Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins
In Nature, ecological communities are comprised of populations of two or more species that coexist in the same place at the same time. We even see symbiotic relationships between diverse species, where both benefit or gain from the relationship with each other, with mutual win-win outcomes.
In human communities we see the same patterns, different groups of people with different agendas and worldviews coexisting, hopefully harmoniously, in diverse communities, even working together to achieve common goals.
One disagreeable phenomenon we see in ecological communities though is parasitism, where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host. This is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species, with a one-sided win-lose outcome, where the parasite weakens or even kills the host in the process of meeting its own needs.
Is there an equivalent in human communities? Regrettably, there is. The phenomenon goes by the name of entryism.
Entryism makes its entrance
The dictionary defines this term as follows: entryism – the policy or practice of members of a particular political group joining an existing political party with the intention of changing its principles and policies, instead of forming a new party (1)
This definition is rather limited as the phenomenon is not restricted to political parties, but to communities of all kinds, including the communities that Permaculture groups seek to build at the present and those they plan to build in the event of an economic collapse.
The National-Anarchist Movement more accurately defines it as follows: “Entryism is the name given to the process of entering or infiltrating bona fide organisations, institutions and political parties with the intention of either gaining control of them for our own ends, misdirecting or disrupting them for our own purposes or converting sections of their memberships to our cause.” (2)
The idea of infiltrating groups to pursue one’s own agenda was first proposed by Marxist Leon Trotsky in 1934 when he came up with the idea of the French Trotskyists of the Communist League dissolving their group to join the SFIO (French Section of the Workers’ International). Since then, entryism has been used by Trotskyist organisations in other countries to recruit members and further their agenda.
Entryism is now a popular tactic amongst many ideological fringe-leftist groups, many of which are a direct threat to Permaculture communities and the Permaculture movement, but entryism is not exclusive to that side of the political spectrum.
Corporate infiltration of food and environmental groups
More closer to Permaculture’s concerns, major food conglomerates who produce junk food are buying up many of the most successful organic companies to gain membership into organic growers organisations to subvert them to their own ends. The Farm Wars website has produced a chart of the organic industry structure as at June 2009, which clearly shows that many popular organic brands are in fact owned by processed food giants such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Kellogg and General Mills (3)
It’s also no surprises that we have similar infiltration of environmental policy groups by the agriculture industry. The number one cause of air pollution in much of the U.S., China, Russia and Europe today is linked to farming and the nitrogen component of fertilizers used in agriculture. (4) When world leaders convened for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, only one major intergovernmental initiative emerged to deal with climate change and agriculture, and it was controlled by the world’s largest fertilizer companies.
At the 2014 United Nations (UN) Summit on Climate Change in New York, the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture was launched, which the result of several years of deliberate effort by the fertilizer lobby to block meaningful action on agriculture and climate change.
Of this group of 29 non-government founding members, there were three fertilizer industry lobby groups, two of the world’s largest fertilizer companies (Yara of Norway and Mosaic of the United States), and a number of organizations working directly with fertilizer companies on climate change programs. As of 2015, 60% of the private sector members of this group were from the fertilizer industry. (5)
Community groups are not likely to be infiltrated by industry or corporate groups, but they’re seen as prime targets by political groups, which we’ll examine in more detail.
A house divided…
It’s easy for many community groups to assume they’re safe from being infiltrated by other groups simply because of the type of work they’re doing. Groups of dedicated people working tirelessly and voluntarily with altruistic motives would be under the impression that others would respect their work, and would be reluctant to trample over their efforts.
Well, Permaculture may have its ethical principles of care for the planet and people and fair share, but regrettably, many other groups have no such thing, and their ‘secular values’ usually translate to ‘no values’ – basically anything goes to promote one’s agenda, at any cost! We’ll look at some examples and discuss the psychology behind it later in this article. The point is that many groups are not like the well meaning community groups we often interact with.
In Australia, we’ve seen parts of the Greens political party infiltrated by members of socialist groups with the intention to subvert the environmental and social agendas to their neo-Marxist ones, the phenomenon is well documented and these entryists are referred to as ‘watermelons’ – green on the outside, red on the inside!
The Australian Labour Party, one of the two major political parties has been involved in branch stacking scandals where union groups flood a local branch with their own people by paying for their memberships in order to influence internal preselection of candidates or the direction of party policy. The message to take home here is that entryism does happen, and it’s widespread.
Your local Permaculture community may not wield the same power as a political party but it still presents many opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and groups.
Identifying the threats
There is a range of ‘parasitic species’ that seek to exploit community groups, each has their own agenda and identifying traits.
The Opportunist – The Permaculture community is just like any other, we have our good, bad and ugly, and sometimes the problems arise from within, not from an external group. Just like the way union movements are used (exploited) by overly ambitious individuals as a career springboard into left-wing political parties, Permaculture and other community groups are similarly exploited by persons of the same ilk to further individual interests.
How do you spot these people? These overambitious types will literally take over groups, making it all about them, using the group, its newsletters and mailing lists as a means of self-promotion. They’re only friendly (sycophantic usually) to those members they stand to gain something from, and aloof to everyone else. They vie for a position in the group that gives them access to resources or an advantage in self-promotion and then they exploit it for maximum benefit and move on. Permaculture ethical principles? Their ethics are often questionable or missing outright.
If you’ve encountered such an individual, this solo entryist is a classic self-serving opportunist, and their first and foremost priority is their own personal gain, they may have some interest in Permaculture, sustainability or the environment, but it’s ultimately only a vehicle to further their personal interests.
The Misplaced Activist – It’s easy to recognise misplaced activists, they’re activists just like the ones in the Permaculture community but with a different focus, they’re well meaning and passionate, but just seem to have wandered into the wrong community meeting by mistake. They will want to do things like plant ornamental natives when the group is talking about planting food. Having divergent goals, they will waste time and simply confuse matters. They may be there just for the social contact or a sense of belonging or community, but unfortunately their presence just creates unnecessary complexity. It’s really a case of – um, excuse me the other group of activists is next door…
The Saboteur – Sometimes groups see others as rivals, competitors for resources (such as funding or grants) or public attention. Often they may see a situation as zero-sum game (if one gains, another loses) even though there may be ample resources for everyone, their fear of lack will drive them regardless. The saboteur will come into the group and play the devil’s advocate to intentionally cause confusion, disagreements and distractions in order to hinder their progress so their own group arrives at an advantage. The saboteurs are easiest to spot in hindsight, once the funding has been handed out or projects are assigned to community groups, the quietly disappear as their work is done. It’s really a case of identifying conflicts of interest early in the game as person realistically won’t serve two masters.
The Social Justice Warrior – this type has no interest in your group’s activities or goals. They are there purely to further their political agenda at any cost. They have already started making their presence felt at the fringes of the Permaculture world and it’s nothing but bad news for all concerned.
The “Social justice warrior” (or SJW) is a pejorative term for a recent leftist neo-progressive movement who claim to be promoting socially progressive views such as identity politics, political correctness, feminism, civil rights and multiculturalism. This group is problematic because (as the common criticisms levelled against them claim) they have little to no interest or conviction in these issues, they only engage in disingenuous social justice arguments or activism to receive validation and approval from their peers to confirm their moral superiority and purity. Their motivation for their actions are described as ‘virtue signalling’, the act of promoting certain viewpoints that are valued within their social group in order to enhance the social standing.
Another criticism of SJWs is that they not members of the groups that they purport to defend. SJWs are generally young, white, middle-class types who sit on social media and pass moral judgement on those who hold views different to their own. Ironically they use the expression “check your privilege” to shame other privileged white people like themselves about being privileged.
The new irrationalism
What makes SJWs destructive to any community is their sense of moral supremacy and ill-founded arrogance, they’re essentially post-modern left-wing fundamentalist ideologues who are anti-science, anti-reason (because that’s supposedly part of the oppressive patriarchy) and insist that their emotive rantings have as much standing as evidence-based facts (thanks to the loopy pseudo-philosophy of post-modernism which asserts that all value is relative, that a pre-pubescent graffiti artists ‘tag’ on a wall is of equal value to DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, and the baseless opinions and beliefs of a narcissistic teenager with no life experience hold weight against real human wisdom). They are also anti-religious and curiously anti-Western society. Their whole narrative, the underlying inane political message that drives them is simply this – “The Left is right, the Right is wrong and almost all people are evil”. Yes, it’s really that puerile!
So what does an SJW want to do to your community? What do they really want to achieve through entryism? If you’ve read George Orwell’s “1984” you’ll get the right idea. Conformity of opinion, basically ‘groupthink’ – diversity of opinion is not tolerated under any circumstances. They are pro-censorship and anti-freedom of speech. Apparently this ‘sensitive’ generation gets offended when they hear opinions other than the ones they hold, and demand that anything that they disagree with be censored. They have ‘safe spaces’ where they can shield themselves from opinions that challenge their own. They demand ‘trigger warnings’ be included in anything they might read or watch that might make them feel uncomfortable – that is, something that doesn’t fit in with their view of the world! They believe that they are inherently correct and therefore have no obligation to justify, debate or reason their ideologies while simultaneously forcing them down other people’s throats. The inherent hypocrisy of trying to achieve ‘equality’ by censoring and suppressing groups they disagree with is somehow not apparent to them.
It’s a new form of secular dogmatic fundamentalism combined with victimhood and ‘modern values’ i.e. no values, so there is no limit to how far SJWs are willing to go to push their agenda. Recently the celebrated Feminist activist and author Germaine Greer was shouted down at a speaking event, they refused to let her talk by shouting over her because she holds the opinion that men who have had gender-change surgery are not real women. Apparently in the SJWs world it’s taboo to say that, she’s a heretic, and therefore must be silenced! They have no qualms about online bullying, trolling, abuse, harassment or even lying to get people in trouble, sacked from their work or causing them to lose their livelihood simply because they disagree with them. Their hateful blind fanaticism knows no limits, it’s like a secular version of the Spanish Inquisition. They have been described as “cry-bullies”, people who bully others until they get confronted, then revert to playing the victim and claim they’re the ones being bullied or oppressed.
The SJW movement is so irrational that the regular ‘liberals’ or political left are distancing themselves from them, as are many other groups, and labelling these supposedly neo-progressives “the regressive left”. The atheist community has undergone a major schism because many who identify as reasoning sceptics have realised that SJWs dogmatically promote their own political ideology as undeniable truth or fact while demanding censorship of all other ideologies and that doesn’t sit well with many secular pro-science types. Even the infamous spokesman for atheism, Richard Dawkins is having his ongoing personal war with this group. As one article states “As the leading voice of militant atheists, Richard Dawkins has spent much of the last few decades battling Christians, Muslims, and deity-worshippers of every denomination. But now he has a new fanatical opponent: the secular dogmatists of the regressive left.”
The nature of the beast
These people are easy to spot, where there’s smoke there’s fire – they expose themselves as soon as they start demanding that other people behave according to their moral guidelines, not use certain words, and not discuss certain topics and not act in certain ways, they act as self-appointed arbiters of morality, moral supremacists in fact. Oh yeah, and they are classist, they have abandoned the old mission of the left, to support of the working class, they now look down on them as vulgar, crude, uneducated and pitiful. Maybe getting more privileged upper-class white women into CEO roles in places like Monsanto and other wonderful corporations like that might be right up their alley…
One can’t help but try to understand the reason for such a phenomenon. The incessant virtue signalling of the SJWs to prove their moral purity to their peers and to receive constant validation back, unbounded by any morality, all this sounds seriously unhealthy. Much like Facebook addicts who post obsessively to receive “Likes” in a sort of twisted Pavlovian conditioning reward, this constant virtue-signalling/peer-validation behaviour essentially reeks of narcissism.
Psychologists have noted a steady increase in narcissistic behaviour traits and I believe this virtue signalling behaviour is a reflection of this. To quote the New York Times article – Narcissism Is Increasing. So You’re Not So Special:
“A 2010 study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science found that the percentage of college students exhibiting narcissistic personality traits, based on their scores on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a widely used diagnostic test, has increased by more than half since the early 1980s, to 30 percent. In their book “Narcissism Epidemic,” the psychology professors Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell show that narcissism has increased as quickly as obesity has since the 1980s. Even our egos are getting fat… This is a costly problem. While full-blown narcissists often report high levels of personal satisfaction, they create havoc and misery around them. There is overwhelming evidence linking narcissism with lower honesty and raised aggression. It’s notable for Valentine’s Day that narcissists struggle to stay committed to romantic partners, in no small part because they consider themselves superior.” (6)
Remember, narcissists are all about themselves, they don’t care about noble causes, the greater good, the fate of the planet. It is guaranteed that the narcissist will be the centre of attention in place of the group’s primary purpose. Trying to placate them is futile as they can never be satisfied, and it’s hard to get anything done in a community group when the group’s energy is wasted on internal conflict and drama.
As our Western world succumbs to the rise of narcissism and an irrational regressive left fundamentalism that aims to infiltrate any group they see fit to impose their version of Orwell’s 1984 on the masses, it’s important to be aware of possible threats and to keep vigilant.
Preparation is the most important part of a sound defence strategy.
The way traditional communities maintained their integrity was through tribal cohesiveness, good ethical leadership and sound agreed boundaries. Transgression of stated boundaries had very clear and definite consequences. This allowed them to expel any destructive person with the minimum of drama, and history proved that this system worked.
Agreed and documented processes are critical, especially more so for groups with a open, inclusive structures without leadership, such as anarchist community groups. If it’s written down, it reduces disagreements!
It is important to have an agreed upon documented set of guidelines that define:
• the group purpose and mission
• activities undertaken by the group
• decision-making processes
• acceptable and unacceptable conduct
• the consequences for breaching the guidelines
• methods and processes for conflict resolution
• emergency plans in case the groups is subverted by entryism.
If an entryist who is hijacking a community group cannot be removed for whatever reason, a viable strategy is to simply dissolve the group, reform a new one and invite only the preferred members to join.
If we model our community groups on Nature, they can be as resilient as Nature herself is.
Diversity is important, as it not only provides a valuable mix of skills, but also a range of personality types which provide a broad range of perspectives and solutions to collective challenges.
Adaptability is the key to resilience, ‘change or perish’. Change and adapt in response to new and emerging circumstances, proactive change prepares you for what’s to come, but that involves looking ahead and understanding the coming changes,, which is far better than reactive change, which is tantamount to sitting there passively until change hits like a fast moving bus and then managing the crisis.
Finally, decentralise important functions! Remember the Permaculture design principle – important functions should be performed by many elements. Centralising power, authority and control in a group gives an entryist a single point to focus their efforts onto.
The Permaculture movement itself is naturally resilient because there isn’t a single governing body that can be infiltrated, it’s a loose affiliation of like-minded, inclusive individuals and groups operating freely doing what they want and collectively working towards a common vision of a better world. And if any wannabe-entryist has the misguided intention of trying to tell us what we should do, think or believe, we just have two sweet little words for them…
1. Entryism. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved August 3, 2016 from Dictionary.com website https://www.dictionary.com/browse/entryism
2. National-Anarchist Movement – article “The Case For National-Anarchist Entryism by Troy Southgate”, Saturday, 18 September 2010
3. Farm Wars – “The USDA’s Organic Deception” by Barbara H. Peterson, 6 January 2011
4. Harvey, F. (2016). Farming is ‘single biggest cause’ of worst air pollution in Europe. the Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2016
5. The Politics of Fertilizer and the Exxons of Agriculture – Rural America. (2016), Inthesetimes.com.
6. New York Times – “Narcissism Is Increasing. So You’re Not So Special” Arthur C. Brooks FEB. 13, 2016