Hi. Welcome to the site. Please check out the About Us, and if you have a question about crime and/or punishment, perhaps look at some previous questions along those lines first.
Welcome to Anarchy101 Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers about anarchism, from anarchists.

Categories

+2 votes
whoo boy... where to start? what went wrong? was dj ever an anarchist? gender? Lierre Kiethe? um... all the thoughts you might have around these things. And the other things...
by

2 Answers

+1 vote
hmmm.
things i have heard:
dj used to be at least a friend to anarchists, but at some point got butt hurt (or, at some point was fed up with how he was treated) and rejected anarchy/anarchists.
DGR started out trying to appeal to anarchists (this might have been not from the organization itself, but because there were anarchists who were excited by it and tried to build bridges). but it is a hierarchical organization, and seems to have been from the start. the politics of it are also sketchy, with an underground arm and an above ground arm, but, by definition, with little clarity about the relationship of the two to each other (ie, seems likely that the underground part would be taking direction from the influential members who are public).
lierre keith is the only person i have heard factual information about regarding her ... transphobia? insensitivity to trans issues? not sure what the best way to characterize it is. But given that DGR hasn't taken a clear stand refuting her position (afaik), and that keith is one of the main speakers for the group, it's not unreasonable that DGR gets tarred with that brush.

but all this is from what i have picked up. i hope someone with first hand info will correct/flesh this out.
by (52.6k points)
I don't have any more info, I would just add that on the point of "what went wrong" this was the logical outcome of someone (DJ) who puts the cause above all else. You could tell this from his writing from the very beginning. He is a true believer, a zealot. Any means justifies the end. I wouldn't be surprised if his end goal still involves getting rid of the state, in theory... but then so did all the Marxists. I think calling Jensen the green Lenin is pretty spot-on. His problem with anarchists is the same. If he ever came to power, his actions toward us would be the same.
DJ was on friendly terms with the Green Anarchy folks for a number of years. JZ in particular was constantly trying to get DJ to "come out" as an anarchist publicly; DJ refused, rightly so. Seeing him read aloud from whatever his latest redundant book on two separate occasions, with two different crowds, was quite the eye-opener. He's a chameleon, someone who's really good at gauging a crowd to determine which tack to take. When he was at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, he sounded like a radical hippie, as befits the space. When he was at a different place (I've tried to put it out of my memory so I can't remember where, but also in Berkeley or Oakland), he sounded like a mild-mannered Sierra Club booster. Regardless, it's always only about him.

He became butt hurt by a book review in Green Anarchy that wasn't all rainbows and unicorns. The criticisms were amazingly mild, yet DJ referred to them as "attacks," demanded a retraction, and, when such an absurd demand wasn't met, severed all ties with the GA folks, and all anarchists by extension.

His reaction to the wholly justified criticisms of his pal Lierre Keith's seriously stupid book-length justification for animal abuse in Upping the Anti was almost as over the top as his decision to contact the FBI (!) after he received some aggressive emails (he calls them death threats).

http://uppingtheanti.org/news/article/open-letter-to-uta-from-derrick-jensen/
http://uppingtheanti.org/news/article/response-to-derrick-jensens-letter-from-john-sanbonmatsu/

DGR is a triple-tiered hierarchical gang with nothing positive to offer anti-authoritarians. See the following, especially footnote 4

http://anarchymag.org/index.php/content/current-issue/39-latest-issue/82-the-beginning-of-the-american-fall
"So how will a resistance movement be organised? Well, throughout history you've got the culture of resistance that builds the new institutions that will be prepared to take over as the old system comes down....."

Lierre Keith, March 4th, 2011 at the University of Oregon law school, Eugene Oregon.

Am I correct in thinking of this as classic Leninism, or is it something similar?
Essentially, yes. Institutions being rationalized by revolutionists is pretty much what Leninism was all about. It's very archaic though.
+2 votes
As has been noted above DJ was not really ever an anarchist, though held company with many green anarchy types.  There was a break, for sure, triggered by several events (GA review, SF bookfair/lierre incident, among others) that pushed him out of the sphere.  However, his writing preceded this by many years.  It is true, he has a pretty well laid out, though not very original, critique of civilization, though he always talked about Revolution (capitalization intentional) and his reference points were often the Black Panthers, the IRA, and other proper revolutionary parties - that is, his position was always firmly in the militant political (i mean this pejoratively) vein.  
As for gender, he too, always referenced very traditional feminist material, the one book he always mentioned as being highly influential to him was "woman and nature" by susan griffin, which is basically something like a primitivist reading of second wave feminism (women are inherently closer to and more in touch with nature).  His friendship with Lierre Keith has never been a secret, but Lierre wasn't at least publicly so open about her position on transgender people until the past few years, at least thats what i noticed, but i wasnt paying very much attention to her.  

Regarding DJ being an anarchist though, it wasnt, and in my opinion, shouldnt really be the issue - that is that its not so interesting to me to be so ideological about choosing to only read anarchists or something, especially when it comes to topics like civ, spiritualism, relating to the "natural world", and general life shit. To say it another way, if the question is what can we learn from DJ about being an anarchist, the answer is next to nothing, but if the question is something else, well then what we explore might be a lot more interesting. To be honest, most of the explicitly anarchist "theory" in the contemporary primitivist camp was/is pretty boring and totally beholden to anthropology, and while DJ didnt totally break from that mold, a large part of his work was talking about totally different things (mental health/trauma, spirituality, animism, etc) that came from personal interactions and experience, and didnt read like an anarchist's academic dissertation, and I think these are the things that made him really interesting and appealing to a lot of people.  I mean, he's a "good" writer or something, and the other contemporary GA superstars like kevin tucker, JZ, etc. were too busy citing statistics of the exact amount of hours hunter-gatherers work per week to talk about having conversations with trees and shit.  I guess take that for what it is - what is more interesting- a quantitative analysis of civilization or what does it feel like to be a body in giant web of shit?

Another curious thing, though, and this is i think a bit of a subtle and insidious part of his whole schtick (im not sure whether it was intentional)  was that the consequence of the proposition "today, i have to wake up and decide whether or not im going to blow up a dam" is that each person must then in turn bear the moral weight of civilization because is implies that whether or not it continues to exists bears substantially on your individual action.  I think this fucked a lot of people up when after 5 to 10 years of primitivism, the ELF/ALF sorta, Green Anarchy Mag and that whole milieu, and then DJ (and now DGR), nothing has changed except some really beautiful people went to jail for a really long time, and some are no longer with us.  If you are guided by DJ's proposition about dams, and this is the result, and you think you bear responsibility (at least in part) for all this shit, then it makes sense to me that you would probably be pretty fucked up by it, and I think this happened to a lot of people - i saw little bits of it in friends.

Hope this helps
-an unabashed, among other things, primitivist
by (2.3k points)
edited by
...