Undermining Weapons, Or Not?

I woke up early this morning intending to go for a walk. For the last few weeks I have been hard at work proof-reading the text of Underminers ready for the final publication on the website as a single download (with fanfare!) and then an e-book, and then probably a physical book. More anon. So, there I was, ready to go for a walk with coat and head-torch poised; and then I opened the back door to be greeted by the gentle hiss of incessant rain and a waft of cold air to accompany the darkness.

Sunrise wasn’t to be until after 7, if I ever saw the sun. It was 6.15.

At 6.20 I had a mug of tea and was writing a long note to myself about the nature of weapons. You see, the reason I woke up early was because of weapons. The long proof-reading period has been quite satisfying with very few changes springing to mind, except for the odd grammatical alteration or reinforcement of a point (and sometimes toning one down). Then this morning I suspected there was a gaping hole: where had I talked about undermining weapons; after all, without weapons it is rarely possible for one group of people to dominate any other group of people, at least in the opening stanzas of a heirarchical society.

I searched through the manuscript to find very few references to weaponry and even fewer to actually tackling the weapons themselves. Yep, that gaping hole really seemed to be gaping. Then I started the note to myself. You can decide for yourselves whether I have nailed the problem…

Is this important enough for a whole section? In many parts of the world the initial Tool of Disconnection used is “Abuse Us”; the stage of “development” of a society is relevant to this, for it seems to be that the earlier in the civilized story, the more likely the use of more direct forms of control and disconnection are used. Forced labour, forced religion and other ideologies, forced hierarchy and so on have historically been in the gift of those who have the most effective arsenal of weaponry (quantity, quality, ability – whatever it takes to be pre-eminent). Later on in the civilized story the means of controlling a population tend towards the more subtle – unless more direct control is needed.

Ultimately though, is it the weapons per se that are the control mechanisms, or is it the desire to control and the knowledge that control is possible? In a world where the AK-47 and M16 have superceded the machete and the firebrand as the killing tool of choice for young, oppressive regimes, it would seem obvious that to stop the flow of weapons would also reduce the level of oppression. To a certain extent this is true; but what of the machete? This multi-purpose, ostensibly peaceful tool is used under a variety of different names (panga, cutlass etc) for clearing brush. During the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 the machete was responsible for at least half of all of the recorded 800,000 murders. Stopping the flow of machetes from Europe and China may have reduced the scale of the massacre, but who is to say that other potential weapons such as clubs, axes and rifles (from http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/43/1/5.full.pdf+html) would not have been used instead; and anyhow, 84% of households already had a machete 10 years before the massacre took place – it was and still is an agricultural tool.

It seems that the problem of weaponry as a tool of mass control is not so much with the nature of the arsenal, as the nature of the people controlling that arsenal. We know that people can be persuaded to kill with sufficient authoritative systems in place, and thus a far more effective means of undermining the use of weaponry in any society is to remove the authority that controls the level of abuse on a mass scale. Later on, in Chapter 7, the industrial machine, which includes the systems of weapon manufacture will be challenged head-on, but first and foremost, it’s authority we need to look at for all sorts of reasons, not just how people are ordered to kill others.

Chapter 6 is going to be changed, but nowhere near as much as I first thought.


Chapter 10 is done. Epilogue is done.

The next post will be about where you can get the whole book, which is quite exciting.

Time for a rest. K.

Starting To Wrap Things Up

Since chapter 9 was published I have been spending lots of time with my family which always translates as not doing any writing. To be honest it was nice to have the break and I could feel my writing energy starting to ramp up towards the end of the holiday period to the extent that I positively leapt into Chapter 10 as soon as I had the house all to myself again. You might recognise some of the words if you are a fan of The Earth Blog, but there is also a lot of new writing and thinking gone into the chapter that is well into the home straight. I am indebted to Guy McPherson also for donating a chunk of his book Walking Away from Empire ages ago, probably before that book was even finished.

What is quite interesting about this is Guy’s contribution was originally intended for a project called “Worktraining” which might have become my second book had I not realised there was far too much “why” and “what” in the world and far too little “how”, which was the impetus for Underminers. The essay lay unused for a couple of years but magically it slipped perfectly into the very chapter I had originally intended it to go right at the beginning. I expect to finish Chapter 10 in less than a week’s time and then I have a bit of a dilemma. Do I write a long Epilogue about the future after Undermining has worked, or do I leave things open? Something to ponder…

Chapter 9 Complete

I’m going to have to check when I started writing Chapter 9. Hang on…oh dear, it was in March, which means it’s taken the best part of 4 months to write one chapter. I apologise for being crap. Ok, it’s 22 thousand words, which puts it in the “stupidly long” category, along with a couple of others. I just spent a day reading through it and making comments here and there, although the way I write is very deliberate and self-critical, meaning I don’t usually change much in the final edit. The thing that struck me was how exhausted I was just reading through the chapter.

That’s odd. Sometimes I look at a piece of writing and think how easy it seems to glide past; other times it feels clunky and needs ironing out to make it readable. This is neither – it’s just so dense with concepts I have struggled to work through and deliver onto the page that there is no way I could have made this anything but what it is. On the other hand there is something very different about this chapter. It doesn’t feel like undermining, more like rebirth. There is a definite arc to the plot, for that is what the second half of the book is. I don’t mean the kind of plot that might lead to a robbery, but something akin to a story arc, from the fundamentals of societal freedom, via some seriously hairy industrial destabilisation, stopping off to screw up the people who are pretending to sort things out, then into this chapter which is about rebuilding communities and the wider concept of Community.

The following chapter will be about us, as individuals. A shorter one, I assure you. Maybe.

Such a Long Time

Oh my goodness! It’s been a long time. Nearly two months since the last missive, but a lot has happened since then. First, and most important, the whole of Chapter 8 was published, to very little acclaim and even less fanfare. It’s a strange chapter, focussing on something that many people would consider to be of little importance in the world of undermining, but because we are faced with the increasing irrelevance of the mainstream environmental movement, and a host of people who ask “What can I do?” and are then diverted into doing stuff that makes shit-all difference, then this chapter is vital.

Essentially it poses the question: How do we deal with hope? One of the most dangerous and pervasive Tools of Disconnection. I have slightly mellowed in my attitude to hope recently, allowing that it does provide something to people who have become buried in terrible places. Working with certain people who have a range of mental health issues has shown me that when you reach the very depths of dispair, a little hope might not be a terrible thing, and it might just be enough to prise you off the floor. But that’s all; once those tiny lights start to blink again, then hope is not going to raise you up further except to a place that is isolated from the real world. Action and Hope counter each other, until the very end when all you can reasonably do is wait and see if your plans came off.

There is a lot more, in a much more practical sense in Chapter 8, which also goes on to address such things as corporate influence in NGOs and the nature of real activism. I expect to make a few enemies, though maybe I will also make a few friends.

On the writing front, Chapter 9 is progressing nicely. This is about the importance of Community and the collective power of people who in their natural state are not lone guns or massed groups of thugs, but simply want to work together to achieve something akin to a normal human existence. It’s a very life-affirming chapter, but not without some cracking undermining actions to keep the rebels among you occupied. For my part, community is becoming more important to me with every day I live around people I care about. We need each other, and never has that been more true than now.

Chapter 7 Online

In case you hadn’t noticed, Chapter 7 – entitled “Undermining The Machine” – has gone online. It is published in three parts, which can be accessed via the Book menu or by going to https://underminers.org/the-book/chapter-7/. There isn’t much to say about this chapter that cannot be better expressed by actually reading it, but I have to make some serious caveats for anyone who is taking Underminers seriously (as I am sure many of you are):

First, this is not some superficial, symbolic exercise in gathering lots of jolly people together in order to make a noise about just how pissed off they are about the state of the planet. That happens all the time and if that is your bag then you can find those types of events anywhere and everywhere. There will be a lot more to say about the failures and folly of mainstream environmentalism in Chapter 8, but for now I would suggest that if you aren’t in this for the long-haul then Underminers is not for you.

Second, there is some scary shit in this chapter, particularly the middle section. All of it is fully justified in the text, and carries with it incalculable rewards for the future of humanity, as well as considerable risk for anyone looking to do some of the things I can only hint at in the text. If you have any doubts about your place in this effort then read Chapter 4, which will help equip you will some of the things you need. In all cases you must have also read Chapter 5 – I cannot stress this enough – which provides vital risk reduction information both for those that may be impacted and, of course, yourself.

Third, this is a very long chapter, which may be better read on paper. When the book is finished then I will begin work on a publishers version, with the aim of selling as an e-book and Print on Demand – assuming no publisher takes this on as a going concern. For the time being I have made all text printable. However, if you are planning on carrying out anything significant then I wouldn’t keep the printed copy about your person: it is a “Practical Guide” but it is not a manual, so in terms of the nuts-and-bolts for a specific activity then you should be doing your planning in a much more controlled manner than just reading a book.

For this chapter I have been blessed with the efforts of three people I greatly admire for various reasons. Ana Salote, who writes “Fashion is Scary Medicine” was a great inspiration and help for my first book, and wrote Tree Talk one of the most moving children’s books I have come across. David Edwards, who writes “The Corporate Media – Undermining The Silence”, turned my head around more than ten years ago with his seminal “Breaking the Chains of Illusion” and works tirelessly (with David Cromwell) publishing the MediaLens website. Richard Reynolds, who writes “Guerilla Gardening” is the father (although he’s still younger than me) of the British Guerrilla Gardening movement, and works day-in-day-out showing people how urbanisation can be undermined with a little effort. I thank all of them for their words here and what they do in their lives.

Queuing Up For Posting

Incredibly, I have a backlog. Ok, that’s not strange really given how awful my progress has been getting this book online, but finally the backlog is a of a good kind. I have over a month’s worth of text to get on the website with Chapter 7 straining at the leash to complete it’s literal dump all over the industrial system (the first part went up a short while ago), something I will get fully online next week. Trying to keep this a little low-key until the PDF is ready for pushing out because it really is quite scary.

And then there is Chapter 8, which I completed a few days ago much to my surprise. Just awaiting an essay from a valuable contributor and then that will all be ready, which is a lovely thought. A question that remains, though, is from which quarter am I going to get into most trouble: will it be the industrial forces being undermined in Chapter 7, or will it be the environmental mainstream which spends an inordinate amount of time and energy defending those industrial forces?

I honestly don’t know.

Maybe It Was A Good Idea After All

I’m not giving any names away until I have to. There are a few people I’ve asked to write things for Underminers, people I respect for what they have said, written down and done. Especially the ones who have done stuff. Some people I haven’t asked, not because I think they are too important or because I’m starstruck in any way, but because I know they wouldn’t submit – there are a few people like that, and I respect them for their decision to remain beyond the reach of anyone but their family, close friends and (usually) agent/publisher. Others I haven’t asked because it might jeopardise their safety far more than writing this book will jeopardise mine: so you won’t be getting anything from activists currently working underground; this is strictly an overground authored work.*

But that still leaves quite a few people whose work I am passionate about, at least when anyone wants to ask, and I have asked most of those people to contribute as I really value what they have to say. Some of the essays have already been published, and it is no secret that Chapter 7 will include an essay by David Edwards, whose essay “Breaking The Chains of Illusion” was one of the seminal texts in my activist development. And there are others, who will appear throughout the text as time goes on – maybe in chapters already published, who knows? In fact at least one contributor changed his/her mind after initially rejecting the concept of Underminers as too uncomfortable, but is firmly back in the fold after being assured that what they do most certainly is undermining. And you know what? They agreed.

Some things are not as far away as they at first seem…

(* Except maybe the Anonymous essay, the authors of which I don’t know, and do not wish to know the identities of. On the edges of the underground, perhaps.)

The Bubble of Indifference

So, here we go again. Another almighty chapter finished, another (slightly less almighty) under way. I probably should have written more but I’ve taken on a few extra responsibilities recently and had to work harder in others, at the expense of writing which, to be honest at least in the case of essays and blogs, is no bad thing. It just so happens that the first big wodge of Chapter 8 is, in part, attacking the self-referential nature of the “environmental movement” (it has to be in quotes as there’s nothing really moving about it that I can see). This encompasses a few things, but one key aspect is the way people hang onto everything that other, apparently more worthy, people write and say to the extent that they don’t have an original thought of the their own, and spend so much time congratulating the Gurus, that they don’t do anything themselves.

Rather like blogging (something I try to keep thankfully minimal), the world the mainstream environmentalists occupy is a bubble of words and ideas that have little relevance to the real world, and have even less chance of changing it. I would take one person outside of my circle of friends and fellow mind-travellers saying, “You know what, I really agree with you!” over a dozen of the aforementioned, if it was a case of working out if what I did, said or wrote had the potential to make a difference. Of course, it is lovely to have the approval of your peers, but the problem is: they are your peers. Of course they are going to agree with you otherwise you wouldn’t be connected to them. This is endemic in the mainstream environmental “community” (for want of a better word), to the extent that no NGO or advocacy group I have ever contacted has any desire to look beyond the civilized paradigm and into a world of other possibilities.

Time to pop the bubble.

Chapter 7 Finished…All But…

According to the radio it’s raining; it’s sunny outside. I was meant to go to a meeting last night; my mobile phone didn’t ring to say my lift was near. Chapter 7 was close to being finished; the computer packed up and I had to rebuild it. Fortunately I had backups.

There’s a pattern here. I’m very clear about the incongruity between writing this and publishing on the Internet and the need to remove industrial civilization, which is why there is now a decent chunk in the latest chapter about this, including a section called The End of The Internet. This is a big one – the whole chapter is, and I am nervous about releasing the 30-odd thousand words to the wider world because it has sections that if and when enacted will take down huge chunks of the industrial infrastructure of death. This is a good thing – it’s still a scary thought, though.

The chapter will be released by the end of the year, including a couple of important essays by people who really know what they are talking about, and if nothing else it should provide food for thought (and people, based on the last section) for those who think that there is such thing as a “healthy” economy and neutral technology. The technology for writing and distributing this book is just a tool – we would be a hell of a lot better off without it.

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