Earth At Risk, sponsored by Fertile Ground Institute in November 2014, featured many of today’s most important activists and thinkers in environmentalism, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, radical feminism, and anti-racism. With keynote speakers Derrick Jensen, Alice Walker, Vandana Shiva, Chris Hedges, and Thomas Linzey; plus multiple panels, the event was full of insightful and inspiring discussions.
Besides Derrick Jensen, Deep Green Resistance members Saba Malik, Kourtney Mitchell and Doug Zachary spoke on panels; and Dominique Christina performed two sets of her award winning slam poetry.
Will Falk wrote a report-back on the event: Earth At Risk 2014: The Proper Diagnosis. Until now his writeup was the only way to experience the event vicariously for those of us who missed it, but Fertile Ground just made all 12 hours of the presentations available.
View the videos below, or visit our member appearances page and enter “earth at risk” into the filter box to browse only the presentations involving DGR members. You can also download audio files of those panels and keynotes.
Chris Hedges, one of the great intellectuals of our time, opens this important interview with two quotes. James Baldwin says of the rebel and the artist that it’s not so much that they have a vision, but that they’re propelled by it. Hannah Arendt writes of people who resist that “It’s not those who say ‘This shouldn’t be done.’ or ‘We oughtn’t to do this.’ It’s those who say ‘I can’t.'”
Hedges uses these quotes as a launching point into an important conversation with Derrick Jensen about rebels, revolutionaries, and revolt. How do people willing to defy power develop, and what contributes to their success or failure in fighting injustice? Are such people born with a unique spark required for them to stand up against those in power? Can this impulse be cultivated in them, or in those willing to follow the rebel? What conditions need be present in society to launch a larger movement of resistance? Can these conditions be cultivated? What are the differences between rebels working for the good of others vs abusers who call themselves victimized rebels? What are the dangers of using violence in a struggle for liberation?
Jensen and Hedges discuss the difficulty of getting a radical or even progressive message out to people in these days of society in decay, spectacle, and unwillingness to hear uncomfortable truths. Between the entrenched political parties shutting out any discourse critiquing power, the control of mass media by corporations carefully filtering what gets through, and even the erosion of intellectual freedom in universities, the process of building an opposition to business as usual is painful and deadly slow. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, we must work harder (and smarter) than ever to break down these corrupt structures, restore local decision making, and rebuild healthy communities.
Hedges believes the system is irredeemable, and any attempt to work with or within it is a waste of precious time we don’t have. Everything we do now must be oriented towards overthrowing the system and corporate power. If we don’t overthrow it soon, we’re faced with the extinction of not just the human species, but all others as well.
Hedges has many insights into our current crises of political, economic, and moral systems; and into what is necessary to correct our course. Listen to his June 21, 2015 interview below, download mp3, or listen on our Youtube channel. For more of his brilliant analysis, read his latest book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt or any of his many other books.
Chris Hedges spoke last weekend at the State of Extraction conference at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC. While most speakers focused exclusively on natural “resources” ripped from the planet, Hedges brilliantly linked this environmental devastation with the social impacts of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism on our most vulnerable populations. He challenged the narcissism, individualism, and identity politics that have come to dominate modern culture, including most of the left. He identified as especially insidious the widespread acceptance of prostitution and pornography: no other subjugation is so widely rationalized and dismissed as these abuses of women. Even in so-called progressive and radical circles, sexualized violence and racism are fiercely defended where no one would try to justify such violations in any other circumstances.
In fact, Hedges was temporarily deplatformed from the State of Extraction conference precisely for calling on the left to recognize the war against women as part of the larger colonialist project, in his recent article amplifying the voices of women on the front lines. Even in venues actively opposing the status quo of capitalism and extraction from the earth, any challenge to the accepted wisdom of patriarchy is met with knee-jerk attacks and an unwillingness to listen. We’ve seen this again and again in recent years as radical feminist speakers have been silenced: deplatformed from venue after venue, threatened with rape and murder, and attacked in vicious smear campaigns. The only thing unique about this latest incident is Hedges’ position as a privileged white man.
Deep Green Resistance strongly advocates for a radical view of our interlocking crises, environmental and social. We need to get to the root of our problems to fashion effective solutions. In our FAQ Is DGR a Feminist Organization? we explain:
Right now, patriarchy is the ruling religion of the planet. Women are just another resource for men to use in their endless quest to prove their toxic masculinity and breed soldiers for civilization’s constant state of war. The masculinity and the war—against people, against the planet—together have created a perpetual motion machine of domination and destruction of the land and human rights. This is why militarism is a feminist issue, why rape is an environmental issue, why environmental destruction is a peace issue. We will never dismantle misogyny as long as domination is eroticized. We will also never stop racism. Nor will we mount an effective resistance to fascism, since, as Sheila Jeffreys points out, fascism’s root is ultimately the eroticization of domination and subordination–fascism is in essence a cult of masculinity. Those are all huge spin-outs from the same beginning. The result is torture, rape, genocide, and biocide.
Please ponder this as you watch Chris Hedges give this amazing and truly radical speech:
Trigger warning: Besides the generally disturbing nature of this subject, Hedges reads a graphic account of a brutal rape from minute 46 to 48.
Will Falk attended the 2014 Earth At Risk conference as a representative of the Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network and of Deep Green Resistance. So many great speakers and panels were involved that Falk can only give summaries, but his report back captures the excitement and energy of seeing how the various social justice and environmental topics are all linked together, with huge potential for building alliances.