By Alfie Hardman
Some thoughts on Extinction Rebellion.
We were outside the Market House when I got passed the Extinction Rebellion flyer by Pete of all people. The skull and butterfly print design looked dope and I initially thought it was one of the art directors on the course. Nope, was the reply.
I pocketed it and forgot all about it until a friend of mine told me more about the demonstrations Extinction Rebellion were planning, not only in London but in cities around the world. In the past they had closed all five bridges in central London, cutting off anything that wasn’t a cyclist, or an ambulance and a group had even stripped off in the Commons.
This week they’ve blocked four main landmarks – Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch. My friend gleefully told me the aim of the demonstrations was to get as many people arrested as possible for obstruction and that her role, as a prisoner attendee was to help those that had successfully got themselves banged up.
It sounded great. I was instantly up for it. I started reading up on it all and watching videos online where I saw a sincere looking crustie* telling an elderly audience the importance of wearing diapers, the importance of not agreeing to a police caution and not to dob him in as one of the demonstration organisers. They all nodded solemnly.
Feeling a little less enthused I read more. I was still keen to get involved, after all climate change is the biggest challenge humanity will even face and we really are fucked if we carry on going the way we are, as I’m sure you know.
I was also slightly disheartened to see that only 7,000 people would be attending. Extinction Rebellion has only been going since October last year but how could an issue so big still have such a niche following?
It made a little more sense as I discovered more about the movement. XR believe incrementalism is the best way to get their three demands, fair enough, until you hear how vague the demands really are. The first is that the government starts telling the truth about climate change. However, the UK government is leading the charge as one of the only countries in the world to meet its carbon budget targets, I don’t think there’s a single denier in Parliament. The second demand is more sensible, XR want to have legally binding policies to reduce carbon emissions. The third is perhaps more troubling, to have a citizen assemble to oversee other changes. These unelected people, chosen at random would be calling the shots.
Whatever your political beliefs XR’s link with Momentum is also slightly troubling. As it should be, the movement claims to be above politics but it’s hard to believe this is really the case when the co-founder Roger Hallum repeats his desire to “…bring down governments and change regimes.” You’ll find this interview on Russia Today, a news program entirely funded by the Russian government that seems dead set on disrupting the western world by any passable means.
I really hope the movement matures and gains more followers. It has an obvious appeal to young people like me and this is perhaps why there is this link with Momentum and a desire to radically change the current political system, until it depoliticises itself XR will run the risk of alienating many followers. I also believe XR’s demands need to become more specific in order to gain significant environmental change. Either way, like with any political system or movement it’s easier to change it from within so I’ll be at Marble Arch, probably not wearing a diaper, waiting to get arrested.
· Crustie – usually someone that hails from Brighton, compatible with Hippies.
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