Growing for a Common Cause

It seems that a significant problem for the environmental movement is the

issue of arguing from a morally superior position. Personal beliefs are subjective,

and though science may declare industrial society to be unsustainable, it does not

provide an outline of how to immediately prevent more destruction. Rather, it is the

more emotional reaction and spiritual connection that offers guidelines for those

who choose to partake in illegal violence or property damage in defense of nature,

hoping to equally counteract the structural violence that the current social system

inflicts upon it by effectively waging an economic war:

“Most businesses, both large and small, operate to produce a
relatively small margin of profit, frequently a single digit percentage
of overall gross sales. This small margin of profit is vulnerable to
outside tampering, such as a successful consumer boycott which
reduces sales. A determined campaign of monkeywrenching affects
the other end, by increasing operating costs to the point that they cut
into profits.” (Hellenback, The Future of Monkeywrenching)

This essentially amounts to a reassertion of authority, as individuals standing in

the way of those who intend to kill an animal or destroy an ecosystem for fun and

profit prevent them from doing so. Moreover, if it is decided that economic hardship

is a crime, then there must be a clear answer regarding who is to judge whether

state and corporate interests are guilty of terrorizing the people themselves and the

living landscape through policies considered to be oppressive. The result would be

nothing less than the repossession of language to redetermine common aspirations.

Jeffrey “Free” Luers writes,

“We must continue to struggle, to educate and make aware, to
challenge and fight back. Always we must seek the balance between
building a better future and destroying an old civilization corrupted
by values and morals that lead us to our death. We cannot waver in
the face of repression. We must find strength in our fear, for if we
fail to act, if we fail to win, our government and the corporations that
finance them will take our last semblance of freedom in the process of
destroying our world.” (From Protest to Resistance, pg. 223)

Yet a secular, democratic political system, charged with defending the

rights to free enterprise and property acquisition, is simply diametrically opposed

to the “radical” worldview that justifies monkey-wrenching as a legitimate

component in the struggle against ideas of property and ownership, begging the

question whether a person’s pain at seeing the destruction of an ecosystem is more

valuable than another’s pillaging it for pleasure? The difference seems to be the

objectification of nature on the one hand, in that it is seen as valuable only insofar

as it is needed for personal use, or rather if it is seen as a subject unto itself, a sacred landscape inherently worthwhile.

If it happens that two mutually exclusive systems of belief are attaching

notions of possession and property to nature, both in a totalizing way, and

whichever is more dominant, supported by the official proliferation of labels,

definitions, directives, and policies, will undoubtedly persevere, then to me, this

illustrates a fundamental understanding buried in the logic of political relations

that superior force has the final say, a reality that can be recognized in Native and

European relations regarding Turtle Island, giving legitimacy to the use of more

than 1,200 incidents reportedly blamed on the Earth and Animal Liberation Fronts

in a 10-year period as a method of last resort. (ELF Folks Arrested, pg. 2)

As moral superiority is relegated to “mere” conscious abstractions and

conceptualizations, it must be understood that the spectacle of social interaction

will continue regardless of what should happen, i.e. “they shouldn’t build there.”

Thus at some point, the argument of whether to build in the first place must be

abandoned to prepare for physical defenses aimed at preventing what is felt to be a

personal assault from happening, necessitating only one party need determine what

is “right” to initiate action rather than all parties being consulted.

A sense of disconnection between the Ideal and the Real is evident here,

so that while coalitions can be powerful in fusing various horizons to construct

common vantage points from which to orient networks for natural restoration and

social renewal, only powerful mechanisms that truly affect the bottom line and

political scope will be useful as efficient instances of monkeywrenching so that as

radical environmental groups continue in their struggle to overthrow civilization,

perhaps “what was first considered lunacy and extremism came to be regarded as

courage and righteousness.” (Rasmussen, Green Rage, pg. 9)

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