Tl:dr Hard to see radical granular climate action in the UK continuing beyond early 2021 at the latest. But I could be wrong.
Firstly the disclaimers:
- Disclaimer the first: Who the hell knows? Who the hell knows anything anymore?
- Disclaimer the second: In cosmic scheme of things it doesn’t matter- we are a dead species stumbling, about to spaff all the achievements of the Enlightenment against the wall. So it goes.
- Stories like these, scenarios, give a crumb of comfort, the illusion/delusion of control.
We are not quite a year in to the public face of XR (I went to my first – awful – meeting last September). The whole climate ‘thing’ (including XR, Thunbergmania, FfF etc) seems to be happening at twice the speed of the last wave (2006-2009), for whatever reasons. On Monday the next ‘International Rebellion’ is to begin in London, after the events of April. So, rather than be overtaken by events again, I am putting this long-brewing post (where long = n+ 14 days, for values of n 0-14 days) so that I have to own my predictions and can’t fall to the retrospective smoothing fallacy (fwiw, I don’t think I ever meant XR in toto would be over by end of 2018, just that the idea of maintaining blockades for weeks on end in Nov/Dec was, well, ambitious. But maybe I did)
As far as XR is concerned (the school strikes are different, but not that different), I think we’re coming to a crunch point. Much depends on Monday onwards. The April evens had a few things going for them
a) weather (it was warm – can’t think why) and not too rainy
b) novelty ‘hippies take over London, complete with ‘normal’ people among them’ was a good news story
c) a gap in the news cycle from the Other Thing Of Which We Will Not Speak
d) The Metropolitan Police were playing it softly softly (possibly because it helped them in budget negotiations to look outnumbered/overwhelmed? Who can say.)
For this next orgasm in the emotacycle to ‘work’, all of those need to be in favour again, and the novelty factor has to include LOTS more people (if numbers aren’t much much higher, where is the novelty?) It’s not clear to me the numbers will be that much higher. Lots of people got to tick the I Did My Bit box by turning out in their lunch hour for the Global Climate ‘Strike’ on Sept 20.
It’s not clear at all that the OTOWWWNS window will be there.
It’s also reasonably clear that the Metropolitan police attitude is different. Clock this display of pre-emptive we-da-boss-ery. Seems odd to do this and then be all touchy-feely-dancy-yes-we-are-your-friends from Monday on. We shall see. (Of course, just because the Met may want to change its tactics does not guarantee they they will succeed in changing their tactics/those tactics will succeed.)
But for the sake of argument, let’s say all the stars align and this next rebellion is a ‘win’ for XR, then what? As far as I can see, then the pressure to do an ‘even bigger’ Rebellion next April will be almost irresistible (and it is not clear to me many participants would WANT to resist).
Okay, so say the event is a damp/ignored/plodded squib. In that case, I suspect that there will be some decruitment, some soul-searching and the splits emerging (the drones-at-Heathrow as XR’s ‘Brexit Moment’, as an insider said not long back) will open. BUT if I had to bet, I’d say the cracks will be papered over, morale sort of maintained and the caravan will be kept on the road because, you know, momentum (lower case), it’s an emergency, and there is a summit to be hopped in Glasgow next November/December. And given that the dreary mainstream NGOs (Hello Faux, hello Greenpieces) are busy playing catch-up and will be wanting to mobilise for the COP, then the XR will stagger on.
Meanwhile, in both these extreme cases, the calls for granular, local, low-adrenaline-radical action will be ignored or wilfully misunderstood by most folks.
But I could be wrong. Time will tell, as she so often does. In the meantime, will keep pushing on with the granular local, low-adrenaline radical stuff, as best I can, with people I trust.