Brendan O’Neill

The snobbery of Extinction Rebellion’s Amazon blockade

The snobbery of Extinction Rebellion’s Amazon blockade
(Photo: Getty)
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Every week brings fresh proof of what a bunch of bourgeois snobs Extinction Rebellion are. The latest exhibit is their blockading of Amazon’s main distribution centres. The eco-loons and their apologists are dressing this up as a principled stand against venal capitalism. Pull the other one. This is just a noisy middle-class moan about the greedy masses and all the ‘crap’ we’re planning to buy on Black Friday.

Yes, not content with irritating deliverymen, builders and other productive members of the working classes by plonking themselves on the M25 and other major roads a few weeks ago, now XR is trying to stop us from getting the things we’ve ordered off Amazon. First they stop people from getting to work, then they try to dictate what we’re allowed to spend our hard-earned wages on. Anyone else getting the impression that they just don’t like the masses very much?

XR activists have swarmed on 13 Amazon sites across the UK, including the largest Amazon distribution centre, in Fife. They’re locking themselves to the gates so that those evil Amazon delivery trucks full of the tat that the brainwashed throng have bought won’t be able to get out.

It’s no coincidence that they’re doing this on Black Friday, the start of the Christmas shopping season and a day when there are loads of bargains to be had. Nothing horrifies the self-righteous middle classes more than frenzies of consumerism. XR is determined to punish us for our brainless bargain-hunting by delaying our deliveries. This will, of course, do precisely nothing for the environment, but it will cause annoyance to hard-working people, which seems to be XR’s chief aim these days.

The least convincing claim being made by XR today is that it is targeting Amazon partly to draw attention to its exploitation of its workforce. Do they think we were born yesterday?

You could raise awareness about the tough conditions and poor pay of Amazon staff any day of the year. All year round, in fact. But XR specifically chose Black Friday. That’s because its true target is consumerism, not working conditions. Its concern is with the stuff-loving masses, not the toil of Amazon workers. It couldn’t give a monkeys about how things are done inside Amazon’s distribution centres – it just wants to make sure that nothing leaves and lands on the doorstep of the consumption-addicted plebs.

Anti-consumerism is rife in the upper middle classes. It’s one of the ironies of the 21st century – the better-off signal their virtue by refusing to spend their money on so much ‘stuff’. So Carrie Johnson gets eco brownie points for renting clothes rather than buying them. Posh leftists declare to anyone who will listen that they refuse to buy anything from monstrous Amazon. The right-on go to small food markets rather than garish mass supermarkets.

The rich once signalled their superiority over the rest of us through consumption, by being extravagant, even decadent. In more recent decades, in an extraordinary about-turn, they’ve started doing the opposite.

Now it is apparently their ability to resist the lure of consumerism, to avoid the trap of endless buying, that makes them better than us. Better than the Essex boys who flash their expensive watches and the young working-class women who save up for months to get a pair of Jimmy Choos (which they’ll keep forever – sorry, Carrie).

Anti-consumerism is snobbery masquerading as radicalism. And that just about sums up XR. These eco-muppets occasionally don the garb of anti-capitalism and flirt with radical lingo. But strip that all away and you’ll find well-educated, often well-off people who are hell-bent on stopping the rest of us, the little people, from driving so much, flying so much and buying so much.

Extinction Rebellion is fundamentally a movement for austerity. No wonder it is unpopular. We like our holidays, we like our comforts and we like our Black Friday bargains, so bugger off.