Deep Green Resistance – review
Deep Green Resistance, by Aric McBay, Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen, June 2011, Seven Stories Press, 520 pages, ISBN 978-1583229293, RRP £15.99.
This book disturbs me. It is a hard-hitting exposé of the horror of what is being done to the Earth, its poorest peoples, and future generations: what these authors regard as a waging of war. They begin by posing this question: ‘If you care about life on the planet and if you believe’ (those who currently hold economic and political power) ‘won’t voluntarily cease to destroy it, how does that belief affect your methods of resistance?’ Their analysis of the basic cause of the harms referred to above speaks to my experience. For 30 years I have been a campaigner regarding justice, peace and environmental issues. Most of these campaigns have been triggered by the abuse of economic and political power. Some campaigns have had positive outcomes but always new ones have become necessary because of abuses in some other part of this interlinked system, a system characterised by the Occupy Movement as ‘organised by the 1%’. Whilst Occupy’s characterisation doesn’t sufficiently acknowledge the responsibility of all of us who benefit from the material wealth which is generated, it clearly points to those who primarily hold the levers of power.
Placing a focus upon power structures and asking how these affect our methods of resistance, is disturbing for many of us. However things get tougher because the authors go on to provide a comprehensive analysis of direct and indirect actions which may help bring about a social and economic system ‘which is based on human rights and sustainable material cultures’. And whilst their analysis supports many forms of non-violence, they regard violence against strategic targets as necessary when nothing else brings the desperately needed changes.
How do I as a Christian respond to this book? I join with the authors’ deep respect and concern for all of Earth’s life-forms and for their commitment to care for our descendents and for the poor of the world. I resonate with their recognition that most of those who we might expect to lead us in facing the dire state of the Earth, are instead promoting business-as-usual. I am disturbed by the invitation to consider violence against infrastructure because violence so easily begets violence; and in that process, dialogue and cooperation become lost. Yet I know that structural violence is pervasive, and deeply entrenched within laws (e.g. the requirement to maximise profit for share-holders). The authors’ question: ‘what do we do if we believe that those who are most promoting Earth’s destruction won’t voluntarily cease?’, nags at my longing for safety for our descendents.
What might it mean to follow Jesus in this context? I ponder the scene in the Temple courtyard where he overthrew the tables of those who chose money before God; and I ponder his voluntary crucifixion. Fear wells up and I ask ‘Lord, where can I run?’ May we be graced, alone and together, to follow him in trust.