Jason Doherty and Daniel Whittingstall: Green resistance can no longer afford to be futile

Why Deep Green Resistance Vancouver advocates for direct action against industrial civilization

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      The letter written by Ian Waddell in response to our view of the accomplishments achieved by the environmental movement, as thus far missing the mark and not being enough, and the concepts/strategies of radical resistance against the atrocities of industrial civilization, is typical. It’s the kind of response that’s been well rehearsed amongst neocolonial pacifists, who in the face of devastation and violence perpetrated by the very system which provides for their perceived freedoms, lack the conviction and desire to resist against that system.

      While Deep Green Resistance is strictly an above-ground nonviolent environmental and social activist group, we see the need to advocate for direct action. The usual advice from pacifists, given to those who have been forced into a place of defending their lives and the lives of the biological world, go something like this: “Violence only begets violence” or “We must be the change we wish to see” or “If you use violence against those who exploit you, you will become just like them” or “If violence is used, the media will only distort our message.” It would be outrageous to imply that a woman forcefully defending herself against a man attempting to brutally rape her becomes the rapist herself.

      “It is obscene to suggest that a tiger who kills a human at a zoo becomes like one of her captors.”
      - Derrick Jensen

      The same could be said of indigenous tribes who continue to resist by force against colonization and assimilation; would these tribes then become the very agency they fight against? Furthermore, when a forceful resistance counters the violence perpetrated by a corrupt and totalitarian regime, would this resistance then distort the underlying message of the need to remove the root causes of the destruction? Perhaps, if that system were not ruled by mad men with a death urge employed to propel them to greater heights of power. It’s impossible to mitigate this abusive or psychopathological behavior through rationalization, which has thus far been met with indifference. There should, however, be a clear distinction made between aimless hostility and constructive resistance. The ineffectual behavior of alienated dissidents who, with little to no strategic and decisive intentions, merely lash out against a society unwilling to change is completely unrepresentative of the culture and vision we desire to advocate.

      In Canada, the beneficiaries and “entitled” of this great colonization, over what was once free indigenous territories, continue to reap the gains of violence while their reluctance to acknowledge and retract what continues to be a totalitarian occupation grows. Would it not be ludicrous to assume, after decades of blatant disregard for the concerns and welfare of First Nations and of the land, that at some point a forceful resistance would not eventually ensue? Industrial civilization cannot exist without destroying its own land base and the land bases of others; it is based on the assumption of infinite growth and the disregard for a finite planet. In essence, industrial civilization has been founded upon and perpetuates violence for its own survival. The core ideologies and values of this system, that the Earth was made for man to do with as he wishes, and that we are entitled to all that Earth possesses—its land, its resources, and the uncivilized—to assimilate and use, must be exposed.

      With respect to what the environmental movement has accomplished thus far, it has not been enough. This is not to discredit the earnestness with which the movement has sought after or attempted in ending the destruction of ecosystems and biological life. Where the movement has and continues to focus on is the peripheries of industrial civilization, not the core of the system itself. The path of industrial civilization has yet to be abated. In reality it has only become stronger and farther reaching.

      In each example, given to us by Waddell, of the accomplishments achieved by specific environmental groups, it’s easy to see how they’ve been less than effective against the continual destruction of the planet. Yes certain areas of B.C. have been placed under environmental protection. Yes some old-growth forests have been saved from clear-cut logging, and these are important and commendable accomplishments. However, the fact still remains that industrial civilization continues to destroy old-growth forests, it continues to exploit natural resources for monetary gain, and it still expands its colonizing territories.

      Take the campaign to protect and save the Carmanah Valley from being logged for instance. This was indeed a victory won by the Wilderness Committee and local First Nations. However, the logging company that had been forced out of the region, MacMillan Bloedel, went on to log and clearcut forests throughout B.C. until they were eventually amalgamated into an even larger and destructive logging giant, Weyerhaeuser. While the Carmanah Valley struggle was a victory for the environmental movement on a small, local scale, it had only redirected the efforts of industrial logging to yet another area. The beast has only grown stronger and has yet to be stopped. It would be good to note here the presence of civil disobedience used in this conflict, which had been the primary forcing methods used for resisting the timber companies interests. Without these acts it would be hard to see how such a large corporate power could have relinquished its pricey stake in the area. These instances were, as Waddell would label them, “criminal acts”.

      Our struggle is not against environmental and social activist groups. We need everyone to get involved in this cause for the sake of our planet and future generations. This totalitarian system has caused an alarming degree of damage in a relatively short period of time. To frame our present situation here, we are currently converting large amounts of natural forest habitats into commodities, roughly 12 to 15 million hectares each year—“the equivalent of 36 football fields per minute”, according to WWF.

      We’re causing an alarming 200-plus species per day to be wiped off the face of the planet—forever. The global temperature and sea levels are rising, the glaciers are melting, our rivers and aquifers continue to be polluted, and ecosystems around the world are on the brink of collapse. The situation is urgent and threatens not only peoples livelihoods, but the survival of our species.

      The reluctance to act has for decades been tied up in the fear of retaliation from corporate and corrupt governmental powers. The real issue here is not between violent or nonviolent environmental groups, it’s between long-lasting effectiveness and the short-term moderation of the destructive and unbroken path of this system. Environmental groups up until now, though not intentionally, have merely moderated and relocated industrial civilization. Unfortunately this has only strengthened the tenacity of these exploitative activities, increasingly positioned now in more socially acceptable locations, and out of the sight and minds of the general public. Which is to simply say that the destruction has not been stopped. If we are to ensure a healthy and hospitable planet for generations to come, and an end to the oppression and degradation of indigenous peoples, we must strategically focus our efforts upon the core of industrial civilization. In order to stop this destructive system we need to address the roots of its perpetuation, its ideologies and values.

      As Lierre Keith has expressed so eloquently, “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”


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      Feb 1, 2013 at 3:58pm

      While I understand your alarm & frustration if I may direct you to History both First Nations & others for perhaps a Strategy for a more reasonable chance of success.

      [1] Governments particulary Western have & will vilify any First Nations who take direct 'Violent' stands as Terrorists & Criminals to be dealt with with the Full Force of their Armed Authorities, Police & Armies etc

      - Look at what the Violence of Colonization against FIrst Nations in North America,

      - Look at more recent excuses to wreck Violence of First Nations Leaders & their people...

      - Pine Ridge & the Peltier Case,

      - Anna Mae Pictou Aquash

      On February 24, 1976, during an early spring thaw, the dead body of Anna Mae Pictou was found by the side of State Road 73 on the far northeast corner of the Pine Ridge Reservation, about 10 miles from Wanblee, South Dakota. Although federal agents were present when the body was recovered, who knew Anna Mae, she was not identified.

      The Bureau of Indian Affairs' medical practitioner, W. O. Brown, missing the bullet wound on her skull, stated that she had died of exposure, and his autopsy report stated she had been dead for about ten days. Later, her hands were cut off and sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Washington, D.C. for fingerprinting and her body was buried as a "Jane Doe." Three days later she was positively identified, and five days later her family was notified that she had died "of natural causes."

      The family got a court order to have her exhumed and a second autopsy was performed, revealing the real cause of death: a single .32 calibur bullet fired at close range into her skull. Rumors from AIM members alleged she was killed by the FBI to discredit AIM leaders. The FBI leaked rumors that she was killed by AIM members because they thought she was an FBI informant. No charges were filed against anyone until nearly thirty years later.

      [2] Violence gives authorities to Execute First Nations no questions asked no accountability no Public sympathy from the General population thus no pressure for Accountability.

      [3] I suggest looking at both Gandi & Nelson Mandela as examples to change the 'System', Non-Violence but the most effective methods,

      That is the only way I believe you can succeed long term vs others & pacifiscts who are not applying Gandi & Mandela strategy they are just being pacifists no strategy.


      Feb 1, 2013 at 4:51pm

      Easily the funniest thing I've read in a long, long time.


      Feb 1, 2013 at 7:07pm

      re: "...the fact still remains that industrial civilization continues to destroy old-growth forests"

      True, and more importantly, the fact remains that HEMP is still HYPER-REGULATED by our insane GOVERNMENT.

      Hemp paper doesn't turn yellow with age and it would be cheaper to produce than paper from trees IF the government would just fully deregulate it. You can use hemp to make nearly everything we currently make by chopping down old-growth forests.

      In other words, if the government would get the hell out of the way of progress, there would be barely any logging going on!

      The STATE makes it profitable to hack down entire forests but all the "Green Resistance" wants to do is stand around, point at the free market and hurl veiled threats all day in the middle of traffic while holding the same tired-ass signs.

      Could you guys at the VERY LEAST least start printing your damn protest signs on hemp? Is that too much to ask?

      Maybe the Straight could set an example and print just ONE issue on hemp, just to make a point?

      Ben Barker

      Feb 2, 2013 at 7:24am

      Brilliant article! Thank you for your strong and honest words, Daniel and Jason.

      devils advocate

      Feb 2, 2013 at 10:05am

      definitely the funniest editorial Ive read in a long time...
      wonder what color the sky is in their world...??


      Feb 2, 2013 at 10:32am

      Protesting is just one option the most effective is to change CONSUMER BEHAVIOR over time.

      You need to use the Internet & Social Media to launch a long term PR campaign against the Industry to change Consumers purchasing habits.

      Look at the Organic Food movement after 40 odd years more and more people are going Organic every day!

      Look at the Jewish Community they have turned around hatred & disenfranchisement of their peoples to the point now that Western Governments who once actively discriminated against them and were indifferent to their plight are now the Primary supporters both Financial and Military of the Jewish homeland and people.

      These are long term examples using effective Strategy.

      Violence just gives authorities an excuse to repress people do not give them that excuse.

      I urge you to forgo any Violence and instead look at 100% effective peaceful strategy.

      Lee L.

      Feb 2, 2013 at 2:21pm

      Head up to Campbell River and travel north.
      Within a 10 minute drive, you'll encounter a road sign warning that the last gas station for many miles is coming up, implying you better fill up now or be prepared to be stranded.
      So you fill up and continue north. The land on the left and right of the roadway for an hour and a half high speed driving has no buildings, no septic fields, no Tim Hortons, no people ... in fact nothing but largely pristine second growth rain forest and the wildlife that lives in it. There is a stunning clear lake not far off the road near Telegraph cove, suitable for prime lakefront real estate with not one building on the shore. Oh it may have 4 windsurfers on it in high summer, but no boats or wharves or vacation amenities of any sort at all.

      This is a huge tree farm license, not unlike most in British Columbia. Now every 80 years, the trees will again be cut, and taxes will be paid to maintain your hospitals and welfare payments and MLA salaries, and it wont be a non invasive process. But for most of that 80 years, there will be a forest, there will be no development, and there will be space for wildlife and second growth ecology to flourish undisturbed.

      Ask yourself what that tract would be like if we DIDNT run a forest industry here?

      Lee L.

      Feb 2, 2013 at 2:48pm

      @Birdy: you said...

      "The STATE makes it profitable to hack down entire forests"

      "Could you guys at the VERY LEAST least start printing your damn protest signs on hemp? Is that too much to ask?"

      The STATE could make it profitable to chop down forests in the same way it makes it profitable to build run of the river power we dont really need, especially if it had something else to draw on to subsidize the activity. But in fact it doesnt. It is DEMAND for forest products that makes it profitable to log forests and to sequester them for many decades at a time.

      As for your appeal to Deep Green to use hemp for signs...
      I applaud your idea of promoting a better substitute rather than the old 'Down with the Corporations!!!' and sabotage approach.
      You might also try appealling to them to stop wearing Chinese running shoes, clothing,eyeglasses, bicycles or anyhthing else manufactured first. Good luck with that.

      Lee L.

      Feb 2, 2013 at 3:51pm

      I wonder if the authors who appear to subscribe to the idea in the quote they provide, ( as follows)..

      'As Lierre Keith has expressed so eloquently, “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”'

      have ever built anything rather than dismantled? Are studied enough in mathematics to critically read any of the original source science or ecnomomics papers that are the basis of their righteous calls to revolution or do they just parrot Derek Jensen and the Deep Left after having been radicalized as young people?

      Unfortunately, for me, their similarity to the dogma driven Taliban, its violent methods that may not be questioned, having been justified by holy writ, is too clear. If that seems over the top, then perhaps a comparison to the Squamish Five is more in order if not any less repugnant to consider.

      Daniel Whittingstall

      Feb 2, 2013 at 9:01pm

      That's funny Lee L.

      If you must know, Ive been a carpenter for the last fifteen or so years. Ive built dozens of single family homes and modular structures over the years as well as retrofitting existing homes and old used wood furniture, of which would have otherwise been demolished or thrown into landfills. Ive also built self-sufficient and sustainable dwellings and plan to build more. I am currently studying environmental sciences and social issues in college, while making plans for local community permaculture gardens in and around Vancouver and possibly a local recycling business for used wood furniture. Of the "original source science", and pier-reviewed, papers that I have read, scrutinized and cross referenced with countless others on environmental and social issues, I can say that I am studied enough to understand and draw my own conclusions from them. Im certainly not saying here though that I know everything or that Im the perfect role model, but at least Im working towards building a better future for myself and others while actively learning all I can of our current situation.

      While our response to misinterpretations of what our activist group stands for might seem like a "manifesto", it should be viewed as only one part of the many focuses we have. In fact, one of the main plans of action we have is the cultivation and building up of sustainable communities that are grounded in respect and equality for all life on earth. What would a resistance be if it did not have something to worth offering once the battle was over?