Sam J Knights wrote a piece published om medium addressed to Extinction Rebellion: We Need To Talk About The Future. Here, Jonathan Pye answers the suggestions Sam puts forward in the article.
“Adopt a fourth central demand on climate and ecological justice, calling for reparations, land rights, ecocide law, and a renewed focus on racial and economic equality.”
Jonathan: This is a bad idea because it goes badly together with the demand that the citizens assembly will be the way to decide the way forward, no power to XR is democraticly very important since we want to force the implementation of the citizens assembly before we are 51% of the population and have a democratic base to put our own agenda forward (aside from the fact that it would be disastrous to build such an political XR-agenda.)
“Elect all central role-holders and establish democratic ways in which the entire movement can decide on the most important issues. If something is particularly contentious, there needs to be a process for triggering a vote.”
Jonathan: This is not crucial at the moment, the subway action was not that damaging to the movement. We are not there to please. XR local groups has by and large worked perfectly without controlling leadership.
“End the ridiculous messaging around prison being a fun place to be. Similarly, end the simplistic messaging around policing. Work with other activists to amplify other social justice causes now.”
Jonathan: This police love is theater that has served XR well. XR has had much less problems from police than standard activists, and above all, it is not impacting the rebelliousness. Everyone who says police treated them well makes sure that when the police start treating as harsher, as they soon will, it will lie upon the state that they escalated and not us. If there would be a significant number of people of colour who said this is a problem, we would have to listen to that, but for now its mostly white anxiety about words. Saying the police have a problem with internal racism just because they have a problem with internal racism is no goal of its own. We need to escalate the rebellion in the best way possilble, and use the fact that there is lot of middleage or senior middleclass white people at the actions.
“Establish trainings for all activists and organisers on climate justice and racial equality. Hold public discussions on the politics and ideas of the green movement. Provide ways in which activists and members of the public can educate themselves.”
Jonathan: This is already beeing done, and racism has never been alowed inside of XR, in fact I have yet to see criticism about this issue from a group who are themselves not even more white and who have not themselves failed to build a movement compatible with the global south as XR has.
“Focus on building relationships with other activist groups and making the link between climate change and other important political issues. I don’t wanna be part of your revolution if it ain’t intersectional.”
Jonathan: This is a horrible idea. XR is not another activist group who happened to be lucky and explode in size. The only reason we are growing steadily even though we have a super radical, almost revoutionary plan, is because we have avoided to be marked as obvious extreme left. The climate movement has failed for 30 years to build a mass movement with momentum, and when we suddenly have a new concept that works extremely well, pulling “ordinary people” with jobs, kids, and a distain for activists into a movement committing crimes to induce if not the downfall of government so something close to it, and you want to go back to the strategies that failed for 30 years? In a political climate where the left is historically weak? No no no.
“Involve everyone — including the wider climate movement — in open discussions about the future of the movement and where we all need to go now. Remember that the future is going to be humble. The revolution will not happen under any one banner or any one flag. It will require all of us to work together. To rise together. For justice. And compassion. And love.”
Jonathan: Well some learning from others doesn’t hurt but XR keep in mind that no one has offered any example of how to build a global movement like ours. Every time people sneer about the underground action or that we are nonviolent, or that we dont openly criticize capitalism or that we managed to involve more people of colour than all other enviromental grups, but still not to a perfect balance. I say OK I have a movement in 100s of cities around the world with members prepared to commit crimes to force the government to put in a new political body, the citicens assembly, committed to keep the world warming at 1,5% (which is a demand incompatible with keeping capitalism in its current form) and you have nothing. How does the fact that this succesful movement is not perfect give you the right to complain and ridicule when you have never managed to do anything close to the magnitude of what Extinction Rebellion is doing. This is by far the most threatening movement in the global north to capitalism right now and the left wants it to go back to the faliures of the last 30 years…