Violet Matiru speaks out against #COP15 colonialist #30×30 land grab

After #COP15, Violet Matiru speaks up for Kenyans & others in the global south

06/01/23

Violet Matiru, ex- United Nations insider, global activist and independent environmental consultant from Kenya, has publicly lambasted the ‘Westernised’ and colonialist UN for negotiating what could be the largest co-ordinated land grab in global history, disregarding the rights and traditional territories of indigenous peoples and pastoralists in the global south.

The undemocratic land-grabbing practices in the global south by global north dominated NGOs -ostensibly in the name of ‘conservation’- and the corporations with which they partner, as well as their EU and US funders, has long been documented by the likes of Survival International -a gem amongst the rough of what some term a global ‘NGO industrial complex’.

Matiru is particularly concerned with raising the alarm about what is happening in Northern Kenya at the hands of the EU and US funded ‘NGO’ The Nature Conservancy and its creation, the Northern Rangelands Trust.

’30 by 30′, ‘Nature Positive’ & the ‘New Deal For Nature’

At COP15 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Earth-wide land-grabbing practices have just been given the go-ahead to accelerate under the so-called ’30 by 30′ plan, associated with other corporatised NGO slogans such as ‘New Deal for Nature’ and ‘Nature Positive’, referring to the ‘global’ (read, colonialist ‘Euro-American’) initiative to ‘conserve’ 30% of the Earth’s land and 30% of oceans by 2030, in an effort to mitigate both biodiversity loss and carbon emissions from human activities (by maintaining and growing the natural carbon sinks which absorb C02). This 30 by 30 plan, hashtagged #30×30 on social media, whilst responding to very real problems, is a top-down, eco-authoritarian, opportunistic and colonialist approach which disregards the democratic rights of peoples indigenous to the global south, including traditional farmers. On the African continent, many pastoralists have already been evicted from supposed conservation areas; moreover the approach has highly questionable validity in general as to positive impact on human and non-human communities.

Violet Matiru & Epic Tomorrows

For more information, see the Epic Tomorrows interview series with Violet Matiru. The most recent section, in which Violet gives insights as to the history of so-called ‘conservation’ on the African continent, particularly in Kenya, and also insights as to the symbiotic relationship between traditional agriculture and indigenous wildlife conservation in Kenya –before the colonizers came along– is linked below.

European Anti-EcoAuthoritarianism group

[To be updated periodically; last update: 22/11/22]

A while back, with friends I started an educational and discussion group on Facebook, titled ‘XR Europe Anti-Ecofascism & Refugee Support Group’. The idea was partly to discuss, within and without ‘XR Europe’, tendencies within even ostensibly left wing or at least ‘apolitical’ environmental groups and movements towards right wing ecological viewpoints and even ‘protofascist’ viewpoints that could open a door (as if we need another one) to fascism and ecofascism within society at large.

Use of the term ‘XR Europe’ was tactical as many of us contributors to the group had long since abandoned XR. However, we felt a duty of care towards folk still ‘on the inside’ of the movement, and society at large, to help educate about, and prevent, protofascist and white supremacist views, which are constantly in danger of further taking hold in the environmental movement.

More recently, the group’s name has been changed to European Anti-EcoAuthoritarianism (EAEA) to reflect a widening concern with eco-authoritarianism across the political spectrum, and how this must be resisted.

As of 22/11/22 the group is dormant, but is still useful as an educational resource, so please dive in if you use Facebook and want to learn about anti-ecoauthoritarianism with a European focus (although not exclusively). Despite Facebook being a terrible parody of what a social media platform could be, the function of dividing (private) group posts into educational ‘Guides’ can be useful, for those who already habituate the platform.

As of 22/11/22, the Guides are as follows; click on this link to go straight to the Guides:

  • Group Purpose / Ecofascism Resources / Reading Groups
  • 12 Rules for What?
  • About XR and the ‘XR milieu’
  • Current Ecofascism
  • Current Right Wing (or Ecofascist-Leaning) Ecology
  • Fascism, Capitalism & the State
  • Strategies for Fighting Extremism
  • De-radicalisation
  • Anti-(Eco)Fascism Groups
  • History of Fascism
  • Anti-Semitism & Holocaust Denial
  • Analysis of Extremism
  • White Supremacy Culture Patterns
  • Climate Justice
  • New Age & the Far Right
  • Propaganda as Racism / Fascism Amplifiers
  • Population
  • About Far Right Groups
  • Freedom Convoys
  • About Far Right Politicians & Political Parties
  • (Eco) Authoritarian Government & Militaristic States; Left, Right & Centre
  • UK PCSC / Nationality & Borders Bills
  • UK Refugees
  • Refugees in France
  • Refugees in Eastern Europe
  • Africa
  • Finland
  • Ukraine

Climate Change is Racist

Recently I completed a book review and discussion of ‘Climate Change is Racist’, a book by Jeremy Williams first published in 2021.

My friend Lubem Gena published my piece in two parts on the News Headquarter website, a Nigerian online newspaper of which Lubem is the editor.

Unfortunately, there have been some problems accessing News Headquarter from the UK and from Canada (and possibly from some other countries). We are working on the issues, but meanwhile, you can read my full article as a Google doc here. The settings are open so that you may comment down the side of the document if you wish. Conversation helps me develop my thinking.

I also reproduce the last section of my article below. In context of my developing writing, this piece can be seen as laying the groundwork for a deeper analysis of capitalist and colonialist structures as responsible for and expressive of the global ‘metacrisis’, of which the climate and ecological crises are the most pronounced contemporary aspects.

***

Constructive critique

Climate Change is Racist is written in a very clear, accessible way, and I would recommend it to any intelligent English-speaking 12 year old, as an introduction to climate justice. Moreover it is concise, at only 164 pages long. Further, the book is a great primer on many intersecting issues of climate, race, colonialism, and other areas of privilege and oppression within society.

Williams also references many authors and activists, predominantly BIPOC, to back up his work, and as recommendations for further reading and study. Some of these individuals offer deeper analyses than Williams’, which mitigate some of the shortcomings of his book. They include Mary Annaise Heglar, Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, Jordan Engel, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Kwame Nkrumah, Walter Rodney, Kevin O Brien, Amitav Ghosh, Colson Whitehead, Pitchaya Sudbanthad, Esi Edugyan, N.K. Jemisin, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah and Ibram X Kendi.

Beyond the above, unfortunately Williams’ book has significant failings. The first is the failure to adequately address the broader global ecological crisis –that is, the crisis of accelerating biodiversity loss, ecosystem damage and using up of the Earth’s resources (which includes the climate crisis)– which has also been historically driven by the colonialist expansion of white supremacist nations. This ecological crisis, as many scholars understand, is superficially a counterpart to, and more correctly the deeper ecological context for, the climate crisis, and cannot be addressed in isolation. Addressing the climate crisis as isolated from the broader ecological crisis results in ‘carbon reductionism’ and so-called ‘green’ infrastructure projects which may reduce carbon emissions in the short-term and medium-term, but which are directly destructive of biodiversity, including trees and culturally diverse human communities –especially indigenous and other BIPOC communities. This harm to biodiversity threatens long-term greenhouse gas mitigation, including the capacity of flora to reabsorb carbon dioxide. Moreover, the materials for the proposed new green industrial revolution are finite, and require mining.

The second, more serious fault is that Williams fails to follow through with his arguments and identify capitalism, and the continued mindless global pursuit of economic growth, as a key driver of the ecological, resource use and climate crisis. Capitalism, and capitalist political economy, by which I mean the complex set of relations between capitalism and state-led politics, are the geopolitical and economic means by which the racist colonialism described in the book continues to operate. Since capitalism itself has always been racist, colonialist and classist in its development, relying on the outsourcing of exploitative non-white labour on the global ‘margins’ as well as cheap white labour ‘at home’ to feed Euro-American middle and upper classes, it simply does not make sense to tackle the racism of climate change without challenging the capitalist vehicle of that racism. 

In chapter one of the book, Williams identifies that it is the (predominantly white) richest individuals, companies and governments that are causing the most climate destruction as if just redistributing their wealth would solve the problem. There is no effort to understand the underlying capitalist structures that created that wealth. It has actually become quite mainstream now to identify capitalism with the climate crisis, so it’s strange that Williams doesn’t mention it. For instance, see this article from Open Democracy: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/oureconomy/fight-against-climate-change-fight-against-capitalism/ 

In Williams’ defence, perhaps he assumes that addressing racism and colonialism by ‘representation’ of marginalised groups and countries in positions and institutions of power, and by ‘building empathy’, would naturally lead to challenging the foundations of capitalism. I do not share any such assumption, as capitalism, inherently ecologically destructive and racist, has shown itself as only too willing to adopt, superficially, any progressive social or political cause that comes along, as long as it can be co-opted for its ends of mindless profit. For instance, many corporations appear to have taken the Black Lives Matter movement to heart, improving representation of BIPOC people but without revolutionising their supply chains which exploit BIPOC and ecosystems in the global south. In another example, promoting ‘African voices’ without challenging capitalism, is not stopping the rise of an affluent African middle class, increasingly out of touch with Nature, mimicking the mistakes of capitalist growth of global north countries. This is not to advocate for denying Africans affluence, but to question the ideological basis of that affluence and its planetary boundaries, including in relation to carbon dioxide emissions.

Recently, according to the The Guardian newspaper (UK-based), ‘thousands of young people…staged a coordinated “global climate strike” across Asia, Africa and Europe in a call for reparations for those worst affected by climate breakdown.’ This protest was led by the Fridays for Future movement, which Jeremy Williams supports. See more here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/23/thousands-call-for-climate-reparations-and-justice-in-global-protests

Whilst this one day strike was admirable, when we are running out of time, it surely would have been far from sufficient to sway upcoming negotiations at the next global climate conference (COP27) in Egypt in November of this year –if history is anything to go by. That is, not sufficient to bring about appropriate climate reparations and finance, let alone the restructuring of the global economy.

Conclusion

Jeremy Williams correctly identifies that climate change is racist. He correctly identifies that this racism goes back centuries, originating in the white supremacist colonialism by European nations of the Americas and the global south. He correctly identifies this colonialism as inseparable from the industrial revolution, and as a historical and present driving force of climate change. On all of these points, Climate Change is Racist is a good basic introduction. 

However, Williams fails to identify that the colonialism was, and is, capitalist, and that modern capitalist political economies continue to drive climate change, as it is in racist colonialism’s nature to be capitalist, continually expropriating and exploiting new territories, ecosystems, resources and people for the material gain of a few, just as it is in capitalism’s nature to be colonialist, forever expanding into new markets to prevent economic collapse. This embodies the systemic form of racism that Williams was only able to address cryptically in the book’s introduction. The growth imperative of capitalism is baked into the system, and both ‘unsustainable’ and ‘green’ growth have so far accelerated climate change and the deeper ecological and resource use crisis. Nate Hagens shows how ‘green growth’ at this point in history is an oxymoron, in his video: The seven stages of climate awareness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDi82plBOh4 

Hagens explains that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and economic growth (essential for capitalism to work) are tethered to energy consumption, and energy consumption is tethered to fossil fuels. For a mass industrial renewable energy revolution, a significant proportion of energy i.e. of the current global fossil fuel economy, would need to be diverted to serve the transition, with all of the intensive mining involved, e.g. of copper and cobalt. Paradoxically, this would result in the collapse or implosion (managed or otherwise) of capitalism, as the entirety of the fossil fuel economy would no longer be available for GDP and growth. A true transition to renewables could only be anti-capitalist or post-capitalist, which would then beg the question, would a renewables industrial revolution render itself obsolete by undermining the basis of our resource-greedy consumerist capitalist society (would we need so much renewable energy)? This explains why the current industry of renewables is actually additional to fossil fuel infrastructures and is adding to global GDP and greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial scale renewables have been co-opted to maintain fossil-fuelled economic growth. 

Nagens also contends that the option of continued fossil fuelled economic growth is not realistic either, regardless of the climate, as easily extractable energy is running out. In other words, whatever happens, at some point we will be forced to use a lot less energy as a species, and perhaps will be living in a much simpler form of civilization a few years from now.

If we don’t identify capitalism and the untrammelled pursuit of economic growth as key driving factors of both racism and the climate crisis, then capitalism will continue to leave racism systemically unaddressed, and accelerate our demise as a species, or rather, accelerate us towards both an intolerably warm globe and thereafter a chaotic and unmanaged version of ‘the great simplification’, as Nagens terms the likely impending global energy use descent. 

‘Representation’ and ‘empathy building’ have not prevented the recent rise of far right racist governments and political parties in Europe; in Hungary, Italy, France and Sweden. Further, prime minister Modi’s Hindu nationalism in India is a complement to the racist, anti-immigrant politics of Donald Trump in America (which is still influential, even when he is not in power). As the global climate-related refugee crisis is set to worsen as a result of global heating and associated extreme weather events and crop failures, without a deep understanding of the racist capitalist megastructure that is driving it all, fearful white populations are beginning to regress behind nationalist borders, doubling down on blaming immigrants for all manner of social and environmental problems. Meanwhile, year on year, despite a brief dip during Covid-19, global greenhouse gas emissions are still increasing.

Financial reparations for the global south for centuries of exploitative colonialism, as well as, ideally, to all descendants of slaves worldwide, should of course be sought, as well as climate funds from the north for the loss and damage climate impacts felt by the south. Yet, however necessary these measures are, they are not sufficient to prevent the climate crisis and the deeper ecological crisis from worsening. Protesting in the streets may also be necessary, but not sufficient, to effect the required change. Only a deep analysis and restructuring of our systemically racist and resource-greedy capitalist global society can provide a sustainable path forward.

!13 house groups; five clans; one river, one Wet’suwet’en strong

Below is linked part two of my interview with Jennifer Wickham of the Cassyex house (Grizzly Bear house) of the Gidimt’en clan of the Wet’suwet’en, from so-called British Columbia in Canada. Part one set the scene & spoke of Jennifer’s love for the river Wedzin Kwa, threatened by the Coastal GasLink pipeline intended to carry fracked gas. The ecocidal CGL project has been delayed for over two years by the resistance, including direct action, of Jennifer & her clan. Part two builds on the intro & goes into some fascinating & shocking backstory / history. Later parts will hold the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to account for their horrific treatment of the Wet’suwet’en.

Covered in part two:

* The unique history of the Gidimt’en & Wet’suwet’en.

* The Canadian supreme court decision of 1997, Delgamuukw vs. British Columbia, which asserted Wet’suwet’en rights over their traditional territories.

* The subsequent campaign by government & corporations to force the Wet’suwet’en to ‘surrender’ their legal rights.

* The nation to nation tour of the Wet’suwet’en across ‘Canada’.

* The intact governance structures of the Wet’suwet’en.

!All out for Wedzin Kwa!

Featured

Below is linked part one of Epic Tomorrows’ interview with Jennifer Wickham of the Gidimt’en Checkpoint resistance against the illegal Coastal GasLink project in so-called British Columbia, Canada. Part two is coming soon. It was a great privilege and learning opportunity for me to interview Jennifer and do my small part to raise awareness of the massively destructive infrastructure project that is the CGL pipeline –potentially paving the way for more destructive fossil fuel infrastructure.

Jennifer Wickham has been the media coordinator for the Gidimt’en clan checkpoint since 2018. The Gidimt’en checkpoint is the focal point of the resistance of the Wet’suwet’en nation to the Coastal Gas Link project which is a pipeline under construction, linking fracking sites in Dawson’s Creek in north eastern BC to a LNG facility and export terminal at Kitimat on the BC coast. This is an illegal project which disrespects Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, even their legal standing as affirmed in Canadian courts, as well as local ecology and ecosystems.

In December 2018, the B.C. Supreme Court issued a court injunction that authorized the RCMP (that’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for those who don’t know) to forcibly clear a path through the Gidimt’en Checkpoint and the Unist’ot’en Healing Centre, another site of resistance further west. This is despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in a landmark 1997 court case that the Wet’suwet’en, as represented by their hereditary leaders, had not given up rights and title to their 22,000 square kilometers of land.

At the core of the resistance is the endangered Wedzin Kwa, a river, which was a big part of the inspiration for Jennifer to play a key role. Jennifer is a Cassyex House member (the Grizzly Bear House) of the Gidimt’en clan, one of the five main clans of the Wet’suwet’en people. Jennifer is currently co-producing/co-directing the documentary film “Yintah” (which means ‘land’) about the Wet’suwet’en fight for sovereignty.

#WetsuwetenStrong

#AllOutForWedzinKwa

#ShutDownCanada

#defundcgl

Eclectic West Africa based global newspaper -News Headquarter- seeks global writers & GoFundMe donations

News Headquarter is a commercial newspaper seeking to branch out to diverse perspectives, including those that are anti-capitalist and anti-colonial.

Since I have developed a friendship with the Editor-In-Chief Lubem Gena, I have been excited to discuss with him a broadening scope for his publication, including written material from climate and ecological activists from the global north working to decolonise their activism.

I have launched a booster GoFundMe fundraiser to help Lubem continue the publication, as Covid times have been hard. Please consider donating to the fundraiser, and please share it.

Long-term, we are looking at developing a global platform unparalleled for diversity and grassroots representation, incorporating both citizen and professional journalism worldwide.

WHWG Strategy Bulletin #1: 11/3/22

Well Hunted, Well Gathered Strategy Bulletin for Systems Change #1:

Intelligence

  • Global Scientist Rebellion (SR) begins on April 4th 2022, a movement of non-violent mass civil disobedience on climate, with scientists from 20-25 countries taking part, including over 10 countries from the Global South. Visit https://scientistrebellion.com/ for more. SR are not to be confused with ‘Scientists for XR’.
  • The strategic relationship with Extinction Rebellion UK’s April Rebellion is timing. XRUK April Rebellion begins April 9th 2022.
  • A key aim is to get 1000 scientists per continent entering into civil disobedience on climate.
  • Hundreds of scientists and academics globally have signed the SR demands letter here.
  • SR has recently received US $100,000 from the Climate Emergency Fund.
  • SR is more decentralised from the outset than XRUK. Additionally, a co-founder Mike Lynch White is keen that SR is held accountable for any colonising or unconsciously white supremacist content put out by SR. Early connections of SR pioneers with scientists in the Global South are encouraging.

Strategy Tips

  • If you are wholeheartedly engaged with XR, get involved in supporting SR also, for Movement of Movements potential.
  • If you are ambivalent about XR due to centralisation and white supremacy within the movement, pivot to supporting SR instead, which, although currently white-facilitated, is more inclusive than XR from the outset, including significant Global South connections. For scientists to enter into civil disobedience is key to the global climate movement.
  • Additionally, for moral as well as strategic recruitment reasons, support and follow those BIPOC voices within XR and the climate movement in general who are working hard to centre the marginalised, such as Shanthuru Premkumar and Vanessa Nakate.
  • To help prevent pathways to (eco)fascism, support risky nationalistic civil disobedience movements such as Insulate Britain and Fireproof Australia only if within a robust anti-fascist rhetoric and understanding. For more on anti-fascism within XR in Europe, and related groups and movements, join the XR Anti-(Eco)Fascism & Refugee Support Facebook page, which includes a systematic organisation of posts / information into Guides.
  • Use April Rebellions to build global momentum for climate justice, with a keen eye on events related to climate justice that are happening in April, especially led by groups in the Global South. Such events can be leveraged by actions of SR/XR which are Global North based, and in media coverage of SR/XR.

Key Sources

1. Scientist Rebellion

2. Epic Tomorrows interview of Mike Lynch White, Scientist Rebellion co-founder:

Climate Revolution Now

3. !For whom is Extinction?!: Epic T. blog post of highlights of interview with skilled anti-racist facilitator & frontline activist, Shanthuru Premkumar, including video link & commentary:

4. XR Europe Anti-(Eco)Fascism & Refugee Support.

Twyford Rising, by Helen Beynon

It was a great learning experience to interview Helen Beynon for E.T. YouTube, regarding her book Twyford Rising. Twyford Rising is about the Twyford Down direct action road protest that kick-started the road protest movement of the 90’s in Britain. This was a movement which, although many don’t know this, had a pivotal influence on environmental campaigning thereafter, in the UK and further afield.

Helen also has other books in the pipeline, including Faultlines, an exploration of communities and landscapes affected by fracking and The Unbounded Land, a book about common land in Britain today. Visit Helen’s main website here.

High points for me of our chat include:

  • Learning about the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in British history (no, it’s not Extinction Rebellion)
  • Learning about the importance of knowing your history, when it comes to protest and rebellion!
  • Finding out about the solidarity between the Twyford Down protest and the women of Greenham Common
  • Discovering that consensus based decision making can be used, and has been used, in the rapidly changing context of a street protest or march

Helen is not just a writer and recorder of significant recent history regarding environmental activism in the UK; she is a frontline activist who has been arrested many times by the police. She’s also easy-going and down to earth.

If you are a serious activist in the UK, let me strongly suggest that you learn about Twyford Rising.

Featured

!For whom is Extinction?!

HIGHLIGHTS, with commentary, of Epic T’s interview with skilled facilitator & frontline activist Shanthuru Premkumar

#TellTheTruth #Racism #XR

Shanthuru Premkumar is an anti-racist movement and a riot unto theirself.

Below this HIGHLIGHTS video of my interview with them, check out the paraphrased transcription of their comments (these HIGHLIGHTS are a selection from the longer interview which will be released soon), and then further below, a blog post of related commentary from me.

Return of the JEDISE Officer

“People with privileges, they’re comfortable;  they don’t want to work. They want to sit & relax. They’re like, ‘Why should I read a book about a nice racism or why should I read a book titled Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race?’

I’ve been calling out, calling out, calling out…Extinction Rebellion, within, because I love the movement. I still love them. I think it’s such an important movement; it gives you hope…but for whom is extinction? Is it the extinction of the people who live in the north western hemisphere?

Many people are going to come; they’re going to come from different parts of the world, with different worldviews, with different realities. How are we going to support these people…?

I believe Extinction Rebellion has to immediately change. I don’t know, we talk about Tell The Truth, Tell The Truth, Tell The Truth, and here you have a leader who is blind…literally, and he then invites other blind people who are #@?%**# colour blind, and then they say racist stuff.

They don’t even apologize; I’ve been with XR for what, two and a half years; they don’t apologize; they ask somebody else to send me an email to say sorry. You can’t talk to me directly?! You’re afraid or what? Why are you doing ‘nonviolent direct action’ then?! ‘Tell The Truth’..?

You know, you’re not telling the truth, you’re telling, the most convenient truth which is helping you!

DAF -Deep Adaptation Forum, is another white supremacy group, and you can quote me on that. Jem Bendell…or whatever his name is…is a very smart person; I loved the writing, it was brilliant, but very Europe-centric.

They did have a BIPOC DAF group, an advisory group for DAF to try to become a bit more inclusive…

Nazism, thanks to Martin Heidegger…and thanks to many other thinkers, German thinkers like Hegel etc…systematically built up to the moment where somebody like Adolf Hitler could come to power…

*******

If most countries around the world are rich, including Canada, the UK… it’s because of colonization, and you continue doing that…if you didn’t have colonization you would not have the infrastructure or science or anything…you have it thanks to us. It’s a human rights violation to me, the fact there is no concept of reparations to those people from whom you stole.

You didn’t ask, you didn’t take nicely, you stole from us…just give us back the money, just give us back what you stole from us…and here I’m talking for Sri Lanka right, I’m going for my country, a small island; just give us back the money, and I tell you, my mother would not have been killed because of the war, my father wouldn’t be in prison, so many Tamils would not have been murdered and killed…

Since the time that colonization started, carbon emissions have increased…

*******

All the BIPOC people who quit XR, I understand, you had to do it, I also wanted to; you asked me to quit many times and I didn’t quit, but I think it’s time that we reclaim XR and everything else around it as well. Reclaiming doesn’t mean that we need to push out all the white people from the movement; it means just decentre the conversation; if Roger Hallam doesn’t see colour, doesn’t understand the importance, and only sees the emergency, ‘Roger, you are a proto-fascist!’ This is problematic! And if you don’t want to hear the truth, take out your first demand, ‘Tell The Truth.'”

*******


Epic T’s (Matthew’s) piece:

I’ve been involved with Extinction Rebellion since the beginning. These days I consider myself a critical friend, rather than a hardcore Rebel. This is the only way that I can continue my wide studies of what makes and breaks social movements; the only way I can steer clear of certain cult dynamics that are sometimes present in XR circles, dynamics which would make it hard for me to maintain and develop my holistic and inclusive view on global resistance / rebellion / revolution / regeneration.

When I do engage with XR, especially in the UK, I am sometimes criticised for being divisive, when all I want to do, out of love for appropriate Rebellion against the destructive forces of our times, is to make things better. When the study Beyond inclusion? Perceptions of the extent to which Extinction Rebellion speaks to, and for, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and working-class communities was released in the summer of 2021, it was clear that despite the rhetoric inside XR UK, not much had changed as regards racism and white supremacy ‘culture’. I am passionate about overcoming this supremacy, in myself first and foremost.

However, even the study above failed to acknowledge that by focusing on the UK it is in danger of reinforcing the colonialism of XR as a global movement; by concluding that XR UK is still implicitly racist, the assumption is that the whole global movement of XR is racist. This seems like a big mistake to make (even if the assumption is true), not least because XR on social media is still dominated by UK perspectives. It is only very recently that the XR UK YouTube channel, in true colonialist fashion, finally conceded to pressure to rename as ‘Extinction Rebellion UK’, from ‘Extinction Rebellion’; the original naming seemed to claim / reclaim a relative monopoly on XR video content from around the world. When YouTube is not just an entertainment and social media platform, but the second largest search engine in the world, second only to its parent company Google, this was a big problem.

XR, at least in the UK, has done well to decentralise some of its functions and processes. I have observed this happening since 2018. However this hasn’t yet fully occurred in the domain of Media & Messaging (XR lingo: ‘M&M’) including on Facebook. This somewhat disempowers any decentralisation that has happened elsewhere in the movement. When monopolised and inherently white supremacist social media channels keep propagating content, especially regarding social movement strategy, that platforms the same white faces / voices; from people who have demonstrated no significant action on racial inclusiveness, then a tragic lack of diversity and community cohesion in XR is continually reinforced, (regenerative white supremacist culture).

Sometimes, exceptional content breaks through, particularly from the XR Internationalist Solidarity Network, but basic structural colonialism in XR’s social media channels remains unaddressed. Moreover, the admins of these channels are relatively anonymous and appear, at least from the outside, to be subject to no mechanisms of accountability in what they post.

Steps are apparently being taken within XR UK to decentre white perspectives and promote BIPOC people to positions of power and leadership, as well as roll out anti-oppression training, as has been explicitly promised in XR UK’s 2021 and 2022 strategy documents. However the dangers in this liberal approach, which doesn’t demand deeper supportive democratic structures of decision-making in XR, and makes the anti-oppression training optional to those who are conscious enough of white supremacy to engage with it, are that it could be a little ‘hit and miss’ and create fresh power imbalances. These imbalances could be further uncritically magnified by centralised social media channels.

So, in the absence of a truly decentralised, democratic and diverse global movement (including on social media), for anyone who feels responsibility or solidarity towards XR, the only supportive thing to do at this stage, it would seem to me, as regards both BIPOC and working class demographics, would be to throw ourselves into the imperfect work of supporting diverse individuals to break through the power structures and white supremacy of XR, if they want this support (and obviously, if they even want to be in XR!). Crucially, this must involve decentring XR UK within XR the global movement, as well as decentring / counterbalancing white (supremacist) perspectives within XR UK.

This is not to deny that, as a friend of mine commented on social media after I shared the first version of this post, ‘deeper conversations on what racism and colonialism really are, are needed… claiming to be antiracist and against colonialism without ever having done the work to understand what these really mean to us, is merely reactionary and not helpful…’ (thanks M).

This short post is the first in a series where I will be making my small contribution to the ‘decentring’ work referred to above. This series will be written in support of my friend Shanthuru Premkumar (Shanthi) a Sri Lankan born member of XR Belgium and the co-ordinator of Decolonise XR Belgium. Shanthi is a talented and experienced facilitator within XR and other activist groups, and has recently been appointed to key roles within Greenpeace Belgium and Greenpeace International. For Belgium they are the Justice, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Safety Engagement (JEDISE) officer.

Unfortunately, I feel called to promote Shanthi as hard as I can within XR (seeing as they have chosen to remain in XR). Unfortunately, because the lack of diversity within XR demands a strong push-back, and also unfortunately, because despite their humour-filled assertiveness (as a BIPOC person, would Shanthi get away with being so assertive if it wasn’t done with such good humour?) I know that Shanthi is humble at heart and does not seek to be the next ‘great XR leader’. But they are game, and they play a good game. Let the Empire of white supremacy end across the climate and environmental movements. This, is the Return of the JEDISE…

Connect with Shanthuru on Twitter here, and LinkedIn here.

#ShellKnew / #OgoniNine / #SaroWiwa / #ExtinctionRebellion / #ClimateCrisis: #Shell7 trial begins in London’s Crown Court, April 12th 2021…

Update 25/4/21: the ‘Shell 7’ have been acquitted by jury, despite the judge stating ‘they have no defense in law’. This is a huge vindication of the strategy of the Shell 7 actions, which has resulted in significant press coverage and a proof of public support for activists who challenge governments’ and corporations’ inaction on the climate crisis -even to the extent of careful property damage.

When I watched my Rebel comrade Simon smash a window of the oil giant Shell HQ’s offices in London, I thought it was an act of tactical genius against one of the key driving forces behind the ongoing climate and ecological crisis.

Simon, along with six other committed activists, including Ian Bray, another XR co-founder, intended to cause at least £6000 worth of damage in order to get their case heard -and then hopefully acquitted, at the Crown Court in London. The first stage of their plan has worked -from tomorrow, April 12th 2021, the ‘Shell 7’ will appear at the Crown Court to start their ten day trial. If this trial gets enough media attention, and especially if the Shell 7 are acquitted, this could be a key nail amongst many in the coffin of this multinational which has willful deceit and complicity in murder, at the core of its policy and practice.

I watched the window smashing action on some news channel or other. I was involved in the initial Extinction Rebellion (XR) bridge blocks of November 2018 but for mental health reasons was not involved in the big London shutdown of April 2019. The destruction of property caused by the Shell 7 at such a symbolic location at the start of two weeks of peaceful Rebellion in London (resulting in over 1000 arrests) was a demonstration of tactical (although risky) brilliance. I reasoned that the wider more peaceful approach of XR -which had not generally so far involved smashing windows- would cushion with a halo this one more ‘aggressive’ action at Shell’s London HQ, giving a particular moral pertinence to it. In other words, the effectiveness of the Shell 7 action was co-creative with and relied upon the discipline of non-violence and even peacefulness displayed by thousands of XR activists during their taking of the London streets (as it turned out, on several occasions)…mass actions which involved no destruction of property. The recent smashing of a window of a branch of Barclay’s Bank by Gail Bradbrook, as part of the launch of XR’s Money Rebellion is a different tactical turn, in a different time and strategic context to the early days of XR, and much called for.

Recently I have been discussing with an American friend the difference between strategic and moral non-violence in mass social and political movements for change. My friend prefers the latter approach, from a Gandhian perspective. However with an action like that of the Shell 7, I would argue that moral and strategic non-violence are synthesised. The Shell action’s timing to kick off the April 2019 Rebellion in a passionate way, with that isolated display of ‘destruction’, was both strategically and symbolically appropriate (risking media and public backlash which turned out to be relatively minor). It was not completely non-violent by the Gandhian moral standard, but nevertheless it drew attention to the moral acceptability of the more peaceful two week rebellion that followed. The wish to cause £6000 plus worth of damage was an added tactical intent within the internal logic of the action itself, the tactical result of which is about to unfold.

Had the Shell action been performed in the middle or even at the end of the XR April 2019 Rebellion, I believe the impact in terms of media and public opinion could have been disastrous. To kick the Rebellion off, it turned out to be perfect. It is no accident that one of the Shell 7, Simon, was a key co-ordinator in the Actions and Logistics team of XR for the first mass actions in the UK.

More recently, I have been interviewing XR activists as well as other diverse ecological and social justice activists from around the world, doing my small part to help build a truly global movement of movements, platforming some of the diverse voices essential to such a movement.

One of my most pleasurable interviews, despite the poor internet connection, was with Lubem Gena, the media person for Extinction Rebellion Nigeria (yes, XR moves in Nigeria too).

The video below is Lubem observing one minute of silence for Ken Saro-Wiwa and the other eight members of the ‘Ogoni Nine’ who were executed by the Nigerian government with the complicity of the Shell Corporation.

For the sake of the Ogoni Nine and a habitable planet for human beings and a continued diversity of other species, please, support the Shell Seven and follow their trial which begins tomorrow. Write about it, shout about it, do arrestable actions in support of it…please do whatever you can.

Lubem Gena remembers the Ogoni Nine -and so should we.