Where is Extinction Rebellion going?

You will regularly see comments from Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists about the need to fundamentally change, or even sometimes to “overthrow”, the existing capitalist socio-economic system as a necessary pre-requisite for preventing catastrophic ecological collapse.

And yet what is actually happening behind that radical rhetoric?

The latest update on the central XR web site refers to a proposal that has been circulated “for entering a ‘negotiations’ phase” – https://rebellion.earth/2019/04/22/update-6-a-new-phase-begins/

Despite the assurances that this is just a proposal it seems that the leadership (of this movement with no leaders!) is already fully committed to implementing this new phase:

Farhana, the group’s political circle co-ordinator said: “Today marks a transition from week one, which focused on actions that were vision-holding but also caused mass “disruption” across many dimensions (economic, cultural, emotional, social).

“Week two marks a new phase of rebellion focused on “negotiations” where the focus will shift to our actual political demands.”

She added: “We want to show that XR is a cohesive long-term, global force, not some flash in the pan.

“We can do that by showing we are disciplined and cannot only start disruptive actions but also end these when needed. We are not a rabble, we are rebels with a cause!

“Being able to “pause” a rebellion shows that we are organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with.

“This will give XR leverage as we enter into negotiations with those in power to make headway on our three demands.”

The update also refers to XR having “received almost £300,000 in crowdfunding”. Given the decentralised nature of XR, with no democratic accountability of the central organisation to the mass of activists on the ground, it is unclear who will make the decisions about how to use this large, and presumably growing, amount of money.

There is also a new web site XR Business (https://xrbusiness.org) which describes itself as “an evolving platform for people in business who understand that business as usual is not going to work any more.”

At first glance this looks like a group of entrepreneurs, probably with no direct links to the worst corporate polluters, seeking to appeal to this new market of climate change activists.

However the letter to The Times announcing the launch of this new venture (copy at https://jeremyleggett.net/2019/04/22/letter-to-the-times-by-business-leaders-supportive-of-extinction-rebellion-of-which-i-am-proud-to-be-one/ for those not paying to get through The Times paywall) includes among the signatories “Gail Bradbrook (co-founder)  Extinction Rebellion”.

While the formally decentralised structure of XR will allow a defence of “this is only the view of one individual” anyone who is an active part of XR, or even just follows them closely, will know that to the extent there are leaders of XR Gail Bradbrook is definitely one of them.

Bradbrook’s endorsement of XR Business is a very strong indication of the direction the key players in XR are wanting to take the project. It is therefore a very worrying development for all those in the movement who will have taken the comments about “ending capitalism” or “overthrowing the system” seriously.

The idea that our capitalist rulers, or their puppets in capitalist governments, are suddenly going to enter negotiations with the aim of them committing to the massive changes required in society is farcical. As the latest map of the state of play in meeting the targets of the Paris Accord shows – no matter what they may say the capitalist system remains woefully incapable of doing what is necessary. It must be overthrown!


1 Response to “Where is Extinction Rebellion going?”

  1. April 26, 2019 at 12:36

    I have just come across this more detailed analysis of the issues I pose in this blog – https://winteroak.org.uk/2019/04/23/rebellion-extinction-a-capitalist-scam-to-hijack-our-resistance – well worth a read

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