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The third meeting of the DGR Santa Barbara book club was held on Sunday, May 7th at the Eastside Library.  We discussed chapter 4 of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet.  The following questions were posed to inspire discussion:

1) How did the “Alternative vs. Oppositional Culture” comparison affect your understanding of this distinction and your understanding of political action?
2) Do you believe that an alternative culture built around the project of an individualistic experience (whether spiritual or psychological) can create a resistance movement?
3) Where have you seen millenarianism in political movements? How does this affect the effectiveness of those movements, especially ones you have been a part of?
4) Do you see a culture of resistance forming in this country, in this state, in Santa Barbara? How could we help to encourage a culture of resistance here?
5) How does the dominant culture teach us to ignore the wisdom of our elders? Do you agree with the analysis presented in this chapter that resistance movements need both the young and the old to succeed?
6) What was your favorite part of the reading?

A couple people agreed that this is their favorite chapter in the entire book because it really clarifies the difference between the alternative culture of, for example, the hippies, and an oppositional culture.  Alternative cultures cannot create a true, effective resistance movement because they do not challenge the structures of power that maintain the status quo.  This distinction is really valuable, especially for young people exploring different groups and discovering what they want to do with their lives.

The discussion then turned to the concept of challenging monogamy as an integral part of certain alternative cultures.  In most cases, this is nothing more than a convenient, radical-sounding excuse for misogynistic men to share sexual access to women.  However, some women have also critiqued monogamy from a feminist perspective.  In their vision, relationships should be based on women’s and men’s wants being equally important.  Harmful, gendered socialization, which perpetuates the patriarchal idea of men owning women, would not exist.  This led to a few attendees sharing their views about how another, egalitarian society could look and how relationships in that culture would be different than those in the dominant culture today.

During the meeting, we did not have time to fully cover the discussion questions; a discussion about chapter 4 will be continued through email.  If you would like to be on that email list, please contact us at santabarbara@deepgreenresistance.org.

If you are interested in attending future book club meetings, subscribe to our local chapter news using the box on the right side of our website.  The book club is taking a break for the summer.  Our next meeting will be in late August.

The second meeting of the DGR Santa Barbara book club was held on Sunday, April 9th at the Eastside Library.  We discussed Chapters 2 and 3 of Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet.  The following questions were posed to inspire discussion:

1) Do you think civilization, industrial or otherwise, is redeemable? Why or why not?
2) How did the “Liberalism vs. Radicalism” comparison affect your understanding of this distinction and your understanding of political action?
3) How has your understanding of any of the four main categories of action discussed in Chapter 3 (legal remedies, direct action, withdrawal, and spirituality) changed?
4) Do you think an underground movement should mobilize to dismantle civilization?
5) Do you think it is ever appropriate to use violence as a political tool?
6) What was your favorite part of the reading?

After the DGR members present at the meeting described our definition of civilization, nobody agreed that it could be redeemable.  Civilization is inherently unsustainable, because cities–the defining features of a civilization–require the importation of resources.  This means that civilization is not synonymous with culture or community; for the majority of humanity’s history we did not live in cities, but we still had communities and various cultures.  The rise of civilization severed humans’ connection to the land and led to widespread cases of what are known as the “diseases of civilization:” cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.

There was a lot of interest in understanding the difference between liberals and radicals.  One attendee pointed out that in the reading, Lierre Keith states that the left starts with a rejection of capitalism.  So the major political party that posits itself as on the “left,” the Democratic Party, is not really on the left at all.  During the meeting, we talked about how liberalism views the individual as the basic social unit, while radicalism views groups or classes as the basic social unit.  In the US, local communities cannot legally stop giant corporations from poisoning their water, soil, and air because an individual’s right to commerce is more important, and corporations are individuals under US law.  Radicals understand that corporations are generally a class of rich, white men exploiting others for power and that local communities should be able to protect themselves from exploitation and environmental disaster.  Liberals believe that racist, misogynistic, and other hateful & violent individuals should have their recruitment strategies protected because of “freedom of speech.”  However, radicals recognize that someone’s right to free speech should not supersede oppressed groups’ right to safety.

DGR members appreciate how the organization recognizes that legal remedies and some form of leadership can be very beneficial to resistance movements.  Many other leftist groups have a knee-jerk rejection of any authority and the pursuit of legal strategies, regardless of their effectiveness.  We believe there can be a difference between how our resistance movements are organized and how the new society that we want to replace civilization will be organized.

DGR is a strictly aboveground organization, and so we have no knowledge about underground movements that is not already public information.  We are outspoken that an underground movement is needed to dismantle industrial civilization for the sake of life on Earth.  One potential danger of an underground movement is that destroying infrastructure in one place could allow civilized people elsewhere to ramp up their destruction.  That is why any underground strategy must target key points that will result in global, cascading systems failure.  The examples of Chernobyl and the Northeast blackout of 2003 were brought up.  Even after the vast nuclear fallout at Chernobyl, the region has began to recover and now there are even packs of wolves in the area.  Just hours after the 2003 blackout, air (and light) pollution had significantly diminished.  Both of these cases resulted from operator error, not a targeted attack.

The meeting went very well and we were having such a great conversation that we ran out of time to talk about the last 2 questions!  A discussion about chapters 2 and 3 will be continued through email.  If you would like to be on that email list, please contact us at santabarbara@deepgreenresistance.org.

If you are interested in attending future book club meetings, subscribe to our local chapter news using the box on the right side of our website.

     by Charlie Mountain / Deep Green Resistance Santa Barbara

The Environmental Status Quo

Mainstream environmental organizations have largely praised the Obama administration as environmentally friendly.  Ed Chen, the national communications director for the National Resources Defense Council, described Obama as “the greatest climate change-fighting president in history.”  The Environmental Defense Fund hailed Obama as “a leader committed to clean energy, climate progress, and protecting our natural heritage” who “leaves a better, cleaner, more sustainable world for all of our kids.”

Examples of Obama’s environmental legacy include: the Clean Power Plan, Paris Agreement, the promotion of “renewable energy,” and enhanced fuel efficiency standards for vehicles.  Most people already know that the Clean Power Plan is not ambitious enough to keep total planetary warming below even the alarming 2 °C mark.  The Paris Climate Agreement has the same shortfall, in addition to the fact that the emissions reductions outlined in the document are not legally binding.

Even increased energy production from renewable technologies and higher fuel efficiency standards, which may sound like positive achievements, are not all they’re cracked up to be.  There’s a phenomenon known as the Jevons Paradox, which explains why increased energy efficiency paradoxically does not lead to lower emissions, because the higher efficiency is offset by an increased usage of energy due to the lower cost of energy.  Renewable energy technologies can also lead to the same kind of situation where a larger total amount of energy means that all the energy is consumed, rather than renewable energy displacing energy produced by fossil fuels.  The worst effect of producing renewable technologies is the pollution that comes from mining, manufacturing, and discarding of the hazardous waste, which is so harmful that no sane person can argue these technologies are beneficial to the planet.  On the contrary, mainstream “environmentalists” view renewable energy as the means by which we will be able to continue this destructive way of life.

Obama’s true legacy is one of imperialism, capitalism, and extractivismHe boasted that “more oil [was] produced at home than we buy from the rest of world” in 2014, “the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years,” while opening up more US land for oil and gas drilling.  Any of the Obama administration’s “claimed [greenhouse gas emissions] reductions are attributable mostly to a weak economy.”  And the fact remains that the United States had its biggest increase in oil production in history during Obama’s terms.  While many liberals’ rallying cry under the new administration is to “protect Obama’s legacy,” radical environmentalists are opposed to all ecocidal policies, regardless of who is behind them.  Obama’s policies would lead to a planet no less dead than if Trump’s agenda is enacted.

 

Liberals’ Responses to Trump

As many other leftists have stated, Obama’s threat to the planet (and human rights) was largely ignored by liberals, likely because of his “feel-good rhetoric.”  In stark contrast, Trump is openly ecocidal (and misogynistic, racist, and so on) which makes it easier for large numbers of Americans to realize how insane his policies are.  Trump’s all-around vileness has led to increased resistance from the general public to the new administration, taking the form of the Women’s Marches on January 21st, demonstrations at airports, protests against cabinet picks, and more.

Mainstream environmental organizations openly hold Trump in contempt and vow to fight him.  I’ve received emails from Sierra Club California with tips to “help the resistance to Trump’s policies,” which include how to contact your representatives and get involved in local protests & other events.  After the election, the Center for Biological Diversity launched a nationwide #Earth2Trump campaign demonstrating the extent of the country’s resistance to Trump’s agenda.  They plan to participate in a variety of legal methods to fight environmental destruction and uphold the rights of oppressed groups.  The People’s Climate Movement is organizing a “march for jobs, justice and the climate” on April 29th in DC.

 

Radical Environmental Organizing in the Era of Trump

In many ways, Trump is continuing Obama’s legacy of extractivism—one important example is the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Construction of the pipeline began under Obama’s watch, and water protectors were being attacked with tear gas and water cannons in freezing temperatures before Trump took office.  The most Obama did to stop the construction was ordering an environmental review, which probably wouldn’t have made a difference even if Trump hadn’t allowed construction to continue without the review.

Photo from Veterans For Standing Rock showing the militarized police forces invading Standing Rock.

Because the opposition to Trump is so large and widespread, it is easy for radicals to find groups and individuals to ally with in the fight against his policies, unlike how it was under the Obama administration.  It’s very important for us to take advantage of this fact.  In a general sense, mainstream liberal activists are fighting on the same side as us—and we should be building alliances where we can, for there is strength in numbers.  We must also show that Democrats are just as threatening to life on this planet as Republicans are, and encourage others to fight against Trump outside the paradigm of the two-party system.

Leftist organizations like the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) are opposing Trump in this way by protesting his policies directly and presenting an alternative to the dominant system of capitalism.  Refuse Fascism also calls for mass resistance against the Trump administration’s agenda “for the future of humanity and the planet,” without encouraging collaboration with the Democratic Party.

Kshama Sawant, who sits on Seattle’s city council and is a member of Socialist Alternative, recently helped to pass a bill in Seattle that would completely divest the city from Wells Fargo, one of the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Following Seattle’s legislation, the City of Davis also voted unanimously to move their banking services from Wells Fargo elsewhere by the end of the year.  Santa Monica made the same decision last month.

The unique political and environmental analysis put forward by Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is resonating with more people in these scary times, with the organization seeing an influx of new member and volunteer applications.  When asked how she found DGR, one volunteer wrote that she “searched what I can do to stop Trump from hurting the environment.”  The silver lining in Trump’s rise to power can certainly be to radicalize people who could not see the ecocidal state for what it is until such a deplorable man was elected to rule it.  DGR’s apt response to the November election was that “we’re left with direct action.  Those of us serious about protecting present and future life on the planet must leverage our small numbers to shut down fossil fuels, polluting industries, and nature-destroying machines.”

A wonderful example of this kind of direct action is the Valve Turners, part of “the biggest coordinated move on US energy infrastructure ever undertaken by environmental protesters.”  Five activists shut down pipelines carrying tar sands oil into the US in Washington, Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota in October 2016.  The first trial for one of the valve turners, Ken Ward, was recently declared a mistrial, a surprising victory in the age of Trump.  Ward encourages others to participate in similar actions: “it is the obligation of every thinking person to find a way to stave off climate cataclysm, and there is no effective, legal alternative to personal direct action.”  Successes from groups like the Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND) and the Indian Naxalites show Ward’s words to be true.

Photo of a PSL protest sign reading “Trump is the symptom Capitalism is the disease Socialism is the cure.”

I agree with PSL’s assertion of Trump as just a symptom of the larger problem.  This is exactly what liberals have yet to understand, and we need to help them get there.  Capitalism, industrialism, racism, and misogyny are all diseases than can only be cured by a global revolution.  Radical environmentalists must do the work of bringing in activists from all across the political spectrum to fight for a common goal—a living planet.

The Women’s March took place on January 21st, the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, in Washington, D.C.  Upwards of 500,000 participated in the march, over twice the anticipated 200,000 and three times the estimated 160,000 in attendance at the inauguration.

View of the National Mall, taken by the National Park Service EarthCam at noon ET, an hour before the march was scheduled to begin.

Sister marches also occurred throughout the U.S. and across all seven continents; a total of 673 marches were organized.  Political scientists have estimated that somewhere between 3.3 million and 4.6 million people marched in the U.S., making it the largest protest in the country’s history.  The highest turnout was in downtown Los Angeles, where over 750,000 people filled the streets.

This view does not capture the entire crowd in downtown Los Angeles, where traffic was completely shut down for blocks around Pershing Square for the march.

The organizers said that they did not plan the event as a protest, but instead as a response to “rhetoric of the past election cycle.”  They do not even describe their non-confrontational demonstration as anti-Trump.  The official website states that the march “will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.”  Their language is very timid and insubstantial, with no mention of patriarchy, female liberation, or the fact that men are the oppressors of women.  Let alone naming the misogynist who was just inaugurated as head of “our new government”!
Fortunately, women did not listen to the “not an anti-Trump protest” message.  We showed up in D.C., chanting, “Donald Trump has got to go” and, “not my president.”  One sign at the Los Angeles march read “EXPECT RESISTANCE YOU FUCKING NAZI,” clearly addressing Trump and his racist hate speech.

A sign at the DC march reads “abuser in chief” with a red circle and line through the text.  Donald Trump raped Ivana, his ex-wife, and has been accused of sexual assault by several other women.

In a country where “vagina” is a bad word, where women are not allowed to make choices about our own bodies, where a rapist who has made disgusting comments about women has been elected to the highest political office, women are fighting back.  In D.C., women loudly exclaimed “my body my choice,” and “a woman’s place is in the struggle.”  Protest signs read “keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” “pussy grabs back,” and “we need to talk about the elephant in the womb.”  We refuse to shut up about our anatomy, despite how uncomfortable it makes men, as long as those same men continue to oppress us by restricting our reproductive freedom and objectifying our female bodies.

A sign at the LA march reads “we were all born from womyn.”

A group of radical feminists (perhaps inspired by Meghan Murphy’s article) marched in DC with a huge banner reading “WOMEN RISE UP! AGAINST TRUMP AGAINST RAPE AGAINST THE SEXIST STATE.”  They also had signs reading “ANGRY, HAIRY FEMINISTS UNITE!” and “SISTERHOOD IS POWERFUL.”  Women will not quietly ask for our dignity, our rights, and our humanity, we will demand them.  Because we know that the Trump administration and all the other misogynists of the world will not listen to our appeals.  They will only listen to political force.  Sisters across the globe, join the resistance to fight for your liberation!

A sign from the DC march reads “POWER CONCEDES NOTHING WITHOUT A DEMAND,” a quote from Frederick Douglass.  Keep this in mind over the next four years.