Tags Archives: Horizontal hostility

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Open Letter to the UK Environmental Movement from Deep Green Resistance UK

Deep Green Resistance UK (DGR UK) is the UK chapter of DGR International. We are an environmental and social justice organisation based on the book, Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. The book identifies civilisation, patriarchy, and capitalism as brutal arrangements of power which need to be dismantled if there is to be any chance of future generations enjoying a habitable planet. DGR proposes a concerted, focused, and serious resistance movement to stop the murder of the planet before it is too late.

If we think of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring” as the birth of the modern environmental movement, then we have had ‘environmentalism’ in existence for approximately 50 years and yet every biotic indicator shows that the planet is not improving, not even stable, but in decline. Countless species went extinct today. The planet is being destroyed, and no amount of recycling or renewable energy is going to stop that destruction. As Derrick Jensen illustrates in his essay Forget Shorter Showers, the majority of water and energy is used by industry, agriculture and the military, not individuals. Personal lifestyle choices, whilst commendable, will not make any significant difference. If we continue to focus on marginal personal contributions instead of working together against the larger machine as a whole, there is little chance of success. It is going to take organised political resistance to stop the trajectory we are on.

DGR proposes taking a new approach. The key difference between DGR and other environmental and social justice groups is that we have a long term strategy, named Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW). DEW has two main goals.

The first is to disrupt systems of power and to dismantle those systems. In other words, we wish to remove the ability of the rich and powerful to exploit the marginalised and destroy the planet. See here for examples of what DGR is advocating for in the UK.

The second goal is to defend and to rebuild, just, sustainable, autonomous human communities, and to assist in the recovery of the land.

You can read the Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy.

Our culture currently rewards behaviour that benefits the individual at the expense of the group. Acquisitive and insane behaviour such as denuding the landbase of living systems makes powerful individuals rich, and this is the behaviour we see from those in power. This will continue while there is still money to be made, in other words the destruction will continue until there are no more living systems left to exploit. A number of respected scientists are coming to similar conclusions.

Solutions which make no attempt to destroy this culture, or which postpone action until the distant future, are worryingly misguided. The current system is one of arrogance, sadism, stupidity and denial. It will not change of its own accord. The British government’s stance on fracking, despite massive public opposition, is a testament to this and an example of this culture’s insatiable appetite.

Many in the environmental movement advocate transitioning to a sustainable society with clean energy. Kim explains in this article why this is unrealistic. We do not have the time. See this recent report by James Hansen, who has been right about global warming for three decades. Any political party who seriously proposes what is actually needed (near zero emissions by 2020) will never be elected. Neal Lawson describes how the UK Green Party’s election success is going backwards and we think most people reading this would agree that their policies are nowhere near radical enough. The simple truth is that most people do not want to give up their industrialised ‘first world’ privileges such as driving cars, watching TV and going on holiday.

DGR UK is reaching out to the UK environmental movement to state that we want to begin an honest dialogue about how bad things are and what needs to be done about the situation we find ourselves in. Not simply what we are comfortable with doing, but what needs to be done. We would welcome all those who wish an end to the destruction to start thinking like a resistance movement for life, rather than an environmental movement hoping for the best. If we are to create a real resistance movement, we need this culture of resistance to germinate.

DGR UK, and the whole DGR organisation is very young. We believe we have a valid perspective, analysis and strategy. DGR members know that we do not have all the answers, and that we will need support from our allies to help DGR mature. DGR has a strategy, but this is only part of the solution. We understand that there are many different ways to work towards protecting our planet, and that these are all important in creating a larger political struggle.

As Derrick Jensen says:

‘We need it all. We need people to take out dams and we need people to knock out electrical infrastructures. We need people to protest and to chain themselves to trees. We also need people working to ensure that as many people as possible are equipped to deal with the fallout when the collapse comes. We need people working to teach others what wild plants to eat, what plants are natural antibiotics. We need people teaching others how to purify water, how to build shelters. All of this can look like supporting traditional, local knowledge, it can look like starting rooftop gardens, it can look like planting local varieties of medicinal herbs, and it can look like teaching people how to sing.’

What we propose is that people in the UK environmental movement begin to consider whether their activism- be it community, political or radical- is effective and commensurate with the scale of the problems we face. Community gardens and anti-fracking protests are all part of this resistance movement, but unless they are linked to a larger political struggle, those efforts will fail. Regardless of what our differences might be, we need to start working in tandem.

Horizontal hostility, a term coined by Florynce Kennedy in 1970 to describe the damage caused when oppressed groups fight amongst themselves instead of fighting back against the powerful, is among the worst enemies of successful systemic change. Even if you do not agree with everything DGR proposes, we ask that you not dismiss us entirely, simply because we advocate for a more radical response to safeguarding our planet. After all, we all share the same goal: a healthy, just world for future generations of all living beings.

It is for this reason that DGR also firmly aligns itself with radical feminism. We believe patriarchy is a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power, and we want to see it dismantled, along with its cult of toxic masculinity which seeks endlessly to dominate women in the same way that it seeks to dominate the natural world and its resources. Our feminist stance has caused a great deal of controversy in the US. DGR members have been attacked by groups and by individuals for wishing to abolish gender and to preserve safe spaces for women. We make no apologies for this. We do not think of DGR as a panacea. We believe there are many groups doing great work out there and that it will take many more working together to bring down the system we currently live in.

We in DGR understand that the DGR strategy will not be for everyone. We believe that every option should be on the table and that each person is entitled to decide which they support, without necessarily rejecting the usefulness of those they do not wish to become involved with. To be clear – DGR does not condone or support violence against any human or non-human living being. What we wish to stress is that if something drastic is not done, our world is not just going to be a little hotter, but will become uninhabitable. Please read up about us and our strategy, discuss it with friends and make up your own mind. The DGR strategy is very broad and there are a lot of details to fill in so we welcome all feedback from our allies and supporters.

As Ben Barker rightly states in his open letter to liberals: “Every movement for social change has understood that when a system of law is corrupt, we must turn instead to the laws of the universe: human rights, the living land, justice. These movements are always deemed radical—and that’s because they are. Hope and prayers do not alone work to change the world. We’re going to have to fight for it.”