Ever since Monty Python created their internecine, bickering and ridiculous groups of freedom fighters – the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front – for their 1979 film The Life of Brian, it’s always been easy and tempting to mock and deride the fissiparous nature of ideologues and tin-pot revolutionaries. Those who believe in the purity of a cause tend to have a semi-religious mindset – and consequently one semi-divorced from reality – which brooks no heresy from orthodoxy. Thus extreme, quasi-cult movements are always prone to split into factions.
And so it goes with the radical green movement, which at its worst excesses does resemble a bizarre cult: witness the photographs in the newspapers today of Extinction Rebellion campaigners at Westminster adorned in ghoulish fancy-dress and looking like pale vampires. And also true to the stereotype of the wacky semi-religious fanatics, the activists are duly showing signs of divisions in their ranks.
As the Times reports today, there has emerged hints of a split in Just Stop Oil, disagreements as to whether it will disruptively protest tomorrow’s London Marathon. JSO activist Phoebe Plummer, the purple-haired campaigner and now television talking-head who first came to public consciousness for throwing soup at Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’, last night told TalkTV that the group would not cause chaos at the race, even though, she hastened to add with typical understatement: ‘we have a government who is actively planning the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.’ The official JSO Twitter account consequently posted a message under a recording of Plummer’s interview saying: ‘I think Phoebe missed the meeting last night’.
Whichever wing of the JSO will prevail tomorrow, one other radical green faction that promises to be in attendance at the marathon, Extinction Rebellion, has definitely foresworn disruptive intervention.