Narrative

Existence is Rebellion #1: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

Existence is Rebellion: A Regenerative History of the Universe

by Matthew Crawford 

One: Cosmic Inflation and The Big Bang

The Big Bang -or rather, the cosmic inflation that is now known to have preceded the Big Bang- could have been the original act of rebellion. This was the rebellion of Existence against the Nothing that came before, or for religious people, perhaps this could be described as the rebellion of God against Nothingness or even, the rebellion of God against the unity of Theirself. In the mysterious and unlikely context of this Something, or this Creation, coming out of Nothing, criticisms that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement won’t succeed suddenly seem utterly ridiculous. If the Cosmos exists, seemingly without reason, and if ‘life’ as we know it exists, against all odds, then against lesser odds, XR can succeed.

Yet, if time began at the beginning of the cosmic inflation, then there can have been no ‘before’ the inflation…so the inflation has always existed. If this is the case, there was no rebellion against Nothing, but there was still this massive rebellion against everything that came after. Everything that came after the cosmic inflation was dependent on it, whereas the cosmic inflation was dependent on nothing. The inflation then, whatever the case, is conceptually a rebellion against the Big Bang and everything afterwards. Just as XR is a rebellion against the supposed inevitable extinction of humankind and many other species.

Am I making any sense? No? Good, then I’ll go on…

The cosmic inflation and everything that came ‘after’, in short, the whole of Existence, is also a rebellion against Non-Existence in a different way. In other words, whether there was a beginning of time or not, a starting point to the cosmic inflation or not, everything we know is a rebellion against what could have been, or what could never have been, or what we can’t imagine, or the complete absence of an everything which includes both Nothing and Something.

With me so far? No? Don’t worry, here comes a simple instruction:

Support Extinction Rebellion.

Why? Because you already do. You are already a rebellion against extinction, by your mere existence. Why not manifest that more fully, by rebelling, by existing more fully, now, while you have the life for it? Merely existing is no rebellion against the likely untimely deaths of your grandchildren and their pets.

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #3

Happy New Year? Maybe. How was your festive period? Mine was very low key. Time for me to reflect, read books, do some writing, and finish the first version of my business plan for Epic Tomorrows, which was finally signed off by my government-employed business adviser yesterday (the 28th). Funnily enough, the British government are funding me to develop informational resources which challenge the British government. Email me at epictomorrows@gmail.com if it would be useful for you to have a copy of the plan. Especially if you are vegan or a climate activist. 2019 is a great year to start a business themed around veganism or climate activism. My own flagship business product is explained here.

I’ve also been enjoying continuing my work for Extinction Rebellion (XR) albeit in a more relaxed and sparse way than I have been in recent months. We have a good regenerative culture building within XR, e.g. we encourage each other to take time out and recuperate. I have been enjoying reading about the recent XR BBC blockade action in London. I couldn’t be there myself, but I did take part in the now infamous November 2018 bridge blocks, at which I was arrested. It’s amazing how XR have managed to create atmospheres around their actions which are both edgy, facilitating non-violent direct actions which end in arrests, and also family friendly, often with children contributing to the debate on the microphones. I put this down to the discipline of non-violence which prevails, drawing on the traditions of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

I hope that those of you who are non-vegan but are considering a more plant-based diet will try out ‘Veganuary’ i.e. going vegan for the whole of January. This simple exercise in self-restraint is itself a type of activism and has value on many different levels, from the personal and political to the commercial and environmental. Here’s a website to help you do it.

When it comes to vegan educational resources and campaigns, Viva! are one the forefront organisations (in case you didn’t know).

If you really want to go for it with climate activism in 2019, we are in such a dire emergency now that I would advise you join one of the more radical climate activist groups that have formed in the past two years. For the UK, a good bet is XR. Internationally there are also the options of ‘By 2020 We Rise Up’, ‘This Is Zero Hour’ and ‘We Don’t Have Time’. There are many more resources for vegans and activists which I will be gathering together all in one place in my Well Gathered spreadsheet.

I’m a romantic person, and you could say I have quite a romantic idea of what could happen in 2019 for vegan and climate activists, and hence for the whole of society. We really are in the cow-shit when it comes to climate breakdown and ecological collapse, and unfortunately our short-sighted democracies are just not equipped to take the radical and far-reaching economic, technological and social restructuring measures required. These measures are required to avert an otherwise likely global temperature rise of 4 degrees by the end of the century, a 4 degrees which some scientists and complex systems theorists say is ‘incompatable’ with organised human civilisation as we know it. Does that scare you? It should do! Look here for some good science.

My ‘romantic’ vision is one of massive planetary change, but I dare not go into too much detail here, because all our visions are different, and we need a shared vision of change, for any significant change to happen.

Speaking of romance, I hereby make a call-out to lovely, polyamorous, vegan, climate activist entrepreneur women to even notice me in 2019 and ask me out on a date 🙂 Or if I’m being too fussy, vegetarian, climate activist, polyamorous, and female would be okay. And lovely. I live in the southwest of England. Near Exeter. And sometimes Bristol. Maybe near you sometimes. If you want.

As always everyone, please get in touch with any of your vegan activist and / or climate activist dilemmas. If you are seeking information or advice you can’t find, maybe I can help you (for free I mean). Respond to this post or drop me a line at epictomorrows@gmail.com or send me a voice recording (that would be extra nice, audio content is more human).

To hear my vocal rendering of the spirit of this post, visit Epic Tomorrows on Soundcloud.

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #2

The last few days has been family time. My family are not vegan and they are not activists, but I love them all the same. My mum is proud of my direct action climate activism with Extinction Rebellion (XR). She said something about wishing she had engaged in such activism, but not feeling able to, and being therefore glad that I am engaged instead.

I’m in Somerset, Hatch Beauchamp -the village where my mum and step-dad live. I have a stinking cold. I’m looking back over a year of turbulence. Turbulence in my own life but also in the field of climate science and the politics that is affected by that science. Every now and again I have doubted the mainstream consensus view on anthropogenic global warming, but every time I have read even more deeply into the subject and come out with a renewed conviction that yes, we are (almost) fucked, and yes, it is almost certainly our own doing and therefore yes, we should be rebelling against our governments until they take appropriate action. I’m glad I’m with XR.

Here is an article about a recent piece of information gathering which may be of interest to you, regarding so-called ‘climate tipping points’.

As I gather my thoughts, and gather information for my product-in-development, the Well Hunted, Well Gathered directory for vegan and climate activists, I realise something. It is this: as climate breakdown is a global issue more urgent than any other, affecting absolutely everyone, the response must be a radically inclusive one, which means a non-binary one.

This means that as radical climate activists we must build bridges between all opposing ideologies, identities and groups, in the name of saving humanity itself and the many other species in danger of extinction. This includes building bridges between the religious and the non-religious, between the different religions, between opposing political viewpoints and between vegans and meat-eaters.

It may be up to those of us who are vegans to take the initiative in building bridges with our meat-eating human brethren. I urge all militant vegans to look at the bigger picture here -if we can work together as a species to tackle climate breakdown, then naturally more meat eaters will go vegan. On a scientific level it’s well established that humans need to switch to a more plant-based diet for a sustainable future on Earth, including in response to global CO2 emissions and the paucity of carbon sinks worldwide, with forests cleared by the agricultural industry -particularly meat and dairy- and the growing threat of forest fires.

Practically speaking, the bridges will be built more quickly if vegans set a great example as non-violent direct action activists at the forefront of the climate rebellion -that rebellion that includes XR, that is gathering momentum daily now. As XR has demonstrated, non-violence is the key to success, which includes non-violence in communication. Partly this means, if you want to assure a future for humanity in the long-run alongside a diversity of other species, it’s best you don’t pick fights with meat-eaters (or anyone).

Vegans and climate activists all, it’s time we got our shit together.

 

?You Gather? Vegan & Climate Activism #1

As none of you will know (unless you’re reading this on Facebook) I’ve been involved with some of that there ole climate activism recently (as the Devon elders of my village probably never say). The radical kind that gets you arrested and whatnot. Fridays (today is a Friday) I am now having as ‘regenerative culture’ days, where I fast for most of the day, reflect on groundedness and take a breather from my combined activist-entrepreneur lifestyle. Extinction Rebellion is the non-violent direct action campaign that I am involved with. See the UK page here. On one level it’s a blast. On another level, it’s a very serious business -the most serious thing I have ever been involved with in my life. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is the very good reason behind me neglecting this blog recently.

I don’t regret anything. I have made some great friends in XR, learnt a whole lot about human-caused climate breakdown and I continue to work for the movement, for radical system change in the light of The Evidence of worsening ecological collapse -it’s a good job I’m long-sighted. I support XR even to the point of being arrested in London for peacefully blocking roads with hundreds of others. This is what happened a couple of weeks back.

But now it’s time for me to step back a little, to concentrate on self-regeneration and making a living. If I can’t generate an income for myself, then I can’t afford the luxury of being deeply involved in an activist movement. Not unless I renounced materialism completely, which I’m not prepared to do. My time spent in monasteries in my twenties has given me some good meditation skills and helped cultivate something of a non-attachment to life, but I choose to be materialistic right now, to be able to generate some cash to move about a bit, and maybe even to generate enough eventually, to redirect it to support causes like XR. And I’ll be careful about where and who that income comes from too.

Today, a Friday fast day, I made sure to get some air outside, walking the footpaths of North Tawton village in the biting cold. I enjoyed the bite of both the wind and the hunger pangs which I know strengthen this body for potentially tough times ahead -on the global level which I have strong empathy for.

Earlier, before my walk, I reflected on the product I am building, for a later release now of 29th March 2019. I have been collecting data for this product -a spreadsheet for activists, particularly vegan and climate activists in southwest England- by bookmarking websites. In the midst of this gathering work I realised that the most important kind of gathering is collecting of the self, in this modern society that is full of much opportunity (for some, for the privileged entrepreneur like me) and also so much fragmentation (for most of us). It is the greatest personal, even spiritual, work in modern times to collect everything you need -information, practices, parts of yourself- that may have been rendered inaccessible to you for a long time, or even since forever.

During my activism and reading recently I have encountered problematic dynamics between vegans and non-vegans, and also a lack of comprehensive efforts between vegan and climate movements to join together on some actions and campaigns. I hope that with my upcoming informational product I will gather and curate information in such a way as to encourage climate and vegan activists to work together more. I am vegan myself (usually!), but not militantly. I do empathise with militant vegans, I am just not one of you. If you are one, I would like to support you in getting through to non-vegans, at least non-vegan climate activists, in a diplomatic way.

It may be trite to say ‘We could all do with getting along more’, but it’s true, and I think we will see more co-operation between various environmental activist movements as the global ecological situation becomes more urgent still.

However, we must mindfully gather ourselves together, before attempting to gather others.

Listen to the audio representation of this post on Soundcloud here.

Activist Diary #5

In an hour and a half I board the coach from Exeter to London. Tomorrow I will be in Parliament Square with hundreds, perhaps thousands of others, for the declaration of Extinction Rebellion. Others who, like me, have realised that drastic measures are needed to wake up the governments of the world to the worsening ecological crisis -particularly to climate breakdown.

Of course, as a whole our governments know what is going on. They would rather sacrifice many of our lives than take on the hard and initially unpopular work of global system change that is so needed. If we were in their shoes, of course we would do no better. Changing our politicians within the current system won’t help us respond to this drastic emergency. With compassion and assertiveness, we rebel against our governments, and we do it civilly.

This starts today.

I feel petrified but exhilarated to be travelling to London at this important time. Today I put my habit of social anxiety aside. I must. Today is part of a wider series of events and trends globally that speak of a turning point in modern global history, and the stirrings of a mass mobilisation of people willing to peacefully ‘fight’ for their lives, as well as the lives of other species on this planet.

What we are beginning to witness, what we must help to manifest, are the rumblings of a leviathan of a movement that is projected to be far greater than the mobilisation of the Allied forces during WWII, and more decisive.

So how do I feel? I feel disappointed in humanity that I have to face these days that make me so anxious for myself and deeply fretful about likely future scenarios that my nieces and nephews will be growing into. I feel angry and bitter towards folk in the street that I walk past every day, their apparent obliviousness to what is going on as they consume, consume, consume. I feel angry and sad.

I feel resolute, after spending time with my blood-niece recently, that I will do what I can to help change the course of history at this pivotal time, even if that means being arrested for peaceful direct action, blocking the roads that taken us in the wrong direction for far too long.

I feel resigned to this potentially difficult path of civil disobedience that lies ahead of me. I feel wearied by it ahead of time. But I also feel the stirrings of a warrior within me. That warrior that must awake within me to carry me forward beyond the limited behaviours of my life that have carried me thus far. That warrior spirit that must awake within all of us if we are to truly rise to this deepest challenge of our times.

Once this spirit begins to awaken, joining with others in Extinction Rebellion, there is a great feeling of shared purpose, a joyful and deep purpose, perhaps the purpose we were all born for in these times.

It is this joy I want to share with you. I feel it only in moments, but I suspect that it will grow.

And grow and grow and grow.

Activist Diary #4: Out on a limb

A few days ago I returned from a short trip to the wild west of Cornwall, where I had given two talks on Extinction Rebellion, the activist campaign run by Rising Up! of which I am a member.

Talking first at Penzance, and then at Porthtowan, I was really out on a limb, geographically and psychologically. I had never given the talk alone, and had only once before delivered it (with a co-activist).

It turned out that the whole two-day experience was productive but intensely draining, including a fair degree of psychological exposure and vulnerability, and some criticism absorbed because I wasn’t robust or clear in my thinking enough to rebut it. Criticism that would not have been forthcoming, I feel, if I had been better prepared.

Knowing something of the workings of my mind and the human unconscious in general, even as I was going through the whole experience I understood that I had engineered the situation to be a difficult one for myself, as a toughening experience on the extreme western edge of the UK to prepare me for the campaign ahead.

Even before the first talk which I gave in The Lugger Inn in Penzance, I walked right to the far edge of the beach, away from the shops, and literally ran across the boulders piled up there. Slipping could mean a serious injury or worse, but at the time it was imperative to maintain the highly strung mind-state that I had cultivated for that first talk.

Sat on the far edge of the boulders, I delighted in the company of juvenile gulls and cormorants, and practised the talk a little, reading to a brick wall.

Thankfully the audience at The Lugger turned out to be much more engaging than the wall, but they had a toughness to them; perhaps it was their Cornishness. I knew my talk was successful when a few people walked out during the early minutes of the second half of the talk. They hadn’t disagreed with the science of catastrophic climate breakdown, but when I started talking about the necessary solution of direct action to force governments to enter war-time level mobilisation, to reduce carbon emissions to zero within just a few years, in heated frustration they claimed ‘it can’t be done!’

I was glad to get the sign-ups for the campaign at the end of the talk.

The second night didn’t go so well. I was over-tired, and didn’t manage to give the audience much eye contact. I think this led to a lack of trust, which contributed to the break down of the talk before the end, with interruptions turning into a discussion at the wrong moment i.e. before I had a chance to fully explain myself. I got no sign-ups this second night, but at least we were all in agreement that ‘something needs to be done, and soon’. (I can still maximise the Facebook interest that this event generated).

Getting a lift back to Redruth from the venue with the owner of the Vegan Cornish Pasty Company and her partner, was the highlight.

The Cornish experience overall reminded me that Extinction Rebellion and the science and principles behind it, occupy the extreme edge of intellectual thought in this country, even though our contention is that they should occupy the mainstream of intellectual thought, such is the climate breakdown emergency that we are currently facing.

I was also reminded of the human need or drive to express underlying emotions and preoccupations in unconscious behaviours, which can become more conscious if we let them. Personally, I am becoming increasingly aware of a momentum inside me that wishes to act out the extreme, the wild edge of thought and emotion and behaviour. This need to act out the extreme is a reflection of the generally unexpressed urgency of climate breakdown that I see in the denial of the eyes of the people that surround me.

Activist Diary #3

A few days ago I attended my first anti- badger cull rally, in Exeter, SW England (my nearest city). We marched from Belmont Park and through the town centre, with police escort. We ended up in the central pedestrianised zone of Princesshay.

I enjoyed the badger masks and the painted faces. I enjoyed the feeling of comradery on the march, although I felt a little on the outside. I despaired along with everyone else at the complete lack of science behind badger culling, which has been going on for fifty years. It is not disputed that cattle pass TB (tuberculosis) on to badgers, but there is no evidence that it happens the other way round. One of the speakers at the rally said that if the currently apathetic public knew the truth of what was going on, the truth of the government’s scapegoat policy towards badgers, it would be enough to end the reign of the Conservatives and trigger an emergency general election.

The problem is, the public generally have an ignorant trust of the people in power, whoever those people are. There is a cognitive bias in human beings, myself included, of trusting authority. Whoever is in power, most of us trust that they would not dare to implement a policy of genocide of native species, on no scientific basis, just to keep safe the votes of the farming community as a whole, not all of whom believe the lies they are told about the effectiveness of such culls. The culls are a cynical ploy to unite farmers in favour of the Tory government, and show that the government couldn’t care less about the actual problem of bovine TB, which is better treated by vaccinating farms and introducing stricter hygiene procedures.

For me though, the larger issue has to be climate breakdown. As this article shows, methane from livestock is a contributor to climate warming and thus the climate breakdown that is beginning to reach disastrous levels around the world. Additionally, inefficient farming practices result in nitrogen being released as nitrogen oxide and other greenhouse gases, further contributing to global warming. The use of artificial nitrogen fertilisers is most associated with livestock farming. (Of course, nitrogen is naturally occurring everywhere, but that is not the issue. The issue is an artificial increase in greenhouse gases). Moreover, if we, as a species, ate less meat and dairy, and cared more for the livestock that we did keep, not concentrating them in industrial complexes where diseases like TB spread more quickly and affect more animals, then quite probably the extra inhumanity of badger culls would not be resorted to. The badger culls are a ‘face saving’ measure, hiding the gross effects of industrial farming on animals and the planet.

So I handed out my cards to the cull protesters, for the non-violent direct action (NVDA) I will be engaging in this autumn to pressure the government to act more radically and immediately on climate breakdown. As I did so, I couldn’t help but feel a little frustrated. Badger culling is obviously a horrible practice, but surely the best way to stop it, along with so many other practices damaging to our environment, is to address the umbrella issue of climate breakdown. This wasn’t mentioned by any of the speakers at the rally. One of the demands of Extinction Rebellion of which I am part, is that the government reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025. This would necessarily involve the decline of industrial livestock farming, as well as many other environmentally destructive practices.

I admire the passion and commitment and moral force of the cull protesters I marched with, and how much more of a force for change they would be if every one of them also campaigned, just as strongly, on climate breakdown.

How I Got Here: An Ecopreneur’s Story #4

I burn with a vision for a radically different society, a radically improved one.

I’m so grateful to have these tools of the internet and the personal computer, and this WordPress platform. It’s like magic. I just can’t conceive of what the environmental impact is of these tools. It is probably and conveniently impossible to calculate the environmental impact of one laptop, one window onto the net, one blog site. How many animals killed. How much water polluted. It’s a shame that people like Bill Gates have a vision for a personal computer for every human being on Earth, instead of a community internet cafe (and multifunctional space) for every town, which would be far more sustainable.

****

Whilst still based in my woodland home at Silent Haven, Devon, my entrepreneurial thinking deepened. I don’t know if the wildness of my surroundings contributed to the wildness of my dreams, but I think it did. I developed big dreams, all very egotistical of course, and yet also reflective of my frustration with how the world is, and how much better it could be for everyone -other species included. I have massive dreams for my business, but only because I believe I could help facilitate ‘business to end all business’, in a very literal sense. I do not believe that human beings are governed by market forces, except that we have made it so across most of the globe. It is only by utilising markets as they are, that we can radically change them and to an extent, dissolve them, revealing and renewing those human co-creative forces that have nothing to do with markets and everything to do with evolutionary multi-species-enlightened self-interest.

Nevertheless, we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that it is only not-for-profit and non-business areas of society that have a monopoly on human wisdom, ingenuity, excellence in communication and co-operation, and even ‘love’. Both Adam Smith and Karl Marx reduced human beings to economic actors. An unfortunate result of classical / dogmatic Marxist thinking (notwithstanding Marx’s great contribution to history) has been a neglect amongst leftists of the great creative potential in human beings to create all kinds of diverse economies based on local, including environmental, needs, as opposed to centralised power structures. Both classical Marxism and Smithsonian economics presuppose a centralised state. The centralised state has allowed the rise of massive corporations, and all their implied unethical ways of being, essentially their environmental impact. In modern times we need ecopreneurs just as much as activists -ethical and ecological entrepreneurs, to break down the intertwined power of state and corporation, to create local and diverse economies. For the Marxists, I would like to suggest to you that this is the best and most grounded path towards socialism. With the right technologies employed and shared, local diverse economies could indeed give rise to ‘scientific socialism’, (although not necessarily in every locality) as Abdullah Ocalan calls it, as opposed to the ‘real socialism’ that we have suffered through history.

-As I deepened my interest in business, I started to read some good business books -books for the independent entrepreneur. I realised that the modern business world, if isolated in environmental context, is full of genius. Genius of logic, strategic thinking, communication skills, envisioning techniques, creative organisational structure and so on. But much more than this: the world of business, especially the world of creative independent entrepreneurs, contains some passionate, loving people, who genuinely want to share their passion and knowledge and love for the world. Yes, they make a living from their creative mission, but hopefully these people would also be facilitated in their joy and innovation in scientific socialist and localised diverse economic contexts, with a greater respect for ecology all round.

One book I read was ‘The Lean Start-up’ by Eric Ries. The key lesson I learnt from this book is the importance of envisioning (visualising and emotionally connecting with) what you want to achieve with any business, and the importance of pivoting, i.e. changing direction with the precise business model and / or product(s) it takes to realise the vision. Before reading this book, I was in danger of confusing product or current business model, with overall vision for change, and thus thinking that my vision had failed whenever a product idea (actually website idea) failed (which was all of them, all the time).

Another entrepreneur’s book I read early on was ‘The 100$ Start-up’ by Chris Guillebeau.  More than anything this taught me that many people (in the industrialised world) are capable of being an entrepreneur (if connected to the web), and in this context that almost anyone can be a consultant on something they are knowledgeable on or passionate about. The book also taught the concept of ‘just in time’ learning, meaning, it is possible to be engaged on a path of learning whereby you share your knowledge with customers as soon as you learn it, rather than thinking you have to get a degree in something before sharing and capitalising on your knowledge.

I also read the well-known ‘Influence: The Power of Persuasion’ by Robert Cialdini, but to be honest I found this book on marketing technique unsettling and a little dishonest.

Let me reassert, I understand that the modern globalised system of capitalism that we live with is an obsolete and destructive system which must be transformed and dismantled by varying degrees, and without delay. I understand that books like ‘The Lean Start-up’ and ‘The $100 Start-up’ are products of a few privileged minds that are invested in the current prevailing paradigm, and that rely on centuries of oppression of human beings and the planet, and are intertwined with continued oppression, however ‘ethical’ they are in places. But I cannot claim to be any less intertwined with oppression. Unless I throw my laptop away, throw away my connection to the internet, and live very frugally in a monastery-like setting, whether I like it or not I am a symptom and cause of the prevailing paradigm. My personal way of taking responsibility for that is to be a subversive entrepreneur, to draw capital to me from the middle classes and redistribute it for social and ecological justice. This is my intention, my vision.

-At one point I contacted a place that gives free business advice in Okehampton. I passed by them an idea for an ecologically-themed online directory. I was asked, ‘how are you going to compete with Google?’ and my answer was that people don’t always know what they are looking for with search engines -my directory would curate information and guide sustainable behaviour. I didn’t pursue this idea at the time, partly because I was put off by the official nature of the feedback I received, which was in terms of SWOT (the supposed strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats model of business planning). Classic SWOT doesn’t really work for me, although I think I use the concept implicitly in a more lateral way in everything I do now.

During this period of taking on a more entrepreneurial mindset, allowing space for my vision to grow, I managed to live quite frugally, partaking in scraps of part-time work here and there, and living rent-free in an ‘unlawful’ self-built dwelling in the woods. I would encourage anyone to do this, if on a careful and ecologically sound basis. The laws of the state are of course, no measure for what is sustainable behaviour for the continuance of our species.

I still feel like ‘I’m not businessy enough’. I have been conned by the business world into thinking that because I dress scruffily and ideally wish to live in a borderless and relocalised world, I can never be an entrepreneur, much less a CEO. The business elites of the status quo quite rightly feel threatened by my vision.

I say to you that we need to throw off the shackles of the stereotypes of the business person and the entrepreneur once and for all. Yes, this has been happening for a while now, but not in the radical way that I envision.

Now more than ever we need an army of super-ethical ecopreneurs, breaking down the environmental impact and excessive power of the large corporations and the state, liberating capital to flow more freely to where it is needed, and supporting the creation of buzzing localised economic hives, with a radically re-worked concept of ‘profit’, equated with enriching one community without disadvantaging another.

@ExtinctionRebellion (Activist Diary #2)

The talk will be of national rebellion tomorrow at the third Exeter Rising Up! meeting in the community centre on Sidwell Street. I’m proud to have started the Exeter Rising Up! branch, and keen to get on with organising for Extinction Rebellion.

It seems to me that it is almost pointless, by now, to try to convince the general public about the more-than-likely coming climate catastrophe, by using science and careful, reasoned debate. It seems to me that the evidence is obvious to anyone who has the psychological and emotional resilience and readiness to act on it. So this is what I call on you to do -to act. The reason that so many of us have not acted before now is a feeling of powerlessness in the face of potentially threatening government institutions -the worst being that the government threatens to do relatively nothing about climate breakdown.

I would call it a reasonable supposition rather than a conspiracy theory that the most attractive strategy of the ruling elites over the coming decades may be to let us, ‘the masses’ die off in our millions, nay billions, so that they alone may inherit the Earth. Do they imagine that they will be protected by bubbles of advanced technology from the worst of climate breakdown? Well, perhaps they would be protected. Do we allow that gross solution, that wilful holocaust of 90% of the human race, to happen? Of course we don’t.

I used to think that activism, including non-violent direct action, was useless in achieving change. I used to smugly watch on television, activists being bundled into police vans or barricaded. However, since getting involved in the #VoteNoHeathrow campaign with Rising Up! this summer, I realised that disparate activist groups can work simultaneously on the same issue, alongside others using conventional channels such as Parliament, to achieve real change. Although the third Heathrow runway was voted through Parliament on the heels of our campaign, in reality the strength of support for #VoteNoHeathrow shows that the runway is unlikely to be built. Especially considering Extinction Rebellion.

Extinction Rebellion is an escalation of Rising Up’s general stance against the government’s inaction on slowing and ceasing carbon emissions. #VoteNoHeathrow continued where #StopKillingLondoners left off, and @ExtinctionRebellion is the next logical step. Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an escalating campaign culminating in significant infrastructure blocks, including road blocks, this November in London and potentially other cities. At least 100 of us now have signed up for arrest. By calculated non-violent direct action (we are well-trained) we will deliberately put ourselves in positions of illegality to draw attention to the immorality of the government and the international community of elites, on climate breakdown. We will be arrested and some of us may be locked up for a time. If this is what it takes, we reason, to put climate breakdown at the centre of the government’s agenda, then so be it. And if XR 2018 is not enough to do it, XR 2019 and 2020 will be.

#VoteNoHeathrow (Activist Diary #1)

A few days ago, on the coach back to Exeter from London, there was a point southwest of Bristol at which the coach had almost emptied and green and yellowed plains, punctuated by lines and huddles of shrub and tree, opened out on the left hand side of the M5 motorway. At this point, my body and mind relaxed tangibly and at once. I breathed deeply and felt satisfied that I had braved out the last few days in London, called there by a non-violent direct action (NVDA) campaign run by Rising Up. (www.risingup.org.uk).

Nothing else at this moment in my life could have called me to London. I find Bristol city challenge enough after living a rural existence these past few years, very sensitive as I am to the built environment and the psychogeography of moving crowds, their unconscious desires, my identity existentially threatened by sheepiness and strong individuals alike.

But Bristol is a fine city, as far as cities go, being as they are intrinsically problematic, ecologically. A few weeks ago, anxious for new forms of society in my life, eager to make up for years of ‘social phobia’ and social trauma, I came across an activist group on Facebook (which does have its uses) -‘Rising Up’. I soon met some of these fine people in a house in Easton somewhere. We shared good food and discussed the other world that is possible. Or rather, we discussed how to challenge this world more effectively.

A couple of weeks and a meeting or two later and I am on a coach to London to engage in my first NVDA (not that I’ve been involved in a violent one). Namely, hunger striking for 24 hours, and potentially longer, outside the Labour HQ on Victoria Street to help put pressure on Labour MPs to vote against the third Heathrow runway proposals, due to finally go through parliament (after earlier government approval) in the coming few days. Why? Because a third Heathrow runway is a contribution to climate breakdown, habitat destruction, the global rich-poor divide and leaden guilt in the collective human soul.

There were a good fifteen or twenty of us sat in a row hunger striking on Saturday June 9th, including Rising Up activists, local Heathrow residents and members of the experimental ‘Grow Heathrow’ land-based project occupying where Heathrow wants to covet. We received some good press coverage, including from The Guardian, and independent media providers Undercurrents and Real Media. Far from being a socially anxious shivering wreck as nightmarish projections might have me believe I would be, I enjoyed the feeling of solidarity with my new comrades and the chance to actually influence government policy (along with all the other fine campaigners from other groups protesting the third runway, who weren’t present with us). I also enjoyed people-watching. Sitting on the pavement for a few hours was the ideal opportunity to view all manner of human being, and sleek motor-vehicles with Middle Eastern flags crawling down the street.

Playing our cards a little wild, hearing that John McDonnell the Shadow Chancellor might not meet us the next day if we hung around outside Labour HQ, we hot-footed it to the union Unite building a few blocks away, parked ourselves, chanted and felt our emotional momentum rising as we protested the ridiculousness of Unite (and anyone) supporting a grossly unsustainable project just because it ‘creates jobs’. Afterall, wars create jobs. In the middle of the day I slipped off down a side street to get some water. I found a cute refined gallery-cafe in the bricked terrace, exhibiting modern (or post-modern?) Afro-Carribean, or African (or I’m not sure) art. Large paintings entitled ‘Fragility #1’, ‘Fragility #4’ etc, of gorgeous black women in colourful wrap around dress, and all featuring little porcelain Captain Cooks in the background. Fearful of being in the city as I was, and not dressed proper, and fragile to get back to the frontline, I could not express my appreciation. Shame, but nevertheless I emerged with water from the gallery-cafe waitress, victorious.

Turning our backs on Captain Cook, the Texan-Oil mentality of Heathrow and the dusty roar of plastic progress, we arrived at what would be our dwelling, meeting place, tea-drinking place and spiritual commune over the next few days, believe it or not, an anarchist-Catholic chapel and boarding house in Haringey. To the Catholic Workers there we are ever grateful.

In the evening, feeling like it was some macho test to stay up and watch the film (but that was all in my head) and I’m glad I stayed awake to soak in the Freedom Riders, of segregation-era America. ‘If they did that, which they did, we can do this, we can do so much more than this.’ The omnipotence of non-violence. Wholly applicable. Wholy.

The first night sleeping in the chapel, on the hard floor, my dreams were manic and pained. I was threatened by dark elements of the public and also by mysterious Arabs, (like Qatar investing in Heathrow). My demons fast purged, chapel purged?

The next day Sunday my friend Patti arrived and took some sketches of moments of us being human. See them here, and top of post. The weather was changeable but our spirits remained high. It was the Queen’s birthday one of these days, I couldn’t care less which, but troop-carriers and red arrows flying overhead were like some grand and ominous sign, a reflection of the weight and fire in us activists, but the waste and pyre of this state we live in. McDonnell on the periphery, meeting us or one of us.

[Oil flowing through London’s streets. Exhausted cars and polyester sweaters. Buildings in flames. Children in flames, toddling along oblivious.]

**(*)

Then some of us left, bravest warriors to return to oil-drenched lives, and brave of us left to sit in oil, to carry on with no food, no air-freighted oil inside us at least -our guts were rather dry for the fight, the non-violent fight of the days ahead -we fasted. Little had I realised that we would be working as we not-ate, notating comms to dispatch to MPs and to the leviathans of the Queenly British press, and the indie (hard) pressed outlets, and anyone we could fucking get hold of.

Over the next few days, the London Underground, the blunder-thunder-round, the not-so-merry climate-bound, carrying hunger-strike placards and sticks, balancing banners, convening in cafes and on street corners, Roger-and-Simon led by their greater experience, deciding where to double-strike next. On Wednesday in the lobby of the House of Commons, some of us laid down to die. We hadn’t had enough -not quite yet -actually not by a long stretch of red chalk. I filmed some of it, and tried again and again, thwarted by a bored security guard. At first Robin shouted, shouted the threat, any shout an understatement of threat, even in the Houses of Parliament, of the climate catastrophe that could well await us. He was led out, as usual, used to police escorts by now. Clare was gone, procuring red chalk paint etc for some mischief on the morrow’s morrow.

**(*)

That evening, on the Wednesday, I broke my fast with some wonderful hummous in a Turkish restaurant down the road from our digs. Quite appropriately, the megalomaniac Turkish president Erdogan did not cross my mind. I do wonder how much carbon is embedded in the arms that Theresa May sells him at all our expenses, and at the expense of the Kurdish people of Eastern Turkey and Northern Syria whom he oppresses.

As I travelled back home the next day, the remaining hunger-strikers travelled to Scotland to do this.

So thanks to all my new activist friends -due to the structure and vision of Rising Up, I now realise that NVDA can make a difference, has made a difference and will continue to make a difference.

Please urge your MP to #VoteNoHeathrow. Please spread the message of #VoteNoHeathrow and visit our social media pages for exciting videos and updates of our very necessary actions in this age of doublethink, ecocide, and the willful genocide of our children and grandchildren by political elites.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/votenoheathro/

Twitter: @VoteNoHeathrow

(Thank you to Roger, Simon, Clare, Ian, Ian’s-lovely-partner-whose-name-I’ve-forgotten, Robin, Jenny, Richard, Stuart, Calum, Annie [Grow Heathrow], Sibi, Cam, Marcha, Gwen, Christian, Jeremy [Green Party], Amy, Randell, Zoe from Undercurrents, Rikki from Real Media, Luka, Indie, Willow, Frieda and anyone I’ve forgotten)