Extinction Rebellion: radical system change & the power of mass civil disobedience

[In preparation for this Friday’s global climate strike (happening somewhere locally near you), perhaps some useful input from the Extinction Rebellion movement, for those readers who might not have heard of it. This is part of the welcome shift in language we need as government and corporate elites continue to push us towards the cliff. From little things big things grow…In solidarity, Peter]

Fifteen people in a small English town got together and discussed the science of climate change and social and governmental inaction. They had long studied and researched the way to achieve radical social change. They came up with the declaration below and then embarked on a long campaign of civil disobedience to transform the way we talked about climate and ecological emergency and force governments all over the world to act. First they toured the UK to build a movement called Extinction Rebellion (XR) using presentations which walked people through the facts and then provided a necessary and rational response: non-violent mass civil disobedience.

In October last year they declared themselves to be in open rebellion against the UK government. Five ‘iconic’ locations were non-violently shut down in central London for ten days, over a thousand people arrested. Politicians from all major parties quickly invited them to meetings. The very next day, the UK parliament became the first country to declare a state of climate and ecological emergency. There has been a huge shift in public opinion, to which the student strike movement initiated by Greta Thunberg’s lone action before the Swedish parliament, also just last year, has also greatly contributed. Since then hundreds of XR groups have been formed in countries across the globe (including Australia). Hundreds of thousands of people have signed up to block roads, shut down bridges and – if need be – to get arrested. In April this year XR began its first phase of international rebellion in Pakistan, the US, Netherlands, Austria, Chile, Ghana.

XR is a decentralised mass movement open to anyone taking action in a non-violent way. It is based on the conviction that the climate and ecological crisis will not be solved by gradual reform and rotten compromise but rather requires radical system change on a scale never seen before. It sees itself a part of a global ‘movement of movements’ social, ecological, indigenous, gender… Part of the problem is ‘our complete and utter failure to imagine any meaningful alternative’ to extractive and capitalist business-as-usual. We must reform and extend our broken democracy. We must also all ‘rewild the imagination’ as much a rewild the world, and ‘learn how to dream again’… XR’s three key demands, so far, are:

1. government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change

2. government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025

3. government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

(All this and below taken from the highly recommended: This is Not a Drill. An Extinction Rebellion Handbook (Penguin 2019)

Extinction Rebellion: Declaration of Rebellion

We hold the following to be true:

This is our darkest hour.

Humanity finds itself embroiled in an event unprecedented in its history. One which, unless immediately addressed, will catapult us further into the destruction of all we hold dear: this nation, its peoples, our ecosystems and the future of generations to come.

The science is clear:- we are in the sixth mass extinction event and we will face catastrophe if we do not act swiftly and robustly.

Biodiversity is being annihilated around the world. Our seas are poisoned, acidic and rising. Flooding and desertification will render vast tracts of land uninhabitable and lead to mass migration.

Our air is so toxic that the United Kingdom is breaking the law. It harms the unborn whilst causing tens of thousands to die. The breakdown of our climate has begun. There will be more wildfires, unpredictable super storms, increasing famine and untold drought as food supplies and fresh water disappear.

The ecological crises that are impacting upon this nation, and indeed this planet and its wildlife can no longer be ignored, denied nor go unanswered by any beings of sound rational thought, ethical conscience, moral concern, or spiritual belief.

In accordance with these values, the virtues of truth and the weight of scientific evidence, we declare it our duty to act on behalf of the security and well-being of our children, our communities and the future of the planet itself.

We, in alignment with our consciences and our reasoning, declare ourselves in rebellion against our Government and the corrupted, inept institutions that threaten our future.

The wilful complicity displayed by our government has shattered meaningful democracy and cast aside the common interest in favour of short-term gain and private profits.

When Government and the law fail to provide any assurance of adequate protection, as well as security for its people’s well-being and the nation’s future, it becomes the right of its citizens to seek redress in order to restore dutiful democracy and to secure the solutions needed to avert catastrophe and protect the future. It becomes not only our right, it becomes our sacred duty to rebel.

We hereby declare the bonds of the social contract to be null and void, which the government has rendered invalid by its continuing failure to act appropriately. We call upon every principled and peaceful citizen to rise with us.

We demand to be heard, to apply informed solutions to these ecological crises and to create a national assembly by which to initiate those solutions needed to change our present cataclysmic course.

We refuse to bequeath a dying planet to future generations by failing to act now.

We act in peace, with ferocious love of these lands in our hearts. We act on behalf of life.

~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on September 18, 2019.

2 Responses to “Extinction Rebellion: radical system change & the power of mass civil disobedience”

  1. Hear, hear…!
    100th monkey time?

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