The camp supports the use of direct action as one of many tools fighting this project. Whilst also supporting legal battles, attending oral hearings, lobbying & many other tactics the predominate tactic used currently by the camp is that of direct action.
This struggle has seen the system take sides with Shell. Whilst political parties, the gardai, the courts & the mainstream media all seem to work hand in hand with Shell what is left but to try to physically stop the project ourselves? All over the world corporations & governments work together to crush local community dissent. People have consistently been let down by party politics & the legal system & respond by taking action themselves.
When faced with fighting the system many believe that we will never win by fighting within that system & only by making the struggle outside the current status quo can we truly resist. This is direct action’s strength. For some this grass roots people power is part of a wider political strategy of resisting capitalism & those systems that support it. Direct action has been used the world over throughout history to bring about radical social change. The Zapatistas in Mexico fighting for indigenous rights over their lands & resources, Indian peasants resisting GM crops, anti-war campaigners smashing planes & arms factories, the civil rights movement in the US, the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa & the suffragettes demanding female emancipation. All are chapters in the history of direct action & are stories of normal women & men rising up resisting.
The way we resist is also as important as resisting itself. Challenging hierarchies whether they be patriarchy or class or race privilege is essential to the process of resistance. Whilst fighting the dominant powers that are creating a world where capital comes before human rights or ecological survival we wish to not recreate those hierarchies within our own communities & struggles.
Many at the camp wish to see radical social change; a society based on mutual aid & co-operation not one based on profit. If there is any hope of radical social change it is dependent on people with different life experiences, and perspectives, being able to come together to share ideas, find common ground and collectively work out solutions of new ways to live; it will not happen in an activist ghetto. It is a common thread in history that during periods of upheaval, times when life can no longer continue as usual, that long established world views are turned upside down. The realisation that government and religious institutions cannot be depended on for support is often paralled by an increased reliance on friends, family and community, and the benefits of mutual aid, co-operation and solidarity are discovered experientially. These realisations are often the ‘side effects’ of taking direct action and are certainly borne out here both on the camp & within the community.
Direct action isn’t a tool to be used by an elite squad of “professional activists”. Whilst at times the camp can be guilty of giving that impression with young people running up tripods & clambering on diggers we are over-awed by the refinery blockades of 2005-2007, with the images of local people blockading the road on a cold winters morning day after day. When direct action becomes a profession it loses its meaning. Its a tool for the masses of any age, mobility and sentiment and this campaign has proved that over the many years of struggle.