On XR Global Support: Admissions, Defamation, Disinformation and the Need for Reform

On XR Global Support: Admissions, Defamation, Disinformation and the Need for Reform
Ai Weiwei: Blossom, 2014 (installation detail, porcelain flowers on prison cell sink, Alcatraz Hospital). Photography by Jan Stürmann

XR “Global Support” (GS) recently published a second official statement about me on rebellion.global with all the formal branding, making a good show online of wishing to represent the voice of the Extinction Rebellion international.

I am pleased however that GS is admitting to not being the HQ of XR and admits to being a group only offering “support” services. GS say they are happy for me (and others) to continue our work with XR groups around the world. They accept I am not anti-Semitic and I am very glad that we have that out of the way and can move now on. I have no desire to make this an issue about myself, and have attempted to highlight worries about a toxic culture which, based on my studies and experience of movement building, I think needs to be urgently addressed.

I have to date still not received any response to my numerous requests for an open dialogue and for the authors of this statement to reveal their identities. If a self-selected XR group chooses to bar me from their network that’s fine. What concerns me is the damaging way in which they have chosen to do so. If this can happen to me, it can also happen to anyone in this movement. Their decision not to show their faces violates the core culture of XR, which has been clear from the beginning that we are not masked vigilantes. There is a huge danger that arises when anonymous committees take actions on behalf of the organism.

I will no longer accept further efforts to defame me and destroy my reputation. The accusation that I had “the full intention to create a scandal” over publication of comments about the holocaust that were taken out of context by a German newspaper is simply not true. See link (2) for statements confirming this.

There are also serious questions about GS’s integrity in publishing in their statement confidential correspondence of a founding member, in order to further their own agenda. The leak and its publication constitute an act of internal sabotage. In fact the contents of the document are nothing more than ideas that were being thrown around to look for ways in which to respond to the media propaganda in question, and pivot the messaging back to the dire urgency of the climate crisis. Isn’t this the actual work we are all here to do? What GS has done instead is to craft a campaign designed to sabotage me by disclosing a rough draft text meant for internal discussion and feedback.

And they continue the defamation, claiming I have joked that “we might start shooting climate polluters in the head”. They base this accusation on a mainstream media propaganda move that misquoted me out of context. GS have stated this “represents a serious violation of our commitment to nonviolence as a movement”. In fact, it is a classic example of how GS does the corporate press’s work for them, by supporting their decontextualization of comments to promote the opposite of what is actually being said.

I have to question why a XR media team disseminates propaganda instead of responding to it? I fail to see how this is acting in the interest of the movement as actions such as these can only cause rebels to feel at risk knowing that media propaganda can be weaponised against them by their own peers. See the text of the interview (3)

I did not initiate this conflict with GS. They chose to issue a public statement about me, out the blue, over a year after these defamatory media publications were released, and I have a moral and legal right to defend myself. The episode has been a useful exercise in shining a light upon some of the more corrupted and aggressive sides of XR . (e.g. being accused of fascism and such like in the last few days (4)) and I very much hope this will serve to remind XR Global, the wider XR, and radical networks in general, of what happens when closed cultures co-opt social movements, and there is no accountable executive leadership or constitution in place by which to stop abuse.

The failure of GS to create an operating constitution renders the function of XR’s “self organising system” (SOS) impotent as it results in the organism having no agreed ability to address problematic behaviour of members within its ranks. What this lack of structure has resulted in is a smear campaign to silence and ostracise me. I have been trying to get XR national and international groups to adopt constitutions since the founding of this movement, in order to prevent such toxic abuses of power. Being treated fairly, with due process, is a fundamental matter of principle. And if we are to let go of our principles, or only apply then when it is convenient for us, then we are truly lost.

I have been requested by committed XR people to not waste precious energy by going on hunger strike to request a meeting with what now appears to be small posse of cowardly individuals so I will not be doing so. Instead I have a proposal. I challenge GS to bar me from the group by means of an open constitutional process.

I call for the creation of a GS constitution with open, and accountable processes which will protect every member of group. And I am willing to be the “sacrificial lamb” so that GS may test the efficacy of their constitution upon me. This will, of course, represent one problem. The main instigators will have to finally reveal their identities. However I am looking forward to possibility of a meeting and, in the spirit of reconciliation and regenerative culture, I am more than willing to engage.

I am just an individual like you, and you, the reader, can also choose to take this opportunity to remove this toxic culture in GS, by working to create the reformed open culture in GS, that XR was set up to foster. For myself, I will continue to focus, with others, on providing practical support to XR groups who ask for assistance, based on the understanding that there is no official XR global gatekeeper making up lies about what I say. If my request for a formal constitution is not adopted then I would have to suggest we are dealing here with a group of faceless characters who, in my view, have no idea what courage and integrity look like. As Gandhi said “nonviolence is not for cowards”.

And GS, my door is always open for a chat (with Radiohead playing in the background of course).

Let a hundred flowers bloom! See you on the streets.

1. Global support second statement on their website

2 - Statements confirming that the memo about truth-telling was sent after the German newspaper interviews and that I had no intention of causing “a scandal”.

-Gail Bradbrook (XR co-founder) and Nuala Gathercole Lam (XRUK press Team)
-Tim Crosland (Director, Plan B)

3-Text of interview making clear that I do NOT personally support putting bullets through the heads of climate criminals but rather suggest this is sociological prediction.

4- Example of a letter from GS person making accusations of fascism

The Climate Situation
is F*cked

Help me to get with the job of sorting it out.