Europe’s last remaining primeval forest, the beautiful Białowieża forest, home to bison, foxes, and a plethora of other living beings, the last remnants of a wild Europe now remembered only in myth and legend, located in the area now called Poland, is under attack from loggers.
As stated in the video above, the EU’s top court has ordered the Polish government to stop logging in the area. Poland’s rising far-right nationalist movement has taken issue with this move, calling the environmentalists, who are looking to defend and support the forest, “green terrorists“.
This is not the first time eco-radicals and anarchists have been accused of being terrorists, with events like those in Langnau Switzerland in 2010 bringing eco-anarchism back into British press, being labeled as terrorist acts. The FBI lists eco-anarchist groups like Earth First!, ALF and ELF as terrorist groups. But it is utterly bizarre to label groups who at the most cause property damage as terrorist groups.
Is it terrorism to sabotage logging equipment, block roads, spike and sit in trees, and not harm people, inflict no violence upon anyone and generally go out of your way to not hurt people?
Is it terrorism to cut down and destroy one of the oldest living ecosystems on this planet, home to more wildlife than you could hope to count, a source of healing for our atmosphere, a lifeform in and of it-self, in a brutal and violent fashion?
One seems like terrorism to me, the other not.
What about that other label that environmentalists are often brushed with though – eco-fascism: does that hold any weight to it?
In reaction to the rise of Trumpism and the growing right-wing popularist movements in the USA and in Europe, antifa and anti-fascism have become more visually active and increasingly part of everyday politics now. Communist-anarchist groups, linked to antifa, have recently done interviews with FOX news on the matter of racism and authoritarianism in the Trump era of politics.
But what of eco-anarchists?
Environmentalism as a movement has long supported anti-colonialist struggles, and it is arguable that environmentalism cannot be divorced from anti-colonialism – with fascism’s Italian-imperialism having undeniable ties/friendly-relations with colonialism.
Radical environmentalist writer Derrick Jensen has written about, in opposition to, fascism’s ties to and influence on industries and business still going today.
Many of those who want to tie environmentalism in with fascism seek to draw on Nazi sympathy for nature, drawing from blood and soil narratives tied to the Nazi green-wing. This is obviously a pretty poor straw-man argument, but is one that is often peddled, and appeals to reducto ad Hitlerum type cheap arguments.
So any claim trying to tie eco-radicals with fascism seems very weak, if any can be made at all, with eco-radicals and eco-anarchist having closer ties to anti-fascists than the far-right.
But what are the sentiments between radical groups?
The communist-anarchist group It’s Going Down have recently criticised the eco-extremist group Individualists Tending Towards the Wild (ITS), as part of an online set of back-and-forth articles surrounding eco-extremism and its relationship with anarchism. These have generally been criticisms of the more violent tactics of this group in Mexico, who embrace the category of terrorism and intend to create terror for the civilised.
It’s Going Down have accused this eco-extremist group of being eco-fascists and sought to besmirch the names of anarchist projects with any links to or who are in discussion with eco-extremism.
Eco-extremism is a movement that broke away from the anarcho-primitivist and Kaczynski following eco-radical milieu, in favour of a nihilist-pagan type approach to eco-radical discourse and practice. Personally I’m not convinced of all of what I’ve seen coming out of eco-extremist writings and find ITS’s love of randomised violence entirely vulgar and undesirable, but have sympathy for a great deal of the eco-extremist critique and argument, particularly their criticisms of anarchists and environmentalists on the Left.
And I can sympathise aspects with this critique of anarchists by this eco-extremist writer, in the weakness of anarchist arguments, where anarchists just call anything they don’t like fascist – something that It’s Going Down appear to be doing.
Something that I love about the eco-extremist discourse is their opposition to anthropocentrism and embrace of wild nature, which they define as –
“Wild Nature: Wild Nature is the primary agent in eco-extremist war. The philistines oppose the invocation of Wild Nature as atavism or superstition, but they do so merely out of their own domestication and idiocy. Wild Nature is all that grows and is manifested on the planet in animate and inanimate objects, from pebbles to oceans, from microorganisms to all of the flora and fauna that have developed on Earth. It also encompasses all of the stars, galaxies, moons, suns, meteors, etc. More specifically, Wild Nature is the acknowledgement that humanity is not the source and end of physical and spiritual reality, but merely a part of it, and perhaps not even a major part.” taken from the journal Atassa: Readings in Eco-Extremism
This embrace of the wild is something that much of environmentalism and most anarchists have lost, as both have become more and more amalgamated into civilisation and its narratives.
Returning to the Białowieża forest, one of the last remaining places that fully embody wildness, whether you view it from a pagan-eco-extremist type gaze or from an eco-anarchist eco-radical gaze, it is a location of obvious beauty and value.
We cannot say whether or not EU protection will do much, especially with the rising tide of nationalism within Poland and the amount of illegal logging that goes unchecked around the world.
What we can do is be allies to the wild, in living feral lives and being iconoclastic towards this culture/civilisation/Leviathan that is anthropocentrically destroying the biosphere, whose wild beauty we love.
We are not fascists or terrorists, but we will use what means we have available to us and will fight for what we love.
This site recently republished this article on the International Mobilisation Call For The Defence Of Hambacher Forest, as part of the response to defend this forest in Europe.
We need to return to the woods and defend them, through all means at our disposal.
To end with a few quotes –
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir
“Culture has lead us to betray our own aboriginal spirit and wholeness, into an ever-worsening realm of synthetic, isolating, impoverishing estrangement. Which is not to say that there are no more everyday pleasures, without which we would loose our humanness. But as our plight deepens, we glimpse how much must be erased for our redemption.” John Zerzan
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” Thoreau
“The Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.” Jack London