Socialist Worker

Celebrate the climate movement - and join it

Issue No. 2676

Part of a big march over climate change in London last Saturday - Extinction Rebellion has created a bigger environmental movement

Part of a big march over climate change in London last Saturday - Extinction Rebellion has created a bigger environmental movement (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The International Rebellion has brought together tens of thousands of people across the globe to demand climate justice.

It’s brought extraordinary scenes of resistance over the most critical of issues.

Organised by direct action group Extinction Rebellion (XR), the programme of resistance has once again brought the climate catastrophe to the fore.

The occupations, demonstrations and creative stunts are a powerful mechanism for turning fear and a sense of powerlessness into action.

It means that all those terrified and angry at the unfolding climate emergency can struggle alongside like-minded people.

In doing so XR, school strikers, anti-fracking campaigners and all other strands of the climate justice movement are changing the terrain for fighting back against ecological catastrophe.

It is hugely cheering to see ordinary people take to the streets and occupy space to say “another world is possible”.

The rebellion will have echoes among people who never considered themselves political activists, or had not joined a protest before.

That around 30,000 people shut down Oxford Street—on a demonstration with minimal notice or advertising—shows the widespread support for XR.

Occupations

During the first International Rebellion in April, cops didn’t prevent activists from setting up their occupations in London.

But this time cops did try to stop the occupations assembling—and removed all 12 sites from central London by the eighth day. XR claims heavy handed tactics mean its “strategy is working”. Like any social movement or political struggle, debates rage in XR about strategy and tactics.

These arguments can be particularly sharp when the police are trying to throw protesters off the streets.

That October’s action was contained, repelled and ultimately shut down by the cops shows there is still some way to go.

The Met would have found it harder to oust rebels from Westminster if the occupations had been much larger than several thousand.

Some in XR see it critical to win the police to the case for a fight against climate emergency.

But the cops are committed to protecting capitalism and “business as usual”. They will stifle the right of ordinary people to organise in order to protect the stauts quo.

All those fighting for a better world should applaud XR’s resilience, confidence and intention to shut down Westminster.

This should be accompanied by working with rebels to build for 29 November—where workers should fight for workplace action alongside a planned global school climate strike.


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