Extinction Rebellion civil disobedience in Wellington today, aims remain vague

The worldwide attempt at revolution – using climate change as a reason to change established democratic and financial systems – hits Wellington today.

With the return of ‘weka’ The Standard has morphed into an anti-Government website in promoting the revolution: NRT: Climate Change: Join the rebellion, retweeting No Right Turn who says:

If you care about the climate crisis, and want the government to act, join in.

But if you read Extinction Rebellion’s vague aims they seem too want to overthrow the Government and impose some soort of people power.

 “…support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

They don’t explain how a ‘genuine democracy’ is created by revolution, nor what sort of democracy it would be. Neither do they want to explain at The Standard.

Weka (with help from Robert Guyton and Sacha) again show how intolerant extreme greens are of their messages being questioned, with lame attacks and threats of bans – see from here.

I note that until I posted a comment at 12:30 pm yesterday there had been no comments on the post that was up at 7:10 am. It appears to be not a popular topic. What was popular was dumping on me for asking questions.

Weka promotes today’s protests under her own name today: Extinction Rebellion on Lambton Quay, in which she says:

In case it’s not clear, the objective here is to cause as much disruption to the state as possible until it changes. Affecting the consumer economy, sustained tying up of the courts and eating into the police budget, along with regular disruptions to the normal business of city life, are potent motivators for change. Key to XR’s strategy is the research that shows sustained actions from 3.5% of a nation’s population have never failed to effect radical change.

Time will tell whether they manage to get large numbers to sustain their actions.

And whether they will succeed in getting our Government and our MPs to decided to hand over all their power and baubles to ‘the people’.

XR are not presenting a complex, detailed plan of what we should do. That’s for our governments.

They don’t seem to be presenting any plan, just vague aims. I’m not sure how disruptive protests will convince the New Zealand Government to work out a complex detailed plan to relinquish their party based power, and their jobs.

They’re also saying that in that process we should shift to more participatory democracy rather than relying on simple representative democracy (which patently isn’t working and isn’t suitable to the task at hand given the timeframes).

Our current representative democracy isn’t exactly simple, but it is patently working. It just isn’t doing what the Rebels want it to do.

Promoting some vague sort of “more participatory democracy” will probably struggle to get wide public (or MP) support.

Planned climate extremist disruptions risk alienating wider support

Growing significant support for taking more urgent and more meaningful and effective action to minimise and mitigate predicted possible effects of climate change may be jeopardised by extremists who claim extinction and who seem to be using climate change as a reason to drastically change the world economic and political systems.

Following a widely popular series of countrywide protests last week, more extreme action is threatened for Wellington on Monday, with more extreme goals. I think that this risks alienating popular support.

The future of the human race could be in jeopardy due to pollution, over-consumption and climate change, but using that threat to force what would effectively be a revolution – ironically one goal is to undemocratically impose a different sort of (unproven) democracy – could be a bigger risk.

The cure could be worse than the ailment.

Stuff: Wellington will be first city targeted for ‘disruption’ in worldwide climate change protest

Monday morning commuters could face delays, with climate change activists set to “disrupt Wellington” with protest action in the central city from 7am.

Police, Wellington City Council and NZTA are gearing up in anticipation of the protest, which is part of what has been called a “global rebellion”, with Wellington the first of more than 60 cities worldwide targeted for climate activist disruption.

The protest is organised by the Extinction Rebellion, a group formed in October last year in the UK, with branches all over the world, including New Zealand.

The action is coinciding with a “Rebel Camp” running in Paekākāriki from Saturday to Wednesday, which will include training in “non-violent direct action”.

Extinction Rebellion Wellington spokesperson Dr Sea Rotmann said the New Zealand branch would disrupt Wellington traffic with a street party and expected arrests.

The news report includes odd looking staged photos of Dr Rotman who seems to be trying to depict themselves as something extraordinary:

Dr Sea Rotmann, Wellington spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion, says "it is time to draw the line and to take whatever non-violent action is necessary".

Weird, and I’m not sure that will attract a lot of support.

The Extinction Rebellion website said it aimed to “support and encourage a citizens’ uprising in Aotearoa New Zealand”.

That would involve “low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some”.

“When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution.

“This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well-being and minimise harm.”

So they intend using a revolution to create “a genuine democracy”. That doesn’t sound very democratic.

Suddenly and drastically changing the economic system would be at more risk of maximising harm and adversely affecting wellbeing.

This all seems like an idealistic experiment that if forced on us could cause more disruption and harm than climate change.

What does Extinction Rebellion want?

Extinction Rebellion has three demands of Government:

1. “Tell the truth” and declare a climate and ecological emergency

2. Act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse emissions to net-zero by 2025

3. “Go beyond politics” and set up a “Citizen’s Assembly” on climate and ecological justice

I wonder if they are aware that a “Citizen’s Assembly” should be inclusive of and represent all citizens, and not just a minority of extremists.

Drastically changing all of the world’s governments immediately seems to be a totally unrealistic aim.

Extreme action and extreme demands are much easier to dismiss as extremist nutters.

And more immediately, disrupting Wellington traffic on Monday is likely to alienate a lot of people rather than attracting popular support.

I think that we should be doing significantly more to address possible affects of climate change, and reduce waste, and reduce pollution, but I think that Extinction Rebellion could be counter-productive to getting support to do this.

Their website home page says:

JOIN THE REBELLION

Enter your details to join Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa. Stay up to date with our latest direct action events, news and volunteering opportunities.

To create the change the world so desperately requires we need everyone’s support, we’re in this together.

You’ll be joining part of a larger global movement dedicated to preserving life on earth.

ISSUES

We are unprepared for the danger the future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

Historical evidence shows that we need the involvement of 3.5% of the population to succeed – in Aotearoa New Zealand this is 170,000 people.

We are the local branch of the Extinction Rebellion International. We are everyday New Zealanders just like you. We are supported by journalist Naomi Klein, academic and renowned dissident Noam Chomsky, and around 100 other prominent international progressives calling on “concerned global citizens to rise up” and join us.

OUR VISION

A world where we build thriving connections within our society and environment, bringing hope and enabling us to decide the direction of our lives and futures. An inclusive world, where we work consciously to ensure fair processes of collective decision-making, where creativity is prioritised, and where our diversity of gifts are recognised, celebrated and flourish.

OUR MISSION

To spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape. We endeavour to mobilise and train organisers to skilfully open up space, so that communities can develop the tools they need to address Aotearoa New Zealand’s deeply rooted problems. We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.

OUR PURPOSE

Support and encourage a citizens uprising in the Aoteaora New Zealand involving low level and higher risk acts of civil disobedience by some (with others willing to support those that take actions). When ready, create a participatory, democratic process that discusses and improves a draft manifesto for change and a new constitution. This will involve creating a genuine democracy, alongside an economy to maximise well being and minimise harm.

 

Meanwhile Extinction Rebellion wants real radical change

While the introduction of the Zero Carbon Bill into Parliament is a big deal for the New Zealand government, the Green Party in particular, and presumably Jacinda Ardern, it is fairly modest stuff in comparison to a growing international movement that wants far more radical change to the world economic systems.

Reuters – ‘New economics’: the way to save the planet?

The science is in: the endless pursuit of economic growth is devouring the foundations of life on Earth, and no country – rich or poor – can expect to escape dire consequences if things go on as they are. So how might the world change course?

Though still confined to the fringes, a globally dispersed but tight-knit coalition of economists, grass-roots organizers, business leaders and politicians, along with some investors, have begun to sketch out an answer.

The vision: a new relationship between the state, local communities and nature aligned behind a more holistic notion of progress than gross domestic product (GDP), the established yardstick for economies as different as those of the United States and Mozambique.

“No country on Earth is doing what is required to make sure we get toward an economic system capable of confronting the twin challenges of ecological collapse and climate change,” said Laurie Laybourn-Langton, an associate fellow at London’s Institute for Public Policy Research and lead author of a new report on environmental breakdown titled This Is A Crisis.

“There are, though, a number of ideas and small-scale projects being done that arguably – if scaled up – could deal with the problem,” he said.

Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe not doable.

Among the questions dividing the ‘new economists’ is whether the risk of catastrophic climate change is now so acute that economic growth should be suspended altogether in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions fast. Some still see room for sustainable ‘green growth’, but others want governments to oversee sharp reductions in consumption now, to avoid what they fear would be a descent into a 21st-century Dark Age.

While nobody disputes the challenge of rewiring the world economy, an upsurge in climate activism, including a global school strike movement and an international civil disobedience campaign by Extinction Rebellion, is sparking new conversations.

“The confluence of panic in the eyes of young people with hard science is opening up the debate in the mainstream like it hasn’t before,” said Katherine Trebeck, an Australian political scientist who co-founded the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a network of academics, businesses and social movements.

Trebeck’s new co-authored book, The Economics of Arrival, cites dozens of innovations in places from Scotland to Costa Rica and Denmark, Portugal and Alaska.

I doubt if there is much innovation of note in New Zealand. We have a  $100 million investment fund launched to invest in reducing emissions, but that’s dwarfed by the $1 billion per year Provincial Growth Fund – a fund for growth has been given far more investment than attempts at innovation.

While the investment opportunities in such projects largely remain trivial, some major funds do see the need for change.

“We face a form of capitalism that has hardened its focus to short-term profit maximization with little or no apparent interest in social good,” Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of global investment manager GMO, wrote last August.

“We’re racing to protect not just our portfolios, not just our grandchildren, but our species. So get to it.”

I think that most ordinary people will have trouble comprehending how much of a threat there is to our species, to all species, to the planet.

But it’s easy to dispute the doom and gloom arguments and insist that we don’t need to do much different, either because we can’t or there’s no point or it’s not necessary.

The human impact may already to be too big, and the human population may be too big, to do anything but fiddle while Earth bums out. Or innovation and natural resilience may allow our civilisation to survive until the next impending catastrophe comes up.

If you feel strongly about the need for action you can Join the Rebellion – This is an emergency

THE TRUTH

We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. Life on Earth is in crisis: scientists agree we have entered a period of abrupt climate breakdown, and we are in the midst of a mass extinction of our own making.

THE EMERGENCY

The science is clear: It is understood that we are facing an unprecedented global emergency. We are in a life or death situation of our own making. We must act now.

Human activity is causing irreparable harm to the life on this world. A mass extinction event, only the sixth in roughly 540 million years, is underway. Many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

That sounds more religious than scientific.

ACT NOW

We are unprepared for the danger our future holds. We face floods, wildfires, extreme weather, crop failure, mass displacement and the breakdown of society. The time for denial is over. It is time to act.

Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.

There are a number of groups trying to get the rebellion going in New Zealand. Oddly Extinction Rebellion Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is a closed group, they must be having a private rebellion.

Extinction Rebellion Otepoti Dunedin – Description:

We are in a period of ecological devastation brought about by our own hands. We must act now to avoid extinction. Join the Rebellion! Our principles + values:

1. WE HAVE A SHARED VISION OF CHANGE Creating a world that is fit for generations to come.

2. WE SET OUR MISSION ON WHAT IS NECESSARY Mobilising 3.5% of the population to achieve system change – using ideas such as “Momentum-driven organising” to achieve this.

3. WE NEED A REGENERATIVE CULTURE Creating a culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable.

4. WE OPENLY CHALLENGE OURSELVES AND THIS TOXIC SYSTEM Leaving our comfort zones to take action for change.

5. WE VALUE REFLECTING AND LEARNING Following a cycle of action, reflection, learning, and planning for more action. Learning from other movements and contexts as well as our own experiences.

6. WE WELCOME EVERYONE AND EVERY PART OF EVERYONE Working actively to create safer and more accessible spaces.

7. WE ACTIVELY MITIGATE FOR POWER Breaking down hierarchies of power for more equitable participation.

8. WE AVOID BLAMING AND SHAMING We live in a toxic system, but no one individual is to blame.

9. WE ARE A NON-VIOLENT NETWORK Using non-violent strategy and tactics as the most effective way to bring about change.

10. WE ARE BASED ON AUTONOMY AND DECENTRALISATION We collectively create the structures we need to challenge power. Anyone who follows these core principles and values can take action in the name of Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa New Zealand.

Seems like a bit of many things in there – it looks a bit like a new label for perpetual protesters. This lack of focus will not help get the rebellion off the ground.

 

 

 

Can Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ help save the world?

Reposted as requested:

Extinction Rebellion was established in the United Kingdom in October 2018 as a movement that aims to use tactics of nonviolent direct action in order to avert the effects of climate change. Since its formation it has rapidly spread to at least 35 other countries, including New Zealand, who have recently carried a few headline-grabbing protests, with the promise of more to come.

Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement are encouraged by the fact that the movement has managed to tap into the sense of alarm over climate change, and mobilised many people not previously involved in protest, and we do not want to undermine the important work that they are doing, but we feel that there is a conversation that needs to be had about some of their demands.

While we support the means of using direct action tactics it is their ends that needs greater examination. Extinction Rebellion is essentially a reformist movement, whose earnest activists lack a real vision of what is needed if we are serious about halting the damage to our environment. Instead, they are pinning their hopes on merely making adjustments to the present system which is destroying our world.

We argue that this isn’t enough, and the only way to effectively campaign to halt climate change is to impart a true picture of a capitalism whose insatiable hunger for profit is not only undermining the working and living conditions of hundreds of millions of working people but the basis of life itself. The future of our planet depends on building a livable environment and a movement powerful enough to displace capitalism.

Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ are guilty of thinking that their demands can create an idyllic capitalism, managed by the state, that can end the destruction being caused to the Earth’s environment They see their role as just needing to make enough noise to wake up political and business leaders. Theirs is a view which sees capitalism moving towards sustainability and zero growth. It is the idea that capitalism can be reformed to become a green system. In this model of capitalist society lifestyles change and infrastructure are reformed while technical green advances are applied. It supposes that all would be well if we all bought organic food, never took a holiday anywhere which would involve flying, and put on more clothes in winter rather than turn up the heating. Green capitalism presumes it will be enough to replace fossil fuels with renewables, whilst leaving the overall system intact.

We argue that such a scenario completely ignores the way capitalism operates, and must operate, and is therefore hopelessly utopian. The present capitalist system is driven by the struggle for profit. The present system’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of Earth stand in contradiction to each other. Successful operation of the system means growth or maximising profit, it means that nature as a resource will be exploited ruthlessly. The present destruction of the planet is rooted in the capitalist system of production and cannot be solved without a complete break with capitalism. Yet ending capitalism is something that Extinction Rebellion Aotearoa NZ does not appear to be prepared to countenance, they are only attacking the symptoms rather than the cause. They see their green capitalism as a type of capitalism worth fighting for.

We, rather, see the need to create a different form of social organisation before the present system destroys us all. The entire system of production based on wage labour and capital needs to be replaced with a system which produces for human needs. All the half measures of converting aspects of capitalism to limit the damage to the environment, while the fundamentals of capitalism remain in place, are just wishful thinking, and to pretend they could solve our problems is deception on a grand scale.

The fact is that before production can be carried out in ecologically-acceptable ways capitalism has to go. Production for profit and the uncontrollable drive to accumulate more and more capital mean that capitalism is by its very nature incapable of taking ecological considerations into account properly, and to be honest it is futile to try to make it do so.

A sustainable society that is capable of addressing climate change can only be achieved within a world where all the Earth’s resources, natural and industrial, are under the common ownership of us all, as well as being under grassroots democratic control at a local and regional level. If we are going to organise production in an ecologically sound way we can either plead with the powers that be or we can take democratic control of production ourselves, and the reality is to truly control production we have to own and control the means of production. So, a society of common ownership and democratic control is the only framework within which the aims of Extinction Rebellion can be realised. In reality, to achieve their wish of halting climate collapse, those within Extinction Rebellion should be anarchists.

One of the demands of Extinction Rebellion is a call for participatory democracy, and yet they also talk of giving governments emergency war-time powers. It’s not altogether clear what they mean by this. Does it mean, for example, seizing fossil fuel industries and shutting them down? Enforcing new low-carbon, low-travel, and low-meat shifts in consumption? Or imposing sanctions against companies or countries trafficking in fossil fuels? Will it see imprisonment for those whose protest when they feel their interests may be compromised by green government legislation?

In the past, warlike conditions and major disasters typically were seen to justify the temporary abolition of democratic liberties, but how long will they last for this fight, what will be the endpoint, or will the special war-time powers last indefinitely? Would such a suspension of democracy be easy to reverse anyway? These are big questions, and, for those of us that value the limited freedoms we have, they need to be addressed.

Giving more power to the state is also a case of putting all your eggs in one basket as there is no one simple response to fixing climate change. Climate change will bring many issues, those that we can have a go at predicting, but also many unforeseen. Increasing the powers of the state reduces its ability to be flexible and capable of learning from policy mistakes. The fight against climate change must be associated with greater local democracy. We need more democracy, strengthening local and regional capacities to respond to climate change. For those in Extinction Rebellion who think that there can be only one pathway to addressing climate change, the erosion of democracy might seem to be “convenient.” History, however, tells us that suppression of democracy undermines the capacity of societies to solve problems.

Those campaigning with Extinction Rebellion are no doubt sincere and caring people who want something different for themselves and future generations. In their own lifestyles they probably have made genuine changes which are in line with a more ecologically sustainable way of living. So have we, but we are well aware that our individual lifestyle changes are not going to change the fundamental nature of the social system which is damaging the planet. Millions of us might give up using products which destroy the environment, but what effect do we really have in comparison with the minority who own and control the multinational corporations. Just 100 companies have been responsible for 71% of global emissions since 1988. They, and all businesses, have an interest in keeping their costs down, and profits up. If their profits come before the long-term interests of people, who can blame them for sacrificing our needs? They can act no other way.

We do not have faith that capitalists, or their parliamentary representatives, can act in time to limit climate change in a meaningful way, but when we make a call for revolution, the answer we mostly get is that the lesser evil of piecemeal reforms will take less time to achieve than our grand anarchist aims. However, we think it is an ill-advised attitude to take that small improvements are more worthy of support than realisable big ones. There is unlikely ever to be a government passing meaningful green legislation. Governments may pass a few minor reforms to appease green voters, the business owners themselves may realise that some of their brands may be harmed by a lack of environmental concern, and greenwash their product, but ultimately these acts will be a sticking plaster when what is required is major surgery.

If anyone concerned with Extinction Rebellion read this and grasps the impossibility of what they are asking for, then we would say it’s time to keep the methods of direct action that you are advocating, but change the demands. If Extinction Rebellion ever wants their arguments to carry any force, then they need to campaign to abolish capitalism and create a system of grassroots democracy.

In the UK a Green Anti-Capitalist Front has been created to work alongside Extinction Rebellion but with a greater focus on the capitalist roots of climate catastrophe. We feel that such a coalition is needed here in Aotearoa / New Zealand. If anyone is interested in working with us to create such a group we can be contacted via our e-mail address.

http://awsm.nz/2019/03/12/can-extinction-rebellion-aotearoa-nz-help-save-the-world/