XR – Where Next?

By Chris Taylor

What a beautiful rebellion we have conjured. What a beautiful vision of care and compassion, regeneration and community. We lived it. We breathed it – in London and in places across the world as we flexed our muscles in International Rebellion.

And returning to our daily lives, fractures are starting to appear within the movement. Cracks that reveal tensions and differences. These are to be welcomed, embraced, for they reveal tender places that we need to give attention to. How we deal with them will shape whether the movement grows and flourishes.

We have the potential to reveal a pathway to a new version of human society. If we hold to our vision of a world beyond climate chaos and species extinction and if we act out of our values of regeneration and renewal we have the opportunity to pick up from where Occupy, The Arab Spring and Standing Rock have brought us. We have the chance to be the next wave lapping at the shores of a regenerative world.

So what about these fractures in the movement? How do we best deal with them? I have seen four in particular that I feel deserve our attention.

  1. Burn Out. I have seen many of my friends and fellow rebels return from London exhausted and washed out. Perhaps this is inevitable. We partied hard. We saw a chance and threw ourselves at it. Yet, if our culture is truly regenerative, maybe we are missing something.

It has taken us two thousand years to get to the brink of civilisation collapse. Rome will not be dismantled in a day. Let’s pace ourselves. It’s time to let go of the need as individuals to “make a difference”. This is the voice of ego and it leads to burn-out. Only “we”, the movement can create change. So let’s ensure we are deeply sharing power amongst us, passing the baton back and forth in a continual relay. And when we have time to rest, let’s do it well so we can return with energy afresh.

  1. Inclusion. There have been challenges, particularly from people of colour, recommending what we need to do to be more inclusive. It is of the utmost importance that we respond positively and deeply to these challenges. The global system that is destroying the Earth is built on empire, colonisation and patriarchy. Social inequalities and environmental destruction go hand in hand. All the evidence from history suggests that as social inequalities widen, environmental destruction accelerates.

Unless we dismantle the intricate structures of oppression that have silenced the majority of humanity, we will not save the planet. We will become just one more minority interest group trying to impose its will on the world. Only the radical inclusion of the colonised and marginalised will bring into the movement the wisdom and humility needed to live in harmony with the whole of existence. It is our work to do. It is not something separate from why we are here.

  1. Business. Controversy arose within XR when a group of entrepreneurs formed XR Business. Many were offended by this, saw it as opportunist or out of alignment with who we are. Others took a position arising out of economic analysis: capitalism is destroying the world so business cannot easily become part of the movement. All of these concerns are valid. Given our current situation we are right to be a little suspicious.

At the most fundamental level, the disintegration of our current form of economics is essential in achieving our three core goals. When the leading edge of concerned business breaks ranks and reaches out we would do well to hold them in the embrace of tough love. There is much that business must make amends for, much damage it must heal. And only a regenerative approach will hold them to this task. Those of us who have done the inner work, faced into grief and despair are well placed to hold others to the reality of what they have done. Who else will do it?

The success of all non-violent movements has come when they have been able to mobilise a mass of people AND hold a mirror up to the people who hold positions of power within the old system. Some of these people will crack. When enough do, pressure from the mass takes on a new power. This needs to be our approach to business – tough love and safe spaces to allow those at the leading edge to acknowledge the wrongs of the past.

  1. Strategy. This is less a fracture, and more an ongoing field of discussion. How do we maintain momentum?  How do we achieve maximum impact? How do we achieve our goals – not only here in the UK but globally? This is no easy task. And like all complex tasks it will take time to realise. While we feel the urgency of the situation we would do well to sit for a moment with the not-knowing of how next to proceed. Anything we do precipitously will be at best ineffective and at worst counter-productive. It risks adding to our sense of exhaustion.

I have heard many wise and considered voices within the Circle of Counsel exploring how to proceed: “Come back different”, “Go to the places where climate emergency is felt most already”, “Go to the belly of the beast – the financial heartland”. All of these feel like tactics worth integrating into a strategy based on building momentum and undermining the Pillars of Power.

How exactly we stitch them together is not yet clear. What I do know is that we must hold tight to our values of non-violence, compassion and regeneration. Whatever we do must bring us as individuals, as Affinity Groups and as a movement to a renewed sense of our our vigour, our own agency and our own interdependence with all that surrounds us. This is the path to the world we are seeking to birth.

As we move forward let’s remember something profound about the work we have decided to undertake. At one level this movement is about tackling climate chaos. At another it is about stopping the extinction emergency that is facing not only humanity but one million species across the planet. At another level still, it is about completely reinventing what it means to be human.

Unless we are able to create mindsets, behaviours, communities, organisations, societies that recognise our complete and total interdependence with the living planet we will not succeed at even the first level. This is why regeneration is so crucial a part of who we are. It must guide our every thought and our every action.

Onward in compassionate rebellion!

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5 thoughts on “XR – Where Next?

  1. The key issues are a) to mobilise more support by engaging with people ‘on the ground’, eg community events, in which we explain to people what the future will look like and what a more prosperous future will look like and how to get there (practical day-to day steps, eg see Engineering and Technology magazine for April 2019 which has a photo essay on community based plastic recycling initiatives) . I suggest ‘Prosperity Without Growth’ 2nd edition 2017 by Tim Jackson as essential reading ( The Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded a number of projects back in 2014 on this theme which might be worth a look). b) Frankly recognise that Government intervention is critical to avert disaster (both local and national, and international), so , as much as it might not sit comfortably with your current strategy , there has to be a political dimension in the sense that you have to achieve representation within the decision making bodies. Currently the Green Party are the only option, although Labour might just be influenced but I’m not sure they are ready to drop the growth imperative just yet!!

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    1. Thanks Charlie for taking the time to read and comment. I can’t disagree with your suggestions! It feels like we need action on all fronts – and to do it without causing even more burn out amongst ourselves and our allies.

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  2. Hi Chris,
    I joined XR because I agree the 3 demands and the aim to get the UK government to accept them. There are many “issue groups”, the XR demands in my view need addressing before the “issues”.
    The government has to declare a climate emergency – without this any progress is so much harder.
    Since the campaign in April there has been so much coverage of so many issues, I am concerned XR is losing focus.
    (Lots of businesses failed through expanding too quickly.) The other issues people are concerned about are real and do need addressing but only AFTER the government declares an emergency.
    FOCUS…
    Follow
    One
    Course
    Until
    Successful.

    Regards
    Rob Cooper,
    Plymouth

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  3. My view is that we need the business model to evolve. We’ve always traded with each other ever since different groups of humans encountered each other. the rise of the new B Corporations (in the states at least) is a step in the right directions, as well as the co-op movement etc.

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  4. XR does need the business model, but only thru world-scale, green co-op joint ventures. Here’s one vision: 1st World green companies, billion-dollar Climate Funds, and ethanol producers in Brazil, USA and India form joint ventures with co-ops in the 3rd World tropics that will set up medium scale ethanol distilleries fed by sweet sorghum farms all over the entire sun-drenched region. The projects should quickly spread out due to trust in producer-partners’ long experience, Fund loans at 75% project cost, and gross profit above 50%, which means ability to repay loans and issue dividends to corporate partners and co-op members on perpetual basis. All the while, co-ops tropics-wide being all employee-owned will address wealth disparities and create billions of jobs, thus forming massive markets that will attract more companies into the ‘messianic’ bandwagon. Other potential high-profit green joint venture prospects include (for the Philippines): agroforests, mini hydropower nets, geothermal plants, forest resorts, agroforest biofuel, E85 transports, electric vehicles, etc. Historically, 1st World joint ventures built 3rd World elites. Green joint ventures should now begin to help raise the world’s entrepreneurial grassroots as well, especially in the 3rd World.

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