The following is the spoken introduction to Testify! Eco-Defense and the Politics of Violence, one of my absolute favorite documentaries. I cannot pimp this film enough. The amazing words are spoken over an intense montage of violence against the Earth and animals, and activists fighting back.
(Spoken by Teresa Hele, I believe that’s the spelling)
The philosophy and tactics of direct action environmentalists are timely. Both modern society and the world’s few remaining indigenous communities are becoming totally ensnared by technological imperatives. Integrate into the world capitalist economy, or be eradicated. Be transformed from something natural into something productive, or perish. Grow technological, or die. The activists represented in this video are just a few among thousands of others who have risked their lives and liberties resisting the commandments of global capitalism. From blockades and treesits to the use of explosive and incendiary devices, revolutionary environmental groups, including the ELF, ALF, Earth First!, and Sea Shepherd, act to defend life against profit. Critics condemn the alleged violence of revolutionary environmentalists, but consider forest clearcuts, widespread extinctions, massive pollution, the destruction of habitats and indigenous homelands, the introduction of synthetic chemicals into the environment, and the torture, death, and dismemberment of more than 25 billion factory farmed animals worldwide each year. The emerging global consumerist lifestyle is saturated by violence.
Consider the violent effects on human beings, especially on young children and elders, as air, land, water and food is polluted. Then consider violent reprisals against groups and individuals courageous enough to resist attacks on people and on the Earth. Think of the violence that murders David Chain, defender of Northern California’s redwoods. That executes Ken Saro-Wiwa, defender of the Ogoni homeland in the Niger Delta. That kills Chico Mendez and Dorothy Stang, defenders of the lands and First Nations in the Amazon Basin. That bombs Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, and that kills Karen Silkwood for trying to tell the truth about the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant in Oklahoma. This is the violence that incarcerates dozens of Earth liberation activists, like Jeffrey “Free” Luers, who, in June 2001, was sentenced to 23 years for burning three SUVs on a Eugene, Oregon car lot. Unlike their counterparts in the corporate-state matrix, actions by revolutionary environmentalists, even by the state’s admission, have resulted in no physical harm to any human or nonhuman animal. The monkeywrenching tactics of these groups are aimed at tools of actual violence, employed for the purpose of corporate profit. Henry David Thoreau, in his famous pamphlet, Civil Disobedience, urged readers to live by principle. And if circumstances require us to be agents of injustice, then, Thoreau said, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. Western technological culture, and its unfolding through the capitalist world economy, is a systematic assault on the Earth. In defense of life, revolutionary environmentalists counter the assault, on the ground, at the points of destruction.
This is their story.