I spent a lot of time working on this essay, but I'm sick of it. I wound up not wanting to post it at all. But I thought that if I can keep one person from dressing up in a Halloween costume and licking the boots of pea brained cops and fascists
, I should post this.
- - - - -
For those of us who have chosen to resist, there are two options left: Flinging our bodies onto the gears of The Machine or militant, voluntary simplicity, in remote, lightly populated areas.
Let's first look at flinging our bodies onto the gears of The Machine. I chose Derrick Jensen to represent this perspective because the few people who think about these matters seriously cite him regularly enough.
As Jensen accurately points out in Endgame Volume 1
, activists need to watch Star Wars again and imagine that---instead of suit wearing politicians, monolithic bureaucracies, and evil corporations---they're actually dealing with Darth Vader and The Empire. And no matter how hard the activists try, no matter how long the fair trade, organic hemp hacky sacks can be kicked around the circle, no matter how many bumper stickers the activists put on their hybrid SUVs, or how many letters the activists write, Darth Vader is not going to change his behavior. It's not in Darth Vader's nature to do that. Besides, Darth Vader did not become the commander of the Death Star by writing letters.
As long as Darth Vader continues to receive written requests, he knows that his power is secure, and it will be business as usual on the Death Star...
In Star Wars, what finally stopped business as usual on the Death Star?
Was it thinking positive thoughts? Was it radiating love to Darth Vader? Was it sending letters to the editor? Was it holding focus groups and drinking organic wheat grass smoothies?
Spray painting peace symbols on the bulkheads of various ships in the Imperial fleet?
Were Darth Vader and the terrifying Death Star stopped by reading web pages? By sending emails? By listening to podcasts? By watching documentaries about The Empire on YouTube and Google Video?
Just as the the Death Star had a relatively undefended exhaust port that led directly to the main reactor unit, the system of horror we're all living under has several strategic, relatively undefended fulcrums (Jensen calls them chokepoints) upon which the core operations of The Machine depend.
If you don't believe the system is collapsing under its own weight, right now, Jensen wants you to think about these strategic, relatively undefended fulcrums, consider yourself dead and take action. Real action. Throw yourself onto the gears of The Machine.
Jensen notes that some Jews who went on what they thought were suicide missions against the Nazis in Poland wound up living. He curiously didn't use Japanese kamikaze operations in the Pacific to make his point...
Don't, whatever you do, rely on Jensen to teach you about asymmetric warfare. He's dangerously clueless on the subject, and even tells the reader on page 257 of Endgame Volume 1
, when it comes to carrying out operations, "I don't know what to do. I'm a writer... I'm spatially and mechanically inept...with a heavy dose of absent mindedness thrown in for good measure..."
[Note on Endgame books: If you haven't yet read these books, the above represents a condensed spoiler version of the nearly 1000 pages of material. And I didn't mention salmon or dams once... * gritting teeth thinking about how many times Jensen mentions salmon and dams * Don't get me wrong, there are dozens of excellent data points in the books. I made notecards to keep track of them. Unfortunately, 3/4 of the tomes' pages are Jensen's meditations on the natural world (read: mostly salmon, again and again and again), dams, his life traumas and rambling wanderings on ____<--- fill in the blank. Still, I recommend reading the books, if you can tolerate what seems like great negligence in terms of editing. And WTF on his use of endnotes!? Anyway...]
While Jensen is correct in his assessment of political and environmental activism being worthless for making any positive difference in the situation on the ground---Cryptogon readers have seen this same perspective here for years---there are other alternatives for inflicting great damage to The Machine.
Rather than attempting to bring down The Machine suddenly, in a manner that would, almost certainly, result in the use of strategic nuclear weapons, we should gradually destroy The Machine (and let it destroy itself), while learning the skills necessary to make living in a post collapse reality not only possible, but enjoyable.
How do you gradually destroy The Machine?
Living on as little money as possible, bartering for or buying only what you can't produce yourself, in my opinion, does a great deal of harm to this system.
Doing these things also allows the advocate of the strategy to avoid the obvious hypocrisy that bogs down Jensen's suggestions. Nope, you won't find Jensen actually doing anything to blow up the Death Star. Like he says, "I'm a writer." That's convenient, especially for Jensen.
Regardless of the fact that Jensen uses all of the tools and enjoys all of the comforts of civilization, he thinks the system needs our help in order to bring about a collapse... but he can't actually help with any of that...
If everything crashed tomorrow, suddenly, what knowledge---useful for existence in a post collapse world---would be lost forever? Many of us are several generations away from anyone who lived life in balance with the natural world. The requisite skillset is, in general, long gone. Those of us who are out here actually trying to do something are having to learn all of it over again.
Look around. This thing is coming down on its own. The Death Star, it turns out, is running on petrochemicals, the production of which have probably already peaked, or are near to peaking. Additionally, the Empire depends on the Rebel Alliance to spend money on shit they don't even need. If the Rebel Alliance slowed the movement of money, and kept the money from flowing up the pyramid, the Empire would collapse. Yes, as it stands now, the Rebel Alliance is taking out loans from The Empire and this is keeping the Empire in power! HA. Eventually, Darth Vader is going to get stuck with the bill.
In a linear collapse scenario---what we're living in now---there is less of a chance of nuclear weapons being used. If, however, an insurgency began dismantling key infrastructures, the regimes in question could (and probably would) see the threats as strategic and begin to follow scripted war plans that include the use of strategic nuclear weapons. In such a cascading collapse, the release of nuclear weapons would, because of the confusing nature and fast pace of events, be much more likely.
Voluntary simplicity is as frightening to many people as armed insurgency. Those, however, are the only viable options that remain at this late stage of the game. If you go with voluntary simplicity, you have to assume that the system is actually in the process of collapsing, because, if it doesn't collapse, we will pass a point beyond which resistance of any meaningful kind will be impossible. If you go with armed insurgency---and, let's say that you, by some miracle, actually manage to collapse civilization---avoiding total extinction via thermonuclear holocaust would be your next goal.