We Are of the Earth—A Manifesto
Andreas Malm’s book How to Blow Up a Pipeline, with its call for the environmental movement to start sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure to save our planet, has sparked a vibrant discussion on the left about direct action tactics and eco-sabotage to address the climate crisis.
Verso has put together a free, downloadable ebook of essays, Property Will Cost Us the Earth, from activists and writers around the world grappling with the idea of direct action and eco-sabotage, survey climate activism around the world, and argue for the necessity of building a fighting global movement against capitalism and its fossil fuel regime.
Moving from Mozambique, the Niger Delta, and the coal mines of India to the forests of Ecuador and the watersheds of North America, Property Will Cost Us the Earth details the global scale of climate devastation as well as active struggles around the world to halt further extraction. From this come tactical and strategic questions: how can local direct actions relate to political work forcing states to end reliance on oil, coal, and gas? What kind of protest movement can we build that reflects the urgency of our moment? What does a direct action–based movement require from those on the frontlines of struggle?
With contributions from: Alyssa Battistoni, James Butler, João Camargo, Jen Deerinwater, Ben Ehrenreich, Madeline ffitch, Frente Nacional Anti-Minero (Ecuador), Bue Rübner Hansen, Siihasin Hope, Tara Houska, Jessie Kindig, Benjamin Kunkel, Anabela Lemos and Erika Mendes from Justiça Ambiental! (Mozambique), Andreas Malm, M.O.T.H. Collective, Vanessa Nakate and Amy Goodman, Brototi Roy, Andrea Sempértegui, Richard Seymour, and Adam Tooze.
Frente Nacional Antiminero's We Are of the Earth—A Manifesto, featured in the collection, is reprinted below, and was translated by Andrea Sempértegui.
Fourth National Anti-Mining Meeting
Ecuador, December 2021
We are a pueblo; we are Natives; we are campesinos and campesinas; we are rural workers who have decided to transform this history full of injustice and barbarism. A long time ago, when our grandfathers and grandmothers lived, they had to face the colonial invaders who brought civilization and the gospel to end our life as communities, usurping and destroying our territories, and taking the gold in exchange for death. Our ancestors fought hard to defend the sacred mountains, the song of the rivers, the sunrise in the jungle, the sunset in the sea, and the word at the time of the wayusa. At that time, the master’s gain was worth more than our lives and the lives of the beings that inhabited the jungle and the mountains. It was similar to the times we live in now.
Blood flowed, as the grandmothers told us when remembering their compañeros. The steel of the murderous weapons and the whip of the master destroyed the bodies of the runa who inhabited this land for thousands of years. Those who survived did it fighting, nourished by the memory of their parents and of their ayllu. Those who died were quartered. They savagely imposed their word, their religion, their laws. But they could not put an end to the samay of the forest’s water, which is present among us and gives birth to new men and women every day. We are thousands again.
We walk with firmness fed by that memory, which is present in our oppressed pueblo, in our sacred rituals. That memory of freedom flows through our veins, keeping the fire in our heart, keeping our spirit burning. Through that memory we continue drinking chicha, cultivating corn every crescent moon, thanking the forest and the Andean páramos. We thank the earth itself and venerate the spirits that inhabit it, taking only what is necessary to live.
Sometimes, lost by the need for money, we resemble the master. But the song of the sicunaga and the wayracchuru, the roar of the wind, the power of the chantas and the flight of the condor awaken us and give us back the hope to fight. We continue re-creating our culture ñukanchikpura, of the earth we are. And although they have done and will do much to break our bond with our mother, they have not been able to, they cannot and will not be able to. It must be because we are mitayos, runas, cholos, blacks, montuvios. We of the land do not understand life without healthy soil to cultivate.
That is also why we do not understand how the so-called civilized laws dispossess us of our territories, how they hand our lives over to the mining masters, how they guarantee their ownership so they can destroy the Pachamama. How could we not defend our lives, defend life itself, and defend the lives of others as if they were our own? We, like many compañeros and compañeras, are not important for civilization. For capital, we do not exist. They ignore us and count us in numbers that we do not understand. They say we are becoming fewer and fewer. They say we are disappearing at the same time the latest technology converts mountains into deep holes of life-absorbing death. We do not want to become civilized; we do not want to be pawns in our own territory; we do not want to dig our own grave.
Everything is already disappearing. It is increasingly difficult to listen to the advice of our grandparents through the penetrating gaze of the jaguar, the deer, the bear. The machines that destroy the forest prevent us from talking to our spirits, from connecting with the spiritual world. We do not understand why this is happening, how they can say this is part of life. The great ilas, the uchuputuk, the walnut trees, the cedars, the wanderas with the ingaro are disappearing. In some places they are no longer there. We ask ourselves what is happening with the rivers and the uktus. We do not understand how they can say the mining industry is for our good while it kills our very reality.
We do not understand the laws of the market; we do not understand indexes or surplus; we do not have time to think about that. More and more our workdays to support our family grow longer and more tiring. Our ancestors did not work for money; the land gave them housing, food and wisdom. Perhaps, like those who have studied say, we fail to understand because we are runas, Native people, campesinos and campesinas, cholos, blacks, montuvios, workers.
So we are foolish as the wanfando, indomitable as the eagle, astute as the fox. We resist losing our territory, and we fight to defend it. The land does not belong to anyone, we belong to it. The ancient wisdom has taught us to cultivate it, to cultivate it with patience and with humility, to feed ourselves from it, demonstrating that we are not a problem for the earth. On the contrary, our practices continue to enable life in the great illuminated cities. We have plants to take care of; we have a pure sky; we have clean water; we have a healthy land; we have animals to raise. We do not need metallic megaindustries. We have a territory to protect, and we will give our lives to stop them from entering. They should not be able to enter.
We are the Frente Nacional Anti-Minero. We are the cry that echoes in the jungle; we are the cold that fuels our courage; we are the voice that awakens the conscience of the land and the city. We organize and fight for the land, for water, for life, for ourselves. We organize against the long usurpation of the exploited peoples in our country and in the world. We are heirs and heiresses of this land. And in our territory, we will remain, with humility, reviving our memory of resistance with strength and dignity.