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Warriors or Monks: What is to be done?

Why did the Southern Oregon Campaign for the Siskiyous fail this summer, and what can we do to win?
I have had many people North and South ask what went wrong with the campaign to protect the Siskiyous. So much community support, yet so little gain, they quandar, looking confused. I have contemplated this question and have decided I would provide one answer from one humble citizen. Of course, it would take a book to take this question on in sufficient detail, but herein, I want to consider one aspect, one thread of our failing.

Dogma, rather than honest intellectual dialogue and pragmatic response to circumstances, seems to guide many of the major actors.

Actors within the Southern Oregon Forest Defense movement have debated ad nausea passive vs. confrontational methods of resistance. This debate has been drowning in dogma and ideology to the point of destructive nonsense in speech and behavior. For example, one self proclaimed "Buddhist", speaks of non-violence, while violently silencing the speech of others, resorting to public chastisement and social out casting of those who may be so bold as to call "her friend" the F.S. agent Pam Bode a "rapists" or liar. While many are alienated from the movement, self-appointed police of speech and attitude pat themselves on the back. While justifiably angry and potentially active citizens are disempowered and any chance we have at stopping logging is undermined, these snobs celebrate their membership in the ruling click and the appearance of their mugs on film. We are left with media driven watered down ineffective actions, less public support than we had at the start of the season, and a movement that has literally fallen apart.
It is time for a new campaign--a campaign that is not bogged down with the baggage of classism, dogma, and ego--a campaign that is less concerned with popularity, and solely concerned with saving trees. This new campaign must be grounded in open, honest, non-hierarchical dialogue, not dogma and gurus. In that spirit I turn to take on this issue of passive resistance, vs. confrontational action once again. In order to clear away the rubble and begin fresh with a new approach and a new understanding, it is time we take a new look at the major issue that seems to divide us, and defeat us, leaving dogma and ideology behind and thinking pragmatically.
Our culturally conditioned leanings towards ideologue think leads us to argue that one way or the other is superior; however, in reality methodology is more often than not, a matter of pragmatics, not principle, of context and circumstance, not universal rules and moral laws. Some of you already know this, for others I will elaborate. First, however, I must clarify one point; this issue is not one of violence vs. non-violence, as is often our misunderstanding. Much of the problem is rather shallow conceptions of violence, but I will save that for another day. Here and now let me say simply, that violence is not the issue. Violence can be non-confrontational, passive resistance like setting yourself on fire. Non-violence can be very confrontational, like occupations, or deconstructing equipment. The issue as it has philosophically manifest itself here in Southern Oregon goes something like this, passive resistance has been defined as no lockdowns, no Pods, no tree sits, no occupations, no confrontational language or attitudes. Approved methods include rallies and non-confrontational CD (such as sitting in the street, without any sort of lock down). This is a "friendly perspective"; we are here to educate those who do wrong. This view presumes once educated people will do the right thing; it presumes people are basically good and only do evil when they fail to understand all the implications of their actions. The Confrontational approach embraces lockdowns, pods, occupations, sits, extraction resisting contraptions, and at times monkey wrenching. Confrontational language and direct charges against decision makers and lackeys in the F.S. hierarchy is embraced in accordance with an "enemy perspective", that is we are here to stand in opposition to the greed and violence of others. This perspective presumes people in power know what they are doing and do it anyway as they see profits in so doing. While this view does not make a presumption about human nature itself, it does accept the premise that some people are not good, they are narrowly self-interested, greedy, and violent, by social design or nature is not a question central to the perspective. While one can argue back and forth all day from these two perspectives, pragmatism, as I have said before, should guide our actions, not ideology. Thus let us turn to consider the two perspectives from a pragmatic view that values effectiveness and sustainability over ideology.
Pragmatically, critics of passive resistance argue that:
1. rallies are easily ignored,
2. and non-lockdown/pod CDs requires a critical mass (enough folks to overwhelm the local courts)
3. And passive resistance CD requires a significant level of solidarity and sacrifice from that critical mass. Folks must be willing to not bail, not plea, and refuse fines and restitution to maximize the impact of this method on the system. This can leave a person in jail for weeks (up to two months) and/or tie a person up in court appearances for over a year. This is a very time consumptive method, and requires cooperation and solidarity between many people.
This method will not be effective in the absence of solidarity unless the numbers are absolutely phenomenal. We had enough arrests to make this method effective only given solidarity. Down here solidarity seems to be a dirty word; many do not even want to hear the word spoken. Given the lack of population, and of solidarity, passive resistance alone will not work.
Where the passive resistance method requires significant solidarity and sacrifices by many, the confrontational method requires less solidarity, and sacrifices by fewer people. Those sacrifices may be greater or less than the sacrifices of PR. Risks are certainly greater.

Critics of confrontational resistance argue that:
1. The masses are alienated from such actions.
2. That media and education are lacking,
3. And that the sacrifices and risks to the individual are great.


The first is both true and false. The masses do seem to be alienated from more confrontational actions like long term occupations and tree sits, but only for a time. When law enforcement escalates in extraction attempts other acts of abuse, or the confrontational actions win, the public tends to become less critical and more involved. The second criticism is false. Today, folks need more drastic actions before they bother to put the effort into seeking any sort of info on the subject. While media and education are not the focus, the buzz created by more drastic actions tends to get folks talking, which can lead to reading and thinking. The third critic is true; there is no way around the potential risks and sacrifices to the individual. This is why we should all stand together in solidarity. The real question is, what choice is left to us, when solidarity and/or mass numbers are not achievable? Quite, let the greedy have the old trees? Or, plan more confrontational actions? "WHAT IS TO BE DONE?"

homepage: homepage: http://patrickdodd.com


The more things change.......... 01.Nov.2005 05:45

monk

"They formed little groups, like rich mans ghettoes,
tending their goats and organic tomatoes,
While the world was fucked by fascist regimes,
They talked of windmills and psychedelic dreams."

Crass

This is a 60s quote. hmmmmm. Seems like not much has changed.

Questions 01.Nov.2005 22:42

.

It was probably naughty to call an FS agent, rapist. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine one person effecting a social outcasting. Even harder to imagine an FS agent as friend.

I can see you are groping toward the notion, correct in my opinion, that a diversity of tactics ought to be actually diverse. And strategies, too.

So, have you talked seriously, and guardedly, with people you have met in the forest? Have you identified some who share your opinions, closely enough, that you might join in common action? Independent of, although respecting (in fact as in platitude), the actions of others? Indeed, are you willing to study the actions, and especially the results, of others, in order to adopt or adapt successful strategies? Are you willing the spend the years required to learn enough about your comrades lives, and the lives of those to whom they boast, to know whether you can trust them?


Posting on any web-site, including this one, is more likely to attract government agents than comrades. As well as people who want a lttle excitement in their lives, but not enough to hurt.

In Answswer to Questions 02.Nov.2005 07:03

Mary

"It was probably naughty to call an FS agent, rapist. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine one person effecting a social outcasting. Even harder to imagine an FS agent as friend."

The time and location was at Fiddler when they opened it back up, she saw what was done to the land, and the word rape is the language she found. Given the situation, it was a good response. Anger is not always bad, at times it is the only response that is appropriate or moral.

"I can see you are groping toward the notion, correct in my opinion, that a diversity of tactics ought to be actually diverse. And strategies, too."

No my point is that we should ensure what strategies we chose are effectively implemented. Passive resistance requires solidarity to be effective. Yet few seem to practice solidarity, and many who do not, are the very folks who do not want more confrontative actions. Others, who might prefer more confrontational actions, are not willing to recognize that this is not the path we took, and thus solidarity is needed. If we cannot achieve solidarity, occupation is all that is left. Still, we will need more support that Hobson was able to achieve. Also, Folks called to action by one person, were sent home by another.

"So, have you talked seriously, and guardedly, with people you have met in the forest? Have you identified some who share your opinions, closely enough, that you might join in common action? Independent of, although respecting (in fact as in platitude), the actions of others? Indeed, are you willing to study the actions, and especially the results, of others, in order to adopt or adapt successful strategies? Are you willing the spend the years required to learn enough about your comrades lives, and the lives of those to whom they boast, to know whether you can trust them? "

It is true, I am a theorist, but I am also an activist. I have been in the woods and support all actions; I do not support all the bail, pleas, and undermining of further actions that is going on now. We moved a few years ago. We are getting to know folks. Those who are both trustable and willing to make significant sacrifices seem to be a very small pool.



MY POINT HERE IS NOT TO ORGANIZE ACTION, THOUGH IT WOULD BE NICE IF SOME DOORS WERE OPENED IN THAT DIRECTION. MY POINT IS TO START A CRITICAL DIALOUGE ABOUT WHAT WE ARE DOING WRONG, WHY WE ARE LOSSING, AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO DIFFERENTLY SO WE CAN WIN. MY TIME AND LABOR ARE IMPORTANT TO ME, IF I AM TO CONTINUE TO SACRAFICE IT HAS TO BE FOR A WINNING CAMPAIGN.

Clarification 02.Nov.2005 07:57

Mary

Let me make myself clear. I support any non-violent action, so long as it is done effectively. We can use one method or more than one method. Again it is a matter of pragmatics. What we cannot afford is to mix methods and intentions in such a way that the movement is ineffective. We do not have the forces for a full on occupation down here. We did have a large number of folks willing to do Passive Resistance in the form of road blockades. Given a large number of arrests was our method; solidarity was essential to the strategy. We had none. We need to surpass our own ideologies, fears, and rationalizations and realize that if we are to save the trees it will take a significant sacrifice. Are we up to the task or no? We also need to stop working against one another, overcome classist B.S. that causes some to think they are the only ones who have a right to organize and undermine the efforts of others, and realize that it is a matter of us (evnvironmentalist) and them (profiteers).

OK 03.Nov.2005 03:01

.

I like the way you came back after nearly an hour, after rethinking.


First, anger. It depends on what you mean. A lot of people mean unthinking, out-of-control rage.. especially the unthinking, out-of-control part. That is why cops are trained to whisper the vile comments and and the sly pokes, which don't show up on video, but provoke the angry responses, which do show up on video.

"What, O Bhikkhus, is right speech?
"It is avoidance of telling lies. It is avoidance of slander. __ It is avoidance of hateful and abusive language. __ It is avoidance of frivolous talk or useless chatter.
"Bhikkhus, avoidance of these four unwholesome speeches is called right speech."
(from the Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha, via the Pali Canon)

To notice abuse of the forest, to resolve to protect and to repair it, are well and good. However, to abuse the FS agent, to provoke her anger against you, are probably ill and bad. Is the point to have a nice cathartic rage? A communal two-minute hate?

Then, there are people who have been raped. They cannot help but react negatively to hearing their pain and their fear so frivolously devalued.

This too : your comrades, and (I hope) you too, will always wonder, when will you see something which you regard so heinous as to justify abandoning solidarity for an explosion of righteous anger?


You mention people who are less and more confrontational, and you call for solidarity. Bush calls for solidarity, every chance and every way his speech-writers can seize upon. Both of you justify your demands by claiming we will otherwise be defeated. Neither of you offers any evidence for this claim. Neither of you offers any evidence that winning the particular battle will advance our ultimate causes. Neither of you asks others' opinions, why we refrain from solidarity on your terms. In his case, his speech-writers know that any whisper of dissent, heard, will bring their lies crashing down on their heads. In your case, I believe your socialization has trained you not to think of it, trained you to fail.

Similarly, I expect nobody asked all those people to solidify, to commit to arrest. Probably, few knew that you thought that was the point. Certainly, nobody ask those who would/could not commit to stay back and to attend. Socialization again.

Whether you agree with me or not regarding the need for one or multiple strategies, you must discuss with those who are less and more confrontational. You must convince them to practice either the solidarity of cooperation and non-sabotage or the solidarity of one strategy.

Next time you are alone in the forest or any wild, healthy place, look around. I think you will observe multiple stategies. You will see cooperation, too : not the silly mass flocking we usually mean; nor the masked total domination we usually mean.

Will you ever get the point? 03.Nov.2005 08:15

Mary

Not rethinking, only concerned folks will not get the point, which seems to be the case.

"First, anger. It depends on what you mean. A lot of people mean unthinking, out-of-control rage. Especially the unthinking, out-of-control part. That is why cops are trained to whisper the vile comments and the sly pokes, which don't show up on video, but provoke the angry responses, which do show up on video."

None of this is relevant to the situation. What is this American leaning towards stifling any emotion, justified or not?

"What, O Bhikkhus, is right speech?
"It is avoidance of telling lies. It is avoidance of slander. __ It is avoidance of hateful and abusive language. __ It is avoidance of frivolous talk or useless chatter.
"Bhikkhus, avoidance of these four unwholesome speeches is called right speech."
(from the Eightfold Path taught by the Buddha, via the Pali Canon)

It is not slander if it is true. Hate is right at times. Do you think it not appropriate to hate anyone? See, this is Marx point about religion. Opiate of the people. Keep you "in control", calm, and passive.

"To notice abuse of the forest, to resolve to protect and to repair it, are well and good. However, to abuse the FS agent, to provoke her anger against you, are probably ill and bad. Is the point to have a nice cathartic rage? A communal two-minute hate?"

Pam Bode is despicable, a liar and more she deserves whatever community hate she reaps.


"Then, there are people who have been raped. They cannot help but react negatively to hearing their pain and their fear so frivolously devalued."

Now this is an argument that my have some measure of validity. However, if you think of the earth as your mother, and you see what was done, "rape" is a term that does come to a woman's mind. Still, it is not a word that I throw around for this reason. The woman who used the word however, is not educated in feminist theory and could not be expected to have considered this perspective.

"This too : your comrades, and (I hope) you too, will always wonder, when will you see something which you regard so heinous as to justify abandoning solidarity for an explosion of righteous anger?"

The solidarity we failed at was jail solidarity. Solidarity failed when one senior woman, jumped on another senior woman for her justified anger. Righteous anger is not what violates solidarity; perhaps your question should be more like when are acts so heinous that we all finally get angry enough to form some solidarity?


"You mention people who are less and more confrontational, and you call for solidarity. Bush calls for solidarity, every chance and every way his speech-writers can seize upon. Both of you justify your demands by claiming we will otherwise be defeated. Neither of you offers any evidence for this claim. Neither of you offers any evidence that winning the particular battle will advance our ultimate causes. Neither of you asks others' opinions, why we refrain from solidarity on your terms. In his case, his speech-writers know that any whisper of dissent, heard, will bring their lies crashing down on their heads. In your case, I believe your socialization has trained you not to think of it, trained you to fail."


Fuck you. Compare me to Bush? You do not even know what solidarity is you fool.

"Similarly, I expect nobody asked all those people to solidify, to commit to arrest. Probably, few knew that you thought that was the point. Certainly, nobody ask those who would/could not commit to stay back and to attend. Socialization again."

No, they were asked to get arrested by the so called leaders, who then failed to inform and educated them, to give them the tools they needed to make their sacrafices count. One group did not want to talk about lockdowns, and another did not want to talk about jail solidarity. So they shared feelings for hours and went into the action unprepaired. Arrests alone do nothing, it was not the point. Without jail solidarity arrests must be in the hundreds to make a difference.

Freedom? 03.Nov.2005 08:20

Mary

By the way all this talk of "socialization" and solidarity as group oppression. Consider the fact that if all we concern ourselves with is a FREEDOM FROM, from social restraints, expectations, law, convention, community standards, ... Then how are we to ever achieve a FREEDOM FOR anything, a freedom for better education, the freedom to have a healthy environment, the freedom to have a family and children for that matter.

Follow your heart 03.Nov.2005 19:36

Peat Moss

Good article Mary.

Author Derrick Jensen asks the question: "Does anyone think that they are going to stop (this assault on our last old growth forests) because we ask them nicely."

The obvious answer is NO.

The destruction will (maybe) stop when it becomes more dangerous for corporate industry executives and their operatives and co-conspiritors in corporate government to destroy the forests than it (presently) is for those who defend the forests; When those who are serious about this whole thing finally begin to track these criminals down at their homes and their places of business, and when it is too dangerous for the destroyers to go into the forests, maybe the destruction will stop.

Those that destroy the wild will have to reap what they have sown. The spiritual law of karma will finally have to come back around.

"Fuck you. Compare me to Bush?" 04.Nov.2005 01:17

.

You compared yourself by adopting his style.

Bush 04.Nov.2005 07:13

Mary

No I did not. I do not say, agree with me or I will put you in jail, or do you any harm. In fact you fool, there were only two people here who practiced true CD, taking into the jail and beyond. Joan Norman, and Amber Birmingham. They both did over 17 days worth of jail time. Again, jail solidarity may not be essential, but then more confrontational (such as a large sit occupation) is required to make an effect. I say do it effectively or do not bother to ask me to join your efforts. There is a huge difference between trying to educate folks on why things are not working and how they may work better, and even jumping them for starving a sit, and for unjustly jumping on someone else. Negation of a negation. Read some Marx for Gods sake. Again, you obviously are not an activist and have no idea what you are talking about. If you think that confrontation and blunt honest critic are oppressive then I guess you will be marching to the gas chambers still being polite. The Jews say "never again". Can you hear them, or are you going to have to learn the hard way.

Stay on issue 04.Nov.2005 08:07

Mary

"Neither of you asks others' opinions, why we refrain from solidarity on your terms."
Yes I have this is why I know their answers have more to do with ideological perspectives than the pragmatic question, what do we need to do to make this method effective? Furthermore, it is not me who is trying to silence speech it is you. Calling me Bush when I dare to critic a group, or challenge them to think, learn, and do better. What we cannot talk of lockdowns or solidarity, rendering both paths ineffective, and to bring it up is like Bush? See that is a logical fallacy, to attack me as a person, rather than focus on actions. You have no bases for your comparison, yet you continue to personal attack to avoid the real debate, which you know you will lose. So, my challenge to you is, tell me how we are to stop logging with only 70 arrests and no solidarity, and only a handful of folks willing to sit or occupy.


"In his case, his speech-writers know that any whisper of dissent, heard, will bring their lies crashing down on their heads. In your case, I believe your socialization has trained you not to think of it, trained you to fail."

One, I am the dissenter in this case. Secondly, I will bet you I engage in more self-critic and analysis of socialization of myself, groups, and societies at large than you, or most folks you might know. I am the one that is willing to critic our efforts honestly and without dogma, rationalizations, and B.S. So, what say you, truth and honest to much to take, or can you sit on the porch and have a real dialogue.

To Peat Moss 04.Nov.2005 10:49

Mary

If you are speaking of violence, terrorism (instilling fear of physical harm in others), that is not where my heart leads. However, there is a way to cause unrest in the homes of the greedy that would steel from their own children and their future for the sake of a consumerist hedonist lifestyle today—EDUCATE THEIR CHILDREN, and refuse community respect and decorum. Do not allow them to walk the streets without being challenged as stealing the economic resources and value needed for our economic stability for their own narrow ill-conceived self-interest. Post educational flyers around the schools their children attend, and around their homes... Do not validate their being (being is doing, thus do not validate what they do) by politeness. Rage (yes, a restrained, but not unexpressed rage) is appropriate, politeness is not the appropriate response to whom these folks are and what they chose to do, how they chose to make a living by taking from the rest of us.

go on 04.Nov.2005 22:03

a penis

blah blah blah blah
as the forests fall
blah blah blah blah