So, sitting with two very clever friends this morning, spit-balling ideas of where the whole Extinction Rebelliion thing might go, this came up:
It’s possible that Extinction Rebellion, if it keeps the same set of repertoires (blocking roads, disrupting meetings etc), may end up not moving beyond the students and retired who seem (I have not been at the London stuff) to be making up a fairly heft wodge of its demographic. The biographical availability here is ability to get arrested without huge immediate financial/career risks.
So, in this scenario, where ER’s repertoires and prospective participants stay the same, the following could possibly happen: ER puts the issue of climate breakdown squarely on the political agenda (where it should have been since, oooh, 1988). A lot of busy/unavailable guilty liberals who let their direct debits to Friends of the Earth and/or Greenpeace lapse during the Global Financial Crisis say to themselves “Gee, yeah, end of human civ. Kinda puts the whole school fees for Tarquin and Cressida into context. But I can’t afford – in any sense – to get a criminal record. And who has the time for interminable activist-y meetings? So, um, I’ll give some money.”
And who would they give money to? Probably FoE/Greenpeace and the rest of the reformist gang that ER has so far only gently chided. Thus, ER’s efforts may end up reinforcing the mainstream groups, being particularly spikey chuggers (for non-UK people: chugger is a contraction of ‘charity mugger’ – street solicitation for direct debits)
UNLESS (and it’s a big unless), ER morphs or creates offshoots to harness the other (non-financial) energies and potentialities of those middle-class types, this seems to me a likely outcome (but icbw). There are some straws in the wind that suggest this morphing might be attempted. Whether it is possible or not, well, that remains to be seen.