(The movement uses a circled hourglass, known as the Extinction Symbol, to serve as a warning that time is rapidly running out for many species.)
The origins of Extinction Rebellion (XR)
Extinction Rebellion, (XR) was established in the United Kingdom in May 2018 by Roger Hallam(1) and Gail Bradbrook,(2) with approximately one hundred academics signing a call to action in October 2018(3) leading to the launch of a Declaration of Rebellion at a rally in Parliament Square, Its origins, however, can be found in an organisation called Compassionate Revolution(4), which was founded as a UK registered limited company in the summer of 2015. The campaign arm of Compassionate Revolution, RisingUp!, had ambitions that reach far beyond environmental concerns.
This is the Asia Institute interview with Roger Hallam in April, the day before the XR Strike in London.
Using motherhood statements of ‘rebellion’ and ‘non-violent protest’, XR has rapidly enlisted the support of tens of thousands of followers who have been prepared to protest and even be arrested for their cause.(3)
Like the supporters of other activist groups, many appear to be genuinely concerned about climate change and other environmentalist issues, without looking below the surface.
In November 2018, five bridges across the Thames River in London were blockaded by XR. Again in April 2019 they occupied five prominent sites in central London: Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Waterloo Bridge and the area around Parliament Square.(5)
As a result of their actions, the UK government declared a climate emergency. They still haven’t adhered to their commitment of zero carbon emissions by 2025, and are now talking about 2050.
Greenpeace soon embraced XR, contributing more than $10,000 toward the April protests and organizing other joint demonstrations alongside the group.
XR operates on a metric drawn from the research of political scientist Erica Chenoweth and policy analyst Maria J. Stephan. In their long-term study of campaigns for revolutionary, secessionist and regime-change movements from the past 150 years, they came to two vital conclusions;
Firstly, that nonviolent movements have a vastly improved chance of success over those that pursue armed struggle or terror tactics, including under authoritarian regimes where the consequences of even peaceful dissent can be life threatening.
Secondly, only 3.5 per cent of the population is needed to achieve a critical mass of sustained popular noncompliance. (6)
Are they political anarchists? (XR investigation – 76 page report)
A 2019 investigation into the group has revealed the leaders of Extinction Rebellion seek a more subversive agenda, one that is rooted in the political extremism of anarchism, eco-socialism and radical anti-capitalist environmentalism.
The ‘civil resistance model’ they espouse is intended to achieve mass protest accompanied by law-breaking leading eventually to the breakdown of democracy and the State.
Extinction Rebellion is an extremist organisation whose methods need to be confronted and challenged rather than supported and condoned. If we fail to confront those who incite and encourage mass law-breaking, we fail in our duty to confront extremism. This new form of extremism needs to be tackled by politicians, the police and the general public.
XR is a rebellion and climate change is the smokescreen(7)
Does XR = economic terrorism?
XR’s (and former Green Party spokesman) Rupert Read admitted to the Today Programme that he is arguing for an end to economic growth (8)
Plans to shut down Heathrow Airport. (9)
In May 2019, XR planned to use drones to shutdown Heathrow airport, but this plan was shelved due to unease amongst members. A leaked document reveals how climate change activists will use drones to organise mass disruption lasting up to 16 days in September this year.
Worldwide spread (10)
The XR group now has more than 350 cells worldwide in nearly 60 countries; Europe, North America, and Australia having the largest numbers of XR cells. There are active groups in countries like Ghana, Kenya, and India.
XR has stated that it is majority funded through crowdfunding, but its accounts show that is has also received some sizeable donations from wealthy individuals, foundations and businesses such as Lush Cosmetics Ltd
Globally, the drumbeat is growing. It now has affiliates in more than 50 countries, and there are smaller protests under the Extinction Rebellion banner being held nearly every day, like the one that went viral last month when Paris police were filmed spraying protesters with tear gas at point-blank range. An Extinction Rebellion group in New York City has called for a protest for this Saturday in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighbourhood; it is one of 38 local Extinction Rebellion groups that have already been established in the US. And this weekend, Extinction Rebellion will mount a “Summer Uprising” across five British cities in which, according to the group, 1,000 “rebels” have said they are willing to be arrested, and 500 have said they are ready to go to prison.(9)
XR in Australia.(11)
March 2019 saw the first public actions from Extinction Rebellion in Australia.
Declaration Day: XR Australia’s Demands that; “The Australian government and the media tell the truth about the climate emergency and honestly inform the public that we are facing a threat to human civilisation that imperils the life of most people on Earth.” (12)
Associated groups in Australia include; Australian Greens, Victorian Socialists, Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Unionists for Refugees, Climate Justice, Uni Students for Climate Justice, School Strike 4 Climate, Greenpeace Australia, Counter-Act, Climate Justice, Stop Adani, Frontline Action on Coal,
Greenpeace, Guardian Newspaper, Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Refugee Action collective, Socialist alternative, Greens members; Senator Adam Brandt, Senator Sarah Hanson Young, Senator Larissa Waters, Councillor Jonathan Siri, former Senator Scott Ludlam, former Greens candidate Ben Pennings.
The three organising principles are disruption, sacrifice, and respect. The first gets attention, the second means you’re taken seriously, and the third is about hearts and minds. “We must appeal to people who don’t join or support environmental causes, be that because of ideology, social class, culture, religion or race,” says Hallam. “Only when the message is put in a culturally neutral language can a mass movement be built.” (12)
Miriam Robinson, who has worked on Galilee Basin coal campaigns in Queensland, has taken up the mantle of Extinction Rebellion organiser. (13)
In a recent interview with journalist and writer Paul Gregoire, when asked about the response of governments in relation to the ecological crisis, and how necessary it was that citizens take matters into their own hands and draw attention to the environment via acts of civil disobedience, Miriam Robinson replied;
“It’s absolutely necessary. It’s 100 percent necessary. Governments have all proven themselves to be completely helpless to do anything about the climate emergency. It’s all talk and no action. In fact, there’s not even very much talk about it.” (14)
XR is using training and mentoring from Nicola Paris, the founder and coordinator of CounterAct for more than five years. For these reasons, local Extinction Rebellion organisers are taking the time to build capacity and confidence, and are adapting the organisational culture to their specific contexts. “Direct action and civil disobedience work,” she says. “It increases risk, it can delay work at critical junctures, and damages social licence. (15)
Paris is endorsed by the following groups:
- Lock the Gate Alliance
- Lock the Gate Victoria
- 350 degrees.org/ Australia
- The Wilderness Society
- Federation of Community Legal centres
- World Vision
XR’s tactics have caused serious economic and social disruption
Six days of unprecedented civil disobedience starved Adani’s Abbot Point port of coal over a week. Trains were stopped in a near continuous shutdown for over 75 hours during a week of non-violent direct action in central Queensland. Freya Nolin, a 21 year old from Fremantle WA was charged with a $10,000 fine in the Bowen Magistrate’s court in March 2019, after blocking coal trains from entering Adani’s Abbot Point. At this time, this was the highest environmental fine in Australian history. (16) Two people were also charged with attempting to enter Abbot Point port; an action that resulted in the closure of port operations for 4 hours. (16)
Late June this year, four members of the global Extinction Rebellion, which twice caused chaos on the city’s streets with protests locked themselves inside a canoe on the busy bridge. Police removed the canoe in less than 10 minutes but the protesters were still connected by the elbows more than an hour and a half later when they were taken away and charged with public nuisance and obstructing police.
Serial professional protester, Eric Herbert (RHS of image) was charged $500, “ However the cost of shutting down the city to protest against a mine which is smaller than comparable operations in New South Wales will cost Brisbane taxpayers more than $3 million in lost productivity”, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, Dan Petrie, said.(17)
On April 19, Alice Wicks, 26, blocked coal trains heading to the Port of Brisbane for five hours. The Woolloongabba local was ordered to pay $61,000 to Queensland Rail after appearing in the Wynnum Magistrates Court on July 22. Wicks pleaded guilty to the charges of trespass on a railway, obstructing railway and obstructing police, and had a good behaviour bond placed on her. (18)
XR Rebellion Day, Brisbane, August 6
On Tuesday 6th of August 2019 the city of Brisbane will see hundreds of Non-Violent XR rebels orchestrate a shutdown of the CBD. (19)
They say: The 6th mass extinction of earth is already underway.
The Climate Crisis is already affecting lives and destroying ecosystems. Government and Industries are continuing the destruction of our only planet.
XR – Indigenous push
Noongar writer Cassie Lynch speaks about Aboriginal cultures as a model for repairing our relationship with the natural world and responding to climate change. “Supporting the return of traditional knowledges to the mainstream is not just about righting the wrongs of the past, but can contribute to the survival of all peoples in danger of obliteration or displacement.” (20)
A young Yugambeh man from south-east Queensland, Jai Allan Wright is a volunteer organiser with the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network, which is affiliated with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). He is driven, in part, by the desire to offer something more than just resistance.
Jai Allan Wright has a message for those filing into Australia’s 46th parliament against a backdrop of darkening skies: “If you can’t do the job, if you’re not willing to do what it takes to reach the solutions that we know we have to enact, to meet the challenges of a climate crisis, then you shouldn’t be there. Step down.” (21)
SUMMARY of EXTINCTION REBELLION:
- Started in the UK
- Want to create permanent recession
- Use the principles of anarchy
- Want the breakdown of democracy and the State
- Use law breaking to achieve civil resistance
- Believe that 3.5% of population can change outcomes
- Have 374 branches in 28 countries, including 31 branches in Australia
- Have links to many left-wing political groups, refugee, indigenous and climate change groups.
What can you do?
1/ Share this campaign with your local politician/s
2/ Share this campaign on your social media platforms
3/ Share this campaign with your local media
4/ Don’t donate or supply XR.
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