In the ongoing firestorm of controversy surrounding Deep Green Resistance (DGR) and transphobia, a hateful series of emails sent by DGR frontman, Derrick Jensen, has been leaked exposing Jensen’s own deep-seeded animosity towards anarchists and trans people.
Apparently Jensen received several emails asking him for clarification about transphobia after the publication of the Earth First! Journal Collective’s initial statement about DGR and transphobia. Reacting to the inquiries, Jensen wrote, “I liked what I said to Julia or whatever his name was who wanted to join DGR: You are not a woman. You are a man who believes he is a woman.” It is hard to distill transphobia to a more concentrated attempt to completely deny trans identity. But wait, there’s more.
About one of Jensen’s would-be interlocutors, Jensen had this to say: “One of them was an anarchist, so he’ll be a prick no matter what happens.” Jensen would not be satisfied by this simple attack on anarchists. He would go on to write, “The anarchists are liars. It’s what anarchists do.” As far as lies go, this is a terribly misleading and fundamentally dishonest statement, considering the deeply thoughtful and critical accountability processes and collective decision-making that form anarchist praxis. Does Jensen not understand anarchism, or is he simply creating a smoke screen?
This question is answered quickly enough in Jensen’s recap of the Law and Disorder conference: “Men attacked women in an attempt to silence them… And that’s how anarchism works. And then anarchists claim that the real victims of the assault were the perpetrators. This is completely standard operating procedure in anarchism.” So here we find Jensen again denying trans people’s identity, and insisting that anarchism is a politics of victimization. Even held up to the most broad of analysis, this statement is utterly false—consider, for instance, the workings of Rising Tide, Anarchist Black Cross, Food Not Bombs, Homes Not Jails, No Borders Camps, much of the core organizing and origins of the Occupy movement, and other righteous stuff brought about through anarchist strategies and tactics.
One important maneuver comes in another email, while Jensen is still on the ropes, striking out against his own friends. Founder of Rewilding Portland, Peter Bauer (urbanscout), posted the EF! statement on his facebook wall, and in response, Jensen wrote Bauer. The upshot, according to Jensen, was simple: “If he doesn’t retract it, I’ll block him, which is really all I can do, and of course I’ll never speak to him again. Fuckers.” Baur kept the statement up, and was subsequently banned from the Derrick Jensen Forum.
But then, Jensen jumped into action in a way we always thought DGR would go down. He and his top officials took power over the entire national group, dispensing with the general philosophy that he, Keith, and McBay were only authors providing a foundation for autonomous non-hierarchal organizing.
“We—the board—are taking over, because so far the way this has been handled is a classic example of how battles are lost. We have had every advantage against a completely incompetent opponent, and we are still somehow managing to lose. When I engage in a conflict, I aim to win it. And as of this moment DGR is fighting to win this conflict.” Fucking epic, right?
First of all, I don’t think most people see this as a war or whatever. It’s a really tragic, emotionally taxing problem that the movement has been dealing with for years. Why is Jensen breaking it down like this? Like he’s at war with trans people and anarchist organizers? I know we have some different opinions, but it’s hard not to wonder: Is Derrick Jensen really our enemy?
Recall first that Jensen in the book, Deep Green Resistance, claims that anti-civ organizing is inherently non-hierarchical. Funny, then, that he should take power in such a dramatic fashion to commandeer authority over the entire organization. During this power grab, Jensen forced the Portland DGR chapter to retract their initial statement, which he felt was “done incredibly poorly” and “should have been run by us. We would have fixed this.” So much for autonomy! So much for the group that was involved and that witnessed the event actually having a voice and speaking for themselves. Derrick Jensen has the story that the public should see, and as for the witnesses and people involved—they are victim blaming (even if they are, themselves, the “victims,” according to Jensen’s insensitive and disconnected stance).
The sad part, aside from the total betrayal of DGR’s own strategies and tactics through the forced “state of exception” brought down by the Jensen administration, is that this entire “conflict” that Jensen pledges to “win” is about securing his privilege to transgress the rights of trans people. And why is Jensen going to war? Because some trans folks drew on some books (and accidentally on someone’s hand)? No. This is about Derrick Jensen and DGR’s leadership not being able to listen. They deny accountability, and push all the blame on anarchists and trans people.
Portland DGR has officially split over the transphobic stance of DGR’s leadership, with key organizers forming a group called Resistance Portland. We call on all DGR chapters to join them in calling out the leadership, denouncing transphobia, and forming a Resistance Network throughout the United States. The DGR leadership has already betrayed you through their transphobia, and through their recent consolidation of power. Together, we can bring down capitalism and patriarchy.
This most recent development will probably only strengthen our resolve, reminding all of us to always organize with our hearts, to never follow those who proclaim themselves to be our leaders, and to never forget that solidarity is all we have. And to love each other with all our might. The heart is a muscle as big as a fist, and with it, we will smash the state!