18 December 2019 Summary

We began our exploration of Extinction Rebellion’s 10 Principles and Values. This is something which is briefly discussed in our Induction sessions but our Study Group wanted to take more time to discuss and understand them.

Principle 1: We have a shared vision of changecreating a world that’s fit for generations to come. We had a good long discussion about this. What are the ideas which unite us as Extinction Rebellion? There was talk about change coming through mass mobilisation and civil disobedience (as opposed to marches and petitions, which sadly have been completely ineffective in preventing this climate and ecological crisis.) We briefly touched on Erica Chenoweth’s research, and this article was suggested as a good introduction to her ideas on social change. Those who want to delve deeper into XR’s ideas on how we can change the world before it’s too late might want to watch this video from XR co-founder Gail Bradbrook on Theories of Change.

We also discussed what is in scope and out of scope for XR. In the face of this crisis, there is so much that needs to be done to heal the Earth and create a sustainable society. And there are many excellent organisations working on this (The Centre for alternative technology, Tree Sisters, etc.) The main role of XR remains raising the alarm to force government action.

Principle 2: We set our mission on what is necessary– Mobilising 3.5% of the population to achieve system change– using ideas such as “Momentum-driven organising” to achieve this. The idea of actively mobilising 3.5% of the population to create system change was discussed above as a statistic arising from Chenoweth’s research. The key concept we focussed on in our discussion is “setting the mission on what is necessary” as opposed to what may be considered politically achieveable. Governments continue to claimit is impossible to lower emissions quickly, but this is for political rather than scientific or technological reasons. XR looks at the science and continues to focus on the steps needed create change in very the short term– because that’s all the time we have left.

Principle 3: We need a regenerative culture which is healthy, resilient and adaptable. The idea of wellness is a the heart of XR’s work. Our current system not only exploits the Earth’s natural resources, it also exploits us as individuals as we work too hard and burn out trying to keep our heads above water in the labour market. And the previous sentence is actually a misnomer because it suggests we are somehow separate from the Earth, when in fact we are part of it (or Her, as many like to think). The system of devaluing a forest until it has been chopped down into valuable timber cannot be changed without realising that we must value all of the Earth and all of nature. So we need to build a culture within XR that doesn’t lead us to burn out; we need one that leads to joy and honouring and community. Our Regenerative Culture working group in Malvern XR is flourishing with activities such as nature walks and talking circles designed to nourish our soul and give us a much-needed break from the busy-ness of activism. New members to this group are always welcome.

Coming up next:

Our next gathering is 15 January when we’ll continue exploring the 10 Principles and Values.