Stop Killing Londoners – Cut Air Pollution: Campaign Diary post no 1.
Last week a friend forwarded me a blurb from Greenpeace asking people to email the government about air pollution. What The Fuck! 40,000 people are choking to death each year so the corporate machine can keep its profits and we are being asked to send an email. Don’t get me wrong sending emails is all good and Greenpeace are whatever they are. But the arctic is melting - the world is on the edge of ecological and political catastrophe and its suggested we send an email. Really!From the 5th July we will be taking the routines from our previous campaigns onto the London stage. We will start blocking London streets and on the empty roads dance our hearts out – till the authorities take notice. We will hold community meet ups around London to invite others to do their own shows. And if the powers that be don’t get it, we will escalate in the autumn and some of us will go to prison and other full on stuff. Because some of us are not following the herd over the cliffBecause life can be so sweet when we’re not choking to death.
Motivation and Camus
Stop Killing Londoners: Cut Air Pollution: Campaign Diary Post no 2.
I was recently invited to meet the chief executive of Greenpeace with my good friend George to discuss the idea of organising mass civil disobedience in the face of the existential threat of climate change (for the record between us we have over 40 years frontline professional experience of getting people to do stuff –otherwise known as sales and marketing). It soon became clear that he thought that mobilising around such an “abstract” issue “would not work”.
Despite George’s increasingly desperate pleading as he backed out of the room at the end of our “time slot” with his hands up, as if pushing away an unpleasant infestation, it was clear that no amount of argument was going to change his mind (I managed to maintain my cool rational academic routine – but only just!). It is also clear that the mainstream environmental NGOs’ lack of faith in the ability of a critical mass ordinary people to rise to the challenge of saving their children from indescribably suffering, when the brutal truth of the climate crisis is clearly presented to them – and engage in large scale nonviolent direct action - is a catastrophic strategic error of meta historical proportions. For it is now beyond doubt that climate change is well advanced – we are approaching 1.5C over the pre-industrial levels and there is indisputably .5C still to work itself into the climate system from previous CO2 emissions. We are looking at the genocide of hundreds of millions of poor people in the global south, tens of millions more refugees and the rapid flooding of the world’s coastal cities – and that is just the beginning.
Meanwhile it seems Greenpeace may be interested in some direct action on air pollution and I outlined our plan for an escalation of road blocks, arrests and imprisonments in what we plan to be a ground breaking campaign this autumn, paving the way to a whole new approach of open, peaceful and large scale civil disobedience which will take place on climate change in the next two years.
The findings shared in the recent publication “Rules for Revolutionaries” (written by key designers of the stunning Sanders Presidential Campaign) provide crucial evidence that if you want to change something big you have to make a big request of people. In this spirit we are asking people to join us in going to prison this November if the government does not make a commitment to real and immediate action on pollutions levels which are killing 40,000 British children and adults each year. A clear case of prioritising corporate profits over people’s lives and a foretaste of the looming climate change crisis. We know we are not going to win unless we act in a way which will make a win credible.
In another sign of this new realism, a campaigner writing in Open Democracy about the climate activists who were recently fined £10,000 for an action at a Welsh coal mine, referenced the largely forgotten philosophy of Albert Camus. Camus’ work “The Rebel” is, in my view, the most important political work of the Twentieth Century. Although it is now very dated – ostensively a critique of the brutal dehumanising violence of Stalinist communism, it contains a perennial political truth. That the true rebel revolts against unbearable injustice not because she or he will succeed or because a course of action “will work” but rather as an essential and necessary expression of what it means for that person to exist as a human being. The paradox being that, in contexts of life or death, pragmatism becomes complicity, and only the possible solution is an “impossible” solution. An awareness lost on some Greenpeace executives it seems.
Yes you’re right - if you are reading this (and you got down to this bit) you are being asked to go to prison as an essential expression of who you are in the face of the situation we all know we now confront – contact me for details (no pressure!). Please share this post with others who may have a similar awareness seeping up into their souls. Thanks.
The Storms in America and the Fiscal Collapse of the State.
Stop Killing Londoners: Cut Air Pollution Diary Post no 3.
Consider the following three points:
1.Buried in a little read article in the climate change section of the Guardian website is this year’s most important fact: that recent storms and flooding in Texas will cost the US government the same as Katrina.
2. The UN climate bodies consistently underestimate the speed of increase in the indicators of climate breakdown as they refuse to take account of positive feedbacks in the system – that is exponential change. Take for example the total melting of the arctic ice in September. Only a few years ago this was estimated to happen around 2100 – now it is clear it will almost certainly happen in the next five years (check out the graph on the internet – it’s not rocket science!) 3. Possibly the most famous social scientific study on the nature of political revolutions is Skopol’s “States and Revolution” which argues that revolutions become inevitable when states bankrupt themselves and can no longer pay their employees, provide health care, or subsidise basic food stuffs. People come out on the streets and the rest is history. So consider how many Houstons/Katrinas states around the world can handle before they collapse. 3 a year maybe – 4? Not more than 5. Follow the graph of the increase in the increase of “natural” disasters and we can see this happening in the next 10 years maybe, 20-30 certainly. Let’s consider then that there are three types of human activity: The non-political – people take a walk in the park - it doesn’t affect other people’s interests.
The political – people do stuff which does affect some other people’s interests – like wanting more wages/profits etc. The criminal/pathological – things are done which undermine everyone’s interests. Some time ago our society’s refusal to drastically reduce carbon emissions moved into the third category – we just haven’t caught up with the reality yet. And it’s the duty of every citizen to do whatever it takes to combat the criminal/pathological (think of Hitler). I have spent over a year now messaging, phoning and speaking to people about getting arrested for various climate related campaigns and I am familiar with the responses – “I can’t as it will affect my job/CV”; “it will risk my ability to stay in the country” , “I have family commitments”, “I’ll let you know”. Well, with all due respect I would suggest none of this matters anymore.
Only one thing matters and that is we start fighting for our society’s very existence. Whether we are successful or not is neither here nor there – it’s a matter of doing what needs to be done.
Which leads me onto action: the “Stop Killing Londoners - Cut Air Pollution” campaign is recruiting people to do repeated civil disobedience leading to imprisonment as part of a growing protest against the British state’s continuing refusal to overhaul the whole transport system in response to the growing threat to its very survival.
I wish all this was not so obvious but unfortunately I think it is.
I rest my case.