The Non-Violence Story

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As with all other very popular stories, given the state we're in globally (eg. with 200species destroyed every day, as well as countless human native cultures & languages), & given this situation has worsened dramatically during the last 50years of very active but mostly non-violent struggle in the west,  it is important to question -

Who does the Non-Violence story really serve?

Please note here we refer to the story that 'violence never works', we are  NOT condemning the intelligent, tactical (& often brilliantly strategic) use of non-violent action - which will always be a part (& wherever possible even a main part) of an effective resistance movement.  See GeneSharp, for example.

The Non-Violence Test

Take this test to check whether you believe in 'non-violence' (in the sense that violence never works / should never be deployed, for moral reasons).

It is well-worth taking the time to take the trolly test* in order to understand what this myth is ultimately about.

*The 'Trolly Problem' ethics thought experiment has an interesting history in itself: originally posed by philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967, in order to help clarify debates around abortion - then it gave rise to a whole branch of ethical science sometimes referred to as trolleyology.

A Morality Maturity Question

The non-violence myth centres around a false polarity: at root the issue is not about violence, but about moral development.

It is more accurate (& much more useful) to talk about passive or active resistance and about effective & non-effective resistance.

<< the cartoon (in spanish) says:
> student & occupy' people "passive resistance, let's get them!"
> miners "active resistance, let's get out of here!"

Noting that 'effective' does not imply either passive or active resistance: 

history seems to confirm that different types & styles of resistance are ALL needed in a well-coordinated (well-designed!) spectrum in order to be effective, as different times & situations require different strategies.   

The big confusion around 'non-violence' is typical of the kinds of confusions that abound in modern civilized people, caused (amongst other things) by growing up & surviving in a profoundly immoral system: capitalism bases decisions on profit, not ethics, and most of us are forced into work & lifestyles that don't match our personal wishes, ethics or values. 

Yet it is a system which assiduously tries to hide this with lots of empty rhethoric & packaging as well as by popularizing 'double-think' terms like 'non-violence' and creating a lot of consumer products (eg. churches, the NewAge & many pseudo-spiritual activities or entertainments) to try to fill the moral vacuum this creates.  

But moral development does not equate with 'having a spiritual practice' or habits of any other kind, necessarily - it is a natural succession in human development (see one model, above) & the signature of our 'destructo-culture' is that it is typified by arrested development, or downright reversal of these natural successions.  This is true for soils, for the evolution of Gaia as a mega-organism as well as the many natural successions that make up a human being (moral, physical, artistic, intellectual .. the various lines of development), not to mention the lines of development of entire societies.

Morality is not just based in empathy but also on our ability to think logically
, & to have the self-discipline & self-control to be congruent with our own values.

A morally mature person is a person of integrity - and there are few of those in a culture that actively fosters dissipation, amorality, distraction, violence & the profound lack of thinking & lack of discipline required for gross consumerism.

The many moral confusions we are seeing today are greatly aided by our education system, which supposedly exists to educate us yet doesn't really teach us (or even let us learn) how to think - because (like all other systems under capitalism/consumerism) it is ultimately itself in great conflict between 'producing good workers' and expanding human knowledge, consciousness and intelligence.   And to be forcefully 'disciplined' into doing mostly useless, life-denying things has a negative effect, if anything, on our hopes of gaining real self-discipline & self-control. 

The result of these & other profoundly formative influences is that we are (in general, as 'civilized' humans) very vulnerable to confusing form with function (amongst other deep confusions).    They've even sold us that 'radical' is some kind of insult now, when it is, in fact, the way to clarity:  'thinking radically' = seeing the functions of a system = the root of a problem (if that system is problematic, as our civilization clearly is).
This form/function (or appearance/content) confusion is very useful for consumerism because it means we can be sold all sorts of low quality & even harmful products as long as they are wrapped up in something pretty - like attractive packaging + millions of dollars of publicity for further brain-washing.    The massive violence on which our whole culture is based is kept invisible by many cosmetic, 'make it acceptable' (brilliant) designs.

<< Amazon indian 'army' take on illegal loggers (click picture for article) 

Sabotage is a form of violence that has been proven uniquely effective in stopping the multinationals doing irreversible damage to vital ecosystems - and the more expensive the sabotage, the more effective it is, since all that capitalists care about is profits.   This tactic could never be called 'non-violent', but it is both an active & a very effective form of resistance.  

In fact it is the tactic that has worked in places where all other peaceful attempts have failed.  There are several very inspiring historical documentaries about this in the Resistance page, like The Coconut Revolution, Sweet Crude & In Rememberance.

The non-violence story is a good example of a packaging effort.   And it is a story desperately needed right now by the destructo-culture (as a dominant myth implanted especially in the environmental and civil movements) precisely because direct action is so very effective (& therefore dangerous to the system).  

The double-think consists in that the expression is mostly used in social change / activism / political sense to suggest that the alternative is violence, when in our current system this is in fact an oxymoron, since in a social & political system totally based on exploitation & violence, in fact doing nothing is the most violent decision we can take.   Horribly uncomfortable as that may be to realize.
This pyramid is another representation of the 
moral development natural succession model.

So, contrary to the propaganda, the people who 'don't believe in non-violence' aren't usually psychopaths* but in fact mostly include those who have a higher moral maturity than the average - who accept that violence is sometimes necessary to stop a much greater violence, having tried by any other means possible first.     

If you have scored higher than average on this test you are probably amongst them.

* (psychopaths - according to the pyramid model above - would be those who use random violence motivated by selfish interests & fear .. which neatly describes multinationals & the destructo-culture as a system.
Whilst activists are motivated by principles, whether they act 'violently' or not)

Another very interesting thing, in terms of our culture, is that
in fact active resistance movies are very popular, like StarWars, Total Recall, The Matrix, Avatar, Harry Potter ... 

And they always affirm the path of the morally superior activist (a person or people of deep integrity) in their struggle to take down some oppressive regime.

At least these very violent movies are very popular with the general public, whilst the majority (or certainly the most vocal majority) of the environmental & social movements actively seem to support only 'non-violence' as a tactic.   

The heroes in these movies always -
  • passionately care for Life, and justice
  • are cristal-clear about right & wrong 
  • & who the enemy is (although interestingly, some do have some initial confusion about this & gaining clarity is part of their struggle), 
  • they display great intelligence & creativity in choosing effective strategies, 
  • as well as enormous courage in doing whatever needs to be done to stop the oppressors from destroying more of what they love.   
  • Although they blow up plenty of things & even kill people on the way, it is usually very clear that they are driven by love, not hate.

And they never put their personal comfort above the needs of the cause.  They are profoundly rooted in the 'we' paradigm (not the 'me, me, me' one of our culture).

So they are shown to fight and triumph over inner as well as outer demons  throughout: temptation, discouragement, the hurts of betrayal, exhaustion, seduction by 'the dark side', physical injury & hardship.    

As films are designed for us to identify with the hero/es, so the popularity of the hero activist against injustice must resonate deeply with most of us.  Which makes sense as they are the archetipe of the survival drive in all of us, and we are being slowly killed ('slowly' for those of us in the privileged west, others aren't quite so lucky), so it is appropriate for that drive to kick in... or at least to be trying to wake up.

But do these movies actually just confuse us more by providing us a brief & intense vacarious - & deeply passive - experience of heroism, so we can forget the need (& indeed the natural drive) to
do some activism of that kind in our own lives?  

Because what has always puzzled me is how so many of us can sit through many of such profoundly moralistic, instructive & inspiring tales, then continue our lives as sheeple the next day: keep giving our time, attention, labour, money and energy to shoring up a deeply oppressive, astoundingly violent & destructive system by continuing with jobs we hate, relationships that don't serve us & obeying norms we don't actually agree with. 
Doing nothing that could threaten our own comfort or reputation, never mind our own lives.
Why? What's going on?

Intro article by Stella, Sept2014
Coordinator Integral Permaculture Academy

If Star Wars was made by environmentalists..

Vídeo de YouTube

What if the movie star wars was written by environmentalists?

The film makers says-
Derrick Jensen speaks, and my world view has never been the same since. Unlike the other speakers, Derrick did not talk about about solar panels or wind turbines. He spoke of our cultures systematic destruction of the planet and of the failure of the environmental movement. After hearing his talk, I immediately sought out his books and the first seeds of END:CIV were planted. The Star Wars piece is one of Derricks best analogies, one that delivers a precise critique of mainstream environmental groups. 

The DGR Strategy

Protesting is not enough. Deep Green Resistance calls for a combination of strategies to take down this destructive culture.   From peaceful civil disobedience to mass uprisings and revolution, all of us who are conscious have a role to play in saving the planet. 

Find out more:

Where YOU choose to work on this spectrum of resistance it totally up to you.  Obvioustly some of us are more effective as Builders of Alternative Systems than doing Direct Action, and vice-versa.

What we all need to know however, is that it is evident from historical patterns that wherever movements of resistance were effective, they included ALL of these components, with solidarity between the people engaged in each section.  

Especially the Direct Action heroes were treated as such, and sheltered, defended, supported as appropriate.  Something that is not happening today as the liberal left has all but incapacitated the Direct Action component with a barrage of false moralism and new age propaganda.  

And it is costing millions of lives, daily (hundreds of native people's tribes and 200 species being exterminated every day, to mention but a few.   How "non-violent" is that?

This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed

How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.

Armed self-defense (or, to use a term preferred by some, “armed resistance”) as part of black struggle began not in the 1960s with angry “militant” and “radical” young Afro-Americans, but in the earliest years of the United States as one of African people’s responses to oppression. This tradition, which culminates with the civil rights struggles and achievements of the mid-1960s, cannot be understood independently or outside its broader historical context. In every decade of the nation’s history, brave and determined black men and women picked up guns to defend themselves and their communities.

Click on book cover for full article >>

Bringing Down Civilization 

Part 2
Derrick Jensen 2004 11 06

Vídeo de YouTube

Summary: Why do we act as we do?  What are sane and effective responses to outrageously destructive behavior?  If civilization is destroying us and the earth, do we need to bring down civilization?

Derrick Jensen wrote in his early book: "Listening to the Land": "We are members of the most destructive culture ever to exist. Our assault on the natural world, on indigenous and other cultures, on women, on children, on all of us through the possibility of nuclear suicide and other means--all these are unprecedented in their magnitude and ferocity."

Worriors of Peace

"Gandhi, Mandela, and King were all important, brilliant, courageous, and effective leaders of resistance movements in the past century. They were all relatively successful in their missions of social justice, and are all held up as beacons of social change and nonviolence. 

Two of them of were killed for their beliefs, and the third paid the heavy price of 27 years in prison and narrowly escaped several assassination attempts. 

Upon close examination of their stories, however, two important facts became glaringly obvious: 

a) they were all helped out in their struggles by violent counterparts to the nonviolent movements, in that violent resistance played a major role in helping create the atmosphere that allowed the movement to be carried through with nonviolent resistance; and 

b) many of the desired and fought-for social changes were never actually instituted, and in some cases are even worse today than before."

From Elements of Resistance, Worriors of Peace

Nelson Mandela

When he was on trial in South Africa in 1964 for his crimes against the apartheid regime, Nelson Mandela said: “I do not deny that I planned sabotage. I did not do this in a spirit of recklessness. 

I planned it as a result of a long and sober assessment of the political situation after many years of oppression of my people by the whites.”

Ghandi & Martin Luther King Jr.

Whilst it is evident that non-violent resistance tactics are essential and certainly desirable, history proves that they rarely work on their own.  

The classical examples mentioned to 'prove that non-violence works´ are those of Ghandi & Martin Luther King Jr.    

But in fact, Ghandi had his 'bad cop' counterpart (Sh. Bhagat Singh), as did King (Malcom X), but the non-violence mythology erases the critical significance of those other powerful leaders in winning their respective struggles.   

Struggles which cannot be wholly explained in terms of popular figures anyhow - there's always a lot more people involved and much other leadership which goes totally un-documented by history, especially as the underground of any movement (and all successful movements have them) is by definition secret.

Negroes with Guns

"The majority of white people in the United States have literally no idea of the violence with which Negroes in the South are treated daily - nay, hourly. 

This violence is deliberate, conscious, condoned by the authorities. It has gone on for centuries and is going on today, every day, unceasing and unremitting. 

It is our way of life. Negro existence in the South has been one long travail, steeped in terror and blood - our blood. 
The incidents which took place in Monroe, which I witnessed and which I suffered, will give some idea of the conditions in the South, conditions that can no longer be borne. 

That is why, one hundred years after the Civil War began, we Negroes in Monroe armed ourselves in self-defense and used our weapons. 

We showed that our policy worked. The lawful authorities of Monroe and North Carolina acted to enforce order only after, and as a direct result of, our being armed.

from Negroes with Guns (1962) by Robert F. Williams 

Violence' or 'Self-Defence'?

At what point is it reasonable to stop asking nicely, to stop believing the 'justice' system will do anything, and simply start to take out abusers?

If you think this kind of serial rape 'only happens in India' or where 'women still don't have equality', take a look at Anita Sarkeesian's story.  

Not only is there astounding amounts of violence inflicted on women (UN women call it a 'pandemic') all over the world, but there is even more 'fantasy violence' against women where raping and beating women is sold as entertainment & sexualized.   

Dworkin dedicated much of her activist life to arguing against pornography, which is a very popular, 'normalized' form of violence sold as entertainment & even 'art' in most civilized countries* which, she & others have successfully argued, is a major cause of the horrific figures of violence against women & girls.      

(the more 'developed', the more pornography is consumed there, often, with the exception of some northern european countries, and very notably Iceland.

The Icelandic Revolution

Iceland has been labelled a 'feminist paradise' and is also (coincidentally??) the country where a most effective revolution has been taking place.   

Both news quite ignored by the media, and even in the articles which mention either of these fenomena, nobody seems to make the connection ... even though the revolution was started, quite simbolically, by crowds 'banging pots & pans' in the streets: it was led by enraged (empowered) women.

How 'violent' is censorship of this kind, in practice?

The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad

Derrick Jensen & Stephanie MacMillan explore what might happen if women started to be 'violent back'.  

In many interviews and in his books Jensen argues that western culture has all the characteristics of sociopaths, and that it's been proven that there is no arguing with sociopaths: they only understand violence, and they have to be stopped.

& what do YOU consider "violence"?

"Men often react to women’s words - speaking and writing - as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper, Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men - control, violence, insult, contempt - that no threat seems empty."

-Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse

Marianne Williamson "Sister Giant" 

Witches & Bitches, Lions & Tigers & Bears

Vídeo de YouTube


Also see the


in this e-book

There's a dialogue related to this page in the Integral Permaculture FB group (click icon to go there)

There's a dialogue in our FB group about this subject (click icon to go there)

Deep Green Resistance


DGR acknowledges and honors the fact that all successful resistances of the past were comprised of 90% aboveground/legal and 10% underground/illegal 

(which we explore at length in our book: women's suffrage, Indian Independence/Gandhi + Bhagat Singh, American Civil Rights/MLK + Malcolm X, Irish Independence/Sinn Fein + IRA). 

And we advocate for a backup plan that points to the necessity of oppositional and illegal direct action against the infrastructure of ecocide & misogyny that has continued unabated regardless of decades of the environmental movement's actions 

(protests, petitions, rallies, tree-sits, and even the vandalism/ecotage efforts of some in the EF and ELF-oriented activist worlds - all to no avail). 

In his book Endgame Vol II, Jensen reports on an expert who states that less than a dozen hackers could bring down industry's infrastructure. 

So, DGR is about looking at all possibilities, and normalizing militant resistance as a moral and ethical self-defense option on the side of indigenous peoples and non-human species.

 “Love does not imply pacifism.” 

"Sharing our finite planet with this culture is like being stuck in a room with a psychopath. 
There is no exit. 
Although the psychopath may choose other targets first, eventually it will turn to us. 
Eventually we’ll have to fight for our lives."

by Derrick Jensen

Industrial civilization's way of life is always based on violence. "We could all become junior bodhisattvas and the US military would still have to be huge. 

Civilization is irredeemable on a functional level... There is always money to kill people. There is never enough money for life-affirming ends." 

~ Derrick Jensen

Those who come after, who inherit whatever’s left of the world once this culture has been stopped are going to judge us by the health of the landbase, by what we leave behind.

They’re not going to care how we lived our lives. They’re not going to care how hard we tried. They’re not going to care whether we were nice people.They’re not going to care whether we were nonviolent or violent.They’re not going to care whether we grieved the murder of the planet.They’re not going to care what sort of excuses we had to not act.

They’re not going to care how simply we lived.

They’re not going to care how pure we were in thought or action. They’re not going to care if we became the change we wished to see.

They’re not going to care whether we voted Democrat, Republican, Green, Libertarian, or not at all. They’re not going to care if we wrote really big books about it. They’re not going to care whether we had “compassion” for the CEOs and politicians running this deathly economy.

They’re going to care whether they can breathe the air and drink the water.

~ Derrick Jensen

“Does anyone beside me experience a deep sorrow that someone called a "Hero for the Planet" and a "star of the sustainability movement" is designing truck factories and Nike headquarters? 

Ninety percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone. 

Ninety-seven percent of the world's native forests have been cut. 

There are 2 million dams just in the United States. 

Once-mighty flocks of passenger pigeons are gone. 

Islands full of great aucks, gone. 

Rich runs of salmon, gone. 

Gone. Gone. Gone. 

The oceans are filled with plastic. Every stream in the United States is contaminated with carcinogens. 

The world is being killed, and this is the respond?

 Not only am I angry, not only am I disgusted, I am also deeply, deeply sorrowful. 

And I am deeply ashamed. 

We need to act differently. ” 

"There is another kind of revolution, one that does not emerge from the culture, from philosophy, from theory, from thought abstracted from sense, but instead from our bodies, and from the land. 

It, too, is a part of this language older than words.

It is the honeybee who stings in defense of the larger being that is her hive; it is the mother grizzly who charges again and again the train that took from her the two sons she carried inside, and that mangled their bodies beyondall but motherly recognition; it is the woman who submits to her rapist, knowing it's better to be violated than murdered, but who begins to fight when he reaches for the knife, or the hammer [and please note, of course I have no problem with the women he is attempting to rape killing or otherwise stopping him even if he doesn't reach for a knife: the point I was getting at in this paragraph was a threat to _physical_ life: I hope you know my work well enough to know that.].

it is Zapatista spokesperson Cecelia Rodriguez, who says, "I have a question of those men who raped me. Why did you not kill me? It was a mistake to spare my life. I will not shut up . . . this has not traumatized me to the point of paralysis." 

It is the indigenous Zapatistas, who declare, "There are those who resign themselves to being slaves. . . . 

But there are those who do not resign themselves, there are those who decide to be uncomfortable, there are those who do not sell themselves, there are those who do not surrender themselves. 

There are those who decide to fight.

In any place in the world, anytime, any man or woman rebels to the point of tearing off the clothes that resignation has woven for them and that cynicism has dyed grey. 

Any man, any woman, of whatever color in whatever tongue, says to himself, to herself, “Enough already!"."

~ Derrick Jensen, co-author of Deep Green Resistance in the book Language Older Than Words, pg 286

Gene Sharp

Gene Sharp is known for his extensive writings on nonviolent struggle, which have influenced numerous anti-government resistance movements around the world.


All successful resistances of the past were comprised of 90% aboveground/legal and 10% underground/illegal resistance, so well-thought out strategic non-violent action is key in changing any oppressive system.

Sharp's key theme is that power is not monolithic; that is, it does not derive from some intrinsic quality of those who are in power

For Sharp, political power, the power of any state - regardless of its particular structural organization - ultimately derives from the subjects of the state. 

His fundamental belief is that any power structure relies upon the subjects' obedience to the orders of the ruler(s). 

If subjects do not obey, rulers have no power.

In Sharp's view, all effective power structures have systems by which they encourage or extract obedience from their subjects. 

States have particularly complex systems for keeping subjects obedient. 

These systems include specific institutions (police, courts, regulatory bodies), but may also involve cultural dimensions that inspire obedience by implying that power is monolithic (the god cult of the Egyptian pharaohs, the dignity of the office of the President, moral or ethical norms and taboos).

 Through these systems, subjects are presented with a system of sanctions (imprisonment, fines, ostracism) and rewards (titles, wealth, fame) which influence the extent of their obedience.

"I don't think it is violence to defend that which you love." 

~ Saba Malik, Permaculturalist and member of the DGR Advisory Board, POC Caucus, and Women's Caucus

When civilization ends, the living world will rejoice. 

We must be biophilic people in order to survive. 

Those of us who have forgotten how must learn again to live with the land and air and water and creatures around us in communities built on respect and thanksgiving. 

We welcome this future.