An article from Do or Die Issue 6. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 147-150.
Dear Do or Die,
I have been involved with Earth First! for several years and before that was a peace and animal rights activist. So, it is not without some consternation that I now find myself seriously doubting EF! This is not through any loss of faith in direct action, but through serious disillusionment with those who are most active in EF! - the "leaders". I know you will deny it, but there are those of you who set the agenda and write the Action Update, Do or Die or Direct Action Direct.
This leadership is drifting into the realms of Monty Python - The Life of Brian - The Peoples' Front of Judea - the bunch of black clad saddoes who huddled together spitting at the efforts of all other freedom fighters, whilst wasting time on their own internal politics and competitive political correctness. [See the outrageously sectarian piece on conservationists in this issue for further evidence of this syndrome.] They plan futile actions that if (after all the in-fighting) they ever come off are totally pointless.
The current obsession with revolution is not radical, but boring. If I wanted to join a small group obsessed with discussions on overthrowing the state, and dismissing the efforts of others outside the narrow margin of what is deemed acceptable, then I would have joined the Revolutionary Communist Party years ago.
We have to embrace other environmental groups, otherwise we will always be isolated, marginal and pathetic.
Otters' noses anyone? Blessed are the cheesemakers.
I deliberately do not use the word `protest' or `protesters' as it is loaded with connotations of defeat - to protest at something that is going to happen. Reality is perception. We campaign to stop something immoral. Get on the good foot.
At the moment, in my opinion, we as a movement are in danger of developing road rage. We are obsessed with the road. While attacking the roads programme is a direct attack on car culture and the very cogs of the system we aim to change, it is not the greatest threat to the environment by a long shot. We have also allowed ourselves to become regionalist. Forests in South Wales and Scotland are being felled at an alarming rate with no direct resistance. While hundreds of `protesters' took Wisley Airfield in April 1995 (Reclaim The Land) for a week (!) hundreds of four hundred year old beech trees fell in Glasgow because the No M77 campaign was literally left out in the cold. While thousands of pounds are being spent on stopping a road in Berkshire, the free market economy is destroying Wales almost unchallenged. Opencast quarrying, sand dredging from the sea for construction, limestone quarrying, drilling for oil off the Pembrokeshire coast (killing dolphins and marine life), orimulsion being shipped to Milford Haven, Swansea Bay being dredged so bigger ships can service the expanding steel industry at Port Talbot. All this and a massive road building plan. That is the tip of the iceberg. This is not exclusive to Wales. Look around. So much to do and so few doing it. Deals are constantly being made under our noses that directly threaten our childrens' future.
In order to combat this we have to start thinking on our feet. Learn from our mistakes. While building tree villages is effective in costing earth abusers money, we shouldn't kid ourselves, in the end Joe Public foots the bill, and the road goes on. Besides which, the energy involved in doing so, outweighs the return. In short it is inefficient.To sit and wait for them to come to us and call the shots is setting ourselves up as victims. We are empowered. We will take the fight to them. The idea of afinnity groups brings all manner of possibilities to light. Learn from the hunt sabs. Ten people, a van, mobile phone and a fuck them and their law attitude will have far more effect than sitting in a tree village for a year, being totally tied down and then taking six months to get over the trauma of having your home destroyed and your families' lives put at risk by employees of selfishness. This is not to say we need to get away from the lifestyle angle. In my opinion living on the land is our strength. There are plenty of beautiful pieces of land that are unlived on. Take them back. Reclaim the land does not have to be where George Monbiot says - this is DIY mate!
This is also the age of paranoia. Be paranoid. We are fighting the same people who are kiling the indigenous peoples of the earth. You only need to look at the history of Northern Ireland to see the establishment's attitude to `freedom fighters'. We have got away with a lot of things that they could have had us for. Why? They are a mighty force. Big and hard. Paranoid and testosterone fuelled, but we'll have `em! They cannot win. They do not know how to share. They are greedy and their greed has become them. Don't let them fool you, they are as untogether as we are, they've just got more cash!
In 1997 these puppets are going to get the sheep to elect some of them into office, that will see the beginning of the next millennia. How much of their electioneering will be about promotion of sustainable lifestyles/industries, about social change and health care, about environmental clean up plans? They won't answer questions they are not asked. It is up to us to force them into answering or admitting that they haven't even thought about it. There is much to be done.
I recently and belatedly read with interest the piece by Alex Donga in Do or Die number 5. He [sexist assumption] attacks the Ego Warriors attaching themselves to many protests but in one phrase shows he [sic] too is guilty of the same.
Mr Donga writes how the Donga Tribe defended Twyford Down... "we were calling out for people and publicity... it was hard enough to get local papers to cover the story."
What a load of tosh. I enclose photocopies of a tiny selection of the stories the Daily Echo printed during the building of the M3 in 1992-94.
We published probably 100+ stories. Myself and other reporters spent days on Twyford Down, from the time when the Donga Tribe was three-strong to Yellow Wednesday when the security guards evicted them. One freelance photographer, Alex McNaughton, was there for literally days on end. We did so because we knew it was an important story. None of the Dongas Tribe sought publicity from us, ever. [Highly doubtful]
My point in writing this is that too many anti-roads people including Mr [sic] Alex Donga like to see themselves as total outcasts who have to face a hostile media as well as police, road builders etc. It is egotistical, self-deluding nonsense. Most local newspapers would dearly love to have a Twyford Down, Salisbury, Oxleas Wood or Newbury in their patch.
Getting publicity for a protest is as easy as falling off a log. The anti-roads movement does not help itself by pretending otherwise. It only makes certain sad people feel a bit better about their commitment to the cause, the glamour of being an outsider. If you want publicity, reach for the phone book or directory enquiries. It's that simple.
Chief Reporter, Southern Daily Echo, Winchester
Our movement is facing a crucial time and we must all mature and realize that we are not playing games. We are at war with a system that destroys life. A system that replaces untamed free nature with cold grey concrete, a system that imprisons and tortures animals and a system that through its workings has replaced true meaningful wild lives with ones of oppression, exploitation, domestication and monotony.
We must resist this wherever we can. We must fight back hard, not only for ourselves, but for all living things. To those involved in this fight back it should be obvious that any meaningful reform of the system is impossible. Because of this when we fight it our goal must be for nothing less than total and lasting change.
The tactics we use in resisting this system must firstly, above all other considerations, be effective. To do this we must hit leviathan on our own terms, not its. The state is learning quicker than we are and increasingly it is becoming more and more capable of dealing with the resistance that we have been presenting it with in the last few years. Bicycle locks, tree evictions and office occupations are becoming less and less effective as time goes on. To get around this we must quickly adapt our tactics if we are to stand any chance of defeating the system.
Whilst talking of war and fights we must be careful not to glorify our roles as some heroic warrior resistance. We are not heroic, although there are many acts of individual bravery, nor are we a separate warrior caste. We are only people that will not sit back and narcotize ourselves with commodities and representations of life whilst daily all around us is destroyed.
We are not the only resistance, indeed we are not even a significant percentage of it. We are but a small part of the totality, most of which we will never hear about, save through fireside stories in the future with our children and comrades. You only have to look around to see that daily millions of acts of rebellion to, and refusal to participate in, the death camp that is civilisation occur worldwide. From stopping open cast mining in South Wales to revolutionaries in Bougainville, to ramming whaling ships on the open seas to resisting evictions in the inner cities the global resistance is growing and becoming increasingly effective.
Inevitably, as this resistance grows and becomes more effective, so we will experience increasing repression from those that defend leviathan. Whatever happens in the coming months and years we must never stop fighting, for where there is resistance there is hope. Even a cursory glance at history will show you that inevitably we will win. We are on the side of life whereas all that which we oppose is a disease, the plague of civilisation complete with all its horrors: Bhopal, The Sea Empress, war, Chernobyl and the countless other monstrosities, both spectacular tragedies and slow poisonings, that are lost in memories of all bar those directly affected by them.
We must not delay our ideals until the mythical revolution in the distant past like so many other so-called 'radical' groups. We must live now as closely as is possible to how we would wish to live in the future. This is one strength that we must use as fully as possible, the ability to create the future in the present; to create the shell of the new amongst the ruins of the old. If not you, who? If not now, when?
For the wild and free!
Whilst on a trip to Cornwall recently I heard that the hedgehogs down there have evolved a clever new way to deter drivers from running over them.
Apparently on a full moon a group of hedgehogs get together and perform some kind of shamanic ritual, resulting in the transformation of one of their number into something indistinguishable from a hedgehog-shaped lump of concrete studded with two-inch nails. The other members of the group then move him to a strategic point in the roadway, a couple of feet from the edge on the inside of a bend, retire to a nearby vantage point and wait.
Any driver who is travelling too fast to see the hedgehog in time, or who sees the hedgehog but doesn't care, loses their front nearside tyre (at least). If the urge to shout and swear can be suppressed, the driver may hear a chuckling sound in the hedges nearby. As there is no way to distinguish the transformed hedgehogs from the normal ones without getting out to have a closer look, caution is advised when driving in Cornwall.
It seems that the hedgehogs have solved a problem that is shared by people with children in pushchairs, who are sometimes killed by careless motorists too. Perhaps the day will soon come when people and wildlife will be safe again, in Cornwall at least. I hope this is not just a pub story.