Youth Climate Strike

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R Totale's picture
R Totale
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Apr 26 2019 13:17

ACG text here: https://www.anarchistcommunism.org/2019/04/25/extinction-rebellion-notes...
Any plans to do this as a leaflet?

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cantdocartwheels
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Apr 27 2019 00:06

IMO the criticisms of XR are all fine until you get to stuff like.....

Quote:
We don’t know exactly what a ‘better world’ could look like

Quote:
imagine those thousands of people protesting fossil fuel plants.....(which is basically like climate camp have done and will do again to currently fairly limited long term success)

which is hardly in either case the most convincing argument and comes across pretty weak tbh

I know i may seem facetious but you can moan about XR's demands being liberal/reformist/seat-at-the-tableist (which they of course explicitly are) all you want, but i think you have to have some sort of coherent alternative. I mean i can think of plenty of liberal or liberal left books/pamphlets on what a zero carbon society might look like (eg off the top of my had https://www.cat.org.uk/info-resources/zero-carbon-britain/research-repor... ) .And yet the anarchists//radical left have sadly little that is current to offer on this front.

I mean as it stands now XR's strength is a minimal set of demands for people to coalesce around and clear brand, conversely its weakness from our point of view is that it doesn't push out any concrete set of material demands whether transitional (scrap all fossil fuels subsidies) or a full description of a zero carbon society and how it could meet energy demands. Presumably this is because from their for want of a better word radical liberal perspective this might muddle the message and in their view its for the leadership, politicians and citizens assembly etc to sort out not the rest of us. Thus as far as I can see XR simply links to a few other pages when it comes to offering solutions on its site rather than laying out anything in any more detail.

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May 5 2019 13:39

An open letter to Extinction Rebellion, composed by a number of groups:

https://www.redpepper.org.uk/an-open-letter-to-extinction-rebellion/

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May 5 2019 12:42
R Totale wrote:
ACG text here: https://www.anarchistcommunism.org/2019/04/25/extinction-rebellion-notes...
Any plans to do this as a leaflet?

We hadn't planned to but your idea is certainly a good 'un. I'll raise it in the org.

Spikymike
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May 5 2019 13:43

The 'Red Pepper' contribution seems to be recommending a long cobbled together list, selected to suite each and every one of it's different reformist campaigning organisation contributors, of what might best be described as 'transitional demands' (in the trotskyist style), some no doubt desirable but as a combination completely incompatible with the continuance of capitalism. The rest of it is just some repetition of 'advice' on tactics similar to that provided by others. 'Red Pepper' magazine is best left on the shelf to gather dust.

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May 5 2019 14:43

ACG flyer downloadable HERE

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May 5 2019 22:42
Spikymike wrote:
The 'Red Pepper' contribution seems to be recommending a long cobbled together list, selected to suite each and every one of it's different reformist campaigning organisation contributors, of what might best be described as 'transitional demands' (in the trotskyist style), some no doubt desirable but as a combination completely incompatible with the continuance of capitalism. The rest of it is just some repetition of 'advice' on tactics similar to that provided by others. 'Red Pepper' magazine is best left on the shelf to gather dust.

Yeah, perhaps you're right. I liked the letter better than the indeed very 'transitional' demands. I do value the sense of connecting climate crisis with centuries of extractivism and colonialism (with the omission of slavery). Ecological destruction is not a new thing, and even if climate breakdown takes it to a new qualitative level, seeing the deeper historical connections offers a more strategic view of the current moment. Instead of climate change being a terrible, bad, but inexplicable thing that undeservingly befalls an otherwise "modern and rational" society, and which can be undone by one more technical fix in a long line of technical fixes, it seems to be a much more diabolical problem where capitalist society is faced with the consequences of its past "solutions" that have turned into their opposites.

Maybe my reading was more sympathetic than yours, I think the authors have just chosen to not outright declare capitalism to be the problem but instead to draw some lines in the sand to set conversations going with those involved in the XR events.

Mike Harman
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May 6 2019 22:06

So with the Red Pepper statement, this caught me off guard a bit to be honest.

With climate change, if we talk about specific ways to combat it starting from our current position, then it is hard to couch them in ways which are not 'transitional demands' even if we're clear we think it will require social revolution to accomplish them. Whether a particular reform of capitalism is possible or not is a matter of conjecture usually.

An obvious demand, given that 33% of UK emissions are from transport (excluding international transport) and 30% of those are commuting to work or school (i.e. 10% of UK emissions are from commutes), would be a four (or three, or two) day working week - reducing commuter journeys by 1/5th (or 2/5ths or 3/5ths). (see here for stats https://data.gov.uk/dataset/9a1e58e5-d1b6-457d-a414-335ca546d52c/provisi...)

Or much longer holiday allowances so that people can take holidays which involve more travel time (by rail) compared to quick flight short trips.

This might be completely inconceivable under capitalism (although personally I think a four day week could be absorbed by higher productivity in a lot of sectors - i.e. an increase in relative surplus value offsetting a decrease in absolute surplus value and some employers are trying four day weeks already) - but reducing the working day is a long-standing aim of workplace organisation and points towards the abolition of work altogether in communism. In other words it might not be possible under capitalism, but it's pragmatic in the sense that a mass working class movement could either force it as a concession or go beyond it and it would have a concrete effect.

'Democratising the financial sector' on the other hand seems outlandish to me, it's the stuff of sovereign wealth funds or national investment banks. It's quite possible that states could massively subsidise renewable energy and reduce fossil fuel subsidy, but why couch this as a financial sector reform?

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May 7 2019 23:41

I'm not sure how they arrived at that, other than by adding ingredients and boiling it down to a string of words they could agree on.

I came across this much better, more radically argued case about the extractivist and colonial implications of a Green New Deal (with the assumption of continued capitalist growth), from the director of War on Want, an organisation that also signed the Red Pepper open letter to XR:

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/green-new-deal-alexandria-ocasio-co...

Spikymike
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Jul 14 2019 11:17

Thought I would just add this 'post-situ' more personal/political reaction to the whole Extinction Rebellion street rebellion experience as a short practical critique of life in the City with some more criticism of it's participants limited understanding of the everyday deterioration of our local natural environment. See here;
www.revoltagainstplenty.com/index.php/recent/278-two-critical-comments-o...

Spikymike
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Jul 17 2019 16:10

And there is is this critical comparison between the call for a 'youth climate strike' now extended to others and the different concepts and practice of a 'general strike' and the 'mass strike' from a Left Communist perspective;
https://libcom.org/blog/thumbergs-call-general-strikes-confusions-libera...

Spikymike
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Sep 4 2019 09:40

And further to my earlier post #41 maybe something brewing in Manchester with this (semi-authorised?) street occupation and protest - reminded me of 'Reclaim the Streets' but without the class based links.
www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=5212
Edit: So it was a pleasant experience it seems fully authorised by the local Council and the police which coincided with another tolerated big anti-government 'pro-democracy' march - displaying a superficial level of 'unity' that effectively camouflaged the real problems and solutions to our common experience of the growing economic and political crisis.

jaycee
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Sep 4 2019 13:32

Just thought I'd mention my experience because I think it sheds light on the functioning of XR. I went along to the protest in Hyde Park. The speeches were a little irritating in term,s of their self congratulatory tone and general liberalism but that was to be expected. The main thing I experienced was during the 'discussion circle' part; I tried to steer the conversation towards capitalism and the need for revolution which some of the group who apparently were from 'Plan C' (doesn't mean they were anything but more radical liberals but...) agreed with 'in principle' but they were happy to go along with the XR provided 'discussion leader' in leaving capitalism out of the groups planned statement to the rest of the protesters. His reason was that 'we are all capitalists' (I suppose because we are privileged westerners blah blah blah).

Anyway I thought this was quite a useful microcosm of what XR are all about; trying to save capitalism from itself rather than actually trying to get to the root of the problem.

Anyone have similar experiences?

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Sep 4 2019 18:58

Thoughts: is it worth trying to distinguish between XR and the climate strike movement, or are they more or less the same thing in practice?
Also, what about the Sep 20th strike call, does it have much traction where you are? I've had a go at writing up something which touches on the subject which I'll try and post up when I get a chance, but in short, my reading would be: probably won't have any impact at all in non-unionised workplaces, where some union organisation does exist it still probably won't lead to any real workplace strike activity as such but even lunchtime meetups between some sections of unionised workers and a relatively autonomous/self-organised/spontaneous schoolkids movement making demands that go beyond simple economic ones would be an overall positive development in the present situation, I think. Any other thoughts or experiences?

eta: I see the AF are keen: https://freedomnews.org.uk/af-back-the-earth-strike/

Spikymike
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Sep 5 2019 10:05

A very uncritical supporting statement from the AF not very different to the usual leftist strategy of trying to 'building broad alliances' across labour and civil society.

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Sep 5 2019 21:10

Freedom also has this reportback from the first few months of the Green Anticapitalist Front: https://freedomnews.org.uk/climate-is-class-war-what-next-for-green-acti...

Also, looking back over the thread, I still think this from March is a decent text: https://north-shore.info/2019/03/14/open-letter-to-climate-strikers/ I might have a go at formatting it into a printable version ahead of the 20th, if I get time - of course, anyone else is welcome to do the same.

EDIT: it's not great, but I got around to putting something together, if anyone feels like using it: http://libcom.org/library/some-suggestions-climate-strikers

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Sep 12 2019 18:35

Video from Reel News here giving a bit of an overview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbrJUAOy2kc
Any thoughts about what's happening in people's local areas, what the possibilities are or aren't, and so on?

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Sep 17 2019 18:24

A Call For Radical Interventions In The Global Climate Strike - bit generic, but interesting that GAF and the AF's statement are getting noticed elsewhere.

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Sep 17 2019 22:42

The ICC's leaflet for the Friday protests is here, with a PDF for those who want to distribute it. We don't expect to be popular faced with a protest that is widely supported by serious sections of the ruling class, but we do think it's possible to develop a discussion among those taking part in the protests who are asking real questions about capitalism and its future. https://en.internationalism.org/content/16724/only-international-class-s...

ajjohnstone
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Sep 18 2019 02:36

Are leaflets the right medium for us to use on this occasion?

I have been endeavouring (unsuccessfully) to persuade my Party that giving out leaflets to the eco-protesters will not be too warmly received as they will equate the disposable paper used in the leaflets as another example of waste and deforestation, even if the type of wood from timber used in paper-pulp is relatively quickly renewable. It means unnecessarily alienating and distancing ourselves from what should have been a receptive audience for our ideas.

I have been suggesting increasing the number of re-usable banners and give-away but durable mini-flags with appropriate images and slogans as an alternative. Also the use of outdoor projectors.

Deeper and more lengthy analysis can be linked to for later exploration once the lure of a snappy slogan has hooked interest.

But on suggesting this I now realise that giving belated advice is no advice at all.

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Sep 18 2019 17:14

Hadn't thought of it that way. I'm also not convinced leaflets are the best medium, less because of paper concerns (I've definitely seen plenty of paper-based outreach materials for and from these movements), and more because of a general concern about "othering"/"third partying".
It feels to me like giving out leaflets often tends to put one in the role of "we're the communists/socialists/anarchists/whatever, and we've come here to tell you eco-protesters, or whatever, what you need to be doing". And sometimes that's unavoidable, sometimes you do just have to go on the march with a banner saying "this march is shit", but my reading of the situation, and I could well be wrong here, is that there's enough space open at the moment that it'd also be possible to inhabit, for instance, the position of "we're fellow eco-protesters/climate rebels, and we think capitalism is the cause of the problem and working with the cops won't solve it", which could potentially be much more productive. Maybe.
And I do appreciate that in the course of an actual demo it's hard to have a conversation much more indepth than just giving a leaflet out, this advice would be more about involvement in the planning meetings and so on beforehand, so ajj's caveat at the end is equally applicable to my post, but on the other hand it's not like this Friday will be the end of the climate movement or anything.
Anyway, I kind of feel that if I was Roger Hallam or whoever, and I wanted to make the argument that "communists are hostile outsider agitators who aren't really part of our movement", stuff like the ICC text above is exactly what I'd want them to be giving out.
[insert Steve Buscemi "fellow kids" meme here]

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Sep 19 2019 16:17

R Totale: If you're around Millbank tomorrow maybe we can continue this discussion in the actual flesh. You'll see a few comrades brandishing World Revolution and handing out things.

In any case, we can later on exchange in this thread our assessment of what this or similar demonstrations signify, and what communists should be doing at such events.

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Sep 19 2019 16:36

Ah, I'm not London-based, but good luck!

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Sep 19 2019 17:57

Thanks. And to you. I wish you some good arguments.

Mike Harman
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Sep 20 2019 13:21
R Totale wrote:
Thoughts: is it worth trying to distinguish between XR and the climate strike movement, or are they more or less the same thing in practice?

Hmm I think it's worth making a distinction.

XR are explicitly trying to get thousands of people arrested, push various eco-nationalist views from the leadership, tries to get meetings with the Tories etc.

Climate Strike is not explicitly trying to get thousands of people arrested, but seems a lot more dominated by traditional environmental NGOs and similar.

R Totale wrote:
Also, what about the Sep 20th strike call, does it have much traction where you are?

Actual striking all day? I don't think there's anything really? People spending their lunchtimes (possibly extended) at the demos seems more the pace, but this is not always necessarily bad as such just very limited.

Just been down to my local one and saw very few kids 5-15 but probably half of the 500-1000 people there were post-16 or university students. A notable thing was the front of the march was dominated by a handful of Extinction Rebellion activists in their 50s-ish (not actually Hallam or Badbrook but extremely similar demographic) whereas the bulk of the march was a noisy contingent of teenagers plus a few randoms (and the Green Party, local TUC etc. dotted around). Probably about 20-30 of what I would consider actual XR people in total vs. 500+ who were not.

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Sep 20 2019 17:13
Mike Harman wrote:
Hmm I think it's worth making a distinction.

XR are explicitly trying to get thousands of people arrested, push various eco-nationalist views from the leadership, tries to get meetings with the Tories etc.

Climate Strike is not explicitly trying to get thousands of people arrested, but seems a lot more dominated by traditional environmental NGOs and similar.

At this point I would also be interested in trying to establish how far local XR groups do or don't endorse the positions of the central leadership, I appreciate that's not an easy question to answer though. Or at least answering it would involve communication and sharing of experiences among communists on a scale I'm not sure really exists atm.
I'm also not sure what it really means to say the climate strike is more dominated by traditional NGOs - like, they might be more willing to endorse it, but I don't think Greenpeace or whoever really has any kind of actual hegemony over the kids who've been walking out?

Quote:
Actual striking all day? I don't think there's anything really? People spending their lunchtimes (possibly extended) at the demos seems more the pace, but this is not always necessarily bad as such just very limited.

Yeah, I think this is the one point I seem to find myself coming back to over and over again, that something can be very very limited and still constitute a positive development compared to the status quo. Something I'd be really interested in, but again is probably impossible to quantify, is people going down on their own, which I don't think counts for much, versus groups of workers spending their lunchtimes going down to the protests together, which I think is a bit more worthwhile.
On which note, about 6-7 people went down from my workplace as a kind of loosely organised group, the majority being people I'd not spoken to before (for context, I am fairly new at my current job), along with someone I've chatted to a fair bit but not really much about "political" stuff before, so I feel that getting to know a few more people in my workplace who are up for "doing things" was a good use of my lunchbreak. Best chant I heard was "no borders, no nations/no coal power stations!", hadn't encountered that variation before.

More generally, on productive ways to intervene: if people are really keen to actually do ideological intervention in the movement, have you considered just asking local environmental-type groups if they'd be willing to have you do a talk or lead a discussion? I had a vague memory that Bristol AFed were part of a local XR event, although I can't find much beyond a brief mention here now. But anyway, depending on where people are, there's local XR groups, and student People & Planet groups, and Student Climate Network groups, and Reclaim the Power, and probably more I can't think of now. If anyone really wants to, no reason to not contact your local ones and ask if they'd be willing to have you do a presentation on "the economic roots of climate change - why markets and profit aren't compatible with long-term sustainability", or "how can movements make effective change?" or "policing and environmental movements" or whatever else you think they need telling about. They might say no, but I don't think there's any guarantee that all of them will.

Mike Harman
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Sep 20 2019 19:14
R Totale wrote:
I'm also not sure what it really means to say the climate strike is more dominated by traditional NGOs - like, they might be more willing to endorse it, but I don't think Greenpeace or whoever really has any kind of actual hegemony over the kids who've been walking out?

Not the kids who are walking about as such, but the FridaysForFuture website advises kids to get in touch with local NGOs to help them organise the protests. Climate strike events especially as they attract the numbers they have the past couple times, will have stages with PA systems that will have NGO (and Green Party) spokespeople talking on them.

At my more pessimistic I could see schools inviting people in to do workshops and similar - basically a Personal and Social Education day that coincides with the strikes to replace actually... striking. Is this better or worse than schools (and kids) completely ignoring it though I dunno.

There's also the David Simon 'give your staff the afternoon off' approach of company-sponsored afternoons. This happened with some of the anti-ICE / anti-Trump stuff in the US where I think Google campus had an official company event. Now I think that was a response to Google employees talking about joining the event so an afternoon of that instead of sitting at a desk can still be a step forward but it could also be a step into a cul-de-sac where it doesn't go further than this.

R Totale wrote:
Student Climate Network groups

So this https://twitter.com/UKSCN1/status/1174669772669239297 was at least normal activist advice if you get arrested, and not telling people to do yoga and run their mouth off to any cop that will listen to them.

Spikymike
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Sep 21 2019 16:56

This short report of the Salford and Manchester rallies gives us a picture of the extent to which the 'climate strike' was limited there to (mostly authorised) student absence from schools with token representatives from the official trade union and Labour Party and no actual workplace strikes. The Manchester rally I attended was full of lively, loud and enthusiastic young people, factually if not politically well informed , some very young with their parents and I thought maybe teachers/carers. Stalls present were from the two main campaign groups, Friends of the Earth, and the SWP. The Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham was on the platform and after fielding a few questions managed to promote his own agenda getting several rounds of applause from the young people if not from our older wiser hands. No sign of any anarchist or communist groups or leaflets. See here:
www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=5248
There are some good and relevant articles on libcom but mostly too long I thought to make good leaflets for me or others to distribute.

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Sep 21 2019 20:09

Some ICC comrades and sympathisers went to the London event (and also to Liverpool). We sold our current paper (in small numbers...) but concentrated on giving out our leaflet and a previous issue of World Revolution (383) which has several articles on the ecology question. Young people tended to be more interested in taking stuff than some of the older hands. No one was upset by the wasted paper. We met comrades from the CWO who were giving out Aurora. A few interesting discussions with participants, but it wasn't a very political atmosphere.
Sunny weather , a park by the Thames. Plenty of loud music and amusing placards. So more of a day out than a 'strike', and completely dominated by the various forces of the bourgeoisie. We left towards the end when Corbyn came on.
There is a real indignation here, an awareness among some very young people of something utterly flawed in the way society functions, which makes it all the more sickening that an adroitly set up campaign has so rapidly taken charge of the whole 'discourse' and is defining all the parameters of organisation and action. This cannot be separated from the inter-classist nature of the protests, even if real workers' strike movements can also be entirely derailed and smothered by the bourgeoisie.
In many ways, this 'strike' was completely kettled by the police who discretely surrounded the park and laid out start and end times. Not in an open brutal way like in the student movement of 2010, but in a more smiley and 'considerate' manner

Battlescarred
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Sep 22 2019 06:45

Hmmm, not so smiley reallly I and other ACG members were told we must move from Parliament Square to Millbank or be arrested and it wasn;t "considerate" at all. Also intervened with others when zealous cop was thinking of arresting young woman chalking pavement with slogans, for "criminal damage". He backed off , faced with the number of people shouting at him.
Distributed hundreds of our paper the Jackdaw and well as London anarchist paper Rebel City. Yes, lots of young people took the papers, but also many women of different age groups and ethinic origins. ACG had similar successful distros at Climate Strike events in Glasgow,Leeds, Norwich and Exeter.