Terrorism is the act of inspiring terror in others by harming presumed innocents. Our government and corporate media use the term to refer to politically motivated violence that targets the public. While such murder is never justified, this violence is rare and not the biggest threat we face. Infrequent criminal acts, such as that which recently occurred in Boston and which occurs more regularly around the world, are tragic and are handled by our criminal justice system.
Frequent acts of terror of another sort occur around our ecologically and socially collapsing world for which we, the affluent residents of West Marin, are indirectly, though unwittingly, responsible. This far-greater violence derives from the systematic targeting of the poor and of nature. The corporate class, their police and our nation’s military routinely practice systematic terrorism that is much grander in scale, with devastating impacts.
Eco-terrorism by the oil, coal and gas oligarchies is ravaging ecosystems and climate, destroying our shared biosphere. Imagine an indigenous tribe suddenly finding a logging, mining or oil company entering their ancestral land and learning that land no longer belongs to them. Imagine the terror as their forests are cut and their women become prostitutes in the cities in order to survive.
Consider the terror of people subject to the incessant buzz of drones, who do not know when or whether they will be targeted as “collateral” damage. Or the everyday terror of the working poor, who serve as slaves to the elite and then go home to unfed families and under-educated children. And what of the terror felt by other species whose habitat is razed and young slaughtered in the name of progress?
Drone war, fracking, tar sands, old-growth logging, inequity, injustice, poverty and human-rights abuses are all forms of terrorism. Such acts of ecocidal and genocidal terror are waged upon Mother Earth every day by the industrial growth machine and by our over-consumption. Ecosystems are being methodically plundered by this growth-at-all-costs mentality.
Because the ruling elites hold the wealth, power and guns, this terror is nonsensically called progress and rarely questioned. Yet today’s terror of ecocide is unmatched in human history. Our capitalist-industrial culture shows utter contempt for other species, terrorizing so many other life forms before murdering them. Earth’s ecosystems are being scoured of life in the name of development as if air, land, water, oceans and other species are worthless. Animals are most certainly terrified as their habitat is cleared and their young massacred.
Earth’s ecosystems are dying as all life and the biosphere are murdered for industrial economic growth. Just like a cancer cell, exhibiting profound personal and societal sickness, humanity is systematically destroying billions of years of naturally evolved ecosystems for a few generations of excessive consumption as we continue our privileged lifestyles.
Such systematic terror, arising from inequity, lack of human rights, militarism and other injustices, has been endured too long. Many acts of criminal terror result from these social ills, and we cannot expect to achieve a lasting peace until these ills are addressed.
Working to resolve the terror common in our social and economic structures might be the only way that an unlikely, but possible, large-scale act of biological or nuclear criminal terrorism can be avoided. Stripping our civil liberties, growing police surveillance and waging permanent wars certainly are not.
Out-of-control growth in industry and population is steadily stripping Earth of its ecosystems. As ecological thresholds and climate tipping-points are surpassed, these ecosystems are collapsing. Continuing our current economic system is itself an act of unspeakable terrorism. Isn’t it time we love all life and end the burning, cutting and pillaging? Where is the outrage to stop this corporate terrorism?
There is no surviving the exponential industrial growth that now feeds upon itself. The amount we spend on “defense” and “homeland security” is obscene. The overdeveloped world must stop being so self-absorbed and face the daily terror borne by much of the planet. We are one human family utterly dependent upon ecosystems, climate stability and other species. Gods, nations and economic growth are simply passing constructs. Billions of years of natural evolution are reflected in the life-giving ecosystems’ incredible biodiversity.
Wake up, my foolish neighbors and friends: we live in a special paradise outside of which it is indeed hard to see. Globally many ecosystems are already collapsing. When we’ve killed this planet, all other issues will be moot. It’s not enough to live a little bit more sustainably. It is high time we accept responsibility for how our personal wealth comes at the expense of others. The collapse of our global economic system would be a good start; then we might adopt a steady-state, radically local gift economy that values all life forms and ends so much of today’s terror.