Personally I’m not a fan of transcendentalist philosophy, finding physicalist/materialist/naturalist/phenomenological ones to hold more authenticity, but Thoreau is a great personal influence of mine and undeniably an important name in eco-radical thought.
This is a call for support from eco-radicals and other allies of the wild, made by Hambacher Forest Besetzung, posted on their Facebook page with the video above –
Call for defending the occupation of the Hambach Forest
The Hambach Forest has been occupied for five years. For five years people have been building and defending tree houses in order to protect the trees they are living on. For five years diggers, cops, and secus have kept coming closer. Officially, the forest is owned by RWE, a multinational energy company that does not only want to kill the thousands-of-years-old forest, destroy habitats, dispossess and displace residents from the surrounding villages to generate power. With it’s production of lignite in the Rhineland along it is responsible for 30% of Germany’s CO2 emissions. A company that does not shy away from exploiting the entire world in order to maximise its profits. It is a company that significantly contributes to generating situations forcing people to leave their countries of origin. Because the people who first have to deal with the consequences of global warming are not those profiting from coal, but people from the global South. This makes our struggle part of the struggle against imperialism, against oppression and racism. What happens here does not happen by accident. It is a symbol of the capitalist system. And we are working on means of attacking it.
For five years we have not only been attacking RWE, but a system of hierarchy and exploitation that facilitates the company’s mania for profit. It is very clear for us that the fight for climate justice is intimately linked with the struggle for a world without hierarchies, a world far away from capitalistic coercion where major companies do not yield any power over human beings and nature! It is intimately linked to a world where everyone has the right and courage to defend their opinions and principles without being silenced by repressions from the state and system! The fact that the occupation is still alive after five years is proof for the fact that it is possible to resist, that it is possible to dedicate your life to your own maxims and that we will succeed in turning theory into praxis. Only by organising collectively and through courage were we able to fight for this freedom and free space and to maintain it. Despite repressions, despite many of us having been beat up, abused and imprisoned, we are here and will stay here!
With direct action we were able to cause damage to RWE, because of sabotage and blockades the company lost millions of Euros. The damage done to the company’s image due to the broad publicity on the consequences of lignite extraction is unpredictable. Although RWE continues to dig for lignite and destroy everything that is alive and beautiful we showed that it is possible to influence events. Because in a system that allows few to exploit an entire planet to still their own greed, resistance becomes a duty. Time is ticking. If lignite extraction is not stopped immediately it is impossible to stop climate change. Time is ticking for the forest, too. Starting in October, RWE has permission to continue cutting trees. If the company cuts 70ha of forest as planned, a large majority of the ancient ecosystem will be lost irrevocably and the only forest occupation in German speaking countries will be evicted and destroyed. This is not only about protecting a forest. This is about global justice, and it is about making a company accountable. We can only achieve this when we are many!
All fighting the state and capitalism! Turn your theory into praxis. Help us to maintain this freedom and free space, shape it and defend it!
Starting in September we will hold workshops in the forest that will give everyone the skills to be active in and around Hambi in the way you find most attractive and suitable. We will pass on all abilities necessary to occupy a tree and carry out other actions. From October onwards we are planning a large-scale occupation of the forest making it impossible for RWE to cut the remaining area. In case you cannot come to the forest then help us and yourselves from wherever you are. Spread this call, show that you stand in solidarity with the resistance in the Rhineland, or drop by for a couple of days and actions during the cutting season between October and February. Get in touch. There are as many possible ways of supporting this occupation as there are people.
Keep up to date, keep informed. hambacherforst.blogsport.de facebook.com/hambacherforstbesetzung
And keep it running. Get in touch: email@example.com
Through his infamous blog Urban Scout and his project Rewild Portland, Peter Michael Bauer has become a prominent force within radical environmentalist culture, both online and offline.
Following the previous post featuring his 2012 talk on rewilding, we conducted an interview with him to get some of his current thoughts and hear about his current projects –
How did you first come to align yourself with anti-civ thought?
“When I was 16 I read Ishmael by Daniel Quinn, and though later I learned his intention was not necessarily to create “anti-civ” thought, I have a hard time understanding how it would lead to anything else. I immediately dropped out of high school and ran away from home to learn ancestral skills from a school on the other side of the country. Later I went on to read some Jensen and Zerzan (and all the contributors to Green Anarchy magazine like Kevin Tucker, Red Wolf Returns, etc.).”
What does rewilding mean to you?
“For me, it means returning to a lifeway that sits within the ecology of a place. It’s hard to say exactly, because it requires clearly defining or redefining what it means to be wild. There are so many connotations to that idea that the word rewilding is never going to actually be able to mean what it means. We really need a better word, but it’s the best we’ve got at the moment. I look to immediate-return gatherer-hunters for inspiration in what could be thought of as the most free or “wild” people. So in a sense, it’s returning to that way of life, or if that isn’t possible, a new way that functions in the same kind of way.
I also see it as a kind of torch. Because we are all captives yet aren’t meant to be, we carry the torch of freedom inside ourselves, and keep it alive by passing it from one generation to the next. It’s more than just an idea, it’s a deep feeling that says “This isn’t the way things are supposed to be.” So it’s kind of like a thousand-year escape plan. Or perhaps, hunkering in a bunker and planning what we will do and how we will live when the tornado (civilization) has passed. We can’t exactly live that way now (though we can do things to mitigate the pain that comes along with civilization), but we are striving in the direction of freedom and autonomy. Keeping our eye on the prize.”
Were there any specific life events that drew you to anti-civ thought?
“Ironically, playing the video game Sid Meier’s Civilization as a child really brought the forefront of civilization’s mythology to the surface of my consciousness. There are only two ways to win that game: colonization or genocide. So later in life when I began to learn about prehistory and civilized thought, it all made sense almost immediately. I think also having Star Wars and “The Force” as a sort of mythology and religion as a child made me want to connect on a deeper level with nature, and the experiences I had doing so gave me an empathy for the natural world, which led me to want to make the world a better place. So while those experiences don’t have direct connection to anti-civ thought, they made me interpret the ideas in a different way because I saw civilization as a force that was destructive to the natural world that I loved.”
Are there any books, writers, or philosophers you’d suggest to someone who is entering anti-civ discussions?
“I mean, I think the three classic big names are Quinn, Zerzan, and Jensen. I don’t really know what to suggest anymore, though, honestly. For me it’s more about geeking out and being in the milieu and following along with everyone. I think the Black and Green Review is a great way of following along with where a lot of contributors to the ideas in the movement are going. Because there is a diversity of writers, some fresh to the ideas and others more seasoned, it makes for a good dialogue. The main thing I would suggest is staying off the internet as much as possible and trying to have conversations and discussions around a campfire, or in coffee shops, living rooms, etc.—with people in real life.”
How did Rewild Portland come to be?
“Well, I realized there is no such thing as a hunter-gatherer, singular. If I was ever going to actually rewild, I needed to encourage enough people to join me so that we would have a culture. Then I realized that part of the reason that is difficult is because the current culture doesn’t allow alternative cultures to exist. So Rewild Portland was my attempt at bridging that divide: working the system to create a different one. Setting up the ideas and lifeways on a large enough scale so that when civilization goes down, this other story will be ready to take up. So long as civilization maintains a monopoly on violence, rewilding can’t happen in a real, meaningful way. Sure, you could probably go live in the forest with a handful of people without being arrested (if you are white), but that’s not really a culture, is it? I’m not into rewilding just myself. In fact, I think that is a misnomer. I’m working in the realm of what one might call “systemic rewilding.” Although 10 years ago, before all this “rewild yourself” self-help branding existed, that’s just what rewilding meant. Rewild Portland is basically groundwork for whatever comes next.”
What do you think is the best route for anti-civ activists to go down in response to the mass extinction event currently underway?
“I don’t think there is one right route for anyone. I don’t like to give prescriptions. One of my favorite and most frustrating things about Daniel Quinn is that he doesn’t present any solutions. He says something to the tune of, “I’m like the surgeon general. He didn’t say, ‘Stop smoking.’ He said, ‘Smoking causes cancer.’” I think when you leave it open-ended like that, you create many more solutions to a problem than if you give the one you think is right. What I really think is that everyone should follow their heart and their passions and do what they feel they need to do. There is often a drive to feel like what you are doing is the “most effective,” but the reality is that there really isn’t one thing that will be the most effective. Anyone who says they have figured that out should be seriously questioned.”
Has your outlook or activities changed much since Donald Trump took office?
“I think everyone in any activist community has taken notice of the “fascist creep.” So many white supremacists have come out of hiding and we’re all like, “Oh. Shit.” I mean, we kinda knew they were there…but it’s making us realize how important it is to engage in a dialogue against it, while figuring out what need it seems to be filling for white men. The only way to combat it is really to fill that need with something else. So, that’s what we have to figure out, and that’s what it’s making me think about.”
You’ve recently rereleased your book Rewild or Die. What do you want your readers to get from reading the book?
“The main point of that book was to introduce people to the ideas of rewilding and take them down the rabbit hole as fast and as briefly as possible, in order to inspire them to go back and go deeper on their own. I wanted to show people that rewilding is a lens through which you can view anything. It’s a systemic journey of culture change, not a self-help plan, not simply a back-to-nature commune. Of course, since its writing in 2008, there have been many people who have taken on that term as a self-help plan, which is both funny and maddening to me. That’s probably fine because it will bring more people to the deeper and more meaningful rewilding movement in general. But seeing all that, I realized there wasn’t really a resource out there specifically under the banner of “rewilding” doing that, so I rereleased it in hopes that more people would go beyond the self-centered version to a more holistic one.”
Does Urban Scout still survive in any way, shape, or form and will he ever be as big a part of your life as he has been over the years?
“There are parts of Urban Scout that I love and parts that I hate. Things I still think I did that were genius, and things I think were a huge mistake. If he ever makes an appearance again, it will be more of a “roast” than a celebration. I still love Rewild or Die, warts and all. However, I’m way more in love with the work that I am doing now in my rewilding philosophy classes because it is real, face-to-face human interaction and discussion of the ideas. Those classes and all of those people are informing the next book on rewilding that I am writing, and I couldn’t be more excited about it for that reason. It’s like, so many minds working together to create this thing. I’ve always considered myself a catalyst, not a guru (though part of Urban Scout’s shtick was feigned celebrity, which confused and angered a lot of people—for good reason), and so in this work I feel more like a court reporter, which is I think the best place for a catalyst to be.”
Are there any interesting projects on the horizon for you?
“We have the first-ever North American Rewilding Conference coming up in October. Honestly I’m so busy with everything that I haven’t quite delved into it yet. Watch for developments in May. I like to start things small and grow very slowly. I learned that from the oak tree. The conference will be an Open Space conference, where there are no expert presentations. Everyone comes together at the very beginning on the first day and creates the topics of discussion for the entire conference. It’s a nonhierarchical, organic, and community-driven way of organizing a conference. I imagine it will be like my rewilding philosophy classes, only way more amazing, with more people.”