Organisations like Extinction Rebellion are seeking a radical alternative to government inaction. Is there any way to rebuild trust?by India Bourke / December 3, 2018 / Leave a comment
“People gonna rise like water; shut this system down,” sung activist Eliza Kenyon during the Extinction Rebellion protest in Whitehall the other weekend. Her voice was so lyrical that it drew comment from the line of police guarding the Downing Street gates. “She was quite a good singer!” one officer commented to his colleague as Kenyon passed by, holding her placard.
A far cry from the blazing protests against fuel tax rises in France, Britain’s new resistance movement is reassuringly gentle. Over the course of November, London’s road blockades have been accompanied, not by fire, but by performance art and marching bands.
Yet Extinction Rebellion’s soft approach to direct action belies a radical core. Their central demands stretch from averting climate breakdown to political reform. The most interesting, perhaps, is the demand to introduce a randomly selected “Citizen’s Assembly” to oversee the transition to a green economy.
“By necessity these demands require initiatives and mobilisation of similar size and scope to those enacted in times of war,” states an accompanying declaration, “We do not, however, trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve this.”
The potential here for an outright rejection of the current system of government seems real. At an Extinction Rebellion press event in early November, one speaker painted the climate crisis as a crisis of democracy: “Politicians will probably lead us down…