Direct Action Should Not Eclipse Political Participation

Founders of Extinction Rebellion and leaders of Last Generation are publicly clear and aligned on one point: they have no long term strategy. These movements mobilize well intentioned individuals to block roads, glue themselves to various symbolic locations, spray paint various symbolic things, and throw tomato sauce at art. But there’s (at least) one thing missing here: political participation.

Mass movements with no power or endgame have proved incredibly easy for the establishment to ignore, sideline, co-opt, or make examples of. The establishment will brand progressive movements and organizations “terrorists” or “threats”, declare a state of crisis, and use this narrative to justify the implementation of authoritarian surveillance and incarceration techniques normally unlawful, but justified by the state of crisis.

In 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA completely failed to effect any progressive political change (other than the renaming of a few schools and streets), because it was nothing more than a disorganized angry emotional outburst (not a cool headed, strategic, results-oriented movement). BLM didn’t only fail to produce any positive outcomes, it did significant harm by fooling citizens into thinking that hashtagging BLM, turning up to a protest, or spray-painting ACAB around their city would effect any change. The failure to connect the intentions and agenda of the movement with a political candidate or party (besides foolishly connecting it with Joe “militarize the police and privatize the prisons” Biden) meant nothing changed. BLM also served to radicalize undecided centrists and right wingers towards Trump out of fear due to the optics of BLM (angry hordes of blacks). Last but not least, the focus on racial justice, (as opposed to economic justice, per the original civil rights movement) enshrined the culture wars focus of political discourse (at the expense of economic justice, climate, and foreign policy).

XR and Last Generation are no different. By mobilizing people to hashtag, glue, and spray paint, but not to vote for Corbyn’s Labor, Jean-Luc Melenchon’s France Insoumis, or now parties like MERA25, XR and Last Generation fail to capitalize on a crucial opportunity to channel masses of well intentioned citizens to an avenue that will actually make a difference. Civil disobedience will not be enough to prevent the worst outcomes of global warming we’re now heading towards, nor will holding signs outside of Air Force bases be enough to prevent nuclear war.

The issue lies in people’s perception of normality. Every day, people choose to make irrational choices, and thus implicate themselves in the perpetuation of an irrational suicidal system. Extracting fossil fuels, running coal and nuclear power plants, maintaining nuclear weapons, releasing pollution into the environment, these are decisions that people make every day that are irrational and suicidal. Our system is irrational, the bankers whose mistakes lead to millions of lives ruined are worth millions, the technocrat oligarchs who’ve built the largest surveillance and advertising structures in history are worth billions, and the teachers, nurses, firemen, factory workers, and construction workers who keep society running are in debt.

We live in a collective hysteria surrounded by complicit sheep who choose to go along with the system because it is “normal”. What we need is to recognize our common interest of survival and the ability to live a dignified life, and act accordingly. This means using direct action as no more than an entry point for well intentioned people to then participate in politics by voting for candidates and parties which represent their interests. We need to change the narrative, change what is considered normality, and the way this is done is by appealing to people to act in their best interest, and to take meaningful rather than only symbolic action.

DiEM25 (the movement) and MERA25 (the party) have the potential to capitalize on this opportunity. Young people are growing increasingly aware of the existential threat of global warming and nuclear war, and are looking for avenues to involve themselves with preventing these apocalyptic catastrophes. XR and Last Generation can be entry points in which people organize, and participate, and then most importantly- campaign, and vote during elections. MERA25 will provide transparent, democratically elected candidates accountable to the people who are committed to serving the interests of their constituents and not being bought by corporations’ lobbyists. We must build the trust of XR and Last Generation, and any well intentioned person interested in surviving, and convert this to electoral victory.

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