✉️A Primer on Reform and Revolution: An Open Letter to Green Party Members

Climate collapse has pushed us beyond the limits of reformism. It's time to follow the historical precedent and call for a revolution.

✉️A Primer on Reform and Revolution: An Open Letter to Green Party Members
People Power Movement

I have been thinking about the process of social change literally every week since I was 14. It is my life’s obsession - it drives me. I have been organising people every week for the same period to make this world a better place. I have done years of award-winning research at King's College on the dynamics of political mobilisation. I have read the literature. Last year it was decided by the New Statesman that I was the 34th most influential progressive person in the UK - the only “environmentalist” above me was the untouchable David Attenborough. So, no pressure, but maybe you might take 5 minutes to read my thoughts on the Green Party. 

My decision to write this letter was “triggered”, to use that fashionable word, by the following from the Guardian in the run-up to the UK elections:

“Asked if the Greens believed jailed climate protesters should be freed, Carla Denyer said it was not up to politicians to get involved in individual court cases.”

In case you don't know, my good friend Phoebe, 22,  is presently facing a long prison sentence for… yep walking on a road for 20 minutes to demand that her generation is not totally fucked over. And in case you are blissfully unaware of what it is like in the worst prisons in Europe, read about my experience in the English Gulag.

English Gulag
About nine weeks ago, I did a 20-minute speech on the crisis. Just like the 100+ public talks I have done over the past year. Destroying sovereign states, creating billions of refugees, shitting on our children’s inheritance, and wiping out what’s left of the natural world justifies concrete acts of

What I want to say is that reformist expediency in pre-revolutionary times, defined as doing “what works” in the short term rather than responding to what is objectively real, is not only morally obscene, but also strategically illiterate. 

Let me start by illustrating this viewpoint with a little story. 

I was an organic farmer for twenty years. It was like getting blood out of a stone. I asked people to spend an extra £5 to buy local veg that won't “destroy the planet” as the phrase goes. I loved the work but it made no money and I had a headache every weekend from the stress. I rang people three nights a week, every week - roughly 100,000 phone calls during those two decades - “to get peoples' orders” and try to persuade nice “green” middle-class people not to go back to Sainsbury's just because their broccoli had a bit of mould on it. Then Covid hit (the shock to the system) and everything changed. For the first time ever former customers were ringing up sheepishly asking to start their orders again. My lower self (which can get pretty low) was saying “fuck off go and starve” but, don’t worry, I was very professional (having had a good Christian upbringing) and gracefully got them their veg. 

Out in the polytunnels.

In historical sociology, the name of the game is to look at social patterns. One of the key patterns is the interaction between reform and revolution. These terms, formally speaking, have tight neutral definitions. Reform is to work within the system and try to change it. Revolution is to work outside the system to try and change the system itself. In reformist times (when objectively there is no material possibility of revolution) the reformists win out. In revolutionary times (when there is no material possibility of reform) the revolutionary wins out. In sociology, this is called structural determinism. Sometimes, not always, what is going to happen is determined. It cannot be avoided. It’s bleeding obvious to anyone looking at the stats. 

Let's look at an example. 

When Lenin arrived in Russia before the revolution, he looked at the stats and knew there was not a chance in hell of the Russian army beating the Germans in World War One. They had few weapons, no supplies and morale was non-existent. He decided that the revolutionary Bolshevik programme would be to stop the war with the Kaiser whatever the cost. All the reformists thought he was a complete idiot and his party was immediately looked upon as irrelevant. Supporting “Mother Russia” in the war was ideologically non-negotiable. And so the reformists, to cut a long story short, decided on an offensive to prove that belief trumps reality. Things looked good for the first day and then the whole front collapsed as the Germans advanced another few hundred miles into “Mother” Russia. Reality trumped belief. The Russian masses turned towards Lenin for peace, not least because he had been right all along, and the rest is history. 

It was structurally determined that the Russians would lose the war and that this would create a revolution. The same can be said of the situation before the French Revolution. It was structurally determined that the old regime would collapse because of the massive increase in state debt. Then the finance minister finally dared to tell the King that the state would totally run out of money in six weeks. 

Here is point: Expediency does not work in a pre-revolutionary period where the wider context determines the end of the regime. Though those policies, be they war with the Germans or increases in French state debt, may help maintain the status quo in the short term, they will ultimately lead to its collapse. 

Let's go back to organic farming. I was seen as dumb because it would be so much easier to screw the environment and just become a normal “commercial” grower. But Covid was our first system shock: a little World War One, a little “running out of money”, and then the tables turned. Everyone wanted my veg. 

When Green Party leaders decide to publically shit on imprisoned young people in resistance to objective climate collapse whilst they play the "sensible adult" role of getting into a broken, reformist parliament, they are taking the expedient route. 

Obviously, this is the immoral path but the logic of reformism is actually to have revolutionaries imprisoned. The Kantian imperative to not use people for political means is ignored. This is what it means to go after power. After all, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

In reality, this is strategically super dumb because neo-liberal regimes are going to collapse with billions of refugees and mass food shortages. These are objective conditions that trigger a revolution in the structural determinism. Just as it was obvious that Russia was going to lose against the German army and the French state was going to run out of money - so too, at 2C, it’s obvious that Western political regimes are going to collapse. The fact that this is not seen as obvious is because of the power of ideology over facts. In Russia the patriotic ideology that “mother Russia'' could not be defeated blinded people to the country’s severe losses. The neo-liberal progressive, humanist ideology of the Green party blinds it to the facts in 2024. Their belief is that the present regime of material prosperity based upon the rape of nature can keep going -  that you can go green and keep capitalism.

Micah White's Unified Theory of Revolution from his book The End of Protest. The diagram illustrates how a variety of factors like structuralism impact revolutions. One example given is a food deprivation index that was used to predict the Arab Spring uprisings.

In contrast, are the facts made clear by the UN, the equivalent of generals sending messages from the frontl. Recently they said we have two years to save the world. They are not “being melodramatic”. Failure will “decimate economies”, not unlike the fiscal crisis before the French Revolution. This is UN “General speak” for hundreds of millions of people starving to death. What exactly do you think NOT “saving the world” will look like? 

Get it? Leaving aside the small matter of moral corruption - the Green Party is backing the wrong horse! 

In 5-10 years from now when Covid-type climate shocks come thick and fast, the UK government will collapse and there will be revolutionary change. That means a change in the regime and the way of making national decisions: mass social disruption which changes the constitution. Either the regime will collapse into some form of fascism or we will have a democratic revolution that comes from outside the system - led by people like Phoebe. People who were “irrelevant” and never “clever” enough to get into power are suddenly “thrust into greatness”, to quote Shakespeare. Read the history of revolutions - it has happened a hundred times before. One minute some nerdy intellectual is cleaning windows, weeding carrots, sitting in a cell. The next minute she is running the state. “Out of nowhere” as they say. It's called history. But the core ideology of our time is that history ended in 1989. Green Party leaders feel they don't need to read history and so don't have to think about revolution.

The folly of it. 

So what’s the plan? From a structural determinist viewpoint, I would say that there is not a chance in hell of the Green Party leadership facing “the facts'. Ideology trumps reality before the rupture every time. But there is a small wrinkle in the historical record. A small percentage of the reformists will have sleepless, dark nights of the soul and think “Fuck I am on the wrong side”. Then they become revolutionaries. Apparently, 20% of the members of the Estate’s General, the first revolutionary body of the French Revolution, were aristocrats who had had that “oh fuck” moment. But they were still only, a drop in the ocean of the aristocrats in France at the time. All the rest were still eating cake. Today it's a “green” cake.

There are people in the Green party and others in reformist spaces reading this article who are well aware of the irrefutable logic of what I am saying (i.e. they are not denying the climate or social science). To them I ask you to join us on the streets and in the assemblies. Yes, they will result in you getting put in prison but you get to smile knowingly that you are on the right side of history when reformists dismiss you as righteous yet irrelevant. 

More folly. 

You might have noticed that I have politely left out what will happen to the present leadership of the Green Party after the revolution. For reasons of expediency I will not go into details (we are all hypocrites right, though some more than others) but let's just say that history doesn’t look kindly on fascist appeasers. Undoubtedly, in Parliament Square alongside the statues of jailbirds Nelson Mandela and Gandhi, the next statue will be of Pheobe, not Carla. 

Want to switch sides? Email me at Roger.hallam.uk@gmail.com to organise a chat. 

This is what I have been up to this week.

Climate protest accused defies judge to give hours-long speech in court
Jury sent out three times during address by Roger Hallam, who is on trial for alleged role in organising M25 blockade

Making clear that the physical act of putting greenhouse gases into the air is an objective reality not a matter ideology, belief or politics.

It is a crime - the greatest crime in human history. 


I call on people to come to the court with placards to make clear the jury has a right to the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Ahead of the upcoming elections, join revolutionary Assemble program.

I'm hosting my monthly Zoom call with a Q&A session and breakout groups. Don't be miserable in bed. Come and join us.

As always, you can sign up for nonviolent civil resistance with Just Stop Oil in the UK or via the A22 Network internationally. 

The Climate Situation is F*cked

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