Rebellion or Revolution?

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XR member Mike Pepler explains the warming hotspots

Last Monday July 17, saw a packed Benson Room at the George in the High Street listen to a presentation by members of the newly-formed Rye group of Extinction Rebellion. In fact so popular was the event that half as many as those in the room had had to be turned away.

The movement hit the headlines for the first time earlier this year when mass, and largely peaceful, protests brought large parts of central London to a halt.

Claiming to have no central leadership, but to be, in essence, a collection of concerned individuals who had gathered together in groups, not just in this country, but around the world.

Their declared aim is to pressurise governments into taking action now, not in twenty years time, to reduce emissions that are harming the atmosphere and causing global warming. And the first part of the presentation was convincing on this aspect – with professional screen-based visuals showing the increase particularly in polar warming and the disparity between the numbers of humans to animals compared with the past – the dramatic increase in domestic livestock with its implications for increased methane as well as forest clearance.

But the organisation is not just a pressure group – though it could be a very effective one. It also has declared political ambitions. The end of government as we currently know it and ‘citizen’ participation in government. It wasn’t fully explained how this would work but one hopes that they are not going to re-try the French experiment of the late 18th century or the Russian on in the early 20th century, neither worked out too well.

A fair proportion of the event was spent on explaining the demonstrations and the legal and other support help that could be available to those arrested. It was also emphasised that this was a peaceful movement and violence had no part to play in their activities.

Altogether an interesting exposition of a new mass movement, but it did leave many unanswered questions.

There was much talk of the problems and their causes together with the need for government to act much faster, but not a lot was said on the detail of what the government (or indeed even a ‘citizens government’ in the new XR Utopia) should actually do, although the implication was, stop driving cars and don’t eat meat.

As a pressure group, Extinction Rebellion clearly has a good and useful place, but so far as any further ambitions go, this reporter came away from the presentation with grave concerns.

The next XR Rye meeting is at St Mary’s Centre, Lion Street, 7:30pm July 25.

Image Credits: John Minter .

10 COMMENTS

  1. Champagne socialists with too much time on their hands. Why don’r they try picketing the Chinese embassy instead of causing disruption to people going about their lawful business? Just the other day a man was unable to attend his father’s deathbed because of these “peaceful” protesters blocking traffic. Shame on them.

  2. I do not believe there is no central leadership, and with the advent of the school holidays I am sure the organizers will take full advantage of impressionable youth.
    The same youth needs to be assured that getting a criminal record for even minor anti social behavior will blight their life. Even simple things like getting a visa waiver for visiting the US go out of the window.
    Somehow I doubt the jokers that run these demonstrations would make this clear. They are in fact betraying the youth they claim to support.

  3. This organisation was born out of desperation. We are in desperate times and many are in denial or looking the other way. This presentation was inspirational, packed with facts and practical solutions to addressing the catastrophic problems we are facing.

  4. Thank you John for attending our Extinction Rebellion(XR) public talk and for opening up a discussion about XR.
    You are right XR doesn’t have all the answers but we are trying to bring about change in a short period of time to avoid mass extinction across the world.
    Our rebellion is based on inclusivity and the non violent principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and others – very different to the revolutions mentioned in the Rye news article!
    The government needs to ACT like it’s an emergency as declared by parliament. A great start in showing it is serious would be to immediately cancel Heathrow expansion, stop fracking, cancel opening up coal mines etc.
    We need citizens’ assemblies in place to enable well informed decisions to be made without concern for being re-elected and without the pressure from big companies. It is not up to XR to come up with all the answers. Some policies might look like divesting from fossil fuels into renewables, planting millions of trees, rewilding, ending carbon emissions from heavy industry, end the sales of petrol and diesel cars, retrofitting homes to go zero carbon, changing the farming and food system to encourage a less meat based diet.
    I joined XR earlier this year – I had been concerned about climate change for many years, signing petitions, marching through London – Then there it was staring in my face we have to ACT NOW before it is too late. I love nature, my family, friends, and care too much about suffering brought about by climate change across the world. All too much to allow this to happen without at least trying to make a difference – I can’t expect somebody to do it for me and politicians are letting us down.

    In addition I would like to apologise on behalf of our group to those turned away due to lack of space. We look forward to meeting more Rye residents at future public talks to be announced and hope to see new members at our meetings. I am looking forward to us all making a difference.

  5. Interesting to read that the reporter was not convinced, and that also includes myself, the public, politicians and police must wake up to the truth behind some of these arrogant mob,causing mayhem to motorists and pedestrians in our Capital.

  6. XR could be welcomed as citizen participation in government. Our current system is not working.
    Re. your reporter’s unanswered questions:
    if immediate action is necessary, this implies that government must act NOW.
    – ask our MP what she is doing.
    – ask yourself what can YOU do.
    – ask XR …
    I think “champagne socialists” is a cheap laugh. The Climate Emergency is an EMERGENCY. Wake up!
    The future is out there. Open your eyes. Listen. Changes must come. Huge, huge changes. Better to learn about the situation and help the changes for survival. – Yes, I believe that it is that extreme.
    We should be concerned. XR holds our conscience.

  7. I’d like to make it clear that Extinction Rebellion are not in any way trying to overthrow the government. A Citizen’s Assembly is a democratic way to provide a mandate to government to take action on the climate emergency we are all facing, action that political parties struggle to take because focus on these issues is difficult. Citizens assemblies have been used to great effect in Ireland and around the world, as explained in our talk. It’s rather a shame that your reporter didn’t pay slightly better attention to this aspect of the talk, instead giving the false impression that we’re trying to overthrow democratic process.

  8. I would welcome the end of Government “as we currently know it” as our current system is not fit for the 21st century. No government in the last 100 years has been elected with a majority vote, and that includes the Thatcher and Blair governments that held massive majorities in the House of Commons. A move to proportional representation and concensus politics may help in facing the problems that we are facing and allow a cross party solutions.

    The problem is that the two big parties would be the loosers and potentially both would end up splitting into separate parties. But would that be a bad thing?

  9. It’s a bit odd to say that XR has ‘political ambitions’ – it is specifically not political and has not and will not field candidates for any election. The demand for a citizens’ assembly is about putting power back in the hands of normal people, rather than a corrupt political elite that has demonstrated itself unable to even tell the truth about the dire ecological situation we find ourselves in, much less take any meaningful action.

    ‘Solutions’ aren’t part of the presentation because they are well covered elsewhere. The problem is not lack of solutions, but the lack of politicians and businesses putting them into action. We’ve been told that it’s up to us as individuals to ‘do the right thing’ by saving energy, recycling, etc. to make us feel like it’s our fault and distract us from the real cause of the problem. That’s not to say we shouldn’t take personal action, we should of course ‘walk the talk’, but the system we live in is the core of the problem, and that has to change. That change has to happen fast, sooner than any future election, hence the need to take non-violent direct action to push the issue onto everyone’s agenda.

    Once there is a citizens’ assembly up and running, then the solutions can be considered, and they would be presented to the assembly by the relevant experts, not by XR.

    Whatever happens, dramatic change is coming to this country within over the next decade. At present, we still have some element of choice: we could choose to radically change how we live to stop and reverse the ecosystem damage. But if we dither for a little longer, then the alternative will be the default – social breakdown due to the impacts of the climate and ecological crises. Personally, I’d rather act while we have a chance to plan the radical change, rather than it happen in a chaotic manner due to extreme weather, climate migration and damaged food production.

  10. We all know the situation is dire. Until something like Citizens Assemblies are set up when sensible actions can be decided on under ecology experts’ tuition the tendency is to feel hopeless & blank out the doom ahead. Governments need to WAKE UP. & put climate change 1st. We must start now not in20 years, to have others doing likewise. It may already be too late. Governments have power but seem stuck to the goal of economy growth The West has managed to infect continent after continent with this cancer. To survive the world has to change., put back into our planet more than we take out. we all know it. . Governments are out of date, stagnant & wont do it. Citizens Asemblies may be the way. Our current civilisation is highly developed but on the road to extinction.

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