs.
More information: Deep Green Resistance UK.
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