British radical movement activists, who glued themselves to motorways and airstrips to block them, announced a change of strategy: “Strong gestures are useless: now we’re putting 100,000 people on the streets”. But other movements disagree
They glued their faces or hands to the asphalt and added sand to the glue for better grip; They blocked highways and airports, smashed windows, that is, conducted a season of “even extreme demonstrative gestures.”
The logic was the same that led other environmental movements, for example, to besmirch the masterpieces of art: to draw attention in an extreme way to an issue of utmost urgency, namely the environmental issue.
But now British activists from Extinction Rebellion, one of the most radical international environmental civil disobedience movements, have announced that they will change their strategy.
No more energetic gestures: «Very little has changed».
The announcement came in the form of a “New Year’s Resolution” in a statement on Twitter on Jan. 1. Instead of “strong gestures” a new kind of more political mass mobilization. The date is for a large demonstration on April 21 outside Britain’s Parliament, where activists hope to gather 100,000 people.
In recent months, hundreds of activists across Europe have been arrested over protests that have had a major impact on the public – such as the motorway blockades – but in the statement the group says that “these actions have served no purpose. Emissions (of Co2, editor’s note) continue to rise and the planet is heading towards death at an ever faster pace. With the new year, we take the controversial decision to move away from disruption of public life (the term used is “public disturbance”, ed. ed.) as the main tactic of the protest for the time being. We recognize and celebrate its value in sounding the alarm and believe that the continuous evolution of protest tactics is the necessary approach. But what is most urgent now is to reverse the abuses of power and imbalances in order to bring about the transition to a more just society working together to end the fossil fuel age. Our profiteering and profiteering politicians will not go about this without pressure.’
This “turn” in the most prominent of the international radical environmental movements is likely to provoke a moment of reflection. But that doesn’t mean the demonstrative gestures will end: the radical environmental groups adopting them are diverse, even just in the UK – Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain – and no further announcements to that effect have followed.
For example, the vandal attack by the Ultima Generazione movement on the seat of the Senate in Rome took place at precisely these hours, for which five people were arrested.
And even the individual “cells” of Extinction Rebellion in other countries, which for years have had a “life of their own” in terms of joining international campaigns, don’t necessarily adhere to the “tipping point” of the British grassroots. “The fact that a more moderate path was chosen in London, at a time when repression is escalating, leads me to believe that it was a tactical-political decision aimed at focusing more on the relational aspect,” explains an Italian activist from Extinction Rebellion calling himself Eos.
“Faced with the constant arrests, you have two choices: either you accept that this was what you expected and proceed with the aggression, or you change your strategy by relying on the community you’ve met over the course of the war.” years have built up. On the one hand there is non-violent action, on the other hand the importance of relationship and inclusion. The idea is to build a mass movement that will overcome the drama of our time, ie individualism. Rather than thinking about the loss of activists due to the arrests, I think we wanted to aim to expand citizen support.”
January 2, 2023 (change January 2, 2023 | 1:09 p.m.)
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