Extinction Rebellion – Scotland Launch

Systems Collapse

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an acknowledgement that our system has failed, catastrophically. It has delivered us a society where poverty has been institutionalised and the poor are punished, where our health and education systems are being shredded by neo-liberalism, where the media has been captured by oligarchs and where the conditions for our and other species’ continued existence on this planet are seriously under question.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

This moment:

This XR movement is unique, as are all movements that catch the moment.

When movements catch the moment they build on waves that have gone before, connect those that are arising, absorb those that are subsiding, and bring a rare forcefulness of imagination, commitment, intelligence and passion to bear. Shaking people up to remember that now is all we have. The future is made now. Recent and ongoing examples include:

– the long lead up to 2014 referendum where so many causes and communities united in care for making a better world,
– the anti-Trident campaign, with peace camps, peace walks, marches and blockades,
– the 350.org campaign that fed into the Bernie Sanders campaign, and interweaves with People and Planet, Stop Climate Chaos, and now Extinction Rebellion.

XR write:

“On Rebellion Day we took the bridges. Next we will take the streets. We are calling for a meeting with the government and will use non-violent civil disobedience to make our voices heard. It is time to defend life on this planet. Extinction Rebellion will achieve its demands if we cause economic disruption which brings the authorities to the negotiating table. Protest marches and rallies will not create the rapid political change now needed to deal with the ecological emergency.”

The future isn’t ahead of us, coming towards us, already made but not yet known.

The future arises from what we do – or don’t do – now. It’s shape is present in our action – and non-action – now.

Why bother?

A policeman at the Waterloo Bridge blockade on Saturday spoke for resignation:

– “We’re going to die anyway”
– “The earth will carry on”
– “It’s too late”

By blockading the 5 London bridges for 5 hours we were saying:

– “Of course a child will become old and die, but you don’t for that reason refuse to rescue her from drowning”
– “Of course this planet rock will continue, but the deep interconnected brilliance of life is what we are seeking to save from drowning”
– “Of course it may be too late – who knows? – but it’s a question of whether we try to save that child, try to stop the pain being inflicted on millions right now by the system driving climate chaos, and so help them now and help save our humanity in the process”

Who knows whether this wave will rise to the challenge, or rise and fall and be learnt from, to be subsumed in another wave that follows, but right now we need to help stop those forces driving social and ecological meltdown, help stop those individuals benefiting (so temporarily) from exploiting people and planet.

We went to join the blockades on the bridges on Saturday because at last someone was taking the climate struggle to the centre of power on these islands. We are only now finding out about Rising Up – the group behind Extinction Rebellion – and it is a relief to find they seem really open to learning, and are thankfully emphasising the need to take care of ourselves as we try to challenge this system.

Rising Up write:

“We are facing many crises resulting from the system we live under (it’s a form of extreme capitalism called neo-liberalism). The system is based on unsustainable and increasing amounts of debt. It is causing gross inequality, poverty, mass misery, and species extinction. It gives a lot of money and power to a very small number of people, who use that money and power to shore up their position. This system is destroying our planet’s capacity to sustain life by destabilising the climate. There are many issues and to change anything, we have to change everything. We have to change this system, in support of the most basic of universal values – the right to life.”

“There are loads of brilliant, detailed proposals for how things could change, how problems could be solved. But we can’t make changes without taking our power back, getting more connected to each other and to the wider world. We reckon system change needs a mass movement of people willing to take disruptive, loving and effective direct actions, saying no to the destruction and sickness and yes to life sustaining alternatives. An inclusive uprising will have many ways for people to get involved. It must be effective and sustainable, it must be fun!”

Get involved:

Extinction Rebellion Edinburgh meeting tonight at 8pm in Augustine Church, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh 

Extinction Rebellion Glasgow meeting on Wednesday at 8pm at Locavore, 349 Victoria Road, G42 7SA 

Remaking democracy:

It is blazingly obvious that the system we currently use to make collective decisions is not fit for purpose. The party political system, already inherited from an ancient, unhappy compromise between those who stole power though force and those who are in the majority, is riddled with corruption, vested interests and toxic group-think.

There is little hope that those currently in power will accept our reasonable demands. We need to articulate and facilitate the birth of an alternative way for our society to make decisions, one that takes power away from those whose lives are impoverished by power and greed, and who seek to dominate and impoverish the rest of us as well.
This new system needs to be fair, flexible, and able to operate at very different levels of scale, from the local to the global, and accessible to everyone and anyone who agrees that our fundamental organising principles need to centre around the flourishing of all life and the life-sustaining systems of our planet and the physical and emotional wellbeing of all humans.

There are many tried and tested systems for collective decision making which allow participants to consider complex issues and arrive at thoughtful, compassionate, rational decisions. It is essential for human wellbeing and for life on this planet that we transform the existing system to one able to make decisions which prioritise survival, kindness and uphold the common good.

Comments (14)

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  1. Daniel Raphael says:

    I routinely tweet articles from this site, which I have often recommended as one of the most creative, articulate, and literate of the progressive voices I review each day. This short article is outstanding–superbly succinct, uncompromised, and timely. It is a pleasure to spread your message, which is our message. From the country we named in the Sixties “the belly of the beast”, greetings and solidarity.

    Daniel Raphael
    Washington State

  2. Lochside says:

    More diversionary faux change. Follow this and you will end up in another pan England bourach. I think this is a black flag operation. These movements, like ‘Rise’ etc are parasitic and always are conjured up when real change is beginning to appear possible.
    We need Independence now, here in Scotland, and with the real opportunity of radical change: no nukes; no imperialistic ventures; proper welfare and employment rights; fair taxation; control over all the land; free medical treatment and education. All for starters. Getting rid of large corporations with their State subsidies, tax avoidance and stranglehold on employment with the ‘gig’ i.e. no guarantee of basic wage, economy, and all the associated stratified weight of monarchy and aristocratic parasites holding us down as a free society banished forever would be real change.

    1. Robert says:

      You probably mean a “false” flag operation. A “black” flag would be an anarchist banner, which is much nearer the mark.

      I don’t see how actions aimed at bringing down a UK government of climate criminals — or at least bringing them to the negotiating table — can be opposed to Scottish independence, or to any of the other things you mention. If they are UK-wide, or in fact world-wide, so much the better.

    2. Brilliant!Love it! Climate Change is a RISE conspiracy! Fantastic Lochside you Brave Anonymous Internet Warrior! You win Alt Yes Moron of the Week!

  3. SleepingDog says:

    “This new system needs to be fair, flexible, and able to operate at very different levels of scale”
    This includes not just from local to global, which is essential, but also at different timescales. Our existing systems, which the article rightly points out are not rationally designed to solve problems but are the result of ancient compromises, are especially poor at handling decisions on differing timescales. There is a desperate long-term holding on to a status quo; an absurd 5-year period in which even the ruling party regularly reneges on manifestos and attempts to undo or discredit the past actions of a rival party in government; and knee-jerk responses to the most recent mainstream media frothings. All under a cloak of secrecy that prevents informed discussion or holding state actors and their allies to account. As recent disclosures have made abundantly clear, for too long the UK secret state has employed ingenuity in the service of stupidity, nearly wiping out human civilization and a huge part of the living world with nuclear weapons.

    What is required is to separate out different classes of problems, attend to the most dangerous and urgent in real time, while making other decisions appropriately after sufficient deliberation, monitoring, testing and evaluation policies and disregarding ideological ownerships. Collective decision-making has to be far more evolved than current extremely limited notions of democracy. This could involve citizen assemblies transparently working on certain problems. It could also mean reforming intellectual property to prevent progress being held hostage to profiteering.

    But don’t knock material poverty if that means living as lightly as we can on Earth, and people can still enjoy a rich (digital) culture with shared access to public spaces and a healthy living environment. The idea should not be to emulate the disgustingly luxurious rich, but to establish sustainable and healthy well-being for all. One-upmanship is the ideological dragon to slay.

  4. Justin Kenrick says:

    Pushing for self-determination and trying to stop the machine driving us to extinction are two sides of the same coin.

    There is no need to fall for the divide and rule of either/ or, and every need to insist on self-determination for survival.


  5. Marga says:

    It is quite interesting how, in the heat of Brexit, which at least in the UK will put up for grabs any agreements or progress reached (including the systems to do so) on everything, especially environmental protection (it affects the bottom line and so competitiveness of business), people are blocking bridges for anything other than Brexit.

    If fiddling while Rome burns wasn’t a disrepectful way of viewing a crucial issue like environmental concern, it would be an appropriate description of what is happening. Instrumentalising good causes, distraction, coincidentally favouring the interests of the elite behind Brexit, doesn’t seem the best plan for now.

    1. Robert says:

      Thousands are risking arrest to call attention to the existential crisis of climate breakdown, and you think they’re “favouring the interests of the elite behind Brexit”? How exactly does that work?

      Let’s get things in perspective, shall we? Brexit is a major crisis for the UK, sure. The ecological crisis is THE biggest threat for civilisation and every country around the world is affected by it.

  6. Andrew Naylor says:

    Wonderful article. We need to build a mass movement of people that encompasses all elements of society or we will not have the necessary ‘power’ to influence those that we need to. Our tactics and strategies must also be flexible and far-ranging from directed action, with a vanguard of those who are brave or just resigned enough to realise that we have reached the end of the road here, and intelligent enough to bring those who are at present fearful of the impending doom scenario into a movement that at least gives them ‘hope’ that there is an alternative voice.

    I ventured from Scotland to London on Saturday because we need to act now.

    Please keep on updating of events as it would seem to be increasingly ‘difficult’ to access the Extinction Rebellion facebook pages. Quelle Suprise!

    1. mincentatties says:

      Andrew all sounds a bit off the box set of “Citizen Smith”. What’s needed is an absolute lambasting of the the SNP and its far too comfortable comfort zone.
      I experienced seven [ yes seven ] years ago the employees rage at seeing Swinney being chauffeured up to listen the weasel words given for the shut down of West Lothians second biggest private employer, Bausch & Lomb.
      The flunkey driver was in full servant garb, including the hat. Swinney weaseled in and out, without as much as a bye your bye to the troops. Salmond to be fair was much much more connected.
      Even then the sell out was obvious.
      Before manning any barricades we need to take command of Holyrood; the current situation and the useless life servers need to be cleansed It can all be done constitutonally.
      Vibrant new blood and associated thinking. We might be amazed at the results.

      1. Andrew Naylor says:

        Actually my neighbour has a cat called ‘Wolfy’. I would get more sense out of it than the self-serving politicians of all sides. Firstly a radical deselection process is needed to ‘encourage’ prospective candidates to follow the only agenda that now matters – planetary survival. Otherwise the ballot box becomes and is a waste of time.

  7. Charlie Menzies says:

    Three rivers, run through us all
    Three rivers
    Love compassion and gratitude.
    AS we shift and shape landscape.

  8. piper says:

    Old ball heid now,15 years young Friday nights,Satuarday oot side the betting shops pubs at night,handin oot fliers then for the only real game in town for Alba freedom,the then S.N.P.,wit a reception fae the punters most,honest, fuck off you commie jimmy,want a kickin,them git them money fa them russians,fuck aff.How time changes me now 66,and the only two socialists parties are divided,one state capitalist,the other socialist,the s.n.p.fence sittin capitalists liberals.

  9. Maggie Dove says:

    Anything happening in Highland?

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