Dark Green Religion and Radical Environmentalism

Some of the following slides both reference specific individuals and aspects of radical environmentalism that were discussed in Dark Green Religion.

Others provide images that illustrate, somewhat impressionistically, the political, ethical, and spiritual bricolage that characterizes the movement .

William C. Rogers, aka Avalon

set on fire in 1998 by Avalon & others in the Earth Liberation Front .Vail Colorado Ski Resort Building.

Bioregional Deep Ecology and Radical Environmentalism • Spiritual Biocentrism ~ The earth and its life processes are sacred . • Extinction Crisis fueled by the greed of corporations and . . .but Western religion & philosophy foster anthropocentrism that leads to an. . • Corrupt Governments which refuse or otherwise fail to arrest these extinctions . .

Western Religions Anthropocentrism (promotes destruction) Reason (especially instrumental) . Pantheistic. or Eastern Religions Biocentrism/Ecocentrism (promotes conservation) Intuition Bad Pastoral and Agricultural Societies Monotheistic. GoddessMatriarchal. Sky-God. Patriarchal.Binary Associations in Radical Environmentalism and Deep Ecology Good Foraging (small-scale organic horticultural) societies Animistic.

More Binary Associations Good Holistic Worldviews Decentralism Primitive Technology Regional Self-Sufficiency Anarchism/Participatory Democracy Radicalism Bad Mechanistic & Dualistic Worldviews Centralization Modern Technology Globalization and International Trade Statism. Authoritarianism Pragmatism . Corruption.

and myth fuse in a radical worldview which shapes political priorities. history. ecology.Grief and anger over the destruction of nature fuels movement passions. and justifies lawbreaking . Social criticism.

poetry. and music • e.g. “Time Bomb.” and “End of the World.Ecological Analysis fuels the ubiquitous Apocalypticism.” “Ghost of a Chance.” “Disorder.. found in movement literature.” (see sound section for downloadable music) .



We who can still hear the jaguar scream We dream of a day when all things wild will again be free… It is a dream we will fight for until the day we die .






found in movement literature. “Time Bomb. and music • e.” .” and “End of the World.” “Ghost of a Chance.g. poetry.” “Disorder.Ecological Analysis fuels the ubiquitous Apocalypticism..

. To re-harmonize humans in nature we must re-sacralize our perceptions of the earth. with sky-gods.The Myth of the Fall from a Foraging Paradise • Agricultures destroy or force the conversion of indigenous peoples living in harmony with nature • Agricultures replace foraging societies and their place-based gods and nature spirits and ethics of kinship toward all life forms.

Resacralize earth by promoting animistic and pantheistic perception through . . visual art can evoke proper spiritual perception • Ritualizing – recovering and re-inventing green religion • Ethical Action – defending the earthen spiritualities of surviving indigenous nations . . dance. • The Arts – poetry. prose. music.

. .Roadshows as Wilderness Revival Meetings The Council of All Beings . . . ritualizing toward a kinship ethic with non-human nature Advanced Ritual Workshops . deepening proper spiritual perception Direct action . . binding people with each other and the natural world . .



and radical political ideology .Radical Environmentalism and Bioregional Deep Ecology ~ A “bricolage” of spirituality. ecology.

(see favorites/sound) .Songs like “I am an Animal” (Dana Lyons) express the kinship ethic and antianthropocentrism of the movement.

Radical Greens v. Bioregionalists ~ Differing Strategic Priorities Radical Environmentalists: Engage the Destroyers – Resist!!! Bioregionalists: Promote sustainable lifeways .

It‟s really a “The closer you get to very spiritual thing to real matter. boy.Dave Foreman – Prophet of Radical Gary Snyder – Environmentalism Architect of Monkeywrenching or Bioregional Social “ecotage” is “a form Philosophy of worship toward the earth. . . rock air go out and do . the You are a religious more spiritual the warrior for the world is” Earth. firewood.” .

„cause if you haven‟t done everything imaginable.Let our Action Be our Prayer . you haven‟t done shit! . . .

Warner Creek Blockade. Oregon (USA): The year long blockade was eventually successful in blocking a large timber sale 1993 .Fortress Wall.

.Spiritual Warfare . . .

who are often conservative Christians. .Voodoo doll to scare loggers.

PAGAN PENTAGRAM ~ some radical environmentalists are self-consciously pagan. .

Idaho .Cove Mallard.

Earth First! Army Corp of Engineers . . . . .. .

rearranged to blockade the loggers from access to the large timber sales in Idaho (USA) 8-10 .Barricades made from trees cut for logging roads.

9-10 .


. . note the burning bulldozer in the background .Album Cover .

2-6 .

Live Wild or Die urges a feral revolution of desire. This is the cover of its premier issue (1989) 3-6 . anarchist rebellion. and inflammatory tactics.

Drawing rubric from European paganism and the model from the most militant EF! Activists. “Elves” in the UK form the Earth Liberation Front (1992) 4-6 .


The swiftness of deer The vision of eagle The strength of bear The sureness of cougar The stealth of snake The wildness of wolf Guide these steps of mine My hand as it releases These flames of life‟s hope Toward that which would destroy us all. “Destroy what destroys you!” .

Bioregionalism .

Consecrating Home. and Venerating Earth. through sustainable living .

Bioregionalism‟s focus. . • Premise: those who live in a place can better learn its and nature spirits and sustainable lifeways than people far away • Goal: Redraw political boundaries to cohere with those of different ecosystem types • Hope: overturning nation-states in favor of decentralized. . regional. community selfrule. .

Bioregional Strategy:
Promote sustainable lifeways
• Promote regional identity and activism through:
– bioregional congresses and local groups – Permaculture and Organic Agriculture – pagan ritualizing – Bioregionally-oriented wildlands advocacy

Relative optimism or Apocalypticism shapes the strategic choices:
• Could catastrophe be averted through human action? • Can governments play a positive role? • Does hope lie only after the collapse of industrial civilization and the destruction of modern technology?

Bioregionalists are slightly more hopeful than radical environmentalists
– They generally expect that industrial society will collapse, but are less sure this will occur dramatically and with great suffering – They retain some hope we can learn our way toward sustainability, rather than have it forced upon us by ecological collapse.

Yet. Apocalypticism reigns among virtually all radical environmental activists and most bioregionalists. .

.Is there an international „Radical Environmentalism‟ and „deep ecology‟ movement? Colin Campbell‟s theory of the „cultic milieu‟ is illuminating in this regard.

Campbell: The West as „breeding ground‟ for a „Cultic Milieu‟ . . the “the cultural underground” of Western Civilization including “all deviant belief-systems and their associated practices including heretical religion and deviant medicine and science. • . . . . • they share a mystical tradition emphasizing that “unity with the divine can be attained by a diversity of paths” . .” • Cultic groups are generally tolerant and receptive to each other‟s beliefs >> syncretism . .

as well as of countercultural political ideologies and movements .Expanding on Campbell‟s theory. Radical Environmentalism and Deep Ecology movements can be viewed as a bricolage of spiritual epistemologies and traditions.

found solace and connection in nature. . • Naess. . . Spiritual epistemologies. and felt “love” from the mountains with which he identified. „earthen spirituality borrows widely: Mountain epiphanies • Muir and all of Deep Ecology‟s developers and earliest proponents. • Deep ecology intellectuals are often drawn to Spinoza and pantheism. were mountain climbers.Re. estranged from people.

Arne Naess. and identification with nature.” . wholeness. Naess states the epistemological premise so common in the movement: “To do this we must spend time in mountains. claiming they are still present among tribal peoples. or where „free nature. and other deep ecologists and radical greens urge us to re-discover the animistic perceptions of our childhoods.‟ can stimulate a sense of oneness.



as well as eastern religions. fuel the impulse to borrow from Native American cultures and spiritual practices. and the general radical environmental myth.Such episteme. which are viewed as superior to western societies. .





Taoism and esp. John Seed. Buddhism influence the West‟s spiritual countercultures. to name a few. perhaps nowhere as significantly as in bioregionalism and radical environmentalism. Dolores LaChappelle.g.. Michael Soule. Gary Snyder. . ~ e. Joanna Macy. Reed Noss.


and criticisms of such appropriation have altered practices in the radical environmental movements.„Earthen Spirituality‟ is contested in multiple ways. as much as possible. . • Yet shared ritual is common. as with prayer and purification during litigation. • Sacred objects sometimes removed • Sweat Lodges become “sacred saunas” • Activists turning to own heritages.

Other ways „Earthen Spirituality‟ is contested: • Battles between Indian and Non-Indian activists and Christians opposing their „paganism.‟ • Activists. sometimes clumsily. . try to express solidarity with Native Americans (at least ones they believe are still connected to the land and its spirits).


Graham in Southeastern Arizona (1993). .These slides are from the campaign to prevent telescopes from being constructed on Mt. Environmentalists and Native Americans in their own ways believed the project would desecrate a sacred place.

The Vatican Observatory was involved in the project which intensified the religious dimensions of the conflict .



Despite some criticism. . Native American images and practices remain important in dark green spirituality.

North America as Turtle Island .

Turtle Island & totem salmon in a mandala inspired by religions of the far east .


Abbey called himself an “earth-ist” and was a pantheist who “saw the spirit in all things” (Loeffler) .” and is more effective than mountains at overturning human arrogance. calling “the Tao te‟ Ching is the best goddamned book ever written.” . And resonated with Daoism. . . from other forms of landscape. in spiritual appeal. considering it ancient nature-based spirituality.Desert epiphanies (Edward Abbey) The desert's austerity “distinguishes it.

. . . solo camping provided equally powerful spiritual perceptiveness. • Peyote “sets one up spiritually to understand the sacred quality of this planet . according to many radical environmentalists.Hallucinogens (or „Entheogens‟) • “Decisive” or important impetus for some involved in dark green religion. “Ed Abbey‟s best friend”) • Only extended. It puts one in direct contact with another wave-length with the universe and one immediately intuits that the entire planet is the living organism in which we are members” (Jack Loefler.

and “big old trees.” . sung by the late Judi Bari and her comrads. lauded the spiritual teachings of marijuana.An “Ecotopian Holy Trinity” song. magic mushrooms.



• Critically and increasingly influential. it is seen as less problematic than forms drawing on indigenous societies. .(Neo) Paganism . . . ~ Drawing on putatively European sources. ~ practitioners spread its ritual resources widely in green circles.


.Deep Ecology Ritual goes international ~ this graphic is from a tabloid announcing a 1994 “Workshop for All Beings” in Poland.

From Entmoot. of the influence of the arts in inspiring it. the title of Washington EF!‟s Newsletter. . . 1994 Here is another example of the ecelectic bricolage of dark green religion. and also.Time for an Entmoot . .

~ Songs and art challenge patriarchy within and outside of green subcultures. and incorporated into dark green spirituality ~ E. .g..… Wicca & Spiritual Ecofeminism Wicca is often in co-production with neopaganism. the Spiral Dance ritual spreads the metaphysics of interdependence.



and antinuclear and anti-war movements . • To themes of “freedom” prevalent in the Western world • To individualist. . . . libertarian forms common in many Western states.Political Tributaries • From the „old and new left‟. . .



) • increasingly. totalitarian agriculture is destroying nature and everything spiritual. anarchism. • best fits the myth that a centralizing. . . which .Political Tributaries (cont. • Legitimizes priority on local politics • De-legitimizes centralized governments reinforcing Direct Action rationale .

. .g.Radical Affinities • Almost any radical perceived to be green and an opponent of a globalizing industrial civilization is honored.. are looked to as an outbreaking of nature religion among Americans of African heritage. and . – AIM activists – Traditional Indians resisting development or displacement (e. the Hopi traditionalists) – Wangari Mathai and the Kenyan Greenbelt movement. and Move. . – Mumia abu Jamal.


The antiglobalization movement has many affinities with dark green religion and many of its supporters are radical greens. which catapulted the movement into public consciousness. . This photograph is from the protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999.

ecologically sustainable. societies (sometimes aided by anarchist revolution and even terrorism) .Hoping for the Collapse of Industrial Civilization as the only path to egalitarian.

… but some want to accelerate the process 2-6 .

. . .If you can BAKE A CAKE . . . you can MAKE A BOMB 3-6 .


One anarchist version of radical environmentalism. 4-6 .

after the collapse of industrial civilization. 4963 AD. . … hopeful apocalypticism .Glen Canyon Dam. wildness is returning . .

Quietly passed around during the 1997 National Earth First! Rendezvous in Northern Wisconsin 5-6 .

but are now revered. The opposite side proclaimed: Return to Wild Nature and had these words: "Joan of Arc and the 19th century abolitionist John Brown employed violence and gave their lives in struggle. as a kind of warrior-prophet who.Destroy the Worldwide Industrial System . Return to Wild Nature .The preceding slide is from a flyer passed out at a radical environmental gathering in the mid 1990s.FREE TED KACZYNSKI. `tried to save us. as Arleen Davila wrote. These visionaries were considered demented by their contemporaries. It may be that the Unabomber will be looked upon similarly. .' To unlearn our illusions is to begin to save ourselves ." 6-6 . .

. • What are the impacts of such countercultural spirituality and politics? • There have been many specific successes we could point to that have been won by these movements.What are we to make of all of this? . • But their greatest influence may be just beginning. . for . .

As argued in Dark Green Religion, Nature spirituality is not just for radicals anymore.
It is altering the political and ecological landscape around the world .and entering the culture‟s main streams.

Increasingly found in survey research are
• intrinsic value of nonhuman nature • „organicism/animism‟ • „natural rights‟ • to a lesser extent „pantheism‟

Organizations are proliferating that are grounded in and promoting of such spirituality
• Native Plant Societies (wild ones) • Butterfly gardeners • Biodiversity defense and restoration groups • Seed Saving , community supported agriculture, sacred agriculture movements (to name just a few)

introducing a book on ecosystem management by his employees.Even the U. Forest Service‟s Leaders . USFS Chief Jack Ward wrote . increasingly articulate biocentric values and discuss positively the important “spiritual” value that nature has for Americans when defending new. . . . forest protection policies For example. . .S.

a member of an environmental organization. diverse types of nature-based spirit-renewing benefits . a hunter. . or a Native American. a hiker. . . are common across all types of users.“Nature-based spiritual beliefs are generic to all [forest] users. . whether a timber cutter. whether holders or nonholders of sectarian religious beliefs . .

Dark Green Religion does have a radical branch and increasing impacts around the world. The question remains. what will the extent and timing of its future influences? .



” Time bomb (Dana Lyons) sorder (Casey Neil) .” “Ghost of a Chance.” “Disorder. “Time Bomb.Ecological Analysis fuels the ubiquitous Apocalypticism. poetry. and music • e..g. found in movement literature.” and “End of the World.

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