Pubblichiamo questo articolo nonostante non condividiamo in pieno la filosofia di EarthFirst! che spesso cerca l’approvazione dell’opinione pubblica a discapito della radicalità dei propri contenuti e in quanto in questo testo viene criticato questo modus operandi.
Earth First!, prima la terra! Un’esclamazione. Ma cosa significa? Può sembrare una domanda stupida ma eventi recenti la rendono pertinente. Il nome implica l’idea di mettere la terra prima di tutto, rendendo il benessere del pianeta la priorità delle nostre azioni. Ma in qualche modo sembra che ci siamo allontanatx da questa idea, spendendo troppo tempo in periferiche questioni sociali. Nonostante queste siano importanti, dovrebbero (e possono) essere incorporate nella più vasta esplicita filosofia EF!. Stiamo vivendo nell’illusione che lo stato selvatico (la cosa che EF! deve difendere) è qualcosa “là fuori”, slegata dalla nostra esistenza di tutti i giorni.
Ovviamente una civilizzazione addomesticata deve definire il selvaggio come il diverso. Non può ammettere l’essenziale selvatichezza dell’umanità, perché poi dovrebbe pure ammettere che (la civilizzazione) è una semplice aggiunta alla nostra vita, e non parte essenziale di essa. La schiavitù e l’oppressione che appestano la maggioranza dell’umanità non sono un sintomo di anomalie sociali, ma sono fondamentali per la civilizzazione stessa. La falsa divisione tra noi e la natura selvaggia deve essere abbattuta. La falsa divisione tra ecologia sociale ed ecologia radical deve essere superata prima di procedere.
La cosiddetta ecologia radicale non è antitetica alle tematiche sociali, non più di quanto l’ecologia sociale lo sia alle generali preoccupazioni ambientali. La divisione è nata da incomprensioni tra i due movimenti, inaspriti dai tanto pubblicizzati discorsi di alcuni misantropi. Stranamente le visioni dei poli opposti dello spettro ecologico nascono entrambe dalla stessa idea sbagliata che gli umani siano al di fuori della natura. Un estremo considera gli esseri umani come una specie di peste da eliminare, mentre l’altro li vede come una specie superiore con una priorità su tutte le altre. Entrambi vedono l’umanità tra gli stretti confini dell’addomesticamento.
Ci vantiamo della nostra immaginazione. Possiamo inventarci imperi galattici, universi alternativi, la nostra letteratura è piena di visioni fantastiche. Ciò nonostante sembrano tutti rispecchiare le nostre società. Sono tutti adattamenti di qualcosa che già esiste, solo raramente esce qualcuno con qualcosa di veramente innovativo, non è quindi sorprendente che non riusciamo a trovare soluzione al problema di come vivere in modo abbastanza differente, un requisito essenziale per la nostra sopravvivenza, sembriamo incapaci di immaginare altro che piccole modifiche al mondo già esistente.
Siamo anche troppo arroganti per imparare da altre culture che ancora persistono apertamente, alla faccia del massacro del progresso. I/Le pigmei/e per esempio hanno vissuto nello stesso modo per millenni e non hanno distrutto il loro mondo. Scegliamo delle cose in certe culture che non ci piacciono e poi le usiamo come scusa per respingere tutto il resto continuando la nostra ricerca di soluzioni all’interno del nostro ristretto modus operandi.
Ciò si manifesta nel movimento EF! nel modo in cui ci organizziamo e nelle cose per cui lottiamo. Le nostre azioni si concentrano su questioni alla mano, nello stesso modo in cui la scienza riduzionista si concentra sulle parti piuttosto che sull’insieme. Certamente ci sono buone ragioni per fare cosi; non ci sarebbe tanta gente interessata ad essere coinvolta se fossimo troppo “estremx”. La popolarità del movimento antistrade è cresciuta largamente come risultato del concentrarsi delle attenzioni sull’impatto sociale della macchina e dei suoi immediati effetti sulla salute, invece di andare fino in fondo al ruolo essenziale delle strade nel dominio del pianeta da parte della civilizzazione parassita.
In questa campagna l’idea fondamentale del nostro diritto alla mobilità illimitata usando energie che non siano le nostre, non viene discussa, sono invece proposte fonti energetiche alternative, come elettricità per il trasporto pubblico. Questo presuppone che essere in una situazione dove si ha bisogno di viaggiare più in là di dove si può arrivare camminando un’ora è ok. Noi capiamo il problema nel suo complesso ma evitiamo di attaccare su questi punti per paura che le nostre idee non vengano accettate.
Mettere per prima la terra significa proprio questo, abbiamo bisogno di scoprire ciò che questo realmente implica.
We publish this article despite the fact that we do not fully share the philosophy of EarthFirst! which often seeks the approval of public opinion to the detriment of the radicality of its contents and because in this text this practice is criticized.
What future for direct action?
Earth First!, Earth First!
An exclamation. But what does it mean? It may seem like a stupid question but recent events make it pertinent. The name implies the idea of putting the earth first, making the welfare of the planet the priority of our actions. But somehow we seem to have strayed from this idea, spending too much time on peripheral social issues. While these are important, they should (and can) be incorporated into the broader explicit EF! philosophy. We are living under the illusion that the wild state (the thing EF! must defend) is something “out there,” unrelated to our everyday existence.
Obviously a domesticated civilization must define the savage as the different. It cannot admit the essential savagery of humanity, because then it would also have to admit that (civilization) is merely an addition to our life, and not an essential part of it. The slavery and oppression that plague the majority of humxnity are not a symptom of social anomalies, but are essential to civilization itself. The false division between us and wilderness must be torn down. The false division between social ecology and radical ecology must be overcome before we move forward.
So-called radical ecology is not antithetical to social issues, any more than social ecology is to general environmental concerns. The division arose from misunderstandings between the two movements, exacerbated by the much-publicized talk of some misanthropes. Oddly enough, the visions at opposite ends of the ecological spectrum both stem from the same misconception that humans are outside of nature. One extreme views humxns as a kind of plague to be eliminated, while the other sees them as a superior species with a priority over all others. Both see humxnity within the narrow confines of domestication.
We pride ourselves on our imaginations. We can invent galactic empires, alternate universes, our literature is full of fantastic visions. Nevertheless, they all seem to mirror our societies. They are all adaptations of something that already exists, only rarely does someone come out with something truly innovative, so it is not surprising that we cannot find a solution to the problem of how to live differently enough, an essential requirement for our survival, we seem incapable of imagining anything other than small modifications to the already existing world.
We are also too arrogant to learn from other cultures that still openly persist in the face of the slaughter of progress. The Pygmies for example have lived the same way for millennia and have not destroyed their world. We choose things in certain cultures that we don’t like and then use that as an excuse to dismiss everything else while continuing our search for solutions within our own narrow way.
This manifests itself in the EF movement! in the way we organize and the things we fight for. Our actions focus on issues at hand, in the same way that reductionist science focuses on the parts rather than the whole. Certainly there are good reasons for doing this; there wouldn’t be as many people interested in getting involved if we were too “extreme”. The popularity of the anti-road movement has grown largely as a result of focusing attention on the social impact of the car and its immediate health effects, rather than getting to the bottom of the essential role of roads in the parasitic civilization’s domination of the planet.
In this campaign the fundamental idea of our right to unlimited mobility using energy other than our own is not discussed, instead alternative energy sources are proposed, such as electricity for public transportation. This assumes that being in a situation where you need to travel further than you can get by walking an hour is okay. We understand the problem as a whole but avoid attacking on these points for fear that our ideas are not going to be accepted.
Putting the earth first means just that, we need to discover what this really implies. Everything except humxns and their slave species is wild. If you leave a piece of land alone for a while you will see explicitly a statement of what the land wants to do. Wilderness is an expression of the will of this planet. Wild means self-controlled, the opposite of domesticated. If we move to free ourselves from domestication and to free the wild within ourselves we will be moving in the right direction.
This brings our imagination back. From within our narrow mental space, it is incredibly difficult to know where to start. It’s much easier to follow a familiar path, repeat what we’ve learned, and feel safe than to blaze a new trail in an uncertain direction. A single animal in a herd running to the edge of a cliff will find it much easier to run straight than in another direction; a change in direction would put it at risk of being crushed by the rest of the herd. Fortunately for us, this analogy is not entirely appropriate to our case. There are many examples of ways for humxns to live on earth right now.
The idea that we can learn from the native americans has been much discredited because of the stupid false hippies and their modern New Age equivalents. We have already established that we have no imagination to come out with an idea we have never seen, so we have no choice. The detractors point us to the dubious but plausible evidence that many non-industrial societies of the past have caused extinctions and environmental damage. This is not a reason to totally ignore thousands of different tribal cultures and consider them irrelevant. No doubt there will be difficulties in changing the way things are done, but that is no reason to keep running for the hills. There are other options possible if we can just see them and have the courage to stand against the herd.
As Reggie Perrin once said “I hear uneasy murmurs, I know you would like to ask me what is your alternative? It’s rather unfair you know, to forbid me to criticize Western society just because I can’t come up with a better alternative of my own.” In this new world it has become impossible to point out a problem or criticize a solution unless you yourself have beforehand worked out your solution and have modified your personality sufficiently to be convincing in presenting it. People who sit quietly at meetings listening and thinking about what is being said are perhaps the ones who could come up with the solutions. Unfortunately they are already guided by those who speak for them. There is always a rush so that there is no time to wait for decisions that have been discussed or thought through. Decisions are made by the person who speaks first.
This is not the only way to do things. Many tribal gatherings last until they can come to an agreement, outside of our civilization time is viewed differently. If we can’t overcome these limitations among ourselves we will never be able to change the big picture, if our own way of functioning can’t change, how can we hope to change that of society as a whole? We need to look outside our own lives for examples on which to model our future line. This way we can avoid reproducing the failures of the system in our own movement. This requires drastic changes and a shift in priorities. To be an effective force we must change that part of our lives that makes it difficult to change the way we operate.
This is not presented as a solution. I have no idea what form a solution might take. What I am sure of is that we are currently directed towards oblivion as a movement, whether we end up assimilated into the more legalitarian groups or end up as an irrelevant group with nothing useful to say. We have a big task and we need to discuss things thoroughly and completely. There must be no time restrictions in these discussions; what can come out of them is unknown and so there is no telling how long it will take. The future of our life on earth is at stake, so there is nothing that can be more important, no reason why meetings and gatherings should be cut short. This gives an advantage to the dogmatic individuals and throws us into the aberration of blind progress that in the first place put us in this situation.
We need not only to reject the outward physical manifestations of this civilization (which is relatively easy) but we need to get rid of the psychological baggage we have been saddled with. Our local group meetings should not have artificial time restrictions on them, so that we can really discuss things thoroughly and come out with meticulously worked out ideas for action. It’s too easy to do just one action against a certain company, say oil, because of a particular incident or event. More difficult is to put together a series of actions that brings attention to the fact that all oil companies must be stopped and why.
With this intention, it becomes necessary to bring the whole issue into each and every campaign. Opposing the oil industry means coming to terms with the fact that our civilization depends on it.
Issues such as industrial agriculture, pollution, third world domination and exploitation, militarization, humxn rights, animal rights, and an almost endless list of other issues are all connected in a tangled web. To truly challenge one is to challenge them all.
If we ignore the big picture and focus on easy-to-understand single issues we may only get much-needed short-term support, but the solutions we find if we are successful will only solve immediate problems, since we will never have mentioned the whole problem.
We return from where we started with no real change, only short-term solutions to the worst symptoms of the problem.
We see ourselves as a radical movement, but in reality we hide from the controversial issues. We follow the line of least resistance. Our campaigns and propaganda sometimes reflect the superficial bullshit that people are conditioned to expect from any media.
A truly radical movement would try to be different, would have the courage to say and do what needs to be said and done, regardless of possible popularity or approval. Modern society is prone to instant gratification. The fact that this gratification does not last long and has to be tweaked again and again is one of the main reasons why we are destroying our world. We cannot overcome this malaise by pandering. A building with a foundation is longer to build than one that doesn’t have one, but without one it won’t last long. Building an effective movement that can challenge civilization as a whole requires a different approach from the get-go. It is a difficult path to take. We must not simply be “Friends of the Earth” but dirtier and with longer hair. The first thing we have to decide is what we are for and what we are against. Until that is decided we are only a vague and irrelevant nuisance to this society.