giovedì 31 luglio 2014

Two spirits, one struggle: The front lines of being First Nations and gay

Shortly after coming out, dancer Tyler-Alan Jacobs was beaten so badly that his right eye was dislodged and the side of his face was caved in. Jacobs woke up in the hospital to the sight of his father leaving the room; his father couldn’t bear to look at him.

The pain was excruciating, and the $30,000 of reconstructive surgery would leave still-visible scars, but the fact that Jacobs had grown up with his attackers made the abuse even harder to move past. Jacobs, 29, is one of a few hundred Vancouverites that identify as two-spirit – a First Nations term for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, other gendered, and third/fourth gendered individuals. “I knew that I was gay,” he says. “It was hard for me to come out to my family, but everybody already knew.”

The son of a prominent Squamish Nation councillor and artist, Jacobs says he had the support of his family as he pursued traditionally female crafts such as sewing and beadwork, and experimented with flamboyant fashion after puberty hit. Throughout the rest of his 4,000-person reserve, however, homophobia – a product of the historical trauma of colonization and residential schools – was rampant. “I went through a really hard time,” says Jacobs softly. “I was beaten; more than once. I was choked.”

According to the National Aboriginal Health Organization, two-spirited people are more likely to experience violence than heterosexual First Nations and they are twice as likely to experience assault (including physical assault, sexual assault, and assault with a weapon) than LGBT people in the general population. Like many two-spirit youth, Jacobs ultimately decided to trade his ancestral village for Davie Village, seeking the implied open-mindedness of an urban setting. Once off the reserve, however, two-spirited people often experience the additional pressures of racism and classism for being aboriginal.

Without a strong support network, this can lead to heightened low self-esteem, self-destructive coping mechanisms, and high-risk activities. Few statistics exist, but a survey of two-spirit youth aged 24 or younger, conducted by the Urban Native Youth Association in 2004, reported that 38 per cent of the respondents didn’t feel accepted in their communities, and 43 percent stated that they were suffering from depression. The results also revealed that 34 per cent felt more likely than non-two-spirit people to think about and attempt suicide, and same percentage agreed that they were more likely to become dependent on alcohol or drugs. In the 10 years since that report came out, and despite repeated attempts to run two-spirit-specific programming out of UNYA’s East Vancouver youth centre, the drop-in programs have never gotten enough attendance to keep them going. “I wish I could say that [it means they aren’t necessary], but I don’t think that’s the case,” says UNYA executive director Dena Klashinsky.“We think it may be because the youth still have some reticence, feeling comfortable and feeling safe. I think there still is a need, and it speaks to their vulnerability that they still have to be selective about where they choose to identify [as two-spirited].”

Taking back two-spirit

Historically, individuals with cross-gender identity were revered in First Nations cultures and looked to as leaders, visionaries, and healers. Embodying both masculine and feminine traits, two-spirit people were thought to be blessed with the ability to move between gender roles and were given important spiritual responsibilities as result. The term two-spirit, while not a new concept, was actually selected during an international conference of gay and lesbian activists in Winnipeg in 1990 to replace the word berdache – a common French denigration that translates to “male whore”. In her essay, “N’Tacimowin Innan Nah: Our Coming In Stories”, University of Saskatchewan professor and Opaskwayak Cree Nation member Alex Wilson explains that “people make the assumption that the two [in two-spirit] refers to male as one and female as the other, or vice versa. In my view,” she writes, “the ‘two’ refers to a range of possibilities, such as being in a doorway and being able to see both rooms because of perspective.” For some, two-spirit also represents their distinct First Nations experiences and traditions, and the way that culture and gender identity are tied together. Gender roles were fluid in pre-colonial societies. Words to describe up to six different gender variants, beyond the binary of male and female, have been found in 155 indigenous nations of North America. The Cree, for example, refer to them as Aayahkwew (“neither man nor woman”) and the Navajo refer to them as nàdleehé or “one who changes”. To help individuals determine the gender they were drawn towards, rites of passage were often used. It wasn’t until the onset of the federally run residential schools in the late 19th century, and the aggressive proliferation of European Christian influences that being gay became stigmatized. “Only the warrior societies didn’t have a place for two-spirit people. Otherwise almost 90 per cent of all other tribes had a place for them,” says psychologist and Family Services counsellor Gil Lerat. “When the religious dogma of the residential schools came in, it erased a very rich history.” The results were devastating. “There hasn’t been one First Nations gay youth that I’ve met that hasn’t had an enormous amount of internal hatred. Not only hating themselves for being gay, but hating themselves for being native. You have a double whammy there, and I find that’s where they struggle a lot with is ego and self love.” As the founder of a two-spirited youth program in Vancouver in the mid-’90s, Lerat’s goal was to teach two-spirit youth about that history, instill pride in their identity, and encourage them to go take back their rightful place in their communities in a respectful way. It’s an idea that still resonates. “The native community is now, in a lot of aspects, going back to traditional ways. If you’re going to go back to those traditional ways, though,” he says, “you’ve got to go back to acceptance of your two-spirit people.”

Princesses and Chiefs

Home to 198 First Nations, British Columbia has the greatest diversity of Aboriginal cultures in Canada. And Vancouver has a population of roughly 40,000 Aboriginal peoples, many of whom have moved here from other areas of the country. For 38 years, the Greater Vancouver Native Cultural Society has served as a surrogate family and cultural forum for the two-spirited adults among them. In addition to its annual Wagonburners’ Christmas dinner, and events such as the Passing of a Legacy and Breaking of the Bannock, the GVNCS offers financial and emotional support to any of its more than 150 members who find themselves hospitalized with illnesses. Each year, a Princess and Chief, figureheads similar to the Imperial Court’s Empress and Emperor of Canada, are elected from the members to serve as ambassadors to both the gay and First Nations communities. “Our long term goal was to get out of the whole bar scene, because we were known as the drunk society,” explains society president and two-time Princess Travis Angus. “We’ve gotten ourselves out of that, educated each other, and found the education to develop our culture and traditions. Now we are working towards bringing in our youth.” To that end, the GVNCS has invited youth representatives from New York City, as well as Nisga’a Ts’amiks, Tsleil-Waututh, Lillooet and Squamish Nation to walk with them in traditional regalia this year in the Pride parade. The GVNCS has also been invited by the Vancouver Pride Society to perform a Down Ceremony, or blessing of the land, at the close of the parade at Sunset Beach this year. “When two-spirit people come here from different communities, they still have that huge fear of not knowing anything,” says Angus. “The GVNCS offers a home and a comfort zone for them to be in. We always have our doors open, no matter where they are. Even if they’re not involved with our events, they have our phone numbers if they need anything.”

The next generation

Jacobs sits in a coffee shop at Granville and Davie wearing a backless halter top he embroidered himself and sporting a freshly pinked coif. He was recently asked to design a one-of-a-kind beaded moccasin for Manitobah Mukluks, dance at the opening of the Khatsahlano street party, and is designing his next clothing collection for Vancouver Fashion Week in September. He has a boyfriend. He has been out for nine years. As Jacobs smiles, though, he can’t keep tears of both sadness and happiness from welling up in his eyes. On the eyebrow above, a scar tells the story of that day in 2005, when wearing an outfit of ripped jeans, studs and gemstones was deemed worthy of nearly beating him to death. He sits a little taller on his stool. “It built me to be who I am today. I have tough skin and I speak my mind and heart. A lot of people came out after. My cousin came out to his family and thanked me. I remember crying with him.” Jacobs says discovering the meaning of his two-spirit heritage and reconnecting with it was a revelation. Instead of competing against each other, he says his two identities now overlap; and where they meet is where he finds his biggest sources of pride. “Being proud is the key. I’m proud to be First Nations and gay. I have a big role in two communities and it’s an honour to be respected in both.”

written by Kelsey Klassen WE Vancouver July 30, 2014 04:09 PM 

Aboriginal Australians

There are about 500 different Aboriginal peoples in Australia, each with their own language and territory and usually made up of a large number of separate clans.

Archaeologists believe that the Aboriginals first came to the Australian continent around 45,000 years ago.

Aboriginals themselves, however, trace their creation back to the Dreamtime, an era long past when the earth was first formed. One Aboriginal man explained it thus:
‘By Dreaming we mean the belief that long ago these creatures started human society, they made all natural things and put them in a special place.

’These Dreaming creatures were connected to special places and special roads or tracks or paths. In many places the great creatures changed themselves into sites where their spirits stayed.

’Aboriginals have a special connection with everything that is natural. Aboriginals see themselves as part of nature … All things on earth we see as part human. It is true that people who belong to a particular area are really part of that area and if that area is destroyed they are also destroyed.’

Aboriginals’ land was invaded from the end of the 18th century onwards, with catastrophic consequences for them.

Before the invasion, Aboriginal people lived throughout Australia, although the highest population density was along the coast. Here, people seem to have moved seasonally between permanent settlements near the sea and others at the headwaters of the coast rivers.

Evidence suggests that these communities managed their environment carefully to ensure a steady supply of food, bringing wild yams into gardens which they irrigated, for example, or building artificial dykes to extend the range of eels.

Those Aboriginal tribes who lived inland in the bush and the desert lived by hunting and gathering, burning the undergrowth to encourage the growth of plants favoured by the game they hunted. They were experts in seeking out water.

Today more than half of all Aboriginals live in towns, often on the outskirts in terrible conditions. Many others work as labourers on cattle ranches that have taken over their land.

Many, particularly in the northern half of the continent, have managed to cling on to their land and still hunt and gather ‘bush tucker’.

Ever since the British first invaded, Aboriginal peoples have had their land stolen from them or destroyed. Until 1992, when it was finally overturned, the legal principle governing British and then Australian law regarding Aboriginal land was that of ‘terra nullius’ – that the land was empty before the British arrived, belonged to no-one, and could legitimately be taken over.

Most has still to be returned today, and the loss of their land has had a devastating social and physical impact on Aboriginal peoples.

The initial invasions also sparked huge waves of disease that killed thousands – many others were massacred. In just over one hundred years from the first invasion of their land, their numbers were reduced from up to an estimated one million to only 60,000.

During much of the 20th century, outright killings were replaced with a policy of removing Aboriginal children from their parents and giving them to white families or placing them in mission schools, to eradicate traces of Aboriginal culture and language.

Today they still face racist attitudes, and there are periodic incidents of violence towards them, particularly affecting those in police custody. Their generally poor living conditions mean that Aboriginal people have a far higher infant mortality rate and suicide rate and a lower life expectancy than the rest of the population, and they make up a disproportionate section of the prison population.

A landmark High Court judgment in 1992, known as the Mabo case after the lead plaintiff, threw out the racist ‘terra nullius’ principle on which Australian legal attitudes to Aboriginal land rights had been based. The decision recognized for the first time the existence of Aboriginal ‘native title’ over large parts of rural Australia. Many Aboriginal groups, such as the Martu of western Australia, have used the ruling to have their ownership of their ancestral lands recognized in law. Others, however, have failed to overcome the many legal hurdles placed in their way by the government’s land rights legislation.

In 2007, publication of a report into sexual abuse and violence amongst Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory caused huge controversy. The government’s response to the report was to launch the ‘Northern Territory National Emergency Response’ later that year. Many of the measures in this programme, such as the removal of Aboriginal communities’ right to control access onto their lands, and the compulsory acquisition of some communities, stirred a great deal of resentment amongst Aboriginal people.

giovedì 1 maggio 2014

THE LEFT? NO THANKS! by John Zerzan

It isn't that there's no energy afoot in the world. On any given day on any continent, one can see anti-government riots; direct actions in support of animal liberation or to protect the earth; concerted efforts to resist the building of dams, superhighways, industrial installations; prison uprisings; spontaneous outbreaks of targeted vandalism by the fed-up and pissed-off; wildcat strikes; and the energy of countless infoshops, zines, primitive skills camps, schools, and gatherings; radical reading groups, Food Not Bombs, etc. The list of oppositional acts and alternative projects is very considerable.

What isn't happening is the Left. Historically, it has failed monumentally. What war, depression or ecocide did it ever prevent? The Left now exists mainly as a fading vehicle of protest in, say, the electoral circuses that fewer and fewer believe in anyway. It hasn't been a source of inspiration in many decades. It is dying out.

The Left is in our way and needs to go.

The juice today is with anarchy. For about ten years now it has become steadily clearer that kids with passion and intelligence are anarchists. Progressives, socialists, communists are grey-headed and do not turn on youth. Some recent writings by leftists (e.g. Simon Critchley's Infinitely Demanding) express the hope that anarchy will revive the Left, so in need of reviving. This seems to me unlikely.

And what is anarchy today? This is the most important story, in my opinion. A basic shift has been underway for a while, one that has been quite under-reported for fairly obvious reasons.

Traditional or classical anarchism is as outmoded as the rest of the Left. It is not at all part of the oft-noticed surge of interest in anarchy. Note the usage here: it isn't anarchism that is moving forward, but anarchy. Not a closed, Eurocentric ideology but an open, no-holds-barred questioning and resisting.

The dominant order has shown itself to be amazingly flexible, able to co-opt or recuperate countless radical gestures and alternative approaches. Because of this, something deeper is called for, something that can't be contained within the system's terms. This is the primary reason for the failure of the Left: if the basics are not challenged at a deep level, co-optation is guaranteed. Anarchism, until now, has not left the orbit of capital and technology. Anarchism has accepted such institutions as division of labor and domestication, prime movers of mass society––which it has also accepted.

Enter a new outlook. What is pre-eminently coming on goes by many names: anarcho-primitivism, neo-primitivism, green anarchy, civilization critique, among others. For short, let's just say we are primitivists. There are signs of this presence in many places; for example, in Brazil, where I joined hundreds of mostly young people at the Carnival Revoluçao in February 2008. Many told me that the primitivist orientation was the topic of conversation and that the old anarchism was visibly expiring. There is an anti-civilization network in Europe, including informal ties and fairly frequent gatherings in countries from Sweden to Spain and Turkey.

I remember my excitement upon discovering Situationist ideas: the emphasis on play and the gift, earthly pleasures not sacrificial self-denial. My favorite line from that current: "Under the pavement, the beach." But they were held back by the workers councils/productionist aspect of their orientation, which seemed at odds with the playful part. Now it is time to drop the latter, and fulfill the other, far more radical part.

A young woman in Croatia took it all further with her conclusion that primitivism is at base a spiritual movement. Is the quest for wholeness, immediacy, reconnection with the earth not spiritual? In November 2008 I was in India (Delhi, Jaipur), and could see that presenting an anti-industrial approach resonated among people of various spiritual backgrounds, including Gandhi-oriented folks.

Scattered primitivist voices and activities now exist in Russia, China, and the Philippines, and doubtless elsewhere. This may not yet constitute a movement surging below the surface, but reality is pushing in this direction, as I see it. It's not only a logical development, but one aimed at the heart of the reigning denial, and long overdue.

This nascent primitivist movement should come as no surprise given the darkening crisis we see, involving every sphere of life. It is ranged against industrialism and the high-tech promises, which have only deepened the crisis. War on the natural world and an ever more arid, desolate, meaningless technoculture are blatant facts. The continued march of the Machine is not the answer but, profoundly, the problem. Traditional, leftist anarchism wanted the factories to be self-managed by the workers. We want a world without factories. Could it be clearer, for example, that global over-heating is a function of industrialization? Both began 200 years ago, and each step toward greater industrialization has been a step toward greater global overheating.

The primitivist perspective draws on indigenous, pre-domestication wisdom, tries to learn from the million years of human existence prior to/outside civilization. Gatherer-hunter life, also known as band society, was the original and only anarchy: face-to-face community in which people took responsibility for themselves and each other. We want some version of this, a radically decentralized lifeworld, not the globalizing, standardizing reality of mass society, in which all the shiny technology rests on the drudgery of millions and the systematic killing of the earth.

Some are horrified by such new notions. Noam Chomsky, who manages to still believe all the lies of Progress, calls us "genocidists." As if the continued proliferation of the modern techno-world isn't genocidal already!

I see a growing interest in challenging this death march we are on. After all, where has Enlightenment or modernity made good on its claims of betterment? Reality is steadily impoverished in every way. The now almost daily school/mall/workplace massacres speak as loudly as the eco-disaster also unfolding around the globe. The Left has tried to block a sorely-needed deepening of public discourse, to include questioning the real depth of the frightening developments we face. The Left needs to go so that radical, inspiring visions can come forth and be shared.

An increasingly technified world where all is at risk is only inevitable if we continue to accept it as such. The dynamics of all this rest on primary institutions that must be challenged. We are seeing the beginnings of this challenge now, past the false claims of technology, capital, and the culture of postmodern cynicism––and past the corpse of the Left, and its extremely limited horizons.

giovedì 10 aprile 2014

"If you want to destroy his sweater... Beef with Derrick, unraveled." by Kevin Tucker

Why Bother?

I think to a certain extent, we're all finally tired of Derrick Jensen and Deep Green Resistance. The anti-trans stance that DGR has held steadfast to has done most of the work in demolishing any residual legitimacy that Derrick and his crew might have had.
Frankly, I'm relieved to see DGR fade and that's hardly a secret. I think DGR is dangerous. I think the ideas behind it are lacking any and all historical/real world context. As anarchists, we've been gnawing at the roots of organized movements for nearly a century, so this isn't new turf. However, it's the first time we've seen a group try to tap into the anti-civilization milieu to build an organized resistance.
And not just an organized resistance, but an organization. Replete with affidavits, codes of conduct, member purges, authoritarian structures, and all the usual trappings of organization, DGR is dangerous in attempting to fill the perceived void of action in a post-9/11 world by presenting itself as the means to a common end. In doing so, they're doing the paperwork, filing, and organizing that any well balanced security culture sought to eradicate.
That is why is can't be ignored.
For the most part, DGR is a public joke.
You have rigid authoritative figures posing as revolutionaries while they personally call on the cops and FBI for protection, namely against anti-civilization anarchists. The DGR book/approach takes the level of revolutionary romanticism that tends to fade after the first year in college and extrapolates it into a world where we can act as though the Left never picked up arms and used them against the people they claimed to speak for. Occupy imagination, right?
It is posturing in the worst sense. It plans to create an organization that has above and below ground factions and, ideally, will destroy or help destroy civilization. Or industrial civilization. Or Capitalism. Whatever it is that sells books while getting support and funding from key Left groups. There's a slippery slope there and Derrick didn't just take DGR for the ride, he formed it somewhere in the mudslide.

For the record, I find Lierre Keith so utterly useless that it's not worth going into detail about her contributions to DGR. Derrick is using her, just like any other "co-author" that he's worked with; he usurps identity. That is after running it through his Left-approved byline filter of "writer, activist, farmer". Here's a self-published novelist that was thrown into the spotlight by maximizing on the migration from herbivore to omnivore. If you've had the misfortune of reading The Vegetarian Myth, you've seen that it reads as an angry break up letter after a 20 year relationship with a diet. The relationship sounded rough, but the book falls flat on dogma on all ends of the spectrum (articulating why animal liberation oriented folks would be drawn to veganism, health and nutrition points, and overstating pro-farming claims). It fails to make and carry a central point other than the fact that Lierre doesn't like vegans. The feeling appears to be mutual.
I, myself, am far from vegan, yet was let down that what appeared to be a book that had the potential to draw veganism (ideology) into question, turned out to be an attack on vegans instead. A complete an utter waste of time, but seemingly completely in line with all of the insane horse shit that Lierre has let out since.

Digressions aside, the problems with Derrick are complex.
There are plenty of books that I recommend to anyone seeking to expand their understanding of civilization that I don't agree with the authors 100%. That's expected. Most of the people who have helped me form my views would most likely never call themselves an anarcho-primitivist. More so, some would consider anarchists as abhorrent, but not in the way Derrick does.
I trust that people have brains. I trust that my arguments stand on their own feet. I have no interest in being the sales pitch for an ideology, movement, revolution, or anything else. In accordance with that, I don't posit myself as the hitch of my arguments. The problem with Derrick is that he does. That means that when he went off the deep end, his cult building library goes with him.
So let me clarify a point here: Derrick Jensen is a good writer. Not a thinker, but a writer. He is able to write effectively and I know plenty of people personally who were turned onto anarcho-primitivist thought because of his work. I think there are plenty of strengths in Culture of Make Believe, Language Older Than Words, and Welcome to the Machine (Derrick's best book in my opinion, co-authored, of course). His strength lies in articulating points that others have made. As far as I can see, his only really original thought (aside from whatever horrible and ill-advised contributions he made to DGR) comes down to the arguments against pacifism in Endgame which I consider brilliant, even if they become ironic in hindsight.
But I can not, in good conscience, recommend any of Derrick's books.
A good writer is expected to write well. A strong thinker is expected to articulate their ideas and be able to defend them. Defense is a ban-worthy concept in Derrick's world. He's stated openly that he only takes positive criticism from a minor handful of people. He is heavily scripted, as can be witnessed if you've seen his Talk at any point in the last decade. He rarely goes off the cuff during question and answer. When he does, expect unflinching insanity, like comparing himself to Tecumseh or talking about having sex with trees.
When questions are raised about the validity or realities of anything Derrick has said or done, he cuts the party in question off, usually in a rant filled flare. If a lot of points are raised, he'll rant privately and make reference to it, but will absolutely refuse any and all public airing. He's even had "offensive" YouTube videos mocking him taken down, which is no easy feat. It's not because he's trying to take the high road, he's routinely made ridiculous attempts at character assassination in books and interviews as his chosen form of pre-pubescent revenge. It's because the open arena isn't his forte. So he takes a combination of back roads and dead ends to get out of the situation.
But here's the thing: none of this should matter.
In fact, it pains me to even draw it out further. I don't care about Derrick. I don't care about his story, his hopes, his dreams, any of it. I can be fully content ignoring him and his ever-flowing stream of work under one single condition: it didn't attempt to channel the critique of civilization into a pile of names and address in the hands of a narcissistic egomaniac.
Both myself and John Zerzan have continually offered to publicly discuss our differences in approach and the holes in Jensen's narrative with Derrick for years. There are clear points where you see Derrick's cult building up and around his written persona and that resulted in a direct change in language, targets, and approach from what we (being most green anarchists at the time) were helping him push with his earlier books and where Derrick started going in Endgame, but went off the deep end after.
I have to admit that it was Ted Kaczynski that was the most adamant from the start that Derrick's victimization approach would be the source of his decline. When Ted was pointing that out in 2002, I wasn't seeing it that way, but that is clearly what happened. And it just got worse and worse.

Self-Help and the Other

So let's rewind a bit.
What drew John and I towards pushing Derrick's books was that his approach was and remains intrinsically different than ours. There are key points in Derrick's early books that were always problematic; implying that chickens would literally put their heads on the chopping block for his axe, feeling the need to write in detail about jerking off to internet point to drive home points about objectification that folks like Susan Sontag and Susan Griffin made decades prior, things of that nature. But it was close enough that we were willing to share the stage.
Up through the mid-late 2000s, Derrick was willing to call himself an anarcho-primitivist. He was coming at it differently than any of us, but there wasn't question about where he aligned. He clearly didn't come from the anarchist world or understand it, but he didn't claim to. We all knew that the price tag on his Talk was extraordinarily high. When John and I would do gigs with him, he would ensure that we were treated as opening acts (twice John and I were given paltry 15 minute slots when Derrick went on with his whole 90 minute + routine). He always had agents and publishers to do his leg work and we all just accepted it. It was about spreading the word.
But there was more to it.
It became glaringly obvious that Derrick was able to talk in more detail than any other anarchist. Even in the pre-9/11 world, green anarchists had targets on them from the state. So while we were all being followed, surveilled, taped, brought into Grand Juries, courtrooms, trials, chased down by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, ATF, and Secret Service, Derrick is writing about hacking the grid. Seemingly without consequence. And to largely anti-anarchist Leftists groups.
It was baffling, but who was going to complain? I clearly remember defending Derrick to other anarchists who were already calling him a liberal because of his audience. Either they were right or they saw the writing on the wall, but as far as could be told, his audience could only be blamed for not putting the pieces together since he laid it all out.
Or at least that's how it seemed.
In hindsight, maybe the direction Derrick was going in was the direction he always aimed for. Even though Derrick was saying extremely radical things, he was cushioning it. His writing is formulaic and seems to mirror his Neo-Con past and we weren't prepared to see that arc in the mix.
Derrick's writing is about a personal journey. There are cold hard facts, there are soul wrenching moments, there's a call to arms, and then there's a link to normalcy through universal purging. As destroying as Derrick's words can be, they are therapeutic. It happens to be the case that the things he's writing about are driving at the tension in loving the earth and contributing to it's destruction. I was able to take away a call to action, because that's my cross over point. But the cycle is straightforward, pedestrian Derrick stumbles into a horrifying realization, damning facts are laid out, pedestrian Derrick is pulled into it, someone more knowledgable about the matter is brought in to confirm and consult, then in the moment of realization, another "average Joe" pedestrian confirms their agreement on the issue.
Somewhere around 2004-6, I probably asked Derrick a handful of times why he thought his ultra-liberal audience members were throwing support at him while attacking anarchists. He had no answer. He might have not even realized it, but in seeing Derrick's firm move beyond the radical Left and into the professional liberal fold, it's clear that Derrick is the sherpa on the mountain of liberal guilt. He is their motivational speaker; well rehearsed, sitting cross legged on a table, reciting the same effective jokes time after time, walking liberals through their darkest thoughts, and taking them back home.
The reason that Derrick is able to say horribly detailed things about destroying civilization, attempt to organize a revolutionary movement, be pushed by liberals and anarchists alike, call the cops and FBI on anarchists, and get away with all of it is that he's not a threat. He's a professional. An entertainer. A therapist.
And yet DGR carries the allure of a revolutionary movement against civilization. And woe ye who don't know enough to not sign (literally) onto his movement. To date, the only action taken by DGR is selling Derrick's books. Their newswire service simply takes any other action and puts their name on it.
For these reasons alone, it should be fairly obvious why you won't see Derrick's books on Black and Green recommended reading lists.
But it gets worse.

Horticultural Warfare

A longstanding dispute I've had with Derrick is over his portrayal of horticultural warfare. In the decade since I initially brought this up, he's only made flippant mention of it as a minor point in public. But as someone who bases their ideas on facts rather than whims and appeals to personality, I find this sticking point rather irritating.
In Culture of Make Believe, Derrick has a discussion about battlefield warfare amongst horticulturalists in Papua New Guinea. What he says is largely true; battlefield warfare is particularly less lethal than one would imagine. Before the battle, there are large pork feasts, which, if you haven't overloaded yourself with pork before, will tire you out quickly. The weapon of choice is typically large and not horribly accurate or effective arrows, but the tongue is equal as insults are more often shot across than darts. Derrick mentions this to distinguish it from modern warfare for obvious reasons: civilization is unequivocally more violent, faceless, and ruthless.
This sounds nice, but it's not the full truth.
Derrick has no interest in attacking the roots of civilization. This has gotten worse over the years as his focus has shifted in accordance with liberal targets. In my eyes, looking at the consequences of domestication truthfully and honestly is the most telling way to understand how civilization could exist. So horticultural societies, as societies with domestication, but without civilization, are telling. I don't wish to damn them, but it's important to understand them.
Derrick's fairytale version of horticultural warfare would be far more pleasant than the resource wars that our civilization currently undertakes, but it's not true. Most people who have taken a Cultural Anthropology 101 course could tell you this.
Battlefield warfare is a part of horticultural warfare patterns. It is, typically, the least fatal method of warfare. The problem is that warfare is a consequence of resource competition. This applies equally to horticulturalists as it does to us, but it's a matter of scale. In having semi-sedentary lifestyles with gardens, granaries, and surplus, you have property, power, and boundaries that simply don't exist with nomadic gather-hunter societies. The response isn't just battlefield warfare, it's warfare culture.
This is where you get the origins of patriarchy. In warfare culture, you see, for the first time, a preference for males (warriors) over females, hence a higher rate of female infanticide (curbing population). In the warfare cycle, battlefield warfare has little on the more important aspect of raiding. In raids, a lot of people can die. Wives and children are taken, villages are burned. It is, after all, warfare, and it's messy.
I don't say this to judge, but this is what domestication does to us: it's a socio-religious justification for an ecological reality. Sedentary life challenges natural means of birth control associated with nomadism. People settle, numbers go up, surplus is finite, numbers need to go down. It's a cycle.

Printing what Derrick did once isn't lying. It could be a mistake. I talked to Derrick about this at length in person and in email (we were friends at this time) and he was aware that these are the kinds of issues that I was pursuing.
But then it shows up again in Endgame. Same story, same omission.
At this point, it's clearly no accident.
It becomes harder to trust a person as a thinker when their writing is set on a simplistic narrative. It becomes obvious why the material doesn't and can't go deeper. It's a sales pitch. It makes up in simplicity what it lacks in honesty. But who is this helping? No one. It's a weak move for someone with no spine who has no interest in ever having to directly answer questions about it (Jensen has, at times, required that all audience questions be pre-scripted and screened). The arc of the narrative becomes more apparent and the words become secondary to the speaker.
But what does that mean when these books are selling Derrick and he's clearly lying? What else is he lying about? What else is a sales pitch?
As an anarchist, I've come from a tradition where the individual is never as important as the ideas they bring to the table. Sacred cows are sacrificed regularly.
As an anarcho-primitivist, my goal has never been to hand someone a neat and tidy package that they can chose to use or not. I'm not selling myself. I'm not selling anyone. My job, as I see it, is to be honest, to put it out there as openly as possible. I trust that individuals are capable of thinking on their own. I know that the things that I see happening to this world are happening everywhere and we all feel it. My goal isn't to create a struggle, but to put as much out there as possible to help others contextualize their struggles. It's not enough to walk them through scenarios and make them feel renewed and comfortable in their surroundings again. If there is going to be change, it will take individuals making real connections with the real world, not by identifying with another persona.
I refuse to sell myself. I refuse to see myself as an ideal. I refuse to see myself as a leader. These ideas exist outside of ourselves and I feel responsibility to put it out there freely and honestly.
This point can appear minor, but it goes deep. If someone wants to market themselves as a big name in a niche market, I'm not going to let them do it off of my back.


As I said at the outset, I think it's clear now where Derrick was headed and that he's firmly lodged in that corner now saying absurd things. I can't support his current or previous work because it's all about him, not the ideas. Even if he hadn't gone this direction it would still be an issue, but it's become intensely clear as time has gone on.
The problem is that Derrick won't address any of these points head on. I'm not sure it matters at this point because I think he is far beyond salvaging. John and I tried early on, but it was a one way door.

So here's the shitty part. Since Derrick won't respond directly to John or myself, but puts out this narrative that we are merely jealous (ha!) of his fame and success, hence the split, let me just briefly give a little background to what actually happened. Derrick's fans will attempt to assert otherwise, but nearly all of them weren't around at the time and all of this is pretty fully documented (mostly in laughable emails from Derrick).
I don't have pride or joy in this. It's ridiculous and I'm leaving out a lot of Derrick's worst side just because it's not necessary to go beyond the public side of this. But Derrick's maniacal egomania is entirely driven by whims, emotions, and knee jerk reactions to unwanted criticisms. Question him and you're out. Good riddance in my opinion.

So a brief look at Derrick's evolving hatred of anarchists;

2007: First Deep Green Resistance weekend retreats. Participants pay north of $1000. At most, Derrick appears via Skype only.

2008: Last issue of Green Anarchy prints an overall positive review of Derrick's Thought to Exist in the Wild. It contains a line questioning the quantity of Derrick's work (including massive reprints from previous books) and wondering if he might lose the effectiveness of his writing by over-saturating.
Derrick loses his shit. Calls it a "hit piece" and refuses to be swayed by reasonable discussion. Before the ink dries, he's doing interviews with liberal magazines and websites about how anarchists are dirty, ineffective, unorganized, and mean.
At the same time, he starts insisting that anarchists have all ripped him off. Despite years of helping scrape together his hefty speaker/travel fees and not being engaged personally plus selling a ton of his books, he goes on undeterred to spread the narrative that we're all out to get him.
Around this time he starts getting quickly accepted and spread by increasingly liberal and progressive outfits. A column in Orion magazine and then doing fundraisers for anti-radical groups. Anarchists are purged from the Derrick Jensen forum.
Drops discussion of civilization in favor of "industrial civilization".

By 2010, Derrick is working with staunch anti-anarchist Chris Hedges about how anarchists are ineffective, mean, and starts talking about the rights of "citizens".
In 2011, he tries to co-opt Occupy Wall Street and bring it in the fold. Drops discussion of "industrial civilization" to target "Capitalism". Does hilarious pay-per-view Skype sessions. Supports Lierre working with the cops after she is pied. Supports Peter "Urban Scout" Bauer in talking to the cops and FBI after he is mailed a rock. Security lock down at talks, scripted questions only.
Deep Green Resistance is published.
In 2012, article with Chris Hedges comes out, attacking anarchists and talking about the complete ineffectiveness of the Black Bloc. Derrick starts calling anarcho-primitivists racist and misogynist while claiming he never took the title on despite plenty of evidence to the contrary online, in books, and in talks. He's only interested in throwing out anarchists so he doesn't have to engage them.
In 2013, Derrick and Lierre anti-trans politics come to the forefront and are indisputable. Huge round of DGR purges, Aric McBay (co-founder) leaves amongst others.

This is an overview, but it should be pretty clear about how Derrick's personal attitudes and paying clientele have directly impacted his approach and impact.

I say good riddance to old trash.

source: Black and Green Press

Anarchy Against Civilization!

Far too many times, we as anarchists can get locked into ideology and blueprint making rather than thinking critically and acting to meet current challenges. The idea of challenging capitalism and the state was one that was relatively new to western civilization when the first people to be called anarchists in a political sense first put forth their ideas. We should not be satisfied to stop there. They didn't face issues such as climate change, neo-liberal globalization, or peak production. That doesn't mean we can afford to ignore those issues. Most early anarchists didn't challenge extraction, economics, technology, domestication, agriculture, mass society, or civilization but that should not bar us from doing so.

What is civilization?

Civilization can be defined as a way of life based around growing urbanization and the social relationships that result. Urban areas, also known as cities, are defined as populations so dense as to require the importation of the means to sustain the city itself and its population.

Upon an initial landbase, a city is built, including houses, businesses, government buildings, infrastructure, etc. This gives people a place to live, but not the means. Because of this, the civilization must seek out external landbases to exploit in order to harvest the resources to keep it going, to build and maintain houses, bridges, roads, sewer lines, water lines, electrical lines, public transportation, food for restaurants, clothing for the stores, luxury items for the civilized, personal transportation, entertainment, and so on ad infinitum.
Eventually, as cities grow and populations increase and the civilization requires more and more external land to provide the civilized with goods, the civilization will run into land with people on it, usually people whose way of life depends on that land. When the civilized encounter such people, they usually have the option (if they aren't killed outright) of working highly exploitative jobs to provide goods or services for the civilized on their traditional lands, moving to the cities to find work, or fighting back.

Because most civilized people do not grow their own food or make their own clothing or build their own houses, access their own water... because the civilized pass these responsibilities on to others, some kind of exchange must take place. As the demands of civilization increase, more and more land is needed to produce goods and services for the civilized. Eventually this means that the civilized will run into traditional communities or other civilizations sitting on top of the land they wish to exploit...
Civilization always views the natural world as “natural resources.”


Organized warfare and systemic violence are hallmarks of civilization. Without violence as a form of social control at home and conquest abroad, the hierarchy necessary for the maintenance of mass society could not be maintained. When comparing hunter-gatherers to their agrarian or civilized neighbors, we find that while hunter-gatherers show little or no sexual division of labor, the agrarians and the civilized and those engaged in domestication are more likely to be highly warlike and patriarchal. The tendency seems to be that with increased complexity and increased domestication and planting come increases in the amount of organized violence, hierarchy, and dominance.

The wars and occupations in which the United States are engaged today are not an anomaly. They are the natural extension of a war that began long ago, even before the Christ Bearer Colonizer plagued the Arawaks, even before civilization touched Europe... the war waged against the wild and the primitive by the civilized and the domesticated.

Digging to the Root

As radicals (from the latin radix-root) we seek to examine and challenge root causes. The anarchist tradition has historically identified capitalism as a root cause. Fortunately, we as anarchists are not bound to tradition. Certainly capitalism is odious and something to be abolished, but it is not a root problem. Capitalism is rooted in civilization. Social stratification and hierarchy are necessary for the operation and maintenance of mass society. There is no way to take all of the tasks necessary to maintain civilization and equalize them and divide them up among people equally. Because of its complexity, civilization requires specialization and hierarchy.
Anarchy can't simply pick a set of tenants and require adherence regardless of new information. As we challenge institutions and break them down further and further, we will likely need to challenge some things that our fore bearers might not have. This doesn't imply a break from anarchy, but rather a break from doctrine and ideology.
Long before capitalism, civilization was destroying the natural world, ecosystems, and species and it was dispossessing communities of their landbases. By what standard do we say that capitalism is a root cause? We see that hierarchy and dominance came out of the neolithic revolution and that much of the middle east was deforested by the first civilization. Where was capitalism in all of this? Can capitalism be blamed for the slavery that built the pyramids at Giza? The Roman Empire? Certainly we see authority and civilization wreaked havoc on humanity long before capitalism was in the picture. Capitalism is just another manifestation of civilization. It is not a root cause.

Why is it that we as anarchists are so timid to ask new questions and tread upon new ground? Why are economics, civilization, technology, domestication, mass society, and extraction sacrosanct?


Left anarchists and so called green capitalists and eco-socialists have begun using the words “sustainable” or “sustainability” extremely loosely. Living sustainably means living in symbiosis with the earth and its inhabitants. For something to be sustainable means that it must be able to be continued at the same rate indefinitely. In other words, sustainability means an end to extraction and the use of non-renewable “resources.” To refer to something that is less exploitative as “sustainable” is simply dishonest.
No civilization has ever been sustainable.

Personal Consumer Choices and Alternative Energy

One of the popular myths is that personal consumer choices can move us towards sustainability. Before buying in, we should be asking ourselves who benefits from this. While I wouldn't say there is anything “bad” about trying to make consumer choices that are less exploitative or less cruel (if that is possible) we need to understand that this only mildly alters the details of the existing system without challenging the paradigm itself. Alternative energies are similar in that they attempt to operate only within the context of industrial society and extraction culture. They simply seek to alter details, not to facilitate a paradigm shift.

Who Should Pay for Your Toys? Civilization as Irresponsibility

If someone wants a computer then naturally it should come from their landbase. This person finds some people who want to make computers. It is already irresponsible to take from the earth more than one can return, but we will say that this group or community has decided that they want computers and machine production more than they want a healthy landbase. They begin mining for the metals required for the task. Of course we also need more than metals. We need petroleum and large amounts of water. So the group manufacturing the computers is mining their landbase, drilling for oil, and using water far exceeding the amount available to them in their area and the water used in the production becomes polluted...

Where does the pollution go? Who absorbs the costs? Who is responsible for growing food for the people who use their landbase to produce computers? What landbase will be used for producing the machines that will produce computers? Who will work with the hazardous materials? Who produces the hazardous material gear they will wear while making these computers? Where does all the excess water needed for production come from? On whose landbase/food source do we put the factories? Where do the pollutants from the factories go? What happens when you can't push the costs of your lifestyle onto someone else? What happens when you have to pay for your own toys?

Traditional Communities

Something that I rarely hear discussed in left/progressive circles is the issue of indigenous claim to land. A leftist civilization would be no different than any other civilization in that it would require the same extraction, production, and consumption process, meaning constant growth and expansion. I am highly disinclined to believe that this time the civilized would not dispossess traditional communities of their land to turn it into commodities for consumption by the civilized.

Why should indigenous voices not be the first heard after the fall of civilization? Why do we presume a eurocentric model, based upon the dominant culture rather than developing a way of life more similar to that of the original human inhabitants of the land, those who know it best?

Face to Face Society

Anarchy, statelessness, freedom, a world without authority, has long been the goal of anarchists. Not all anarchists ideas, however, result in anarchy. When following anarchist ideas to their natural conclusion, we find that the structures necessary to coordinate and maintain civilization and mass society are necessarily authoritarian and stratified. Once face to face accountability is lost, personal power and personal responsibility are abdicated.

Civilization is Authority

Civilization and complex society, necessarily result in social stratification or hierarchy. To adequately fulfill all the functions needed to maintain civilization and mass society authority and submission, division of labor, specialization, etc emerge.

Primitive anarchists are not simply positing that “our way is better” but pointing to a mountain of evidence that shows that stateless, egalitarian societies have existed for thousands of years and still exist today in the form or hunter-gatherer tribes and bands, and that to date there has never been a long term, sustained stateless, egalitarian civilization. This is no coincidence.

Can there be a long term, industrial, egalitarian, stateless mass society? If history is any indicator the answer is “no.” The burden of proof is certainly upon the claimant. Mass society is so complex and requires so many moving parts and particular duties that specialization and division of labor arise not out of preference or choice but out of their necessity to mass society.

Primitivist anarchists can point to most of human existence prior to 10,000 years ago and hunter-gatherers today such as the Mbuti, or the San as proof of hunter-gatherers creating sustained, stateless, egalitarian social arrangements. This is, of course, not to idealize or objectify any of these people in any way. No social network or social arrangement is ever perfect or without fault or flaw. However, this does not mean that some methods can't be better than others. As primitivist anarchists, we believe that the social arrangements of hunter-gatherers are overall preferable to those of civilization.


It is erroneous to assume that everything that exists now was an inevitability. In fact, it's much more accurate to consider all things that are now to be the result of many improbabilities. The times in which we live are not the result of a predetermined, single narrative. They are a conglomeration of actions, deliberate and non-deliberate. They result from choices, coercion, coincidence.

For example, your existence was not inevitable, but the result of a series of improbable events, that caused your grandparents to meet, and then your parents, that particular egg, that particular sperm... In the same way, all that exists now is the sum of a series of highly improbably events. The present was not inevitable and the future is unwritten.

The Fall of Civilization

We are in an unprecedented era. Neo-liberalism has created a global economy, a global civilization. History tells us that when civilizations fall, the result is usually a return to more decentralized ways of living. There is no reason to believe this is not a likely outcome of the fall of global civilization as well.

Breaking with civilization, economics, and domestication has nothing to do with “going backwards” or “turning back the clock.” Correcting mistakes is not a matter of reversing a preset trajectory. Civilization is constantly and rapidly destroying species, ecosystems, communities, and people. Whether it crashes on its own or whether we take responsibility and bring it down ourselves, the sooner civilization comes down, the less devastation there will be when it does.

If anarchy is to be relevant in today's world it must be green, that is, it must be focused on bringing down civilization and finding a way of living in which we acknowledge ourselves as a part of the natural world, rather than a force at odds with it.
Fighting For Anarchy,
Bobby Whittenberg-James

Anarchy: Breaking Up With Socialism

For well over a century, some anarchists have aligned themselves with socialists of various shades, even fighting on the same side for different periods of time in several failed revolutions. We do not wish to rewrite history or to downplay this alliance, but to learn from it, challenge it, and question its role in the fight for anarchy today while advocating for its immediate and total annulment.
We can define socialism loosely as an economic system in which wealth and property are held either in common or by the state and/or party, in which the means of production and control of distribution are held by the state and/or party, workers, or the whole of society. Socialism can range from leninist totalitarianism to social democracy, to libertarian socialism and social anarchism.
Even under these broad strokes, anarchy escapes. Anarchy is not production and consumption, federations and councils, meetings, and voting and it certainly isn't the state. Such institutions are authoritarian. Anarchy is autonomous individuals associating with others voluntarily to fulfill their needs and desires. This is probably best exemplified among hunter/gatherer bands. Socialism, like capitalism is an economic system, and anarchy seeks to abolish economics altogether.
Leninism is a form of socialism largely characterized by a vanguard party seizing power and imposing the dictatorship of the proletariat upon the masses, allegedly to guide them through socialism into communism.
There are some things that most leninists know that most anarchists don't seem to and should. They know that anarchists are enemies of leninism and that anarchy and leninism are antithetical to one another. They understand that authority is a key issue. They will not budge in their defense of it. We should not budge in our opposition to it. Leninists know too that anarchists have a history of trusting them. They know that they have always been able to fool us with rhetoric for as long as they need us, and lock us up or shoot us when they no longer find us useful.
Many an anarchist has been deceived at one time or another (and this writer is no exception) by rhetoric to the tune of “we want the same things, we just have different ideas about how to get there.” While it may be true that many of the rank and file socialists truly believe that their program will lead to a liberated, classless society, the methods they use are statist and authoritarian and traditionally include the respression, incarceration, and execution of anarchists and other anti-authoritarians.
Libertarian/Anarcho- Socialism and Authoritarian Socialism?
A trotskyist acquaintance once said something about it not being helpful to distinguish between authoritarian and libertarian socialism. At the time I disagreed, but now I think he is right. Socialism is inherently authoritarian. Even with anarcho-prefixes and red and black flags, socialism subjugates the individual, EVERY individual, to the authority of the masses, the headless, unaccountable bureaucracy and separates each individual from the masses, from society as a whole. Each individual must struggle then against the whole of society for freedom, for anarchy. What good is it to free society if each individual is not free from society? From economics? From the commune? From the federation? It is not anarchy if it is not free of bureaucracy, no matter how “directly democratic” it is purported to be.
A highly organized society of councils, unions, and federations just replaces one impersonal, bureaucracy with another and renders people cogs in a new machine. Granted they are cogs in a self organized machine, but cogs in a machine they remain, slaves to a phantom.
Standing on Our Own Ground
The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. All too often I hear anarchists defending or supporting socialist regimes past or present. Those are the very same regimes that would have us imprisoned or killed. Rather than defending leninist or other left/socialist regimes out of some perceived sense of obligatory allegiance to the left, we should instead be honest and forthcoming with an anarchist critique. We should make it very clear that we oppose both capitalism and socialism. In doing so, we stand on our own ground rather than defending someone else's indefensible ideology and history. We should not back away from anarchy to defend socialism, an ideology that is inconsistent with our wills and desires and one that has consistently systematically oppressed our comrades. It is not our job to be apologists for leninism or socialism. Rest assured the socialists are not spending their time defending anarchy.
Separate Trajectories-
Liberalism, Social Democracy, and Leninism make up a good chunk of what is commonly referred to as “the left.” All of them are characterized by authoritarian rule and bureaucracy. Nowhere along such a trajectory would anarchy fall. Liberalism (at least in rhetoric) and social democracy offer a large, bloated, bureaucratic welfare state and leninism offers a bureacratic totalitarian dictatorship. The pattern along this trajectory shows an increase in the strength, might, and authority of the state. How does one arrive at the conclusion that anarchy, the absence of all government falls somewhere further along this trajectory? How close do we expect to get to anarchy following a trajectory that leads to an all powerful, authoritarian state? How long do we fight alongside the socialists, and the rest of the left advancing their cause at the expense of the fight for anarchy?
We should not view socialists as folks who “just need to take their beliefs a bit farther” because regardless of what lies beyond leninism on that trajectory, of this we can be certain: it is not anarchy. In all likelihood they have already taken their beliefs as far as they intend to.
Because anarchy and socialism are on different trajectories and have such vastly different means of revolutionary practice it is inevitable that we will reach an impasse. The longer we misalign ourselves, the more devastating it will be when we reach that impasse. If you do not understand what happens at this impasse, just ask the ghosts of the anarchists of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions or the Spanish Civil War who were either incarcerated or executed at the hands of “comrades.”
Fight For Anarchy!
Many times allegiance to the left or to socialism manifests itself as anarchists constantly placing themselves in a role where they leave the fight for anarchy to fight for leftism. The socialist doesn't leave the fight for socialism to fight for anarchy out of “solidarity.” They know what they are fighting for, and it is certainly not anarchy.
But do we know what we are fighting for? Are we so enchanted by co-opted language and pseudo-radical rhetoric, so desperate for allies that we continue to repeat past mistakes knowing full well the consequences? Do we really think that anarchy is anything remotely like leninism or social democracy, and that if we tag along with lefties long enough, we'll end up there?
It is true that some early anarchists called themselves socialists or communists. Some still do. It is true that some early anarchists even carried the red flag. We are not frozen in time, however. Since that time, the red flag has been stained with the blood of many an anarchist, autonomist, and other anti-authoritarians. We did not sign a lifetime commitment, for better or worse, to socialism. We are not married to these ideas or these organizations. Perhaps we are historic allies with the socialists, but that brand of nostalgia and unquestioning allegiance has no place in a revolution and has proven to lead us to jails, prison camps, and death at the hand of the socialists.
In the days ahead and the uncertainty they hold, it would behoove us to question our tactics and our allegiances and make sure that we really are aligning ourselves with people who want the same things we do. We set ourselves up to fail again when we align ourselves with and invest trust in authoritarians. They have shown us over and over again what they will do when we ally ourselves with them. To continue to do so in the face of all evidence is sycophancy at best. Anarchy has nothing to concede to authority or statism and we have nothing to concede in the fight for anarchy.
Fighting For Anarchy,
Bobby Whittenberg-James

domenica 6 aprile 2014

Down Graded Resistance: A Critique of DGR

Originally published on Veter(A)narchy on May 30, 2011.

There's been a lot of talk in anti-civ/primitive anarchy/deep ecology circles of late about a new organization called Deep Green Resistance and I haven't really weighed in very heavily on it yet and after a few conversations I decided to throw my hat into the ring. If you are unfamiliar with DGR I recommend checking out their website ( before reading this. Don't depend on my explanation of who and what they are. It's better that you form you own opinion before engaging my critique.

In reading through the intro, the (DEW), the Code of Conduct, the Statement of Principles and Why Do You Want Me to Sign the Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles, I found no critique of domestication, sedentaryism, technology, work, symbolic culture, mediating institutions, or agriculture and the only references to dismantling civilization specified industrial civilization. This abbreviated critique of civilization put forth by DGR may very well be a key reason for many of the problems within the organization's framework, theory, and program. If one's critique is sorely lacking, then most likely their resistance will be as well.
Through their calls for democracy, hierarchy, organizing (as opposed to autonomous coordination), and leftist rhetoric they are an explicitly anti-anarchist group, so I'm not really sure why so many anarchists are rushing to their defense. This reminds me a good bit of red anarchists who are sympathetic to liberal or socialist parties or regimes.

One of my initial concerns is the idea of organizationalism in general. It's important to distinguish between organizations and groups or networks and between organizing and cooperating. We don't need rosters and codes of conduct, programs, democratic rule, and recruiting to build a solid resistance. I think many times, as a result of our civilized minds, we tend to equate organization and standardization with expedience and effectiveness, with a quick and easy solution. This have proven not to be true on many occasions (The USA, National Syndicalist Italy, the USSR, North Korea.) We don't need a quick and easy solution, we need an effective solution.
A visit to their website starts out with their explanation of what Deep Green Resistance is. It starts off talking about the rise of civilization, the ineffectiveness of the mainstream activist scene, and building human communities inside of restored landbases. This is all good stuff. My first point of concern comes in the 5th paragraph. “Industrial civilization can be stopped.” This, to me, is concerning because we went from talking about how the problem has been 10,000 years of civilization to stopping industrial civilization. Civilization and industrial civilization cannot just be used interchangeably. Opposition to civilization is opposition to all civilization. Opposition to industrial civilization is opposition to one type of civilization, which carries with it tacit approval of other types of civilization.

My next concern comes in the next paragraph where it talks about the creation of “participatory institutions.” Shouldn't the resistance against civilization be about the abolition of institutions, rather than their creation? Shouldn't de-institutionalization be a part of an anti-civ resistance? A critique of civilization and authority certainly needs to include a critique of social institutions in general.

“... any strategy aiming for a just future must include a call to build direct democracies based on human rights and sustainable material cultures.”

Sustainability is definitely a necessary aim, but I'm curious about the rest of this. Anarchy is a condition of no rule with each individual having autonomy as opposed to democratic rule and a human rights model offered by civilization. Democracy is a form of rule, a form of government. There is an easily observable standardizing and homogenizing affect that comes with democracy. There must be a certain amount of uniformity to maintain social order and production. The process itself tends to discard and eliminate minority ideas and alienate minority groups, as well as challenge personal autonomy and subjugate the individual to the collective, forming a hierarchy.

As far as human rights, prisoners have rights; GI's have rights. Rights, as they are commonly understood, are a concept that rose up out of civilization. Rights can be given or taken. In a democracy they can be voted away. We can't equate a rights framework with liberation, as rights are something granted or recognized by a mediating body. Some people consider marriage to be a human right. California voted away the right for same sex couples to marry. The majority makes the rules. These ideas certainly aren't unique to DGR.
I'm also curious, would trans people be granted “human rights” by these democratically ruled communities? Lierre Keith is openly anti-trans. With her occupying a leadership position in DGR, I really wonder what the plan for trans people is. Would cis people be able to democratically vote these “human rights” away from trans people? Under democratic rule and a rights framework as opposed to liberty and autonomy, the majority can use the democratic institutions to crush the minority. This isn't just true of trans people. This could be any race, people group, gender, or culture that the majority in a democracy wants to dominate.

The end of that section links to their strategy that is referred to as Deep Ecological Warfare or DEW.
I'm incredibly skeptical of any grand strategy designed to be THE strategy. There can't be a “the strategy.” An organic resistance can't be synthesized. There can't be an umbrella organization for dismantling something as complex, nuanced, and layered as civilization. From the language in their program and the structure of the organization, I'm seeing a plan for the structure and program for building of a revolutionary vanguard.

“Industrial systems disruption requires underground networks organized in a hierarchal or paramilitary fashion.” However, if we follow this a bit further we find that “The above ground activists are the frontline fighters against authoritarianism. They are the only ones who can mobilize the popular groundswell needed to prevent fascism.”

I find the specific mention of fascism particularly perplexing. If we are opposed to civilization then we are obviously opposed to fascism. Should we not be fighting capitalism and socialism? Perhaps the answer lies in the next paragraph.

Furthermore, aboveground activists use the disrupted systems as an opportunity to strengthen local communities and parallel institutions. Mainstream people are encouraged to swing their support to participatory local alternatives in the economic, political, and social spheres. When economic turmoil causes unemployment and hyperinflation, people are employed locally for the benefit of their community and the land. In this scenario, as national governments around the world increasingly struggle with crises (like peak oil, food shortages, climate chaos, and so on) and increasingly fail to provide for people, local and directly democratic councils begin to take over administration of basic and emergency services, and people redirect their taxes to those local entities (perhaps as part of a campaign of general noncooperation against those in power). This happens in conjunction with the community emergency response and disaster preparedness measures already undertaken.”

Apparently the reason for specifying a fight against fascism is to facilitate the creation of some sort of democratic socialist idea. Is this suggesting that there is a progressive path to a post-civ world?
I'd also like to key in on this part of their Code of Conduct:

“Liberty: DGR groups have a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of anyone, human or nonhuman. Physical integrity and emotional safety are basic human rights that DGR is sworn to defend. DGR will banish any members who rape, batter, or abuse any living creature. Masculinity, with its militarized psychology and its violation imperative, has to be abandoned personally and dismantled globally.”

While this is a good standard for banishment, there is a loophole. If you want to rape, batter, and abuse living creatures but still want to help out with DGR, you can become a police officer and provide security.

“2. Civilization, especially industrial civilization, is fundamentally destructive to life on earth. Our task is to create a life-centered resistance movement that will dismantle industrial civilization by any means necessary. Organized political resistance is the only hope for our planet.”

Political resistance is essentially worthless in combatting civilization. Even a full scale political revolution couldn't abolish civilization. At best it could only alter it. Civilization does not just exist in the political sphere. It is a complex and overarching institution and system of oppression that requires a holistic approach to dismantle.

This is something that really makes me think that the change in language might not just be coincidence. We see a distinction drawn between the broader “civilization” and “industrial civilization.” It is understood that civilization is destructive to life on earth, and yet the stated task is to dismantle industrial civilization. Civilization was ravaging the earth and enslaving living beings long before industrialization. If we limit our resistance to the political sphere, or political revolution, we have already defeated ourselves.

I also went to a section called “Why do you want me to sign the Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles?” which includes the passage

“Your signature on that document shows that you made an agreement with DGR and all its members to follow the code and principles. These can serve as proof in court that DGR did not support, condone, or accept the actions of anyone who would do something like blow up a daycare center, or some other horrendous action.”
DGR is an organization. As an organization with identifiable leaders and a member list, they want to be able to drop you like a hot biscuit if you get in legal trouble that might make the organization look bad (to those in power and civilized society.) It's clear that blowing up a daycare is horrific, an act unworthy of our support. But what if we replace the words “daycare center” with “dam” or “police car” or “cell phone tower” or “bulldozer?” If you get caught in a situation where you are doing something that's in your conscience to do, will your comrades have your back, or are they telling you right up front that they'll drop you if you end up in a situation that might be bad PR or legal trouble for the organization? Make no mistake, the organization is more important than you. It's not going to stick its neck out for you. An organization's #1 priority has to be its own existence or else it will cease to exist. To an organization you are totally expendable, particularly in comparison to the organization itself.

“All societies–including the most peaceful; especially the most peaceful–have understood the necessity of codes of conduct, which are nothing more than behavioral norms.”

This is a conflation of two very distinct things. Behavioral norms might be nearly ubiquitous but they are not institutionalized and generally non-authoritarian. It is a behavior norm to not burp loudly or yell in restaurants, but there is no Code of Conduct that people sign before going into a restaurant. Most people just generally don't do those things because it's understood as a behavior norm. Many times there aren't even any consequences aside from some disgusted looks, or someone might ask them to stop. Rarely do people have to be forcibly removed from a restaurant for such things. In people groups that do not have official written law or Code of Conduct there is still personal accountability. When we get together with friends, there is no code of conduct to sign but we can still hold one another accountable and make sure everyone is safe and taken care of.

“All serious organizations have codes of conduct by which people are meant to abide. The Spanish Anarchists did. So did the IRA. The Freedom Riders had a code of conduct, as did Nat Turner’s fighters. Codes of conduct are even more important in militant resistance movements who have a history of behaving badly.”

The IRA was also in favor of the Catholic Church, an institution that routinely rapes children and covers it up and they kill people because of their nationality and/or religion. This is not an organization after which we should pattern our resistance, particularly concerning matters of conduct.

"There is a strain of modern anarchists who believe all codes of conduct interfere with their feral freedoms, or are otherwise inappropriate. These people have done a lot of damage to modern anarchism. And they’re ignorant of anarchist history and the history of social movements. Anarchists throughout history have understood the importance of codes of conduct. Emma Goldman for example. And the Spanish Anarchists. (The men were not allowed to drink, violence against women was unacceptable, men using prostituted women was unacceptable, brawling was unacceptable: they were to comport themselves with dignity and respect).”

It seems that most hunter-gatherers groups, the only to have ever achieved anarchy for any extended period of time, seem to agree with us modern anarchists. The Mbuti and the !Kung don't have Codes of Conduct, but they do have behavior norms and ways of protecting members of the tribes' dignity and autonomy.
Our disagreement is not about whether there are certain behaviors and actions that are unacceptable in a community setting. The discrepancy is whether we want to foster respectful interactions through authoritarian or anarchistic means.

I assume that when they refer to “the” Spanish Anarchists that they are referring to the famous CNT-FAI. These organizations are certainly not ones that should be emulated or idealized as iconic of anarchy. They were organized in a hierarchical fashion, authoritarian in nature, and even took seats within the Spanish government. Their end state was not even anarchy, but socialism. Let us also never forget that their revolution failed to result in the socialist utopia they sought, much less anarchy, something completely different. This argument is similar to saying that since Murray Rothbard called himself an anarchist and advocated a free market capitalism which included a child market, that it's ok for anarchists to sell children and that it is an anarchist practice to do so. Anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-syndicalism are both hierarchical, authoritarian schools of anarchist thought, and therefore we are going to find authoritarian tendencies and ideas within them. This doesn't justify their use in anarchist practice.

“The modern, Western, individualist, capitalist, code of conduct is that there can be no such thing as a code of conduct other than what benefits an individual the most.”

Capitalism is not individualist. The rhetoric may be that of the rugged individual, but in practice it is dependent upon a hierarchical class system, which is a collectivist arrangement. There is a Code of Conduct in capitalist society. It's commonly referred to as “the law,” and it generally prevents individuals from getting what benefits them the most.

What DGR seems to be saying is that in capitalist society, the individual is free to pursue what benefits them most and that there is no law to restrict that. That sounds like anarchy, but that is not the reality of the capitalist society I live in. The society I live in is designed to benefit a very few at the expense of the very many and any individual who dares to try to take more than they are allotted and is caught doing so is met with the full force of the Code of Conduct.

“Most human societies before the rise of civilization, were based on mutual responsibility and cooperation.”

Yes, there was mutual respect and cooperation but NO formal Code of Conduct.

“But freedom in a capitalist society is based on atomized, alienated individuals within a rights framework; as though we are not all interdependent.”

Doesn't DGR advocate a rights framework under democratic rule for its communities?

What I don't see is what vision of the world DGR proposes. I don't mean a blueprint or anything. I just don't understand what the overall goal is. I understand calls for a democratic, participatory socialism and autonomous communities. I understand the goal of bringing down industrial civilization. This makes me curious as to whether we might be talking about an autonomous agricultural or horticultural democratic socialist civilization. I hear a call for a rights framework and disdain for individualism. I hear a plan to dismantle industrial civilization, but what then?

I keep hearing that since we have a common enemy we should unite to fight it, but the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, something that anarchists generally find out in socialist revolutions once the socialists have gained power and no longer need the anarchists.

DGR says that it exists because there is a dire need for a targeted resistance and I hear many in the current discussion of DGR defend the existence of such an organization on the same grounds. I don't think anyone in the anti-civ/deep ecology/primitivist milieu denies that. That isn't in question.

The questions we face are more like: “What do we want our targeted resistance to look like?” “How will it manifest itself?” “Do we want our resistance to be based upon organization or voluntary cooperation?” “Do we want it to be anarchistic or authoritarian?”

I can't help but note a parallel between the principles of civilization and organizing/organization. DGR and other activist organizations or vanguards, like civilization, take something wild and organic and organize it, codify it, and maintain that order, giving authoritative direction to something that was once fluid and autonomous. We do need greater numbers, but we don't need recruits or activists. We need autonomous warriors and dissidents and who are ready to come together in an organic way and cooperate to bring down that which oppresses us all and destroys our source of life.
Fighting for Anarchy,
Bobby Whittenberg-James