Category Archives: Derrick Jensen

To Save a Rainforest

CathedralGrove save walbran
“I’m in love. With salmon, with trees outside my window, with baby lampreys living in sandy streambottoms, with slender salamanders crawling through the duff. And if you love, you act to defend your beloved.” — Derrick Jensen

Pacific Coast people have always defended the places we love. Most of British Columbia is unceded indigenous land, because native peoples never abandoned, sold, or traded their land away. Many fought fiercely against the power of the British Empire. Cannonballs are sometimes still found embedded in centuries-old trees along the shore – leftovers from the gunboats that tried to suppress indigenous uprisings in the late 1800s.

Photo: Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes by Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society

Nuu-chah-nulth war canoes (Edward Curtis, BC Historical Society)

A century later, descendants of the settlers have joined forces to battle corporate raiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, a groundswell of eco-organizing brought thousands of people together to stop clearcut logging in the cathedral forests of Vancouver Island’s Pacific coast, where timber companies were busy converting ten-thousand-year-old ecosystems into barren stumpfields and pulp for paper.

During those years, police arrested hundreds in Clayoquot Sound and the Walbran Valley at mass civil disobedience protests. Young and old alike sat in the middle of the logging roads and linked arms. The resistance went far beyond the peaceful and symbolic: unknown individuals spiked thousands of trees to make the timber dangerous to sawmills. Shadowy figures burned logging bridges and vandalized equipment. The skirmishes went on for over a decade.

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

Clayoquot Sound, 1993

We won a few battles. Several coastal valleys are protected as parks. But many of them have been logged. And now the logging companies are coming back for the valleys that remain unprotected.

One of the worst corporate offenders is Teal Jones, the company currently bulldozing the majestic Walbran Valley, two hours west of Victoria, BC. They are laying waste to a vibrant rainforest for short-term profit, without the consent of the Pacheedaht First Nation, the Qwa-ba-diwa people, or anyone else outside of government and industry. Teal Jones does not even own the land; it was taken from indigenous people in the name of the BC government sixty years ago.

Pacheedaht territory

Pacheedaht territory, Vancouver Island BC

This year, the elected leadership of the Pacheedaht First Nation threw its support behind building a longhouse in the contested valley, on the land that has sustained them for countless generations. At the same time, locals are pushing back against the logging by occupying roads and logging sites. This in spite of the company’s court order telling police to arrest anyone who blocks their work. Forest defenders are regrouping, but the destruction continues.

Women for the Walbran and Forest Action Network are ramping up to break the deadlock. We’re hosting direct action trainings to share skills and develop strategies for defending ecosystems. The agenda includes tactics like non-violent civil disobedience, occupying tree-tops, and backcountry stealth. We’ll have info on legal rights, indigenous solidarity, and more.

Tree-sit occupation, Langford BC. (Photo: Ingmar Lee)

Our adversary, Teal Jones, is a relatively small company. Its owners are relying on the police to protect their “right” to strip public forests on Pacheedaht traditional territory. Profit margins are slim, and lawyers are expensive. The forest defenders are poor, but we have community support and a wide array of strategies for beating Teal Jones at its own game. Every tool in the box: we can launch a mass civil disobedience campaign, carry out hit-and-run raids on costly machines, coordinate a knockout legal strategy, or deliver the tried-and-true “death by a thousand cuts” with a combination of tactics.

However it plays out, Teal Jones is on borrowed time in the Walbran. But that’s cold comfort when the machines are mowing down thousand-year-old forests like grass.

Photo: Walbran Central

The forest defenders do have certain advantages. On the practical side, we’re investing in the gear and training that will provide the leverage to win. We have a legal defense fund that’s both a war chest for litigation and a safety net for those who risk their freedom on the front lines. But our best defense is the thousands of people who love this land like life itself. Many live nearby and visit every chance they get, others came once and fell in love, and untold numbers have yet to see the Walbran’s wildlife firsthand, but they hold it in their hearts.

Photo: Stasher BC

Those who love the land are a community. We are the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers who drive this movement forward. Everyone who shares these values can be a part of it; no contribution is too small. We’re going all-out to defend the forests, rivers, bears, cougars, otters, and eagles of the Walbran Valley. They sustain us and we give back by fighting to protect them.

Walbran River, the heart of the Walbran Valley, spring 2016. (Photo: Walbran Central)

Remember: Forest Defenders Are Heroes! 

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Deep Green Resistance: Words as tactical weapons

Review by Zoe Blunt | Originally published in the March/April 2012 issue of Canadian Dimension  magazine. Subscribe here.

Deep Green ResistanceI first heard about Deep Green Resistance in the middle of a grassroots fight to stop a huge vacation-home subdivision at a wilderness park on Vancouver Island. Back then, it hadn’t really occurred to me that a book on environmental strategy was needed. Now I can tell you, it’s urgent.

Deep Green Resistance (DGR) made me a better strategist. If you’re an activist, then this book is for you. But be warned: at 520 pages (plus endnotes), it’s not light reading. Quite the opposite — DGR dares environmental groups to focus on decisive tactics rather than mindless lobbying and silly stunts.

“This book is about fighting back. And this book is about winning,” author Derrick Jensen declares in the preface to this three-way collaboration with Lierre Keith and Aric McBay.

Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, opens the discussion with an analysis of why “traditional” environmental action is self-defeating. For those who’ve read Jensen’s Endgame, or who have experienced the frustration of born-to-lose activism, Keith’s analysis hits the nerve.

The DGR philosophy was born from failure. In a recent interview, Jensen recounts a 2007 conversation with fellow activists who asked, “Why is it that we’re doing so much activism, and the world is being killed at an increasing rate?” “This suggests our work is a failure,” Jensen concludes. “The only measure of success is the health of the planet.”

If we keep to this course, as Keith points out, the outcome is extinction: the death of species, of people, and the planet itself. Environmental “solutions” are by now predictable, and totally out of scale with the threat we’re facing. Cloth bags, eco-branded travel mugs, hemp shirts, and recycled flip-flops won’t change the world. Wishful thinking aside, they can’t, because they don’t challenge the industrial machine. It just keeps grinding out tons of waste for every human on the earth, whether they are vegan hempsters who eat local or not. So these “solutions” amount to fiddling while the world burns.

Aric McBay, organic farmer and co-author of What We Leave Behind, says Deep Green Resistance “is about making the environmental movement effective.”

“Up to this point, you know, environmental movements have relied mostly on things like petitions, lobbying, and letter-writing,” McBay says. “That hasn’t worked. That hasn’t stopped the destruction of the planet, that hasn’t stopped the destruction of our future. So the point is if we want to be effective, we have to look at what other social movements, what other resistance movements have done in the past.”

Keith notes that a given tactic can be reformist or radical, depending on how it’s used. For example, we don’t often think of legal strategies as radical, but if it’s a mass campaign with an “or else” component that empowers people and brings a decisive outcome, then it creates fundamental change.

“Don’t be afraid to be radical,” Keith advises in a recent interview. “It’s emotional, yes; this is difficult for people, but we are going to have to name these power structures and fight them. The first step is naming them, then we’ve got to figure out what their weak points are, and then organize where they are weak and we are strong.”

Powerful words. But by then I was desperate for a blueprint, a guidebook, some signposts to help break the deadlock in our campaign to save the park. Two hundred pages into DGR, we get down to brass tacks, and find out what strategic resistance looks like.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a guerrilla uprising.

To be clear, Deep Green Resistance is an aboveground, nonviolent movement, but with a twist: it calls for the creation of an underground, militant movement. The gift of this book is the revelation that strategies used by successful insurgencies can be used just as successfully by nonviolent campaigns.

McBay argues convincingly that it’s the combination of peaceful and militant action that wins. He emphasizes that people must choose between aboveground tactics and underground tactics, because trying to do both at once will get you caught.

“The cases of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X exemplify how a strong militant faction can enhance the effectiveness of less militant tactics,” McBay writes. “Some presume that Malcolm X’s ‘anger’ was ineffective compared to King’s more ‘reasonable’ and conciliatory position. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It was Malxolm X who made King’s demands seem eminently reasonable, by pushing the boundaries of what the status quo would consider extreme.”

What McBay calls “decisive ecological warfare” starts with guerrilla movements and the Art of War. Guerrilla fighting is all about asymmetric warfare. One side is well-armed, well-funded, and highly disciplined, and the other side is a much smaller group of irregulars. And yet sometimes the underdog wins. It’s not by accident, and it’s not because they are all nonviolent and pure of heart, but because they use their strengths effectively. They hit where it counts. The rebels win the hearts and minds and, crucially, the hands-on support of the civilian populace. That’s what turns the tide.

McBay notes, for example, that land reclamation has proven to be a decisive strategy. He argues that “aboveground organizers [should] learn from groups like the Landless Workers’ Movement in Latin America.” This ongoing movement “has been highly successful at reclaiming ‘underutilized’ land, and political and legal frameworks in Brazil enable their strategy,” McBay adds.

Imagine two million people occupying the Tar Sands. Imagine blocking or disrupting crucial supply lines. Imagine profits nose-diving, investors bailing out, brokers panic-selling, and the whole top-heavy edifice crashing to a halt.

The Landless Workers’ Movement operates openly. Another group, the Underground Railroad, was completely secret. Members risked their lives to help slaves escape to Canada. A similar network could help future resisters flee state persecution. Those underground networks need to form now, McBay says, before the aboveground resistance gets serious, and before the inevitable crackdown comes.

DGR categorizes effective actions as either shaping, sustaining, or decisive. If a given tactic doesn’t fit one of those categories, it is not effective, McBay says. He emphasizes, however, that all good strategies must be adaptable.

To paraphrase a few nuggets of wisdom:

Stay mobile.
Get there first with the most.
Select targets carefully.
Strike and get away.
Use multiple attacks.
Don’t get pinned down.
Keep plans simple.
Seize opportunities.
Play your strengths to their weakness.
Set reachable goals.
Follow through.
Protect each other.
And never give up.

Guerrilla warfare is not a metaphor for what’s happening to the planet. The forests, the oceans, and the rivers are victims of bloody battles that start fresh every day. Here in North America, it’s low-intensity conflict. Tactics to keep the populace in line are usually limited to threats, intimidation, arrests, and so on.

But the “war in the woods” gets real here, too. I’ve been shot at by loggers. In 1999, they burned our forest camp to the ground and put three people in the hospital. In 2008, two dozen of us faced a hundred coked-up construction workers bent on beating our asses.

Elsewhere, it’s a shooting war. Canadian mining companies kill people as well as ecosystems. We are responsible for stopping them. We know what’s happening. Failing to take effective action is criminal collusion.

Wherever we are, whatever we do, they’re murdering us. They’re poisoning us. Enbridge, Deepwater Horizon, Exxon, Shell, Suncor and all their corporate buddies are poisoning the air, the water, and the land. We know it and they know it. Animals are dying and disappearing. There will be no end to the destruction as long as there is profit in it.

This work is scary as hell. That’s why we need to be really brave, really smart and really strategic.

We have strengths our opponents will never match. We’re smarter and more flexible than they are, and we’re compelled by an overwhelming motivation: to save the planet. We’re fighting for our survival and the survival of everyone we love. They just want more money, and the only power they know is force.

As Jensen says, ask a ten-year-old what we should do to stop environmental disasters that are caused in large part by the use of fossil fuels, and you’ll get a straightforward answer: stop using fossil fuels. But what if the companies don’t want to stop? Then make them stop.

Ask a North American climate-justice campaigner, and you’re likely to hear about media stunts, Facebook apps, or people stripping and smearing each other with molasses. Not to diss hard-working activists, but unless they are building strength and unity on the ground, these tactics won’t work. They’re not decisive. They’re just silly.

Of course, if the media stunts are the lead-in to mass, no-compromise, nonviolent action to shut down polluters, I’ll see you there. I’ll even do a striptease to celebrate.

© 2012 Zoe Blunt

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Dear Auntie Civ: You’ll just have to die

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ -- the world's first anti-civilization advice columnist!

Dear Auntie Civ,

I am wondering how a post-civilization society will be able to handle chronic illnesses like Crohn’s disease. You see, I have Crohn’s disease and the only treatment that works for me requires me to go to a hospital every few weeks to get a 2 hour IV treatment.

Of course, my situation is kind of a Catch-22. Crohn’s is most likely caused by some kind of environmental factor in so-called developed nations (my guess is it’s the food, but who knows). So it looks like civilization gave me Crohn’s, but I can’t survive without civilization.

I’ve met a lot of Primitivists who have flat-out told me I’ll have to die for their utopia, to which I’ve quickly replied, “fuck you.” Surely there must be some kind of way to do away with civilization without asking me and comrades with similar sicknesses to die.

Thanks,

— Chronic Illness

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Uncivilized

Derrick Jensen

Author and activist Derrick Jensen would consider the label “uncivilized” a compliment. But then, he’s not your garden-variety white California environmentalist. He’s an outspoken anti-authoritarian and vehement anti-capitalist, yet he refuses to be categorized as either an anarchist or a socialist. Instead of controlling the means of production, Jensen calls on workers to destroy the means of production in order to save the planet. “Luddite” fits, but it doesn’t go far enough.

In an interview earlier this year, Jensen said he rejects the term “primitivist” because it’s a “racist way to describe indigenous peoples.” He prefers “indigenist” or “ally to the indigenous,” because “indigenous peoples have had the only sustainable human social organizations, and … we need to recognize that we [colonizers] are all living on stolen land.”

Jensen has fifteen books in print, including Listening to the Land (1995), A Language Older Than Words (2000), As the World Burns (2007), and Lives Less Valuable (2010). His most influential work, the 2006 best-seller Endgame: The Problem of Civilization, is the subject of the 2010 indie film END:CIV.

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Dear Auntie Civ: Why are vegans so angry?

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ, the world’s only anti-civilization advice columnist!

Auntie Civ gives advice from an anti-civilization viewpoint. If you’d rather get advice from a vegetarian or techno-utopian, ask one.

Why do environmentalists eat meat? (part two)

Dear Auntie Civ,

You’re so old and senile, you’re not even making sense. Give a proper answer to the vegetarians, or give up and admit you’re losing it.

Another Vegetarian

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“You’re not crazy and it’s not your fault”

Derrick Jensen on coming to grips with this destructive culture

Deep ecology author Derrick Jensen won fame and notoriety with heavy works of non-fiction like Endgame, which compares western civilization to an abusive family where violence is a constant threat. He argues that we must bring down this culture by any means necessary. Since then, Jensen has published a searing exposé about zoos and captive animals with Karen Tweedy-Holmes called Thought to Exist in the Wild; Resistance to Empire, a collection of incendiary interviews with other activists; and What We Leave Behind, co-authored with Aric McBay – a heartbreaking polemic on the concepts of waste, life, and death.

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Dear Auntie Civ: Why do environmentalists eat meat?

Auntie Civ

Ask Auntie Civ, the world's first anti-civilization advice columnist

Dear Auntie Civ:

Thanksgiving is here, which prompts me to ask about a matter that’s been bothering me for quite some time, namely, why are environmentalists and the social justice crowd not on board with vegetarianism?

To be fair, I’m not talking about people with allergies or sensitivities, whose eating options are narrowed for reasons not of their choosing. Instead, I’m recalling the countless environmental meetings where meat and dairy products are served without question, often at the expense of animal-free offerings.

As early as 1971, we had books like the Diet for a Small Planet, exposing the degradation and social injustice of mass meat consumption. There have been hundreds of books and documentaries highlighting the health, environmental, and social equity benefits of animal-free eating.

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Live Nude Animals


Sat, 20 Oct 2007

Derrick Jensen’s captive audience: A discussion with the author about his latest book

I loved animals as a child, but I didn’t like zoos. I found them disturbing and depressing. They smelled like shit and death. But then, adults considered me far too sensitive and sentimental toward animals. When I was five years old, I had what you might call an emotional breakdown after watching my father beat the family cat almost to death in our living room. That was the home life the cat and I shared, back then.

Nowadays, there are laws against abusing animals (and children, for that matter). Zoos are no longer squalid prisons where animals languish and die in solitary concrete cells. Bright, clean cages — complete with natural-looking foliage and ventilation — invite you to peer in at the inhabitants. But still, I am not comfortable visiting them.

Derrick Jensen knows why. He tells us: “Zoos are about power.” And he quotes an admirer of zoos: “You show power by keeping an animal captive; how much more powerful are you if you kill it?”

Jensen is best known for the wildly popular Endgame: The Problem of Civilization, a massive two-volume diatribe on the need to dismantle civilization now, before it self-destructs and takes the natural world with it. His books and lectures dissect our culture’s disease — systemic violence, industrial capitalism and environmental exploitation.

Endgame overturns the mass delusion that our western industrial society is the most peaceful, plentiful and benign in the history of the world. Of course, the majority of the ugliness is exported or otherwise invisible to most of us. We can still rationalize that Western Civ is the acme of human achievement — at least while the oil holds out and the climate is somewhat stable. About ten more years, Jensen figures.

In a world full of violence, brutality against animals is rarely acknowledged. Since shit flows downhill, and humans automatically out-rank monkeys, tigers, sharks and house cats, we get away with murder. For example, Jensen notes that people kill thousands of sharks every year. But when a shark kills a person, a whole country goes into a frenzy. It’s exactly the same dynamic with Canada’s bears, cougars and wolves.

Jensen reminds us we have wiped out 90 percent of the large fish in the oceans already, and great apes and great cats are likely to be extinct in a matter of years. “We should consider that this culture destroys the wild everywhere faster than ever before,” Jensen writes. “We should consider that this culture is killing the planet.”

Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos is Jensen’s latest book, movingly illustrated by photographer Karen Tweedy Holmes with stark monochrome portraits of captive animals. Here, Jensen compares consensual exchanges between human and non-human animals with the dynamics of captivity. “Incarcerating animals in zoos is to entering into relationships with them in the wild as rape is to making love,” Jensen writes.

And like rape, there must be some warped instinct that compels people to do it. “Humans visit zoos because we need contact with wild animals,” Jensen states. “We need wild animals to remind us of the enormous complexity of life, to remind us that the world was not made just for us, to remind us that we are not the center of the universe. We need them to teach us how to live.”

I talked to Jensen at his home in Crescent City, California earlier this month. Here are some highlights of our conversation.

Zoe Blunt: You’re saying zoos are bad for animals and bad for humans?

Derrick Jensen: It should be obvious why zoos are bad for animals. Remember the last time you went to the zoo and you saw the bear that had gone insane and couldn’t stop pacing? It drives them crazy, it would drive anyone crazy.

They keep telling us that zoos are good for education, and that is bogus on so many levels. What we learn is you can take an animal out of the habitat and still have the animal. It teaches us that living creatures are discrete machine parts that can be pulled out of boxes. It teaches us there’s an unbridgeable gap between us and them – a gap with a moat and a cage. It teaches us about our perceived superiority.

This kind of messianic language [zoo proponents] use – “The animals teach us, they are ambassadors.” Fuck that, they’re not ambassadors, they’re prisoners. Zoos are prisons. Living in captivity deprives animals of their homes, and deprives them of their parents. A common way to get zoo animals is to kill the parents and take the children.

Blunt: If not for education, then why do zoos keep animals?

Jensen: Why? Because it’s big money. More people attend zoos than all sporting events combined. They’re amusement parks with live attractions. Zoos are fundamentally pornographic. The animals are there for my use, my entertainment, my gratification.

Blunt: Live nude animals?

Jensen: That’s exactly what they are. Instead of a stripper on a pole, instead of a roller coaster, you can see an animal in a cage.

Blunt: What do you think about British Columbia’s new spotted owl captive breeding program?

Jensen: My position on captive breeding, as I say in the book, there are circumstances where captive breeding is necessary. That said, it is obscene to take northern spotted owls from the wild and to use that as an excuse — which is all it is — to destroy their habitat. Words cannot express how vile that is. In this case, it’s a disgusting, immoral crime against nature. It’s an excuse to rationalize further deforestation for the timber industry.

Instead of zoos, people should just go outside, and bring their children because it’s especially important for children to see wild animals. And not just in Alaska or Central America, but in the irrigation ditch behind your house.

If a child wants to see a bear, we have to tell them, “I can’t show you a bear, people wiped them all out here. I could have showed you a spotted owl five years ago, but now they’re gone.”

 

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Derrick Jensen: This Abusive Civilization

April 9, 2007 

Deep ecology author Derrick Jensen discusses bringing down western civilization and reactions to his latest book Endgame: the Problem of Civilization.

In his most recent book, deep ecology author Derrick Jensen compares western civilization to an abusive family, where violence is a constant threat and the victims feel helpless and dependent on the abuser. He urges his readers to bring down this culture by any means necessary. His ideas are controversial, and Jensen confesses he gets “hate mail from pacifists.” Zoe Blunt spoke with Jensen by phone from his home in Crescent City, California earlier this month.

Blunt: Your book Endgame has been getting a lot of attention. You write that “civilization and the civilized continue to create a world of wounds.”

Jensen: Yeah, where do you want to start? Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone. The passenger pigeons are gone. The great auks are gone. The oceans are being murdered. There’s dioxin in every mother’s breast milk. Indigenous people have been dispossessed, had their land stolen and been forced to enter this economy, forced to enter this system. People all around the world have been enslaved. So, what wounds would you like to talk about?

Lets talk about – Mary Daly said there’s only one religion in the world, which is patriarchy. Robin Morgan wrote about something she calls “the democracy of fear,” which is that everywhere in the world, any woman could be walking alone at night and if she hears footsteps behind her she has reason to be afraid. So there’s a huge wound right there.

We could talk about the wage economy. We could talk about the fact that there are more slaves on the planet right now than came across on the middle passage, using a tight definition of slavery. That’s not even including wage slaves or anything else.

Blunt: You’ve been getting a lot of response to your book, and not all of it positive. Why is it so difficult for some people to contemplate the end of civilization?

Jensen: I think that one of the reasons is we identify more closely with being civilized beings than we do with being animals who need habitat. Another way to talk about that is if your experience is that your food comes from the grocery store and your water comes from the tap, you’ll defend to the death the system that brings those to you because your life depends on it. If, on the other hand, your food comes from a landbase and your water comes from a river, then you’ll defend to the death that landbase and that river, because your life depends on them.

Like any good abusive system, this system has made us dependent upon it. And another important thing about the whole question of abuse is that one of the things that happens within any abusive dynamic, and that’s true whether we’re talking about an abusive family or an abusive culture, is that everything – and I mean everything – in this dynamic is set up to protect the abuser. And so every member of an abusive family comes to identify more closely with the abuser’s feelings than they do their own.

If you look at all the “solutions” proposed for global warming – anywhere, all of them – what do they take as a given? They take as a given industrial capitalism. That’s the baseline. The baseline is not the real world, the physical world, which must be the baseline for all of our decisions because without a world, we don’t have anything.

Most of the complaints about Endgame, and most of the hate mail I’ve gotten about Endgame, frankly, has not come from people who think that civilization will go on forever. Most of it’s come from pacifists and lifestyle activists, and one of the jokes I’ve started making is that I should write a version of Endgame called “Endgame for Pacifists,” which would be a thousand blank pages with one in the middle that says “sometimes it’s okay to fight back.” Because it’s the only thing they’re hearing in the entire book, or the only thing they’re reading in the entire book. All the other analysis goes by the wayside. They see that, it triggers them, and they can’t think about anything. And I’ve gotten a lot of hate mail from both pacifists and also from lifestyle activists who get very upset when I suggest they have to do more than just live simply.

Blunt: You’ve written about hope in regard to reforming civilization, and you said hope is harmful –

Jensen: I don’t want to reform civilization, by the way.

Blunt: No. So you’re saying hope is harmful, when it comes to our goals.

Jensen: Okay, let’s back up a second. What are our goals? What are your goals? What do you want?

Blunt: You’ve talked about – and I agree with this – a world where every year there are more salmon, where there is more old-growth forest, where there are more spotted owls, for example. We’re about to lose the last of our spotted owls in Canada. If we want to stop that, what do we do?

Jensen: Okay, that’s great. The first thing we have to do is figure out what we want. And the next thing we have to do, I think, is figure out what it takes for those creatures to survive. And it’s pretty fundamental. I mean, what they need is habitat. Okay, end of conversation, talk to you later!

What do salmon need? They need for dams to be removed. They need for industrial logging to stop. They need for industrial fishing to stop. (I’m not saying they need for fishing to stop; they need for industrial fishing to stop.) They need for industrial agriculture to stop, because of runoff. They need for global warming to stop, which means they need for the industrial economy to stop. They need for the oceans not to be murdered. And each of those is pretty straightforward.

The problem is that so often, when people say, “What will it take for salmon to survive?” what they mean is, “What will it take for salmon to survive, given that we’re not going to remove dams, we’re not going to stop industrial logging, we’re not going to stop industrial fishing?” It’s the same. What do spotted owls need to survive, given that we’re going to allow all of their habitat to be clearcut?

It’s like, once again, what is primary and what is secondary? And what’s always considered primary is this culture and this culture’s exploitation.

And now, at long last, to your question of hope. One of the things we need to do first is – there’s false hope. I think it needs to be eradicated. False hope is one of the things that binds us to unlivable situations. That’s one of the reasons why, like I mentioned earlier, that at every step of the way it was in the Jews’ rational best interest to not resist [the Nazis]. There’s a false hope that if they just go along, they won’t get killed. And my mother – one of the reasons she stayed with my father is because of the false hope that he would change.

And what are the false hopes that bind us to this system? I mean, does anyone really think that Mac-Blo is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone think that Monsanto is going to stop Monsanto-ing because we ask nicely? Oh, if we could just get a Democrat in the White House, things would be okay!

I was bashing hope at a talk I did a couple years ago, and someone in the audience interrupted to shout out, “What is your definition of hope?” I didn’t have one, so I asked them to define it. And the definition they came up with was that hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency.

But I’m not interested in hope. I’m interested in agency. I’m interested in us finding what we love, and figuring out what it will take to defend our beloved, and doing it.

Blunt: Derrick Jensen, you’re speaking in Vancouver on April 18th, and the title of your talk is “Taking Action in a Culture of Violence.” Tell us what we can expect from that.

Jensen: Well, what I’ll talk about primarily is a question: Do you believe this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living? I ask that question to people all over the country and no one ever says “yes.” And if you don’t believe that this culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living, what does that mean for our strategies and for our tactics? The answer is, we don’t know, and the reason we don’t know is because we don’t talk about it, and the reason we don’t talk about it is because we’re all so busy pretending that we have hope.

Blunt: Do you have any new books in the works?

Jensen: Oh, my gosh. Okay, so Endgame came out about a year ago. I’ve got another book coming out in a month or so, which is an anti-zoo book. It’s written with Karen Tweedy Holmes, the photographer, and that’s coming out through [publisher] No Voice Unheard. Then I have a book coming out next January from Seven Stories [Press], called “As the World Burns: Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial.” That’s a graphic novel done with Stephanie McMillan, who does the wonderful cartoon “Minimum Security.”

And right now I’m writing a book about shit – whoops, I’m writing a book about feces, and how this culture has taken something that used to be a tremendous gift to the landbase and turned it into something poisonous. And how, in a sustainable culture, all of the products are helpful to the land. There’s no such thing as waste. And how, if I defecate, somebody else – slugs or flies or the soil itself – eats it. And this culture produces wastes that are not useful, but in fact harmful.

Blunt: That’s a lot of work that’s going to be coming in the future.

Jensen: Yeah. You know, I’m actually thinking that I’m really tired. And it’s not just because I’ve been touring so much. I think I might take a couple months off this summer. Because for one, I’ve been really sick the last couple of years. And also, I’ve written thirteen books, I think, in the last six years. I remember I was thinking, “When I finish Endgame, I’m going to take a break.” I finished it in November of whatever year that was, and then in December I wrote that anti-zoo book, and then the next year I wrote those two novels. And it just goes on.

I haven’t taken a break in years. And you know, I go back and forth because things are so, so desperate. And I just – I can’t stop. There’s a couple reasons I can’t stop. One is because things are so desperate and they’re getting worse every day. And another reason is because I’m so in love. I’m in love with [the land] and that’s what you do. If you love someone and they’re being hurt, they’re being killed, you do what you can. You don’t rest.

And then, also, I’m very aware of my own mortality. I don’t want to die with eight books still in me. You know? I don’t want to die and look back at the very last second and say, “I wish I could’ve done more. I wish I could’ve done this much more to help the salmon. I wish I could’ve done this much more to help the redwood trees.”

When I die, I want to be spent. I want to feel like – You know there’s some days when you work really, really hard, and then you go to sleep and you are so, so ready to go to sleep? That’s how I want to die. It’s like, you know what? I’m done. There’s nothing else I can do.

Derrick Jensen presents “Taking Action in a Culture of Violence” in Vancouver, BC on April 18 at 7 pm, Langara College, Room A130. He will be speaking at Elphinstone Secondary School in Gibsons, BC on April 19 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $15, students $12. For more information, call 604-253-6281 or visit www.derrickjensen.org.

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