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BOOK REVIEW – Igniting A Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth

August 11, 2006


Think environmentalists seem flaky? Wondering if “eco-terrorist” is an oxymoron? The newest release from AK Press is an essential primer for the curious and veteran organizers alike, challenging misconceptions and exploring many issues surrounding revolutionary environmentalism.

Igniting A Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth, edited by Steven Best and Anthony J. Nocella, II, is a lengthy collection of essays and poetry from voices on both sides of the prison walls: John Zerzan, Fred Hampton, Jr., Jeffrey “Free Luers,” Ashanti Alston, Sara Olson and many more. Ample space is devoted to history, spirituality, primitivism, repression and tactical debates, from a range of diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives.

The first section in particular stands in stark opposition to any notion that environmentalists are wishy-washy. Several well-researched and well-argued pieces document the development of radical environmentalism and the birth of the Earth Liberation Front.

In addition to academic analysis, there are personal accounts of experiences from eco-warriors, and at times these present an overly romantic and uncritical view of a controversial movement. Still, the passion and dedication of these activists is quite compelling. Even the primitivist perspectives, which I personally find less than convincing, are an interesting read.

Perhaps most fruitful is the final section, “Social Movements and Alliance Politics,” which situates revolutionary environmentalism in the context of feminism and anti-racist organizing. And this is a primary strength of this carefully thought-out book: the attempt to unite the struggles of eco-warriors with larger movements for social justice. These connections are vitally important now, as environmental activists face COINTELPRO-style repression from the U.S. government.

No matter what your level of engagement with environmentalism or radical tactics, Igniting A Revolution will provide plenty of food for thought, from Marilyn Buck’s visceral, jarring poetry to Ann Hansen’s thoughtful commentary on direct action. You’ll be moved… but will you be moved to act?

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