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Only Rebellion Will Prevent an Ecological Apocalypse

I don’t think there is much separating us, J4Z

Two things are predictable about the ER’s “rebel for life”. The first is that the police will do their best to intimidate all present. The second is that most people will come away with a new sense of purpose and meaning in their lives – awakened and invigorated, full of the collective joy that spontaneously arises when human beings get together to show their strength of feeling or merely their urge for festivity. People will come home at the least relieved that “I’m not alone”. That’s the positive side.

The inspiring struggles for action to be taken against climate change we are seeing emerging around the world shows that people can come together and organise in order to resolve the climate crisis in our way.

But yet again, lessons must still be had and should not be ignored in case it appears too uncomradely to criticize. I have seen many protest movements rise and fall over the past decades and have learned a few things.

Central to ER is the belief that the state can slow down and reverse global warming and save humanity. It advocates working within the framework of capitalism with a series of green reforms. The state is not a neutral, institution, which might intervene in the economy to solve the problems of the environment. The state serves capitalism. Holding a belief that the state can solve climate change is to be complicit. Occasionally, at times, the state may enact some palliative measures but it cannot be used to consistently and permanently defend our interests.

Activists within ER regard socialism as unrealistic for there is only a brief time to save the world. So they propose calling on the state to pass regulations and enforce legislation.

I believe the consequences of climate change will impact popular opinion which will not be what it is today, tomorrow.

The climate crisis will interact with an associated economic crisis, and with continuing turmoil over migration as people flee their impoverished lands. Not to mention wars over resources such as water. We need to be ideologically prepared for this and have our answers ready.

I can sympathise with the sincere struggle for reforms engaged in by ER. But it must always be pointed out the limitations and focus them upon the socialist goal, the only society capable of ecological harmony and freedom. Capitalism is incompatible with ecological balance, ending climate change and avoiding global warming catastrophe. This argument determines my attitude towards Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, Sunrise.


Excellent discussion. My two cents: The rebellion will have to get much more confrontational/disruptive/physical before this is over. There will blood in the streets.

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Not so sure I agree with that tactic which was called the “blood sacrifice” in the 1916 Dublin Uprising, Skeptic, if I read you rightly. I don’t think we should add to a very long list of martyrs.

As soon as we choose violence, we’re choosing to fight a enemy in possession of all the best weapons. The state’s police and army are better trained in using those weapons. And they control the infrastructure that allows them to deploy them. To use violence is to cede to our foe, the choice of battlefield and tactics.

The only violence in which we should engage is that which is reasonably necessary in self-defense and although we always have the right to use reasonable force in self-defense, it is sometimes the wiser course not to exercise that right.


When you crash the gates, you break stuff. Occupy was peaceful, they were forcibly removed anyway.

Climate chaos will have the last say, no matter what – it will be brutal.

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I agree that both need to be done. Unless I am mistaken, that is a key insight.

I would say further, though, that the actions that we usually call “political” are equally inadequate to do what we need, at least by themselves.

So, for instance, it is very difficult to get people to stop driving cars when that is how they earn their living–not just how they make money, but how they arrange to have living quarters, food, water, electricity, communication, education, provide for their loved ones, and some opportunities towards social interaction. As a result, we have a lot of people who find change hopeless or who feel that there is some separate “practical” or “real” world governed by money and power that can destroy ecologies and human lives with impunity. So showing people that ecology need not be a vow of poverty and that this extractive economy does not provide but distort and destroy what could be easy and rich is not just important but mission-critical.

That does not mean that every single person needs to be gardening or farming, only a lot more than are doing it at present. And it does not mean that everyone will get away without nonviolent or even violent political interaction; in fact, I agree that a lot more of us need to become involved.

Our odds are quite clearly better in nonviolent confrontation, but government and big business have made it clear that their preferences are often the other way around. Historically, the response of larger economies to smaller, relatively independent economies has very often been what we call genocide. I do not mean to suggest that this is a likely near-term response to backyard chickens, thankfully, but we will need solidarity and mass political movements to head off the use of force, which is apt to escalate in places where it has not so much.

OK, I have just downloaded Hind Swaraj, which so far appears to be the prime work here. Besides Gandhi, what else might you recommend?

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Peaceful resistance does not mean no resistance. It does not mean non-action. It involves direct action, like road blockading, which is paralyzing London, right now.

If protesters don’t have a clear objective, then they are likely to be sadly disappointed. Protest alone accomplishes very little. If you don’t have that basic understanding of what you’re doing, then you’re not going to win anything. One struggle doesn’t always do the job; sometimes you have to have three or four or five struggles in succession. Those who engage in such a movement must be prepared for a long struggle, with setbacks. Nor is there any guarantee of success, even in the long run. However, your option, Skeptic, entails large casualties and has even less prospects of success.

You raise Occupy as an example but hen non-violence fails, the pacifist method is condemned. But when violence fails, it is the strategy or tactics that are blamed - not the actual violence as the method. And partial success of non-violence is seen as total failure where a temporary ceasefire in violence is seen as progress. But most of all the aims of Occupy were vague. I agree somewhat with J4Z “Only political action can make a difference.”
Activists should seek to adopt means in harmony with their ends. We have to make sure that the means will hasten, not retard its attainment.


In a not too distant future, the magnitude of the unfolding climate chaos crisis will render your otherwise sensible position untenable. Massive hordes of the starving and dispossessed will clash with private security forces trying to block them from taking what the wealthy “own.”

The current peaceful protests will be looked back upon as quaint. And silly. Soylent green is people.

"Massive hordes of the starving and dispossessed will clash with private security forces trying to block them from taking what the wealthy “own.” "

I fear you may well be right, Skeptic.

It is something Marx also suggested in a scenario

“…either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes…” Communist Manifesto

Perhaps we are indeed running out of time, but as yet we have not entirely run out of options…socialism is still on the table. Changing circumstance means we will need to make different decisions from those of today.

It was what I was getting at in a previous message.

“…I believe the consequences of climate change will impact popular opinion which will not be what it is today, tomorrow. The climate crisis will interact with an associated economic crisis, and with continuing turmoil over migration as people flee their impoverished lands. Not to mention wars over resources such as water. We need to be ideologically prepared for this and have our answers ready…”

To be clear, the US Africom military contingent already deploys more troops in the drought-plagued countries of Chad, Niger, and Mali than anywhere else in Africa. Unstable countries facing mass starvation are ripe breeding grounds for terrorists. The climate warfare is well underway.

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Once again, I have to agree, Skeptic.
And much of it going unreported.


Sorry it’s taken so long to answer. I have been thinking about it; unfortunately I have little wisdom for this particular thing.

Change is hard. The rapid radical change is going to be unimaginably hard, especially on people who don’t accept the need or are particularly attached to things they’ll have to give up. Some resistance will be eroded as weather and other effects make it increasingly obvious that we have to change; it will still be the worst time in human history.

As you say about gardening, not everyone is going to give up private vehicles, although we do have to find ways to convince as many people as possible to use public transit—convenience, price, mandates…whatever works. High speed rail, anchored with transit hubs for light rail, buses, jitneys, community bikes, etc.—all public and either free or very cheap.

Instead of a work from so early in Gandhi’s life, if you want to read Gandhi’s own words you might try Non-Violent Resistance (Satyagraha). It might have more of what you’re looking for. My first and enduring favorite is Louis Fischer’s The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a little 1940s-ish earnest but otherwise excellent.

Gandhi was influenced by Thoreau’s Walden, which I carried on many travels, and Tolstoy’s “My Religion.” which was also inspiring. (Tolstoy and Gandhi corresponded.) Letter from Birmingham Jail might also be worth it.

By the time Gandhi started his salt satyagraha he understood fully that the British would fight to the end to preserve and protect their economic interests in India, and the real question was, how to build a counter-force that would free India from this death-embrace.

It will be like the Morlocks and Eloi only in reverse.

Thanks for the readings. I have read them except, I believe, for Non-VIolent Resistance. But it was nearly fifty years ago, and I lacked the perspective for quite a lot of it.

We have now organized the knowledge to create alternate systems–something like the counterforce that Gandhi wrote of, though I won’t pretend to know the parallels well: these are just the sort of things that I would never have thought to follow in detail. But it needs a lot of participation, and what looks to be a long cascade of transitions that I at least can little envision–lots of public transit, I suspect, but also an awful lot of not traveling or sending things so far so often.

I will have a look at the link. Thanks!

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Hi ellsworth_weedman: that sounded really familiar, so I had to go back to that old H.G Wells info, and those 2, the Morlocks and Eloi —but they have morphed back and forth so much from different writers, that it hard to tell who they are and were… but if any entity were starving, as awful as this sounds------ anything would probably taste good. : )
After I read about the Andes plan crash of the soccer players, I wondered what I would do in that situation. It would be very hard to eat people that a person knew,
I recently read a book called “The Indifferent Stars Above,” about the Donner party. When they started eating the dead, they made sure that no one would eat their own relative—but later on, people just ate -------as at a certain point logic and kindness and caring can’t easily survive freezing cold and no food.
Sadly, nothing awful ever happened to that lying Mr. Hastings that gave them all the wrong information on how to get to California : (. This is kind of unfocused , but that Donner party book was truly unnerving as it seemed as if anything that could go wrong----- it did. : (