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Deep Green Resistance
FounderDerrick Jensen, Lierre Keith, Aric McBay
FocusEnvironmental justice, Social justice
  • USA
MethodDirect action, education

Deep Green Resistance (DGR) is a radical environmental movement that views mainstream environmental activism as being ineffective. The group, which perceives the existence of industrial civilization itself as the greatest threat to the natural environment,[1] strives for community organizing to build alternative food, housing, and medical institutions.[2] The organization advocates sabotage against infrastructure,[3] which it views as necessary tactics to achieve its goal of dismantling industrial civilization. Religious and ecological scholar Todd LeVasseur classifies it as an apocalyptic or millenarian movement.[4]


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.[1]

The movement differentiates itself from bright green environmentalism, which is characterized by a focus on personal, technological, or government and corporate solutions, in that it holds these solutions as 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 capita industrial waste produced is orders of magnitude greater than personal waste produced; therefore, it is industrialism that must be ended, and with that, lifestyle changes will follow.[1][non-primary source needed]

Origins and advocates

A conference entitled "Deep Green Resistance: Confronting Industrial Culture" was organized by Keith in April, 2007 in Deerfield, Massachusetts.[5][6][7][better source needed]

Resistance tactics

The Deep Green perspective argues that the dominant culture, a term that encompasses all the cultures within globalized civilization, will not undergo a voluntary transformation to a sustainable way of living. This includes the movement's rejection of the feasibility of a slow and soft shift to sustainability. Members of the Deep Green movement believe that industrial civilization will inevitably collapse. This notion is based on historical examples of the collapse of major civilizations such as Rome or the Mayan civilization, and statistics regarding the current system's unsustainability. DGR maintains that humans must act decisively before the collapse to ensure the Earth that remains inhabitable for all organisms and that humans build a more sustainably structured society following the collapse.[1] The founders of the Deep Green movement view technological solutions, no matter how well-intentioned, as unsatisfactory and argue that they could even lead to accelerated ecological destruction and pollution.[1]

The organization advocates sabotage and violence, which it views as necessary tactics to achieve its goal of dismantling industrialized society and capitalism; as such, it can be classified as an apocalyptic or millenarian movement.[8] Jensen stated in an interview on Democracy Now!: "I get accused of being the 'violence guy'... but I don’t ever think that's really fair, because I really consider myself the 'everything guy', that I want to put everything on the table and talk about all forms of resistance.... We can certainly parse out cases where we think it's appropriate to have militant response or non-militant response."[9] Though the organization supports underground movements, it requires its members to adhere to a nonviolence pledge and operates as an aboveground movement only.[10]


A 2012 review of the 2011 DGR manifesto criticizes DGR's ideas as polarizing, elitist, extremist or asocial.[11] Bron Taylor argues in Resistance: Do the Ends Justify the Means? that "radical tactics tend to be counterproductive" in winning over the general public.[12] DGR co-founder Jensen states that if activists do not wish to participate in more militant acts of sabotage, they, at the very least, should prepare to set up local committees to reduce or channel violence expected to be wielded by the people in power in response to the eventual collapse of civilization.[13] An article in Journal of Strategic Security describes the group as a "worrying bioterrorism threat", citing its strategy and propensity towards violence.[14] Beginning in 2014, the FBI investigated Deep Green Resistance.[10][15]

Anarcho-primitivists John Zerzan, Kevin Tucker and others criticize DGR's promotion of hierarchy in organizing an underground resistance, the code of conduct, the historical understanding of revolution and radical history, and the cult of personality around Jensen and Keith.[16][17][18][19] Michelle Renée Matisons and Alexander Reid Ross of the Institute for Anarchist Studies have accused DGR of "emulating right-wing militia rhetoric, with the accompanying hierarchical vanguardism, personality cultism, and reactionary moralism."[20]

Anti-trans views

DGR describes itself as a radical feminist organization, and has been described by critics as transphobic and TERF.[21][22][23] The organisation has described hormone therapy for transgender youth as eugenics and excludes transgender women from women's spaces,[24] while Keith has compared gender transitioning to mutilation.[25] In 2012, founder McBay left the group, saying that it promoted transphobia.[4] Earth First! Journal repudiated DGR in 2013 and said that it would "no longer print or in any way promote DGR material" because of its leaders' anti-transgender stances.[26]

In 2019, Jensen, Keith, as well as DGR activist Max Wilbert published an article in Feminist Current saying "Hands up everyone who predicted that when Big Brother arrived, he’d be wearing a dress, hauling anyone who refuses to wax his ladyballs before a human rights tribunal, and bellowing ‘It’s Ma’am!’"[24] In 2022, during the resistance to the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine, Indigenous group People of Red Mountain broke ties with attorney and DGR member Will Falk, citing transphobia as the reason.[27] Other environmental groups involved in opposing the Thacker Pass project have distanced themselves from DGR.[28] The organisation has also been criticised for its association with Jennifer Bilek, an investigative journalist who has, with antisemitic connotations, argued that transgender rights are a transhumanist conspiracy.[24][29][30]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e McBay, Aric, Lierre Keith, and Derrick Jensen. 2011. Deep Green Resistance. New York: Seven Stories Press.
  2. ^ "About Us". Deep Green Resistance. 2022.
  3. ^ "Radical environmentalism: 'We need to be ready to risk our lives' - Prolific activist Derrick Jensen talks to DW about ending civilization, returning to hunter-gatherer times and why extreme action shouldn't mean ecoterrorism". Deutsche Welle. 6 September 2020. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  4. ^ a b LeVasseur, Todd (2017). "Decisive Ecological Warfare: Triggering Industrial Collapse via Deep Green Resistance". Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 11 (1): 109–130. doi:10.1558/jsrnc.29799. ISSN 1749-4915. Abstract - Deep Green Resistance (or DGR) is a US-based radical environmental group that calls for ‘decisive ecological warfare’ (DEW) that is motivated by naturalistic forms of nature spirituality and biocentric moral sentiments. Exceptionally militant, its advocates champion both aboveground and underground resistance to industrial capitalism, viewing sabotage and violence as a necessary tactic, grounding its views in both apocalyptic and millennial themes. To understand this movement, one must apprehend the ways its ecological, political, and spiritual understandings blend in ways that justify its advocacy of extreme means of ecological resistance.
  5. ^ "Deep Green Resistance: Confronting Industrial Culture".
  6. ^ "Deep Green Resistance: Confronting Industrial Culture". Archived from the original on 2008-05-24.
  7. ^ "Event Organizers: About Me". Archived from the original on 2008-01-22.
  8. ^ LeVasseur, Todd (2017). "Decisive Ecological Warfare: Triggering Industrial Collapse via Deep Green Resistance". Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. 11 (1): 109–130. doi:10.1558/jsrnc.29799. ISSN 1749-4915.
  9. ^ Jensen, Derrick (26 November 2010). "Author and Activist Derrick Jensen: "The Dominant Culture is Killing the Planet...It's Very Important for Us to Start to Build a Culture of Resistance"". Democracy Now! (Interview). Interviewed by Amy Goodman.
  10. ^ a b "Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations". the Guardian. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  11. ^ Ian Angus (May 10, 2012). "'Deep Green Resistance' – How not to build a movement - A path to certain defeat" (Book review). Climate & Capitalism. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  12. ^ Taylor, Bron (2013-04-26). "Resistance: Do the Ends Justify the Means? | Latest News | Earth Island Journal | Earth Island Institute". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  13. ^ Jensen, Derrick. "It's Time to Get Out". Endgame.
  14. ^ Spadaro, Paola Andrea (2020). "Climate Change, Environmental Terrorism, Eco-Terrorism and Emerging Threats". Journal of Strategic Security. 13 (4): 65–66. doi:10.5038/1944-0472.13.4.1863. ISSN 1944-0464. JSTOR 26965518. S2CID 230633873.
  15. ^ Brown, Alleen BrownAlleen (August 24, 2020). "Tilting at Windmills: The FBI Chased Imagined Eco-Activist Enemies, Documents Reveal". The Intercept. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Deep Green Resistance: A Book Review". Sprout Distro. 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  17. ^ Matisons, Michelle; Ross, Alexander Reid (2014–2015). "Deep Green Resistance — a critique". Earth First! Journal. Archived from the original on 2014-08-03. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
  18. ^ "Anarchy Radio 03-08-2011 : John Zerzan : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2016-06-25.
  19. ^ "Authority and civilization". Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  20. ^ Renée Matisons, Michelle (9 August 2015). "Against Deep Green Resistance". Industrial Workers of the World Environmental Unionist Caucus. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  21. ^ Houlberg, Laura (2017). "The End of Gender or Deep Green Transmisogyny?". Routledge Handbook of Gender and Environment. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-315-88657-2.
  22. ^ "I'm Not A Gender Zombie and Neither Are You: Rejecting Anti-Trans Bigotry From Rachel Ivey and Deep Green Resistance". Autostraddle. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  23. ^ Borden, Mitch (29 March 2016). "Transphobes Still Welcome at Public Interest Environmental Law Conference". It's Going Down. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  24. ^ a b c Taft, Molly (9 February 2022). "The Environmental Movement Isn't Ready for Transphobia". Gizmodo. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  25. ^ Borden, Mitch (15 January 2018). "Environmental group protested for being transphobic". KMXT. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  26. ^ Pellow, David Naguib (2019). "Eco-Defence, Radical Environmentalism and Environmental Justice". Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics. Routledge. p. 112. ISBN 9781315619880.
  27. ^ Holzman, Jael (6 February 2022). "How a fight over transgender rights derailed environmentalists in Nevada". Politico. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  28. ^ Hill, Jessica (4 March 2022). "News reports to the contrary, opposition to proposed Northern Nevada lithium mine continues". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 26 June 2022.
  29. ^ Dodds, Io (26 June 2022). "How paranoia over trans rights became catnip for QAnon and the far right". The Independent. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  30. ^ Moore, Mallory (20 March 2022). "ALERT: Transphobic feminism and far-right activism rapidly converging". Freedom News. Retrieved 26 June 2022.

Further reading