Monday, March 26, 2007

Beliefs and tactics part one

As activists we are generally fight for things which our society sympathizes with us on, things like war, coal mining or factory farming. We (logically) tend to fight these issues in a public friendly manner, seldom damaging property and emphasizing alternatives or less damaging methods rather than telling the public that they must give up their current lifestyle. And never question the right of the humans to permanently degrade the land and we refrain from challenging the right to consume.

When we take an issue on we often seem to accept the responsibility for providing jobs for all those engaged in the destructive activity. Furthermore we often go out of our way to point out how people can maintain a materially high standard of living. Because of our weak position and our strict use of state sanctioned tactics we only request people change and tend to rely on rich western consumers choosing not to support whatever abuse we are campaigning against.

All of the above is logical and in most cases is necessary to win individual campaigns; and I’m not suggesting we begin fighting our campaigns specifically to piss of the public. What I’m interested in is not only how as activists we fight our campaigns this way but how these campaign tactics reflect the fact that for the most part our value systems reflect those of the dominant culture.

From birth we are taught our cultures values and beliefs - the value of private property, that land can be owned, that humans have a right to use and exploit nature. I think that we are fighting through a cultural lense which values humans and the wants of rich humans above the rest of the inhabitants of our culture.. I think our tactics reflect these beliefs.

The inability of the environmental movement (for pragmatic reasons or otherwise) to confront the destructive nature of western consumption leads to ridiculous situations where mainstream environmental groups spend their time trying to convince the public which car or which power company they should choose. Because these groups are unwilling to question the assumptions that this society is built on they are left making bigger and bigger compromises. We are working to make the destruction of our planet as efficient as possible. We are often working to spread unsustainable technologies across as many socioeconomic levels as possible.

If we do not question mans right to exploit land and mans right to have power, a car and a tv then we will never halt the destruction of the environment and the enslavement of non-humans. If we do not challenge the arrogant domination of our culture then we will forever be reformist arguing about whether the coal power plant or the dam is the better way to power our cities. We will forever be engaging in protest action which improves the efficiency of our destruction of the planet.

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