The following 21:07 minute video by Roger Hallam, co-founder of the UK-based Extinction Rebellion (XR), was recorded on April 3, 2019, just a few days before the XR mass participation, non-violent, direct actions planned for April 15 in London’s Parliament Square.
Hallam says there are only three options for Climate Change Action, but that only #3 is a viable option:
1. Traditional campaigning – emails, phone calls, marches, demonstrations – is no longer an option because it has been tried for the past 30 years and it has failed – no reflection on those who participated in these activities. For 30 years, we’ve been doing that and during that time GHG emissions have risen 60%.
2. Violence would be a disaster, as it has always been.
3. Civil resistance– mass, non-violent, direct-action is the only viable option. Hallam outlines the 5 key elements of his Civil Resistance Model. If any one of these elements is absent, the action will be ineffective; no fundamental change will result.
- Mass Participation: There must be thousands of people (5000 – 20,000) – but not millions, millions are not necessary. Thousands of people must be mobilized and brought to the capital.
- Capital City: You have to go to the capital city of the country; that’s where the government is, that’s where the power is. You have to be “under their windows” and disrupt their work.
- Break the Law: There is absolutely no point in doing something for climate change if thousands of people aren’t breaking the law. But it must be non-destructive.
- Do It Day After Day: (This element is most important): disruption must go on for days, if not weeks. One day closing bridges or roads, one march, one demonstration, etc. will not cut it.
- Sustaining Atmosphere: there must be a festive atmosphere during the action. People must be socially, creatively, physically, and psychologically sustained during the action. People must have a good time.
My personal response to this video was very strong, partly because Hallam’s Civil Resistance Model is precisely where my own analysis was leading me.
I believe he is correct about these five elements: they are the sin qua non for effective and consequential action. His analysis helped me see why I’ve felt so much hesitation and emotional turmoil with efforts and actions that do not include all five key elements. Needless to say, my involvement and activities suffer from this uncertainty and hesitation.
Hallam helped me clarify this. He encouraged me to give more respect to my gut-level intuitions in regard to it. Political action for climate change must include all five of Hallam’s key elements: non-violent direct action; mass participation in the power centers of capital cities across the globe; breaking the law and doing it day after day; and broadly sustaining everyone while doing it.
That’s it. There are no other options. Watch the video and see what you think.