Categories Archives: The Problem: Civilisation

Visit the global The Problem: Civilisation archives for posts from all DGR sites.

DGR Developments related to Radical Feminism

On May 11th and 12th, during the “Law and Disorder Conference” in Portland (USA), three incidents occurred concerning transgender/queer activists attacking DGR members. This was followed on May 14th by a statement from Aric McBay, a co author of the book Deep Green Resistance, describing why he left DGR, accusing it of being transphobic.

DGR issued a response to Aric McBay’s “Deep Green Resistance and Transphobia”, a call to Protect Women, Feminism, and Free Speech, and a number of FAQs around Radical Feminism.

DGR UK and its members stand behind all of these statements and the goal of ending oppression of all people and living beings by this culture, industrial civilisation.

Fracking

Frack Off gave an excellent presentation at the Earth First! Winter Moot in Feburary and explained the horrors of Fracking. A lot of this post is taken from the Frack Off website and their fracking factsheet. I’m sure to most people this gas extraction technique shows how desperate the gas supply situation is. This culture is so insane, it is now condoning the potential destruction of all our fresh water supplies, the total industrialisation of what’s left of our countryside for a fraction of the energy needed to keep industrial civilisation going just that bit longer. Humans can live without the gas ― we have done so for most of our existence ― but humans and non-humans can not live without clean water.

DGR is about trying to make people think about what is primary here? Electricity or water? Short term power supplies for capitalism and industry? or Life?

Relevant Events
Extreme Energy Gathering, April 27-28th, Manchester
Camp Frack 2, May 10-12th, Lancashire

What is Fracking
Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique used to extract hydrocarbons trapped in certain types of rock. In particular the widespread use of fracking is being driven by the expansion in shale gas extraction. While the technique itself is not particularly new it has only come into widespread use during the explosion in shale gas extraction over the last few years in the US. Hydraulic fracturing uses pressurised fluid to free trapped gas. Wells are drilled and the fracking fluid injected into them under high pressure to crack the rock. The fracking fluid consists of water, sand and a lot of chemicals. Millions of gallons of water (and hundreds of tons of chemicals) are used to frack a well

Shale Gas
Shale Gas is methane (natural gas) which is trapped in impermeable shale rock deep underground, unlike conventional natural gas which is in permeable rocks, such as sandstone. The gas cannot flow through the shale, so simply drilling a well, as you would for conventional natural gas, is not enough. The shale rock must be cracked to free the gas, hence the need for hydraulic fracturing (fracking). For the same reason it is necessary to drill large numbers of wells at regular intervals. To produce as much gas as a conventional gas field with a dozen or so wells, would require hundreds or thousands of shale gas wells.
figure-2-shale-gas-pad-drilling-courtesy-statoil-300x225

fracking image

Coal Bed Methane (CBM)
Coal Bed Methane is methane (natural gas) trapped in coal seams underground. To extract the gas, after drilling into the seam, it is necessary to pump large amounts of water out of the coal seam to lower the pressure. It is often also necessary to frack the seam to extract the gas. In common with other unconventional gas extraction, such as Shale Gas, CBM wells do not produce large amounts of gas per well and production declines very quickly. It is therefore necessary to drill large numbers of wells, covering a huge swaths of the landscape. CBM exploitation began in the US and over 55,000 CBM well have been drilled in the last decade or so, mostly in the western states (Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming in particular). In Australia, where it is know as Coal Seam Gas (CSG), over 5,000 CBM wells have been drilled in Queensland in the last few years and the industry is aggressively expanding into New South Wales. In the UK CBM is more advanced than Shale Gas and full scale production may begin soon.
For more info go here.

figureI-24

Underground Coal Gasification (UCG)
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a process for exploiting coal that cannot be mined because the seams are too deep, thin or fractured. The process involves using the same sort of drilling technology usually used for fracking to get air/oxygen into the coal seam and then set the seam on fire. By controlling the amount of oxygen injected it is then possible to only partially burn the coal and bring the gases produced to the surface where they can be burn to produce energy. A witches brew of toxic and carcinogenic coal tars are produced in the burn cavity. The process is associated with serious groundwater contamination and massive carbon emissions. Small scale tests of UCG have been taking place on and off since the 1930′s, particularly in the Soviet Union and United States, and have usually resulted in contamination of groundwater. More recently there have been three tests in Australia, two of which have resulted in the plants being shutdown. After only a five day burn the well at the Cougar Energy plant in Kingaroy, Queensland exploded and subsequently benzene and toluene were detected in groundwater and in the fat of animal grazing on the surface. Full scale UCG would likely involve huge plants connected to multiple gasifiers, and might be similar to tar sands extraction in its scale and impact. See Underground Coal Gasification: Hellfire and Damnation for more details.

For more on UCG go to here and here.

UCG1

Side effects of Fracking
There are a very large number of side effects that have been linked to fracking, many involving contamination of water in some way.
Methane contamination – The most well known side effect of fracking is methane contamination of nearby water (burning tap water syndrome). This can occur naturally in rare cases but seems to suddenly appear when fracking occurs.
Chemicals used – Fracking uses huge amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals, a large fraction of which are never recovered. It is claimed that the chemicals used in the UK will not be toxic (unlike those used in the US) but that seems highly unlikely once the process gets underway in earnest.
Toxic contamination – While the fracking fluid is underground it is in contact with rocks at high temperatures and pressures. This can result in various material leaching out of the rocks into the fracking fluid. Of particular concern are toxic elements like arsenic that can be brought to the surface by this process.
Radioactive Contamination – In a similar way radioactive isotopes (such as radium-226) can also be leached out of rocks the fracking fluid passes through. Biological concentration of these materials up the food chain would be the largest concern.
Food supply contamination – While the most of the above might seem to be local issues the potential contamination of irrigation water means that everyones food supplies could be affected. You don’t have to live anywhere near a fracking site in order to be worried about your health.
Air pollution – Fracking has also been linked with air pollution, due to the production of ozone and leaks of a variety of volatile chemicals. Increases in respiratory problems have already been reported around the first fracking site in the UK.
Earthquakes – Fracking (as well as disposal of used fracking fluids by pumping them into old wells) also appears to trigger earthquakes. A recent increase of earthquakes in Arkansas declined abruptly after water injection was suspended. The first test well in the UK appears to have caused two earth-
quakes.

UK Government Tax Breaks for Fracking
George Osborne has subsidised fracking in the UK in the budget. Apparently there will be more tax breaks for fracking companies and they will be allowed to offset their exploration costs against tax for a decade. While there seems to be a “sweetener” in the form of proposed incentives for local communities. Is this an attempt to divide and lower opposition, get locals on side against the protesters and also divide local people.

Lack of Regulation by UK Government
George Monbiot identified the UK Governments lack of regulation of fracking companies in in 2011 here. Then earlier this year the UK Government introduced conditions on fracking companies related to seismic activity following two small earthquakes in 2011 caused by Cuadrilla Resources exploratory drilling sites in north-west England. So far the UK Government have not dealt with any of the other side effects listed above.

Where is it happening
There are large areas of the UK where there are shale strata that might be able to produce gas.

Lancashire
Cuadrilla Resources have obtained planning permission for 5 sites in the Blackpool area. They have completed drilling and fracked the Presse Hall well (causing two earthquakes) and their drilling rig is presently being set up at the Marsh Road site.
Presse Hall, Weeton – Well drilled and fracked
Grange Road, Singleton – Well drilled, not yet fracked
Marsh Road, Banks – Drilling rig has moved to this site
Anna’s Road, Westby – Construction of the pad has now started
Inskip Road, Wharles – No work has started

Wales
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd has obtained planning permission to drill core samples at a site near Maesteg, Bridgend in South Wales. If the samples prove interesting then larger scale tests (like those in Lancashire) could follow.

Kent
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd have put in an application to drill core samples through coal and shale strata at a site near Woodnesborough. If the sample proves interesting, then larger scale tests (like those in Lancashire) could follow. It is unclear when the planning application will be decided.

See map on Frack Off website for more details.

Major players
The are a number of companies that have shown interest in exploiting shale gas but only 2 appear to have reached the stage of actual testing.

Cuadrilla Resources
Cuadrilla Resources is a privately owned company headquartered in Licheld, Sta ordshire. The company was set up with $34.2 million from the Australian AJ Lucas Group and has recently received extra funding ($35.4 million) from the American private equity company Riverstone LLC. The company has a petroleum exploration and development licence (PEDL 165) covering a large area of Lancashire. They are in the process of carrying out test drilling and fracking at 5 sites in the Blackpool area (for which they have planning permission).

Coastal Oil and Gas
Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd, headquartered in Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan, has planning permission to conduct core sampling at sites in South Wales and Kent. They are partnered with an Australian company Eden Energy.

More details on them and other companies here.

Recent blog posts on the Frack Off website:
Fracking Desperate: The Scramble For Unconventional Gas
Fracking Nightmare: Destroying Our Countryside

Please note that this information is being provided for aboveground organising.

Oppression

It is likely that oppression has existed since the start of civilisation about 10,000 years ago when agriculture took hold. Once humans were settled in one place tending crops instead of hunter gathering, they would store any excess for low harvest years. As groups got larger these stores would need to be guarded resulting in a hierarchy and therefore oppression. It has evolved since so that many in the West are not aware of its affects on them. Oppression has resulted in many not believing that ‘the people’ can radically change the systems we find ourselves in. DGR believes in resistance and that changes can be made with the right strategy and tactics (see the DGR Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy) but first we must recognise that we are all oppressed in some way. This is the first of five blog posts on oppression and our responses to it.

In the past Britain had a very clear hierarchy which is similar to any civilisation. There is God at the top that chooses both the kings and the religious leaders. Underneath them are the nobles, the priests, and the military. Next are the merchants, traders, and skilled craftsmen. At the bottom of the pyramid are the bulk of the population, people in slavery or serfdom. All of this is accepted as God’s will which makes resistance that much more difficult psychologically. Standing up to an abuser-whether an individual or a vast system of power-is never easy. Standing up to GOD requires an entirely different level of courage, when the punishment was normally a slow and unpleasant end. This may explain why this arrangement appears consistently across otherwise diverse civilisations and why it is so intransigent.

The first blow against the Divine Right of Kings was in 1215, when some of the landed aristocracy forced King John to sign Magna Carta. It required the king to renounce some privileges and to respect legal procedures. It established habeas corpus and due process. Most important was the principles it claimed: the king and the church are bound by the law, not above it, and citizens have rights against their government. Magna Carta plunged England into civil war, the First Baron’s War. Pope Innocent got involved as well, absolving the king from having to enforce Magna Carta-not because he’d been forced to sign it, but because it was blasphemous. It was a crime against God to suggest that people could question or make demands on the king.

The West has had market economies for thousands of years, they are essential for feeding civilisations. Goods have to be traded, first from the countryside, then from the colonies to fill the ever-growing needs of the bloated power base. These market economies were nestled inside a moral economy informed by community networks of care, concern, and responsibilities. Property owners and moneylenders were restricted by community norms and the influence of extralegal leaders like elders, healers, and religious officers. This social world was held together by personal bonds of affection and mutual obligation.

As capitalism started to take hold, its cheerleaders started to break these bonds. To them freedom meant freedom from those obligations and responsibilities. In their view individuals should be free from traditional moral and community values, as well as from the king and landed gentry, to pursue their own financial interests. This new social order did not need bonds of affection and obligation, but impersonal contracts-and impersonal contracts that favoured the rich, the employers, the landlords, the owners, and the creditors while dispossessing the poor, the employees, the tenants, the slaves, and the debtors.

One of the most well known attempts to directly stop the progress of technology and capitalism in Britain is the Luddites. This group of English textile artisans were being replaced by less-skilled, low-wage workers following the introduction of new wide-framed automated looms. The movement started in Nottinghamshire in 1811 and then spread through the country to Yorkshire in 1812 and Lancashire in 1813. Mills and pieces of factory machinery were burned by handloom weavers. The movement grew so large that at one point it battled with the British Army. In January 1813 the British government found sixty men guilty of charges related to Luddite activities even though many had no involvement. Harsh punishments including execution or penal transports quickly ended the movement (1).

Even though we are oppressed in the West, we live in relative luxury compared to many in the world. Most of us in richer nations do not want to contemplate living without the comforts we are used to and it is highly likely that when the systems of oppression that provide these luxuries are threatened many will fight to maintain them. Capitalism is oppressing millions of people in developing nations as they are effectively slaves working to produce the items which we Westerners consume. We are all complicit in this arrangement.

Our centralised national government is needed to coercively suppress internal dissent, regulate trade, protect private property,and subsidise infrastructure essential to so called economic growth. This idea appealed to the wealthy for the obvious reason: they want to keep and expand upon their wealth. It looks very different from the perspective of the poor. The rich are able to accumulate wealth by taking the labour of the poor and by turning the commons into privately owned commodities. Therefore, defending the accumulation of wealth in a system that has no other moral constraints is in effect defending theft, not protecting against it. That’s the trajectory this culture has been on for 10,000 years, since the beginning of agriculture.

Unless born into a wealthy family in the UK most people have little option but to become wage slaves and are convinced this is what they should or want to do. It is near impossible to live outside the societal framework that exists requiring many to work long hours in jobs they don’t like; to live in urban areas in box houses where there is no choice but to pay for utilities instead of providing for yourself. Should you want to live on the land in the UK significant amounts of capital to buy or rent are required. Long gone are the days when a farm labourer’s wage is enough to rent a smallholding.

Western culture has resulted in the majority of oppression we live under becoming utterly consensual. As Florynce Kennedy wrote, “There can be no really pervasive system of oppression…without the consent of the oppressed”(2). The powerful capitalists, white supremacists, colonialists, masculinists can’t stand over vast numbers of people twenty-four hours a day with guns. Luckily for them and depressingly for the rest of us, they don’t have to. This does not mean that it is our fault; that the system will crumble if we withdraw consent; or that the oppressed are responsible for their own oppression. But it does mean that there will be no solution to this problem without an extensive and wilful cultural shift away from human domestication.

People withstand oppression using three psychological methods: denial, accommodation, and consent. Anyone on the receiving end of domination learns early in life to stay in line or risk the consequences. Those consequences only have to applied once in a while to be effective: the traumatized psyche will then police itself. In the battered women’s movement, it’s generally acknowledged that one beating a year will keep a woman down.

There are few better definitions of oppression than the one Marilyn Frye offers in her groundbreaking book, The Politics of Reality. In it she writes, “Oppression is a system of interrelated barriers and forces which reduce, immobilise and mold people who belong to a certain group, and effect their subordination to another group.”(3) One of the greatest injuries of subordination is that it creates not only injustice, exploitation, and abuse, but also consent.

Andrea Dworkin has defined subordination for us and listed four elements: (4)

1. Hierarchy – Hierarchy means there is “a group on top and a group on the bottom.” The “bottom” group has fewer rights, fewer resources, and is “held to be inferior.”

2. Objectification – “Objectification occurs when a human being, through social means, is made less than human, turned into a thing or commodity, bought and sold…those who can be used as if they are not fully human are no longer fully human in social terms.”

3. Submission – “In a condition of inferiority and objectification, submission is usually essential for survival… The submission forced on inferior, objectified groups precisely by hierarchy and objectification is taken to be the proof of inherent inferiority and subhuman capacities.”

4. Violence – Committed by members of the group on top, violence is “systematic, endemic enough to be unremarkable and normative, usually taken as an implicit right of the one committing the violence.”

All four of these elements work together to create an almost hermetically sealed world, psychologically and politically, where oppression is as normal and necessary as air. Any show of resistance is met with a continuum that starts with derision and ends in violent force. Yet resistance happens somehow. Despite everything, people will insist on their humanity.

Coming to a political consciousness is not a painless task. To overcome denial means facing the everyday, normative cruelty of a whole society. A society made up of millions of people who are participating in that cruelty; if not directly, then as bystanders with benefits. Knowledge of oppression starts from the bedrock that subordination is wrong and resistance is possible. The acquired skill of analysis can be psychologically and even spiritually freeing. Once an understanding of oppression is gained, most people are called to action is some way.

There are four broad categories of action: legal remedies, direct action, withdrawal, and spirituality. These categories can overlap and can be helpful or even crucial to resistance movements, but they can also be diversions that dead-end in despair. Four blog posts will follow that look at each of these responses to oppression.

References

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite

2. Kennedy, “Institutionalized Oppression,” p. 492.

3. Frye, The Politics of Reality, p. 33.

4. Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone, p.266

Frack Free February

Here’s some background information about Frack Free February, coming up soon…

Frack Free February, organised by Frack Free Somerset, is a Month of Action in Somerset with public meetings, talks, stalls, workshops, actions and more all raising awareness about the threats to communities and the bigger picture of extreme energy.

The Frack Free February Month of Action is an opportunity to:

  • Systematically raise awareness about fracking & extreme energy to communities at risk in Somerset – 50,000 leaflets will be distributing across towns & villages in the PEDL licensed areas
  • Create a wide variety of opportunities for participation and action to anyone moved by the literature and outreach activities & the thought of fracking taking place locally
  • Generate momentum for the campaign in 2013 and significantly increase planning application response capacity across the county e.g. starting more local groups, increasing the number of newsletter sign ups and so forth, so that when applications are submitted, we can best respond and support each other across the county.

For more information see: Frack Free Somerset or http://www.facebook.com/events/421862917883143/426461697423265/ or Frack Off.

Fracking is an assault on the land that must be stopped before it gets started. Learn how you can get involved and help resist it if you possibly can.