Revolutionary Ecology – A Working Definition. By Storm Waters

Author’s Note: The following essay was built off of two previously published pieces: an essay in “Timber Wars,” by Judi Bari, and a pamphlet by the Revolutionary Ecology Collective in BurlingtonVT, published in Fall ’96 after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Revolutionary Ecology is a term a growing number of activists are using to help define and broaden our analysis, commitment, and approach in dealing with the human-caused crises besieging this planet and all of its inhabitants. This is by no means a definitive or conclusive piece concerning the position of Revolutionary Ecology. We intend for this to open up an evolving debate in the struggle to liberate all life on Earth and allow for the uninterrupted continuation of evolutionary potential. This is not intended as a formal academic treatise; it was not conjured up in a programmed university setting and written by a scholar. Instead, this comes from the field-and represents among other things a synthesis of contributions on the subject by revolutionary activists well-known and unknown. In this case, “the field” refers to the various theaters where direct action takes place, be it a corporate board office, the streets, the classroom, the workplace, the household, in cyberspace, on the air waves, or at the edge of a threatened ecosystem

So what is Revolutionary Ecology? “Ekos,” the Greek word meaning “house,” or “home” is the root of the term (it is also the root of the word “economy”). Simply defined, ecology is the interrelationship of organisms and their environment (or studies thereof) and the term “revolutionary” indicates the instigation of very significant changes. Revolutionary Ecology calls for the fundamental transformation of all human activities which threaten every species’ evolutionary potential. This belief stems from the growing consciousness regarding the interconnectedness of all life, and the realization that human beings are not separate from (or in control of) Nature. This stance is also founded in a respect for the intrinsic value of all life forms, regardless of their apparent “usefulness” to the human agenda.

Revolutionary Ecology calls for liberation: the freedom for all life forms, human and nonhuman, to realize their potential. With this in mind, Revolutionary Ecologists take an anti-authoritarian/anarchistic approach and work for an end to all forms of domination: e.g., sexism, racism, and corporate control of land for profit, to name a key few. As anarchists we seek the ultimately dismantling of human hierarchies-which are ultimately self-serving to “leaders” and disempowering to ALL others.

Central to our practice is the belief that a revolutionary movement and future society should be modeled after natural ecosystems, which operate non-hierarchically, symbiotically, and derive their strength from diversity. Revolutionary Ecology is not bandwagon leftism or some arcane academic model. Revolutionary Ecology is part of an attempt not only to define the type of change we are working for, but to move beyond theories (a polite term for “mental masturbation”) and put these principles into practice. Life itself depends upon our success as a species in this endeavor.

In writing this we are assuming that those who read this are people largely disillusioned and angry with the current condition of life on earth: global forest destruction, ozone layer depletion, global warming; militarism, consumerism, extinction of species, utter collapse of life support systems, racism; air, water and food pollution; sexism, fascism, homophobia, and nationalism; abhorrent corporate multinationalism and industrialism; war, violence, and breakdown of community. All of these are exacerbated by the latest ideology of capitalism: neo-liberalism. The neo-liberalist ideology legitimates corporate control, proposing a “free” global market whose sole motive is profit and whose primary hindrances are social desires and environmental conservation. Evident in the socio-ecological consequences of agreements like NAFTA and GATT, FTAA and WTO, “neo-liberalism” further fuels an elite to control the Earth and all of its inhabitants, leading to desperation, degradation, and suffering for all of Life everywhere.

Roots of Revolutionary Ecology

Thus far, Deep Ecology led our collective members to accept that all life has intrinsic worth (an Earth-centered perspective). Social Ecology taught us that at the root of the ecological crisis is a social crisis and that the termination of systems of greed, domination, and oppression is the first step in the creation of an ecologically-based, sustainable, and harmonious society.

Revolutionary Ecology can be viewed as a synthesis of the two which also incorporates other recognitions-like Ecofeminism, Revolutionary Unionism, Green Anarchism, and Luddism. Ecofeminism addresses the inextricable connections between the domination of women and the domination of the natural world. Revolutionary Unionism details class struggle with the analysis that all of us who work for others who profit from our labor are “wage slaves” and that the employing and working classes have nothing in common. Prior to the emergence of Revolutionary Unionism, the Luddites fought for community control of the human-scaled technology that put human needs before the accumulation of profit. Green anarchists recognize that any attempts to build sustainable, non-hierarchical communities must be based on an inherently ecocentric worldview. As Revolutionary Ecologists, we believe that technology must also be ecologically appropriate and that industrial “society” is inherently incompatible with both freedom and planetary health. We must understand that everything is interconnected. An injury to one is an injury to all. Multinational corporations that control “puppet” governments globally in conjunction with military/industrial states are largely responsible for the devastation of ecosystems, extinction of species, and the subjugation of human beings for profit. To the multinationals, we humans, all other species, and the Earth itself are viewed as resources to be devoured by a few in a hideous nightmare of profit margins. Under industrial corporate capitalism, ecocide and genocide are quite profitable for the ruling class.

Revolution or Reform?

If the major problems have been identified, how do we then begin to implement solutions? Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of the French Revolution that the old regime ended when popular forces coalesced in a “powerful movement of reform.” In today’s contexts coalescence is definitely necessary, but is reform? Does it make sense to reform decaying, anthropocentric hierarchical structures, such as a corrupted electoral process, the “market,” or any governmental bureaucracy-or should we be working for the disbanding of all structures/agencies that seek to “MANage” Life itself? It is our belief that a system so inherently flawed cannot be reformed-and that it is a blatant waste of time, energy, and resources to attempt such reform. Revolutionary Ecology is opposed to all management for power or profit. Such management leads to domination and the subsequent loss of biological and cultural diversity and freedom through the manipulation of control and power. The futility of reform and the necessity of revolution are hard for many liberals and reformists to swallow because it challenges their (comfortable and usually very privileged) worldviews.

So how can we coalesce and implement our objectives into a powerful global movement? We need to make clear the connections between all struggles for liberation. As Revolutionary Ecologists who recognize that ecosystem health is essential to human survival, we strive to: 1) learn from other (usually less privileged) sectors of humanity currently engaged in liberation struggles; and 2) explain our ecological view to others in the radical social movements while radicalizing the liberals and reformers in both the environmental and social justice movements. Symbiotically, activists from all approaches must work to understand the views we are each presenting for a holistic comprehension of how Life and Nature proceed on Earth. When we achieve understanding, the common enemy-the antithesis of Life-will be easier to disassemble because more people will be united around the greater cause, while continuing to focus on a variety of issues and levels.

The age old problem of ‘who controls the land and what it is used for’ is as relevant today as it was when the first human being decided land and its riches could be accumulated and that those human and non-human species alike who dwelled on that land could be subjugated. As we course through the 21st century, the problem has been intensified by the onslaught of multinational corporations who operate with the sanction of governments globally. Global deforestation has reached epidemic proportions-and we are now learning that forecasted global warming has actually been in progress for decades. Now, even the most remote places are becoming alarmingly accessible to multinational “development” speculators while already threatened by anthropogenic climate changes. The globalization of capital and the interweaving of financial and governmental institutions have also opened the flood gates for even greater destruction of ecosystems (ecocide) and the annihilation of traditional peoples, cultures, and values (genocide).

In the 1980s, many sectors of the radical environmental movement paid little attention to the social causes of ecological destruction. Similarly, the urban-based social justice movement has a difficult time recognizing the importance of biological issues, often dismissing as trivial all but concerns related to environmental racism. Yet in order to effectively respond to the crises we face today, we must merge these issues. The enemies of Life play upon our disagreements, isolating and factionalizing with terrifying effectiveness (and consequences) all of us in the world who work toward meaningful change.

Beginning with the very reasonable (yet no less revolutionary) concept that we must change or dispense with social practices that threaten the continuation of life on Earth, we need a theory of Revolutionary Ecology that will encompass social and biological issues, class struggle, and a recognition of the role of global corporate capitalism in the oppression of peoples and the destruction of Nature. That theory is called deep ecology, and it is the core belief of the radical environmental movement. The problem is that, in the early stages of this debate, deep ecology was falsely associated with such despicable right-wing notions as eco-fascism (a.k.a “ecological purity”), sealing the u.s. borders, applauding AIDS as a population control mechanism, and encouraging starvation in poor (primarily nonwhite) communities worldwide. This tragic misunderstanding was both perpetrated and then expanded upon by our enemies in the fascist “right,” which sent the social ecologists (and many others) justifiably scrambling to disassociate. Further, it has muddied the waters of our movement’s attempt to define itself behind a common philosophy.

Ecosystem protection is needed now more than ever due to the magnitude of the unprecedented destruction that is altering Earth and killing Life. Another equally important obligation humanity owes the Earth is eco-restoration; and eco-restoration is, as Howie Wolke so eloquently states, nothing short of RE-WILDING damaged ecosystems. For real ecosystem protection and parallel eco-restoration efforts to succeed on a long term basis, a cataclysmic change must transpire. “Band-aid” reforms intended to ensure the maintenance of biodiversity and ecological integrity provide no real long- term solutions. Deep ecology is a revolutionary worldview; these ideas as such do not constitute the Absolute Truth, nor do they represent a finished thought process. We seek to spark more debate and advance the discussion indefinitely.

Biocentrism and Ecocentrism

Deep ecology, or biocentrism, is the recognition that nature does not exist to serve humans. Rather, humans are one small (albeit no less significant) part of nature, one species among many. All species have a right to exist for their own sake, regardless of their usefulness to humans. And biodiversity is a value in itself, essential for the flourishing of both human and nonhuman life. Ecocentrism recognizes that Life and Community must be viewed from an ecosystem-based perspective-that compartmentalizing life (or “natural resources”) for anthropocentric convenience is inherently murderous to all Life, and is therefore consequently self-destructive for humanity. These principles are not just another political theory. Biocentrism is a law of nature that exists independently of whether or not humans recognize it. It doesn’t matter whether we view the world in an anthropocentric fashion: Nature still operates in a biocentric fashion-and will ultimately trump our delusions with hard-nosed reality. And the failure of modern society to acknowledge this-as we attempt to subdue all of Nature to human greed-has led us to the brink of collapse of the Earth’s life support systems. Only when human society embraces the ecocentric worldview do we have the chance to stave off the fruition of what has already become the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history.

Biocentrism and ecocentrism are not new or modern concepts, and they certainly didn’t originate in western academia. It is ancient native wisdom, expressed eloquently in such sayings as “The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the Earth.” But in the context of today’s industrial society, the concepts of biocentrism and ecocentrism, however primal, are profoundly revolutionary-challenging the current system to its very core.

The capitalist system is in direct conflict with the natural laws of biocentrism and ecocentrism. Capitalism, first of all, is based on the principle of private property: an elite class of humans owning the Earth for the purpose of exploiting it for personal profit. Most capitalists even believe they can “own” other humans (in one form/function or another). And though “slavery” has been superficially discredited in the mores of today’s dominant worldview, humans are still commodified in a global, industrial slave market-whether on a cash-crop plantation, an assembly-line factory, in prison, or in the sex-slave trade. The principles of biocentrism and ecocentrism discredit the concept that humans can own the Earth or any other living beings. How can corporate raider Charles Hurwitz claim to “own” the 2,000-year-old redwoods of Headwaters Forest in northern California, after signing a few papers to “trade” them for a junk bond debt? The attitude behind such actions is arrogant to the point of absurdity. Hurwitz is a mere blip in the life of these ancient trees; while he may (temporarily) have the power to destroy them, he does not have the right!

Even beyond private property, though, capitalism conflicts with biocentrism and ecocentrism around the very concept of profit. Profit consists of taking out more than you put in. This is certainly contrary to the fertility cycles of Nature, which depend upon a balance of give and take. But more importantly, where does this “profit” come from?

According to Marxist theory, profit is stolen from the workers when the capitalists pay them less than the value of that which they produce. The portion of the value of the product that the capitalist keeps, rather than pays to the workers, is called surplus value. The amount of surplus value that the capitalist can keep varies with the level of organization of the workers, and with their level of privilege within the world labor pool. But the working class can never be paid the full value of their labor under capitalism, because the capitalist class exists by extracting surplus value from the products of the workers’ labor. This analysis does not consider, however, that part of the value of a product comes not just from the labor put into it, but also from the natural resources used to manufacture the product. Surplus value (i.e., profit) is not just stolen from the workers; it is also pillaged from the Earth itself. A clearcut in a forest is the perfect example of a “piece” of the Earth from which surplus value has been extracted. If human production and consumption remained within the natural limits of the Earth’s fertility, then the supply would indeed be endless. But this cannot happen under capitalism because the capitalist class exists by extracting profit not only from the workers, but also from the Earth. Many acolytes of Marx will cite Critique of the Gotha Program to say that Marx did recognize Nature, as well as labor, as a source of value. But Marx makes the distinction between use value, which he says comes from nature and labor, and exchange value, which he says comes from labor alone. It would seem intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer that use value, provided by Nature, helps significantly to determine exchange value. Value, use value AND exchange value, comes from both labor and Nature.

Modern day corporations are the very worst manifestation of this pathology. A small business may survive on profits; its basic purpose is to provide sustenance for the owners, who are human beings with a sense of place in their communities. But a corporation has no purpose for its existence, nor any moral guide to its behavior, other than to accumulate profits. And global corporations now are beyond the control of any nation or government. In fact, the government is in the service of the corporations, its armies poised to defend their profits around the world and its secret police ready to infiltrate and disrupt any serious resistance at home.

Biocentrism and ecocentrism contradict Marxism. While Marxism represents a brilliant critique of capitalism, in practice it has not presented any solutions to the current ecological and social crises. Communism, socialism, and other “leftist” ideologies address only the redistribution of the spoils of ecological plunder more evenly among the various classes of a burgeoning human population. They do not come close to addressing the relationship of such a society to the Earth-or rather, they assume that this relationship will remain the same as it is under capitalism: that of a gluttonous consumer. To them, the purpose of the “revolution” is to find a more efficient and egalitarian way to produce and distribute consumer goods.

If it isn’t ecocentrically based, it ISN’T Revolution!

This total disregard of Nature as a life force, rather than just a source of raw materials, allowed many “Marxist” states to rush into industrialization without even the simplest, most basic environmental safeguards. This resulted in such notable disasters as the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the oil spill in the Arctic Ocean, and the ongoing liquidation of the fragile forests of Siberia. It has left huge tracts of Eurasia with such a toxic legacy that vast areas are now uninhabitable. While Marx stated that the primary contradiction in industrial society is the contradiction between capital and labor-these debacles would indicate there is an equally important contradiction between industrial society and the Earth.

One of the principles of socialism is “production for use, not for profit.” Therefore, the imbalance is not as intrinsically built in under socialism as it is under capitalism. Many people envision variations of socialism that would not destroy the Earth and Life. These variations are very unlike Marx’s industrial-bureaucratic model however, and based much more closely on decentralized, loosely-organized, cooperative (as opposed to competitive), sustainable, anarcho-tribalistic approaches to community. Ecological socialism, among other things, would have to deal with the issue of centralism. The Marxist concept of a huge body politic relating to some central planning authority presupposes (1) authoritarianism of some sort; and (2) the use of mass-production technologies that are inherently destructive to the Earth and corrosive to the human spirit. Ecological socialism would mean organizing human societies in a manner that is compatible with the way that nature is organized. And the natural order of the Earth is bioregionalism, not statism.

Modern industrial society robs us of community-both with each other as well as with other species and the Earth. This creates a great longing inside us, which we are taught to fill with consumer goods and media garbage. But consumer goods, beyond those needed for basic comfort and survival, are not really what we instinctually crave. So our appetite is insatiable, and we turn to more and more efficient and dehumanizing methods of production to make more and more goods that do not satisfy us (e.g., luxury cars, cocaine, assault rifles, pornography). Yet-as activist and laborer Judi Bari stated-if workers really had control of the factories, they could begin by destroying the machinery and finding a more humane way to decide what we need and how to produce it. So to the credo “production for use, not for profit,” ecological socialism would add, “production for need, not for greed.”

Biocentrism and ecocentrism represent also a blatant contradiction of patriarchy. Patriarchy is the oldest and perhaps the deepest form of oppression on Earth. It’s so old and it’s so deep that we’re often (even in the most progressive-minded of human circles) discouraged from even naming it. The issue of patriarchy must be addressed by any serious revolutionary movement. The failure to address the patriarchy is one of the two greatest shortcomings of Marxism (the other is Marxism’s wholesale failure to address ecology).

Eco-feminism is a holistic view of the Earth that is totally consistent with the knowledge that humans are not separate from Nature. We can describe eco-feminism in two separate terms. The first is that there is a parallel between the way this society treats women and the way that it treats the Earth & Nature. And this is repeatedly displayed in expressions like “virgin forests” and “rape of the Earth”, for example. And the second is the very reason for the destruction of Nature by this society. Obviously part of the reason is capitalism. But beyond that, destruction of Nature in this society stems from the desire to suppress the feminine.

While men and women have both masculine and feminine traits, we can define “masculine traits” as conquering and dominance, and “feminine traits” as nurturing and life-giving. Under the current paradigm, the masculine traits of conquering and dominance are valued no matter who exhibits them (women or men). Conversely, the feminine traits of nurturing and life-giving are devalued and suppressed in this society, whether exhibited by men or women. The devaluing and suppression of feminine traits is a major reason for the destruction of the Earth. This relationship between the suppression of feminine values and the destruction of the Earth is actually much clearer in “third world nations” (to quote a very patriarchal term!) than it is in this society. Where colonial powers take over, when Nature is to be destroyed by imperialistic corporations coming into “third world” countries, one of the methods with which the colonial powers take over is to forcibly remove the women from their traditional roles as the keepers of the forest, farmlands, and food security. The women’s methods of interacting with each other as well as the fertility cycles of the Earth, is replaced by men, machinery, & toxics. Rather than nurturing the fertility of the Earth, they plunder the fertility of the Earth for “profit.” For this reason, many of the environmental movements in the so-called “third world” are principally women’s movements.

This phenomenon is less readily apparent in this society, but it is still here-especially when one takes the time to investigate the ecological and social dynamics in the many poor and Indigenous communities that pepper North America, as well as on undeveloped public lands adjacent to regions of human impact. Science is co-opted and corrupted to serve as the “authority” for this relentless assault on Nature for which this society is so directly responsible. Yet science is presented to us as neutral, as an objective path to knowledge, as something that’s value-free. But “science” as it is repeatedly misused by the ruling elite is not value-free; the “scientific methods” of western science are anything but “value-free”. In fact “science” was openly described by its founders as a masculine system that presupposes the separation of people from Nature and presupposes our “rightful” dominance over Nature. The initiation of the scientific method, the elevation of this as absolute truth and the only path to truth, began in 1664.

An entity called the “Royal Society,” composed of European male academicians, cultivated these theories. Their goal: “to raise a masculine philosophy, whereby the mind of men may be enabled with the knowledge of solid truths.” Read: this masculine philosophy will provide us with truth, as opposed to the more “superstitious” or “irrational” feminine perspective. How many women were burned at the stake in Europe and North America during this time as a result? And how much traditional knowledge and wisdom died with them? And remember those waves of “examinations” that have been administered to people over generations, used to justify hideously racist and sexist worldviews regarding an individual human’s intelligence, worth, and evolutionary capability? Many hundreds of thousands of European Jews were rejected by U.S. and western European immigration authorities in the 1920s and 30s because they didn’t perform well on such “aptitude” tests (thanks primarily to language and cultural barriers). So instead they were left for Hitler and Stalin to deal with…

“Sir” Francis Bacon (aptly named) said that the scientific method is a method of aggression. “The nature of things betrays itself more readily under vexation than in its natural freedom. Science is not merely a gentle guidance over nature’s course. We have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her to her foundations…to create a blessed race of heroes who would dominate both nature and society.” This is the “scientific method” upon which industrial capitalist interests (a.k.a the ruling classes) justify clearcuts, bovine growth hormones, toxic spills, war, & “medical research experiments” on Indigenous People, poor children, & prison inmates. So, now we see that western “society” has been justifying torture (of humans and non-humans alike) for quite some time…

Rene Descartes also named this “scientific method” that we learned in school “scientific reductionism:” in order to understand a complex problem, reduce it to its simpler form to know it, in order to “render ourselves the masters and possessors of Nature.” In short, reduce Nature to its “components” in order to “understand” (and exploit) Nature’s inner workings. The very concept of “scientific reductionism” is really the fundamental problem with science as it is (and has been) practiced, and it illustrates why “science” as it stands today is not a neutral objective path to knowledge.

The rise of this scientific method-this masculine method of knowledge, emerged during the same time period as the very violent suppression of women and their knowledge of the Earth, healing arts, pregnancy control & reproductive health, etc. that brought about the afore-mentioned witch hunts. It was a very aggressive and violent imposition of a masculine system of knowledge upon society as a whole. Bacon said to James I, “Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into those holes and corners when the inquisition of truth is his whole object-as your majesty has shown in your own example.” Read: nothing (or nobody) is sacred. The only way they can perpetuate the myth that the scientific method is objective is to remove it from the context of the social conditions from which it arose. It’s not objective-and it is certainly not the only method of knowledge. It is not the only path to truth and it’s not value-free. It is openly masculine and it openly presupposes the separation (segregation!) of humans from the Earth, and it incorrectly presupposes that the purpose of science is to dominate, manipulate, and exploit Nature.

Reductionist science brought upon the Earth nuclear bombs, pancreatic cancer, economic “sanctions,” Twinkies, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, genetically-modified organisms, Halliburton, global warming-& the so-called “Christian” “right.” It has not led ANYBODY to a true understanding of Nature or the Earth, because Nature’s components are not separable-they are interdependent. The Indigenous Ones have been telling us for over 500 years: “Man does not control the Web of Life-he is merely a strand in it; what he does to the Web (Earth and Life)-he does also to himself.” Science (and the scientist) must recognize this ancient but revolutionary concept, and to throw off the yoke of anthropocentric corporate capitalist control as it did that of the Roman Catholic Church during the European renaissance. And it must do so immediately, and by any means necessary, if it is to effectively serve us in defense of our lives and well-being. And scientists the world over must start by adopting the Precautionary Principle in ALL scientific research and thinking. The Precautionary Principle states that in the face of scientific uncertainty, we must take precautionary action. Shift the burden of proof on the perpetrator by asking three questions: 1) Is any potential harm preventable? 2) Do we have alternatives? 3) Do we know enough to act, and see this experiment safely through to the end? The fossil-fuel experiment currently plunging us headlong into global climate imbalance has no basis whatsoever in the Precautionary Principal.

Eco-feminism seeks a science of nature. And this science of nature is a holistic and interdependent one, where we treat the entire natural system and the way that all component forces interact. It recognizes that humans are part of Nature, and that our fates are inseparable; we must live harmoniously within the Earth’s natural fertility cycles, and we can enhance those fertility cycles by our increasingly-informed, ever-evolving interaction with natural processes. The holistic and interdependent eco-feminist view in which humans are inseparable from Nature is not any different than that of deep ecology or ecocentrism. So, to embrace biocentrism or deep ecology is to challenge this “masculine” system of knowledge that underlies the destruction of the Earth as well as the classist, fascistic justifications for the way our current “society” is structured. Any “scientist” who is not out in the field, on the ground, listening to the Land and the Wind and the Sky and the Indigenous Ones who live there (assuming any remain alive), is half-blind at best-and ultimately deceived.

Eco-feminism does not seek to dominate men as women have been dominated under patriarchy; in fact, true feminism doesn’t disempower ANYBODY! Rather, eco-feminism seeks balance; we need both the masculine and the feminine forces. Eco-feminism seeks that balance. The current society is tragically imbalanced-and we need a veritable groundswell of the feminine. We need a rise of individual women, and also a rise of feminist ideology among both women and men. Without this balance between the masculine and the feminine, we cannot make the changes necessary to return to balance with the Earth. The most successful of Indigenous societies evolved with balances of power between men and women, youth and elders, and between the various classes of warriors, shamans, etc. Revolutionary Ecology contradicts patriarchy and classism, embracing deep ecology/ecocentrism to challenge the core misconceptions of this current masculine, “rational” (read: misogynistic) system.

The systems currently enforced into place cannot be reformed. They are based on the destruction of the Earth and the exploitation of Life (including people). There is no such thing as green capitalism, and marketing quaint, over-priced “rainforest products” will not bring back the ecosystems that capitalism must destroy in order to ensure the flow of profits up the existing socio-economic pyramid. To be a serious ecologist, one must by necessity be a serious revolutionary. The Wilderness Protection Movement must be visionary in scope and not get bogged down in “band-aid” reform measures or single-issue politics. Reformist measures in the ecology movement are akin to straightening out your closet while the house burns down. One can look to worldwide conservation protection policies that have been legislatively fought for in the past to see that “band-aid” measures are ultimately fruitless. Many of these legislative policies have been eradicated by new governments which side with business interests to give them a free hand in the wanton destruction of the environment. In the u.s. for example, the “Healthy Forest Initiative” recently implemented by the Bush administration is a case in point: every National Forest can now be butchered by corporate timber interests regardless of existing laws-under the premise of eliminating burned, dead, or dying trees. As everyone with a modicum of ecological sense knows, every forest has fire and dying trees-and these play critical roles as crucial components of a healthy functioning ecosystem. Now lawmakers are rewriting ecosystem health with junk science and Orwellian newspeak concepts, putting every parcel of public land under the threat of the corporate chainsaw and bulldozer, further destroying evolutionary potential under the guise of “forest health”.

Back to the Future

The Revolutionary Ecology Movement requires a broad focus. Wilderness and Sacred Places must be preserved, and it is entirely appropriate for an ecology movement to center on protecting irreplaceable wilderness areas and endangered species-while launching into wholesale, global eco-restoration (re-wilding). But one cannot seriously address the destruction of Wilderness without addressing the social disharmony that is destroying it. The ecology movement cannot afford to separate itself from the social justice movement. The same Beast that manifests itself as resource extraction/ecological devastation in the countryside manifests itself as sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, and human exploitation in the cities, towns, and rural plantations that are rapidly blanketing the Earth. The ecology movement must recognize that it is just one front in a long, proud, history of resistance-and then work to make ecology the central theme across the spectrum of revolutionary struggles. A revolutionary ecology movement must organize among poor and working peoples all over the world. With the exception of the toxics movement and the Native Land Rights Movement, most U.S. environmentalists are white and privileged. This group is too invested in the system to pose it much of a threat. While a revolutionary ideology in the hands of privileged people can indeed bring about some disruption and change in the current system-a revolutionary ideology in the hands of working people can bring that system to a halt. For it is the working people who have their hands on the death machines, and only by stopping the machinery of destruction can we ever hope to stop this madness.

Why do we have neighborhood movements focused on the disposal of toxic wastes, for example, but we don’t have a worker’s movement to stop the production of toxics? Only when the factory workers refuse to make the poison-and only when the loggers refuse to cut the ancient trees-can we ever hope for real and lasting change. This system cannot be stopped by passive resistance alone. It is violent and ruthless beyond the capacity of any people’s (isolated) resistance movement. Massive non-cooperation represents a start-to be followed by mass direct action, destruction of the mechanizations in place to enforce the current insanity, experimentation with and implementation of sustainable alternatives, and gargantuan efforts across the globe toward both preservation and restoration of both ecological and (Earth-based) cultural paradigms.

Repression is the prevention of natural expression, activity or development, through force or manipulation. Repression can also be defined as the simple exclusion of desires from consciousness. Today’s ruling elite repress populations, and particularly potential acts of resistance, by means of police, military, and covert agencies readily at their disposal. The elite are few and the repressed are many, so the threat of resistance and rebellion to this system and its controllers is great.  In the “united states,” repression to counter the threat of direct action and other forms of resistance is most evident in the control of information and media. Media, from school textbooks, to newspapers, advertising and especially television, is perhaps the most effective tool the corporations possess for “dumbing down” the populace (a very deliberate strategy: so why is the Superbowl headline news every year for a week or more?). People think they are getting news when in fact they are getting secret (toxic) sauce smudged onto their McTerrorist bull-patties.

Something radically new beckons. To have healthy ecosystems, a healthy society is necessary-and vice versa. That is why we are calling for a revolutionary ecological approach. The future of Life on Earth depends upon it. Building a broader-based movement hence becomes even more crucial; there must be more of us working together to counter disinformation and promote real education, regaining a sense of community and direct democratic procedure while striving to protect, recover, and restore as much of Wild Nature and wild culture as is absolutely possible. In North America (and elsewhere) we have the opportunity to learn from the Traditional Wisdom cultivated over thousands of years of evolution by Indigenous Peoples. If the Earth loses its remaining Indigenous cultures, languages, and sacred-sites, then all of humanity-indeed, Life itself-loses. Forever. We will have no future. Those who have been sucked into believing that “modern technology” is the solution can move forward by looking back to an Earth-based wisdom that anthropocentric cultures have never offered (or even tried to understand). There is no sustainable development under capitalism; this is an oxymoron as deadly as it is ludicrous. One effective way to stop the enemy is through direct action applied to all the points of assumption, extraction, production, distribution, consumption, oppression, and exploitation. By any means necessary…

Finally, a critically-pertinent motive for writing this introduction to Revolutionary Ecology is to call into question any and all forms of environmental or social elitism, and to humble us even further into a keen awareness of who we are, who we could be, and what we face in our fight to realize our visions for freedom. If this seems too serious, it is only because the question it raises for everyone on this Earth is life or death. In the time it took you to read this essay, how many hectares of forest have been eradicated? How many species have gone extinct? How many children died as a result of starvation, disease, and war? How many women were raped? How many racist police beatings and executions occurred?

Albert Einstein explained to us that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. elucidated the fact that we can live together as family or die together as fools. And most recently, the late, great Roberta Blackgoat, Dine’ matriarch and activist, said it most plainly: “They are taking away my life, my culture, my homeland…All I have left are my dreams and my footprints to show you that I was here. This they cannot take away from me-and I will fight forever.”

We have a choice…and the provision to choose. But we have very little time…

Storm Waters is an atmospheric scientist, revolutionary ecologist, grassroots activist, and radikal media producer who roams the Earth continually refining the meaning of the term Lowbagger. He is often observed shooting off his white male mouth in realms where the Wilderness interfaces the ghetto — pissing off allies and enemies alike.


February 26, 2011 - Posted by | anti-kapitalizm, ekolojist akımlar, türcülük, doğa / hayvan özgürlüğü


  1. […] Revolutionary Ecology – A Working Definition. By Storm Waters […]


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