How green is Green Anarchy?

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The spring and summer 2002 editions of green anarchy have been read and studied for this review. GA is available for $2.00, contact PO Box 11331, Eugene, OR 97440.

To join the green of ecology to the black of anarchy is to make transparent something intuitively apparent. To truly criticize the state and authority is to criticize civilization and industrial devastation. The early anarchists – the native gatherers who lived in what Marshall Sahlins called “the original leisure society” – were certainly green anarchists. Theses that create projects like green anarchy (GA) are important.

But as David Watson’s article “Swamp Fever” shows [FE #350, Fall, 1997], this intuitive common ground does not necessarily make allies of all those who gravitate around the label anarcho-primitivist or green anarchist. Watson explains: “To call yourself a primitivist, or to claim that the origins of the authoritarian plague can ultimately be explained, does little to help…. A movement that tries to reduce primitive ideas to an ideology or a strategy risks becoming a caricature of its best instincts.

Unfortunately, the green anarchism championed by the Eugene-based collective that publishes green anarchy has not only reduced the primitive outlines of a political program, it is a confused agenda full of problems. While I must say that I have more in common with these green anarchists than with most liberal environmentalists, my disagreements with this ‘zine are as strong as my sympathies.

Proud to align themselves with eco-feminist and queer-anarchist perspectives, the GA collective nonetheless chose as the cover story for Spring Ted Kaczynski’s “Hit Where It Hurts.” In this ugly essay, the ex-Unabomber calls out sexism, racism, homophobia, sweatshops and other “non-core” issues. He calls those of us who support what he calls victim-based liberation causes nothing more than “pink reformers.” It’s really disgusting that anarchists give importance to the prose of such a thug. And after? Front-page raps by Eminem?

The fact that Ted spends time in the slammer for killing people in his once-secret war against the technological system has made him a popular hero among green anarchists. In the collective’s disclaimer after “Hit Where It Hurts,” they question his racist and heterosexist leanings, but make it clear that they admire him as a “sharp strategic thinker” and “support him wholeheartedly.” as an “anarchist political prisoner”.

In the same spring publication, the AG editors decided to print an excerpt from Ward Churchill’s response to 9/11 titled “Some People Push Back: On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.” At first glance, this visceral and vindictive vendetta has a certain appeal. However, I am suspicious of Ward Churchill when he ridicules American peace activists and ultimately defends the attacks on the World Trade Center as a form of “reality therapy” and “medicinal” justice. Churchill’s accusations against empire are not without merit, but the tone of his ideological assaults puzzle me.

The summer version of green anarchy contains nothing so patently offensive as the aforementioned articles by Kaczynski or Churchill. In fact, I was very happy to see “Sex Among the Zombies”, a reprint of Arthur Evans’ amazing work from 1978. Witchcraft and gay counterculture. While Evans shows the connections between sexual repression and industrial domination, he also suggests that the Earth ecology we wish to defend includes an inherently erotic energy.

Despite the luminosity provided by the excerpt from Evans’ classic, the GA newspaper remains more concerned about going after other anarchists whom the editors deem too philosophical, intellectual, fashionable, or “gradualist.” No, when it comes to tactics, the GA collective explicitly prefers what it calls “targeted and thoughtful acts of revolutionary violence” to “principle arguments” or education.

In other words, it seems that GA wants to do as other so-called revolutionaries have done in the past: impose their ideas on others through violence rather than winning minds through persuasion and debate. Rather than embracing the contagious nature of desire or trusting the intelligence of other humans, we should assume that the brainwashed masses need the vanguard of GA to show us the way. to the promised land. I would find such self-righteous arrogance deeply troubling even if its proponents did not pretend to support such cruel and authoritarian rhetoric with guns and bombs.

This summer, people affiliated with GA took their ideas on tour with punk shows and film festivals to raise money for political prisoners. The tour organizers have firmly stated before they begin that their “time is running out” for unrestricted “above ground” activism and that they see this tour as a kind of “last stand”. At least one right-wing “eco-terrorism expert” agreed on the seriousness of GA’s threat to civilization and called on the FBI to investigate the tour. However, the FBI has publicly stated its support for the GA Tour’s rights to travel, perform and express their ideas, “regardless of their message or purpose”. At least for the record, the FBI doesn’t view the GA crew as a revolutionary threat with thrash tunes and radical movies. Are GA people guilty of paranoid smugness? Or are they not paranoid enough?

The editors of green anarchy feel free to express their affinity with all things wild, but despite their best intentions, too much of this post has been domesticated by ideology and complacency. The way of the wolf is not the way of the hunter. To embrace the gauntlet of an apocalyptic battle is to become the machine we oppose. To follow the gun on the cover of this newspaper is to offer a very predictable, impractical and suicidal solution if necessary.

Related: See answer in Letters, FE #359, Winter, 2002-2003. https://www.fifthestate.org/archive/359-winter-2002-2003/letters-to-the-fifth-estate/

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