The answer might surprise you.
View more videos on the Deep Green Resistance Youtube channel
The answer might surprise you.
View more videos on the Deep Green Resistance Youtube channel
Reflections from Greece
By panagioti, Earth First! Journal editorial collective
The recent “open letter” from Deep Green Resistance to participants of the Occupy movement may have come across as vague to those unfamiliar with the recent book and online network under the Deep Green Resistance (DGR) banner.
But those familiar with DGR, and its proposed strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare, are likely imagining what it might really look like if there was more overlap between the DGR and Occupy folks. Would those engaging with the public through their full-time encampments around the world—of which there are 400+ in this directory—embrace a concurrent underground resistance effort along similar lines?
The DGR concept presented in their book references a couple dozen historical examples of popular movements doing just that—from the efforts that ended apartheid in South Africa to the local forces that whittled away at Nazi occupation across Europe in World War II.
Of course, there are efforts in the here-and-now doing the same thing around the world. But most of them are in less developed countries. One example is MEND, who has been fighting a guerilla resistance backed by popular support against Shell Oil and a corrupt government in the Niger Delta of Africa, the most polluted place on the planet. Their struggle has been covered by the Earth First! Journal in the past, and is also mentioned briefly in the DGR book.
But another example, not in the book, is visible in Greece right now. In many ways, this is much closer to home for the Occupy world, since the current trend of public occupations was largely kicked off in Syntagma Square of Athens (and also in Spain), responding to the crisis manufactured by the European Union to manage the crumbling global economy by installing economic austerity measures in exchange for state bailouts. The best place to follow the struggle in english is here. But I digress… probably because I’m writing this from a bus pulling into Athens, ironically, on the eve of Oxi Day—a national holiday celebrating anti-fascist resistance in WWII. Back to the point at hand:
This week in Greece, the trial of Epanastatikos Agonas (EA) began, amidst general strikes and riots related to the austerity proposal this month. Members of EA (that’s “Revolutionary Struggle” in English) have taken responsibility for their participation in the group, which claimed dozens of actions against government and industry targets over the past several years. Their widespread support is visible all over the country in demonstrations, graffiti, posters and postings on dozens of websites.
While Occupy set up tents to make a point about banks being culprits of social and ecological ills, EA attacked the banks a bit more directly. In 2009 they attempted to blow up a Citibank headquarters in Athens. It didn’t work out, so they followed up by blowing up a branch of the bank instead. And when they were falsely accused of risking mass casualties, they refuted it with precision. That statement is worth a read if you are curious to get sense of where they are coming from.
After several delays—coincidentally due to the general strikes—trial began October 24. The defendants opened with an articulation of why they do not recognize the legitimacy of the court, as an extension of the same system they are fighting. Their defense also includes a technical challenge on lacking evidence to link the individuals to the alleged crimes. Three of the accused have taken responsibility for involvement with the group, but have not confessed to the charges against them—which include accusations of terrorism (even though they have no charges related to actions targeting civilians.) The case is now on hold until November 1 and there is a pending request for European Court of Human Rights to oversee the basic procedural principles in trying the EA members for alleged crimes, not simply for their political affiliations.
There are several other groups and individuals in Greece who have also taken the path of underground resistance, with much aboveground support. Their legacy too is literally written on the walls, usually with spray paint. Some of them are household names, for example, the famous anarchist bank robber, Vassilis Paleokostas, who distributes liberated money into small villages and has escaped from prison multiple times, via helicopter assistance.
And there are other current examples, similar stories of underground resisters who choose to reject affiliations with conventional politics—as the Occupy has also thankfully done. But we usually only hear of their underground efforts in mainstream news when they get caught. Take the recent case of the Il Silvestre 3, who went to trial in Switzerland this summer. The individuals in this case, and the group they are involved with, are claimed to be responsible for many attacks against elite technology targets. They were sentenced to 3+ years in a Swiss prison, for an attempted attack on a nanotech laboratory being built by IBM. They will reportedly face additional time under Italy’s anti-terrorism laws—although, again, they did not target civilians.
But there are many more actions going underneath the radar of people who don’t read the dozens of communiqués posted online at sites like: Contra Info or 325. Take note on these sites, for every person arrested relating to underground activity, actions multiply announced in their honor.
While few of these groups embrace a strict policy relating to the use of violence, their actions tend to target property, not people. A statistic on the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) in the US comes to mind: in being associated with over 1,200 documented actions, totaling over $100 million in damages in 15+ years, not one injury has been killed. The ELF actually does have a policy against injuring people, and still the State prosecuted those arrested as terrorists.
In a time when many groups are jumping on the Occupy bandwagon, including the Sierra Club (who issued a national statement of support for the movement, although they still technically have a policy against members engaging in civil disobedience), what direction will the public occupations take?
Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that the Occupy movement should have to make a choice between DGR and Sierra. It’s not an either/or scenario (at least not for me—I’m both a Sierra Club member and a suspect on the Joint Terrorism Task Force watch-list.) Really, it’s a challenge to see if we can ditch the horizontal hostility and move forward where we agree, as effectively as possible.
The real question of interest to me: Is there is actually a movement afoot capable of interjecting on the brink of ecological collapse and stopping the global economic system from simultaneously crushing what’s left of the planet’s biodiversity and humanity’s social freedom? If there is even a slight chance in hell that the answer is “yes.” Then let’s really go for it.
It seems few disagree these days, from Occupiers to Tea Partiers: corporations and governments both suck. We live under what is best described as a global dictatorship of the market. It’s a regime enforced by an expensive police state at home, military empire abroad. Its only a matter of time before these forces respond as they did this week in Oakland.
Overthrowing the global economic system is just as relevant today as ending fascism or apartheid was in decades past. Unfortunately, the task of resistance movements today is quite a bit broader, as the targets are more widespread and amorphous; no doubt this is by design of the elite, the 1%. But it’s not impossible. It can’t be—after all, it’s infrastructure was built by us, the other 99% (give or take a few decimal points.)
So, what do you think? Is something to bring up for discussion at your next general assembly? Just remember your basic security culture protocols.
P.S. As I prepare to post this, the Greek government’s Oxi Day parade, featuring tanks and soldiers of the state who is repressing today’s resistance, is canceled by mass protests in the street’s of Thessaloniki; in Kalamata, there are reports of eggs being thrown at politicians in the parade…
We invite everyone to join us in learning from the Comrades in Cairo, Egypt:
“It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose.”
– Comrades from Cairo, 24th of October, 2011
Solidarity Statement From Cairo
To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.
But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.
We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
Comrades from Cairo
24th of October, 2011
If every American took every single action suggested by Al Gore it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent. This is 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 US is still almost twenty-six tons. That’s thirty-seven times as much waste as you were able to save by eliminating a full one hundred percent of your personal waste. 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, clearcuts, 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.
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. But since these actions also won’t disrupt anyone’s life, they’re declared both realistic and successful.
Before the Deep Green Resistance organization was the book. Before the book were workshops conducted by the eventual co-authors. The workshops haven’t been offered since 2011, but here’s an archive of what they involved:
We live in the most destructive culture to ever exist. In Derrick’s talks around the country he repeatedly asks his audiences, “Does anyone think this culture will voluntarily transform to a sustainable way of living?” No one ever says yes. If we really accept the seriousness of the situation, what would that mean for our strategy and tactics? This is the urgent question we will be exploring over the weekend.
Host a DGR Workshop in your area, and you will get two days to learn practical, effective strategy and tactics, get a more in-depth analysis of the problems we face, and explore hypothetical resistance scenarios. Discuss the steps that would be necessary to stop the industrial economy and repair our planet. The workshop is a fabulous way to gather the radicals in your area for a weekend that will change your perspective on the fight for a liveable future.
Topics to include:
Organizing the Resistance
Bringing It Down: Bottlenecks and Levers
Building It Up: A Culture of Resistance
Liberal vs Radical: Some Conceptual Basics
Fighting Future Fascism
Q & A with Derrick
“DGR is an antidote to futility, inaction, paralysis and despair. Finally, I can see a way forward.”
We are excited that ‘graduates’ of our DGR workshops and other activities working on the same issues have decided to stage their own workshops and activities that draw on our curriculum. We heartily encourage people to run their own actionist workshops at this crucial time. At the same time, we (Derrick, Lierre, and Aric) have no way of vetting or checking all of the people using the term ‘Deep Green Resistance’ for their workshops. So any ‘DGR’ workshop that isn’t actually offered by Derrick, Lierre, and Aric is a separate entity offered by separate people or organizations, with no guarantees from us. We take no responsibility for their content or presentation, but we wish them the best.