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“Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate” says one of its founders

“I’ve been with Extinction Rebellion (XR) from the start”, Stuart Basden explains.

And for the sake of transparency: that previous paragraph is all about me ‘pulling rank’ — I’m trying to convince you to listen to what I have to say…

And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

As Europeans spread their toxicity around the world, they brought torture, genocide, carnage and suffering to the ends of the earth. Their cultural myths justified the horrors, such as the idea that indigenous people were animals (not humans), and therefore God had given us dominion over them. This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people. The coming of the scientific era saw this intensify, as the world around us was increasingly seen as ‘dead’ matter — just sitting there waiting for us to exploit it and use it up. We’re now using it up faster than ever.

Euro-Americans violently imposed and taught dangerous delusions that they used to justify the exploitation and reinforced our dominance, while silencing worldviews that differed or challenged them. The UK’s hand in this was enormous, as can be seen by the size of the former British empire, and the dominance of the English language around the world.

This article is a year old, but someone on the UK Politics subreddit called “WhereHasCentrismGone” posted it with the comment that it made the now rescinded decision by the police to include Extinction Rebellion in a list of extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent anti-terrorism programme seem more reasonable. I think it was out of order for the police to put XR on a terrorism watch list – their stunts annoy but are not violent – but we should be grateful to Mr Basden for reminding us that XR should be avoided by anyone who seriously wants to protect either the environment or their own mental health, seeing as the organisation is an anti-scientific cult fuelled by the neurotic self-hatred of privileged dilletantes in rich countries.

24 comments to “Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate” says one of its founders

  • Stonyground

    Am I to take it that those indigenous people were living an idyllic and peaceful life before Europeans arrived? Or would their lives be more like the scenes that I see when I’m being chugged by my telly?

  • CaptDMO

    “…the organization is an anti-scientific cult fueled by the neurotic self-hatred of privileged dilettantes in rich countries”
    How far away is it from (eg) Communist countries with dictators finding they have too many mouths to feed, too many subjects to “control”, only to use some semi-arbitrary metric to denote which 50% is to be headed to the culling fields?

    Wars, and World wars, tend to thin out a suitable crop of Yang thinking males of “fighting age” (and pending fighting age), from the wrong thinking demographic of the “righteous” home country as well.

    IMHO, XR simply makes for yet ANOTHER “historical moral justification” for the easily duped, Dunning-Kruger equipped, arm chair soldiers to garner pretty, philosophical, campaign “leadership” ribbons.

  • GregWA

    It’s as though we as a culture have forgotten how to treat someone who stands up in class, or on the street corner, or in Parliament and says something blindingly stupid. Their stupidity was not put into the news (editors would, you know, “edit”), was not responded to (why bother). If there was any responding thought given it was probably along the lines of “don’t they realize how stupid they are?”

    Those of you old enough, what is your recollection of how such things, if uttered/written at all, were dismissed 50 years ago? And why doesn’t that work now? Is it as simple as we have now raised a couple of generations of youngsters who are so indulged and entitled that they boldly and blindly proclaim their stupidity?

    Of course, our challenge in ignoring or countering them is made harder by the politics: these are useful idiots pushing the right agendas and so they have backing of various kinds. But that aside, might the old ways of sidelining such stupidity (think Greta) still have some effect?

  • NickM

    Well if the Bertram Blunt came round my gaff I’d string him up with fish hooks by the scrotum and eyelids and leave him for the jackdaws. With his gob gaffer-taped so his shrieks of agony would be through his nose.

    That is a heavily redacted version of what I really want to do someone who has declared war upon my entire species and feels self-righteous about it.

  • Some clown who has never heard of the Mongol, Turkish, Persian or Han Empires apparently. They were not spread with love & good will. Also doesn’t know much about the Aztecs or Comanches either I am guessing 😆

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Those of you old enough, what is your recollection of how such things, if uttered/written at all, were dismissed 50 years ago? And why doesn’t that work now? Is it as simple as we have now raised a couple of generations of youngsters who are so indulged and entitled that they boldly and blindly proclaim their stupidity?”

    People said equally stupid things 50 years ago, and were believed. It’s just that they were *different* stupid things.

    The difference between now and then is the particular set of stupid things it is fashionable to believe. Old people with the older beliefs can’t believe the stupidity of the young, because the new beliefs are crazy. The young equally well can’t believe the stupidity of the old, because the old beliefs were equally crazy. And of course, some of the old stupid beliefs are still believed today by the young. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Paul Ehrlich wrote ‘The Population Bomb’ in 1968, 52 years ago, and was widely believed – in exactly the same way Climate Change is believed today. It drove international policy. It was the talk of the smart set, and every schoolchild *knew* that industrial civilisation and much of the natural world was doomed to imminent destruction by population-driven famine, ecological apocalypse, deforestation, pollution, and resources running out. It was less controversial then than Climate Change is now. 52 years ago, the generation currently claiming now to be so wise and sensible was sat around in ‘happenings’ saying things like ‘Make Love Not War’ and ‘Ban the Bomb’ and growing their hair long and smoking dope and singing hippy songs, and being just as stupid. Humans are human. We’re all the same.

    “They took all the trees
    Put ’em in a tree museum
    And they charged the people
    A dollar and a half just to see ’em.”

  • Stonyground

    And you tell me
    Over and over and over again my friend
    Ah, you don’t believe
    We’re on the eve of destruction.

    No, I don’t believe it, you were wrong then and you are wrong now.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Has everyone read the classic Doomslayer? If that doesn’t persuade people that things are the same now as they were 50 years ago, I don’t know what will.

  • George Atkisson

    NickM.

    That would make an excellent instructional and cautionary video.

  • Agammamon

    This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people.

    If, over the course of 600 years, Europeans had managed to kill tens of millions they would still be far short of the record of the Russians or Chinese in the 20th century alone.

  • Tedd

    I was going to reply to GregWA but I couldn’t do it better than Nullius in Verba did.

    I would like to add, though, that GregWA made a good point about editing. Fifty years ago almost anything that was available to read or watch was edited in some manner. As we all know, that was a double-edged sword because the benefit of more readable prose (and often even actual fact checking) came at the cost of potentially biased filtering. But it did tend to attenuate the spread of the most ridiculous ideas.

  • Chester Draws

    His history sucks — colonialisation didn’t really start 600 years ago — but it particularly egregious in one specific example.

    Their cultural myths justified the horrors, such as the idea that indigenous people were animals (not humans), and therefore God had given us dominion over them. This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people.

    Western colonialism was predicated on Christianity. Which has a core doctrine that all people are equal.

    Real life human beings often don’t live up to the values of their purported faith, but it is total BS to claim that the doctrine of the European colonists was genocide.

    There were a few examples of actual genocide (e.g. some bits of Australia) but if the Europeans had wanted to wipe out the coloured folks, they could have. They didn’t, because they never wanted to.

    When the Greens are perfect, they can lecture us about being perfect. But as we see many examples of hypocrisy and greed in their ranks, I’ll pass on the being lectured to, thanks.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I think it was out of order for the police to put XR on a terrorism watch list – their stunts annoy but are not violent”

    I suspect they’re a front group primarily directed at recruiting new blood. Get people started in activism shading into illegality, work on them by embedding them in a culture of revolutionary fervour, leading them deeper into the beliefs, and at the same time vet them for signs of them being police infiltrators. And those few who reach the far side of XR where non-violent tactics no longer seem enough, recruit them to other more underground organisations.

    XR originated as part of the ‘Rising Up!’ network of activists, a campaign group for ‘Compassionate Revolution Ltd’ which in turn rose from the less successful ‘Occupy’ movement. Their legal advice was until recently provided by Green and Black Cross, an offshoot of Anarchist Black Cross and Black Flag, who are basically a support group for revolutionary communists chucked in prison for their activities. (GBC dropped them because XR weren’t following the advice, and GBC thought what they were doing was dangerous.) Some of Greta’s friends appear to be supporters of Antifa. XR appear to be intended as a ‘gateway drug’ to revolutionary socialism.

    I agree they shouldn’t be classed as terrorists (although technically the definition fits). But they are a group that the security services are going to want to keep an eye on, as a likely recruiting ground for more extreme revolutionary left-anarchist groups. ‘Extremist’ yes, ‘terrorist’, no. https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Extremism-Rebellion.pdf

    “If, over the course of 600 years, Europeans had managed to kill tens of millions they would still be far short of the record of the Russians or Chinese in the 20th century alone.”

    Communism was a European invention – a product of European culture. (I’m pretty sure that’s not what the author is talking about, though!) You have to recognise the bad bits along with the good bits.

  • I suspect Stuart Basden thinks toxic white people invented the previously unknown institution of slavery just a few centuries ago. I’m not sure by whom he thinks it was made rare in today’s world.

  • David Norman

    NIV. I don’t think your paragraph about ‘The Population Bomb’ is right. I wondered whether its ideas, and those in ‘Silent Spring’ might be right but I didn’t worry about it and nor did anyone I knew. We certainly weren’t educated to believe these doom stories. The idea that in the sixties most young people did nothing except idle their time away, have sex, smoke pot and actually believe what Joni Mitchell was rabbiting on about is a myth. And no, not all humans are the same, thank goodness.

  • Agammamon

    Communism was a European invention – a product of European culture.

    Certainly – but it was the people who put it into actual practice that dwarfed the death toll from the history of European colonialism in a single lifetime.

    Europeans were mostly smart enough not to actually try it themselves.

  • No sooner does Natalie post this than the Grauniad posts this:

    Fifty years ago, I concluded that the best thing for the planet would be a peaceful phase-out of human existence.

    The article is headlined

    I campaign for the extinction of the human race

    and the article is immediately followed by a Grauniad-editor footer panel, which starts

    As the climate crisis escalates the Guardian will not stay quiet

    50 years ago, the Grauniad pushed the population bomb garbage very hard indeed (maybe they helped sell it to the article’s writer) but, in order to help sell it, would (if I am recalling correctly – anyone know different?) have avoided that headline.

    So I cautiously offer the suggestion that back then, the nuts tried to edit the nuttier nuts lest the latter hurt the cause, whereas today things like ‘cancel culture’ and ‘roll left and die’ get in the way of such editing.

    I offer the suggestion cautiously because I think 1970 had a lot of crazy. Maybe it was indeed no different in general, and this is just the specific difference between a newish climate cult back then and an older, more rancid one now.

  • Runcie Balspune

    600 years of colonialism

    The current mode of Euro-American capitalism honestly believes what happened 600 years ago was wrong, or even 60 years ago.

    Many cultures do not believe what they did in the past was “wrong”, many attempt to reinstate the old ways and suffer the pains instead of modernism, there are isolated individuals in western cultures that also believe this, but they are of no consequence.

    ISIS was a movement intended to bring the Arab culture of 7th century back to life, communists think the the glorious 1920s were the place to be, Maoists and Chavismos clamour for the 1950s, and Jeremy Corbyn loves the unionised 1970s (or any time pre-Thatcher).

    I would doubt very much that XR followers believe anything but a forward looking culture who trusts it can do better, instead their proposals are a throw back to a time when they, foolishly, believe the humans had less impact on the environment, and would be much worse than any of the massacres that colonialism would have achieved.

    Any sane person would agree with the diatribe of the inhumanity of the past, but would also agree we are better now and on the road to even better things, no “System Change” is actually needed, even less one that has autocratic overtones.

  • bobby b

    “As the climate crisis escalates the Guardian will not stay quiet”

    “Stay”? It was quiet at some point?

  • Paul Marks

    As I never tire of pointing out – the core assumptions of the modern left (including the “Green” left) are from the Frankfurt School of Marxism. Some people may roll their eyes at this – but it is true.

    For example, it takes only a minute or so to find Frankfurt School of Marxism statements from Greta Thunberg – yet the “mainstream” media continue to back her, this is because they are educated in the same Frankfurt School assumptions that her parents, and the rich leftists who fund the campaign, have taught Greta.

    Of course Extinction Rebellion want to exterminate “capitalist” society – they have never made any secret of this. The matter is NOT about C02 emissions – it is about the Marxist assumption that Western civilisation is based on “exploitation” and “oppression” and, therefore, must be destroyed.

    Some Conservatives refuse to see the Marxist nature of such groups – just as they fail to see what is meant by “Social Justice” (plundering, tyranny and murder – “Social Justice” being the OPPOSITE of actual justice), at this stage I suspect it is impossible to enlighten people who refuse to see what is in front of their eyes. But I will carry on trying.

    As for C02 emissions – if they are a problem then let us radically deregulate nuclear power (which would make it safer – not less safe) so that nuclear power can be massively expanded.

    That would deal with C02 emissions – but if anyone thinks that this would make groups such as “Extinction Rebellion” happy, then you do not understand such groups.

  • Any sane person would agree with the diatribe of the inhumanity of the past (Runcie Balspune, January 12, 2020 at 9:55 am)

    If you mean Stuart Basden’s diatribe, as quoted in the OP, then I think you just called me crazy. 🙂

  • Matthew H Iskra

    It’s funny that the XR speaker is using Rousseau’s (1) philosophy of the Noble Savage. The irony is delicious.

    As an American with a distant Native American heritage (Cherokee), I can assure the speaker that my ancestors were quite capable of warfare, torture, slavery, treating those outside the tribe as animals, and all the other “European” inventions long before any European set foot in North America.

    The arrogance of his statements, and his own incapability of seeing that arrogance, means that the XR will become ever more irrational and extreme in its actions, shedding well-meaning and less foolish members, until some line is crossed. The PETA organization started out reasonable, but increased fanaticism and irrationality have rendered it the punchline to a joke.

    (1) For those that don’t know or are too busy to Wiki, Jean Jacques Rousseau, French Philosopher, 1712-1778.

  • Itellyounothing

    The left’s war on humanity never ends, it adds a few new baby seals up from front to catch bullets.

    Greta Thunberg, disabled child human shield.

    They must be getting desperate cause there isn’t many places to go after that for new baby seals.

  • Dr. Caligari

    As Europeans spread their toxicity around the world, they brought torture, genocide, carnage and suffering to the ends of the earth.

    Isn’t it that the central dogma of the new, political correct history?

    There was nevere some “toxic” event in history before the European male starts. Yeah. But… wait? What was that:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zanj_Rebellion

    So, as I understand the “logic” of the poli-correctness, there must be some Europeans, right?
    Whats about the foots of Chinese women? Whats about the wars between the traditional Native-American peoples?
    All lies?

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