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 firstname.lastname@example.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.