Monkeywrenching: ecotage; ecodefense; billboard bandits; desurveying; road reclamation; tree spiking - All these can be defined as the unlawful sabotage of industrial extraction/development equipment and infrastructure, as a means of striking at the Earth's destroyers at the point where they commit their crimes.
Monkeywrenching is a step beyond civil disobedience. It is nonviolent, aimed only at inanimate objects, and at the pocketbooks of the industrial despoilers. It is the final step in the defense of the wild, the deliberate action taken by the Earth defender when all other measures have failed, the process whereby the wilderness defender becomes the wilderness acting in self-defense.
Although Earth First! is often associated with the practice and mystique of monkeywrenching, the organized elements of the Earth First! movement do not engage in monkeywrenching. Any person openly spouting off about sabotage should be avoided, as they may be either a wingnut or an agent provocateur.
Monkeywrenching is not mindless - targets are carefully picked for their strategic value. There is a time and a place for everything, and knowing when not to engage in sabotage is equally of value. For instance, monkeywrenching at the site of a public, civil disobedience-oriented campaign of mass actions could put those people in danger.
Although some individual Earth First!ers may be active monkeywrenchers, the Earth First! movement officially neither advocates nor condemns monkeywrenching. The Earth First! Journal, however, carries regular columns, "Dear Ned Ludd" and "Earth Night News," which are about monkeywrenching.
Within the Earth First! movement, monkeywrenching is a source of controversy. There are those who say we should renounce all forms of sabotage. Others are against particular tactics, particularly tree spiking, which they say has the potential to injure. Several EF! local groups have renounced tree spiking, others have not. There is no movement consensus at this time, and debate is lively. Ultimately, whether or not to monkeywrench is an individual decision.
The book, ECODEFENSE: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching, Third Edition (available from the Earth First! Journal for $18), contains detailed information on monkeywrenching techniques as well as careful discussions of security, safety, strategy and justification. The book is 350 pages long and is heavily illustrated. Any potential monkeywrencher would do well to study the security section carefully before embarking on the clearly illegal and potentially dangerous path of ecotage.