Why Speak Out
Any movement that is prepared to encourage and take action against both the State and the liberal capitalist ideology that is destroying the planet around us and promises that the world can be a better place will always attract a wide diversity of thought. This is a good thing, and debate keeps us healthy while causing us to reaffirm and re‐evaluate our ideals.
This, however, does not mean we have to accept every new group and idea with open arms. With some, such as the Primitivist movement, we debated strongly the pros and cons, learned from the critique presented and moved on. Others we questioned and often rejected as having politics not in line with ours ‐ the 9/11 Truthers or the Freemen, for example.
Our record of seeking to be open, accessible and non‐dogmatic is a core strength. However, this does not mean an uncritical acceptance of everyone who latches onto us with their own agenda, even if their agenda is on the surface moving in the same direction as ours. Openness does not mean we accept everything that comes along or the view of everyone who showed up. While some are quick to shout censorship at this, we would like to point out that if an individual came along spouting racist or sexist views we would have no problem ejecting them. Too often the cry of censorship is abused by those seeking to bring their unpalatable views to our spaces. We should reject this naïve politics.
With this in mind, we raise the issue of Deep Green Resistance, an apparently radical direct action environmental / anti‐civilization movement from the US under the direction of authors Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith, is now making an appearance in the UK. Over the last couple of years more and more allegations and questions have emerged around this organization and how its politics in practice are diverging considerably from its stated manifesto. We believe this needs a debate given the popularity of Jensen’s books in radical environmental circles in the UK over the last decade, and that various other groups are cutting their ties with this organization, including the US EF! Journal.
There are a number of good articles available which examine the politics of DGR in depth. However, we would like to point out several basic issues.
1. DGR is actively transphobic. Founder Aric McBay writes: “I left the organization at the beginning of 2012 after a trans inclusive policy was cancelled by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith. Many good people and good activists left the organization for that reason.” Since then DGR under the leadership of Jensen and Keith are claiming a radical feminist position to justify a transphobic viewpoint ‐ expressed by succinctly by Jensen: “I liked what I said to Julia or whatever his name was who wanted to join DGR: You are not a woman. You are a man who believes he is a woman.”
2. Deep Green Resistance is a hierarchical organization, run along the lines of chapters answerable to a Board (Jensen & Keith) which has final say over the ‘movement’, its statements and its directions. There is also a regular pattern of silencing those within in the organization who question or dissent from the stance of Jensen and Keith, such as being banned from chapters and forums.
3. Deep Green Resistance purports to speak on behalf of an ‘underground’ direct action movement. Yet both Keith and Jensen were willing to call in the police and FBI respectively when others took direct action over their organization’s politics (Keith when pied at an anarchist bookfair; Jensen over email threats).
4. Derrick Jensen on anarchists: “The anarchists are liars. It’s what anarchists do.” ( http://pastebin.com/Aeb67Bj1) Jensen has long been open in his dislike of anarchists, but that says it all really.
It would take a sizeable booklet to publish all the relevant stuff analyzing DGR, but if you are interested in learning more about why we should be wary of this organization, please look at the following links. In the meantime, we hope this letter sparks a debate which re‐enforces the non‐hierarchical nature of the Earth First! movement and which encourages discussion on inclusion and solidarity with groups facing oppression within the current system.
On DGR’s Transphobia
Anarchist Critiques of DGR
This short letter is from a group of concerned anarchist activists in the Earth First! network.
For links visit dysophia.org.uk