Deep Green Resistance UK Frequently Asked Questions
DGR UK members have had a number of similar questions from interested parties and other activists recently, so we have decided to list these general questions and our responses.
DGR UK, and the whole DGR organisation is very young. We believe it has a unique historical perspective, analysis and strategy. DGR members know that we haven’t got everything right and we need support from our allies to help DGR mature. Horizontal hostility is among the worst enemies of successful systemic change. DGR UK believes that we should put aside our differences and focus our energy on taking down the horrific monster that is industrial civilisation/capitalism.
DGR UK asks that anyone who would like to respond to these FAQs is respectful and tries to be open to other perspectives and approaches. It is essential to have a broad spectrum of groups and tactics to end the oppressive, destructive culture we find ourselves in.
DGR UK calls on any that are critical of DGR to read the DGR book (ask your local library for a copy) before making inflammatory statements.
If you have a question that we have not answered please check the FAQs on the main DGR website or email DGR UK at uk (at) deepgreenresistance.org
2. Why do some accuse DGR of being a hierarchical or authoritarian organisation? Why do some claim there is a pattern of silencing those in DGR who do not agree with DGR polices?
DGR is regularly called a hierarchical organisation by anarchists. According to wikipedia: “A hierarchical organization is an organizational structure where every entity in the organization, except one, is subordinate to a single other entity. This arrangement is a form of a hierarchy. In an organization, the hierarchy usually consists of a singular/group of power at the top with subsequent levels of power beneath them”.
DGR does not fit this description. DGR has a sterring committee that sets the direction of the organisation and ensures that DGR’s radical polices and strategy are not watered down as so often happens to radical campaigning groups. There is an admin committee that support the advisory board and ensure DGR administration work is done. The rest of the organisation is organised horizontally. To join DGR new members must agree to the DGR Guiding Principles (Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles) and to the Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy. So joining DGR is a serious undertaking.
Each DGR chapter and its members can organise how they want to whilst working within these three documents. DGR in the US doesn’t tell us what to do in the UK. DGR UK works on a horizontal leadership structure which is anarchistic in nature, but we are not an anarchist organisation. All decisions are made using consensus decision-making and members are free to pursue any project they like assuming they work within the above documents. Additionally we recognise that each member of DGR UK will play a different role based on skills, knowledge, available time, other commitments, location etc. So any member is very welcome to get heavily involved in projects and decision-making or hang back if other commitments take priority.
DGR has some structure and a strategy because the founders believed this is what is necessary to be effective and achieve DGR’s goals. DGR members do not believe that the environmental movement has been effective so far, as every biotic indicator shows that the destruction of our world is increasing. This structure and strategy is not about controlling DGR groups. The DGR book has a scathing critique of unjust authority and it would go against DGR’s core aims to be authoritarian. But DGR does have some structure as described above, which is of course very different to how anarchists like to organise. DGR is a voluntary membership organisation – no one is forced to join or stay involved. DGR is not for everyone so when people ask to join we explain all the aspects of DGR to ensure that they know what they are joining. DGR does not expect anyone or any other groups to organise the same way we do. As said above we think it’s essential that there is a broad range of groups and approaches to resisting industrial civilisation. We need it all.
With regard to the claim that there is a pattern of silencing DGR members who question DGR polices. DGR UK members have not experienced this. DGR has a number of core documents and policies that those interested in joining DGR must agree to, to join. No one is forced to continue as a member of DGR if they decide they disagree with current or new policies. It is DGR’s hope that more anti-civilisation resistance groups will form to give those wishing to join an aboveground resistance organisation more options. Expecting DGR to change one of its core policies (such as its radical feminist position) would be like asking an anarchist group to start organising using a hierarchy. It is unlikely that this hypothetical anarchist group would be willing to make this change and the person requesting the change would not continue with the group if they could not agree with its current horizontal structure.
3. Why do some claim that DGR speaks on behalf of an Underground?
DGR does not speak for an underground. DGR has never said such a thing. Part of the DGR strategy and security culture is that there is a firewall between aboveground groups and an underground. This means that there is no direct communication between aboveground and any groups in an underground network. Aboveground groups may offer general advice and support. Abovegroup DGR groups will publicise communiques about underground actions that are in the public domain (please note do not send communiques directly to DGR groups for security reasons). If groups in an underground are issuing communiques they may send them to aboveground groups to publicise. This firewall is essential for the security of both networks.
DGR does have a broad, four phase strategy called Decisive Ecological Warfare. Assuming organised aboveground and underground resistance does develop then it will be up to groups in each country and region to decide when to progress through the phases. It’s ridiculous to think that the sterring committee in the US can pull a lever or something that will move DGR groups worldwide to the next phase. We believe this is obvious once you read the Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy.
DGR members do believe there are a good number of people out there that have had enough of the destruction of our world and want to do underground work to dismantle industrial civilisation. Part of the job of the aboveground is to let these brave people know that it’s ok to take these actions. DGR supports and encourages them to be strategic and smart about what they do. We want to offer general advice based on what has and hasn’t worked in the past. We desperately don’t want them to dive in and make silly mistakes and get caught. DGR is very clear on the fact that it is completely up to them how they organise and take actions.
We need a much stronger network of underground cells in industrialised countries, taking strategic actions, as this is where the power and destruction is organised. Underground actions do take place in industrialised countries but we believe that at present they are not going to be enough to bring industrial civilisation down in the time-scales necessary. There are plenty of strong, effective resistance groups in non-industrialised countries, and those in industrialised countries that want to take action can look to these examples for inspiration.
If you read the DGR strategy Decisive Ecological Warfare you will see that DGR is aiming to be part of a mass movement to bring about the change we need. DGR hopes that the aboveground movement will have a large number of anti civilisation groups, each with similar aims but some differences in how they organise. DGR is not trying to claim all the anti-civ resistance territory. But DGR is not convinced that this mass movement will form in time. That’s why we need a parallel underground network.
4. Why do some claim that Derrick Jensen hates anarchists?
The first thing to say is that DGR members personal views are that, unless they are speaking on behalf of DGR and as long as these views do not break the DGR Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles.
Derrick Jensen did write in a private email “The anarchists are liars. It’s what anarchists do.” This email was leaked without his permission. We have seen private emails being used to discredit people in the past (see http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm). Private emails are just that: private.
From DGR UK members understanding, the reason that Derrick wrote these things is because that is his experience of anarchists. He believes that anarchists in the US have harassed his mother with crank phone calls, and have sent him sexual and death threats. Derrick also believes that anarchists put a horrible faux-porn of him having sex with salmon on the internet. He also gets regular emails from people identifying as anarchists having a go at him. Derrick is only human. We think most people would have a problem with a group if the main contact they had with its members was this bad.
In DGR UK members’ experiences of anarchists in the UK, we have found them to be committed, honest, decent people. During a DGR discussion at the 2013 Earth First Summer Gathering everyone there was very respectful while also challenging DGR ideas and approaches. It was a very useful and rewarding discussion. It was emphasised during this discussion that working together, even with people we disagree with, is critical to eventual success of movements for justice.
5. Why do some claim that DGR thinks a revolutionary movement can be divided into five roles (leader, professional revolutionaries, combatants, auxiliaries, mass movement)?
This is taken from Chapter 10 (written by Aric McBay) of the DGR book. DGR is not stating that the revolutionary movement, the structure of DGR or an underground, can be divided into the five roles. Aric McBay was exploring what has worked well and poorly in the past.
See the response to question 2 above for how DGR UK organises.
6. Why did Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen call the police or FBI related to separate incidents?
In 2010 Lierre Keith was pied in the face by three apparently male vegan militants while giving a talk about her book the Vegetarian Myth. The pie contained cayenne pepper which caused her pain for a number of days and affected her vision. Some people at the talk actually cheered when it happened. If you hold all living beings as sacred, is this any way to behave? Lierre’s argument for calling the police was so they could do their job. Most people, if they were burgled, assaulted or mugged would call the police. Its about using the highly imperfect tools that are available to us. The police are meant to be public servants, at least that’s what we’re told. Obviously the main part of their job is to protect the property of the rich and ensure capitalism continues. This doesn’t mean they don’t arrest a rapist every once in a while, or help you get back your stolen car. Never calling the cops is a privileged position: many people do not have that luxury. Unless you were the person assaulted, what is or is not an appropriate response is not your decision.
Derrick did call the police and FBI after he received death threats via post, email and on online forums. He believes these were carried out by right-wingers after he was quoted in an article saying that the executives of BP should be executed for polluting the Gulf of Mexico. Derrick contacted the authorities so that he would have a paper trail of the threats if he had to protect himself and the case went to court. He also rightly states that it’s up to the victim to decide how they respond to threats or attacks rather than outsiders arguing for purity about not going to the police. Listen to Derrick’s interview about the incident.