“Let’s roll with your critical ideas – uncensored”
Thanks to the verve of rebels in Extinction Rebellion who created a temporary zone of autonomy around Marble Arch it became possible to extend this invitation (above) to all those people drifting around the west end of Oxford Street.
Those in search of some respite from shopping came across a great roll of paper laid out on the street, waiting to be filled with criticisms, ideas and solutions about the damage to the environment that we all now have to deal with. Any worldly person can anticipate that children from 1 - 100+ years old would not resist a blank roll of paper and a pile of coloured pens, and sure enough, people responded with metre upon metre in technicolor. Who said we cannot dream in colour?
The plan was to facilitate A Street of Ideas instead of a street of motor vehicles emitting choking fumes and gases (1)., and it came to yours truly as an exercise in low-tech, uncensored dialogue about the state of the environment and how power reveals itself to be bankrupt. Once it was on the roll the message got under the skin of people in the street, while they were soaking up the relaxed atmosphere of a liberated space. Others interpreted it as a “…Bayeaux Tapestry…” “…outreach…”, “…a hat tip to Jack Kerouac…”, “…the moral economy of the crowd…” or “…graffiti…” With so much pen and paper around others perceived it as an exercise in inter-generational ‘stay-and-play’ where adults become childlike and kids become grown-up.
The dead hand of censorship lifted. Road space was taken over by people engaging in conversation without being drowned out by traffic noise and writing or drawing their160 metres-worth in diverse languages.
Private thoughts and worries about climate change, the loss of species and environmental degradation were made very public. The final contribution was offered at midnight on Easter Monday: “I want a beautiful world for all you beautiful people”. The flip side to all the heartening contributions was a few nasty comments and the mindless behaviour of a few on their bikes. It was a small part of the whole although it is a risk we take when everyone or anyone is invited to contribute to an uncensored project about vital issues.
This lengthy address to earthlings everywhere from people drifting in the West End of London on an Easter weekend will be safeguarded for all, not commoditised, and made available to view on paper once a video of the whole is posted on the Extinction Rebellion website, or similar. Sunday’s roll was filmed in situ and will go on a kindred website.
With hindsight it would have been better to roll out along the Edgware Road as well as Oxford Street because it is full of pedestrians day and night and had been occupied for a few days. To combat the exclusivity of Park Lane would have been fun too although it is a soulless strip in which you can almost touch the atmosphere of high-end consumerism and meet very few people. Maybe it would have been better to use graphite sticks, charcoal, gouache or wax crayons but people do not seem to warm to ‘jurassic’, funky writing materials in this epoch of a social retreat from function. Admittedly felt tipped pens and markers do make an impressive splash that is hard to beat for speed. The great rolls of paper and adhesive tape however were reclaimed from a skip and rubbish bins. It is hard to be crystal pure or free of contradictions while taking part in something like non-violent civil disobedience. Maybe it is impossible not to be one of the hypocrites.
On the question of those who are, the Leninists appeared with their leaflet based on an article from their “Economic & Philosophic Science Review”. It referred to the capitalist system as a major barrier to securing a future for nature and people, which is correct, but it is not the only barrier. Environmental devastation and desertification were caused by centuries of over-grazing, the use of fire to clear land for agriculture, biological and scientific ignorance, the rampant use of palaeo-technic technology, mistakes and many forms of warfare, and these predate even the primitive stage of capital accumulation of the modern capitalist system and its commodity economy. If people knew about the violent suppression of autonomous workers and sailors, under the orders of V. I. Lenin, in places like Kronstadt in 1921 (2), that paved the way for the more authoritarian epoch of Stalinism that set radical, social change back 100 years, they would be unimpressed by EPSR’s clarion call to XR to “Build Leninism” in 2019. It was a relief that Socialist Worker were not there in any great number in order to commandeer the proceedings and saturate it with regurgitated slogans on their placards. If we have learned anything from the last century it must surely include the lessons that ideology is the enemy of radical social change and progress because it always denies experience, and that no ONE can be trusted with political power.
On the question of CO2 emissions alone it would be useful for XR to bear in mind that they peaked during 1914-1919 and 1939-1945, which indicates that warfare is bad news for the chemistry of the atmosphere and terrestrial environments. XR may also need to guard against physical exhaustion, to broaden and deepen their critique in the social context such as the banality of majority shareholders and currency speculators, to avoid ritualising their actions, to make stronger connections between environmental deterioration and public health and to engage in more outreach. Outreach was a theme that ran throughout the Street of Ideas.
P.S. Is there anyone who can help me make a video of the whole street of ideas and then post it onto the XR website?
1. For 2019 the annual average concentration of NO2 in Oxford Street is already 60mg/cubic metre of air, which is above the average annual 40mg/cubic metre limit set by the EU. (Source: Kings College, London, Air Pollution Unit, May 2019)
2 “Dans le Pay du Grand Mesonge” – badly translated as “The Russian Enigma” by a Stalinist publishing house in London - and “The Kronstadt Izvestias” which have been translated from Russian into French.
Below: from Stuart Wise
Though glad XR is there rather than it wasn't, I have been unable to join in with it and put myself through the torture of their induction rituals typical of top-down organisations. Other things aside, they have an awful lot of catching up to do theoretically. Only an infinitesimal minority have heard of Murray Bookchin, still less the highly relevant movement in France, La Confederation Paysanne, Rene Riesel, Anselm Jappe, Jaime Semprun, Debord etc. The UK Occupy movement of 2011 was much more radical and knowledgeable. And XR`s knowledge of Marx (and the best in the workers’ movement) is zilch, in particular, his astonishingly perceptive insights into automation in the Grundrisse (rough draft) written before he embarked on Capital 1,2, 3 and taken up with a vengeance by today’s `Valueists`- see Robert Kurz The Substance of Capital (2017) - automation exploding the very basis of capitalism-the exploitation of labour power- as it is more and more squeezed out of production, leading labour value to become ever more `insubstantial`. Marx described the advent of automation as “capitalism`s self-contradiction in motion.” It was also accompanied by an unmanageable, runaway, unsustainable explosion of the credit mechanism and the looting of the planet for raw materials, both vain attempts to offset the inevitability of this development within capitalism and broadly hinted at in Rosa Luxembourg's Accumulation of Capital. There could be overlooked keys in Marx`s Capital 3 that largely deals with the credit mechanism and the accompanying financialisation, the citations from Capital 3 easily outnumbering references from the other 2 volumes of Capital in Lukacs groundbreaking History and Class Consciousness (early 1920s). In this work, Lukacs brings organic nature in from the cold of the bourgeois revolution and into the fiery orbit of the proletarian revolution because it has acquired “the meaning of what has grown organically, what was not created by man, in contrast to the artificial structures of human civilisation”. It all begins with Kant's The Critique of Judgement which came out at the time of the French Revolution and would go on to exercise an enormous effect upon the nature philosophy of Goethe, Schiller, Schelling and also Coleridge, etc., even eventually upon the birth of psychoanalysis, as well as founding modern dialectical thought as taken up, and applied, to the social sphere by Hegel and Marx.
We are facing the mother of all storms: the irreversible collapse of capitalism, climate collapse, ecological collapse. Rosa Luxembourg coined the phrase “socialism or barbarism” and she was so right. Oh, and one more thing: a day to day, on yer doorstep, knowledge of nature is almost totally lacking in the average XR member; a lacunae that must be made good double quick if they are to become effective in resisting local extinctions and in knowing what to do to stop it. A couple of days ago I pointed out an Orange Tip butterfly to a young XR member in Martin Bell`s Wood on the Scrubs Common, West London. A first for him, he was delighted by it, we pointing that we had greatly increased the number of the butterfly to be found there by knowing exactly what to do in terms of habitat creation. He then suggested we seize Queens Park in Brent, chuck out all the flashy, anti-nature horticulture and scatter masses of insect friendly seed around - and wait for the council hi-viz bullies and coppers to arrest us thus detonating a publicity grenade. It does suggest XR members can be pushed, really pushed...........
Below: Two critical leaflets handed out at Extinction Rebellion events in London - even George Monbiot read them! Both are about brutal local extinctions that have been supressed in the MSM - Mainstream Media - the Nature Bureaucracy making certain such heinous crimes are covered up.
PREVENTABLE extinction event ON WORMWOOD SCRUBS
What probably was inner London`s major insect site at Mitre Bridge on Scrubs Lane, West London to make way for a canteen area. We cannot yet be certain who was responsible, except to say this area is part of Old Oak Common Development Corporation which is a facilitator for HS2 and other projects nor requiring customary planning approval. The brownfield “landscape of contempt” forms part of the nature reserve, as can be seen from the map at the Scrubs Lane entrance to Wormwood Scrubs. Local ‘green’ groups and councils are desperately trying to cover-up what is patently, an act of Ecocide.........
Gone forever is a major colony of the (Un)Common Blue (including outstanding examples of the ab mariscolore `blue female`),the Dingy Skipper, the Brown Argus, the Green, White-Letter and Purple Hairstreak, the Marbled White, the Dark Green Fritillary, etc. It was also the epicentre of the Jersey Tiger moth colony on the Scrubs, a moth that 40 years ago was only occasionally recorded in this country. And as for the myriad hoverflies and bees- well, we will never know just how many different species were there. Notices had been posted around the site advertising the presence of these winged beauties, so it is utter nonsense to say (as has been claimed unbelievably by ‘green’ oppositional groups) that the destruction was an act of negligence (!) not malice. There is a causal link between this extinction event and the Grenfell Tower fire when the Aldridge Academy was dumped on the Scrubs wildlife car park, a stand of legally protected bee orchids destroyed in the process (amongst other things). Dressed up as a charitable act, it was a text book example of “disaster capitalism” that sent out the formerly taboo signal the Scrubs was up for grabs by developers. All Friends of the Earth could say was “Oh what a pity”! Since then it has been downhill all the way, HS2, for one, empowered to do as it pleases, knowing any opposition would be dealt with by their ‘green’ friends in local groups ironically charged with defending the Scrubs.
As always, though the destruction hurts like mad, it is the absolute refusal to acknowledge it, never mind do anything about it that hurts the most.
Humanity has very little time left, wildlife the canary in the coal mine.
This is an act of the End Times. Anyone who pretends otherwise is a sociopath.
Stoppable slaughter of the “legally protected” Small Blue on Woolley Colliery spoil heap by Barnsley/Wakefield Councils
It’s not just nature lovers that know about the frantic chopping down of healthy trees in Sheffield by Amey, the city increasingly regarded internationally as a byword for ecological destruction. However, something far worse and beneath the radar is taking place in nearby Barnsley/Wakefield: the piecemeal destruction of the biggest Small Blue colony in the UK north of the Cotswolds.
Butterfly Conservation have refused to acknowledge the existence of the colony, perversely believing they are saving the butterfly by keeping the existence of the butterfly a close secret. Two years ago an ‘expert’ dispatched by BC typically massively underestimated the numbers saying he could only find four butterflies. This year it was obvious to more responsible enthusiasts there was possibly a 1000 on the wing. But still no official acknowledgement by Butterfly Conservation /’Conservatism’- or even `Butterfly Constipation` as it is also known by some of its more acerbic critics.
It seems likely the butterfly is a relic survivor from a former colony at Ryhill Quarry that was first noted in 1871 and that has found its way undetected to Woolley along the sandy, cliff-like embankments of the Leeds /Sheffield railway line, the butterfly expanding at the same rate as its foodplant, the Kidney Vetch, increased, and which suggests it was well acclimatised to local conditions. In Ayrshire and North Berwick, the butterfly is really struggling to survive whilst the near miracle that is Woolley is being trashed.
Earlier this year on the Wakefield side of the spoil heap, a solar array was constructed to power the pumps that drain the disused mine workings beneath. Great, except no planning notices were ever posted around the site that had been typically dismissed as ecologically worthless. Even a perfunctory biodiversity survey would have shown not only that the Small Blue flew there but also the (Un) Common Blue, the Dingy Skipper, the Brown Argus, the Marbled White, the Broad Bodied Chaser, etc, etc. The site was also covered with Wild Strawberry (yes, really!) and there were rumours the Grizzled Skipper had been seen there. The protected Greater Yellow Rattle also grew there. All that one can now see is a barren expanse. Thanks a bunch, Wakefield: obviously the kindly, good-natured Vicar has been sent packing by neoliberal Conan the Eco-Barbarian. Splash the cash on destructive consumerism and art: the Hepworth Museum, the Trinity Shopping Centre, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (just across the M1 from Woolley spoil heap) but not on the Small Blue, this scrounger unable to economically justify itself and therefore ripe for extermination. This is what happens when you put a “price on nature”.
On the Barnsley side of the spoil heap, there have been targeted assaults on the remarkable Small Blue colonies along the Colliery Old Road linking Darton station with the new estate of Woolley Grange. We feared a downpour of insecticide would rain on this unwanted species but it seems the foodplant is being deliberately uprooted and thicknesses of soil dumped on the hibernating caterpillars to asphyxiate them and so kill off next year`s emergence. These brutal, deliberate acts have been carried out by rogue subcontractors (Wates?) employed by Barnsley Council taking matters into their own hands knowing Barnsley Council is only too willing to look the other way, though not daring to explicitly endorse these illegal acts. Unofficial notices had been posted advertising the existence of the Small Blue as well as a ‘piece’ painted on a concrete slab announcing the presence of the Small Blue. This was painted out and the notices were torn down. Barnsley Council knows who did this. Will they `fess up and name the culprits. We doubt it. Only people pressure can force the truth out of them.
This destructive insanity has to stop. For all we know it is already too late. But if Barnsley /Wakefield Councils hope the matter will soon go away all we can say to them in the era of the dawning awareness of the 6th extinction Is: GET REAL and THINK AGAIN.
Below are two, no holes barred, YouTube films which clearly, passionately - even desperately - explain what initially happened on Woolley Colliery spoil heap. In a short space of time they have gained a big number of hits and something quite unusual for 'nature' films. Nonetheless, the destruction has proceeded apace and at an accelerating pace utterly shunned by all so-called green organisations who clearly want to see this remarkable colony utterly destroyed. So what's new?