Friday, July 16, 2021

UNDERSTANDING THE HOSTILES – the minority opposed to the Fairy Creek Action

 The small demonstrations against protecting the old growth forests were marked by placards proclaiming the supposed need to “Defend Logging”. Not one of those involved would have taken a few minutes to go on line and find out exactly what the environmental movement's plans are for the forest industry. I have, and within five munites found the programs of all the major organizations as well as the BC Green Party. Not one of these groups opposed logging, only cutting old growth, and promoted sustainable practices which would create permanent jobs in forestry.

That the hostiles never bothered to find this easily available information, indicates their minds were made up before hand. Misinformation from right-wing anti-environmental sources played a factor, but I think the problem lies deeper than that. Like all reactionary sentiments, its roots are an underlying prejudice, which in turn grows out of fear. If you are prejudiced against some group, your hostility will be projected out in the form of thinking the very worst about them. The “eco-warrior” is a stock hate figure on the right along with the “feminist” and BLM activist.

There is a division within the working population between the older and declining industrial work force and the new working class of educated white collar workers. This creates a cultural/political divide. The land protectors are well educated, well read and culturally sophisticated. The hostiles no doubt feel inferior and this inferiority is hidden behind a mask of inverse snobbery. “Buncha hippies on welfare. What do they know, they don't work in the woods” sort of sentiments. (Of course it is more complex than that – there are industrial workers who are eco-activists and white collars who are hostiles.)

All environmentalists are critical of rampant consumerism and boldly proclaim the need for a simpler life without giant pick -up trucks and suburban McMansions. When status-linked consumer goods are one of the few ways you can proclaim your self-worth, a group which threatens this possibility is something to fear.

Any familiarity with the land protectors will show the prominent role played by Indigenous people and women. Resentment against Indigenous people runs high among certain sectors of the Euro-Canadian population. Of course, every bigot has “his “Indian”' to back them up in any conflict with the “militants” and enviromentalists, and this card is played to the max. Given the racial slurs directed at Indigenous land protectors and the underlying sub-stratum of prejudice present in the populace, racism must be considered as a factor in understanding the hostiles.

Other than sexist language directed at some of the women leaders, misogyny seems more undercover than overt. Given the level of toxic masculinity that exists in a significant number of males, it must be very disturbing to see all those women in leadership roles. Strong women frighten men who are still mired in traditional concepts of what it means to be male. Indeed, the very idea of saving the trees may come off as somehow “unmanly.” Among those suffering from toxic masculinity, empathy is considered “feminine” and therefore weak. Concern for the trees is empathy extended to all living things. Thus the male land protectors also become a source of anxiety. After all they are “letting” the women lead, and are full of empathy for the forests., something no “real man” would do. These are the “sensitive men” they loath/fear, whose very existence is a threat to the character armour they have spent decades constructing.

That said, I do not blame the hostiles. They are victims along with the trees. The Plunderbund and the governments that front for it, has and will sacrifice them at a moment's notice. They will sacrifice these people, until like on Easter Island, the last tree has been hacked down. Nor do I blame the Plunderbund, for like the wolf killing the lamb they are acting out their essential nature. In this case the pillage of humanity and nature for an ever-expanding pile of capital. Crime is their very essence.

You could point a finger at right-wing social democracy and resource-based business unionism. The old autodidact socialists would not let workers wallow in ignorance and prejudice. Their newspapers and educationals constantly tried to lift workers up and to expand their horizons. When right-wing social democracy took over they eliminated both the newspapers and the education, leaving workers even more vulnerable to corporate propaganda. The Communist and socialist-led IWA promoted sustainable logging way back in 1940. The right-wing purged the left in the IWA and these concerns flew out the door.

But go easy on the finger pointing. They are acting according to their nature too. Business unionism and right-social democracy are predicated on the continued existence of the corporate capitalist system. Their role is to mediate between the populace and the corporate elite. They are also dependent on a strong corporate economy. Take away that system and they are without a role. Hence these forces are deeply hostile to any group that is radical or in any way challenges the economic and political power structure. Radicals have to be either tamed or destroyed. In the past, the radical threat included the Wobblies, the Communists, the old time Socialists and later the New Left. Today the threat is the environmental movement, and most especially its direct action wing.

The problem for the corporate system is that even a moderate environmental approach means the gradual termination of the plundering, growth forever model. If corporate capitalism cannot grow, which means continued destruction of the natural world, it goes into crisis. Whether enviros know it or not, they are a dagger at the throat of the system. This explains the deep hostility of much of the corporate world and the hostile attitudes of both the business unions and the right-social democrats. Of course, other than the hard right climate crisis deniers, they cannot come out with a full bore attack on the environmental movement. Instead they offer tepid half measures and green-wash. What you can nail them for is their hypocrisy.

Here in BC the right-wing social democrat dominated NDP is split on the issue of Fairy Creek. Many members ignore the party on this issue and are in support. At the same time, there is a minority of members/supporters who are among the bitterest hostiles.They reiterate the right-wing anti-activist bigotry, but without the racism and misogyny. Some of their accusations are pure Trumpite lunacy. - that the action is due to “rich” environmental NGOs trying to raise money, or that the non-violent activists are eco-terrorists. Where does this craziness come from, other than fear? What is the fear that drives them to such hatred? I suspect they believe in “My party right or wrong” and that any opposition to the NDP – even coming from the left, is the enemy. Such True Believerism will not help the NDP and the party leaders would be wise to put a lid on it. What ever the NDP brass do, right-wing social democracy is a major obstacle in saving the old growth forests, let alone developing a green economy. Our only hope is ever greater non-violent resistance pushing change from below.


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