I wandered into XR late after reading ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’. I was and am an activist in other areas of social justice – opposing fascism and racism; LGBTQI ally; feminist ally; opposing militaryism; poverty; social isolation; mental health etc. It’s just how I experience and see the world. These issues are interconnected and complex in this neoliberal, post-
So I attended NVDA training, much was familiar and off to London in October, and was duly arrested. I met some wonderful people, and kindled friendships that continue to deepen. And
yet, away from the adrenaline of actions, I was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to begin to question strategy, decision making, poor targeting, ignoring broader movements, autonomy of AG’s, inclusivity etc. Not many people wanted to respond. I sensed a fear to openly dissent – to many people, especially those new to activism, XR is the best last hope.
Without it many could feel hopeless. I get that, I really do, but fear is no way to develop a movement.
Post October and social media became an interesting place. Key critiques appeared from noted activists, they in turn triggered discussion, reflection and disagreement. At least at the level of individuals. XR say they paused to reflect, they opened up channels for feedback and listening (if you can understand the central architecture you’re doing better than me).
Key criticisms around the Theory of Change, mass arrests and imprisonment, lack of mitigation of power, lack of inclusivity and global perspectives and wisdom were carefully framed and well intentioned it seemed to me. Then the Roger incident. For some this was the water shed, leaving XR and looking to other movements to join or develop, Global Justice being one example.
Open dissent from some cofounders and AG’s, at some risk to themselves, gave me hope that XR may learn and evolve. It doesn’t seem to have, although I know people are both leaving and others choose to stay and continue the struggle.
The RH reconciliation process – what happened to it? Fair enough. Forgiveness and reconciliation are important. I wonder if any other XR member would have so much time invested in them. He will emerge with a key role in leading mass mobilisation, arrest and
imprisonment. I have little doubt, irrelevant of the window dressing of listening etc, nothing substantive has or will change.
The only decision members were given at the time was when
you want the next Rebellion, not if they want one in the same way.
Then Covid. Rebellion off. Recalibrations everywhere. Personal and work life turned upside down. Real loss, pain and fear. Business as usual stopped. For now. Then the money has ran out. Desperate scrambling to both construct new budgets, remove vle, and defend earlier decisions. More pain, worry, disorientation. So what to do?
For me, I’ll continue to do what I’ve always done. Pay less attention to formal membership and rule abiding, and get on with building relationships within and across movements.
Building relationships locally and elsewhere whether they are active or not. Looking to encourage deep mutual aid and adaptation, community, revealing and using the skills and
talents available for wider benefit. Encouraging mutual learning, critical thinking, an understanding of the intersectional, complex forms of oppression present in the world today, and responding to them. I have sufficient privilege to get involved with actions designed to hit the polluter and not the public.
There was life before XR, and there is life with it and beyond it. Don’t wait for permission, you don’t need it. Connect, learn, love and do.