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
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.

From the February 2011 Fertile Ground newsletter.

Within the field of activism, one is discouraged from claiming certain
truths. It is now only to be expected that if you appeal to others that “The
world is being murdered!” you face the usual reproach—“We can’t truly
murder the world; there will always be bacteria of some sort; life will prevail;
etc.” Never mind that this logic is false: climate scientists claim that runaway
climate change could produce a lifeless Earth similar to Venus, with a carbon
saturated atmosphere incapable of supporting life.. More crucial though is to
recognize the emotional-political disarming in these reactions. It is as if the
underlying message reads “Things aren’t as bad as you say they are, since if
they were, everything I’m doing now becomes meaningless; I would have to
call everything I know into question and consider serious political
confrontation!”We see this habit elsewhere with certain progressives.
It seems so typical that most of us know the situation by heart. As we discuss the kind of world we’d like to inhabit, the ways cultures prior (and present) resemble our desires, someone inevitably steps in, regarding themselves highly as having seen through this deception. “I think we have to be careful”--
it usually starts this way—“not to romanticize other ways of life.” We should again focus not on what they directly say—of course there’s no utopian society conceived in the traditional manner—but instead on the message riding beneath: “Things couldn’t be that much better than they are now, since if they could, I’d have to then acknowledge that our civilized lives have been stunted, that we’re immersed in a global tragedy, etc.”

Statements of this sort attempt to ground themselves in the guise of rationality, which is a common characteristic of a Left still unable to abandon certain Enlightenment ideals (see Dream review). As if afraid to
dream again, a considerable number of leftists settle for the current social-political-economic framework, attempting only to work within that structure. The job of any activist today—and this is possibly the simplest distinction between radical and liberal theory—is not to operate within the given coordinates of social reality but to change the very coordinates themselves. One doesn’t struggle against capitalism by first accepting the premises of individual property rights, infinite growth, or free trade; and so on. We will not stop until the land is safe, until life can flourish; whatever stands in our way—capitalism, industrialization—is secondary. We’re told that our beliefs are naïve, unrealistic, failing to conform to the conditions of reality. It is at this point that one knows they’ve hit a chord, since if our strategy assumed only that which is declared possible by the dominant worldview, we wouldn’t get anywhere. Or—to say it differently—the dominant ideology refers only to itself; it never points to the way out.

Forget what you know. (It seems today that we know too much.) Why not risk a little—try thinking again. There’s a much deeper reading of the worn-out phrase ‘question authority’; it’s not asking you to ignore those silly puppets (some call them politicians), but to question those very systems of knowledge and belief we’veinternalized ourselves, the very water in which we swim.