Various people have called me several shades of cunt for my take on XR. They either ignore, or never bothered to find out, that back in 2019, when it was kicking off, I conducted and posted interviews with participants on Manchester Climate Monthly, offered to put together a private event with old and new activists (was told yes, then they lunched me out), offered to do workshops (was asked by XR Manchester to do one, which they then cancelled in favour of more shit about going to London For The Next Rebellion).
I never saw, in XR, any ability to properly reflect (endless hand-wringing and rending of clothing about the tube action do not count).
Reflection, reflexivity, strategy, is hard in ANY group (trust me on this). On an amorphous blob like XR, where the barriers to entry and exit are non-existent, where you never know from moment to moment who is involved, will be involved, what their skills are, who is a lunch-out, who is a cop, who is some form of paid disruptor, who is an entryist, it’s surely impossible.
I got flak in February for saying that XR was basically dead.
In February I made some predictions about what would happen-
“[Police] numbers will be high, while XR numbers will be tiny. If it is as many as 5 thousand I will be surprised. – Very few from outside London. Crushingly white. The usual teens and twenty somethings and retired folks. Lots of non-violent action (glueing yourself to things) and lots of away-from-the-cameras “responses” to that by police.
Rest of “movement” won’t be there – will be gearing up for fuel poverty stuff etc.
Media – Largely sneering.
Everyone – Easter.
This will be the final bounce of the cat, the final twitch of the corpse.
Let’s see if I am wrong. It’s an empirical question.”
I was largely right.
Well, here’s some excerpts from an email a wise friend, who was present, sent me.
“Must have been about 4000 there on Saturday – half what XR claimed, and tbh, I’d have said between 3000 and 4000.“
“There is also: no stage, no speakers, no theatre (red angels, mock funeral processions, some form of dramatic play etc, eye-catching props, cf the past). There is a large drum circle. Not many coppers, which tells its own story.”
“This weekend, it just looked like a small number of good and honest and rather sincere people being left to get arrested, to no purpose at all, by an organisation that has run out of ideas and bodies.”
In theory, it didn’t need to be like this. But to avoid this happening, we probably needed to be behaving different not thirty months ago, but thirty years ago.
It’s all over bar the dying.
Update – this post was written, and was supposed to be put up, on the Sunday it was written. Since then, there were various people glue-ing themselves to BEIS, getting on top of oil tankers. They don’t really change the analysis
Disclaimer – obviously nothing here is intended to be a criticism of the bravery and commitment of individuals. But bravery and commitment are really not enough. They never were, and they certainly are not now.
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