The Power of Place–an Interview with Derrick Jensen

Here are some tasty little tidbits from a recent interview I conducted over the phone with Derrick Jensen, author of such seminal anti-civilization books as Endgame, The Culture of Make Believe, and Lives Less Valuable.  The entirety of the (quite long) interview can be read by clicking on the “Other Writings” link above.

DERRICK:  I think this project is incredibly important in terms of helping us to remember that we are fighting over scraps, and we shouldn’t be.  We should be living in intact natural communities.

JAN:  Right.  And the fight we have to fight shouldn’t be about fighting over scraps.  We shouldn’t say, “Don’t clearcut this 50 acres,” but then say nothing about the clearcutting of 2000 acres tomorrow.  We should say, “We want it all.”  And it’s really not about us, we’re not selfish, saying “GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!”  It’s that we humans—all humans—need it all, the natural world has its own rights, and the nonhumans need it all.  It’s about preserving life.


DERRICK:  And what do all his so-called solutions to global warming have in common?  They’re trying to save industrial capitalism; they take industrial capitalism as a given, the natural world as that which must conform to industrial capitalism.  And that’s insane, literally, in terms of being out of touch with physical reality.


DERRICK:  …we’ll never have a mass movement.  Those in power only understand force.  And you can have force in many ways.  You can have 20 million people march the streets, and that’s a type of force.  If you don’t have that, you have to use other sorts of force.  Because they’re not going to stop voluntarily. 


DERRICK:  …the larger scale solution is to destroy the whole system.

JAN:  Right.  And so, since support work is so crucial, and it has to be there…but also there has to be militant resistance; and there is to a slight degree, you know, the ELF and things, but you’ve talked about the ELF and ALF needing to step it up a notch on the infrastructure.  And I 100 percent agree on that, and that’s why I wrote my novel Redwood Falls; I was trying to convey the point that the sabotage needs to be targeted and leveraged and as high up on the infrastructure as one can reach.  So how important do you think it is to target with sabotage, say…oh I don’t know…railroad tracks leading to factories or oil/chemical refineries or things like that?

DERRICK:  I can’t tell people, for any number of reasons, what they should do…

JAN:  That’s why I write fiction; I can get away with things you can’t in nonfiction.


JAN:  We shouldn’t be identifying as Americans or human beings or whatever, we should identify as individuals in the community of life on Earth, and members of a resistance movement that needs to save that community.


DERRICK:  The image they [lifestylists] sometime use is, you know, “We’re on this airplane and Derrick Jensen wants to kill the pilot.  We need to have a soft landing.”  We’re not gonna have a soft fucking landing.  A much better metaphor is we’re on a train, say, that has a lot of momentum, and it’s running over train tracks that are made of the living bodies of those we love.  So what we need to do is stop the train one day sooner.  Or one day sooner than that.  And the train will run out of energy, but what we need to do…if we stop it one day sooner, that’s 120 species.


DERRICK:  If you’re addicted to exploiting others, it’s not you that’s in trouble, it’s not you that’s gonna hit bottom, everybody else is gonna hit bottom, which means you’re not gonna stop.  Not until you’re forced to stop.


I hope that whet your appetite.  Click on the “Other Writings” link above to read the complete interview.  Thank you, and thanks so much to Derrick Jensen for allowing me the (extended) time to conduct this unique interview!


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