0 05 1 - 22 2007

This is the End: Earth First! and Apocalyptic Utopianism

Michael Mikulak

Abstract


This essay looks at the role of violence within radical environmentalist groups, such as ELF or Earth FIRST!, that engage in or support the use of ecotage or monkeywrenching. By looking at the philosophical underpinnings of monkeywrenching in terms of apocalyptic and utopian discourses within the movement, the author argues that violence against property functions to create a form of subjectivity that can account for the dialectic tension and irreconcilability of utopian and apocalyptic discourses within the group. This tension, with its simultaneous elevation and denigration of the Human, is fundamental to the ecological subjectivity of the members and allows them to act despite a truly apocalyptic belief in the reality of biological meltdown.

In addition to providing a way to escape paralysis within such an apocalyptic framework, the eco-warrior functions within the group as well as within larger environmental circles to provide a counter-narrative to benign images of industrial progress by providing an archetypal figure of resistance that marries the modern-primitive, nature-culture, and apocalyptic-utopian together. As such, the author argues that the narrative violence of the eco-warrior provides a way to mobilize a very disparate group of people on the margins of both society and more 'legitimate' environmental groups.


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ISSN 1749-9771