Wrenched the movie
March 5 @ 8:30pm
University of Oregon, Willamette 100
“Filmmaker ML Lincoln’s documentary Wrenched reveals how Edward Abbey’s anarchistic spirit and riotous novels influenced and helped guide the nascent environmental movement of the 1970s and ‘80s. Through interviews, archival footage and re-enactments, ML Lincoln captures the outrage of Abbey’s friends who were the original eco-warriors. In defense of wilderness, these early activists pioneered ”monkeywrenching” – a radical blueprint for “wrenching the system.” Exemplified by EarthFirst! in the early ‘80s, direct action and civil disobedience grew in popularity. With tree-spiking, forest occupation and high-profile publicity stunts such as the cracking at Glen Canyon Dam, this group became the eventual target of FBI infiltrators, leading to the arrest of various members.”
Members of Earth first! Describe themselves as ecomilitants; their prototypical slogan embodies the ideals of combat and warfare: “For Earth first! It is all or nothing: win or lose. No truce or cease fire. No surrender. No partitioning of the territory” (Foreman, 349). The apocalyptic-militant mentality, or rather, what Quimby calls “regime of power” is palpable in Earth first!’s discourse. Members say they are creating a biocentric paradigm, a new-world view; this defense, of course, is reactionary. Much like our Prophet John’s was in the NT in relation to Roman Imperial Rule. The sense of urgency in Earth First!’s “regime of power” steamrolls and further fuels their perception of the current destructive anthropocentric, or human-ego centered paradigm. This “new world view” is also consistent with Quimby’s theory of “regime of power.” Humans are destroying the earth (in a more pessimistic sense), and by the evil of their hands, the earth is now headed toward a certain end. Earth first! Members believe it is a moral imperative to fight back. By assigning a value-judgment to the destruction [read: evil] (reinforcing the us vs. them motif inherent in the apocalyptic mentality), members are able to justify their actions as rightful and good: “locating evil also [sic] presumes the possibility of salvation or an escape from evil” and further, Lorentezen says, “the fact that we are in the midst of an unprecedented, anthropogenic extinction crisis and consequently many ecosystems are presently collapsing, provides the essential underpinning and rationale for militancy. Without this claim there is no basis for urgency” (147). This is the “regime of power” that Earth first embodies, firsthand. Fueled by their deep-seeded belief of the inevitability that the earth should end at the hands of technology created by humans, they crusade, mercilessly, for their cause. No doubt, their motives are noble, but their entire discourse (philosophy, tactics, strategies) employ the quintessential apocalyptic discourse. Even as a secular entity, they have “bought in” to the enigmatic and cyclical mentality of apocalyptism. Just like John, actualizing the Romanized, gendered and hypermasculinized imperial discourse of his day to out-man the man (Imperial Rome), so too, does Earth fist! engage in this same kind of subversive discourse practice with its oppressor: technological destruction.
The “regime of truth” most associated with Earth first! Is technological apocalypse via devastation which holds that human invention and technology are responsible for human and world devastation through threats of nuclear crisis, environmental degradation and “mechanized dehumanization” (Quimby, xvi). But, really, (I ask) isn’t it humans who should be held responsible for inventing the technology? Actually, it seems humans are the destructive crux behind all three regime of truths: divine apocalypse, technological apocalypse, Ironic apocalypse (In divine apocalypse, sin [or rather, human choice that allowed sin to enter the world] ultimately leads to the destruction of the world, in technological apocalypse, technology [created by humans] leads to the destruction of the world, and In ironic apocalypse [humans, who invented linear time to make sense of the world, run out of what we have created]) thus, I would call the overarching regime of truth present in all three of these the antropocentic apocalyspe— but no one asked me.
Feminist members of Earth First! Claim that certain strategies and tactics first employed by the ecomilitarist group represent phallic masculinity in which the movement “preferring acts of individual bravado [sic], or mass organizing” demonstrate its radical ecological philosophy (Lorenzen, 150). Similarly, we saw something akin to this in two essays by Stephen Moore: Hypermascuinlity and Divinity and Raping Rome; the theses of both these, to one degree or another, suggest gendered underpinnings of hierarchy between the sexes, gendered rhetoric of male power and dominance and a misogynistic advent that reinforces its apocalyptic discourse. One Earth first! Member noted the inextricable tie between ecology and gender, “If we want to save the planet, we must address root causes like patriarchy and the destructive exploitative society…..we can’t separate it” (151). Subverting the aforementioned cause is the idea that “Mother Earth” (gendered female and anthropomorphic, no less) must be saved from the continuous savagery of rape that humans commit against her (again, reminiscent of Moore); But who are the ideal patron saints to conquer and to protect? Men— no doubt. The historic discourse of power, domination and hierarchy (the power dynamic ever-present in the us vs. them mentality) that is implicit in apocalypticism, is nuanced even in ecological movements such as Earth first!. Thus, the hierarchical power-relation prevails.