Having agreed with a few other Cliscep founders to post up Ben Pile’s excellent Twitter thoughts on Extinction Rebellion before the early hours of Thursday had – yawn – expired, I took First Bus out of Weston-super-Mare towards home and was greeted by this on the top deck. Someone had decided that XR was more important than the statutory health issue of not being allowed to smoke. Extinction came first, so to speak. Doesn’t it just.
But this isn’t about me and First Bus, or even the suggestive combination of two modern movements of apparently idealistic young people, Extinction Rebellion and Teach First. I know which one I prefer. This is about Ben Pile on XR. A few typos and paragraph breaks have been amended. You can read the original on Twitter starting here.
Ben’s thread (thanks Thread Reader App)
Lot’s of news media are trying to explain #ExtinctionRebellion, who they are and what they want. This is what we know.
Extinction Rebellion (XR), like much of the green movement, are almost exclusively drawn from the most degenerate parts of the upper and upper-middle classes. There has never been a posher ‘protest’ in history.
By ‘degenerate’ I mean that they have open contempt for democratic, industrial society and hostility towards civilisation. They have very little connection to productive society — i.e. ‘work’ as most people understand it. Yet they benefit from it more than almost any other part.
This disconnect is a form of alienation, which XR externalise as a crisis outside themselves, to in turn express as contempt for the rest of society. It is a cult, and this is the us-and-them dynamic of that cult.
What they claim they want are three utterly meaningless, impractical and impossible goals: to ‘tell the truth’; to decarbonise the entire economy 100% by 2025; and to replace representative democracy with a green ‘national assembly’. They claim that failure to realise these demands means that millions of people will die.
No facts, no science, no debate and no truth will budge them from this view. The fact that life is vastly improved for billions of people since 1990 is not important to them. The truth is that XR wish those people never had been born and had never survived.
They prefer, and celebrate lifestyles in which most children do not survive to see their 5th birthday, and in which most people do not live past 40.
They claim modern life is toxic. If they were not drawn from the idle upper classes, XR would have been ignored. They would not have been able to organise themselves and their PR campaigns.
If they did not share the values – including contempt for democracy – of the political establishment, they would have been shut down as soon as they had declared their views and their intentions.
Any other organisation that had declared its intention to hold an entire city, country or government to ransom would have had their doors kicked in by the Police in the early hours of the day following their announcement.
Politicians and ditto the news media don’t know what to make of it. That’s because they went to school with these people. They are their cousins, sisters and BFFs.
They see only the ‘we want to save the world’ claims. They cannot ask questions about the political demands. The entitlement of XR protesters extends far beyond selfishness. XR are a product of today’s vapid, entitled political class.
They believe they have the right to impose on the rest of society, because that is what they have learned from it.
They have no genuine grievance. They are not disenfranchised. They are not poor or excluded. They are not denied opportunity. Far from it, in each case.
Yet they continue to demand. And to demand more. And more. And more.
None of the government’s and supranational political bodies’ policies – abolishing ICE cars, abolishing coal, abolishing domestic gas, etc – have satisfied XR. They cannot even see them. And those policies lacked any semblance of democratic legitimacy.
For example, H/T @moonrakin
I get science, motivation and passion driving #ClimateEmergency protests but our great progress and ambition being ignored. UK was the first country to pass Climate Change Act, since 1990 we’ve led G20 group in cutting CO2 intensity,@michaelgove has led huge action on #plasticfree (1/3)
Of course it’s being ignored! What made the minister, @claireperrymp *ever* believe that once she had given to the spoilt children that they would be satisfied?
When you don’t have to win the argument to be given what you demand, you don’t try to make arguments! In other words, Claire Perrys make XRs.
XR are the expression of today’s politics, not an alternative or challenge to it.
They want MORE of what it already is. Not less. They want an undemocratic, anti-industrial, and authoritarian regime. A green caliphate, if you will.
We know that XR and @claireperrymp are pretty chummy.
Revealed: Minister’s meeting with eco group. Business Minister Claire Perry held meetings with the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group at a climate change conference in Poland in November. — Daily Mail, 13 April 2019
We should see the government, the opposition, and XR and green groups then, for what they are: The same thing.
That is why XR have been allowed to inconvenience millions of people. That is why they are being handled by the @metpoliceuk as though they were fragile goods. Compare with the policing of tens of thousands of otherwise obedient football fans at stadiums across the city.
It would be a very, very different if XR had formed their own political movement, or got behind perhaps the Green Party.
But as a test of their principles, the Green Party’s democratic successes have not shown that they are widely shared. “Ah”, I hear you say, “but our first-past-the-post system excludes new players”.
But when XR organiser, Rupert Read stood as a candidate for the EU elections in 2014 for the East region he lost under the PR system.
It did not dent his sense of entitlement. For several decades now, climate change and other environmental causes, have become cover for far-reaching political ideas.
That’s not to say that climate change and environmental problems do not exist.
But… It is to say that behind claims to want to save the planet is an ‘ism’, the same as any other ism.
Climate change is a fig leaf. It’s a fig leaf for the government, and it’s a fig leaf for the XR.
They claim that unless their *political* demands are met, civilisation will collapse.
If you point out the *scientific* problems with their claim, they call you a denier.
You see, your agreement that there are environmental problems, and that we should do something about them is not enough for XR.
We can agree that there are environmental problems *without* agreeing that environmental problems lead to the Apocalypse.
But that would mean disagreeing with XR’s political, ideological claims — the ‘-ism’.
This is the *real* object of their ambition. Climate change has nothing to do with it.
In other words, the claim to be acting to save the planet isn’t merely self-aggrandising pseudoscience, it is political blackmail.
It is a lie — fear mongering — that is intended to limit your political choice and freedom.
The word ‘degenerate’ used above is upsetting some people.
I mean it. Absolutely.
If you said to them, I’m building a self-sufficient sustainable smallholding in undiscovered wales, you would be a hero.
If you said, I’m building a megafactory that will create 250K jobs in the wider economy, you would be the enemy.
They celebrate withdrawal from society. Others have been upset by the possibility that the above is ‘classist’ in some way.
I have no grudge against posh people, upper middle class people, middle class people.
I have a grudge against people’s sense of entitlement… There is a ‘sociology’, so to speak, to the development of that sense of entitlement.
And it’s a curious development. The radical green movement is full of contradictions and paradoxes. The green ‘movement’ is categorically posh. No, it’s not exclusively posh. But it is notable that it is drawn from above, not below, and that its contempt is for the wider public, and for democracy.
It is against things that ordinary people want and need. That tendency is not the character of all, or even most of the middle/upper classes.
It is the outlook of *particular* parts of those classes. And it is the *tendency* of *most* of the *political* class, which has become detached, remote from the rest of society.
Everybody seems to understand this…
Except politicians, green campaigners and large parts of the media. That schism is a disjuncture in society which needs to be understood before we can take the XR at face value.
It is a historical anomaly that there is a protest movement which has no genuine grievance and is demanding LESS stuff (for thee, but nor for me).
So, to wrap it up, there are *many* ways to understand, challenge and criticise XR and the broader green movement. And to do so is not equivalent to ‘denying’ that environmental problems exist and should be dealt with. But don’t expect MPs or much of the news media to do it.