Feels like Aotearoa (New Zealand) was years ago and literally thousands of miles away. The European leg of the tour has been a whirlwind tour with 30 screenings in 60 days and 3 more to go.
I’m in Athens right now and I feel a bit like Hunter S. Thompson during a scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I’ll tell you more about that after I leave Greece. So far the experience here has been incredibly inspiring, and I already feel like I don’t want to leave. I’ll be producing a report on neighborhood assemblies, but more on that next week. I do need some financial support to make this happen, so if you have a few bucks click on the chipin box.
In England, the burning question of a lot people I met was weather the new anti-squatting law is going to take hold immediately, or if squatters are going to have some time to sort out their strategies: fight or flight.
The idea of squatting has really blown my mind. The people occupying these spaces have taken a huge financial burden of their backs (rent) and can dedicate more time to resistance projects and community building. For the first time in my 40 years on this planet I got to stay in a squatted building in Sydney, and since then have visited or slept in about a dozen liberated spaces.
The most standout of these is Grow Heathrow. Folks from the climate camp movement, occupied an abandoned food market turned in the village of Sipson. You see, Heathrow Airport needed to add a third runway, and in order to do so they had to evict and demolish the village.
The folks from Grow Heathrow have rehabilitated the land, from an illegal junkyard to a sustainable community that is off the grid and the grows much of its food. The people in Sipson absolutely love the project. Not only did it help stop the airport expansion, but because it has helped reduce crime and has turned a contaminated eyesore into a vision of how we can transition to a post-carbon world.
Many of the troublemakers who took on this project, went to Copenhagen to the COP15 meetings and were arrested and/or brutalized by the Danish police. For many the COP15 was the last chance for governments and corporations, to make a binding agreement on carbon emissions before climate change tipping points delivered us into an apocalyptic future. As we all know the talks failed to deliver, and you saw the likes of George Monbiot throwing in the towel.
But these activists, the people who have broken the law time and time again to raise the alarm about climate catastrophe, did not call it quits and have instead escalated their actions. Their exploits are beautifully documented in Emily Jame’s Just Do it! film, a must watch. Stay tuned for an interview with Emily on my show.
I also stayed with some activists in Düren, Germany who are occupying a forest top stop the expansion of a massive lignite mine. This August they are continuing the tradition of Climate Camp, with one of their own.
Yep, I’ve been inspired by most of the people I’ve met. But then a dark mountain got in the way of the ray of hope I had been feeling. I was invited to speak and screen END:CIV at an event organized by a group called The Dark Mountain Project (DMP). The DMP was co-founded by Paul Kingsnorth, as “a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself..” But the short of it, is that Kingsnorth does not see any realistic solutions to stopping runaway climate change, and has basically given up and encourages people to write or make art about dealing with this reality.
I have a lot of respect for Kingsnorth for having the courage to admit this publicly. Very few people would admit the despair that comes from the knowledge that we may be totally fucked, or even expose their vulnerabilities online. I feel this despair on a regular basis, but I disagree that the way forward is to retreat. I must admit I did not know about Dark Mountain’s position before I arrived at Wiston Lodge, where the weekend retreat was taking place.
The opening sessions was led by Kingsnorth himself. Several times throughout his talk, he referred to the “Derrick Jensen” crowd in a dismissive and condescending matter. Kingsnorth is obviously a smart guy, but he has to own up with how problematic generalizations are, and that the “Jensen crowd”, meaning people who espouse an anti-civ philosophy and support those who are willing to fight or support those who fight, is much bigger than Derrick Jensen himself. The thought going through my mind was “Fuck, I’ve been set up!” But during the Q and A I respectfully called him out and invited the crowd to consider these ideas during my talk and film showing.
What’s interesting is that the DMP website reads just like Endgame. For instance, “We aim to offer up a challenge to the foundations of our civilization.” and “Draw back the curtain, follow the tireless motion of cogs and wheels back to its source, and you will find the engine driving our civilisation: the myth of progress.”
But as it’s typical of privileged people, when you bring up active resistance, they conflate it with violence. When you bring up the fact that the only thing that’s going to avert climate catastrophe is the destruction of the oil economy, they call you a mass murderer. Let me unpack this a bit.
The organizers opted to do a Q and A with me after showing a few clips of the the END:CIV before the full screening of the film. I know it’s totally backwards but somehow I agreed with it. During the session, I stated that the destruction of the oil economy is indispensable to bringing us to zero carbon emissions, and no amount of letter writing and picketing was going to stop the gears of extraction and combustion, we need to do this by force.
At this moment, an older gentleman began a relentless attack. Paraphrasing… “Do you see how complicit you are in all of this? I mean you use a laptop and you flew here!” and “You are using the language of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik?” This man was talking about the man who murdered 93 people in the name of white supremacy. According to him, Breivik justified his murders in order to stop further ethnic violence in Europe. This statement was followed by an angry tirade about how if the oil stopped flowing, many people will face hunger. I certainly never advocated that I wish people to go hungry or to die. But people like the man attacking me would rather see his way of life extended for a generation or two, than destroy the system that extends him his cushy digs. But what then is the solution to stopping carbon emissions in time to avert tipping points that will bring us into climate Armageddon? Does he see the reality of tar sands, shale and fracking extractive practices slowing fossil fuel production and burning down? Does he see the governments of the first world acting decisively against this looming catastrophe? Well of course he doesn’t, because as it turns out, the man in question is on the “Sustainability Board” of a mining company. Enough said.
During Kingsnorth’s Q and A session he replied to me, that the problem he sees with “the Jensen crowd” is that he finds the ideas to be dangerous. But what is more dangerous I ask: To support of active resistance, or to promote this idea that it’s too late?
In all honesty, I find it somewhat insulting to those who are actively trying to stop this insane system. Should the Wet’suet’en and Gitxsan communities actively opposing tar sands pipelines going through their territories give up? What about indigenous communities in Bolivia halting a super highway project through the Amazonian jungle? Or MEND in Nigeria, who actively attack oil infrastructure to stop Shell and others from destroying their wetlands? Should they give up too?
During an interview for END:CIV, Waziyatawin told me and I paraphrase, that we can’t be patient and wait for this system to collapse that we have to give it a push, hence her expression “Fuck Patience“, I want to add to that and say fuck giving up!