Saturday, September 2, 2017

Quote of the day, September 2 2017: from John Bellamy Foster

 From an interview published  in an e-bulletin in Socialist Project, called “A Resistance Movement for the Planet,” by socialist environmentalist John Bellamy Foster, Professor of Sociology at the University of Oregan, and editor of Monthly Review:  

JBF: The struggle at Standing Rock has left an indelible imprint on today’s environmental struggle. It was a great victory, even though with Trump’s election the conditions were set for the overriding of what had been won. Indigenous peoples once again demonstrated, as they have over and over in recent years, their leadership in the struggle to protect the environment. The water protectors stood fast while they were hosed in subfreezing weather, subjected to non-lethal bullets and tear gas, and dogs set on them. The whole world gasped. It was difficult not to recall the struggles of the civil rights era in the Jim Crow South. The battle was primarily to protect the water which was threatened by drilling the pipeline under the Missouri River. But everyone understood – and not just environmentalists that joined them, but especially the Indigenous peoples themselves – that this was a battle for the whole earth.

For me, though, the high point was near the end when thousands of U.S. veterans arrived en masse, approaching Standing Rock in long winding lines of vehicles strung out over miles, to provide a “human shield” for the water protectors. They declared that they were standing with the Indigenous peoples – and even taking it upon themselves to apologize on bended knees for the history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. It is no accident that the government gave in a couple of days after that. The conflict that would have ensued would have drawn untold numbers of people to the environmental resistance and, in that sense, would have been a full-scale disaster for the powers that be. So they chose to pull back at that point. But what really made this so important was that it represented an act of solidarity cutting across the lines that have historically divided us. It is the emergence of human solidarity in the hour of need in this way that tells us that we can win.

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