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Do or Die Number 7 - The Maturity or Senility? Issue
Do or Die doesn't want to be, couldn't be, nor has ever claimed to be representative of the entire ecological direct action scene. We do want to give a voice to the movement but it is inherently ridiculous to think that any one publication can be the voice of the movement. People can only represent themselves - and this idea underlies the whole theory and practice of Earth First! and its organisation into a network of autonomous de-centralised groups.
Submissions are needed and welcome, so please do send in articles, but Do or Die is not completely open access as space is too short for that. It is the project of the editorial collective who, with the help of people from around the world, co-operate (?!) together to produce it. We're putting our own time and money into this and we're not going to devote it to printing things we substantially disagree with. Having said that, we are not interested in peddling some 'correct' ideological line and we will, and do, publish things we disagree with - if we think they have something worthwhile to contribute to our struggles. The exception to this is the letters pages which are more or less open access - as long as you keep the length below 500 words - so write and tell us you love, hate or fancy us - please!
Claremont Road - resistance to the M11 in East London
The British EF! movement has been dominated over the last six years by campaigns against roadbuilding. These seem to have had results - for instance, roads budgets slashed, miles of media column inches written, and the anti-roads "ecowarrior" enshrined as a cultural stereotype. This article discusses how successful our struggles have been, whilst also attempting to look to the future.
Video Media and Direct Action
This article has been written in an attempt to stimulate much needed discussion in direct action circles about alternative media and its role in our struggles. With the space available the article cannot look at all areas of 'alternative media', nor tackle the areas it does look at in any great detail. It will, however, hopefully act as a catalyst for discussions that should, for once, include the activists on the other side of the lens…
Wild Bores are Doing it for Themselves
"As the rabbit has been the problem [sic] of the 20th century, the boar could be that of the 21st century" - Derek Harman, Ex-gamekeeper, Kent. 1
It gives us great pleasure to announce that a touch of wildness has returned to the South East, one of England's tamest regions, and Do or Die's 'manor'.
Male Dominance on Site
Living on a protest camp is a unique experience, it is completely divorced from the reality of British society - preconceived ideas and perceptions are altered drastically. Perhaps it is because of the continuous pressure - the reason you are there is to try and save land from being annihilated by companies, government departments and people who have no respect for the world in which we live, who are prepared to decimate land in favour of profit. Due to this, living on a protest camp is not an easy life, it involves a great deal of work and strength of character. A bonding grows between people that I personally have never experienced elsewhere. I can liken it to that of family relationships - what you go through with each other in such a short period of time is enriching, you are continuously evolving, learning new things about life that no education system could teach you in a hundred years. The overall concept of a camp is one of a free society; you can speak to any 'road protester' and they will tell of ideals that focus on anarchy, equality, freedom, free love and basically anything else you want to chuck in as long as it shows respect for freedom in the individual.
Carbon Dioxide quota and environmentalist hypocrisy
In 1990, an unprecedented number of mainstream scientists confirmed to the world that global warming was a reality. The IPCC (the UN's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) recommended the minimum reduction - 60% - in CO2 emissions that would be needed just to stabilise the gas at its present level. If we divide the remaining 40% by the probable number of people on Earth, we get an indication of how much CO2 each one of us can emit per year. It is measured in units called Daubs, and is (due to uncertainty in mathematical models) somewhere between 5 and 10 daubs per person. The current US average emission per person is about 97 Daubs, and for the UK it is around 47. Most people on earth already emit less than 10.
Defending the Acient Oakwoods
Landowners. The Federation of Landowners. The National Farmers' Union (NFU). The old boys' network. Freemasons. MI5. The Forestry Commission (F.C.). The timber industry. These are the main predatory forces responsible for the destruction of what's left of our natural habitat - ancient woods.
The Forestry Commission was set up during the First World War to ensure that sufficient hardwood was accessed from within Britain, since import ships were frequently sunk. Nowadays they serve landowners, who are viewed as the "client base" to whom the FC funnels masses of taxpayers' money under several guises, but generally to encourage the maximum 'release' of timber onto the market.
History - Direct Action - Analysis - Contradictions
No Opencast is a campaign run by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and supported by Women Against Pit Closures and members of the Miners Support Groups. Since early 1995 there has been an informal co-operation between the No Opencast campaign and Earth First!ers. This has culminated, so far, in the action in Derbyshire on Friday 31st October 1997. On this action an opencast site, owned by HJ Banks mining company, was visited early in the morning by around 250 activists. Within two hours the mine was put out of operation, with estimates of the damage caused ranging from £375,000 to £4 million. This article attempts to give some background information to this campaign and action but also raises some questions and possible contradictions about its history and aims.
Pissed off Primates and Road-Wreckin' Rabbits
Indonesians have long regarded the orang-utan as exceptionally intelligent - they are thought to be so shrewd that : "the Javanese maintain that these animals can speak but refuse to do so for fear of being made to work."
- "On the Track of Unknown Animals", Bernard Heuvelmans, 1958, p.110.
The Spectacularisation of Fairmile
"Revolt is contained by overexposure. We are given it to contemplate so that we forget to participate."
- Raoul Vaneigem.
During and after the eviction of the anti-A30 road camps at Fairmile in early 1997 there was an explosion of media interest that seemed to come out of nowhere and caught us all by surprise. At that time a lot of the A 30 campaign were living together in the office and there appeared to be consensus on what interviews to do and what to say in them.
A tree house.
A free house.
A secret you and me house.
A high up in the leafy branches.
A happy as can be house.
A street house.
A neat house.
A be sure to wipe your feet house,
is not the kind of house for me.
Let's go and live in a treehouse.
"If you hate 'progress' so much why don't you go back to living in trees, motherfuckers!"
- US Offroader.
Confronting Industrial Agriculture
Our movement has had some great successes in the last seven years. Campaigns against infrastructure growth like Manchester and Newbury have highlighted ecological destruction, involved thousands, inspired thousands more, and actually stopped hundreds of projects. However we are in danger of giving the illusion that ecological destruction happens primarily in the realm of 'mega-developments'. In fact the way we grow our food is the main cause of devastation in this country.
A Round-up of British Action Camps
Since the last issue of Do or Die (printed in late June 1997) 24 different campaigns have either set up camps or continued occupation of ones already established. Usually when we set up a site we expect to be evicted eventually, but we aim to cause so much economic damage that other places are saved in the future - and so far this strategy has worked very effectively in the struggle to destroy the British Roads Programme. (See'Direct Action: Six Years Down the Road' on page 1 of this issue.) However the increasing sophistication of treehouses, lock-ons, tunnels and rabid activists have made evictions so expensive that in the last 10 months we have seen five campaigns tatting down (breaking camp) because they'd actually won. With camps all over the country there is bound to be one near you - so find out where it is and then visit, if only for a weekend, and help barricade, build, fortify and generally cause trouble!
Pollution, Politics and Pubilc Relations
The oil industry is growing increasingly aware of its serious image problem. Put differently, people are becoming increasingly aware of the systematic abuses of people and nature inherent in the production and processing of petroleum.
In the UK, with little wild space left, Earth First! has focused more than elsewhere on taking the fight to industrial capitalism itself. This has been done by attacking the things the industry feeds on - such as transport infrastructure, or aggregates from quarries. Now, as a movement, we are ready to go to the heart of the beast - the oil industry.
Pandering to the Demands of Industry
These Batac people of Palawan are being forced from their homes into settlements by WWF
All around the world, as you read this, children of other cultures are being kidnapped and forced into schools against their will and that of their tribes. People from Indonesia to Zaire are being forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands into shoddy shanty towns with poor sanitation and bad food. These people want to stay in their homelands, living as they always have; with no leaders and no civilisation; hunting and gathering.
Quarry Fighting in the South -West
The campaign against quarrying in the South West is the longest ongoing direct action campaign in Britain. Actions against the expansion of Whatley Quarry in the Mendip hills have been happening from early '92 and have continued sporadically ever since. Two of the biggest campaigns in the last year have been against the south west being turned into a cratered landscape. The Dead Woman's Bottom camps were set up to stop the construction of a service road for the Whatley and Mier Head Quarries, while direct action secured a reprieve for important ecology near Newton Abbott - due to be blasted to mine for toilets! The campaign to save Ashton Court in Bristol from quarrying has seen actions for over two years and a camp was set up in the last couple of weeks. This article is a rough sketch of what's going on.
Reports from the squatted village in Spain
Trekking up to reach Sasé, one follows a meandering trail of hard stony earth, tracing its way through clusters of trees as it twists up the side of the sheer valley. The spindly dry stone walls that occasionally still deign to accompany this fickle path anticipate the rugged but impressive beauty of the village itself, whose robust buildings conceal intricate interiors laced with ancient wooden beams. Though the rubble of some of the less enduring buildings dusts the ground around those that remain, and the haunting taste of desertion lingers where wildflowers usurp the pathways, the village as a whole stands on in the face of years of neglect. And now chickens scurry and cluck around the base of the high church tower, which points up to the stoic mountains whose vast peaks overlook the settlement.
Brasil's Landless Peasants - Movimento Sem Terra
In 1997 hundreds of thousands of landless peasants banded together and occupied over 200 stretches of unused land in Brasil. In addition, 140,000 families have been resettled on land following direct action over the past 10 years. They are Brasil's, and in Noam Chomsky's eyes, the world's most important social movement. Over 90 % of Brasilians agree with what 'Movimento Sem Terra' do. Now the focus is on the cities and the centres of power. I hung out with MST recently, here's what I learnt...
Come and 'ave ago if you think you're harbour enough
Groen Front! Stop Harbour Development
It all began over a year ago when the Dutch direct action movement Green Front! started, based upon the ideas of the British Earth First! Several Dutch activists had been over to the action camps at Newbury, Fairmile and Manchester to learn from their British counterparts. The small group of activists decided it was time for Green Front! to start, as the Dutch environmental movement was (and is) ruled by big bureaucratic organisations that have their own agendas and actions and do not co-operate much with each other or small local actions. Everywhere in the country critical mass groups had started and two Reclaim the Streets Parties had been organised in Amsterdam. But not much of a reaction from the Big Brothers of the Environment.
Pixies Reclaiming Ireland
The restlessness of some pixies who magicked onto a Carlow farm to rearrange some genetically-engineered sugar beet belonging to Monsanto has focused the debate on direct action in Ireland, and has exposed the organised green movement for what it is - arrogant, loud, ineffectual and inconsistent. Green MEP Nuala Aherne showed her true political colours and a large dose of egotism to denounce the Carlow weeding on national radio, because it was "violent" and "done at night", while the Green Party's other MEP Patricia McKenna announced proudly and enthusiastically: "If Monsanto, which was carrying out the sugar beet trials and the Environmental Protection Agency which licensed the trials, insist on playing games with the Irish environment, then fair play to those who challenge them through peaceful direct action."
Movement Mauls Maheshwar
The Maheshwar Dam was due for construction across the Narmada River in the state of Madya Pradesh in Central India. The 400 megawatt project would submerge some 2500 acres of land and affect 2200 families in 61 villages, and is a part of the Narmada Valley Development Project; a plan to build 30 major, 135 medium and 3000 small dams on the Narmada River and its tributaries. The scheme has been assigned to an Indian textile company, S. Kumars, which is seeking help from transnationals Siemens and Asea Brown Boveri (ABB).
Breaking Bread with the Zapatistas
Armed with kilos of beans, grammatically incorrect Spanish, a sore head, my hammock and a sense of madness, I set off from San Cristobal de las Casas in the early hours of the morning to rendezvous with three other campamentos. Our reasons for crossing the 'front line' into Zapatista territory to live with the indigenous Mayan communities as International Peace Observers were as varied as we were. Katrina was studying social anthropology, I was interested in human rights and Sarah, well Sarah had quite simply fallen head over heels in love with the Zapatista spokesperson Subcommandante Marcos!
Outrage in the Outback, Battles in the Bush
Australian Native Title
The issue of Native Title could be said to be the most contentious one in the country, currently, and may well get top billing in the next election. In 1992, (a little late to say the least) the Mabo High Court decision reversed the long-standing assumption of 'terra nullius': that Australia was empty and belonged to no-one before white people turned up. The court spoke of Native Title as the common law rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, which confirmed the legal status of their customs, traditions, and laws.
Amerikkka Celebrates Genocide
"We are not vanishing. We are not conquered. We are as strong as ever."
- United American Indians of New England.
Thanksgiving Day is the essence of America, one of the cornerstones on which the USA rests its pride. Not surprising then, really that it is celebrating genocide, and will use brutal force to silence those who try to expose the lies that surround it.
Direct action in Schiphol, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, France, Galicia
Dutch actions at Schiphol
Vereniging Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) kept a KLM plane on the ground when 13 activists climbed on a plane ready to depart for the United States. The activists were protesting against the continued increase in flights at Schiphol which is not in line with environmental standards the government set earlier this year. After three hours, the activists let the plane go and were arrested.
Thought Police imprison Green Anarchists in the UK
The case of the "Gandalf Six" has enormous implications for those engaged in direct action, and for those giving favourable coverage to such actions. I think it's fair to say that the Gandalf trial was not just engineered to convict and imprison six assorted editors, activists and spokespeople. It was also intended to intimidate the wider movements in which they work - primarily the animal liberation movement but also the environmental direct action movement. Obviously, the intimidation also extends to the peace movement and any other struggles using direct action, nonviolent or otherwise. We are concerned, and we are meant to be worried.
Last year's Police Act armed British police with the legal tools to break n'enter an individual's home with bugging equipment and burgle their property. This legislation opened a new surveillance rule book for police intelligence gathering operations - with a mandate for Special Branch, CID, NCIS [National Criminal Intelligence Service] and NCS [National Crime Squad] to move into old MI5 waters. The individual targets of these intelligence fishing expeditions now covers anyone "pursuing a common purpose". That's the whole of the direct action movement and the Hampshire YMCA covered in one statutory sentence.
Uncoincidentally, in the same year Europol police were granted free operational rein to investigate anyone "pursuing a common purpose". Sound familiar… Security Services Act1, Police Act, now European police? Yes, they are after the common people with a common purpose.
Before Green Anarchist, the German magazine Radikal has weathered a storm of repression stretching over 16 years. In spite of this they have managed to continue publication, developing an impressive underground production/distribution structure which operates largely outside state control.
On 17th September 1996, 300 members of the ROS (special squads of the Carabinieri) raided 60 addresses all over Italy. This operation followed earlier raids against anarchists in November 1995, and was based on breathtakingly dodgy evidence from a young informer. Manipulated by senior Prosecutor Antonio Marini (on record as saying "I want to arrest a gang of terrorists before I retire"), the informer has been used to establish the existence of a mythical armed gang called the 'O.R.A.I', or "Revolutionary Anarchist Insurrectional Organisation".(!) By arguing that the 'terrorists' are sheltered by the movement's legal milieu (such as the squatted 'social centres'), the state seeks to criminalise the entire Italian anarchist movement.
CS is an abbreviation for O-chlorobenzylidene malonontrite. The properties of this compound were first discovered by American chemists in 1928, and the potential chemical warfare uses were suggested by a Dutch writer in 1934. During World War Two scientists in various countries studied the effects of the compound but it wasn't seriously developed as a weapon until the mid 1950's. The first widespread use of it was during the Vietnam War and since then it has remained a weapon in the arsenal of armies and police forces the world over.
"Until all are free, all are imprisoned!"
We believe all prisoners are inside for inherently political reasons, as both the concept and the reality of justice and punishment are political and central to the functioning of this system. Sadly we can only cover a fraction of those inside, so for practical reasons we are limiting it to those imprisoned for their involvement in ecological, anti-nuclear/military, animal liberation, anti-fascist/racist, anti-state and indigenous people's struggles. We apologise to the people we have missed off the list - please let us know of any alterations for the next issue.
"What harm can a book do that costs a hundred crowns? Twenty volumes of anything will never make a revolution - it is the little pocket pamphlets that they should fear." - Voltaire (1694 - 1778)
In this issue of Do or Die we have decided to include a number of brief reviews of some publications that we feel have something worthwhile to contribute to the fight to destroy the current system. Although not all the publications below could be called underground or alternative, that is our main focus for the reviews in this section, because in the wake of the 'GAndALF' trial (see article in this issue of Do or Die) it is vital that the radical press cannot be silenced. The State's attempts atGathering Force: DIY Culture - Radical action for those tired of waiting
by Elaine Brass and Sophie Poklewski Koziell. Edited by Denise Searle.
The Big Issue: London, 1997
Anarchy after Leftism
by Bob Black
Columbia Alternative Library Press: Columbia, USA, 1997
This is the first book published by Columbia Alternative Library (C.A.L.) Press, a "publishing collective dedicated to the utter destruction of the dominant society". It's appearance also signals a continuation in the round of arguments between Murray Bookchin and the loose circle of people grouped around 'Fifth Estate' and 'Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed'  - both US published journals of an anti-authoritarian stance critical of the totality of civilisation.
Over the last few years a number of people from the anti-authoritarian/anarchist scene  in the USA have come under increasingly harsh criticism from Murray Bookchin and his cabal of Social Ecologist academics. This criticism has culminated, so far, in the publication of Bookchin's latest book 'Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm'  which takes swipes at a number of people and ideas from the aforementioned milieu - and it is in reply to Bookchin's tract that Bob Black has written this book.
Edited by Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman
Juno Books, 1996
Concrete Jungle bills itself as a "pop media investigation of death and survival in urban ecosystems", an apt summation of the content of this excellent book.
Its premise is that "the whole idea of nature as something separate from human experience is a lie. Humans and nature construct one another. Ignoring that fact obscures the one way out of the current environmental crisis - a living within and alongside of nature without dominating it." (p.6) Thankfully, it avoids falling into the fashionable post-modern trap of seeing nature as entirely socially constructed (cf. "Uncommon Ground: Towards Reinventing Nature", Ed. William Cronon, Norton 1996) - the hugely arrogant notion that nature has no independent existence or meaning, other than that which humanity ascribes to it.
Monkeywrenching the Media Monoculture
"What harm can a book do that costs a hundred crowns? Twenty volumes of anything will never make a revolution - it is the little pocket pamphlets that they should fear." - Voltaire (1694 - 1778)
In this issue of Do or Die we have decided to include a number of brief reviews of some publications that we feel have something worthwhile to contribute to the fight to destroy the current system. Although not all the publications below could be called underground or alternative, that is our main focus for the reviews in this section, because in the wake of the 'GAndALF' trial (see article in this issue of Do or Die) it is vital that the radical press cannot be silenced. The State's attempts at censorship will only be beaten by making sure there are too many different publications for them to suppress.
"If pens and paper are the only weapons we have, then we must stab their eyes out with our pens and ram the paper down their throats."
Do or Die Letters page
The letters pages are pretty much open access and we will try, space permitting, to print all letters received, providing that they are under 500 words in length. If you want to write longer pieces they will have to be submitted as articles and cannot be guaranteed publication. We will throw away or edit all letters that are over 500 words - you have been warned! Please mark all letters 'For Publication.' Names and addresses will not be printed unless specifically asked for.