“To defend nature, we must organize” – Greetings from Rojava to the climate movement

by ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ https://makerojavagreenagain.org

As part of a global action day of the climate movement “FridaysForFuture”, also an action in the city of Qamislo in Rojava took place. Together with the city administration of Qamislo, Internationalists from ‘Make Rojava Green Again’ and students of the Rojava University, demonstrated and cleaned up the city.

With banners and shouting slogans, more than 50 students of the Rojava University in Qamislo walked through the city and drew attention to ecological difficulties, from waste in the city to the global climate crisis. With this demonstration the activists took part in the global climate movement FridaysForFuture, which had called for a worldwide action day on the Friday. Besides the students and activists of the city administration, also internationalists of the campaign Make Rojava Green Again took part. On the banners brought along and carried by the students, was written: “To defend nature we have to organize ourselves – system change not climate change”, signed with FridaysForFuture-Rojava.

The slogan brings it to the point: only in a self-organised society, that is able to determine its future outside the logic of capitalist production and inner need to produce and to consume more, will there be a solution of the ecological crises we are facing today. Only in a society, that lives on the values of solidarity, with a holistic understanding of the world, can a future be built.

In the demonstration in Qamislo, Mahir Pir, a history student at Rojava University, emphasized that the way we deal with nature and the cleanliness of cities also reflects the mentality of a society. Cleanliness in daily life, cities, homes and the preservation and defense of nature, is one of the essential things in life.

The students underlined the importance of leading this action as the youth, because in the youth the strength of society lies. Especially in current times, in the global movement for a radical change of the economical and political system, we can see this importance. At the front line of every Friday demonstration, the youth is marching, claiming a future worth living in.

As in the defense of the revolution in Rojava and the Democratic Federation of North East Syria, with the building-up of the democratic system and an ecological society, the revolutionary youth is playing a significant role.

With the action in Rojava on the second global day of action of the climate movement, the activists also sent their warmest and revolutionary greetings to the people on the streets of the world, wished them every success in struggle for a democratic modernity, in harmony with nature.

Drones, Heathrow and non-violence

By Zeeshan Hasan

A few days ago, XR made the headlines for planning to stop Heathrow with drones.

I am finding it difficult to express how disappointed I was by this, especially after having spent a significant amount of time and effort editing the XR blog for the last few months. Like many others, I was drawn to XR precisely because it promised to be a non-violent movement to prevent climate breakdown.

Saying that drones will be flown in a busy airport implicitly threatens violence, just like a mugger who says “hand me your wallet or I will shoot”. There may well be no explicit violence, if the mugged person hands over their wallet; but there is obviously an implicit threat of violence which brought about the action of handing over the wallet. That’s why mugging cannot be called non-violent, and is both immoral and a crime. By the same logic, if airport authorities cancel or postpone flights because of threats of flying drones, they are acting under a threat of violence which is simply immoral and unacceptable on the part of an organisation like XR.

XR should be always claiming the moral high ground of saving all life on earth; it simply cannot threaten violence and maintain this moral high ground. This Heathrow strategy to me is simply the undoing of all that XR stands for.

I hope that XR people reconsider this strategy. For my part, I have to say that I can no longer be associated with a group that would entertain such violent and immoral strategies. This will be my last blog post.

Spring 1987

By James Turner
A silent figure shifts along

Beneath a green and leafy bank,

With in his heart a dreary song

And on his back a plastic tank,

And sprinkles with a deadly rain

The weeds that grow beside the lane;
And in the passing poison shower

Wall pennywort and lords-and-ladies,

Nettle and goosegrass, leaf and flower,

Are chemically despatched to Hades:

Tomorrow any passer-by

May see them sicken, droop and die.
In line against a granite wall

Jack-by-the-hedge stand proud and straight,

But soon they’ll twist like corkscrews, all

In silent protest at their fate.

Our passerby will ask,

“Are these Not victims of some strange disease?
What will the Judge’s verdict be?

The Best-Kept Village contest comes!

In tubs and hanging baskets, see?

Petunias and geraniums:

That’s what the Judge will judge us on.

So, work that lever, silent one.

Spring 2012

By James Turner
In this street nothing grew at all
where pavement meets with churchyard wall,
but while financial markets crash,
here weeds can make a coloured splash.
They root and photosynthesise and cling
where stone and asphalt once were king.
This gum-bespattered world has mellowed,
primrosed, oxford-ragwort-yellowed.
For, since corruption bit the banks,
no men have passed with plastic tanks
of herbicide to spray the weeds
before they bloom and shed their seeds.
More weeds means insects, means more birds—
I’d paint the future green with words!—
but when the money flows again,
they’ll soon return, those dogged men,
with tanks of poison on their backs,
to mount their chemical attacks
on cheekily invasive plants.
Those primroses won’t stand a chance.

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!

Notes from a straggler

By A. S. Arthur

I have nothing to say about the science or news, I can only speak to my own experience. The climate crisis is something beyond words. You’re a reasonable person, likely you already know. I have nothing to say to that.

I was on Waterloo Bridge the night before the police took it back. I was there until quite late. At some point during the night, a group of drunk young Londoners struck up a discussion with the police; when were they going to get rid of us? They wanted to know. The protesters were stupid, wrong, an inconvenience. The police reassured them, agreed loudly: what we were doing was ignorant, pointless. They were going to get rid of us as soon as they could. No need to worry.

I stayed until four AM before leaving alone, unprepared for the cold. Despite the emergency blanket I’d been given I was freezing. I came back the next day to find it entirely cordoned off. A wall of police standing all the way across the street at both ends of the bridge. A friend of mine was up there, locked in under the truck. She was stuck there for hours before it was dealt with. For a while I could still reach her on Signal. She knew she had all our support, all our love. I told her so, while I could. Before the “Message read” notification stopped appearing. Before the police took her phone, took her voice away.

I followed a group of other stragglers back down across Westminster Bridge, through the pressing crowds of tourists, past the dozen shell games in progress to Parliament Square.

The atmosphere in the square was much the same as it had been the day before. Same atmosphere, different people. Those I’d established speaking terms with previously had gone, replaced by fresh faces, a shift change. I wandered about. Listened to the music playing in front of the Supreme Court. Handed flyers out to passers-by under the statues.

It was sunny still, I wanted to keep moving. I found myself on the far side of Parliament Square Garden, standing near a police officer in a blue hi-vis jacket; an intelligence gatherer. The ones you really shouldn’t speak to. I asked him about the night before. Was that just a de-escalation tactic, what the police had done with the drunks? Something they were trained to do; agree with troublemakers, encourage them to move on? He took offence to this. He’s a fully rounded human being, he said. All police are, they have their own opinions about the climate crisis. They can say whatever they want. In fact he agreed with our message, he told me, just didn’t agree with our tactics. That’s something you hear a lot. Everyone seems to agree there’s a climate emergency but our non-violent direct action is taking it too far. I blinked at this. Left him to his own devices. Wandered back across the grass to the lengthening shadows of the statues there. The statues of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Millicent Fawcett. The statues erected by the government and by the people to overlook the Houses of Parliament. To overlook the seat of power. Non-violent direct action is taking it too far? I have nothing to say to that. Some actions speak for themselves.

Poem: To The Echelons Of Power

By Tom Burgess

To the echelons of power, wherever you are
It is not too late to turn, please
play a different role
Another world is waiting to manifest

Wont you pacify the grotesque hubris which has you
funding private escape pods
destined for far off planets
What do you have to offer the mystery of space?
Accept a profound disconnection with your origin and kin
The unfolding caverns of majesty require an imagination
one that goes beyond your sterile lunges for survival
You vampires of the common wealth
Do not build bunkers out of fear and petrol
Give to regeneration
Stop casting the most vulnerable as fodder
May the word collateral choke in your throats

What remains still extends grace towards you
Still the trees suffocated by indifference give oxygen
and the blessing of a raindrop on your skin is a whisper
Do not only hear a warning of scarcity and acid
In that whisper hear hope too
and turn
Join in and work for regeneration