Anyone trying to get about London over the past few days may have come across the activities of a group called Extinction Rebellion, which blocked Westminster and several other bridges on Saturday, blocked Lambeth Bridge today and plans to repeat the exercise later this week. Its tactics are simple – it gathers raggle-headed eco warriors, together with some terribly nice middle class students, buses them up to London and then disgorges them to sit in the middle of the road, where they then get arrested for blocking the traffic.
But no matter the illegal tactics. The world is in the middle of ecological crisis, and so, of course, the normal rules of political protest do not apply. As the group’s declaration puts it:
“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.”
So there. Biodiversity is being annihilated, the seas are being poisoned, vast tracts of land are being rendered uninhabitable – apparently – and therefore the time for arguing about it is over.
Yet how much is Extinction Rebellion an environmental movement? Start peeling and it becomes pretty clear that it is a classic ‘watermelon’ organisation – green on the outside but very red inside. Extinction Rebellion doesn't say a lot about its demands on its website, other than to say it wants carbon emissions to be reduced to zero by 2025, and that we should have a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’. What a brilliant idea! We could elect our representatives and have them vote on legislation for the common good. I can even suggest a name for them: what about the “House of Commons”?
But Extinction Rebellion seems to have a parent organisation called Rising Up, which has helpfully published an online draft manifesto. These are some of the highlights:
“Policies and law focused on greater equality, localising production, reducing consumption, zero carbon and zero waste, are urgently needed.”
“Reintroduce capital controls”
“Make it illegal for any enterprise other than the State and local cooperatives to create the nation’s money”
“Remove the charging of interest for loans (other charges for a service would remain).”
“Build publicly, cooperatively owned infrastructure, housing and health services”
“Limit the pay differentials in any business, for example to 15:1”
In other words, bye bye global financial system. No more interest-bearing loans, no more investment across borders, no more private housing or infrastructure. How they hope to build a zero carbon energy infrastructure in seven years without access to loans or capital rather defeats me, but then I don’t suspect it bothers them too much, not when they have righteousness on their side. But no-one should be fooled. This is not a mass movement for better environmental policies – it is a wannabe Marxist revolution in disguise.
Thankfully, it is one which is very open about its plans. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of underground planning, dissemination of information through the dark web or any of that sort of thing. It is all on the website. For ‘Rebellion Day 2’ this Saturday, protesters are invited to gather in Parliament Square at 10am for a ‘funeral march’, along with wreaths, banners and models of extinct animals. I suggest Plod gets there at nine and gets ready to kettle them in the middle of the square, where they can rant with their dodos as much as they like without bringing the city to a halt.