When Earth First! came to this country the environment movement was dying, the established groups becoming increasingly establishment and the numbers of people fighting for this planet were dwindling. Nearly the only place you would see the word ‘environment’ was on an ICI aerosol. Earth First! set out to wake it up, and I think we can claim it’s done pretty well.
Over the last months I have seen Earth First!ers especially at Twyford Down, become increasingly prevalent in the media. I have seen the front pages of tabloids run sympathetic stories, tories pledging allegiance to anti road campaigning, the Labour and Liberal Democrats increasingly acting like dongaphiles and newspapers doting when once they called us ‘eco-fascists’, ‘world extremists’ and ‘eco-terrorists’. I read in Friends of the Earth’s magazine, EF!ers at Twyford being described as ‘heroic individuals’, when only a year and a half back we were, ‘anti-environmental activists’.
I hear that Greenpeace are allowing there local groups to partake in and organise direct action, until recently they were ‘fund-raising groups’, not even allowed to run conventional campaigns. The Green Party is starting to organise direct action. Anti-road groups are springing up everywhere. The Council for the Protection of Rural England are advising there members about going on site. Even Militant Labour - not known for ecological ethics - are telling there members to get involved.
The movement has woken up. And indeed I hear much about ‘the movement’, but what is most striking is its political diversity. Phrases like ‘diversity is healthy’ and ‘Diversity is strength’ are bandied about. However, it has now got to a point where the message of EF!, ‘EARTH FIRST!’, could get lost in the diversity of the movement it has spurred back into existence. We must remember that EF! is not the environment movement, but a part of it. It is not even the ‘direct action environment movement’. EF! is not just meant to be about reactivating the environment movement. It is about evolution, tribalism, No compromise in defence of Mother Earth, the future primitive, and many things which are unspeakable. British EF!ers must define themselves better or get lost in environmental reformisms. I say we should take the philosophical line espoused by EF! in every other of the 26 countries EF! operates in.
Taken seriously... evolution means that there is no basis for seeing humans as more advanced or developed than any other species. Homo Sapiens is not the goal of evolution, for as near as we can tell evolution has no telos - it simply unfolds, life-form after life-form... The ethical significance of this cosmology is that since evolution gives life in all its complexity, the evolutionary process itself is of highest value. The central moral priority of Earth First! is to protect and restore wilderness because undisturbed wilderness provides the necessary genetic stock for the continuance of evolution.” (from ‘The Religion and Politics of Earth First!’, The Ecologist, vol 21, no.6, Nov/Dec 1991).
Down with the Empire, Up with the Spring.
-A Liverpudlian puddle dweller.
To whom it may concern,
This letter is to remind all you Earth First!ers, and so called ‘Earth Warriors’ what exactly your aims should be.
On December the 10th, 1992, the Twyford Down Dongas, (the place - remember it? – NOT the people) were trashed by Tarmac workers defended by Group 4 and the police. While sitting in the path of a lorry going on to the site, I was dragged off by the neck by a Police Officer until I lost consciousness. I was then thrown up a bank, (while unconscious) and did not get any medical attention for 45 minutes. I am only writing this to remind you what happened that day - most of you who actually saw it seem to have forgotten. Mind you it did make a nice picture for your magazine if nothing else, right? What was the quote now? Ah yes - a courageous earth sister – wasn’t it? Lots of people still comment on that picture and article when they see me and all of them ask how my case against the police is going. Well I can answer that now - it isn’t anymore.
Although the event and my condition after it was witnessed by 40 or so protesters, I was only given 3 statements. The police now have 15 of their own (all denying an assault)! As a result the police complaints commission have decided that there is no +justification+ for a prosecution, and I have lost my solicitors for my civil case because of the time wasted in trying to get witnessed statements. The chances of my getting Legal Aid again for another solicitor is slim to say the least. Well, thanks for your support everyone. Or rather I expect the Hampshire Constabulary will thank you themselves.
For Fuck’s sake, when will you realise that protesting about ‘Earth Rape’ and ‘police brutality’ is not good enough by itself. Even for those of you who only look out for yourselves, (like those individual who didn’t want to give a statement because your names would become known to the police), remember there is now a ‘police brute’ back on duty and back on the Twyford Down site that knows he can now strangle who he likes. What’s more all his mates know it too so watch out; next time kids, it could be YOU!
Anyway if you have any copies of the photographs of me in my ‘courageous Earth Sister’ mode please burn them. I was not a publicity stuntwoman, I was a very frightened individual who came round from being unconscious not being able to feel my legs and with a terrible pain going down my neck and back. Try and imagine the thoughts that go through your head at that sort of moment. I am not any ‘Earth Sister’ to you, as any family I would consider worthwhile helps each other and defends one another when they need it.
And I am no longer going to let myself be aligned in any way to Earth First! until you all realise that that sentiment should include putting the people who try and defend the earth, first too!
- Row, Reading 12 June 1993
Dear Cabbage face,
Going on an action takes an enormous amount of effort, both physical and mental, on the part of the activist. It also takes the organisers many days of research, telephone calls, running around and general stress. We are often left emotionally and physically drained afterwards.
With all this in mind we would want to ensure that this effort was not in vain. Unfortunately, looking back on previous actions it seems that this is not always the case. Carmaggeddon actions are a good example: there is no doubt that in many towns direct action against the monsters in our midst has helped to bring about change. In conjunction with cyclists we have successfully campaigned for cycle lanes and traffic calming measures. But the cycle lanes are mostly on the pavements and the traffic calming is only introduced when Tesco’s et al have finished their ring of out of town developments.
I look back on some of our ‘victories’ and see that we have lost sight of the original goal - in this example to get rid of cars - and allowed the compromisers to use our energies for their own campaigns. By putting cycle lanes on pavements we make more room for cars, less room for people and lose the cyclists who supposedly helped us in the campaign. By campaigning for pedestrian zones and park and ride schemes without stopping out of town developments (so the lazy bastards have nowhere else to go), we merely move the shit somewhere else and turn our town (community) centres into a desert of useless trinket shops and facetious wine bars.
Left without industrialist interference, the Earth will always express its life as what we call wilderness. Always. Earth First! therefore means directing our efforts to help protect existing areas and to try to allow Earth to re-establish its own plan in other areas. Anything else is people first, and however laudable the aims of the campaign may be, the EF! part of it should always make its aims absolutely clear to the other groups involved. Those who do not share this view should not call themselves Earth First!
Our job is to protect what is left of the wilderness, not to provide alternative jobs (imagine if a serial killer was to say to the police; OK you show me an alternative where I can fulfil my needs and I’ll stop), not to give in to pressure from any quarter, and certainly not to waste the efforts of the many people who go on these actions by negotiating away the very reason for going there.
We are now in a situation more serious than in the entire story of life (as far as we know). In a matter of life and death there is no room for the luxury of negotiation and compromise, you simply choose one or the other. If the destruction is not stopped (ie. completely stopped, not just slowed down), very soon there will be nothing left to defend.
In the misguided quest for popular support we risk losing sight of what we are about. An uncompromising stance may not attract mass support, but if the price of that support is the loss of what we are defending, then it is worthless.
Dear Do or Die,
Speaking from the position of a woman who has been pregnant, I’m getting a bit confused about the attitude of some of EF!. Some people seem to be of the opinion that the world is over-populated and therefore go with the attitude of ‘respect your mother don’t become one’ while at the same time dancing round naked and bonking anything in sight. Speaking from experience 80% of those people do not carry any form of contraceptive. Is it only me that thinks they are behaving like assholes?
At one gathering I overheard an older woman telling a very much younger one that the only form of birth control that was needed when you lived outside was to follow the natural cycles of the moon. I fully believe that this is possible WHEN you live outside in a stable community all year round but not when a woman lives in a town most of the time and comes down to actions/gatherings for only a few days at a time. Getting to know yourself and your cycles is something to be praised but it takes time and even then is not foolproof. (I am living proof of that). To give out half-truths like this sounds a lot like the Pope’s orders. What upsets me is it is the younger / more impressionable women who will get hurt by this. In indigenous tribes in other countries pregnant women and mothers of children are the responsibility of the whole tribe. When the enviable happens are we ready to be included in that responsibility ourselves? It would seem not.
Just one more thing. Such an environment (where people have to sleep in the same clothes that they wear in the day, for several days at a time because of the cold) and where ‘free love’ seems to be the order of the day, is also a breeding ground for STD’s. Please be careful, we needed more people in the movement not less. Don’t sacrifice yourself for a short lasted thrill. The best lover you will ever have is yourself.
Dear old dreary,
Earth First? gathering. What a load of old blarney!
The recent EF! gathering (11th September) in Shropshire, was in my estimation and many other EF!ers I talked to, purely a gassing session, which produced very little but endless discussions on how to have decision making discussions and total confusion on where and what we do next as a movement. The whole attitude of some meetings seemed to be aimed at coming up with some general policy that would steer the movement into the mid-nineties. What is most annoying about this position, is that it totally goes against the whole principal of decentralisation and local group independence.
Nobody should have the right to dictate on what a particular group does and does not do. In this way we avoid the hierarchical structure that has broken the militancy of other eco/revolutionary groups. Also, when it comes to organising roadshows etc, then again this should be done on purely a regional basis, so that those involved are already in touch with the groups that they intend to link with, and of course know the issues that affect their region. Who wants a load of outside greenies, to invade the community, no doubt totally unaware of what is going on in that locality, and if anything upset all the work that the local group has done. A lot of us remember the 1st roadshow, when a bunch of unorganised middle-class Hippies and politically ignorant US EF!ers trailed the place, talking about nothing but tropical rainforest etc. There was hardly any mention of urgent local environmental issues, and if they did get a mention then they came second best.
What we need is regional autonomy and regional networks. Let’s forget this national structure crap and the potential eco-crat strings attached. We can all come together for a national gathering, but only to share and exchange news, views etc.., as well as possibly taking advantage of info collecting workshops such as legal, self defence, or roads. What should be happening is regional groups coming together and organising there own gatherings, and not inviting just EF! groups, but other radical groups from within the community.
But enough of the criticism. Hats must go off to Nottingham EF!, who put a lot of work into organising the event and workshops (which did prove fruitful). It was good to see old comrades again, as well as getting the chance to howl, drink and party. It is just a shame that all that hard work had to be spoiled by a few ego trippers and eco-crats. Never mind, hopefully next time the buggers can go off to some hill somewhere and play with their policies to their hearts content.
- A silly old fart from Oxford.
Dear Do or Die,
I am writing to voice my concern at the increasing amount of actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front, I remember when it all started it was all a joke, the Earth Liberation Faeroes. People had decided at the 92 EF! gathering that acts of monkeywrenching were the act of the Individual.... EF! neither condemns nor condones it. This was decided not because EF! disagreed with monkeywrenching, not because ‘EF!ers didn’t have the guts’, but because it was felt that no ‘organisation’ should take responsibility for monkeywrenching, it should be the act of the individual. Monkeywrenchers are a diverse bunch. Some are strictly pacifist, some would defend themselves, some disagree with arson while some think its the best thing since the hand axe, some think explosives are a viable tactic and some don’t. No wrencher can speak for another.
Abbreviations such as the ALF, IRA, UDR, UDF, RAF, PLO and even ELF simply instil fear. They put a negative image across. Let’s leave our actions to be the message. By turning monkeywrenching into the act of some shady sounding underground organisation, rather than the emotional reaction of people against the machine, we alienate a lot of potential activists and give the capitalist propagandists a handy label which they can use as they desire. Let’s abandon macho ideas of organisations, they belong to civilisation not us. Let’s just do what’s needed to defend our mother.
- A Wrencher.