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Revolutionary Ecology

A Change of Heart—Revolutionary Ecology in a World of Climate Change

By Rob DiPerna - Wild California, June 22, 2017

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people responsible have names and addresses.”

— U. Utah Phillips

Combating global climate change and destabilization, and arresting the human-related causes of these are the greatest challenge of our time, perhaps the greatest challenge in human history. Global climate change and destabilization also bring home the fundamental conflicts between our industrial capitalist way of life and world view and the realities of ecological processes and the limits of the natural world.

As 2017 marks the 40-year anniversary of the inception of the Environmental Protection Information Center, we continue to see examples of how the basic underpinning of the world created by humans is in direct conflict with the world that created us, and how this conflict is leading us toward our own demise as a species as we continue to compromise the life support systems of our planet. Of course, none of this is new and the advent of global and bioregional climate change and destabilization once again has us searching for the root causes of what ails us as people and a societies.

May 24, 2017 marked the 27-year anniversary of the car-bombing of Earth First activists Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney on their road tour to promote Redwood Summer. This upcoming November 3, 2017, EPIC will posthumously award Judi Bari with the Semperviren’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her career of work for environmental and social justice.

A New Economic System for a World in Rapid Disintegration

By C.J. Polychroniou and Lily Sage - Truthout, September 8, 2016

We live in ominously dangerous times. The world capitalist system -- having fueled colonialism, imperialism and the constant intensification of labor power exploitation for roughly 500 years -- now threatens the planet with an ecological collapse of unprecedented proportions. Unsustainable resource exploitation, water pollution (the transformation of lakes, rivers and oceans into garbage dumps) and massive economic inequality are at the root of the possibly irreversible collapse of industrial civilization. Meanwhile, however, too many of us remain caught up in abstract and ahistorical predictions of collapse that fail to offer an alternative realistic vision of a future socio-economic order.

Simultaneously, the phenomenon of global warming, driven mainly by the dynamics and contradictions of a fossil-based economy, has prepared the soil for the eruption of new sources of conflict with the manifestation of historically unique destabilizing social forces. Climate change directly threatens billions of people and most other beings -- besides the occasional cockroach, diadem or tardigrade -- with outright extinction brought on by droughts, floods and other "natural" disasters.

Nonetheless, the catastrophic scenario sketched out behind the operations of global capitalism does not merely represent the other side of a wild socio-economic system bent on constant and abstract growth in pursuit of ever greater rates of profit. The so-called Golden Age of capitalism ended decades ago and the system has now run into a brick wall, as it appears to have reached a point where it is no longer capable of sustaining a constant momentum of growth to keep the economy reproducing itself at a pace that generates higher standards of living for the next generation.

Indeed, the productivity rates in the advanced industrialized regions of the world (such as the US, Europe and Japan) since the eruption of the financial crisis of 2007-08 are far slower than those of previous decades, thereby confirming the claims of various experts who argue that we have reached the end of the age of growth.

Moreover, in spite of all the talk about the marvelous and awe-inspiring accomplishments of the high-tech revolution, these innovations pale in comparison to the innovations of the Industrial Revolution. The new technologies reach billions of people, generating mythical fortunes for founders and investors, but increasingly employ only a handful of privileged workers. In the meantime, the problems of massive unemployment, increased inequality, growing economic insecurity, and dangerous levels of public and corporate debt are mounting.

In this context, the present crisis facing the world economy as a whole "consists precisely in the fact," as Antonio Gramsci put it in his Prison Notebooks, "that the old is dying and the new cannot be born," and all of the above represent the "morbid symptoms" of this antinomy that the great Italian revolutionary underscored as being part of this interregnum.

Welcome to Seattle, WTO: Judi Bari debates Karl Marx

By Walt Sheasby libcom.org, November 28, 1999

PROTEST IN THE PLAINS: We Will Die For Our Grandchildren

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Leaders of the Oceti Sakowin say "No more" to the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. They are making their stand and promise the construction of the oil pipeline will not get past them without taking the lives of its defenders.

Chapter 6 : If Somebody Kills Themselves, Just Blame it on Earth First!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Haul it to the sawmill, Got to make a buck,
Your blades are worn and dangerous, Better trust your luck,
Don’t stop for the workers’ safety, Never fear the worst,
‘Cause if somebody kills themselves, Just blame it on Earth First!,
L-P…

—Lyrics excerpted from L-P, by Judi Bari, 1990.

“Anybody who ever advocated tree spiking of course has to rethink their position.”

—Darryl Cherney, June 1987.[1]

Earth First! received much negative press for its advocacy of biocentrism, the notion that all species (including humans) were intrinsically valuable. Their slogan “No Compromise in Defense of Mother Earth!” was forceful and militant, and given the misanthropic leanings of some of its cofounders, it was often taken to mean that they valued the lives of nonhuman species above humans—even if it meant the suffering or death of the latter—which wasn’t actually the case. The situation was complicated further by Earth First!’s advocacy of monkeywrenching: industrial “ecotage” which included everything from deflagging roads to putting sugar in the fuel tanks of earth moving and/or logging equipment. Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman described monkeywrenching thusly:

“It is resistance to insanity that is encapsu­lated in Monkeywrenching…(it) fits in with the bioregional concept. You go back to a place and you peacefully re-inhabit it. You learn about it. You become a part of the place. You develop an informal and al­ternative political and social struc­ture that is somehow apart from the sys­tem… it’s also a means of self-empowerment, of finding alternative means of relat­ing to other people, and other life forms…there is a funda­mental difference between ecodefense resistance and classic revolutionary or terrorist behavior.” [2]

Such a description, while informative, was hardly likely to silence critics on the right. The most controversial of these controversial tactics by far, was Earth First!’s advocacy of “tree spiking”, the act of driving large nails into standing trees in order to deter timber sales. [3]

An Open Letter to the NO KXL Movement

An open letter from some students at Green Mountain College re: XL DISSENT - March 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This isn’t personal, honest. Nothing holier-than-thou. Most of us are playing the same game as you– conference calls, teach-ins, unpaid internships. And it’s for the same reasons, or at least we think so-we’ve seen some of what this way of life is doing to the world, and we know that there’s more out there that we don’t know, more than we could ever absorb. And we’re scared, and we want it to stop.

But we’ve started, slowly, to realize something even scarier. The ways that we’ve been taught to fight back aren’t cutting it. Not even close. Candlelight vigils, petitions, chaining yourself to the White House fence, none of it is going to make the continued extraction of fossil fuels less profitable, and none of it is going to shift our communities away from a way of life centered on profit.

Barack Obama does not care about your arrest record any more than he cares about a soundbite he delivered to a bunch of rich college kids at Georgetown a couple years back. When he told some fellow students trying to speak truth to power that “We had the pipeline rally in the summer,” it summed up pretty well how much pressure he’s actually feeling from all of the environmentalists’ efforts to stop KXL.

Let’s break it down a little bit. This KXL dissent thing, as well as pretty much all of 350 and friends’ strategy, is meant to draw media attention and put political pressure on the president. We’re gonna hold Obama accountable, make him deliver on his promises. The problem is, there’s absolutely nothing in it for him. Even if we all have to hold our noses, the vast majority of self-identified environmentalists are going to vote for Democrats in 2016 and beyond because there’s no other viable option. Third parties sound nice but we all took Gov in high school and know that it’s not gonna happen. The Democrats also know it. It would be nice for them if we knocked and doors and phone banked in 2016, but it’s nothing compared to the money they need from Wall St. And I’m sure you know where Wall St. stands on the whole pipeline thing.

A summary and examination of the environmental crisis and its causes, and how we think that the problems can be solved.

Originally Published at libcom.org - October 9, 2006

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Earth is facing an environmental crisis on a scale unprecedented in human history. This environmental crisis is already responsible for high levels of human suffering. If the crisis continues to develop at its current rate, the ultimate result will be the extinction of human life on the planet.

We call for action to end the environmental crisis because of the threat it poses to humankind, and because we recognise that nature and the environment have value in their own terms.
The main environmental problems include:

Air pollution: creates global warming (or climate change): a general increase in planetary temperatures that will severely disrupt weather patterns causing mass floods, droughts, chaotic climate fluctuations and disease killing millions; destroys the ozone layer that filters out dangerous cancer-causing rays from the sun; turns rain water into acid that destroys plant and animal life. It also causes respiratory and other diseases amongst humans which kills over 30,000 people a year in the UK1.
Solid waste: the sea and the land environments are poisoned by the dumping of dangerous industrial wastes (such as mercury and nuclear waste); the use of materials that nature cannot break down in packaging and in other products, particularly disposable products, have turned many parts of the world into large rubbish dumps. This is also a waste of finite resources and it poisons and injures people.

Soil erosion: this takes place in both the West and the so-called “developing” world, and is the result of factors such the (mis-)use of chemical fertilisers, dangerous pesticides etc., as well as inappropriate land use, land overuse, and the felling of trees. For these reasons, soil is eroded at a rate faster than that at which it is being produced which contributes to rural poverty2

Extinction: plants and animals are being made extinct at a faster rate than any time since the dinosaurs died out, 60 million years ago. This results in the loss of many species, and undermines the eco-sphere on which all life depends.

What’s behind the environmental crisis?

There is nothing inherently environmentally destructive about modern industrial technologies3. However as they are (mis-)used today, industry – particularly the burning of fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas for energy, which releases carbon Dioxide (CO2) which causes global warming - is catapulting the planet towards disaster. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

A Toxic Culture of Violence and Shame: How DGR’s Denial of Transphobia Exposes Worse Tendencies

By The Letter Collective - Earth First! Journal Online, February 23, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Lierre Keith’s Platform of Hate

Deep Green Resistance’s gender doyen, Rachel Ivy, has posted a new attack on trans* people, called “A Partial List of Lies (With Corrections) in Recent Anti-Feminist Letter.” Cloaked as a defense against a sign on letter that we organized, Ivey’s screed attempts to deconstruct the letter signed by more than 30 organizations across a broad spectrum of social and environmental causes.[1] Even when insisting that they are not trans* phobic, Ivey makes numerous trans* phobic claims.

The open letter, co-signed by the Earth First! Journal Collective, Greenpeace USA, Rising Tide North America, local groups ranging from the Cascadia Forest Defenders to the Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and other groups like Tar Sands Blockade, the Queer Caucus of the National Lawyers Guild, RAMPS, and Peaceful Uprising, presents three main principles: (1) Lierre Keith is transphobic and does not support safer spaces policies, and (2) Keith’s gender analysis has led to increasingly divisive behavior by DGR, which is deleterious for the environmental movement as a whole (3) Keith should not be allowed to give a keynote speech at the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC).

Calling this huge list of groups across Turtle Island “liars” and “anti-feminist” for taking a strong stance against transphobia is something we have come to expect from such an alienated and isolated group as DGR. In fact, a majority of those who contributed their ideas, time, and words to the sign on letter were women. This fact was totally skipped over by DGR, an organization that reflexively assumes activists who are critical of the ideas of their advisory board are automatically liars and anti-feminist.[2] For instance, in another post, Ivey even attacks the Civil Liberties Defense Center, an incredibly important legal organization with women in the positions of president and executive director, for “horizontal hostility” after they released a solidarity statement against DGR’s transphobia.[3] The first comment on the website comes from a DGR supporter who caustically states, “Because the most entire important thing in the world is bullying women into believing penis is female!… Accepting the Ladystick into lesbian vaginas is much more important than long-term survival.”

Student, Eco and Indigenous Groups Oppose Transphobia at Conference

Originally published at earthfirstjournal.org, February 17, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

More than 30 radical environmental organizations took a strong stance against transphobia by calling for the removal of outspoken transphobe Lierre Keith from the list of keynote speakers at the University of Oregon’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference.

With signatories including national and local forest defense groups, the letter represents key voices of environmental justice to appalachia defense to indigenous solidarity. The letter states, “PIELC has an obligation to promote safer spaces inclusive of LGBQTTI people. PIELC must not become a venue for trans* exclusionary hate that breeds an environment of hostility and violence.”

Keith has described the trans* community as “deeply misogynist and reactionary,” stating that “men insisting they are women is insulting and absurd.”

Though relatively unknown in the environmental movement until a few years ago, Keith was brought to a larger audience through her co-authorship of Deep Green Resistance, alongside McBay and primitivist author Derrick Jensen. Since then, she has been a part of an organization modeled after the book, also called Deep Green Resistance (DGR), which many see as divisive and sectarian.

The letter asserts, “Neither Keith nor DGR have played decisive or visible roles in campaigns against clearcutting, fossil fuel infrastructure, and climate change in Cascadia, while many of us have dedicated our lives to making these causes inclusive and non-reactionary.”

Here is the PIELC  sign on letter in full:

What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

By David Graeber - The Baffler, February 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

My friend June Thunderstorm and I once spent a half an hour sitting in a meadow by a mountain lake, watching an inchworm dangle from the top of a stalk of grass, twist about in every possible direction, and then leap to the next stalk and do the same thing. And so it proceeded, in a vast circle, with what must have been a vast expenditure of energy, for what seemed like absolutely no reason at all.

“All animals play,” June had once said to me. “Even ants.” She’d spent many years working as a professional gardener and had plenty of incidents like this to observe and ponder. “Look,” she said, with an air of modest triumph. “See what I mean?”

Most of us, hearing this story, would insist on proof. How do we know the worm was playing? Perhaps the invisible circles it traced in the air were really just a search for some unknown sort of prey. Or a mating ritual. Can we prove they weren’t? Even if the worm was playing, how do we know this form of play did not serve some ultimately practical purpose: exercise, or self-training for some possible future inchworm emergency?

This would be the reaction of most professional ethologists as well. Generally speaking, an analysis of animal behavior is not considered scientific unless the animal is assumed, at least tacitly, to be operating according to the same means/end calculations that one would apply to economic transactions. Under this assumption, an expenditure of energy must be directed toward some goal, whether it be obtaining food, securing territory, achieving dominance, or maximizing reproductive success—unless one can absolutely prove that it isn’t, and absolute proof in such matters is, as one might imagine, very hard to come by.

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