Jan Goodey, jailed for his actions as part of Just Stop Oil, writes on the pressures that he believes will, sooner or later, place the group’s direct action as a mere outrider of the resistance to come.
This is not protest, this is standing up for common sense. Citizens around Europe and the West are getting imprisoned for preventing harm. The State’s response is draconian, flailing for an adequate response to the civil resistance that is building. The ruling class is out of its depth.
Leading Earth scientists such as Tim Lenton and James G Anderson think climate tipping points are upon us. By 2035 there will be no more summer ice in the Arctic. The jet stream and the gulf stream will be even more out of kilter.
We will see heatwaves this summer to put Wimbledon 1976 in context, never mind 39°c in the shade – the south east will be looking at 41 or 42°C. More wildfires will be followed by flooding, with the ground too desiccated to take on water.
There are so many capitalist-made problems oncoming that the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports seem to be immaterial.
Take the British government’s licensing of new oil and gas. Faith Birol of the International Energy Agency has explained that by the time any new North Sea fields become operational they would be too late to allay the energy price crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and by 2030 would simply be adding to emissions.
So the campaigns of civil resistance by groups like Earth First!, Just Stop Oil, Insulate Britain, Letze Generation and Declare Emergency in Europe and the US to stop new extraction are on the money.
And oceans? The talk is for 30% of seas to be placed within marine conservation areas by 2030. Once again this crucial year, and yet what’s wrong with now? After all it’s not four fifths, or five sixths, it’s one third. We can re-farm the oceans with beneficial sea plants and regenerate fisheries by leaving them alone.
Urgency is demanded by environmentalists. The recognition is that a paradigm shift to mutual aid and fairer, circular economies is required. Writing in the Financial Times, Martin Wolf has talked in defence of capitalism, but tinkering with a flawed system is too little, too late.
The IPCC Synthesis of their Sixth Assessment Report (once again) talks of “now or never,” yet the large-scale response is all wrong – China upping its coal-fired power stations, while State capitalist countries and dictatorships clamp down on free speech.
The global economic system is in the process of spitting out pieces of its broken lung: a system that has specialised itself out of existence. Read the German 19th/20th century philosopher, Oswald Spengler who foretells this sorry state of affairs in The Decline of the West, vol 2.
Look at Macron, Erdogan, Putin, Netanyahu and the out-and-out dictators like Min Aung Hlaing in Mynmar, all increasing the brutal policing of restive populations, from Burma to Russia, with socialists and anarchists fighting against increasingly fascistic, neoliberal policies.
Not that such oppression will do the job it hopes. I was the first person to be convicted under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, for stopping M25 traffic in 2021, and have been through the judicial system on numerous occasions. Unjustly criminalising a section of society does not work. What happens is that in prison you tell your truth and it has a positive impact. Prisoners are by default opposed to the government and this only increases their rancour. People join you, people who will fight back and not take things lying down.
What is coming in the next four to five years is a time of social fluidity where the navel gazing of the bureaucratic centre/left will be swept away. The inklings are there. The recent Declaration of Conscience by 120 leading British lawyers for example announced they would “withhold services in respect of supporting new fossil fuel projects and action against climate protesters exercising their right of peaceful protest.”
The whole mantra of economic growth, parroted by global elites, is being seen for what it is – fat cats and global financiers saving their own skins as a death spiral hits the poorest. Although no one will be spared eventually.
When full-scale rationing comes, the mantra will be energy conservation and consumption reduction. Perennial planting will take over from factory farming and trawling. Protests will reignite, and people will take over the means of production for realistic, sustainable food systems.
The dreams of living in space and luxury electric lives are mad professor escapism. Their philosophy is built upon bankrupt foundations – trashing ecosystems to the point where they are spent and despoiled then moving onto the next project. The simpler pathway, surely, is to avoid the worst ravages of irreversible tipping points.
On a positive spin, once nations’ social tipping points are reached, global food systems will change by necessity (you can’t grow food in hotter average global inland temperatures) and a switch to plant-based diets will be prevalent.
Ground up, collective organising with moral political reflex restored, can replace this rapacious capitalism and so destigmatise emotionalism, empathy and social care in the political sphere, making for egalitarian, sustainable community.
The obscenity of rich nation resource waste and overconsumption will pass and there will be a reckoning. The socially responsible path is the necessary one.
~ Jan Goodey
This article first appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Freedom anarchist journal.