As I was working on today’s blog post, I got a message from my friend Ed Fallon, that he will be discussing the Extinction Rebellion (XR) on his radio program, the Fallon Forum, today. You can listen to the program from 11:00 am- noon on Mondays here: http://126.96.36.199:7391/stream If you miss it, you can hear the podcast at a later time.
There is an article in a recent issue of The Guardian about the Extinction Rebellion, which started in the United Kingdom, coming to the United States:
“This is a coordinated rebellion that targets industry and government indefinitely, to shut the country down,” Ruiz said. “In my 30 years plus of activism I’ve never seen so many everyday people worried in such a visceral way, for themselves, their children, their grandchildren. It’s unprecedented.”‘Shut the country down’: British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US, The Guardian, Oliver Milman, April 13, 2019
Some activists hope the arrival of Extinction Rebellion will be a watershed moment for the US environmental movement, shifting it from what they see as a tepid response to the cavalcade of disasters threatening the livability of the planet. Extinction Rebellion is aimed at spurring a muscular, punkish outpouring of civil disobedience, snarling cities and frogmarching politicians towards meaningful action.
In the UK, Extinction Rebellion members have caused uproar by halting traffic on bridges in central London, stripping naked in parliament and blockading the BBC. Last week, protestors glued themselves to the entrance of a fracking conference.
Extinction Rebellion (U.S.) is calling for this week, April 15-22, to be a week of action.
We invite everyone who hasn’t already to do the painful work of confronting that fact that we only have 12 years to make the necessary changes to avert an unimaginable climate disaster, and to act accordingly. This is a process that can include anger and deep grief. We join you in this anger and grief. Organizing is the antidote to despair.https://extinctionrebellion.us/rebellion-week
Overall, many of us need more courage than hope. Action is our best hope. We invite everyone to join XR in asking: “How will we become the people we need to be in order to do what’s necessary to stop this destruction of all life while we can? “
We call on everyone who knows we are in a climate emergency to use nonviolent direct action to confront, disrupt or shut down
- target local, city, state, federal government buildings
- target fossil fuel companies and infrastructure
- target local, city, state officials – who gain power and make money while protecting the fossil fuel industry – in their offices or in family friendly protests at their homes and communities
- target right wing media outlets like Fox News or Breitbart for lying to the people to protect the fossil fuel industry and to enrich themselves
“Historical studies suggest that it takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships. If that can be true in Chile under Gen Pinochet and Serbia under Milosevic, a few million Americans could prevent their elected government from adopting inhumane, unfair, destructive or oppressive policies – should such drastic measures ever be needed.”Erica Chenoweth
This brings to mind past instances of using nonviolent civil disobedience for change, including the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960’s, and more recently actions against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Nonviolent direct action is also a key strategy of the Sunrise Movement that is working for the implementation of a Green New Deal.
Some of the reasons why nonviolent civil disobedience has been so successful are because these actions come from a moral perspective, and build what Martin Luther King calls Beloved Community. As long as people remain constrained by a political system, those in power control what happens. Nonviolence changes who has the power, and builds mutual support among its members.
I am also just learning about another grass roots movement, Symbiosis.
“Symbiosis, an expanding network of revolutionary organizers and local initiatives, is assembling a confederation of democratic community institutions.”
It is imperative that any groups or organizations moving in a social or economic sense on the vision we share for a democratic and ecologically sound world not struggle on their own, but instead under a global support system aimed at both dismantling our exploitative socioeconomic system — capitalism — and building a democratic, cooperative system in its place. Symbiosis is in a position to build this support system.
Beyond the shared vision of radical democracy and egalitarianism, what unites these groups is a common political strategy, of building institutions of popular power from below to challenge and replace the governing institutions of capitalist society. This approach is known as “dual power.”
Symbiosis: a new North American grassroots political network. ROAR Magazine, March 1, 2019
“The problems we face today require a bold and unified response,” said Brian Tokar of the Institute for Social Ecology, a member organization and sponsor of the event. “We face the rising threats of authoritarianism and inequality, structural forms of domination between the haves and the have-nots, and the scapegoating and oppression of immigrants and people of color. And we also know that the destabilization of the climate and the fossil-fueled destruction of the Earth’s life support systems play a central role in all the problems we face.”