Supporting indigenous Territorialities goes beyond supporting biodiversity conservation; it is also an invitation to organize and reinscribe communal systems that have been erased and dismantled all over the world by the increasing expansion of the capitalist economy and the conservation paradigm.
Archive for category: Indigenous
On election night in 2016, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya set fire to a bulldozer and construction equipment at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site in Iowa. Over the next few months, the activists used oxy-acetylene torches to melt holes in pipeline valves at three other locations in the state. It was at the height of the Indigenous-led protests against the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which opponents like the Standing Rock Sioux tribe argued would pollute local water sources and contaminate soil. When Reznicek and Montoya’s actions failed to halt pipeline construction, they held a press conference and publicly took responsibility for their actions.
The two women were subsequently indicted on nine felony counts of intentionally damaging energy infrastructure, and Reznicek ultimately pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. She was sentenced to eight years in prison by a district court in Iowa last year.
Reznicek is now appealing her sentence. Before an Iowa appellate court last week, her attorneys argued that the district court had inappropriately decided that her actions constituted a federal crime of terrorism and applied a “terrorism enhancement” to her sentence. Had the enhancement not been applied, sentencing guidelines would’ve capped her prison term at a little under four years.
Over the last few years, penalties for protesting pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure have increased dramatically. At the federal level, a provision of the 2001 Patriot Act, the national security law passed in the wake of 9/11, makes damaging energy infrastructure a federal crime.
And at the state level, in part responding to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, lawmakers in at least 17 states have passed legislation to increase jail terms and monetary penalties for offenses such as vandalizing and tampering with so-called critical infrastructure. In recent years, nonviolent climate protesters have been charged with trespassing, theft, and terrorism.
At issue in Reznicek’s case is whether her conduct was “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct.” Prosecutors in the case argued that Reznicek’s conduct fit this description because she held a press conference in front of the Iowa Utilities Board office and used a crowbar to dismantle an Iowa Utilities sign.
“They were trying to say to the government, ‘If you do this kind of thing, we’re going to go out there and take the law into our own hands and end the pipeline one way or the other,’” the government prosecutor said at the hearing. “That is incredibly dangerous and exactly what this enhancement is designed to stop.”
Robert Richman, Reznicek’s attorney, argued that her actions did not target the Iowa Utilities Board and that her statements and actions did not indicate she tried to “influence” or “retaliate” against the agency. “There’s no question that Ms. Reznicek was unhappy with the decision of the Utility Board to allow the pipeline, but the damage to private property was calculated to stop the pipeline, not to punish the board,” he said.
In a 2021 statement to the court, Reznicek, who has long been associated with the Catholic Worker Movement, which promotes a social-justice oriented interpretation of Catholicism, said she is “not a political person” and “certainly not a terrorist.”
“I am simply a person who cares deeply about an extremely basic human right that is under threat: Water,” she wrote.
The appellate court is expected to issue a ruling in the coming weeks.
This story was originally published by Grist with the headline Jessica Reznicek set fire to Dakota Access Pipeline construction. Is she a terrorist? on May 18, 2022.
Middle of North America – The 1894 Sioux Nation Treaty Council (SNTC) which has been going to the United Nations (UN) for nearly forty (40) years, is recommending a “theme” to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The recommendation is that the Sioux Nation, which has a valid treaty with the United States (US), and other Indigenous nations with treaties and agreements with colonizing governments, be recommended in the CERD report to the General Assembly and allowed to participate in the processes of the UN Decolonization Committee as a colonized nation. This would mean the liberation and freedom of such Indigenous nations with the help of the UN. The processes take a few years.
The English speaking countries have been a block to this process since the inception of the UN nearly 77 years ago.
The post 1894 Sioux Nation Treaty Council Appeals To UN As Colonized Nation appeared first on PopularResistance.Org.
We can regenerate the life systems to which our future is linked. But change must be at the root. Because after every crisis, we don’t want to return to normality, we want to return to the earth.
This story is published as part of the Global Indigenous Affairs Desk, an Indigenous-led collaboration between Grist, Indian Country Today, High Country News. Native News Online also contributed to this article.
The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, or UNPFII, concluded its 21st session on Friday, calling on governments, courts, and U.N. agencies to implement mechanisms to support and protect Indigenous peoples’ lands and lives. It also recommended that Indigenous peoples be given more opportunities to participate in the U.N.’s General Assembly process through “enhanced participation” – a move that could elevate the forum to a level on-par with member states.
The forum is one of the few official venues where Indigenous voices are reliably heard at the U.N., but its role is constricted by a structure that only allows UNPFII members to make recommendations to other U.N. bodies, like the the Economic and Social Council or UNESCO. Indigenous nations, communities, and peoples are classed as non-governmental organizations, and cannot vote or speak to U.N. bodies without an invitation, including the General Assembly.
“A basic, first step for enhanced participation would be the United Nations recognizing that tribes have a right to be here and have a right to be able to attend,” said Geoffrey Roth, a Standing Rock Sioux descendent and UNPFII member. With enhanced participation, Roth says, Indigenous peoples could engage directly, and equally, with member states to ensure rights are protected and concerns are heard.
“We need the support of the absolute leadership of the United Nations to address Indigenous human rights,” said Hannah McGlade, a Noongar woman and member of UNPFII from Australia. “We mustn’t lose sight of the changes that can come through our engagement, our advocacy, and our work with member states.”
Throughout the forum, Indigenous representatives and leaders from around the world highlighted their concerns and challenges around free, prior, and informed consent, or FPIC – a consultation process designed to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples when it comes to development. They also discussed how dangerous mining practices driving the green energy transition are threatening Indigenous peoples around the world, how harmful conservation practices are impacting traditional territories, and the need for urgent attention on violence against Indigenous land defenders and women.
In a draft report put forth by UNPFII leaders Friday, members urged countries to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including calling on the United States and Canada to develop national action plans to implement the agreement. Both countries have signed onto support UNDRIP after years of opposition, but have not generally moved to codify those international rights into their legal systems.
Under the forum’s proposals, relevant UN agencies, like the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and UNESCO would initiate studies on the implementation of FPIC, the impacts of industrial fishing on Indigenous communities, and develop and align internal policies to protect human rights with regards to intellectual property rights and traditional knowledge. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum also recommended that the World Health Organization incorporate Indigenous cultures into the social determinants of health policy.
The forum also called on U.N. member states to immediately implement court rulings, specifically in Norway, where a supreme court decision in favor of the Sami people has yet to be enforced, and in Kenya, where the government has failed to execute recommendations from the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to return ancestral lands and provide restitution to the Endorois who were evicted in the 1970’s to create a wildlife reserve. It also called on the government of Tanzania to immediately stop the eviction of the Maasai people from the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
“This is really a very challenging moment for the Permanent Forum, that continues to be a subsidiary body,” said Darío José Mejía Montalvo, the chair of the forum, in an interview. “We still don’t have enough of a voice in those bodies where the decisions are made at the United Nations and the states.”
Despite the challenges and limitations of UNPFII, Mejía Montalvo believes that it can help elevate the concerns of Indigenous peoples around the world and empower them to push for change in their countries. A sentiment echoed by Geoffrey Roth who hopes to put pressure on international bodies like the World Bank to start making change. Roth says that pressure could be stipulating that the World Bank has a process in place to ensure member states that receive funding have a strong FPIC policy. If they don’t, he says, the World Bank could refuse to work there. “The money is where the power is – and the World Bank is the pocket book,” he said.
Leaders say next year’s session will focus on global health and climate change.
This story was originally published by Grist with the headline The plan to ensure Indigenous peoples have a voice at the UN on May 9, 2022.
“They brought disease, raped our women, killed our brothers–the animals, murdered our elders, leveled out the vast forests, polluted our rivers, filled our air with chemicals, called us savage, pagans, Indians … Never before had we ever had an enemy such as this.” – Larry Casuse, February 13, 1973.
“We here at Wounded Knee realize that our fight is the same fight that Larry Wayne Casuse fought so bravely. At Wounded Knee we’ll honor him, our spiritual leaders will have special ceremonies for him. In this Indian way, we’ll find unity with him and all of you.” – Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Carter Camps, and Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement, March 1, 1973. (13).
When one thinks about the Red Power movement in the late 1960s through the 1970s, the first things that come to mind are the occupation of Alcatraz in 1969 by the Indians of All Tribes, or the Trail of Broken Treaties in 1972 that ended in Washington, D.C. with the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), or the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement and other Lakota activists. These events had some of the biggest media coverage and started to turn public opinion in favor of Indigenous rights. However, the story of Larry Casuse and his struggle for Native liberation has been overshadowed by these national events.
On March 1, 1973, Diné (Navajo) activist Larry Casuse became locally famous for his attempted kidnapping of Mayor Emmett Garcia of Gallup, New Mexico, a bordertown to the Navajo Nation. Larry, who was only 19 years old, and Robert Nakaidinae burst into the mayor’s office, armed. What proceeded was a tragic shootout between the police and the two men, leaving Casuse dead. They did not target Garcia randomly. Rather, as David Correia said in a 2013 article in La Jicarita,
“Garcia was not only the mayor but also part owner of the Navajo Inn, a notorious liquor store and bar located west of Gallup and just south of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Inn was among the most profitable liquor stores in the state of New Mexico. And Larry had long argued that it was a profit based in misery.”
The misery was that in the mid-1970s, Gallup had the highest alcohol mortality rate in the nation and was a product of settler-colonial violence. Following the shootout, the police dragged Larry’s body into the street to pose for pictures that hung in the Gallup police union’s bar for decades until the Casuse family was able to get it removed.
Despite being involved in the Indigenous liberation movement for over a decade, I first heard of Larry’s story in 2019 when I was attending the Native Liberation conference hosted by The Red Nation in Gallup. During the walking tour of the city, the tragic events were detailed, and it seems Larry’s story is not as well known outside of what is called the American Southwest today. Larry’s spirit lives on in New Mexico and with other Native communities. He was part of the KIVA club at the University of New Mexico (UNM), which was an Indigenous activist group on campus, and it is not uncommon to go to a protest and see Larry’s face on t-shirts, signs, or murals. He famously said only a couple of weeks before being killed, “The Indian Movement was then born … it was born because we must once again regain the balance between good and evil.” (3)
Even among those who know the events of that tragic day, many do not know the full context of what led to that moment. Correia’s book, An Enemy Such as This: Larry Casuse and the Fight for Native Liberation in One Family on Two Continents over Three Centuries, attempts to give context to this moment. Correia does not only focus on Larry’s life, but also traces the colonization of what is modern-day Arizona and New Mexico, from the original colonizers, the Spanish, to the Mexicans, to the U.S. At first, one is unsure of the formula Corriea is using, but the pieces fit together as the story unfolds. The book focuses very little on the events of March 1, 1973, but rather attempts to give the reader the history to understand why that event happened.
The book is a short read but packs a lot into it. The main themes throughout are occupation and settler colonialism. Even Larry’s dad was a World War II veteran who fought in the war and later came back to serve in allied occupied Austria, which is where he met Larry’s mom (more on that complicated story later).
The book starts with an interview with Delbert Rudy, who was the owner of the car that Larry Casuse and Robert Nadaidinae hijacked in Albuquerque. Rudy was held in the car until they arrived in Gallup, about a two-hour drive away. Rudy has never given an interview before this book. His insight and empathy for Larry are fascinating and tell us more about his cause. He said,
“I didn’t think that what they were doing was illogical … Because again they didn’t say they were going to kill the guy. Their plan was to kidnap him, get off up into the mountains, hold him hostage until everybody agreed to move the bar.”
He continued to say that Larry was a smart guy, knew where he was going, and was very clear and polite.
The book then takes a time machine back to the early Spanish colonization of the area. Though there are many Indigenous nations in the area, Correia specifically looks at the Apaches and their contested relationship with the Spanish, and later the Mexicans. As settler colonialism came to the region, markets for the scalps of Apache and other Indigenous people were codified into law. We saw this pick up under the Mexican government following their newly established independence in 1821. This is how settler colonialism functions: if your goal is to remove the current indigenous population, who will inevitably fight back in different ways, you will need to market ways to remove that population, including violence. Settler colonialism is death.
Corriera discusses the market mechanism of these blood contracts and connects them to Karl Marx’s writing at the same time. He says,
“The scalp constituted, therefore, a kind of commodity, and through piece-work wages. Chihuahua intended to produce more of them. It is interesting to note that at the same time that Curcier sought efficiencies and production increases in colonial warfare through the use of piece-work in Chihuahua, Karl Marx, writing about colonialism and capitalism half a world away, was considering precisely the same idea.” (46)
In other words, piece-wages are the idea that for each item you produce or, in this instance, for every Apache you kill, the more money you will make. Marx discusses how this type of wage serves as a way to lengthen the work day and lower wages overtime. Essentially, this incentivized settlers to work more, resulting in the killing of Indigenous people and giving them a stake in the settler economy. If the military battles did not work, then militias and settlers would finish the job. Capitalism runs through the veins of a settler-colonial economy, whether that is the physical scalps of the Indigenous people or a liquor store and bar in Gallup that is profiting off the misery of Indigenous people.
After a deeper discussion on the history of the region, Correia pivots towards the history of the Casuse family coinciding with historic colonial violence. This chapter starts with the arrival of the U.S. and has a different pace and feel to it, clearly relying on oral and written history. I found myself making a family tree in the book trying to keep people straight. Despite all the names and dates and events, the goal is quite simple: colonization, violence, and historical trauma run through the blood of an oppressed people and influence decisions in the future.
As the U.S. became the new colonizer in town following the Mexican-American War of 1848, forced removal and assimilation became the policy toward Native people. Initially, the U.S. wanted to remove the Diné to Oklahoma, which was known as Indian Territory at the time. This was where the U.S. wanted to send all Indigenous people, too. The Diné avoided this fate, but during the Civil War, Kit Carson was tasked with conducting a scorched-earth campaign against the Diné. He burned villages and slaughtered people. The Diné had no other choice than to surrender. They were then forced from their homelands in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico to eastern New Mexico. This was called the Long Walk. The Diné were able to make their way back home and established the Navajo Nation reservation, which is both the largest reservation in square miles and population today. Thousands of Diné children were sent to Indian boarding schools, including Larry’s dad, Louis, where the slogan was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”
The next couple of chapters start to dig into Larry’s parents’ experience. Like so many Indigenous people, Louis Casuse faced horrible conditions at home without many work opportunities and ended up joining the U.S. military during World War II. Natives have always made up one of the highest percentages of the military, in comparison to their percentage of the U.S. population. Correia discusses how Native folks were at first excluded from the draft, but the BIA wanted to have “all-Indian divisions”; the U.S. military was still segregated, but mainly focused on African Americans. Correia goes on to say,
“The draft board relented and required that all Native men register for the draft. It promised remedial English classes for those inducted. According to some accounts, Native people served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II at a rate greater than any other group. The highest rate came from New Mexico and Arizona, where three thousand Diné men and women, 6 percent of the population entered the armed services.” (61)
Though African American units were segregated, Louis and other Natives were integrated into white units and often faced racism.
Louis was sent to a German POW camp and was there as the war was ending. Coming home, he realized that home was not much better and made his way back to Europe. Following the war, Germany and other Nazi-controlled areas were occupied by the allied forces. Louis was sent to Austria to help oversee the transition from Nazi control. As Correia says, “Occupation extends war” (92). Though the war was over, the Soviet and then U.S. occupation of Vienna continued to bring devastation. Correia went on to say, “They looted the Austrian treasury, seized homes and farms or occupation personnel, unleashed a wave of sexual violence on women and girls, and established a black-market for fuel, food, and all other essential goods.” (92)
Sexual violence in particular thrived under both Soviet and U.S. occupation. It was not uncommon for troops to commit violence or attempt to marry someone. This is what happened to Larry’s mother, Lillian. Louis was in pursuit of her when she was twelve years old and, later, her family agreed to the marriage, likely seeing a better life for her in the U.S. This was very common at this time, so common that the 1946 Alien Fiancées and Fiancés Act was passed to make it easier to marry German and Austrian women and bring them back to the States. Corriea described this,
“According to military records, US soldiers raped more than fourteen thousand women and children between 1942 and 1945. Time Magazine called the US an “army of rapists.” This pattern of sexual violence continued after the war, during a period one historian called “the rape phase of the occupation.” Every woman understood this, especially the ones who survived it all, only to become war brides.” (103)
This is the context in which Larry came into the world in 1954.
As Louis came back from Europe he, like so many Diné men, started to work in the mines owned by the Kennecott Copper Company. Some of these mines dated back to the early Spanish colonization. In these mines, there was a breakdown between Anglo, Spanish, and Diné workers, who were treated differently in that exact order. Most Diné never joined the unions, as exemplified by a statement made by an Arizona AFL-CIO delegate to their annual convention that the “Indians of Arizona and New Mexico are posing a definite threat to labor” (116). Louis was one of the exceptions and joined the Mine-Mill union. This union was radical and regularly had wildcat strikes, and has been featured in pop culture, including the 1954 film Salt of the Earth. The film is great at chronicling a strike against Empire Zinc in Hanover, New Mexico, but “none of these take up the role or experience of Navajo mineworkers in the union. If they are mentioned at all it is in passing or in a footnote” (117). This is just another example of the erasure of Indigenous people even in supposedly left-wing spaces. These compounded experiences shaped the way that Indigenous people like the Casuse family and others have resisted settler colonialism.
The book comes full circle back to Gallup on that fatal day on March 1, 1973, and finally starts to highlight Larry’s life, struggle, and radicalization. Like his ancestors, Larry grew up in Navajo Nation and went in and out of Gallup, the self-proclaimed “Indian Capital of the World.” He saw the realities of the predatory systems of capitalism and settler colonialism and the monopolies of the trading post systems on reservations, which forced Natives into debt requiring purchases with undisclosed interest rates. There was very little difference between this and the trading post policies of the late 1800s, all approved and licensed by the BIA. A 1973 report by the Federal Trade Commission called them “formidable and abusive trade practices” (147). The BIA did nothing.
When we consider the Red Power movement, we need to include Larry Casuse in the same conversation as Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Madonna Thunderhawk, Clyde Bellecourt, and Leonard Peltier.
On top of this was the epidemic of alcoholism and the white-owned businesses that profited off this. The Diné at the time “suffered from alcoholism at a rate twenty times higher than the US average” (141). This led to the rise of “Indian rolling,” which were white vigilantes killing unhoused Diné. Since the Navajo Nation was a dry reservation, many would leave these bars and get hit by drivers in rural New Mexico. Others were arrested by the police. “In 1979, Gallup cops arrested more than 26,000 people, more than 90 percent of whom were Navajo” (144). This is the culture of a bordertown and what settler colonialism in its raw form looks like: a white settler population stealing land and then profiting off the land and misery of the Indigenous population.
This led Larry to find outlets to fight back, including the KIVA club at the UNM. He also joined the group Indians Against Exploitation (IAE) and organized with the Indian Center, which became known by Mayor Garcia as a “hotbed” of Indian militancy. These groups fought to shut down the Navajo Inn and combat alcoholism in the community through systematic demands. They fought against the commercialization of Navajo culture in Gallup and other surrounding communities. Like so many young people at the time, they were called naïve and told to continue to wait.
All of these events led to Larry’s actions on March 1, 1973. Following the shootout, the police claimed that Larry died from a self-inflicted wound, but the facts did not match based on the weapon he had and the findings from the coroner. Following the events, many non-Natives in town went around saying that Larry got what he deserved. As they dragged Larry’s body into the street,
“They cradle their rifles and shotguns on their hips and pose over Larry’s body, some with serious looks, others smiling broadly. A photographer from the Gallup Independent takes their picture over and over again. Trophies of dead Indians. Like the presidios and churches that ran Apache scalps up flag poles 150-years earlier, a framed photo of Larry’s body surrounded by his killers will hang above the bar at the Fraternal Order of Police for years while off-duty cops get drunk looking at it.” (174)
Following Larry’s murder, hundreds attended the funeral march in Gallup to continue Larry’s fight. Robert Nakaidinae, Larry’s partner, was arrested and interviewed by Mayor Garcia, who continued to push Robert to say that they were trying to kill him. Robert never relented and said that was not their intention, and that Larry was murdered and did not kill himself. Robert’s sentence was shortened and he was released on parole in June 1974. While he was in prison, he wrote music and many songs about Larry. In his final conversation with Mayor Garcia, he played one he wrote in prison that was “not just about Larry Casuse but of him” (179). The book ends with the sheet music to that song.
This review is merely the tip of the iceberg and folks need to read the book. It does such a great job of being a book that is not just about an individual, but a people and their struggle with colonization. Larry’s actions were part of the Indigenous resistance since the first Europeans came to Turtle Island. When we consider the Red Power movement, we need to include Larry Casuse in the same conversation as Dennis Banks, Russell Means, Madonna Thunderhawk, Clyde Bellecourt, and Leonard Peltier.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by City of Albuquerque; modified by Tempest.
Rainforests looked after by communities absorb twice as much carbon as other lands, analysis shows
Paris climate agreement goals will fail unless the rights of Indigenous people who protect rainforests are honoured, according to a new report.
Forest lands stewarded by Indigenous people and communities in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru sequester about twice as much carbon as other lands, according to the analysis.
Over a year has passed since the January 6th insurrection in DC and, sadly, it’s unclear what we’ve learned. Shortly after that multifaceted coup attempt, sociologist Waldon Bello warned us as to what was coming. Reflecting on his own experiences of US-backed fascism in Chile and the Philippines, he pointed to their source. “America Has Entered the Weimar Era,” he said, that the insurrection “underlies the face of crises to come.”
Fast forward to today; Newsweek warns of the potential for a violent coup come 2024. Generals in the military warn of their own internal civil war, so their ability to “Choose Democracy,” like many hoped in the case that Trump refused to leave, is now off the table. Despite the chorus of warnings, our supposed left leadership chooses to put their heads in the sand. Instead, we must place revolution back on the table, one at the intersection of Clara Zetkin and Ella Baker.
The post Moving Beyond Settler Colonialism to Oppose Resurgent Fascism in Ameri(kkk)a appeared first on puntorojo.
The following essay is taken from “Wildpunk: Black against Civilization,” the first English-language translation of writings by Elany, a Black anarchist from Switzerland. The entire zine is hosted and readable/downloadable at 1312 Press.
Unfortunately, the Swiss government kidnapped Elany while “Wildpunk” was being translated. She has been incarcerated since January 9 of this year on suspicion of sabotage and arson. The state has denied her medication, restricted her contact with the outside world, and forced her from veganism onto a prison diet of meat and grains.
We urge solidarity with Elany and all incarcerated in the shared struggle against the oppression of civilization. Updates on Elany’s case and opportunities to aid her can be found at feralfire.noblogs.org and the hashtag #FreeElany on Twitter and Mastodon. There is also an email you can contact, firstname.lastname@example.org
While one part of the Earth is ravaged by fires and the other part struggles against being flooded, we are threatened from another angle: Covid-19. But the still-ongoing Corona Pandemic is really just the beginning of a new Era of Pandemics.
As climate change and demands for environmental protection become ever more “Mainstream,” the urgency of pandemics has increased. The current situation has taught the people a clear lesson: deathly pathogens are an equally big and global threat to human and other beings.
Over 15 years ago, the sociologist Mike Davis pointed out that due to mass livestock farming we are on the way to a global age of pandemics and it will lead us to catastrophe. Industrial livestock production is a sort of particle accelerator. More bodies in less space means more chances for the emergence of mutations or hybrid viruses and for their spread, regardless which virus it is. Global supply chains of giant transnational corporations with branches in half a dozen countries and markets in a thousand cities, alongside urbanization, do the rest. The most threatening ones are the Bird Flue Viruses, and we know today that we are only a single mutation away from one of the deadliest strains of Bird Flu becoming pandemic. These epidemics, created and spread by agroindustry, finally strike with particular devastation in the places which have already sunk into poverty through colonialism and capitalism. The combination of a lack of healthcare and high urbanization eventually leads to serious distress, in which pandemics can wreak devastation with full force.
Speaking of devastation: the consequences of climate change are being felt with full force all around us. The toll of the devastation is endless. Forests are turned to lumber, after which greater and more intense heatwaves lead to a rise in forest fires, droughts, and desertification. Soil is eroded and farmland is turned into desert. Fertilizer, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides contaminate the food supply. Landfills overflow with synthetic waste. Power plants fill air, land, and sea with cancerous particles. A chemical smog fills the streets in the cities and poisons human and other beings at every turn. Plastic waste breaks apart into billions of tiny microscopic pieces, infecting every living organism. Chemicals are dumped in the oceans, seas, and rivers. Toxic waste oozes into the ground water. The rise and warming of the seas leads to stronger rainfalls, more powerful floods, more frequent mega-storms, and the inundation of coastal regions.
In addition to warming, the ocean is experiencing acidification and a loss of oxygen. A deadly trio which is steering us towards a sixth mass extinction of life on our planet, one where the rate of species extinction is 1000 times faster than usual. As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle held: “Our lives depend on the living ocean – not just the rocks and the water, but stable, resilient, diverse living systems that hold the world on a steady course favorable to humankind.” The ocean covers some 70% of the Earth and is central to enabling life. Aquatic plants produce half of the breathable oxygen in the world. If the ocean dies, we die too.
Agroindustry doesn’t just destroy communities, it spreads into the wild, destroying the diversity and balance of the natural ecology and replacing it with vast monocultures. Half of the habitable land on Earth is today used for agriculture, joined every year by millions more hectares. A majority of this cultivated area is used to produce feed for hundreds of millions of pigs, cows, sheep, and poultry, fattening them up for the world-spanning logistics chains.
Alongside this come ever greater social, economic, and political aggravations. Famines and water shortages. Heat-sickness and death. Epidemics and the destruction of more vital habitats. Wars over disappearing resources and usable territories. Climate change destroys livelihoods, strengthens sickness, and scatters people. Together with the Era of Pandemics, a global cascade of suffering results.
Wherever we find ecological destruction, we find industry. Industry is not neutral and there can be no adequate solution for climate destruction so long as industry still exists. Ending the suffering requires the complete collapse of industry. Or as it was aptly expressed in 2019 in the 43rd issue of Revolte, an Anarchist newspaper in Vienna: “For the destruction of Industry, Work, and Exploitation! For Sabotage and Direct Attack!”
Sustainable, Green Industry?!
While habitat destruction strides onward, industry (which is responsible for all of this suffering) wants to sell us the answer: sustainable and renewable energy.
At this point of ecological, social, and bodily catastrophe we need to critically question green solutions like the falsely named Renewable Energy Revolution and identify them for what they really are: a perpetuation of the status quo. Supposedly green energy sustains ecological devastation and global inequalities.
The destruction of human and non-human habitats is implied in the mass-production infrastructure of “renewable energy,” whether solar, wind, bio-fuel, hydro, nuclear power, or other alleged renewable energies. One destructive norm is replaced by another. These energies, like fossil fuels, have their roots in colonial extractive raw material industries. Once again the “solution” is exactly the problem.
For battery technology we can look to Bolivia (Lithium) and Congo (Cobalt). With both resources, the ecological and humanitarian costs are inexcusable: the destruction of habitat, child slavery, and death through dangerous work. Naturally, the E-waste is scattered everywhere in South America, Africa, and Asia. Lithium is today called “white gold” and its extraction requires massive quantities of water, drastically shrinking the available supply for Indigenous communities and wildlife. Vast quantities of toxic tailing are also produced. Chemical leaks have poisoned rivers, and with them humans and non-humans, time and again.
Massive dams for hydroelectric power have in the past likewise had catastrophic consequences on Indigenous peoples and their lands.
Industrial wind-parks, whose blades hack up migratory birds in the sky, require colossal resources for their production and implementation. Not just for the wind turbines but also the infrastructure. They destroy migrating wildlife like bats and birds, which are important for a healthy ecosystem and some of which are endangered.
Solar energy requires the erection of massive solar industry complexes, which lay bare the land by clearing out human populations and the migration routes of animals and people for giant solar fields, substations, and access ways. All of these require unusually high-carbon concrete. Wind and solar energy as well as the production of bio-fuels all require 100–1000 times the land area as the production of fossil fuels.
Fuck the Chinese subsistence farmers who have carcinogenic industrial waste dumped on their lands everyday from those solar panel factories. They’re just not thinking ecologically enough. And forget the Ghanaians who complain when worn-out solar panels are piled into mountains in their backyards with the rest of the West’s obsolete tech. They are just impeding ecological progress.
Whether oil wells, coal power plants, or megalithic “green” projects – all are rooted in an unprecedented destruction of habitats for human and other beings. Therefore it cannot be the goal to replace one destructive technology with another. The goal should be a massive and radical reduction in energy consumption.
Anarchists who only struggle to free industry from capitalism must finally face the brutal reality. Down with industry, down with work. To use the words of the Indigenous Anarchist ziq: Seize the Means of Destruction! And fucking burn it to the ground…
What comes next depends on what we do. The necessity of getting active has never been so great as today.