Resistance Ecology Conference Disavows DGR

19 May

The Resistance Ecology conference has released a statement formally denouncing and disavowing DGR, making it clear that representatives of DGR will not be tabling at the conference. The conference taking place between May 31 and June 2 will host guests such as Lauren Gazola and Jake Conroy of the SHAC7, Jeff Luers, Karen Coulter, Will Potter, Kristian Williams, and more. The EF! Newswire does not revel in the infighting going on right now. This statement is, however, powerful, clear, and important. It also sets forward a path for the forthcoming conference, which will possibly lay out some positive new directions for the movement to come. Here is the statement sent to the EF! Newswire from the conference organizers earlier today:

On Deep Green Resistance & the Resistance Ecology Conference

In light of recent events at the Law & Disorder Conference and the online quarrels that followed in the wake, Resistance Ecology has decided it needs to make a statement that makes clear the relationship between our conference, our organization, and Deep Green Resistance.

First, Deep Green Resistance and Resistance Ecology are in no way related organizations. They have had no part in organizing the Resistance Ecology Conference and will not in the future.

Second, Deep Green Resistance was not explicitly invited to attend or participate in the conference. They contacted us several times over the course of the last few months to express interest in presenting and tabling as an organization and we clearly stated to them that we had concerns, particularly over the controversial sentiments and opinions of Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen. We were told that DGR Portland does not necessarily subscribe to the politics of Keith or Jensen, but rather follows the critique of civilization as outlined by Aric McBay, the primary author of Deep Green Resistance.

For the sake of transparency, we told them that in spite of our disagreements, we would consider allowing them to table provided there was available space, the consent of the entire group, and after DGR Portland made clear its politics with respect to the controversies surrounding Lierre Keith and Derrick Jensen. At the time, we did not equate this new local organization with the arrogance and Keith and Jensen. However, we never guaranteed their presence at our conference in any way. These conversations took place prior to our learning that the DGR leadership requires all chapters to subscribe to their statements on gender and prior to learning that Aric McBay, himself, left DGR due to what he considers to be the transphobia of Jensen and Keith. After the events of Law and Disorder and the days that followed, it became clear that DGR Portland was not willing or able to distance themselves from their leadership, that their existence as an organization itself represented the misinformation campaign of their leadership, and that DGR has become nothing more than scaffolding to build a cult of personality around Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith.

Third, the only person from DGR Portland that we were in regular contact with regarding participation our conference has actually left DGR Portland due to the concerns listed above. In this light, we believe that our dialogue was genuine and that they too share our concerns about the DGR leadership and history. We are not discrediting any of the merit that may exist in DGR’s analysis of civilization and its strategy for resistance, and we do equate these positions with ignorance or transphobia. We do however believe that DGR as an organization has become problematically entangled with the often controversial positions of Keith and Jensen. For those remaining as part of DGR Portland, we too invite you to contact us to further this discussion.

Lastly, let us make clear: Deep Green Resistance will not be present at the Resistance Ecology Conference. Their sociopolitical analysis is in direct conflict with the spirit of the conference and their attempts to monopolize the concepts of “anti-civilization”, “biocentrism”, or “ecological resistance” under their rigid ideological banner do nothing to grow our movements out of isolation and stagnation. They further our ineffectiveness under the disguise of being freedom fighters.

We as an organization strive to promote dialogue and communication between ideological and political variants within the animal liberation and ecology movements. Just as importantly, it is our intention to strengthen the dialogue, association, and participation between these movements and the broader community of liberation and social justice. This is not simply shallow rhetoric in order to construct a facade of legitimacy around the animal and ecological liberation movements. This is not a vain attempt to reconcile all of our past inadequacies, whether latent racism and sexism, or effective neocolonialism. This is not a plea for outside movements, marginalized peoples or communities to increase their participation within ours, just so we can avoid the labels of “white”, “male”, or “cis” privilege. This is an honest attempt to deal with the existing disparities within and among social movements, particularly with respect to ecological and animal liberation movements. This is an honest attempt to build cohesive and synergistic movements against the imperious structures that exploit and destroy ecological and social communities and their inhabitants.

There are some political factions that we cannot allow to be nourished within the animal liberation and radical ecology movements under the veil of “unity”. These movements already have unfortunate pasts that have nurtured ignorance, bigotry, and interpersonal violence. It seems these conversations are reduced to discussions of unity in terms of what sorts of ideological discord and controversial perspectives that we have room to include, so long as we agree on the status of nonhumans or biocentrism. Yet we need to discuss unity in terms of what sorts of novel perspectives that we innately exclude by the very dynamics of our single-issue politics and the communities that we ostracize by our refusal to acknowledge their struggle as a legitimate point of our political analysis.

Political myopia can lead us to believe that animal or ecological liberation exist in a vacuum and allow us to ignore that the common social structures and institutions that we oppose are also those that create and perpetuate the oppression of many other communities and marginalized peoples. We tend to only utilize this rhetoric when it benefits us, when it does not step on toes, and when it functions as social currency. Yet we remain a movement that suffers from isolation, alienation, and from political marginalization. Our movement as a whole suffers from the plague of single-issue politics that masquerade under the banner of “unity for animals”, “earth first!”, “biocentrism”, or “anti-civilization”. In the US, our makeup is overwhelmingly white, our social standing is overwhelmingly middle to upper class, and our often consumer-based puritanism translates into neocolonial and neoliberal politics. We are anything but unified.

It is time that we concede that these dynamics do nothing to strengthen our movement (especially in times of repression) and that they serve a social function of keeping it isolated, fragmented, dispossessed, and impotent to change. We can derive the resolve and stability for a future movement for ecological liberation from diversity: diversity of perspectives, experiences, and solutions. We cannot cultivate diversity in a climate that brushes off whole communities, movements, and histories as irrelevant, nonexistent, or divisive. This is the sort of climate that has allowed interpersonal violence, patriarchal behavior, tacit and explicit racism, neocolonialism, heterosexism, homophobia, and transphobia to occur in our movements’ pasts. Our silence on these issues not only perpetuates the atrocities themselves, it weakens our resilience for the future.

To suggest that conversations about issues that are directly outside the realm of animal liberation or ecological resistance are irrelevant or “anthropocentric” is absurd. Such stances do nothing to diversify an already weak, fragmented, isolated, and unstable movement. They create an environment of destabilization and ultimately division by allowing oppressive power dynamics to emerge and flourish. To suggest that presumptive, unnecessary and ultimately divisive consequences derive from discussions such as this is unfortunately ironic. It is because we do not honestly engage in discussions on our ideological shortcomings, or gaps in our praxis of liberation that division and stagnation occur. Conversations of this nature are precisely what we must be engaging in, in order to build the diversity of perspectives and participation necessary to move into the future.

How are we supposed to build a movement that refuses to acknowledge its place in the complex relationships of resistance and oppression by marginalizing itself whenever a topic becomes controversial or seemingly irrelevant to animal suffering or ecological destruction? How are we supposed to move forward without adopting a holistic political analysis that recognizes that we need to support and participate across movements and communities, rather than to complain that no one seems to care about the earth and animals, or our movements when they face trying times?

We have to genuinely employ critical dialogue and action beyond the framework of our single-issue politics. We should realize that our movement exists in relation to others, that our enemies and targets are common, and that the oppression of animals and domination of other species and ecological communities are not historical or social anomalies. It means that we need to respect, study, and work with the countless communities and movements that outnumber us, predate us, and from whom we have much to learn and to whom we have much to support to offer.

We look forward to learning from you and working with you.

Resistance Ecology

[NOTE: If you would like to further this discussion, please email us.]

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