A New Declaration

from http://www.occupiedmedia.us/

by DERRICK JENSEN on Feb 1, 2012 • 5:43 pm

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

Photo: www.bethanybond.com

That the real, physical world is the source of our own lives, and the lives of others. A weakened planet is less capable of supporting life, human or otherwise.

Thus the health of the real world is primary, more important than any social or economic system, because all social or economic systems are dependent upon a living planet.

It is self-evident that to value a social system that harms the planet’s capacity to support life over life itself is to be out of touch with physical reality.

That any way of life based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition not sustainable.

That any way of life based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources is by definition not sustainable: if, for example, fewer salmon return every year, eventually there will be none. This means that for a way of life to be sustainable, it must not harm native communities: native prairies, native forests, native fisheries, and so on.

That the real world is interdependent, such that harm done to rivers harms those humans and nonhumans whose lives depend on these rivers, harms forests and prairies and wetlands surrounding these rivers, harms the oceans into which these rivers flow. Harm done to mountains harms the rivers flowing through them. Harm done to oceans harms everyone directly or indirectly connected to them.

That you cannot argue with physics. If you burn carbon-based fuels, this carbon will go into the air, and have effects in the real world.

That creating and releasing poisons into the world will poison humans and nonhumans.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to create poisons for which there is no antidote.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to create messes that cannot be cleaned up.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to destroy places humans or nonhumans need to survive.

That no one, no matter how rich or powerful, should be allowed to drive human cultures or nonhuman species extinct.

That reality trumps all belief systems: what you believe is not nearly so important as what is real.

That on a finite planet you cannot have an economy based on or requiring growth. At least you cannot have one and expect to either have a planet or a future.

That the current way of life is not sustainable, and will collapse. The only real questions are what will be left of the world after that collapse, and how bad things will be for the humans and nonhumans who come after. We hold it as self-evident that we should do all that we can to make sure that as much of the real, physical world remains intact until the collapse of the current system, and that humans and nonhumans should be as prepared as possible for this collapse.

That the health of local economies are more important than the health of a global economy.

That a global economy should not be allowed to harm local economies or land bases.

That corporations are not living beings. They are certainly not human beings.

That corporations do not in any real sense exist. They are legal fictions. Limited liability corporations are institutions created explicitly to separate humans from the effects of their actions—making them, by definition, inhuman and inhumane. To the degree that we desire to live in a human and humane world—and, really, to the degree that we wish to survive—limited liability corporations need to be eliminated.

That the health of human and nonhuman communities is more important than the profits of corporations.

We hold it as self-evident, as the Declaration of Independence states, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it. . . .” Further, we hold it as self-evident that it would be more precise to say that it is not the Right of the People, nor even their responsibility, but instead something more like breathing—something that if we fail to do we die.

If we as a People fail to rid our communities of destructive institutions, those institutions will destroy our communities. And if we in our communities cannot provide meaningful and nondestructive ways for people to gain food, clothing, and shelter then we must recognize it’s not just specific destructive institutions but the entire economic system that is pushing the natural world past breaking points. Capitalism is killing the planet. Industrial civilization is killing the planet.

Once we’ve recognized the destructiveness of capitalism and industrial civilization—both of which are based on systematically converting a living planet into dead commodities—we’ve no choice, unless we wish to sign our own and our children’s death warrants, but to fight for all we’re worth and in every way we can to overturn it.

2 thoughts on “A New Declaration

  1. Pingback: A New Declaration | Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin -

  2. Rick Whaley

    Green, Not Left
    (And the Failure of Green Parties)

    Always and everywhere in the world a Green Party was founded, it was founded to be different from the Left’s alternative to multi-national capitalism and global financial markets. To say it another way: Greens are not the environmentalists on the Left. Green is a whole other paradigm.

    Greens have an opposite philosophy to the Left’s. Marxism came of age in the era of Physics when the world was understood as the clash of forces, physical and social. Greens are rooted in the science and principles of Ecology: cooperation, self-sufficiency, diversity. John Mohawk said that capitalism and communism are different sides of the same ideological coin: both exist in a colonial relationship to the natural world and to indigenous people. Overproduction and overconsumption, with its accompanying ideology of Progress, is the problem, not the solution. Wealth is stolen from Nature, and never reciprocated back to or renewed in Nature, as Winona LaDuke often says. Therefore, Greens have a different Theory of Value than the labor theory of value.

    Greens have a different primary contradiction: the ecological crisis, not the class struggle. What do class and race and gender discriminations mean in a great coastal city that is six feet under water? What does indigenous sovereignty mean on a Pacific Island that is twelve feet under water? In a world rushing past the tipping points on resource drawdown and climbing past safe global temperatures (and its concurrent record-breaking storms and floods, droughts and fires, ocean acidification and rising seas), new contradictions predominate.

    What kind of cities do we live in is a revolutionary question (said Detroit activists and theoreticians, James and Grace Boggs)? Cities live in a colonial relationship to their bioregion and to wilderness/rural resources (so argues bioregionalism). Green City is our organizing work in urban areas, including justice work. It’s more than a metaphor to say that young black men or trans-youth are “an endangered species.” But Green City organizing/visioning is not primarily what the state and federal government should be doing for us.

    Green economics is grounded, not in macro-economic solutions, but in E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful (which came from Gandhi’s village economics and land trust idea); in the ideas of solar economist Hazel Henderson and the futurists; in the Informal Economy–local currency; barter; grow your own and fix your own—the grassroots economy, as it were. Yes, broad policy solutions are needed, but centered regionally: soft chemistry and renewable energy and local agriculture. Economics guided by ecological principles—rooted in Paul Hawken’s work, including The Ecology of Commerce, and in Kirkpatrick Sale’s Human Scale and Dwellers in the Land—i.e., rooted in decentralism, the forgotten Green value. Political parties scoff. But the next financial meltdown or cryptocurrency collapse will not bring bailouts to cities or economic stimulus checks to working families, and our communities will be left on their own. (Ask an elections-over-movement Green what liberated zones look like in an advanced capitalist country, and they’ll give you their campaign leaflets to hand out.)

    Greens have different social forces and strategies. The political spectrum is a circle, not Right and Left. Whatever alliances we build on justice issues and in building community where we are (including labor solidarity), the primary Green constituencies are built on twinning environmental/justice issues in poor white and communities of color; on Native American leadership and sovereignty; on Not-In-My-Back-Yard struggles; and on Green Faith and mainstream environmentalism. To win on climate change, evangelicals must be involved. It’s saving creation.

    You can grow the movement and electoral base by holding to the primacy of environmental organizing, without excluding people with opposite positions on the hot-button social issues of the day. All voices for the earth, including value conservative, should be welcome. Such as, Greens are pro-life for all other species, so why were two women nastily run out of Wisconsin Green Party (circa 1999), merely for suggesting a dialogue with Feminists for Life? Or, hunters and conservationists were part of the clean water, and mining-doesn’t-mean-jobs efforts in northern Wisconsin in the late-1980s into the 2000s that indigenous organizers and other Green activists lead. And, Green parties were founded by home-schoolers (in Canada), by cultural community-schoolers (Walt Bresette advocated cutting timber on public lands to test treaty rights and using the lumber to build treaty schools for Anishinabe kids in northern Wisconsin), and by Ivan Illich de-schoolers. So, why would these constituencies be explicitly excluded from Milwaukee Green Party’s discussion/decision on supporting public school unions, when the Green tent (Upper Great Lakes Green Network, Milwaukee Area Greens) was big enough for all the different teacher/parent constituencies doing Good Work with children?

    Greens are more than radical feminists and liberal feminists. Greens were eco-feminists, from the beginning. Eco-feminism posits that the domination of Nature is cut from the same cloth as the domination of women. (“Nature is a whore that needs taming,” said philosopher/scientist Francis Bacon (1561-1626); “Felling an ancient tree is like laying a beautiful woman,” a timber clear-cutter was quoted as saying during Redwood Summer, 1990). In overturning Roe v. Wade, SCOTUS neanderthal Alioto invoked Matthew Hale, 17th century jurist who believed women were made from man’s rib and made to be his helpmate (as some Christian extremists today still believe). While the United Nations now warns that the Earth is “firmly on track toward an unlivable world,” the Clarence Thomas and Alioto Supreme Court rules that the EPA doesn’t have the authority to incentivize a change in utility power generation toward clean energy sources (and away from those industries creating climate havoc).

    • The eco-feminist Vision aligns with traditional Native American wisdom: Women are healers; women are protectors of water; women are leaders. Spirituality is an answer and essence.

    • The Ojibwe word niizh manitoag means a person who is two-spirited in gender, and therefore trans is normal, welcome.

    • The Rights of Nature (really, pro-life for other species) means weighing the impact of human family size and of lifestyle (consumption and carbon footprint) choices. The Rights of Women mean women govern their own bodies, and, as feminist women and men, respect a woman’s choice to continue a pregnancy in hard circumstances.

    • Feminist process and decision-making, more prevalent in Green movement groups than in Green Parties, means that formulating strategies and tactics, and writing political positions, are done by those closest to the issue, those doing the actual organizing—a feminist and decentralist principle. Greens have gender balance in leadership positions, but need political-tendency balance, and breadth of constituencies—in leadership, nominations, and issues to organize around.

    What would a supportive synthesis of Left with Greens look like in Green political practice? 1) developing Left-Green contracts in organized Labor (who have these been?), in order to challenge the unsustainability of Big Oil, mining, and industrial agriculture jobs, and to challenge construction unions who picket urban wind machines going up; 2) doing a Sustainable Jobs float in Milwaukee’s Labor Day Parade or doing a Clean Energy/DYI Projects booth at Milwaukee’s Home Shows; 3) endorsing renewable energy businessmen who want to run under the Green Party ballot line, to tie peace, sustainability, and jobs together (and, not to mention, gain access to Renewables groups’ considerable contact lists, campaign donations, and mainstream credibility).

    Nowadays, wouldn’t you want a Green Party to be ideologically Green before joining? And for those to whom it applies, if you have a Labor Party ideology, why aren’t you in the Labor Party? Instead of running Green founders, organizers, and theoreticians out of the Green Party.

    c) 2000, 2022, Rick Whaley, is a retired teacher—day care, family day care, and public-school assistant teacher— in Milwaukee. (A 1982 Milwaukee Sentinel series about Men in Day Care, called him the “Mr. Rogers of Sherman Park.”) Rick organized with the Wisconsin Committee for Organizing the Unemployed, 1982-1985, dealing with the massive layoffs in the manufacturing sector during the Rust Belt recession; did workshops at the 1st National Green Gathering in 1987; was also a founder of Green groups in Wisconsin (1988) and past spokesperson for Milwaukee Area Greens (1993-2000); a neighborhood block club organizer/Block captain for 30+ years on Milwaukee’s north side; steering committee member of The Sacred Sites Run (2006-2010); and an environmental justice writer and organizer with the Penokees Support Committee—Milwaukee (2013-2015). Rick co-authored with Anishinabe activist Walt Bresette: Walleye Warriors: The Chippewa Treaty Rights Story (1993, 2015) and authored How Green is the GP? Stories from the Margins (2007), both still in print from Beech River Books (beechriverbooks.com).

    ¶ 2: Social scientist and anthropologist Gregory Bateson (Steps to an Ecology of the Mind and Mind and Nature) said this about Marxism and Physics. (via Bruce Hinkforth, who also argued Greens should put forth a vision for the City as a “climax community.”) In Kirkpatrick Sale’s Dwellers in the Land (1985): “nature favors symbiosis, interaction, mutual dependence as a means of survival,” not competition for the fittest … Central principles of Ecology/Bioregionalism are Centrifugal force (decentralization)—the spread of power to small and widely dispersed units; Hetarchy (mutuality) among species, or “distinction without rank”; and Diversity, a complexity that leads to stability in (social, environmental) systems.
    The quote from John Mohawk, the principal author of Basic Call to Consciousness (1977), America’s first (and a First Nations’) eco-manifesto, comes from “Marxism from a Native Perspective,” Akwesasne Notes, Early Spring, 1981. https://mgouldhawke.wordpress.com/2020/03/31/marxism-from-a-native-perspective-john-mohawk-1981/
    ¶ 4: The San Francisco Green City Program booklet (Planet Drum Books, 1989) was a cornerstone in Milwaukee Area Greens’ study groups and organizing (1987-2000). See also Jimmy Boggs, “The City is the Black Man’s Land,” in Racism and the Class Struggle (Monthly Review Press, 1970) and his “How Can We Re-Civilize Society?” at the Chicago Green Cities Conference in July, 1989. In the end, Grace and James Boggs were revolutionary decentralists (community economics, community schools, community agriculture) and both were keynote speakers at the 1987 First National Green Gathering (in Amherst, Massachusetts).
    ¶5: In the 2020 coronavirus bailout, more than half of Federal Government grants and loans, or $2.3 trillion, went to businesses, many of which were not required to show how they were impacted by the pandemic or whether they kept workers employed (NY Times 10-11-22). Then there were the fraudsters: fraudulent individuals and fake businesses defrauded the government (and taxpayers) of $80 billion or 10% of Payroll Protection Act grants (that real, small businesses could have used) during first years of the pandemic, because President Trump and Congress refused to require banks to vet grantees.
    ¶6: See: Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (2020). yecaction.org
    ¶8: Even before the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, WGPers were warned of the risk of how playing spoiler in national elections could affect U.S. Supreme Court appointments. As late as 2021, GPUS was still claiming they pulled in as many Republican voters as Democrat in elections, despite no apparent polling on this, and despite GPUS and WGP disdaining and running out value-conservatives from the party for two decades.
    ¶ 8 bullet points: Matthew Hale’s logic in Historia Placitorum Coronæ (1713) was “that marital rape was totally legal. In fact, because a man owned a woman’s body as it was an extension of his own to do with whatever he willed, he was incapable of marital rape. Hale was also responsible for the trial and execution of women for witchcraft and whose legal opinion would be used as a base for the execution of women and children by the state, both in England and the Americas… Hale is all over our legal system. The easiest application to find was the Salem Witch Trials, but his influence on our laws is much more insidious than that. Marital rape was not completely outlawed in the United States until 1993.” (PhD) Literature Lady, FB post, 5-9-22.
    Eco-feminist classics include The Death of Nature by Carolyn Merchant; Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her by Susan Griffin; Healing the Wound: The Promise of Ecofeminism, anthology ed., Judith Plant; Whatever Happened to Ecology? by Stephanie Mills; and Charlene Spretnak’s The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics [a how-to on working with Green Faith congregations] (1986). [Spretnak and physicist Fritjof Capra wrote Green Politics: The Global Promise (1984), the second major eco-manifesto in the Green pantheon after Basic Call to Consciousness.]
    ¶ 9: Left Greens in Wisconsin Green Party circles ducked on all three points in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
    ¶ 10: A labor party ideology is an automatic pass in the Labor Party. In the Green Party, it’s not automatic leadership or candidacy endorsement, nor a corrective answer to Decentralists on the role of government.
    Green theoreticians that the Left-Greens have run out of the Green Party include, in the early years (late 1980s-early 1990s), bioregionalist David Haenke [note his famous “Three Translations” strategy piece or “Bioregionalism & Ecological Economics via medium.com › age-of-awareness › david-haenke] and eco-feminist Charlene Spretnak, both national Green founders; and then, in 2000, Milwaukee Area Greens spokesperson Rick Whaley; and in 2021, north country teacher and writer Aimee Cree: note some of her best theory in https://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/colonialism/an-open-letter-to-climate-activists-in-the-northwoodsand-beyond


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