Ben Barker on Resistance Radio

Every Sunday, Derrick Jensen interviews an activist for Resistance Radio, asking great questions about their work, how they got into it, and how other people can get involved.

Last Sunday, Jensen interviewed Ben Barker, a writer, activist, and farmer from West Bend, WI. He is currently writing a book about toxic qualities of radical subcultures and the need to build a vibrant culture of resistance. Barker has been a long-time member of Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin, has served in the past as DGR staff, and has contributed in crucial ways to getting the organization up and running.

In this interview, Ben talks about his experiences in and the differences between movements for social change vs subcultures, which he defines as style-based groupings of people content to exist in opposition to a cultural mainstream without making serious efforts to change it. He reassures those new to radical activism that there are options beyond such dead-end subcultures.

Play the podcast below, or listen to the interview on the DGR Youtube channel.

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Browse all of Derrick Jensen’s Resistance Radio interviews.

DGR Member Tours Philippines

Kim Hill of Deep Green Resistance Australia toured the Philippines in February, with the Mobile Anarchist School. She spoke at universities, infoshops, a farmer’s forum and many other locations about the need for a serious resistance movement.

You can read her blog of her Philippines tour, or listen to an interview of her by an anti-civ radio show in Manila.

Courage: excerpt from Derrick Jensen’s Endgame


Excerpted from Endgame vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization , by Derrick Jensen. Page 317-319.


Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape.

William S. Burroughs

I learned about e-bombs from one of my students—Casey Maddox, an excellent writer—at the prison. He wrote an extraordinary novel about someone who is kidnapped and put through a twelve-step recovery program for an addiction to Western civilization. The book’s title is The Day Philosophy Died, and, as we’ll get to in a moment, that title is related to E-bombs.

E-bombs are, to my reckoning, one of the few useful inventions of the military- industrial complex. They are kind of the opposite of neutron bombs, which, if you remember, kill living beings but leave nonliving structures such as cities relatively intact: the quintessence of civilization. E-bombs, on the other hand, are explosive devices that do not hurt living beings, but instead destroy all electron- ics. Casey calls them “time machines,” because when you set one off you go back one hundred and fifty years.

At one point in the novel the kidnappers are going to use a small plane to drop an E-bomb over the Bay Area. They carry the bomb on board inside a casket. The main character asks, “Who died?”

“Philosophy,” someone says. “When philosophy dies,” that person continues, “action begins.”

As they prepare to set off the E-bomb, the main character keeps thinking, “There’s something wrong with our plan.” The thought keeps nagging him as they do their countdown to the celebration. Five, four, three, two, one. And the main character gets it, but too late. The E-bomb explodes. Their plane plummets.

One of the kidnappers clutches his chest, keels over. He’s got a pacemaker. Even nonviolent actions can kill people. At this point, any action, including inaction, has lethal consequences. If you are civilized, your hands are more or less permanently stained deep dark red with the blood of countless human and non- human victims.

Long before he finished the book, Casey showed me where he first read about E-bombs. It was in, of all places, Popular Mechanics. If you check the September 2001 issue out of the library—which even has rudimentary instructions for how to construct one—make sure you use someone else’s library card. Preferably someone you don’t like.

The article was titled, “E-bomb: In the Blink of an Eye, Electromagnetic Bombs Could Throw Civilization Back 200 Years. And Terrorists [sic] Can Build Them for $400.”

And that’s a bad thing?

The author, Jim Wilson, begins: “The next Pearl Harbor will not announce itself with a searing flash of nuclear light or with the plaintive wails of those dying of Ebola or its genetically engineered twin. You will hear a sharp crack in the distance. By the time you mistakenly identify this sound as an innocent clap of thunder, the civilized world will have become unhinged.”

So far so good.

He continues, “Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, despite being turned off. The aroma of ozone mixed with smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt. Your Palm Pilot and MP3 player will feel warm to the touch, their batteries over-loaded. Your computer, and every bit of data on it, will be toast.”

I know, I know, this all sounds too good to be true. But it gets even better.

Wilson writes,“And then you will notice that the world sounds different too. The background music of civilization, the whirl of internal-combustion engines, will have stopped. Save a few diesels, engines will never start again. You, however, will remain unharmed, as you find yourself thrust backward 200 years, to a time when electricity meant a lightning bolt fracturing the night sky. This is not a hypothetical, son-of-Y2K scenario. It is a realistic assessment of the damage the Pentagon believes could be inflicted by a new generation of weapons—E-bombs.”

When I mention all this at my shows, people often interrupt me with cheers.

The core of the E-bomb idea is something called a Flux Compression Generator (FCG), which the article in Popular Mechanics calls “an astoundingly simple weapon. It consists of an explosives-packed tube placed inside a slightly larger copper coil, as shown below. [The article even has a diagram!] The instant before the chemical explosive is detonated, the coil is energized by a bank of capacitors, creating a magnetic field. The explosive charge detonates from the rear forward. As the tube flares outward it touches the edge of the coil, thereby creating a moving short circuit. ‘The propagating short has the effect of compressing the magnetic field while reducing the inductance of the stator [coil],’ says Carlo Kopp [an Australian-based expert on high-tech warfare]. ‘The result is that FCGs will produce a ramping current pulse, which breaks before the final disintegration of the device. Published results suggest ramp times of tens of hundreds of microseconds and peak currents of tens of millions of amps.’ The pulse that emerges makes a lightning bolt seem like a flashbulb by comparison.”

As good as all this may sound (oh, sorry, I forgot that technological progress is good; civilization is good; destroying the planet is good; computers and televisions and telephones and automobiles and fluorescent lights are all good, and certainly more important than a living and livable planet, more important than salmon, swordfish, grizzly bears, and tigers, which means the effects of E-bombs are so horrible that nobody but the U.S. military and its brave and glorious allies should ever have the capacity to set these off, and they should only be set off to support vital U.S. interests such as access to oil, which can be burned to keep the U.S. economy growing, to keep people consuming, to keep the world heating up from global warming, to keep tearing down the last vestiges of wild places from which the world may be able to recover if civilization comes down soon enough), it gets even better (or worse, if you identify more with civilization than your landbase): After an E-bomb is detonated, and destroys local electronics, the pulse piggybacks through the power and telecommunication infrastructure. This, according to the article, “means that terrorists [sic] would not have to drop their homemade E-bombs directly on the targets they wish to destroy. Heavily guarded sites, such as telephone switching centers and electronic funds-transfer exchanges, could be attacked through their electric and telecommunication connections.”

The article concludes on this hopeful note: “Knock out electric power, computers and telecommunication and you’ve destroyed the foundation of modern society. In the age of Third World-sponsored terrorism, the E-bomb is the great equalizer.”



Read more excerpts from Endgame, or purchase the book from Derrick Jensen’s website.

“Politics of Reality” Book Review

Ben Cutbank / Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin

The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory, written by Marilyn Frye in the 1980’s, is one of the most instructive books I have read to date. The succinctness of each of her essays, which cover such fundamental topics for the feminist learner as white privilege, male supremacy, lesbianism and gay rights, and violence against women, combines with an impressive comprehensiveness that leaves the reader with little room for debate. It’s simple, but forceful, similar to, I would assert, the works of radical environmental author Derrick Jensen, and especially his two-volume book, Endgame.

In one essay, a difference between love and arrogancetwo forces that, in a sense, speak to the entire battle of life against oppressionis drawn out:

The loving eye does not make the object of perception into something edible, does not try to assimilate it, does not reduce it to the size of the seer’s desire, fear and imagination, and hence does not have to simplify. It knows the complexity of the other as something which will forever present new things to be known.

The arrogant perceiver’s perception of the other’s normalcy or defectiveness is not only dead wrong, it is coercive. It manipulates the other’s perception and judgment at the root by mislabeling the unwholesome as healthy, and what is wrong as right. One judges and chooses within a framework of values — notions as to what ‘good’ and ‘good for you’ pertain to….If one has the cultural and institutional power to make the misdefinition stick, one can turn the whole other person right around to oneself by this one simple trick.

As a woman living under the rule of patriarchy, and as someone with a radical feminist analysis, Marilyn Frye is no stranger to the meaning of privilege, both in concept and practice. As one might expect, she speaks thoroughly and often about the privileges afforded to men over women. However, her analysis doesn’t stop there: those with white skin, including white women, experience a certain kind of privilege as well, because the dominant culture is both patriarchal and white supremacist. Connecting these dots is both crucial and, unfortunately, too rare. Says Frye:

In a certain way it is true that being white-skinned means that everything I do will be wrongat least an exercise of unwarranted privilegeand I will encounter the reasonable anger of women of color at every turn. But ‘white’ also designates a political category, a sort of political fraternity. Membership in it is not in the same sense “fated” or “natural.” It can be resisted.

Members of the dominant culture must be able to mark or define the sex of human beings so that it’s clear who is to subjugated and who is to do the subjugating, who is to be exploited and who is to do the exploiting. Masculinity and femininity are concepts created and enforced by patriarchy to keep the social order running smoothly. As Marilyn Frye puts it:

I see enormous social pressure on us all to act feminine or act
masculine (and not both), so I am inclined to think that if we were to
break the habits of culture which generate that pressure, people would
not act particularly masculine or feminine.

Imagine a bird in a birdcage. The bird is confined by numerous wires that connect with each other in order to imprison the bird. If one looks at one of the wires alone, it could seem silly as to why the bird doesn’t simply fly around it to freedom. However, it takes stepping back and seeing the whole picture that is the birdcage in order to understand why the bird is trapped. This is the classic metaphor that Frye has used to describe the meaning of oppression. She goes further to give a basic definition:

Oppression is a system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilize and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group (individually to individuals of the other group, and as a group, to that group).

In a discussion of the gay liberation movement, and the fatal mistake
of gay men often trying to embrace masculinity instead of rejecting it,
Marilyn Frye speaks to a different vision, a lesbian vision, in a line that I
believe is one of the most powerful in the book:

The general direction of lesbian feminist politics is the dismantling of
male privilege, the erasure of masculinity, and the reversal of the
rule of phallic access, replacing the rule that access is permitted
unless specifically forbidden with the rule that it is forbidden unless
specifically permitted.

This book is crucial reading for any person with the love and courage it takes to fight for a better world. While anyone would benefit from heeding the lessons that Marilyn Frye has put forth, I especially think that men need to hear this radical feminist message and begin to join women in the fight against patriarchy and for the liberation of all of life.

New Book Featuring Deep Green Resistance Authors: The (Un)OccupyMovement

A new book, compiled and edited by Mankh (Walter E. Harris III), features contributions from Deep Green Resistance authors Aric McBay, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. The book is called The (Un)Occupy Movement: Anatomy of Conscousness, Practical Solutions, Human Equality. Prose and Poetry, and you can order copies here.

Excerpt from the book’s introduction:

As the title suggests, there is an “Occupy Movement” (begun with Occupy Wall Street) that has stirred the so-called American melting pot from its backburner state. Suddenly, things are cooking and more and more People are getting a whiff of the spirited air. Yet, from the perspective of the First Nations or Natives, the land has been unjustly occupied since 1492. Indigenous Peoples around the globe are dealing with similar issues. Hence, “Unoccupy Movement.”

Read a review of the book here.