Occupy The Machine

02/14/2012

 
"Too often when we don’t succeed, we don’t escalate. Too often when they escalate their attacks against the planet and all living beings, we don’t escalate. (Have you noticed that all of our victories are temporary and defensive, and all our losses permanent and offensive?) No more. If our actions do not succeed, we promise to escalate. We will regroup, reorganize, and go for more than before, risking more and holding nothing back. We promise they will lose more money and we will get stronger and fight harder."

Occupy the Machine is an ad hoc umbrella group using serious, sustained direct action campaigns to shut down major targets that destroy the land and exploit humans, permanently.

More information here:
https://occupythemachine.wordpress.com/

or find OTM on Facebook:
https://facebook.com/occupythemachine
 
 
Dear 99%,

When a government ignores anguished cries that span the globe, in order to sustain an economic system that feeds on death, that government MUST be removed. That government has prioritized greed over life.

When a culture promotes consumption over the social responsibility to protect interdependent communities of life, that culture MUST be dismantled. It no longer serves the best interest of the people.

When a person consciously decides to reap personal gain at the cost of another’s well being, that person MUST be stripped of the power to do so, by whatever means necessary.

When the majority of the planet’s web of life needs you to do whatever you can to make these things happen, you MUST act. Otherwise, your allegiance lies with the perpetrators by way of your inaction.

When every tactic attempted thus far by social and environmental justice movements has failed to slow down the assault on life and the erosion of human decency, we MUST escalate our strategy.  Consciously repeating the same failures is insane.

When decades of defense have failed to protect the threatened and when further retreat means death, we MUST turn and face the oppressor. We MUST go on the offensive.

There is a movement to wrest control from those who would have us render the earth uninhabitable. There is a plan to upset the balance of power. There is nothing easy about it, but it will work. That is, if you join us.

Your part, no matter how small, could be the deciding factor. Your philosophical allegiance, your money or your life; you are a valuable member of the resistance.

With love and respect,

T. Rogers and Dillon Thomson

Fertile Ground Environmental Institute

http://www.dgfg.org/

http://www.deepgreenresistance.org/
 
 
Reflections on the 2011 DGR Speaking Tour

I have returned from the six-week West Coast Deep Green Resistance speaking tour that I began in Bellingham, WA on October eighth.  From Bellingham I travelled south to Seattle, then on to Oregon where I spoke in Portland and in Bend for the Real Food and Resistance Conference, and then on to California where I spoke in Chico, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz.  My venues included university classrooms, living rooms, infoshops, cafes, independent activist spaces, and the Occupy encampment in San Francisco.  Every event was attended by between 15 and 30 people. 

Overall, the tour was great.  I had no idea what to expect in terms of crowd size or how people would receive my ideas and the DGR plan, but I was pleasantly surprised again and again as I met people who were not only ready to hear what I had to say, but actually yearning for it.  As I talked to people who had fire in their eyes and an obvious readiness to get to work, I was reminded of myself more than four years ago when I first heard Derrick Jensen speak in Bellingham.  It was a liberating experience for me to hear someone articulate something that I had been feeling in my bones for a long time but that no one had yet put words to, and I could tell that many people in my audiences felt similarly after my talks ended.  To me, seeing that response in people made it all worth it, and I have a feeling that I will be seeing many of them again in future resistance work.

What surprised me the most along the way was the baseline attitude of acceptance from all of my audiences.  My premise that resistance is a legitimate and necessary method of making political change was generally an accepted point, and no one once suggested to me—in public or in private—that I was unnecessarily delegitimizing more mainstream or legal tactics for making change.  To me, it was an indicator that more and more people are becoming less faithful in the institutions of industrial capitalism, especially when it comes to stopping the dominant culture from killing the planet.  I believe that it is becoming easier for people to admit that the problems we are facing—ecological and social—are not going to be solved by fixing certain parts of the existing system.  An overhaul is needed.

In looking towards the future, I am inspired and hopeful.  I realize that there is still a huge amount of work to be done and that our goal is ambitious, to say the least.  But when I think not only of the people who I talked with on my tour but also the countless nonhumans who are out there holding on to their homes, keeping the remaining fabric of life intact, just waiting for us to get out of the way and rejoin them in healing it, I am filled with encouragement.  We must keep struggling—for them, for us, and in the end, for everyone.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement.

Dillon Thomson is a founding member of the FGEI Board of Directors.

 
 
On December 12th, 2011, we (Max Wilbert and Dillon Thomson) spoke at a rally in Bellingham in solidarity with Occupy Oakland and the shutting down of ports along the west coast.  Bellingham was one of several west coast cities to carry out actions in support of Oakland protesters.

Around noon, the rally marched to the railroad tracks near the waterfront.  Five people immediately locked themselves together by their necks with bicycle u-locks and laid down across the tracks.  Their aim was to block freight trains for as long as possible: in other words, to obstruct the flow of trade and capital which is destroying the natural world and human communities.

The protesters were able to hold the tracks for about five hours before being removed by Bellingham police.  As night fell and trains backed up, the police were forced to use specialized drills and bolt cutters to remove the locks.

This action shows that small numbers of people who are willing to take risks and make sacrifices can have a decisive material impact.  What happened in Bellingham could be used as a model for disrupting other targets such as refineries, coal terminals, mines, factories, etc.  With proper support, repeated use of such tactics over a sustained period of time could bring industries to their knees.

The protesters who locked themselves down on the railroad tracks were supported by at least a hundred other protesters, who impeded police officers for as long as possible and boosted the spirits of all who were present with speeches, chants, and music.

These kinds of actions are most effective when many roles are filled. Some are prepared to take direct action and risk injury and arrest. Some are public speakers. Some are willing to donate time, money, or food to support actions. Others can provide legal counsel. Together, we are strong.

The protesters who were arrested in Bellingham during this action will need continuing support and solidarity.

This is just the beginning.


Max Wilbert and Dillon Thomson are both board members of Fertile Ground Environmental Institute.
 
 
The movement du jour has sparked a familiar argument in the opposition: “you are benefiting from what you are fighting against.” Frankly, there is no direct argument against that statement. It’s a fact: the majority of the “occupiers” are sleeping in petroleum based tents made with corporate dollars, in petroleum based sleeping bags made in industrial plants and marching on shoes made of petroleum by the third world. While this might not be the case for every the protester, the majority of them are indeed clothed in the product of greed and capitalism.

So why don’t they live what they preach and wear only hemp and sustainably harvested wood clogs?

Good question.

Let’s work this argument over, shall we?

Instead of taking the statement head-on, because we can’t, we’ll make it irrelevant.

First, let’s take a very simple and brief historical look:

Let’s go back to the American abolitionist movement. There they were, former slaves and their many sympathizers, walking around the town denouncing the evils of “people selling people to people” and wearing shirts and dresses made of cotton harvested in the south by slaves. How hypocritical! You can imagine the argument was made by the slavery enthusiasts, because it was.

Now let’s jump ahead to the civil rights movement of the 60’s. Here’s a slightly different look at hypocrisy in a social movement: a sea of African Americans and their sympathizers walking through cities in upper middle class attire (the clothing of the oppressor) demanding their rights and justice. This time the “h” word is being called out by a faction of the movement that doesn’t like to see their black brothers and sisters assimilating into the white culture. We call this inner-movement feuding “horizontal hostility.”

Okay, let’s go way way back: Rome. In the Roman slave uprisings (there were quite a few), you had a very oppressed, very poor, very angry class who had been enslaved for generations by the Romans. They were fed up with the endless abuse and violence that trickled down through the society. This slave class had nothing- they weren’t allowed to own. Their every comfort came from their masters. So here’s what they had to do (and I don’t expect there was much moral debating): they bought, stole, altered and pillaged whatever they could of the master class’s products and services to nurture the success of the rebellion. Swords forged by slaves for the profit of the Romans and clothing made and imported from serfs and slaves would be utilized. Everything was the product of the dominant culture, they had no choice.

Jump to current day. The Occupy Movement is a multi-class movement being organized by the somewhat-affluent middle class. They are a class raised in privilege and for the most part disconnected with the earth. Give them some grace. They are a product of their upbringing.

Let’s make this argument break down as simple as it can be with several scenarios:

#1

I’m a protester and I’m camped out in Zuccotti Park. It’s 30 degrees and I’m sleeping in a sleeping bag that I’ve had for 10 years since before I became an enlightened anti corporate activist. Unfortunately, this sleeping bag is probably only good down to 40 degrees and my feet are freezing. I can either A) go home before I get pneumonia or B) use that $200 left from my parent’s last cash infusion to buy a better sleeping bag and stay at the park with my compatriots.

#2

I am a protester camped out in Zuccotti Park (again).  I’ve been here for three hours and I’m starting to feel the urge that comes naturally after eating a large bowl of curried lentils for lunch. Unfortunately, I have to make a choice: I can A) Pretend to be a customer at Starbucks and use their warm, clean restroom, B) find the nearest sustainably harvested wooden barrel (AKA  “a stink barrel) or C) utilize the Honeypot brand plastic outhouse rented for the Occupation to keep the rest of downtown New York from smelling like the cesspools of New Delhi slums.

So, there you go.

 From an internal perspective it can be beneficial to take advantage of the products of the dominant oppressor to maintain solidarity and strengthen the movement by your not-quite-as-suffering presence. An energetic and resilient voice is louder than a shivering, frostbitten, pneumonia stricken one.

From the point of view of the unaffiliated public, its far more effective as a public above ground movement to be perceived as hygienic, approachable and “like them” as opposed to a dirty, poorly clothed, diseased mob. It only works in the favor of the dominant culture to be seen as the weird minority.

I always remember this quote by Lierre Keith: “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”

Thoren Rogers serves on the Board of Fertile Ground Environmental Institute.