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From Environmental Action to Ecoterrorism?

Towards a Process Theory of Environmental and Animal Rights Oriented Political Violence Gerry Nagtzaam, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Australia
This book scrutinizes the growth of the ‘eco-terrorism’ movement operating on a global scale, focusing on the main groups and their more radical offshoots, both historically and those currently active. These include Earth First!, the Earth Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Front and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It critically examines how these groups form and how they have evolved, their key personnel, their strategies and tactics, principles, motivating philosophies and attitudes to violence. Specifically, the book seeks to understand whether such groups inevitably evolve from activists to militants to terrorists, as the literature suggests. Lastly, it considers the future of such groups, asking whether they will become more prominent as more people become ecologically aware and as global environmental conditions deteriorate, or whether such groups have peaked as a force for environmental change.
Extent: 368 pp
Hardback Price: $150.00 Web: $135.00
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 84980 119 5
Availability: In Stock
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  • Environment
  • Climate Change
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Law - Academic
  • Environmental Law
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • European Politics and Policy
  • Terrorism and Security
This book scrutinizes the growth of the ecoterrorism movement operating on a global scale, focusing on the main groups and their more radical offshoots, both historically and currently active. These include Earth First!, the Earth Liberation Front, the Animal Liberation Front and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Gerry Nagtzaam critically examines how these groups formed and how they have evolved, their key personnel, their strategies and tactics, principles, motivating philosophies and attitudes to violence.

Specifically, this book seeks to understand whether groups such as these inevitably evolve from activists to militants to terrorists who gravitate towards political violence on behalf of the environment. Particular attention is paid to the future of such groups, predicting whether they will become more prominent as more people become ecologically aware and as global environmental conditions deteriorate, or whether groups like these have peaked as a force for environmental change. Gerry Nagtzaam compares and contrasts the selected ecoterrorist groups, highlighting their similarities and differences as regards to their use of political violence and pathways of radicalization.

This book will be of interest to a number of different audiences, including scholars, teachers and students of law enforcement, terrorism, environmental politics, environmental law, international relations theory, geography, environmental science, sociology and development studies. It will also be relevant for activists and environmental NGOs.
‘This book is an important contribution to the literature on eco-terrorism and the application of radicalization theories to explaining possible trajectories into violence.’
– Perspectives on Terrorism

‘From Environmental Action to Ecoterrorism? offers perhaps the clearest and most comprehensive examination of radical environmental groups and tactics to date, and does so in a balanced and richly narrated manner. Taking the Animal Liberation Front, Earth First! and the Sea Shepherds as case studies, Nagtzaam focuses upon the processes by which persons and groups undergo radicalization and come to embrace political violence. Tracing the evolution of group strategies, leaders and philosophies, his detailed narrative and careful theoretical and empirical analysis underscore the need for a better understanding of radicalization processes. Scholars and students interested in the development of radical environmentalism or in the dynamics of more militant forms of environmental resistance will find much to explore. Those merely interested in the history and internal dynamics of radical environmentalism as a social movement, and the cautionary tale that it contains, will also find much to admire in this engaging book.’
– Steve Vanderheiden, University of Colorado at Boulder, US

‘In a book that is non-alarmist in tone, yet inherently attentive to the fact that such groups can constitute challenges to law enforcement and society more generally, Nagtzaam enhances our understanding of radicalization, reaffirming that it is a process not just currently confined and relevant to Islamist groups and exclusivist nationalist organizations. He approaches and frames radical actors and radicalization in a neutral, technical manner, advocating that neither should be inherently associated or equated with violence and terrorism. His study also reinforces that while mainstream environmental and animal rights groups and their more militant counterparts occasionally share affinities, they are distinguished by very different philosophies and modes of operation on resolving ecological crises.’
– Peter Lentini, Monash University, Australia

‘Overall, this book makes a useful contribution by presenting a comprehensive examination of a relatively under examined and highly contested area. It will serve as a foundation on which future work can build to analyse the emergence of radical environmentalism and how it can be managed. This book will be of interest to researchers and practitioners seeking to understand processes of radicalisation and the role of the environment as a motivating factor.’
– Global Crime Journal


Contents: Introduction PART I 1. Cage Fighting: the Animal Liberation Front 2. Rattling the Cages: Animal Liberation Front Actions 3. By Other Means: The Animal Liberation Front and its Purported Splinter Groups PART II 4. Direct Action in Defence of Living Systems: Earth First! 5. Elves Running through the Forest: the Earth Liberation Front PART III 6. Gaia’s Navy: the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society 7. Ramming Speed: Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Actions 8. Vigilante Justice: The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Law Conclusion Bibliography Index