Home | Book
and Film Reviews
ECO-WARRIOR - BATTLE FOR MOTHER EARTH
by "Disco" Dave Dragonetti - Rosedog
chronicles of one mans involvement in 5 years of green Direct Action
in the UK in the 1990's. Mainly taking in the anti-roads movement
at Manchester airport, Newbury, plus life at Faslane anti-nuclear
Peace Camp, Disco details the highs and lows of life in the tunnels
and treehouses at the front-line of ecological resistance.
Dave's journey into the anti-roads movement is
probably atypical of the usual - having no background or friends
involved at the time, he was initially content to record evictions
on his camera, drawn by human interest to the evictions at the No
M-11 protest site in London's Leytonstone. Hovering on the edges,
Disco was drawn! further into the movement by a chance conversation
with a seasoned veteran of the anti-roads campaign, who recommended
he start help making history rather than merely record it. And so
Disco's is an honest, and at times grim, account
of life on a protest camp - the endless hostile weather, followed
by endless lines of bailiffs and police, month after month. Building
a treehouse in a tree that you know is doomed, the constant threat
of eviction...and of course the camps inhabitants themselves...
No fan of anarchist politics, Disco slams the excuse for laziness
that often dogs anarchist organisations.
Life in the path of the juggernaut was, it seems, often dominated
by excessive alcohol and hash consumption. Whether this is a human
reaction to such harsh and volatile conditions or a reflection of
British culture in general is open for debate, but leads the author
at one stage to comment that the easiest way for the State to debilitate
the protest camps would have been to parachute in crates of whiskey
and weed and watch the hippies drop.
One by one the anti-roads camps of the 90's rose
and fell, fueled by an idealism and determination that made up,
in large part, for the lack of logistical experience. How no one
was killed at these campaigns is a mystery. The creativity and resourcefulness
of these camps cannot be overestimated, and the book could have
done with a few more photo's to really illustrate the innovation
of some of the treehouse defenses and the Ho-Chi-Min type tunnels
that were dug to do them proper justice.
The book is at it's best when describing the dynamics
between those characters attracted to the Camps- from the heroic
to the broken and everyone in-between. The rapport that developed
between them and some members of the bailiff teams is interesting.
Both, in a way, had a vested interest in prolonging the evictions
for as long as possible - the bailiffs were getting richer by the
day as the tunnellers broke records and harnessed massive media
attention. In typical tabloid style, much of this interest focused
on the "lifestyle" angle, picking Swampy as the movements
icon. Questions of national importance, like how do deal with your
shit in a tunnel, were raised, as the real issues were sidelined.
Disco's time at Faslane Peace Camp north of Glasgow is another highlight.
A seasoned veteran by this point, it's not long before he's off
reinforcing the camps defenses by digging a network of tunnels beneath
the caravans and benders. This led to him publishing an online "how-to"
guide at www.discodavestunnelguide.com
The camps semi-permanent status and slower pace of life allows the
book to go more behind the scenes, detailing the personalities and
dynamics amongst those alongside Dave.
At times, Dave's rhetoric becomes confusing. Proudly
working class, he nevertheless manages to be very dismissive of
his classes potential. At one meeting he attends, he writes "being
working class, they (those at the meeting) just didn't have the
confidence to stand up and defy authority". Best leave it to
the middle class students, then?
Ultimately, these campaigns were battles of wits
and stamina. And what stamina - Disco spent 22 days his last tunnel
at Manchester Airport. 22 days in a tiny dark hole as the bailiffs
inch there way through. By day 20 the tunnel ceiling began to crumble,
and Dave knew time was short. He emerged when it became clear he
would be buried alive if he stayed. The tunnel collapsed 15 minutes
Dave left that site with a head "like a bombed
out building". Suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder,
he received counseling and effectively retired from the battle.
Here the book ends, though you know there's more. Owing to space
restrictions, Disco mentions just briefly a trip to Ireland, a stint
in prison and joining the TA. Perhaps a Part 2 is necessary.
It's worth remembering that though the various battles were often
lost and the land trashed, the movement forced the State to cancel
two-thirds of the rest of their road-building program. Camps still
exist, and more has been won - witness Nine Ladies Camp recent victory
p.s. this is the only book I've read with links for Class War and
the Territorial Army on the same page.
p.p.s. how do you deal with shit in a tunnel?