Climate- and Eco- Activism -the need for direct action

  • It has been 30 years since James Hansens’s warning to the American senate about worsening man-made climate change. Since then nothing effective has happened to halt it, despite 30 years of marching, lobbying by NGO’s etc etc. This is not a complete rejection of the work of NGO’s.
  • Mass peaceful civil disobedience is now needed. It is the only option left to us to ensure a habitable planet for humanity. Chenoweth et al give indications as to how this could work, in this research. The research does not provide blueprints for action, so much as guiding principles. (Beware Extinction Rebellion’s [XR’s] sometimes too literal / narrow interpretation of this research). 
  • Chenoweth et al show that for civil disobedience to succeed, it needs a diversity of tactics, and ‘low barriers to entry’ for as many participants as possible.
  • What is non-violence? Why non-violence towards life is essential to a mass movement of civil disobedience, whilst not ruling out the need for targeted acts of sabotage of destructive fossil fuel infrastructure and the property of its funders.
  • Government targets / capital city targets are essential in ‘successful’ movements but in unprecedented times, at this moment, capital city targets combined with targets of ‘worst corporate ecological offenders’ (what I call WCEO’s) may work / be necessary. A non-violent direct action citizen-led shut down of toxic media targets (such as Daily Mail publishing and printing premises in the UK) may also be desirable to allow the possibility of the appropriate swing of public opinion behind the measures needed to respond sensibly to the global crisis.
  • Unprecedented collaboration between social movements and groups within movements with different tactics etc, is needed at this time, including as facilitated by the unprecedented digital comms technologies and intelligence available to us as citizens. We must overcome tribalism and the comforting elements of identifying with certain social movements at the expense of others. Unprecedented co-operation and organisation is needed internationally amongst ecological and climate activists, as well as activists working on all the related issues of human oppression.
  • As activists we need to travel more, sustainably, and travel smart, breaking down the implicit and often unexamined prejudices within us (even in, perhaps to an extent especially in, ‘educated’ types).
  • ‘Strategy requires a sense of the whole that reveals the significance of respective parts’ -John Lewis Gaddis in ‘On Grand Strategy’
  • Further we require an awareness of gestalts. More on this later.
  • Luckily, we don’t have to strategise alone. We must remember that no-one has a monopoly on strategy when it comes to social movements. It is the most diverse movements that succeed: ‘One single institution, say, the central planner, cannot aggregate knowledge; many important pieces of information will be missing. But society as a whole will be able to integrate into its functioning these multiple pieces of information. Society as a whole thinks outside the box’ -Naseem Nicholas Taleb in ‘The Black Swan’
  • The above DEMANDS overcoming ‘tribalism in social movements’, encouraging more collaboration and cross-over. Tribalism (natural and in some contexts, healthy) is also exacerbated by the siloed / stratified nature of capitalist society (unnatural).
  • We must realise the importance of knowing everything that is going on at any given time, as far as possible, if it is relevant (and there is not much that isn’t relevant, since everything is interconnected). Such intelligence can be facilitated by secure online software to maximise information gathering and sharing amongst activists.
  • Vitally, ‘soft’ activism (non-direct activism and online activism) can still complement direct action in important ways. In fact soft activism is part of the whole and since people are doing it, it MUST be tied in with all direct action. There must be supportive links made (i.e. suggesting everyone suddenly stop doing soft in favour of ‘hard’ activism is unrealistic, and by collaborating with soft activists, direct activists can also bring more marchers and lobbyers over to the direct action cause.)
  • We are all, must all be activists. A renewed, broad concept of activism is needed to show all global citizens that in some sense they are already activists. It just needs directing and escalating.
  • Well researched strategy must be balanced by utilising and riding current trends and the existing activism scene in its entireity, including solidarity building. Working with what we’ve got, first of all within districts and regions and countries, and then internationally. Moreover there must be room for opportunism and spontaneity which can bring results where over-planning and over-strategising don’t.
  • Leadership culture (leaderful movements) must be balanced by democratic non-hierarchical organisation and experiments in grass-roots and Anarchist organising.
  • Insights from all sectors of society are important and should not be unduly discredited. For instance insights from business leadership study are useful, taken out of capitalist and transferred to activist contexts. E.g. [need to find source of this study] 3 most important aspects of business leadership taken from studying many successful businesses 1) where are you looking to anticipate change? 2) what is the diversity measure of your network? 3) do you have the emotional stamina to withstand criticism from the majority?
  • The global movement of movements that we now need must be intersectional and constantly be working on decolonisation. More on this later.

The intention of Epic Tomorrows is to help facilitate increasing links between all direct action groups and organisations globally, and links between direct and ‘soft’ activism groups and orgs, starting in the UK, mindfully manifesting in a useful way, the insights listed above. This will be done via a mixture of commercial and non-commercial channels, partly according to a model of ‘Transition Business’.