There can be little doubt about the centrality and severity of the environmental crisis in the present day. Driven by the mindless "grow-or-die" imperative of capitalism, humanity's destruction of the biosphere has reached and even surpassed various critical thresholds, whether in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, freshwater depletion, or chemical pollution. Extreme weather events can be seen pummeling the globe, from the Philippines - devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November of last year - to California, which is presently suffering from the worst drought in centuries. As Nafeez Ahmed has shown, a recently published study funded in part by NASA warns of impending civilizational collapse without radical changes to address social inequality and overconsumption.
It's hard to contest the conclusion of the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, Gen. Lee Butler, that humanity has so far survived the nuclear age 'by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.'
BBC Points West tonight ran with a story tonight on the growing number of cases of shoplifting in the south west. They tried to paint a scare story by revealing ‘shocking’ figures about the rise of shoplifting in the region. Footage of several young boys, one as young as eight, being threatened by the Police and security staff were shown to try and display the ‘moral depravity’ of stealing from businesses.
As I sat down to begin writing this piece, an article appeared in the Guardian titled 'Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?'ii, whose central claim was that “global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution”.
The historical record shows that anarchism’s primary mass- organisational strategy, syndicalism, is a remarkably coherent and universalist set of theories and practices, despite the movement’s grappling with a diverse set of circumstances. From the establishment of the first non-white unions in South Africa and the first unions in China, through to the resistance to fascism in Europe and Latin America – the establishment of practical anarchist control of cities and regions, sometimes ephemeral, sometimes longer lived in countries as diverse as Macedonia (1903), Mexico (1911, 1915), Italy (1914, 1920), Portugal (1918), Brazil (1918), Argentina (1919, 1922), arguably Nicaragua (1927-1932), Ukraine (1917-1921), Manchuria (1929-1931), Paraguay (1931), and Spain (1873/4, 1909, 1917, 1932/3, and 1936-1939).
I think to a certain extent, we're all finally tired of Derrick Jensen and Deep Green Resistance. The anti-trans stance that DGR has held steadfast to has done most of the work in demolishing any residual legitimacy that Derrick and his crew might have had.
What is anarchy? That question and its impacts have reverberated before and since the elusive IDEA was named in the 1800s Europe. The concepts of freedom and liberation from authority, whether individual, community or state has existed probably since before humans could speak. For as long as there has been domination by one or by groups over others there has always been an opposing resistance and rebellion to being ruled. In the last hundred plus years words have been spilled by countless before me-and many smarter than myself-as we seek to grasp and possibly contain that which cannot be boxed in. When language came along it went by many names over the eons. Naming it wasn’t as important as the ideas.
It is hard to overstate the severity of the environmental crisis. Human impacts on the planet are so severe that some scientists suggest that we have caused the earth to enter into a new geological epoch. They argue that sometime around the beginning of the industrial revolution the planet left the Holocene and entered a new era: the Anthropocene (“Welcome to the Anthropocene”). The revelation that humans have become a geological force due to our changing of the climate, earthquakes caused from fracking, etc might be startling, but it doesn’t stop there. We are also in the middle of the earth’s sixth mass extinction event, where as many as 200 species may be going extinct per day (Pearson).
Peter Gelderloos is an anarchist and author from Virginia. His books include How Nonviolence Protects the State, Consensus, Anarchy Works, The Failure of Nonviolence, the travel narrative To Get to the Other Side, and the collection of short stories Sousa in the Echo Chamber. He currently lives in Barcelona, where he takes part in ongoing social struggles. In his book Anarchy Works (Ardent Press, 2010) Gelderloss argues that “free societies are not possible so long as governments try to crush any pocket of independence, corporations fund genocide in order to manufacture cell phones, and supposedly sympathetic people are more interested in writing ethnographies than fighting back.”
We have heard terrifying stories from the revolution in Ukraine: anarchists participating in anti-government street-fighting behind nationalist banners, anarchist slogans and historical figures appropriated by fascists, a dystopia in which familiar movements and strategies reappear with our enemies at the helm.