END:CIV (2011) Movie Script

- People often say that
there's a war against nature
and that this is
the third world war.
- It's getting more stark;
it's getting worse and
the rate of change is accelerating,
whether we're talking about the
extinction of species or
the thoroughness of the techno-culture.
- The world right now is,
frankly, very frightening.
For what we consider
to be industrial civilization,
I would say is extraordinarily uncivilized,
actually quite savage.
- It's not an exaggeration
to say that we're
living in an ecological apocalypse.
- Between years 1980 and 2045
we will lose more species
of plants and animals than
we have lost in the
last 65 million years.
We have two big-picture
time pressures that really mean
we should be acting a lot
more urgently than most of us have.
And one of them is peak oil,
or energy collapse,
and one of them is climate change,
or runaway global warming.
- I think that most people,
even most scientists,
continue to underestimate how far
down the path to climate catastrophe
we've already travelled.
- For the most part,
we're oblivious to it, we don't
want to know about it,
we don't want to hear about it.
- The one thing I'm most afraid of
is that we're going to
mount a tremendous campaign
to sustain the unsustainable.
- At this point, scientists
are saying that the Earth's
temperature may increase
by as much as 10 degrees.
At that point, there may not
even be bacteria left.
- When the oil starts
to really run dry,
and when those in power
have to assert their power
in a time of dwindling resources,
I think they're going
to turn to much more
blunt and cruel methods
of enforcing their power.
- The whole climate is
changing: the winds,
the ocean currents,
the storm patterns,
snow pack, snow melt,
flooding, droughts.
Somewhere in northern California
- It's stunning how fast
the destruction is proceeding.
Every day that passes,
the world is in worse shape.
'The sad-looking man you see
on the screen is Derrick Jensen.
Jensen is the best-selling author
of several non-fiction books
including "A Language Older than Words"
and "The Culture of Make Believe".
His books deal with topics such as
surveillance, child abuse,
the environment,
and something he calls "civilization".
But it's statements like these
that make him so controversial:
They're thinking of raising
the Shasta Dam in California,
and the reason that
Senator Feinstein gave was...
"It is Californians' God-given
right to water their lawns."
You know, there is no way
to argue with that...
...except with explosives.
'That was Mr. Jensen in 2006,
the same year he published
a two-volume set called 'Endgame.'
In 'Endgame' , he argues that there is an
urgent need to bring down civilization.'
- If people would have brought down
civilization a hundred years ago
people in the Pacific Northwest
could still eat salmon.
There's going to be people sitting
along the Columbia fifty years from now --
they'll be glowing for one thing --
but they'll be starving to death,
and they'll be saying,
"I'm starving to death, because
you didn't take out the dams...
...that killed salmon, and
those dams were used for barging,
and for electricity, for alumninum
smelters for beer cans, so
God damn you."
He lays out his case against
civilization by enumerating 20 premises.
Due to time limitations and
the fact that most people
would not tolerate a twenty-hour
movie, we will explore
four of these premises,
and accompany them
with real-life examples.
Premise I
Industrial civilization, civilization itself,
but especially industrial civilization
is not, and can
never be, sustainable.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure
out that any way of life that's based
on the use of nonrenewable
resources won't last.
But what is civilization?
Civilization is a way of life
characterized by the growth of cities.
- So you've got groups of people living
in a dense enough population that
the local landbase cannot support them.
What that means is you have to get
your basic resources from somewhere else
because you've used them up where you live.
So you're going to go out into
the countryside and gather up
whatever it is you want,
bring it back in.
If you require the importation of resources,
it means you've denuded the landscape
of that particular resource.
Manhattan Island circa 1609
Manhattan Island today
Manhattan today Manhattan 1609
- There's no way that in the
long term you can continue
to destroy the land that you need for your survival,
or the waters that you need to drink,
and expect to continue to live.
- Industrial civilization requires
ever-increasing amounts
of energy and ever-increasing
amounts of land,
ever-increasing amounts
of resources of all kinds
in order to perpetuate itself,
in order to continue to grow,
in order to just maintain itself.
And we live on a finite planet,
and those aren't available.
Of course, unfortunately for us
and most living creatures,
that culture won't stop until
it's consumed as much as it can,
or, of course,
until we stop it ourselves.
- If you have a finite amount of anything,
if you start using it,
eventually you use it up.
And so it would seem that if
your entire culture is based on,
I don't know,
let's take a random resource...
...that you would think about
what's going to happen
when the oil runs out...
- We've found energy resources
that have allowed us to escape
some of the kinds of
limits that previous cultures
have had to face much more quickly.
They used to collapse because
they ran out of resources,
easily accessible resources.
The limit being the distance that people
could travel with things like horses,
or other pack animals.
That ended with the beginning
of the fossil fuel age; now
they can go all over the planet
and take what they want.
So globalization has only
accelerated this tremendously
destructive process.
- We've poured our wealth into
building an infrastructure
for daily life
that has no future. I do think that
oil problem is going to accelerate
within the next three to
five years, maybe even sooner.
The numbers indicate that we've
probably peaked in global production.
- Where do you find
the break from that?
I mean, all of it is a giant machine or
ensemble that just moves forward.
Technology, for example,
never takes a step back.
This whole thing just
keeps going like a cancer.
- I don't know of any civilization
that's been sustainable,
I don't believe
there ever has been one.
Technology, at its essence,
is really our culture's...
that comes from certain
philosophical and historical sources,
that we will be nothing else
but more relentlessly technological.
- There is no clean green path to
living in a lifestyle that
we're all used to in
industrialized nations.
This way of life is over.
- Civilizations are often
cutting their own throats,
very visibly, very obviously,
but they just keep on doing it.
- Every civilization is defined by hubris,
it's defined by its denial
to recognize that it
lives in a natural world.
As a matter of fact, every
civilization, in its founding lies,
elevates itself above nature,
and claims that it is the
controller of the whole world.
Figure 1
- The first written myth of this culture
is Gilgamesh deforesting the plains
and hillsides of Iraq.
When people think of Iraq,
what's the first thing they normally
think of? Cedar forests so thick
that sunlight never
touches the ground?
That's how it was, prior to the
arrival of this culture.
So, as a longtime, grassroots,
environmental activist,
and as a creature living in
the thrashing endgame of civilization,
I am intimately acquainted
with the landscape of loss,
and have grown accustomed to
carrying the daily weight of despair.
I've walked clearcuts that
wrap around mountains and
drop into valleys and
climb ridges to fragment
watershed after watershed,
and I've sat, silent,
near empty streams that
two generations ago
were lashed into whiteness
by uncountable salmon
coming home to spawn and die.
- Here in BC, and across North America,
when they do industrial
logging they actually take
and just remove all the trees.
They level everything,
they leave nothing but
stumps and slash piles,
and they burn the slash piles
and they take out all the timber
and what's left is a wasteland,
and it's like they take a rainforest
and turn it into a desert.
That's what a clearcut is.
They use them for pulp;
they export them whole
to the United States and to Japan.
There's not very much milling
that happens anymore in BC,
it's just getting exported for pulp and paper
and fibreboard, and plywood,
and whatever else.
Not a lot of value added.
This tree has been
selected to be cut and
usually the company will only clearcut
but this tree is in what they call
a stream-side selection zone.
That's why they've got it marked blue,
because it's a selection zone.
In a clearcut they don't paint the trees
that they're going to cut down.
They only paint the ones
that they're going to leave.
- There's still a strong push to harvest
as much of the western
red cedar as they can.
They're bringing in huge
helicopters to do that.
And they're high-grading...
...selecting only the really
good, high-quality timber
and leaving the rest laying there...
...in a junk heap.
So, that's why we keep on,
you know, fighting back.
I think the last straw was when
they wanted to log the Valley of Ista
because of its historical and
spiritual significance to our people.
But they log it in spite, you know,
just to make a point
against our resistance, against our
our overall position,
you know, with regard to treaties
or encroachment of industry development
in our territories.
- In a lot of these areas,
like this clearing behind me
up on the hill,
you can see the soil is exposed,
the ultraviolet kills
off all the mosses,
the funguses that hold
the soil together.
When the stumps rot
and the roots die,
then the slopes slide,
and often there's not much regrowth,
there's no regeneration of the forest.
They do some replanting --
it doesn't always work
because there's no soil left:
it washes down into the streams,
it kills the salmon,
it fills up the reservoirs,
it causes all kinds of
flood damage downstream.
- That's terrorism.
Stripping down all the trees,
ripping out all the
trees in the forest...
...and now they're going
to rip out the
guts of the land
looking for copper and gold.
...this has to have some
kind of focus to it...
...to address the
injustice to our people,
the injustice to the land,
to the water,
to the wildlife;
the injustice to the
marine life and the salmon life.
And the injustice to the people
that want to stand up for it.
- When we blocked the road --
these trees are very valuable
and the laws are all profit-driven,
they're all driven
by the corporations,
the police are there
to enforce the
corporations' right to log,
not to enforce our
right to stop them
and protect the ecosystem.
There's so little
that's left of the
old-growth forest like
this that we see on the sides here
that people are putting
their bodies on the line,
they are willing
to make huge sacrifices
to stop the forest from being sacrificed,
and the water,
and the air quality,
and the global climate.
Premise II
Traditional communities do not often
voluntarily give up
or sell the resources
on which their
communities are based
until their communities
have been destroyed.
They also do not
willingly allow their
land-bases to be damaged
so that other resources --
gold, oil, and so on --
can be extracted.
It follows that those who want
the resources will do what they can
to destroy traditional communities.
- Our people, we say, have been
there since time immemorial.
- Prior to invasion
and conquest, colonization,
lands in North America were occupied by
populations of people
that had a profoundly
different relationship with the land.
- They live with the land,
all the ceremonies that have
come up have to do with
celebrating the renewal of seasons and
life and affirming all of that.
- One thing about indigenous peoples is that
there's always the idea
that you have to live
in balance, you know, emotionally,
physically, spiritually,
you have to have balance,
and so this same
philosophy was applied to the
natural world that they lived in.
- The Tolowa, on whose land I now live,
weren't civilized,
they didn't live in cities,
they didn't require the
importation of resources,
they lived in villages, camps...
...and lived there for 12,500 years if
you believe the myths of science.
If you believe the myths of the Tolowa,
they lived there since the beginning of time.
- I think that what we have had in
indigenous societies all along is a very,
kind of, common sense, a very practical
approach to why it's important to
treat the world around you,
the natural world, in a good way.
- Our people never exploited
more than what we needed.
We respect the land,
we respect the animals,
we respect the water,
we respect the air,
the wind, the fire,
all the sacred elements.
And we believe that they all are living,
living things, so...
...I suspect that's the way
it was before contact.
- The stories that we have
about our relationship to each other
and to the land and
to any spiritual aspect,
any deities, arise from our relationship
with the land.
The salmon were considered to be our...
...mentors, caregivers -- lifegivers.
They were equal to us, in fact,
all things that have
form were equal to us.
We weren't about dominating.
- The spiritual relationship
that our peoples had
prior to invasion
with all of creation,
and recognizing that
all beings have a spiritual essence,
a spiritual entity,
and that if we want
to live in this
universe in a good way,
that it was absolutely essential
that we learned how to
maintain respectful relations
with all of creation.
They made us many promises,
more than I can remember,
but they never kept but one;
they promised to take our land,
and they took it. Red Cloud
When Europeans came to this land
it was with...
such a rapacious appetite
it still has not been sated.
- They brought Christianity,
they brought colonization,
and, certainly,
they did bring civilization.
- They came in, and they
were sent with this,
commission, they felt,
apparently, to dominate the land
and it was just there for the taking --
these people would accept
beads, or just kind
of get out of the way,
and of course they had superior
firepower at that time, too.
- Right off the bat,
with Christopher Columbus
landing in the Caribbean
region on what is
today Haiti and
the Dominican Republic,
they initiated almost
immediately a genocide
down there that
depopulated most of the
nation, the Taino,
and the Arawaks.
One of the main things that
happened was the introduction
of diseases, which was
basically biological warfare.
- The smallpox was spread through
tobacco and blankets
and given to the Indian people.
So it didn't take them long to be
decimated because they were pure.
And the smallpox was vicious,
very vicious.
- When Europeans came,
much of what they
were interested in was
rapid resource exploitation.
They wanted to get
wealthy in the new world.
And as they were seeking that wealth,
they worked with indigenous
nations to undermine
traditional economies
and undermine the
relationship that indigenous
populations have with
the lands so that indigenous
peoples could then do
do the work of resource
exploitation and extraction
for the Europeans so that
they could get wealthy.
- In imposing those things
on indigenous peoples, of course,
they just destroyed indigenous
peoples and their nations and
their way of life.
Generally, indigenous peoples suffered
90% or more depopulation rate
upon having contact with Europeans.
It was a genocide, war for territory,
because the Europeans
wanted to take the resources.
- Settler society has worked to destroy
what it needs to live,
and that's suicidal.
It's a suicidal mission.
There's no way that it can be
sustainable in the long term.
Premise III
- I gave a talk in Oregon
a couple years ago,
and this guy afterwards said,
"You know, you talk a lot about
this culture being based
on violence, but I don't see it,
you know, I'm not violent".
I said, "Okay, first off,
where is your shirt made?"
He looked and it was made in Bangladesh.
I was like, "Look,
do we even need to talk about that?"
- He's fucking faking he's dead!
- Yeah, he's breathing.
- He's faking he's fucking dead!
- He's dead now.
- Our way of living,
industrial civilization, is based on,
requires, and would
collapse very quickly
without persistent
and widespread violence.
- A large explosion! A large explosion!
- Wow.
- I'll just take a couple eggs. How many you want?
- Two, two is good.
Okay. Now what next?
- Some ham, tomato.
- Tomato, okay,
how about that?
- Okay, some onion.
Ooh, and cheese!
- Everything, then, right, you want
everything. Okay. I understand, okay.
We'll just pop this on. Now watch!
I'm chopping the ham and veggies,
grating the cheese,
and whipping the eggs all...
...in three seconds.
The machine that just made
those smoothies for Verna and Fred,
can make an omelette.
There's not much time left to get
this beautiful hope diamond necklace,
less than 50 seconds. Gillian?
- Absolutely, John, you're going
to want to give us a call to get
this beautiful hope diamond necklace.
This is a 45.52 carat
diamond surrounded by
16 white diamonds.
It has a platinum chain
bearing 46 more diamonds.
- These are twelve four-ounce southern
barbecue chicken breasts.
These Stuffin Gourmet,
farm-fresh chicken breast;
they come from the
barnyard to your backyard.
They're wonderfully marinated
and guaranteed to be tender,
juicy, and downright delicious.
- Fine-tune those measurements,
we keep them on file.
They're saved,
they're on our computer.
Go back into the section
where you reorder,
and fine-tune those
measurements for us.
And then we'll have
a chance to send you
another pair of customized jeans
that we really believe are
going to fit perfectly.
- We're going to do a countdown,
starting from 5.
Everybody got to help me out here,
It worked!
Second, I said,
"Okay, do you pay rent?"
He's like, "Yeah..."
I said, "Why?"
He said, "Because, I don't own."
I said, "No, no, no, what would
happen if you didn't pay rent?"
He said, "Well, the sheriff
would come and evict me."
I said, "I don't know what that means.
What would happen?
He said, "Well, the sheriff would come
and he would knock on the door..."
I said, "Okay, great, what happens
if you open the door...
...and you say,
'Hey! I'm just finishing up making dinner.
You want some?'
And the sheriff sits down, you feed him,
you don't poison him.
And then, after dinner you say,
'You've been somewhat pleasant
company, but not all that pleasant,
so I would like for you to leave
my home now.' What would happen?
He said, "Well, the sheriff would
pull out his gun and say,
'I'm here to evict you,
because you didn't pay rent.'"
I said, "Ahh. So, the reason you pay
rent is because if you don't,
some guy with a gun is going
to come take you away."
He said, "I think I get it."
I said, "Well, let's try again.
What happens if you're hungry,
so you go to the grocery store
and you just start eating.
What's going to happen?"
"Someone will call the sheriff."
I said, "Yeah,
it's the same guy who's going to
come with a gun and take you away,
he's a real asshole, isn't he?"
So, one of the reasons
we don't see a lot of the violence,
is because it's exported.
Another reason we don't see a
lot of the violence is because
we've been so metabolized
into the system
that we've bought into this
strange notion that it's okay
to have to pay to exist on the planet.
That's really, really weird.
And, if you don't pay,
then some guy with a gun is going to come
and bad things are going to happen to you.
Figure II
A few years a go,
I got a call from a friend of mine.
She's an environmental activist.
She was crying, and she said,
"This work's just killing me,
it's breaking my heart."
I said, "Yeah, I know. It'll do that."
Then she said,
"The dominant culture
hates everything, doesn't it?"
I said, "Yeah, it does. Even itself."
She said, "It has a death urge,
doesn't it?" I said, "Yeah, it does."
She said, "Unless it's stopped, it's going
to kill everything on the planet, isn't it?"
I said, "Yeah it is, unless it's stopped."
Then she said,
"We're not going to make it
to some great, new,
glorious tomorrow, are we?"
Green is the color of money
- 98% of the old-growth forests are gone.
99% of the prairies are gone.
80% of the rivers on this
planet do not support life anymore.
We are out of species, we're out of soil,
and we are out of time.
And what we are being told
by most of the environmental movement
is that the way to stop all of this
is through personal, consumer choices.
- By simply purchasing our product,
the consumer can make a small,
easy step to a greener Earth.
So, by taking that
one roll, and buying
that one roll, you can
help save millions of trees.
- I think we can really look at the history
of the environmental movement to tell
us a lot about why it hasn't been working.
There was a lot of pretty
radical and militant environmentalism
happening, especially
in the 70's and 80's.
In a lot of ways, that was kind of
a heyday for environmentalism.
You know, Greenpeace was founded.
It started to become very mainstream in
some quarters to be an environmentalist.
And then there was also
a shift around that time when...
...corporations realized that they could sell
a lot of things by calling them "green".
- Green-washing is an
attempt by corporations to
put labels on their
activity that are popular
and that appeal to
people's sensibility about,
and concern for, the
environment and for ecology.
- For the mast majority of
people within society today,
there's a total sense
of denial and disconnect
between what they
think is good and right
and then their actions as a
society or as a civilization,
especially as it relates
to the natural world.
- I have a real problem with a lot of the
"solutions" that are put forward by people
because they confuse what is
real with what is not real.
What they do is take the
industrial economy as a given.
"How can we save
the industrial economy,
and oh, it would be nice
if we still have a planet."
- It doesn't matter if I buy,
hemp soap if there's a
runaway greenhouse effect
and the planet becomes uninhabitable.
- The modern mainstream
environmental movement of the
big environmental organizations --
Greenpeace, and Sierra Club,
and the others --
is rooted in that very same cultural lie
that nature is resources.
Nature is things to be used and managed.
Nature is, as the philosopher
Martin Heidegger put it,
just a vast gasoline station
that we can endlessly extract from.
They may say we need to
manage it more wisely,
but as long as they maintain the mindset that
we are the lords of creation and
creation exists for us as resources
to be transformed into commodities
for us to buy and sell,
as long as they maintain
that perspective on what it
means to be an environmentalist,
then they're working
within the same framework
of an ultimately self-destructive
path that the culture is on.
In May 2010,
21 logging companies signed
a deal with several major environmental
organizations, including Greenpeace
and the David Suzuki Foundation.
The deal, known as "The Canadian Boreal
Forest Agreement" aimed to silence all
criticism of logging practices
in the boreal forest.
The Marketplace is also
going to be very important.
Many cusomers have been pushing for
change in the boreal forest.
The Forest Product Association
and its 21 member companies are
responding to the demand
for greener products,
and that marketplace is
going to pay close attention.
If the change isn't happening,
then they're going to put
pressure on the parties who
were part of the agreement --
the environmental organizations,
the forest products companies --
to do the things that
they've set out to do.
And they will reward the companies
when things begin to be implemented and
the change happens on the ground.
I'm fully confident of that.
- One interesting piece of the agreement is
with Greenpeace,
David Suzuki, Forest Ethics,
Canadian Parks and
Wilderness on our side,
when someone else comes and
tries to bully us,
the agreement actually requires
that they come and
work with us in repelling the attack and we'll be
able to say, "Fight me, fight my gang."
- I personally have no use for large,
institutionalized environmental organizations;
I think they're more of a problem than a help.
They're just eco-bureaucracies.
And, you know, I won't name any
because I don't like to badmouth
organizations, except for one, which I
feel that I can, and that's
Greenpeace. And the reason I
can criticize Greenpeace is
I am a co-creator of Greenpeace,
and therefore I feel like Dr. Frankenstein
sometimes, and I feel that since I helped
create the thing I can certainly criticize it.
And I think that Greenpeace has become
the world's biggest feel-good
organization now. People join it
to feel good, to feel, "I'm part of
the solution, I'm not part of the problem."
Greenpeace brings in close
to $300 million a year,
and what do they do with that money?
Generate more money. And the people who
are at the top of the totem pole
now are not environmentalists --
they're fundraisers,
they're accountants,
they're lawyers,
they're businesspeople.
People are voting with their dollars at
the checkout stands. It's because
they know the polling shows that the public cares,
and ultimately they're going to care about their
profit margin and whether they can sell products.
What's happened in British Columbia with the
environmental movement, it's been stalemated.
The big leaders there compromised;
they went in bed
and it snuffed out that movement.
In the 1990's the Nuxalk Nation engaged
in a campaign of direct action to stop
logging on their traditional lands
also known as the Great Bear Rainforest.
Their struggle was eventually co-opted
by well-funded environmental groups
including Greenpeace,
the Sierra Club and Forest Ethics.
- So what happened was there was
direct action, there were blockades
there was an international market campaign
that put a lot of pressure on the companies
that were logging in the Great Bear Rainforest.
But the end result was that it all fed into
a closed-door negotiation with
Tzeporah Berman as chief negotiator
on the conservationists' side,
where a lot of the groups
that actually did the work,
the direct actions,
and did the market campaigns
were shut out of the process.
Public oversight was removed
and the protocol agreements
that were signed with First Nations
and with conservation groups
were basically shunted aside.
So the protocol agreements gave
the negotiators a mandate to
negotiate for 40 to 60
percent conservation
but what happened was
they agreed to 20 percent.
- It's not strange to me
when people tell me that
the former president of Greenpeace
now works for the logging industry of Canada.
The former president of Greenpeace Australia
now works for the mining industry. The former
president of Greenpeace Norway works for the
whaling industry. See, because it's
just one corporate job to the next.
In 1975 Greenpeace launched
its anti-whaling campaign,
confronting whaling fleets on the high seas.
In June 2010, Greenpeace agreed
to a deal that would allow
nations like Japan to continue hunting
whales for commercial purposes.
The only measure in which
we'll be judged by those
come after is the health
of the land and
the health of the water,
the health of the Earth.
They're not going to give a
shit as to whether we recycled;
they're not going to give a shit
as to whether we wrote our legislators;
they're not going to give a
shit as to how hard we tried.
What they're going to
care about is
whether they can
breathe the air and drink the water,
whether the land will support them.
And they're not going to
care how hard we tried,
they're not going to
care about any of that --
what they're going to care about is...
...do we live on a living planet?
Figure III
OK, so...
...I don't know if you know this, but
the original draft of the
movie Star Wars was not
written by Lucas.
The original draft was
written by environmentalists
and it's a little bit different.
For one thing, it wasn't
actually called "Star Wars".
It was called "Star
Non-Violent Civil Disobedience".
But the plot of Star Wars, for those
of you who don't remember, is that
the Empire has created this
giant machine called the Death Star.
And it's a machine that's
capable of destroying entire planets.
In the movie the rebels find a
way to destroy the Death Star,
and then at the very
end, Luke Skywalker
uses the force to get past all the
tie fighters and to drop a torpedo
down a thermal exhaust port,
and to blow up the Death Star.
Once again, the first draft
of the movie written by
environmentalists was a bit
different: the rebels
didn't actually blow up the
Death Star. Instead they used
other methods to slow the
intergalactic march of empire.
For example, they set up programs for
people on planets about to be destroyed,
to produce luxury items like hemp
hacky sacks and gourmet coffee
for sale to inhabitants of the Death Star.
Audience members will also
discover that there are plans afoot
to encourage loads of troopers
and other citizens of the empire
to take eco-tours of doomed planets.
The purpose will be to show to one and all
that these planets are economically important
to the Empire and so should not be destroyed.
In a surprise move that will get
viewers to the edges of their seats,
other groups of rebels will file
lawsuits against the Empire,
attempting to show that
the Environmental
Impact Statement that Darth Vader
was required to file, failed
to adequately support its decision
that blowing up this planet would
cause "no significant impact".
Viewers will thrill to learn
of plans to boycott items produced
by corporations that have Darth
Vader on the board of directors,
and they'll leap to their
feet in theaters worldwide
when they see bags full of letters
written directly to Mr. Vader himself
asking that he please not
blow up anymore planets.
Now, we all know that all
would be enough not only to
bring the Empire to its knees, but to
make a damn fine and exciting movie.
The thing is: there's more.
Thousands of renegade rebels,
unhappy with what
they perceive as toadying on
the part of the mainstream rebels
decide, in a scene guaranteed
to bring tears to even the eyes
of the most cold-hearted
theatergoers, to stand on
the planets to be destroyed, link
arms, and sing "Give Peace a Chance."
They send DVDs of that
to Darth Vader and his
boss the Grand Moff Tarkin, to whom they
also send wave after wave of loving kindness.
A the few rebels sneak aboard
the Death Star and lock themselves
down to various pieces of
equipment. And stirring debates
are held onscreen as to
whether the rebels should
voluntarily surrender on approach
of the troopers, or whether
they should remain locked down to the end.
And in a brilliant and
brave touch of authenticity,
the rebels are never
able to come to consensus.
But there's more. Once inside the Death
Star, a splinter group breaks off,
they burn a couple of transporters,
and they etch "Galaxy Liberation Front".
And then another group breaks
off from that group and they
finally make it to Darth
Vader's private room. And when
they get there, they sneak up behind him
and then they hit
him with a vegan cream pie.
And the directors decided
to cut that because
it was way too close to
a scene in another movie they
were developing at the same time
called "The Plot to Pie Hitler".
As the Death Star looms directly
overhead, a few of the rebels
advocate picking up weapons to fight back.
And those rebels are
generally shouted down by
pacifist rebels who argue that attacking
those who run the Death
Star is "just another
example of the Empire's harmful philosophy
coming in by the back door."
"If we want to change
Darth Vader," they say,
"we must all first become
that change ourselves.
To change Darth Vader's heart,
we must first change our own.
We must, above all else,
have compassion for
Darth Vader, and remember that
he, too, was once a child."
So finally Leia, Luke, Han, Chewbacca,
and a couple of robots show up
and tell these others they've found a
way to blow up the whole Death Star.
And the rest of the rebels,
of course, are just horrified.
A scuffle breaks out between Leia,
Luke, Han, and Chewbacca and the two
robots on one side and the
pacifists on the other.
And the pacifists chase those four
from the room and from the film
which is not a big deal because
they are minor characters anyway.
But anyway, the way the
movie ends is that
the Death Star looms closer
and closer and then you see
the Death Star, and then
you see the planet,
and then you see the Death Star,
and then you see the planet,
and then you see the Death Star
and you see the laser start to glow
this hellish red, and
then you see the planet again,
and you see this little light --
and what that is: that's
the environmentalists
getting away before
the planet gets blown up.
And then you see the Death
Star again and then it
blows up the planet,
and then, the final
shot of the movie, which reveals
what complete triumph this was for the
rebels, is a still showing an
article on the lower left of
page 43 of the New Empire Times
that devotes a full 3 sentences
to the destruction of the planet.
So it's like, "Yeah we got some press!"
Premise IV
The culture as a whole and
most of its members
are insane.
The culture is driven by a death urge,
an urge to destroy life.
- The public really needs
to understand that no combination
of alternative miracle fuels,
or biodiesel, or ethanol,
or nuclear, or sun, or solar,
or used french fry potato oil,
no combination of these things is going to
allow us to keep a happy,
motoring society going.
- We are using up all the very
easily accessed energy sources:
and we've really built this huge way
of life based on cheap oil, essentially.
- The world as we know it, which
relies entirely on oil to function,
is nearing its end.
- We are headed for the crash.
That oil is not going to come again.
Fort McMurray
Alberta, Canada
- The tar sands are probably one
of the biggest industrial
projects in the history of mankind.
- The tar sands are the largest,
most destructive environmental
project on the planet right now.
- It's oil extraction,
it's some of the dirtiest oil on the planet,
which means that it takes
the most energy to extract,
and the reason that we're extracting this
this particular brand of dirty, dirty, oil
is because there's no other oil left to extract.
- Tar sands really aren't oil.
Effectively, the process by which you
mine and refine tar sands
is adding about a hundred
million years of development
through a synthetic process.
The tar sands deposit
is an area that covers
the size of the state of
New York, or larger than England
is already considered the largest industrial project
in human history, and it's barely begun.
- They extract it from the sand by
steaming and heating water,
basically boiling it...
...so the oil sits on top of the water like a froth,
then they scrape it off, and that's the bitumen.
- There's mining processes
and in situ processes,
and both of them are pretty
much trying to extract
bitumen out of the sand.
- To produce one barrel of oil
you have to first, after
you've cleared off the ground
and broken all the trees down
and so forth, then dig a pit,
which can be up to two hundred feet deep.
For each barrel of oil, there's
four barrels of water used,
in a process called a slurry
where you spin it at a high speed,
high velocity, with high
temperatures of water,
to separate the bitumen,
which is the pre-synthetic oil,
from the sands itself,
and all the clays and silts.
But that's after you've already
dug out what has to be
hundreds of tons of Earth.
- The energy that's required to
actually do that is approximately,
people say for almost every barrel of oil you need
about a half a barrel of energy just
to produce this,
so for every barrel of energy input,
two barrels of oil are produced,
whereas with conventional
crude it was very,
very minor in terms of the energy
that's inputted to actually
get the crude oil out.
So the ratio that's most important to
talk about is a ratio you could use
in a country like Iraq, where for
each barrel of oil you use to try to
get more oil you'll get about
a hundred barrels back.
Fort Chipewyan
Alberta, Canada
- The Athabasca River, which runs
through northern Alberta,
where you have many different native
communities living along the river,
is being sucked of its water to
fuel the tar sands operations.
- Because of the contamination of the river
from oil sands discharges
of things like oil and grease and
untreated sewage into the Athabasca River,
and sometimes there's accidents,
spills of these toxic chemicals
directly into the Athabasca Rivers.
- The community of Fort Chipewyan,
both the Mikisew Cree
and the Dene Chipewyan First Nation,
who have been fighting
and really at the front
of raising the alarm about what's happening,
and their community has been seeing all of this
rise in rare cancers, autoimmune diseases,
arsenic in the land,
the moose meat, the fish
are at high levels of
heavy metals, mercuries,
basically the whole environment
up there is contaminated.
- How this is effecting my community is that
it's killing off the people of Fort Chipewyan.
It's what I've called before
"a slow, industrial genocide."
I buried my auntie,
I buried my uncle, I got
an auntie living with it.
And this is a war for our lives,
because the government is allowing
the people of Fort Chip to die.
- The tar sands are not only fueling
the destruction of the
second fastest rate of deforestation
in the world outside of
the Amazon River basin,
they're already the second fastest
contributor to climate
change in North America.
And with the goals of production that
they're talking about, the CO2 emissions
will make it so the only way
you could outstrip a
climate change contributor
for North America would
be to combine all
the coal-fired power plants from
Alberta to Arizona and in between,
across all of North America.
- I think that the tar
sands is the absurdity
of still desiring oil
when we know so well
that, for example, fresh water is just
an elemental part of human existence
and they're running full force towards
extracting these last little bits of oil
to sustain this plastic culture,
this plastic civilization,
to the destruction of the environment
in which we can live.
- People say it's like the
world's addicted to crack,
and this is like the dirtiest
and most disgusting form of crack
that'll keep it addicted
for a lot longer, right.
This is actually what it is.
It is the most insane
thing that people are doing.
- We probably agree that civilization's
going to crash, whether or
not we help bring this about.
If you don't agree with this, we probably
have nothing to say to each other.
We probably also agree that
this crash will be messy.
We agree further that since industrial
civilization is systematically dismantling
the ecological infrastructure of the planet...
...the sooner civilization comes down,
whether or not we help it crash,
the more life will remain afterwards
to support both humans and nonhumans.
Figure IV
- The genesis of Endgame, the book,
was really because I did some talks
around the possibility of fighting back.
And the response by the
audience was really predictable.
If it was an audience made up of
sort of mainstream environmentalists
and peace and social justice activists,
often, they would put up what
I've taken to calling a "Gandhi shield".
Which is, they would
say the names "Martin Luther King",
"Dalai Lama", and "Gandhi"
again and again, as fast as they can,
to keep all evil thoughts at bay.
And if it was grassroots environmentalists,
they would do the same thing
but then they would come
up to me afterwards and they would say,
"Thank you so much
for bringing this up."
Pacifying Resistance
- Especially in North America,
the pacifists and non-violent
advocates have had a very defining role,
and even a censoring role, in determining
what other people's participation can be
in a whole range of social struggles, and
that the way that they've
affected social struggles
has made it very much easier for the state
to control those social struggles,
that non-violence plays a function
of recuperating social struggles,
of taking out their teeth
and making them harmless,
so that they can just exist in
this cesspool of democratic plurality.
- I wonder, what happens to
that kind of energy or
idealism or faith that something
is about to change
when it's certainly not going to change at all?
- What are the false hopes that
keep us tied to the system?
What are the false
hopes that bind us to
unlivable situations and
blind us to real possibilities?
Does anybody really think that
Weyerhauser's going to stop,
deforesting because we asked nicely
that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing
because we ask nicely?
I was talking to this person in the
States several years ago and they said,
"If we can just get a Democrat in the
White House, things are going to be OK."
- We've got a couple of myths
on the left that I would
really encourage us to get over.
The first is that social change
happens by moral suasion.
It doesn't. It happens by force.
- The problem with persuasion
as a strategy is that
it only works on people who can actually
be convinced, and who can be
relied upon to act from their position
after their minds have been changed.
And the problem is that we're not dealing with
individuals who can be convinced or persuaded,
we're dealing mostly with large,
abstract, social organizations,
and corporations which are
basically sociopaths made out
of huge numbers of people.
- You can't argue with psychopaths,
you can't argue with fascists,
and you can't argue with those
who are benefiting from an economic system.
You have to stop them through
some form of force,
and that force can be violent or nonviolent.
Could you have stopped Ted
Bundy by peaceful means?
- The Left, to a large extent subconsciously,
has as its primary role
to make resistance harmless.
States have recognized that
resistance will never disappear,
that struggles will never disappear
and in the past they
tried suppressing struggles
the first time that they
showed their heads, that there was
any sign of them, and
that proved ineffective.
So nowadays that way
that states rule is by
accepting the inevitability
of conflict and resistance,
and just trying to manage it permanently.
"Keep the march going,
there's nothing happening here!
There's nothing happening,
just one more line of police,
so please keep the march going!"
- Social movements in North America are locked
into this pacifist doctrine that is imposed by
the middle class reformists
who want to control
the movement and dictate
how it conducts itself.
- Advocates of nonviolence
frequently say that nonviolence
works, and the principal
examples that they use of that
are Gandhi in India and Martin
Luther King in the U.S.
The problem with that is,
this constitutes a really great
historical whitewashing,
that in fact the resistance in
India was incredibly
diverse, and Gandhi was
a very important figure
within that resistance,
but the resistance was by no
means pacifist in its entirety.
- Gandhi gets used as a way
to shut down conversation.
- Especially in the West,
Gandhi is used as a way
to quell any ideas of
either direct action or what's
perceived as violence or,
sort of, you know, resistance that
goes beyond what is seen as a sort of a
pacifist or a peaceful means of resistance.
- For years, I really bought into the whole
Gandhian myth that is really sort of
forced down the throats of
activists in the United States,
and the people who disabused
me of that myth were
when I first actually
met some people from India.
The people I talked to
certainly didn't deify him,
and many of them despised him.
And they felt he was a
collaborator and he was somebody
whom the British could work with.
- Gandhi's very well known in the West,
but when you go to India, there's
a freedom fighter and revolutionary
leader called Bhagat Singh,
who's in India probably
almost as well known as Gandhi
as a part of
the independence movement and a
leader in the independence movement.
But in the West, most people
probably have never heard his name.
And the reason why that is, is that he used
direct action tactics.
There were generals of the
British army that were killed;
there was a bomb thrown
in a British assembly to
basically attract the
attention of the public;
there were weapons that people
were getting off of railway cars.
- With Gandhi and the
Indian National Congress,
where you had the moderates
and the extremists,
the moderates were legal;
constitutional reform
was their only method,
and they were criticized for
being a middle class clique,
for being too slow,
for being too legalistic,
and for being basically ineffective.
The extremists, on the other
hand, were accused of being
too aggressive, of being too fast
and reckless and irresponsible.
- Gandhi basically got negotiating power
from the fact that there were
other elements in the struggle
which were even more
threatening to British dominance.
So the British specifically
chose to dialogue with
Gandhi because he was,
perhaps for them, the least
threatening of the important
elements of resistance.
- Gandhi came in as
being the middleman.
His theory of nonviolent,
passive resistance
seemed to be a bridge between
the extremists and the moderates.
- The British were bled white after WWII,
and didn't have the
morale left anymore for
a big fight, and they
helped choose somebody
that they could work with.
They knew a revolution
was coming
and they wanted to
blunt it as much as they could.
- India went from being
a colony to a neocolony.
The British were still able to
maintain their interests, less directly,
with Indians being in
positions of management.
- My problem isn't with
somebody doing nonviolent
actions, it never has been.
I mean, I say all the
time that we need it all.
My problem is that
so many pacifists, especially
in the United States,
end up not supporting
more radical or militant work.
- The problem when this
debate comes up is that
you can't just assume
that people that are
resisting and are using
a means of resistance
haven't thought about what
they're doing. And that's what
I think is often the
problem. When people
decide to take certain actions
and when people decide
that, "Hey, you know,
our marches aren't enough,"
or they're doing this or doing that,
there's this assumption
by a lot of people that
want to toe the Gandhi line that,
"Oh, they're just not thinking about it."
- What most states will choose
to do in similar circumstances
is to find the elements
of the resistance
that are most easy to control
and most easy to co-opt,
to negotiate with them, and then
to hand over power to them in order
to continue the system
that had already existed.
- So again, you have the state
doing the same thing it did
with Gandhi and Martin Luther
King it does with, for example,
the environmental movement. So
it invites the responsible leaders
of the environmental
movement into inquiries,
government commissions,
debates. It recognizes them --
they're the legitimate leaders --
because again,
it doesn't want the movement to begin to
adopt more militant resistance tactics.
- The powerful do not ever
give up without a struggle.
Those are the famous
words of Frederick Douglass
when he said, "Power concedes
nothing without a demand.
It never has, and it never will."
Figure V
If we use more efficient electricity,
appliances, we can save this much
off of the global warming pollution that
would otherwise be put
into the atmosphere.
If we use other end-use
efficiency this much,
if we have higher-mileage
cars, this much.
And all these begin to add up:
other transport efficiency,
renewable technology.
We have everything we need,
save, perhaps, political will.
But you know what, in
America, political will
is a renewable resource.
- When we see solutions,
all the so-called solutions
put forward to global
warming, the thing
they all have in common
is that they take
industrial civilization
as a given, and they take
the natural world as
the dependent variable.
It's all about saving civilization.
And that's entirely backwards.
What it should be is:
we need to do whatever
it takes to save
life on the planet.
- In the next 40 to 50 years,
we're going to see the
extinction of more species
than we've seen in the past
65 million years.
That, to me, is a red light,
and a siren going off
as a call to people
who will cut through the crap and
do what is necessary
to protect the Earth
for here and now, and
for future generations.
It is you that are going
to have to answer to your
children, 50-75 years from now
when they ask what you
did during the eco-wars.
And in that sense,
each one of us has to live the life
today, at this very moment, doing the things
that we would be proud to tell our ancestors about.
If we are serious about saving life on Earth
we've got to start fighting back
in the ways that people do
when they realize they need
to form a serious resistance movement.
- Most indigenous populations
who maintain any
sense of a traditional worldview
know that the way of life that
settlers society has imposed on this
land is unsustainable.
Yet, there has been a sense
that we really need to kind of
wait until it collapses,
or wait until they're done doing,
or they've reached their
limit and they can't
continue the way that
they've been going on,
and be patient.
Fuck patience.
I think really the big problem is power,
and that's something liberals
have a lot of trouble kind of
thinking about or wrapping
their heads around.
And the problem is that
this culture has
clearly defined hierarchy.
There are people
who are clearly in power,
and who benefit
from power, and benefit
from destroying the planet,
and who benefit from
exploiting other people,
and they've been doing
that for a long time.
And their power is more important
to them than anything else.
- There is no personal
consumer choice that is
going to dismantle the systems of
power that are behind the
destruction of our planet.
What we need is organized
political resistance.
- You cannot just simply ask
the state for these reforms,
or for any kind of gains or concessions,
you have to force them to do it.
And that's the power of disruption.
It was a bloody day at the Mohawk Indian
community in Oka, Quebec, near Montreal.
"Provincial police in riot gear stormed
the barricades the Mohawks had set up.
There were clouds of tear
gas, a hail of bullets,
and in the midst of the battle, a policeman
was killed. All this because of
a dispute over a piece of
forest the Indians claim is theirs,
a forest town council wants to bulldoze
to expand the local golf course."
"Police retreated as
abruptly as they'd attacked,
leaving behind their cruisers.
They also left a heavy
front-end loader which the Mohawks
immediately put to their own use.
The police cruisers, crushed and useless,
became barricades themselves."
We treat these trees and
the land like our mother.
These people are raping our mother.
What would you do if
they raped your mother?
- These politicians are servants of the
system; it's their job to keep
it going, it's their job
to keep profit rolling
in for the ruling class.
And they will never, ever, act in the
people's interests or the interests of the planet.
It doesn't matter what we say,
the only thing that they
will respond to is
force, and the threat
of social disruption.
And if we allow them to stay in power,
they will always take back any gain
that we manage to get from them.
- It's really important
to recognize that
no struggle is done,
that there's not any possibility
of any lasting victory
as long as the state
still exists, but we can
definitely see in the histories
of struggle, small gains have been won,
and ways in which we've
empowered ourselves
by the use of all tactics, and I think
it's not even important to
really say if a particular tactic is
violent or not because this is just
kind of a moral category
meant to restrict action.
I think it's more important to look
at which tactics can be empowering,
and liberating, and useful.
- Purely above-ground
means are designed to
facilitate the expansion
of global capitalism.
- These are serious power structures
that are making vast sums of money.
They are backed up by
the power of the armed
state in every way imaginable.
They've got armies on
their side, they own
the mass media, the banks,
all the money is on their side.
- If there's any doubt
about the leadership that
our military is showing,
you just need to look at
this F-18 fighter
and the light-armored vehicle behind it.
The army and marine
corps have been testing
this vehicle on a mixture of biofuels,
and this navy fighter jet
appropriately called the "Green Hornet"
will be flown for the first time in just
a few days, on Earth Day.
- Crazy Horse one-eight,
request permission to engage.
- Picking up the wounded?
- Yeah, we're trying to
get permission to engage.
- Come on, let us shoot!
- Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
- They're taking him.
- Bushmaster, Crazy Horse one-eight.
- This is Bushmaster seven, go ahead.
- Roger. We have a black SUV,
or Bongo truck picking
up the bodies. Request
permission to engage.
- Bushmaster seven, roger. This is
Bushmaster seven, roger. Engage.
- One-eight, engage. Clear.
- Come on!
- Clear.
So if the law will
not do the right thing,
other people will have
to do the right thing,
and they'll have to do the right thing by
breaking the law. And that
precedent has been set many times
throughout our history: the people
who saved the Jews
from the German Nazis
broke the law for
higher ethical purpose.
The people who liberated slaves in our
country through the
underground railroad system
to protect them from slave masters and a
very barbaric law in
the United States at that time.
They did the right thing.
They broke the law
for higher ethical purpose.
- We need to start and get out there
and go beyond hitting "Like" on
Facebook and signing online petitions.
We need to be out there
in the real world fighting back.
- I think one of the things
that we really have to accept
and internalize is that
the majority of institutions,
and the majority of people,
are never going to be on our side.
And so we have to sit down --
as individual activists
and as communities of resistance,
as a culture of resistance --
and we have to say
"Okay, well, what will it take to stop
this culture from destroying the planet?"
You know, part of the
answer is obviously that
persuasion hasn't worked and persuasion
is not going to work.
If we want to be...
...successful, then we have to
look at what resistance
movements in the past have done,
and what they've learned
and kind of the different phases
that they've gone through
as they've tried to
assert themselves and
try to be successful.
- When I say "organize
political resistance,"
I mean we need to
face power head-on.
Once you name power,
you will find that
power is sociopathic,
that the people in
charge will do whatever
it takes to shut you up.
- The thing about when
you enter into a greater
period of social conflict,
what you don't want
is people promoting
non-violence because
that's going to disarm
the people -- it's going to
disarm the people in the face
of an aggressive enemy,
and in the face
of hard social conditions.
You want them to have
a stronger fighting spirit
because without a fighting spirit,
you lack the will to resist.
- The smartest thing the Nazis did
was they made it so that at every
step of the way, it was in the Jews'
rational best interest to not resist.
Would you rather get an ID card,
or do you want to resist
and possibly get killed?
Do you want to move to a ghetto,
or do you want to resist
and possibly get killed?
Do you want to get on a cattle car,
or do you want to resist
and possibly get killed?
You want to take a shower,
or do you want to resist
and possibly get killed?
At every step of the way,
it was in their rational
self-interest to not resist.
But I'll tell you
something very important,
which is: the Jews who participated
in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
had a higher rate of survival
than those who went along.
- I think that if any of us were
alive in Nazi Germany right now,
we would know what a resistance
movement should be doing.
And we need to think about
the culture of industrial civilization
as if it's a culture of occupation,
because it is.
Figure VI
- If Nazis or other fascists
took over North America,
what would we all do?
What would we do if they implemented
Mussolini's definition of fascism:
"Fascism should more appropriately
be called corporatism
because it is a merger of
state and corporate power."
What if this occupied country
called itself a democracy,
but most everyone understood
elections to be shams,
with citizens allowed to choose between
different wings of the same fascists,
(or, following Mussolini, Corporate) party.
What if anti-government activity
was opposed by
storm troopers and secret police?
Would you fight back?
If there already existed a resistance
movement, would you join it?
Would you resist if the fascists irradiated
the countryside, poisoned food supplies,
made rivers unfit for
swimming and so filthy
you wouldn't even dream
of drinking from anymore?
If fascists systematically
deforested the continent, would you join
an underground army of resistance,
head to the forests, and from there
to boardrooms and
the halls of the Reichstag
to pick off the occupying deforesters
and, most especially, those that
give them their marching orders?
Give me a threshold.
Give me a specific point
at which you'll finally take a stand.
If you can't or won't
give that threshold, why not?