Monday, December 19, 2011

A Poem Based on an Interview With Derrick Jensen

An image I created based on a photo of my shadow.

This is My Planet Too
Poem based on an Interview with Derrick Jensen.

Impending collapse
car culture running out of oil
nowhere to retreat
living in an abstract society
few have real life skills
are we doomed?

Collective denial
environmental crisis
on the news we hear instead
latest fashion
celebrity gossip
corporations control the planet
and you want to talk about sports?

Culture based on destroying the land
culture based on using up non renewable resources
culture based on a lie
the earth is a finite place
a life based on infinite resources cannot last
and you sit here watching a "reality" show
did you learn about reality?
The system is rigged against those who love the land
against those who care about future life
when environmentalists use an existing law to stop the destruction
the laws are changed by those in power
what meaning are laws if they are changed when convenient?

we live in a destructive culture
we live in a blind culture
to quiet us they feed us bright green lies
telling us solar panels and windmills
will bring relief to the environmental crisis
Did you see the open pit mine?

We will need more of those pits in order to build the structures
blow up all the mountains to sake your thirst for power
is that better than a polluted sky?
do you like the world better without its surface beauty?
do you like the taste of contaminated water?

If you lived on your own planet I wouldn't care
but this is my planet, too
there are trees, bees, butterflies
flowers, birds, elephants
do all the living things need to sacrifice their home
so you can turn on your lights?

We have to stop killing the planet
We have to find another way to live
or we won't be living at all.

Copyright Desert Dreamer

Monday, June 27, 2011

"Civilization and Other Hazards"

"Because of its drive toward war, ecological destructiveness, and perpetual expansion in a finite world, the history of civilizations is defined by collapse.  Throughout history, civilizations have either collapsed or been conquered, the conquerors going on to meet one of both of those fates.  Collapse is the typical, not the exceptional, outcome for a civilization"
     ~Aric McBay "Deep Green Resistance"

"As a means of enforcing hierarchy and regulation, civilization also makes major investments in monumental architecture and propaganda.  Past civilizations had pyramids, coliseums, and vast military marches to impress or cow their populations.  Although modern civilizations still have monumental architecture (especially in the form of superstores and megamalls), the wealthier human population is immersed in virtual architecture - a twenty-four-hour digital spectacle of noise and propaganda."
     ~Aric McBay "Deep Green Resistance"

"civilization perpetuates itself by producing deliberate conditions of scarcity and deprivation."
     ~Aric McBay "Deep Green Resistance"

"Cheap oil undergirds every aspect of industrial society.  Without oil, industrial farms couldn't grow food, consumer goods couldn't be transported globally, and superpowers coudn't wage war on distant countries.  Peak oil is already causing disruption in societies around the world, with cascading effects on everything from food production to the global economy."
     ~Aric McBay "Deep Green Resistance"

Deep Green Forest

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quotes & Art

"This book is about fighting back.  The dominant culture - civilization - is killing the planet, and it is long past time for those of us who care about life on earth to begin taking the actions necessary to stop this culture from destroying every living thing."  
     ~Derrick Jensen "Deep Green Resistance"

"What is your personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair?  We are living in a period of mass extinction.  The numbers stand at 200 species a day.  That's 73,000 a year.  This culture is oblivious to their passing, feels entitled to their every last niche, and there is no roll call on the nightly news."
     ~Lierre Keith "Deep Green Resistance"

"The dominant culture eats entire biomes.  No, that is too generous, because eating implies a natural biological relationship.  This culture doesn't just consuume ecosystems, it obliterates them, it murders them, one after another.  This culture is an ecological serial killer, and it's long past time for us to recognize the pattern."
     ~Aric McBay "Deep Green Resistance"

 Artwork © 2011 Desert Dreamer

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Deep Green Resistance - art

A simple composition and a poem I created in the name of Deep Green Resistance.  

Teachers of madness
teachers of rage
we need you to lead us
out of this age.

The rivers are dammed
trees are cut
food is poison
the world has changed.

On the mountain
in a cave
the God of Destruction laughs
he knows the age of destruction is near.

The best of us sits
in front of a screen
we talk about peace
but everybody knows.

We need a teacher
the Teacher of Madness
Master of Anger
Magister of Rage

And we will all go

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Art of Dismantling

The following is taken from an interview with Derrick Jensen.  I found these words inspirational for all of us revolutionary artists.  Art is political and holds great power.

Read the entire interview at . 

Derrick Jensen is an American author and environmental activist living in Crescent City, California.  Jensen has been called the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement. He has written some 15 books critiquing contemporary society and the destruction of the environment, including A Language Older Than WordsThe Culture of Make Believe, and Endgame. We are very excited to have caught up to him for an interview!

Can you give us a brief description and explanation of whom you are and what it is you do?

I am Derrick Jensen and I am a writer and activist, and I am most well known, at this point, for writing A Language Older Than Words, The Culture of Make Believe and a whole bunch of other books. Ultimately, my work is about stopping the culture from killing the planet. Part of the way that I can best serve in that compactly, or best realize that, is to articulate as best that I can, what many of us know in our hearts to be true.  Like the fact that civilization is inherently unsustainable. It can never be sustainable, it is killing the planet and we need to stop it. Lifestyle changes are not sufficient to stop it, they have never worked to stop any oppressive system and what is needed is organized resistance. That’s really what the body of my work is about.,

How important do you think that it is for artist or writers to communicate and discuss these topics and themes via their art and writing as appose to spending their time developing sustainable personal practices? Or can you do both?

I think you can do both. As far as sustainable personal practices, the environmental movement has been brought down a complete dead-end of lifestylism, and it’s really absurd and it’s really horrible. You have all these books like 50 Simple Things to Do to Save the Planet, which is why Stephanie McMillan and I call our book As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial. Because there are no personal solutions to social problems, it is absurd to think otherwise.  I’m against slavery, so I’m personally not going to own a slave, big deal.  I’m opposed to pornography, so I am not going to look at it. That’s not particularly helpful, that’s not going to stop pornography.  I’m against rape, and so I am not going to rape. A couple examples of how personal lifestyles really don’t help that much; you hear that we are suppose to take shorter showers all the time, but the thing is that 90% of the water that is used by human beings is used for agriculture and industry, only 10% is actually used for human beings. There is more water used for municipal golf courses than used for municipal human beings. So it is a really really really short lever.  Another way to put all this is that per capita trash production in the United States is about 2000 pounds, and so let’s say you become Mr. or Ms. zero trash and you’re going to reduce your consumption.  You don’t ever buy anything that comes in packaging; you wear your shoes till they fall off your feet, you repair your toaster, and you don’t throw anything away. Well, I got bad news for you, because actual per capita trash production in the United States is about 26 tons, only 3% of it is personal production, the rest is all by agriculture and industry again, those are the primary sources.

I was telling all these things to a group of people onetime, and this one guy couldn’t get it at all. So I offered him an example.  You have ten guys and one woman in a room, and all of the men except you start to rape the women. So, you not participating in the rape is not particularly helpful, as it is not going to stop the rape. This one man actually said, “No, it will be good, because that will make it so she suffers one less rape”.  But, what we need to do is to stop the rape. Nobody in his or her right mind would think that composting or riding a bicycle would have stopped Hitler, but suddenly when we start talking about capitalism we get really stupid. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply, I actually live very cheaply myself, but that’s because I’m a cheapskate, not because it’s a particularly political act. I recycle, I use scratch paper till there is nothing left, but I think that’s more some mild form of OCD than it is actually a political statement.

So, the personal lifestyle doesn’t really matter, it’s not what’s important.  Can you imagine the Vietnamese saying we want to stop the US invasion of Vietnam, but we’re not actually resisting, we are not organizing resistance, instead we are going to be very pure, we’re not going to use any weapons, especially US made weapons. This is crazy, their needs to be some organized resistance.

As for the role of an artist, I love the line by Bertolt Brecht “art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” In literature, there is a wretched movement in the past fifty or seventy years that basically tells us that art should be a-political.  First off, there is no such thing as a-political art, because every piece of art created conveys a message.  If the message is all you need is love, well that’s a message, and if the message is I want to give you every inch of my love, that’s Led Zeppelin, then that is a message, isn’t it?  There are inherent messages in every piece of art. It goes along with the whole consumer thing, what we are told is the best environmental action we can do is to work on our precious little self.  What is a lot of art about these days, it’s about your precious little self. Where is political art, where is it?

A great example of this absolute destruction of art is a wretched book and movie that I read and saw several years ago, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It is said to be ‘a great triumph, it’s so wonderful’.  It’s about a guy who had a stroke and can only move and communicate by blinking his left eye. With the assistance of the nurse, once they figure out his communication, he spends the rest of the story writing a book about his life by blinking. The problem for me was, before the stroke, the guy was a narcissistic asshole, and nature hating and misogynistic.  Then afterwards, he’s a narcissistic, nature hating, misogynistic, asshole, and that’s the book. ‘But it was a great triumph because he did this under these terrible conditions’. Whatever.  The whole time I’m reading this I’m thinking something about this is really bugging me, I finally realize what it was; it was essentially the same plot as the book Johnny Got his GunJohnny Got his Gun is a novel about a guy in WW1 who wakes up in the hospital and slowly realizes that a bomb blew him up.  He has no eyes, ears, no face, no arms and legs, he eventually figures out how to communicate by banging his head on the pillow. He becomes an anti-war messiah; it is one of the most powerful anti-war novels ever written. For me, it’s a great example of how political art has been made less effective over the past 80 years.  You always hear that if you want to send a message, use a telegram, send an email or something, don’t write a novel. But what, have these people never heard of Tolstoy, never heard of Charles Dickens, never heard of Balzac, Hugo, and Dreiser, never heard of Andrea Dworkin for that matter.  To make it not just be about writing, have ever you heard of Rage Against the Machine. The point is that art is really essential to resistance. Humans are social creatures, as are many other types of creatures. How we learn is through stories and if the stories we are told are that GNP growth is good, we will come to believe that.  Or if the stories we are told are that resistance is impossible, we are going to come to believe that.  If the stories we’re told are resistance is important, we are going to come to believe that, and if we are told that there is a long and vital history of resistance to capitalism and resistance to civilization, then that helps makes our own resistance stronger. I think one of the roles of artists is to rally resistance and remind people of these tremendous and courageous struggles that have gone on before.

One of my heroes is Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.  She was part of the Russian resistance during WW2, and she was caught doing an action by the Nazis.  She was 17 and was tortured, raped, and mutilated. The only thing that she told them was her name was Tanya, which was not even accurate. As they hanged her, her last words were “you can’t hang all two hundred million of us”.  What does that do when you hear that story, or Ken Saro-Wiwa’s last words before he was [tried, murdered, and] executed by Shell, and the Nigerian government? “Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues”.  He was part of the pure non-violent resistance movement. His son helped form the movement for The Emancipation of the Niger Delta, and the struggle did continue. What does it mean when you hear stories like that? Another one of my heroes is Erich Muhsam, every anarchist in the world should have heard of this guy, but most of the anarchists in the United States never have. He was considered by many to be one of the most dangerous persons in Europe and the late 20s and early 30s.  He was someone who wrote tremendously against the Weimar Republic and the Nazis.  He was an anarchist, and was held at a concentration camp, had a swastika branded or burned into his scalp, and tortured so much that when his wife came to visit she couldn’t recognize him. He was forced to dig his own grave and sing the German National Anthem, but instead sang the Internationale. What does it do to us to hear these stories and to have these people as our heroes as opposed to Bill Gates, or George Washington, who was known as town destroyer among the Indian’s. There is this great line by a Scottish person “if I could write all the ballads I wouldn’t care who makes the laws”.  It is these stories that teach us how to be.

On the contrary, I like watching BBC mysteries, but I recognize that its pro police propaganda.  The cops always get the criminal, which actually doesn’t happen in real life.  The cops are always on the right side, and are invulnerable.  There is a great book called Gunfighter Nation, by Richard Slotkin, which explores themes in popular fiction, from, let’s say, the 1770s up through 1970s. It’s very interesting, the pattern found in popular fiction, the theme that runs through it.  The people that fight Indians in 1770, the white people, want to fight fair, want to be really good guys, but those Indians fight dirty so we have to fight dirty just this once. We have to break our rule even though we always fight fair, just this once.  Onward through time you get to the Spanish American war, and in popular fiction writing about the United States, the theme is there again, we want to fight fair, but those Filipinos don’t fight fair, just this once we might have to torture a couple of them.  Classic Dirty Harry, Dirty Harry really wants to be clean, The United States does not torture but those terrorists are so terrible, so just this once, just this once we will have to torture.  It’s a wonderful book because it lays out that pattern. The point is that these stories allow people to believe that the United States is a great country, that really doesn’t torture, but just this once really has to. Which is the classic logic of abusers everywhere, yeah I wouldn’t beat you, but you pushed me too hard this time man.

Do you have advice for other writers, musicians, and artists who are creating politically focused art?

Yes, don’t let people tell you that art has to be a-political, they are wrong.  My work works, and i’m expressing my feelings with it.  Figure out what it is you love.  Anotehr thing, writing is really hard work, I mean it’s nothintg compared to being a coal miner or something, but its hard intrellectual work.  So if you are going to do it, it may as well be about something important.  Otherwise, why take the time.  There is a great line by R.D. Laing, who starts his bookg Politics of Experience by saying few books today are forgivable.  His point is that we are so alienated from our own experience that any book that doesn’t begin there and deal with that is not forgivable, you are better off with blank pieces of paper.  Same thing is true, the world is being murdered, and anything that doesn’t address that is unforgivable.  Another thing I’d say to young people is that if your work is coming across as too preachy, then either find a different audience or preach better.  Here’s another thing, don’t give in.  You have to believe in your message.

I had a chance to sell out before my career started.  I was writing A Language Older Than Words, and I had a Madison Avenue agent.  Their address is 1 Madison Avenue, they have a whole floor on this skyscraper, they are a a really prestigious literary agent.  I sent them the first 70 pages of what becamse A Language Older Than Words and my agent hated it.  One of the things she said to me was if you take out the family stuff and the social criticism, I think you’ll have a book.  I fired her that day, and I thought I had destroyed my career.  What young writer fires their Madison Avenue agent?  I’m not saying that in terms of oh I was so brave, I was in therapy for 12 years and the only day I ever cried in therapy was that day.  I thought I had killed my career before it started, I thought I had done the stupidest thing I could ever do.  But I knew this book was what I had to write.  Of course in retrospect the agent was absolutely wrong, so stick to your vision.  That doesn’t mean be precious.  I take advice from my editor all the time; I don’t take advice from random people.  If I have an editor that gives me suggestions I take it or don’t take it depending on whether I agree with it, I’m very easy to work with is my point.

Here is another thing, if I can give a little tactical advice to young writers, I mean do whatever you want, but for me, I figure out when I am going to and not going to compromise.  Any book has the message that I want it to be, but I’ve done some magazine articles just to put on my resume.  I’ve certainly done some sell out stuff.  The line I draw is I can do an article if I don’t say what I want to say, but I won’t do an article where I say something I don’t want to say.  My point is, in an article, I’ll cut back some. The point really is to be aware.   Years and years ago I did an article for Audubon magazine because I wanted to be in the magazine.  It was utterly a-political, it didn’t have bad content, it just had no teeth whatsoever. That’s fine, great, now I get to put Audubon on my resume.  I didn’t mind doing that.

I was talking to these activists in Tasmania earlier this week, one question I was asked was in order to gain credibility, you have to sometimes soften your message in terms of your activism, but at the same time how do you remain hard-line and say civilization needs to come down?  We were talking about trying to stop specific timber sales.  I’ve done this myself, when trying to stop a developer from destroying a part of the forest, and at one point someone associated with the process asked me if I was against all forms of development.  I crossed all my fingers and all my toes, and said no I’m not against all development.  The truth is that I am against all forms of development, but I made a tactical decision in that moment, you see what I’m saying?  I think the same kind of thing can be true artistically.  At the same time, one of the things my work does, I do this intentionally, is being as militant and uncompromising as I can because it helps give other people courage to be militant and uncompromising.  That’s part of my role.  I’ve got a book coming out right now where I attack the scientific worldview pretty hard.  One of the reasons I’m doing this is so that people can laugh at me, so when the next person comes along and says the same thing, they won’t get laughed at so hard.  The same thing is true for militant resistance.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Statement of Principles

Deep Green Resistance Statement of Principles

1. The soil, the air, the water, the climate, and the food we eat are created by complex communities of living creatures. The needs of those living communities are primary; individual and social morality must emerge from a humble relationship with the web of life.

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.

3. The Deep Green Resistance movement works to end abuse at the personal, organizational, and cultural levels. The Deep Green Resistance movement aligns itself with feminists and others who seek to eradicate all social domination and to promote solidarity between oppressed peoples.

4. When civilization ends, the living world will rejoice. We must be biophilic people in order to survive. Those of us who have forgotten how must learn again to live with the land and air and water and creatures around us in communities built on respect and thanksgiving. We welcome this future.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Aric McBay
A black tern weighs barely two ounces. On bodily reserves less than a bag of M&Ms and wings that stretch to cover twelve inches, she’ll fly thousands of miles, searching for the wetlands that will harbor her young. And every year the journey gets longer as the wetlands are desiccated for human demands. Every year the tern, desperate and hungry, loses, while civilization, endless and sanguineous, wins.

A polar bear should weigh 650 pounds. Her biological reserves may have to see her through nine long months of dark, denned gestation, and then lactation, giving up her dwindling stores to the needy mouths of her species’ future. In some areas, the female’s weight has dropped from 650 to 507 pounds.1 Meanwhile, the ice has evaporated like the wetlands. When she wakes, the waters will stretch impassably opened, and there is no Abrahamic god of bears to part them for her.

The Aldabra snail should weigh something, but all that’s left to weigh are their skeletons, bits of orange and indigo shells. The snail has been declared not just extinct, but the first casualty of global warming. In dry periods, the snail hibernated. The young of any species are always more vulnerable. In this case, the adults’ “reproductive success” was a “complete failure.”2 In plain terms, the babies died and kept dying, and a species millions of years old is now a pile of shell fragments.

We are living in a period of mass extinction. What is your personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair? The numbers stand at 120 species a day.3 That’s 50,000 a year. This culture is oblivious to their passing, entitled to their every last niche, and there is no roll call on the nightly news.

We already have a name for the tsunami wave of extermination: the Holocene extinction event. There’s no asteroid this time, only human behavior, behavior that we could choose to stop. Adolph Eichman’s excuse was that no one told him that the concentration camps were wrong. We’ve all seen the pictures of the drowning polar bears. Are we so ethically numb that we need to be told this is wrong?

There are voices raised in concern, even anguish, at the plight of the earth, the rending of its species. “Only zero emissions can prevent a warmer planet,” one pair of climatologists declared.4 Or James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis, who states bluntly that global warming has passed the tipping point, carbon offsetting is a joke, and that “individual lifestyle adjustments” are “a deluded fantasy.”5 It’s all true. And self–evident. “Simple living” should start with simple observation: if burning fossil fuels will kill the planet, then stop burning them.

But that conclusion, in all its stark clarity, is not the one anyone’s drawing, from the policy makers to the environmental groups. When they start offering solutions is the exact moment when they stop telling the truth, inconvenient or otherwise. Google “global warming solutions.” The first paid sponsor,, urges “No doom and gloom!! When was the last time depression got you really motivated? We’re here to inspire realistic action steps and stories of success.” By “realistic” they don’t mean solutions that actually match the scale of the problem. They mean the usual consumer choices—cloth shopping bags, travel mugs, and misguided dietary advice—which will do exactly nothing to disrupt the troika of industrialization, capitalism, and patriarchy that is skinning the planet alive. But since these actions also won’t disrupt anyone’s life, they’re declared both realistic and a success.

The next site offers the ever–crucial Global Warming Bracelets and, more importantly, Flip Flops. Polar bears everywhere are weeping with relief. The site’s Take Action page includes the usual buying light bulbs, inflating tires, filling dishwashers, shortening showers, and rearranging the deck chairs.

The first non–commercial site is the Union of Concerned Scientists. As one might expect, there’s no explanation points but instead a statement that “[t]he burning of fossil fuel (oil, coal, and natural gas) alone counts for about 75 percent of annual CO2 emissions.” This is followed by a list of Five Sensible Steps. Step #1 is—no, not stop burning fossil fuel—but “Make Better Cars and SUVs.” Never mind that the automobile itself is the pollution, with its demands—for space, for speed, for fuel—in complete opposition to the needs of both a viable human community and a living planet. Like all the others, the scientists refuse to call industrial civilization into question. We can have a living planet and the consumption that’s killing the planet, can’t we?

The principle here is very simple. As Derrick has written, “[A]ny social system based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition unsustainable.”6 By definition, nonrenewable means it will eventually run out. Once you’ve grasped that intellectual complexity, you can move on to the next level. “Any culture based on the nonrenewable use of renewable resources is just as unsustainable.” Trees are renewable. But if we use them faster than they can grow, the forest will turn to desert. Which is precisely what civilization has been doing for its 10,000 year campaign, running through soil, rivers, and forests as well as metal, coal, and oil. The oceans are almost dead, 90 percent of the large fish devoured, and the plankton populations are collapsing, populations which both feed the life of the oceans and create oxygen for the planet. What will we fill our lungs with when they are gone? The plastics with which that industrial civilization is replacing them? Because in parts of the Pacific, plastic outweighs plankton 48 to 1.7 Imagine your blood, your heart, crammed with toxic materials—not just chemicals but physical gunk—until there was ten times more of it than you. What metaphor would be adequate to the dying oceans? Cancer? Suffocation? Crucifixion?

Meanwhile, the oceans don’t need our metaphors. They need action. They need industrial civilization to stop destroying and devouring; failing that, they need us to make it stop.

Which is why we are writing this book.
The truth is that this culture is insane. When Derrick asks his audiences, “Does anyone here believe that our culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living?”—and he’s asked it for years, all around the country—no one says yes. That means that most people, or at least most people with a beating heart, have already done the math, added up the arrogance, sadism, stupidity, and denial, and reached the bottom line: a dead planet. Some of us carry that final sum like the weight of a corpse. For others, that conclusion turns the heart to a smoldering coal. But despair and rage have been declared unevolved and unclean, beneath the “spiritual warriors” who insist they will save the planet by “healing” themselves. How this activity will stop the release of carbon and the felling of forests is never actually explained. The answer lies vaguely between being the change we wish to see and a hundredth monkey of hope, a monkey that is frankly more Christmas pony than actual possibility.

Given that the culture of America is founded on individualism and awash in privilege, it’s no surprise that narcissism is the end result. The social upheavals of the 60s split along fault lines of responsibility and hedonism, of justice and selfishness, of sacrifice and entitlement. What we are left with is an alternative culture that offers workshops on our “scarcity consciousness,” as if poverty were a state of mind and not a structural support of capitalism. This culture leaves us ill–prepared to face the crisis of planetary biocide that greets us daily with its own grim dawn. The facts are not conducive to an open–hearted state of wonder. To confront the truth as adults, not as faux–children, requires an adult fortitude and courage, grounded in our adult responsibilities to the world. It requires those things because the situation is horrific and living with that knowledge will hurt. Meanwhile, I have been to workshops where global warming is treated as an opportunity for personal growth, and no one but me sees a problem with that.

The alternative culture has encouraged a continuum that runs from the narcissistic to the sociopathic. Narcissists don’t change. As one set of experts puts it, “Typically, as narcissism is an ingrained personality trait, rather than a chemical imbalance, medication and therapy are not very effective in treating the disorder.”8 Somewhere unarticulated, we all know that. And sociopaths can’t change. We know that, too. Which is why no one raises a hand when Derrick asks whether the culture will voluntarily transition to a sustainable way of life.

The word sustainable serves as an example of the worst tendencies of the alternative culture. The word has been reduced to the “Praise, Jesus!” of the eco–earnest. It’s a word where the corporate marketers, with their mediated upswell of green sentiment, meshes perfectly with the relentless denial of the privileged. It’s a word I can barely stand to use because it’s been so exsanguinated by the cheerleaders for the technotopic, consumer kingdom come. To doubt the vague promise now firmly embedded in the word — that we can have our cars, our corporations, our consumption, and our planet, too — is both treason and heresy to the emotional well-being of most progressives. But here’s the question: Do we want to feel better or do we want to be effective? Are we sentimentalists or are we warriors?

Because this way of life—devouring, degrading, and insane—cannot continue. For “sustainable” to mean anything, we must embrace and then defend the bare truth: the planet is primary. The life–producing work of a million species are literally the earth, air, and water that we depend on. No human activity—not the vacuous, not the sublime—is worth more than that matrix. Neither, in the end, is any human life. If we use the word “sustainable” and don’t mean that, then we are liars of the worst sort: the kind who let atrocities happen while we stand by and do nothing.

Even if it was theoretically possible to reach an individual or collective narcissist, it would take time. And time is precisely what the planet has run out of. Admitting that might be the exact moment that we step out of the cloying childishness and optimistic white–lite denial of so much of the left, and into our adult knowledge. And with all apologies to Yeats, in knowledge begins responsibilities. It’s to you grown–ups, the grieving and the raging, that we address this book.
Ninety–eight percent of the population will do nothing unless they are led, cajoled, or forced. If the structural determinants are in place for them to live their lives without doing damage—like if they’re hunter–gatherers with respected elders—then that’s what happens. If, on the other hand, the built environment has been arranged for cars, industrial schooling is mandatory, resisting war taxes will land you in jail, food is only available through giant corporate enterprises selling giant corporate degradation, and misogynist pornography is only a click away 24/7, well, welcome to the nightmare. This culture is basically conducting a huge Milgram experiment with us, only the electric shocks aren’t fake—they’re killing off the planet, species by species.

But wherever there is oppression there is resistance: that is true everywhere, forever. The resistance is built body by body from the other two percent, from the stalwart, the brave, the determined, who are willing to stand against both power and social censure. It is our thesis that there will be no mass movement, not in time to save this planet our home. That two percent in other times has been able to shift both the cultural consciousness and the power structures toward justice: Margaret Mead’s small group of thoughtful, committed citizens. It’s valid to long for a movement, no matter how much we rationally know that we’re wishing on a star. Theoretically, the human race as a whole could face our situation and make some decisions—tough decisions, but fair ones, that include an equitable distribution of both resources and justice, that respect and embrace the limits of our planet. But none of the institutions that govern our lives, from the economic to the religious, are on the side of justice or sustainability. Most of them, in fact, are violently on the side of capital–E Evil. And like with the individually destructive, these institutions could be forced to change. The history of every human rights struggle bears witness to how courage and sacrifice can dismantle power and injustice. It takes bravery and persistence, political intelligence and spiritual strength. And it also takes time. If we had a thousand years, even a hundred years, building a movement to transform the dominant institutions around the globe would be the task before us. But the earth is running out of time. The western black rhinoceros is definitely out of time. So is the golden toad, the pygmy rabbit. No one is going to save this planet except us.

So what are our options? The usual approach of long, slow institutional change has been foreclosed, and many of us know that. The default setting for environmentalists has become personal lifestyle “choices.” This should have been predictable as it merges perfectly into the demands of capitalism, especially the condensed corporate version mediating our every impulse into their profit. But we can’t consume our way out of environmental collapse: consumption is the problem. We might be forgiven for initially accepting an exhortation to “simple living” as a solution to that consumption, especially as the major environmental organizations and the media have declared lifestyle change our First Commandment. Have you accepted compact fluorescents as your personal savior? But lifestyle change is not a solution as it doesn’t address the root of the problem. As Derrick has pointed out elsewhere, even if every American took every single action suggested by Al Gore it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent.9 Aric tells a stark truth: even if through simple living and rigorous recycling you stopped your own average American’s annual one ton of garbage production, “your per capita share of the industrial waste produced in the U.S. is still almost 26 tons. That’s 37 times as much waste as you were able to save by eliminating a full one hundred percent of your personal waste.”10 Industrialism itself is what has to stop. There is no kinder, greener version that will do the trick of leaving us a living planet. In blunt terms, industrialization is a process of taking entire communities of living beings and turning them into commodities and dead zones. Could it be done more “efficiently”? Sure, we could use a little less fossil fuel, but it still ends in the same wastelands of land, water, and sky. We could stretch this endgame out another twenty years but the planet still dies. Trace every industrial artifact back to its source—which isn’t hard as they all leave trails of blood—and you find the same devastation: mining, clear cuts, dams, agriculture. And now tar sands, mountain top removal, windfarms (which might better be called dead bird and bat farms). No amount of renewables is going to make up for the fossil fuel or change the nature of the extraction, both of which are prerequisites for this way of life. Neither fossil fuel nor extracted substances will ever be sustainable: by definition they will run out. And both getting them and using them are literally the destruction of the planet. Bringing a cloth shopping bag to the store, even if you walk there in your global warming flip flops, will not stop the tar sands.

We have believed such ridiculous solutions because our perception has been blunted by some portion of denial and despair. And those are legitimate reactions. I’m not persuading anyone out of them. The question is, do we want to develop a strategy to manage our emotional state or to save the planet?

And we’ve believed in these lifestyle solutions because everyone around us insists they’re workable, a collective repeating mantra of “renewables, recycling” that has dulled us into belief. Like Eichmann, no one has told us that it’s wrong.

Until now. So this is the moment when you will have to decide. Do you want to be part of a serious effort to save this planet? Not a serious effort at collective delusion, not a serious effort to feel better, not a serious effort to save you and yours. But an actual strategy to stop the destruction of everything worth loving. If your answer feels as imperative as instinct, then you already know it’s long past time to fight. After that, the only question left is: how? And despite everything you’ve been told by the Eichmanns of despair, that question has an answer. They have insisted that there is no answer, but that’s the lie of cowards. Every system of power can be fought—they’re only human in the end, not supernatural, not sent by god. Industrial civilization is in fact more vulnerable than past empires, dependent as it is on such a fragile infrastructure of pipelines and overhead wires, on binary bits of data encoding its lifeblood of capital. If we would let ourselves think it, a workable strategy is obvious, and in fact is not very different from the actions of partisan resisters across history.

So, will you think it—that one word: resistance? Will you notice that they’ve come for our kin of polar bears and black terns, who are right now being herded into the cattle cars of industrial civilization? Will you join the others who are yearning to action? The train can be derailed, the tracks ripped up, the bridge blown down. There is no metaphor here, as any General Officer could tell us. There is a planet being murdered, and there are also targets that, if taken out relentlessly, could stop it. So think “resistance” with all your aching heart, a word that must become our promise to what is left of this planet. Gather the others: you already know them. The brave, smart, militant, and, most of all, serious, and together take aim. Do it carefully, but do it.

Then fire for all your worth.