So there may be an active Earth Liberation Front (ELF) cell in the western Maryland area or maybe one that has migrated here. We'll just have to wait and see how the investigation progresses...
If you want a better idea why this sort of thing happens read this document, or at least the philosophy section at the beginning.
The Earth Liberation Front is the newest re-radicalization of the environmental movement. There's a nice little history piece here, and another piece here. I tend to lead folks back to my own paper on the topic because it's just not healthy to try and understand today's environmental movement separately from the animal liberation movement.
Back to this issue, though. The largest issue in dealing with the ELF, or Earth First! for that matter, is the anti-organization design of leaderless resistance. For those that don't know about it it works like this. Someone, or someones, write a set of guidelines, manifesto, rules, mission statement, or similar ideological document that spells out what is acceptable conduct. Sounds like any other organization right? Now it gets sticky. Then these someones say that anyone that does stuff (legal or otherwise) that forward the goals, while abiding their conditions on conduct, can claim to be members. That's it. No leader - just an ideology. Now there's quite a bit of discussion as to where this all started and some put the beginning with the white supremacists after the American Civil War. I don't know when it started but I know it is extremely popular now. Wanna know why? Consider this. The easier it is to track people and activities to establish criminal wrongdoing then the more likely a leader will be arrested, killed, or otherwise destroyed from a credibility standpoint. Once you take away the leader you eliminate two things. One, the "Cult of Personality" that tends to exist around this sort of movement. Once that personality is removed the movement crumbles - so no leader = no target - but an idea can live on and on and on. Especially, it seems, the bad ones. The second thing that is removed is a clear definition and understanding of the adversary. How big is it? Who is in it? Etcetera, etcetera... Poof! We now have the makings of an underground guerilla army, or at least a core cadre of high-energy folks that are able to present the image of a larger force.
You see this organizational model works well against a democracy (or a republic in our case) that prizes its freedom of speech, but despises criminal acts of property destruction. It works well because it allows the "aboveground activist" to talk the talk and make veiled threats while not committing any clear criminal act. The "underground activist" then carries out acts of destruction to follow-up on those threats. What makes this pretty neat is the real lack of direct communication between to the two elements. The abovegrounders tell us how morally reprehensible we are and the undergrounders attack us. Sound familiar? Anyone British here? Sounds far too much like the old Sein Fein - IRA (Irish Republican Army) model. Maybe it's time we called it what it is, the way it is.
Maybe we are all too afraid of sounding callous and insensitive. Are we? If so, we as a society will ultimately lose. We must be prepared to say that regardless of how much we might like to see the environment left the hell along, it is wrong to commit acts of property destruction. Period. End of story. If we were all so environmentally concerned then we would donate tons of money to groups to buy the land that we won't protected. Maybe PeTA would have been better off not spending nearly $50,000 dollars on the criminal defense of Rod Coronado (Earth First! and ALF operator) rather than on showing people better ways to care for animals. There I said it. I'm a security guy by trade and by belief. If you don't think homes should be built somewhere then get out there and generate support and take legal action. If an eighteen year-old can be elected Mayor by write-in vote then many well intentioned activists can stop a construction project.
I'll step off the soapbox now. It's important to understand how these groups work as well as what they really want from you. Americans like the rebel, but this is the wrong rebel to cheer.
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