Contributed by Joe Montero
Extinction Rebellion is growing fast across Australia. The movement that begun in the United Kingdom, where it has won considerable success. It is now spreading across many countries.
A handful of people kicked it off in Australia about two years ago, and it really started to kick off this year, to become the fastest growing social movement in the country. Thousands have joined groups that are springing up across the country.
Extinction Rebellion is different, primarily because participants are not content with just talking about a problem. The focus in in acting to make a difference around three demands.
The first is to insist that the political leadership and all levels of government tell the truth and admit we are facing a climate emergency. Twenty-nine local council has already done this, and the Victorian government may soon follow.
Second is to insist on cutting carbon emissions to zero by 2025. This is highly ambitious. The point of this demand, is to underline that nothing less than very serious action to cut these emissions is necessary.
Then there is the call to bring in a Peoples Assembly system, where citizens participate in making decisions, which are binding on political representatives and political institutions. Just how this would come about is not yet clear. This must be developed. This does not take away, nevertheless, form this being a revolutionary concept, with the potential of expanding from dealing with the climate crisis, to the democratisation of society in general.
It doesn’t stop here. There is an implied understanding that political leaders and institution, who are seen to be dominated and corrupted by an elite of corporate interests, have failed and cannot be trusted to bring about the change needed, to prevent the threat of ecological collapse and destruction of human civilisation.
According to Extinction Rebellion, the situation demands an emergency response, and this can only be guaranteed by a social movement that forces through change.
Consequently, the movement does not see itself as a protest. It sees itself as a rebellion, working at non-compliance with and disruption of the status quo, as a non-violent means to push towards an adequate emergency response.
The immediate strategy is to build the momentum of disruption, towards the short-term goal of raising the capability, through a Spring Rebellion, which will start on 7 October, and continuing for at least a week.
Continuous actions will take place to bring attention to the message, make it the conversation in every household, and to grow a movement powerful enough to bring change.
Similar action will be taking place across a range of other countries, beginning on the same date.
Extinction Rebellion’s strategy is starting to work in Australia. A usually reluctant media is starting to report on the movement, as the blocking of streets, occupation of buildings and other creative actions become more frequent and bigger in scale.
Here are few of the most recent actions reported by the media , even if not exactly sympathetically.
More than 50 climate activists arrested in Brisbane
Video from 7 NEWS Australia
Extinction Rebellion Tasmania
Video from Nightly News 7 Tasmania
Climate protest on Perth streets
Video from Nine News Perth
Reports like this are bringing home to Australians that there is a rising tide the movement is here and means business.
Another was the citizen’s arrest of Resources minister Matt Canavan in Brisbane.
There are also some new and creative ways in which rebels are reaching out to the wider population. One example is this Jolly Brollies action in Melbourne
video fromExtinction Rebellion
It would be amiss to overlook two other implicit characteristics emerging within the Extinction Rebellion movement and sharing concerns that are beginning to stir across society.
Many of its supporters believe that decisive action on the climate emergency is inseparable from the creation of a political democracy, which at one and the same time, built form the ground up, provides a voice to those who don’t have one, and encourages widespread active participation.
Tied to this, is a perceived need to start building a new kind of economy. Part of the answer is the embracing of green technologies and industries. The other part is that this can’t be achieved, without replacing an economy that is incapable of taking on the environmental threat, intensifies social inequality, exclusion and other problems, and fails to provide economic security for most people.
Out of this grows grows an realisation that the key economic decisions can no longer be left to be dominated by corporate boardrooms and compliant governments. The alternative is building democratic economy, where the whole of society takes part in creating new future.