|Founder||Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Aric McBay|
|Focus||Environmental justice, Social justice|
|Method||Direct action, education|
Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is a radical environmental movement that views mainstream environmental activism as being ineffective. The group believes that industrial civilization, as they define it, is endangering the environment, and that it must be destroyed using a broad range of tactics including militancy.
In the 2011 book Deep Green Resistance, the authors Lierre Keith, Derrick Jensen and Aric McBay state that civilization, particularly industrial civilization, is fundamentally unsustainable and must be actively and urgently dismantled in order to secure a future for all species on the planet.
The term was created for a 2007 conference entitled Deep Green Resistance, Confronting Industrial Culture in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Lierre Keith was the main organizer.
DGR holds bright green environmentalism to be inadequate. DGR believes that lifestyle changes, such as using travel mugs and reusable bags and taking shorter showers, are too small for the large-scale environmental problems the world faces. It also states that the recent surge in environmentalism has become commercial in nature, and thus in itself has been industrialized. The movement asserts that per person the industrial waste produced is orders of magnitude greater than the home waste produced; therefore, it is industrialism that must be ended, and with that, lifestyle changes will follow.
Critics point out that DGR does not offer a feasible method for accelerating the massive numbers of human deaths predicted, but Keith and Jensen contend that while the reality of them not being actually able to slaughter millions of people is unpleasant, an apocalypse is inevitable anyway and delaying mass murder will only result in more suffering and that they are merely trying to prepare the world for the forthcoming death and wide-scale violence. Jensen states that if activists do not wish to participate in terrorism and murder, they, at the very least, should prepare to set up local committees to reduce or channel the additional violence.
In a November 2019 article published on the Deep Green Resistance News Service website, the group elaborated on their ideology, responded to their critics and denied that they support mass killings and genocide:
Most fundamentally, we are not a human supremacist organization. We believe that environmentalism exists to defend the health and freedom of the whole living world, of which human beings are merely a small (but precious!) part. Further, we believe that, when our way of living comes into conflict with the health of the land and the non-humans with which we share it, our way of living is what must go. For many people, these are upsetting statements; for those activists whose idea of liberation is tied up with air-conditioned subway cars and automated luxury goods, they can be downright terrifying! It’s no wonder, then, that so many techno-utopians are quick to assume that we support sterilization, eugenics, “population control,” or even mass killings or genocide. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. All those things are both morally unacceptable and practically foolish. DGR advocates for the targeted abolition of industrial civilization, not indiscriminate destruction or mass extinction. To be honest, we find it particularly sad that so many “environmentalists” simply cannot imagine a biocentric worldview apart from these atrocities – but their lack of imagination is not our fault, and we’d appreciate it if they stopped making up nonsense.
DGR is a radical feminist organization, and has been described by critics as transphobic and TERF. A transitioning member, identifying as a woman, requested to join a women's communal sleeping and showering space and, later, a women's caucus space; this was refused. McBay claimed he "left the organization at the beginning of 2012 after a trans inclusive policy was cancelled by Jensen and Keith. Many ... people ... left the organization for that reason". DGR views gender as a brutal and corrupt caste system that requires destruction.
Operating under the assumption that the majority of global society will not voluntary starve or die, the DGR believes armed warfare is unavoidable. It dismisses that any gradual shift to sustainability is possible. DGR believes that industrial civilization will inevitably collapse, that they must act decisively before the collapse to ensure that the Earth remains inhabitable for all organisms, and build a more sustainable society after the collapse. DGR supports an active resistance movement with the objective of accelerating the collapse of industrial civilization. Jensen has concluded that "the mass of civilized people will never be on our side." This has led to organizing a strategy that is pessimistic about popular involvement, and therefore aims at forcing change without the majority's consensus.
DGR holds that lifestyle change is not effective. Mainstream environmentalism is criticised for its emphasis on individual lifestyle changes and technological solutions, instead of confronting and holding individuals, industries, institutions and society accountable. The founders of the DGR view technological solutions, no matter how well-intentioned, as unsatisfactory and warn that they could even lead to accelerated environmental destruction.
In the organization's eponymous book, Keith lists a number of reasons where she finds violence justified, although she understands that people "who care about justice want to reject violence".
The organisation supports conflict and militancy in order to achieve its goals. The foundational book of the DGR details how a network of "well-organized underground militants" are to rise up in "coordinated attacks" to obliterate industrial infrastructure "perhaps using electromagnetic pulses". The DGR describes militant action as a potentially necessary means to achieve the drastic changes they desire. The DGR endorses violent strategies for social action. In a YouTube video they posted McBay and Keith promote the idea of clandestine networks organized along hierarchical lines, with frontline troops disciplined by a command structure, and hierarchies are best for organizing an insurgency.
Jensen predicts that in the future the authorities will try to arrest members. He dismisses mass genocide as acceptable considering "global economy is murdering humans and non-humans" and "don't blame those who want to stop ... exploitation... help to stop the exploitation". He has clarified such ideas on Democracy Now!: "I get accused of being the 'violence guy' ... I want to put everything on the table ... it's appropriate to have militant response or non-militant response."
In 'Deep Green Resistance' – How not to build a movement - A path to certain defeat, a 2012 review of the 2011 DGR manifesto, Ian Angus criticizes DGR's ideas as polarizing, elitist, extremist or asocial. Regarding advocacy for dictatorship, eco-terrorism and genocide Bron Taylor argues in Resistance: Do the Ends Justify the Means? that "radical tactics tend to be counterproductive" in winning the general public.
Anarcho-primitivists John Zerzan, Kevin Tucker and others criticise the promotion of hierarchy in organising militants, the code of conduct, the historical understanding of revolution and radical history, and the cult of personality around Jensen and Keith.