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(en) Freedom 6405 8 Mar, 2003 - A perspective from Earth First!

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 7 Apr 2003 07:13:08 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Existing in the UK since 1991, Earth First! has been
described as more of a 'space' than an organisation,
and indeed the series of actions and events that have
happened under the EF! banner have usually been
linked only by the fact that the diverse participants
have, at some point or other, shared either physical,
political or emotional space. One such forum for face
to face contact is the annual EF! Winter Moot, held
last month, and designed to complement the
Summer Gathering. These shifting spaces (plus the
monthly EF! Action Update newsletter) are the bonds
that hold the Earth First! together as a network. I
must emphasise that these only form the consciously
created bonds. What really holds EF! together is
shared experience and activity - the anti-roads
protest camps, for example, were seminal in forming
this activist community. Today the main areas of
radical ecological activism are made by a more
diverse body of protests and campaigns, including the
war to destroy the biotechnology industry, to restrain
climate change and to save aspects of UK ecology,
such as peat bogs.

Direct action has been making the Earth First!
critique, but it is intellectually charged none the less.
Many different thinkers and radical traditions inform
the Earth First! activity, often to a shifting extent.
Since the J18 Carnival Against Capital in 1998,
anarchist and other overtly anti-capitalist ideas have
been rising to the forefront, to mingle with other
anti-authoritarian and ecological traditions. In the
process this could mean EF! moving away from its
traditional role as the radical wing of the
environmental movement towards adopting a more
general anti-capitalist focus. This could be a

Since Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962) warned of
the dangers of agro-chemicals such as DDT, a large
body of European/US ecological literature has
developed, and the blame is increasingly being laid
on industrial society. This means capitalism, but also
any other modern division of labour. With a critique
this deep it can seem opportunist to get involved
with any campaign or movement that does not
challenge the subsistence basis of modern society,
and maybe it is. Fighting for short term gains, such as
the stopping of a particular war and raising living
standards within the present society, are irrelevant if
one sees industrial capitalism as heading towards
imminent apocalypse.

However, I prefer to see these long and short term
focused campaigns as complementary. Challenges to
industrial society will come through human
movements. Even if all we can do is 'visualise
industrial collapse' (a slogan of USA EF!) then the
extent of social collapse will surely depend on the
extent to which we depend on industrial logic.
Developing a series of deeply-rooted communities
and networks is probably the best way both to
reverse ecological destruction and to withstand its
effects. Earth First! has participated in many
struggles in the UK, probably because it is one of the
best collection of sincere direct action activists in
these islands. In the process, many campaigns have
absorbed an ecological and direct action ethos that
would otherwise be missing, just as EF! Has absorbed
influences from social anarchism and socialism.

When I wonder, for example, whether EF! will 'get
involved' with the anti-war movement, this is beside
the point. EF! is not an organisation, but a
discussion. No doubt many ecological activists will
get involved, but EF! institutional participation in
anything is a contradiction in terms! And the ongoing
ecological crisis will not disappear any time soon.
The 1990s were a moment of breaking awareness
about the urgency of capital's assault on our planet,
but that assault continues apace. And, judging by
non-free market societies such as USSR, this assault
could continue even after considerable social
restructuring. Radical ecological action remains as
urgent. My hope is that EF! and other movements
and struggles can continue to have mutually fruitful
Ned Ludd

To find out more, see Action Update and Do or Die:
voices from the ecological resistance. There's a full
list of local EF! groups in the Action Update, with
many major towns having local groups or campaigns.
Do or Die, Editorial Collective, c/o Prior House, 6
Tilbury Place, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 2GY.
Earth First! Action Update, 22a Beswick St, Ancoats,
Manchester, M4 7HS

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