I've been thinking a lot in 2023 about fundamental strategic matters - more than at any time since the beginning of Extinction Rebellion. My work was mainly focused on refining and enhancing an established civil resistance model of “how to cause trouble effectively”. The basic frame was - “Look, let’s work together to create a massive nonviolent disruption and push the state into making big reductions in carbon emissions''. We were pushing up against a boulder called ‘the carbon regime’. Now, like Sisyphus, I see that we were doomed to watch it roll back in our faces.
In 2024, I’m working on a profoundly different framing: it goes something like: “Look, the carbon regime has totally fucked up so the climate crisis is now locked in. We don’t need to create massive social disruption because it’s going to happen anyway! The regime will collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. So, what next? We need to build the next civilization and stop fascism from taking us to a terminal hell”. Bit long but you get the idea.
That’s the job, like it or not. You might want to stay doing your little thing in the world but greatness is about to be thrust upon you. As Trotsky said, you might not be interested in war but war is interested in you. Some have the privilege to ignore this reality, at least for the moment, but in 2023 the signs were all around us. The situation in Gaza shines a light on the complete moral idiocy of the old paradigm of violence and retribution. It is overwhelmingly obvious that what comes next cannot be more of that! Similarly, the latest COP makes 1984 look like kids’ play. ‘Let’s destroy billions of lives, but dress it all up as having a nice sensible discussion.’ Lastly, I recently sat through an absurd four week “climate” trial where the judiciary were simply unable to confront the enormity of what we face. Humanity’s destruction through carbon emissions was totally off the cards. So much for “intelligence”.
But we know all this. The point is, what’s next? For me, the new central concept is “balance” - which sounds moderate, hence why it has wide appeal. In the present context, in which everything is so imbalanced and getting exponentially worse, the notion of balance becomes a necessarily and paradoxically revolutionary idea. A balanced revolution, as theorised by Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine, is actually against “revolution” - in the sense that it’s against the uprooting of human connection by psychotic utopian projects, whether they be communist, fascist or now “neo-liberal”.
Over the year, I’ll outline different aspects of a balanced revolution as I get more ideas about “how to do it” from working on practical designs (e.g. how to hold a public assembly, how to door knock, how to stand in elections, how to create functional ethical control systems). As always with what I do, it is all about turning theory into practice and practice into theory.
The mission is to empower people to see the big picture - one that transcends the traditional categories of politics, economics, social connection, and spirituality in favour of a new fusion of confrontation and dialogue. At this time of total crisis, new social formations need an overarching and uncompromising ideology. What we create over the next decade has to be a credible national and international entity - think early Christian church but without the crappy bits - that can give us a real shot at survival.
A big part of the project is to bring on the leadership of the younger generation so they, in turn, can take their generation through the coming turmoil with a degree of intelligence and grace.
If you’re interested in leadership and support, sign up for my upcoming online talk where I’ll lay out the plan ahead and you can ask me about where we go from here. Together, we need to lead humanity out of this mess.
It may be “too late” of course - in which case, so be it. But it may not, and my intuition, for what it is worth, is “we ain’t seen nothing yet” - both in a negative and a positive sense. Many of us don’t want to go gently into that extinct night. The collapse of society means that revolution is now inevitable - transformation is coming and it’s up to us to guide it.
That is the light bulb realisation: that light comes out of the dark.
I wish you all a bright New Year. Whatever it may bring.
Sign up for nonviolent civil resistance with Just Stop Oil in the UK or via the A22 Network internationally. Alternatively, you can now join for my new project called Humanity which is aiming to build the new world ahead based on deliberative democracy.