[Contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications]
Life on Earth is in grave danger. The dominant economic system is annihilating everything in its path. Global industrial capitalism is not just a bad lifestyle choice; it’s a mega-machine with one objective: to extract wealth from the Earth and the labor of the poor, convert it to money, and transfer it to the hands of the rich. Because it’s very efficient, inherently expansionist, and out of control, we’re now facing environmental catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. The tiny minority class of voracious sociopaths who run this system are killing us, everyone we love, and all the wondrous, miraculous plants, animals and other beings who call this planet home. No one is safe.
In spite of countless scientific studies warning of global warming, in spite of the proliferation of green businesses and marketing eco-hype, in spite of all the earnest caring people who switch to more energy-efficient cars and light bulbs, the pace of omnicide–the murder of everything–is accelerating.
We’re out of time. We need to stop the destruction, and we need to stop it now. No other issue or objective is as important as saving the planet. Without the natural world, we have nothing, and no future.
There is only one way to stop the global industrial economy from killing the planet, and that is to stop the global industrial economy.
We might take heart in the fact that the economy is collapsing anyway, with or without our help. But tragically it’s not happening fast enough. We can’t wait for the Greater Depression to do our work for us. We must bring it down immediately, while we still have a world to save. Unless we intervene, the rich will expend their very last resources to suck the planet dry on their way down.
A new culture can’t develop until this one is eliminated (if colonizers tolerated co-existence, indigenous cultures wouldn‘t have been largely wiped out). Still, as we struggle in the grip of today’s nightmare, it helps to have a coherent vision of a better future and some notion of a way to reach it. Such a vision can inspire and motivate us, provide direction, and lay a foundation for avoiding bad practices later. Whether we like it or not, we’ll soon be living in a post-industrial world. We can affect what that will look like, and we need to maximize our influence.
As a people, a people diverse in countless ways yet united in the need to overthrow a mighty empire, we haven’t very well articulated what we want, in a way that corresponds to what’s possible and necessary. Our energy has been diverted into denial, faith in techno-fixes, fixations on individual lifestyle changes, and secondary conflicts, all of which keep us in thrall to those in power (who know very well what *they* want).
We need to know what we want. What do you want?
Here’s what I want:
I would like clean air, water and soil. I would like biodiversity to increase, and extinctions to stop. I would like forests and jungles and oceans to recover and for all the animals and other beings who once lived there to return. I would like to see the planet covered with robust, joyful, proliferating life, the way it was and the way it‘s supposed to be.
I want to see the end of oppression of all kinds: race, class, gender, sexuality, species, nationality, ability, appearance. An end to exploitation, drudgery, the division of labor. No more commodities, buying and selling, private ownership of wealth.
At the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant, I want to see a world of fairness, equality, justice, love, dignity, freedom, celebration, happiness, good health, and inclusiveness.
I want humans to have healthy relationships with each other and with everyone else, to appreciate every kind of living being and all our infinite interconnections. I’d like to see every individual respected and encouraged. I would like for domination and control to cease to exist, and for all beings to thrive in harmony.
I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
What do you want?
Some conditions necessary for revolution:
1) A ruling class whose power is tenuous because of infighting, and/or presiding over system on the verge of structural collapse.
2) A failing economy that no longer works to provide even the most basic survival needs of large sections of the people.
3) A broad realization that we are already at war, but that it’s mostly one-sided. We must decide that we have nothing to lose by fighting back.
4) The more privileged among us must also become angry, fed up, and disappointed, to the point of feeling neutral or even friendly to a resistance movement.
5) An organization or network that can facilitate, coordinate and direct the outrage of the people toward the real source of our problems, and that is capable of leading the kinds of actions necessary to depose the rulers and destroy their infrastructure.
We’re getting there with some of these conditions. With others we’re not even close. That’s a huge problem. We have a lot of work to do.
How can we dismantle the global industrial economy and the political structures that hold it in place?
There’s no single answer. The revolution will be multi-dimensional.
So often we hear "if everyone did this," or "if everyone did that," then our problems will be solved. That may be true, but it’s never going to happen. People are at all different levels of understanding, aren’t willing to do the same things, have different strengths and weaknesses. We’re not all going to agree that the industrial economy even needs to be dismantled (far from it), much less how we’re going to do it.
There’s no indication that we’re going to pull together some glorious unified resistance movement that progresses logically from one stage to the next until we achieve victory. It would be nice if we had the kind of time we’d need to develop that, but frankly we’ve been moving in the opposite direction. Instead, we have to expect this process to be confusing and chaotic.
A healthy ecosystem shows us what to do and how to organize. What allows it to flourish is diversity, cooperation, networks, and mutual support. I can’t think of a better model for revolution than what we’re fighting to save, the natural world, where each individual makes a particular crucial contribution to the success of the whole.
Shutting down the global economic system will mean, among other things, destroying the political and cultural institutions that serve and protect it, that coerce and enforce our submission to it. We must defeat and dismantle its states, governments, police forces, armies, laws, communication and transportation networks, its energy grid, supply lines, its news and entertainment propaganda machine, its control of food and water, its wealth-concentration mechanisms (corporations), its extraction of resources.
It will mean that we must stop the production of commodities, which means we won’t have them to consume, which means we have to become self-sufficient at whatever level we can, the larger the better – individuals, families, communities. We need to grow our own food and medicine.
We need to transform exploitative social relations. We need to build localized gift economies. We need to take over the streets, educate people, heal our traumatized psyches, form a global resistance movement.
We really have a lot of work to do. We must be prepared for difficulties, hardships and sacrifice.
We need artists, writers, thinkers, and teachers to help open our minds and hearts. We need individuals and small groups taking direct action, and we need mass movements. We need leaders and coordinators. We need wise elders and impassioned youth. We need millions of people to storm the halls of power to drag the Earthfuckers out.
We need to free the land, stop paying taxes and rent, tear down the powerful, dispossess the rich, shut down factories, smash the weapons of imperialism, plant trees, get to know our neighbors, organize community gardens, respect and listen to the natural world, obstruct polluters, developers and corporate thieves, and defeat colonizers.
Like each element of an ecosystem is necessary for the wellbeing of the whole, no aspect of revolution is dispensable.
This is a very important time to be alive.
We, the humans who are here right now, with all our flaws and limitations, are probably the last ones who still have a choice to either stop or allow the murder of the planet. No one smarter or more enlightened is going to come along and solve this for us. Nor is the perfect moment ever going to arrive. We can’t wait until we‘ve figured out the perfect political programme or convinced everyone who needs to be convinced. We can’t wait until someone else gets something going first, or push it off to the next generation. We need to jump in wherever we can and do this now.
It’s time for us to muster all our strength and courage, for each of us to decide how we will most effectively engage, and dedicate our lives to fighting for the survival of all life on Earth. We must be willing to do whatever it takes. Industrial capitalism isn’t going to smash itself. It’s the system or the world, the system or us.