Roger Hallam: the conservative case for Extinction Rebellion
The environmental campaigner tells Freddie Sayers his movement is not just for the radical Left
As the Conservative government prepares to host the COP26 climate summit, famous environmental campaigner and co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, Roger Hallam, has a message he wants people to hear: his movement is not just for woke students and the radical Left.
In an eye-opening interview, he tells Freddie Sayers about the importance of the nation-state, social conservatism, local community, and how he wants church leaders and ex-police officers in his movement. His pitch, in short, is that philosophical conservatives should not be afraid to embrace radical environmentalism:
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On the ideological diversity of the XR membership:
On the failings of the ‘Davos elite’:
On why nationalism is the best approach:
On the moral law:
On the tactics of Extinction Rebellion:
On the media portrayal of the movement:
To me, the UK is too easy and not a big enough challenge for Mr Hallam. I suggest that if he is sincere he should find a good interpreter and do a speaking tour of China.
Silly thing to say really, we have to lead by example and get our own house in order before we try to persuade other countries to sort themselves out.
Shame I can only upvote once
Freedy, normally you have resonably sensible people on your Podcasts, but this must be one of the worst.
The reality is that our modern civilisation depends on affordable power. That affordable and continous power in the UK is often electricity.
Do people really wish for blackouts? Do people really want to find that they cannot cook, or watch TV, when they get home?
You have allowed Roger to wax lyrical about his pet subject, without any challenge.
You couuld have asked, how Roger thinks the UK can continue to provide electricity to all it’s citizens, which is both afforable and continuous.
At present (3/2/2021 – 17.10GMT), 10% of our electricity is imported, 60% comes from Nuclear, Gas and Coal.
Wind power is intermittant and not a long term solution, let alone is it a solution for EVs.
Please Freddy, more logic and less bleeding heart wishful thinking.
Roger doesn’t claim to have all the answers on how to address climate destruction and neither do XR. This is why one of the movements’ ‘demands’ is the creation of a Citizens Assembly which would include randomly selected people from all walks of life who would be tasked with making decisions about how we address the environmental crisis. A citizens assembly would, hopefully, represent the concerns, fears and hopes of many of the population and is a democratic proposal. It’s a little naive to imagine the political representation we have now is actually that democratic – think about it.
I don’t currently see how a randomly selected citizens assembly is more democratic than our current (albeit not perfect) parliamentary system. At least I have the opportunity to vote for someone I want to represent me. I mean who will do the selection for a CR? Who will decide the selection criteria? If it’s a truly random selection how will a diverse enough representation be achieved? Would the population accept a CR full of hard right-wingers – or all hard left-wingers – for example ? XR need to explain how it would work.
Legitimate questions, think it would be selected rather like juries are. I’ll hold my hands up & admit I’m not entirely sure how a variety of political affiliates would be ensured but this model has been used successfully previously in, for example, Ireland on legislation for abortion. Whilst there is some merit in ensuring a spectrum of political affiliations, think it is, perhaps, more salient to ensure representation from industry / professionals is included, from the top to the shop floor. Any major transition in a society (if it is to be fair) needs a diversity of opinion & should reflect the concerns and ideas of as wide a variety of people as possible. I’m not suggesting that it will be easy – anything worth doing rarely is – but that a group of people need to be solely focused on this issue which our current political representatives aren’t (apart from The Green Party) but their other policies, for me, are too aligned with some social justice movements that have regressive, divisive ideas which don’t stress the universalism of humanity, as MLK did, but instead pitch groups against each other in a depressing hierarchy of oppression – I don’t find the concept of privilege (privilege and who has it, is too complex to be binary) very helpful, I can’t see how it could bring people together or improve / encourage relations between ‘different groups’.
the creation of a Citizens Assembly
That would have been brilliant if the first question they had to answer was “is there a climate problem that we can do anything about”
Yes, there is a wealth of data that suggests there is a problem. We don’t know if we can do anything for sure, admittedly, but we should try don’t you think? Humanity has a litany of amazing, mind blowing achievements – we have been to the moon! Much can be achieved if there is fearlessness, the will, love and imagination. And compromise.
Didn’t Greta want us to panic ?
For an example of what a citizens assembly might be like, there was an example of a “discussion” at local /village level on the news ( and I believe Twitter) this morning. Not very edifying .
Do you seriously expect randomly selected people to know how to build a fusion reactor? Or other novel energy production technologies?
Or how to create an energy distribution system that can handle 2-3X the electricity transmission today’s does?
Couldn`t agree more. Freddie gave Will Knowland quite a hard time in his interview, and Will was making a passionate case for freedom of thought and speech to be taught at Eton. In contrast, Freddie let Roger Hallam get away with his puff for how to change everyone`s lives.
Not sure why Mr Hallam wasn’t asked about his recent suspension from XR for alleged anti-semitism – this presumably was the reason why he wasn’t speaking for them on an official basis!
After having just finished Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism”, my instinct is to be cautious of “grand movements” without clearly defined goals.
XR have a clearly defined goal in the form of a Citizens Assembly whereby random members of the public are tasked with making decisions on how we address the climate crisis.
So the decision has been made, the science is finished. All we have to do now is retreat to our caves (without cooking fires naturally) and all will be well.
You do have to wonder why these fanatics never walk the talk themselves.
Who decides members of the public should be “tasked” ? The milk monitor ?
Please explain how XR are totalitarian. I know a fair bit about totalitarianism myself and see no echoes or suggestion of it in XR. They don’t try to suppress freedom of speech, they want the public to be involved in the decision making process – Citizens Assembly, they use scientific data to support their arguments and are not reliant on subjective narratives, they are always happy to engage in debate / conversation (unlike the ‘no debate’ slogans of some ‘social justice’ activists) they do not bully or threaten people on social media or try and get people sacked and they are not ideologically driven or interested in power for powers sake or any power at all for that matter (see 1984) but motivated by decades of research and objective facts. The differences between XR and some ‘progressive’ (though I think they are *regressive*) Social Justice movements are manifold. A key one being that their philosophical underpinnings have nothing to do with Postmodernism (read Cynical Theories – James Lindsay & Helen Pluckrose) and everything to do with Liberalism. The methods they use are the ones that were used in The Civil Rights Movement which is rooted in universalism and personhood.
Closing Westminster Bridge Road and having pompous self-appointed XR “judges” adjudicating to decide who could pass? That was the act of a totalitarian mob.
I fear the opportunity was missed to press Hallam on a couple of points
What are his democratic credentials? He scored 924 of the 2,241,681 votes cast in the 2019 Euro election. His “party” advocated for Citizens Assemblies to rule on climate strategy. — does he accept the results of the citizens’ assemblies that were actually held? Does he believe that he has a mandate to disrupt peoples’ lives and work more than any other microscopic group?
What exactly is his policy? Is it still to achieve zero carbon in the UK by 2025? Is there any kind of plan for that? Does he believe we can feed 65 million people in 2025 on that basis? Is his policy not predicated on a drastic reduction in population and how is that going to happen?
A wonderful interview and a most impressive man of whom I had never heard. But two things need to happen for his project to get traction outside the left: (1) People have to be convinced not only that global warming is happening but also that its effects will be very dire; the science still seems unsettled on that. (2) People have to be convinced that there is a solution being offered! US per capita CO2 emissions have plummeted since 1973; Chinese have exploded, and guess what — there are a hell of a lot more Chinese than Americans! Jordan Peterson’s rather famous jeremiad on this point at Oxford makes a compelling case that there is no plan being offered by anyone to meet the challenge if it is indeed existential. So maybe we just “break out the booze and have a ball.”
(1) People have to be convinced not only that global warming is happening
The problems I personally have with this are:
a) it started as a fraud
b) I’m old enough to remember the warnings of the imminent ice age
c) its all based on computer models with predictions more reminiscent of fortune telling than science
d) claims that the science is complete
e) the religious fervor of its supporters and the cancelling of “climate change deniers” (woops I’m about to become invisible)
f) being told what to do by a teenage girl having a temper tantrum
g) the denial of history eg the medieval warm period was a local phenomena and nothing to do with global climate
h) constant adjustment of figures to prove the claims of MMGCC
(2) People have to be convinced that there is a solution being offered
Covid predictions might have made us wary of computer modelling .
We can still booze and be merry whilst aiming to address environmental destruction – I certainly do! ðŸŽ‰ Accept there isn’t a plan which is *why* XR exists, to try and make a plan via a citizens assembly.
Does XR not accept the validity of the Citizens Assemblies which reported on 10 September last year? Or should we take that last sentence at full value, that XR intends to make the plan come what may?
What will be needed at this rate is a referendum, and a citizen`s assembly is just a way to get around the inconvenient issue of consent. My hope is that reality will dawn when those who are not well off realise what all this virtue signalling is actually going to cost them. There is a good case for a proper cost/benefit analysis, just as there has been with the lockdowns, and the only person promoting that seems to be Bjorn Lomborg.
Indeed. Let’s buy XR tickets to China so they can address the crisis at its epicenter. We can cheer on their bravery! It isn’t brave to trample the rights of others when you know you will be indulged. Do it where it’s really brave and most needed.
Already explained why the focus on China before we get our own house in order is unlikely to be successful.
Yes I think everyone understands why you would not get anywhere with China. As well as why you do not try.
Whose rights are being trampled on and how? A little inconvenience once in a while is hardly trampling on any body’s rights. Some real perspective is needed here.
Blocking the road tramples the rights of those who want to use it. Preventing public transportation from moving does the same. Try it and you get what they got. You do not get to inconvenience people trying to get to work. That is not your right.
I don’t know many conservatives who would get on board with efforts to physically block other people from getting to work.
Perhaps not and that is, I guess, why Roger came on Unherd to present the case to social conservatives and see if he could persuade them. There are some social conservatives involved in the movement – former police officers, lawyers, doctors etc… and I agree XR do really need to broaden their base and persuade the working class, right & left of center and right. I have voiced my concerns in XR groups that being perceived as aligned with some far left social justice movements and ideologically driven ideas will likely alienate large swathes of potential supporters and have posted on here that that was giving me cause for concern – I am old school, class based not identity politics, left wing!
To see if social conservatives could be persuaded to prevent others from getting to work? No, no kind of conservative is for that. People need to get to work to feed their families..
Pretty sure XR don’t *stop* people getting to work but they do delay them. Think it’s somewhat reactionary and over the top to say that people can’t get to work and therefore can’t feed their famillies. XR do inconvenience people but they haven’t stopped people from feeding their famillies.
Yes, they have done so. In fact, some workers pulled protesters off the top of trains to the cheers to the people trying to get to work. If you can’t get to work you don’t get paid. Protesters do not get to “delay” people from getting to work in hospitals, think about that. The protesters pulled off the top of trains were beaten by the crowd. Can’t say I blame them. Your right to protest does not trump someone else’s right to get to work.
Funny that you ‘can’t blame’ the violence of protestors trying to get to work but I suspect you would be outraged if XR engaged in violence (as would I) If you’re against violence you’re against *anybody* partaking in it. A bit like free speech, you have to be for *everybody* having it or you’re not for it at all.
People have the right to get to work. People have the right not to be molested too. Would you blame someone who fought back if they were? Throughout history, people’s rights have been preserved by force so it should not be a surprise.
If you interfere with the peaceful existence of others you can expect to be so treated. They are not interfering with you, you are the one using force in expecting your rights to be supreme. They are not. You may not take hostages to your cause. Protest peacefully all you want as long as you respect the rights of others.
Yes, do you think people wouldn’t use force to maintain their right not to be molested?
XR are fighting for your rights and, if you have any, your children’s rights Annette. The right to not have your habitat destroyed by big business, the right to not have to deal with recurrent extreme weather events – flooding – and the right to be able to buy food grown all over the world – if large parts of the Southern Hemisphere are destroyed by rising temperatures and sea levels (already happening) where does that food grow?
XR is not fighting for my rights. It does not get to determine what my rights are. What an incredibly arrogant idea.
Do what you want until you interfere with my right to do the same. That’s the line.
XR have police liason officers whereby XR work with the police to provide and ensure there are routes for the emergency services to use.
They do not work with nurses and doctors to get to work. Nor do they work with anyone else who has the right to get to work. You may sit in the street all you want. You may not block it. Expect to be moved if you do.
Positive that blocking traffic does a lot more than delay some people from getting to work on time. It delays people from getting to medical appointments which may be cancelled. It delays kids getting to school. It delays police responding to any number of serious situations. It delays ambulances and there are documented cases where people died because they weren’t able to get to a hospital.
No, I will never be OK with activists shutting down traffic for their own pet causes. Who are they to decide where I may or may not go? I hold this standard for any cause, even ones that I agree with.
Some people have been prevented from going to work for part of one day.
Ooer! But wait a minute, hasn’t most of the world just been prevented from going to work for one year!
Let’s keep a sense of proportion here.
Standing on a train to prevent working people from getting to work is not something conservatives could ever support. Your right to protest does not trump someone else’s right to get to work. Or to get home or to school or anywhere else.
Yeah agree with you regarding the tube thing but it was not endorsed by XR as a movement but rather carried out by some over enthusiastic mavericks who chose to ignore the wishes of most of the membership of XR.
Does XR have a formalised process for ‘endorsing things as a movement’?
I’m unfamiliar with their workings, but I thought they were rather more freeform than that.
Also, are you certain, at the point they carried out their actions, that the ‘majority’ of XR members were against it? I suspect they might have been, but was there any sort of poll or count across the entire membership?
I’m not having a go – I was just under the impression that XR’s approaches were deliberately looser than I infer from your comment.
Don’t much mind either way – I’m not trying to win an argument (not sure anyone ever thinks they lose an argument in a comments debate!), rather I was interested in the basis for your claims, as to whether they were personal opinion, backed up by indicative evidence or actually rooted in clear yes/no data.
Thanks – quite brave of you to come on here, because you appear to hold minority views on this forum.
Thanks – you’re right that there is an ethos that embodies freedom for members of XR to act in their own capacity (as long as they adhere to the values of XR – there’s about 12 – you can find them on their website if you’re interested) I was in London for that particular ‘rebellion’ and the action proposed by the tube mavericks was discussed and polled – think it was polled because it was recognised how contentious it was. The overwhelming majority of XR voted against it. Back in the Midlands where I am based, our local XR group discussed the aftermath and it was there that I found out that members had been polled – not all of them as I wasn’t but a significant amount. Like any movement, organisation or individual mistakes will be made, we do try to reflect on them and learn from them but realise ‘we can’t please all of the people all of the time’ or, judging by the comments on here we’re bound to naff off some people all of the time! ðŸ¤£ ðŸ˜‚
Thanks Katie – interesting.
For what it’s worth, I think XR’s approach is unhelpful, also being unfair on the people it impacts on (eg stopping them get to work). I get the impression (with zero supporting data) that their actions rub the vast majority up the wrong way and create hostility to the message. I think much of the MSM have either fawned over them or considered them newsworthy on the basis many of their protests are on their (London) doorstep. I also don’t think the average person in the street has the slightest idea of the implications of following through on what XR are demanding, on the timescales in question.
It will be interesting to see where this all ends up. I perceive a complete commonality of views amongst the UK major parties (Tory, Labour, LD, SNP, Plaid), which is completely out-of-step with the views of the majority of the public, rather like we experienced with the EU debate. I wonder whether this sort of issue leaves a space for a new political party to hoover up the discontented.
I’ve been wrong about many things before though.
Yeah, I know we anger and annoy some people but hope that soon, they’ll see why we use the tactics we do – the passage of time will tell I guess, not that we have much time to get this sorted. Am not sure how we gauge public perception on a big scale, hard to do, but on an anecdotal level when I have been engaged in ‘outreach’ events in my home town we have had a real mixture of positive & negative responses. Guess people *may* feel more negative in London as that’s where the major disruptions have happened. The way I look at it is this: maybe we’re wrong, but if we’re not and all that was stopping us was the fear of inconveniencing people versus making real efforts to try and prevent unimaginable destruction. I know which camp I would rather be in and which mistake I would rather have made.
I almost had a twinge of sympathy for the politicians then.
When I was talking about ‘commonality of views’, I was referring to a commitment to going further / spending more on tackling MMCC than a typical member of the public is willing to fund (with a lot of the current costs being invisible to them). Whilst on the other side, the politicians are being battered by a significant number of people, including XR, to do more and faster.
The current press hoo-haa about food prices may be an interesting test of public reaction.
The fear messaging on covid worked surprisingly well on all manner of issues, including massively reducing air travel without much public objection, so it will be interesting to see if the Gov adopt a similar approach regarding MMCC. We’ll virtually all be dead from stress if they do, but they may consider it worth trying.
Electricity production could be decarbonized in 15 years and energy costs driven down fast. It happened before in the 1970s in France. Chasing leprechauns like wind and solar, or pushing for the end of capitalism are fairytales if you look at the absolute numbers and technologies required. The fix is ‘easy’, but not what XR are pressing for.
Once XR starts massive campaigns to make nuclear power by pushing through development to make it fast and quickly available then I will believe they are really pushing to support the climate, and not acting as a smokescreen for some other misguided doomsday-cultist political agenda.
He’s an entrist. JosÃ© Barroso, the former Commission President, was a Portuguese Maoist through 1976. In 1980, he joined the PSD, the Portuguese Conservatives. Lionel Jospin, the French PM, joined the Trotskiites before joining the Socialist Party-his success there was not unrelated to the hostility between Trots and Moscow Communists. Angela Merkel is probably the best example of entryism: she was a member of the East German communist apparatus until 1989. A couple of years later, she had joined the Christian Democrats.
What is the clue to Roger Hallam? Conservatives conserve. They do not dig up lawns and indulge in gratuitous violence. Only far right and leftists do.
XR don’t engage in gratuitous violence – hyperbolic silliness. They are a non-violent movement that engages in civil disobedience (there’s a big difference between civil disobedience & violence) and follow the methods of MLK, Gandhi and The suffragettes (in fact the suffragettes engaged in a bit of violence – on property, smashing windows etc…) XR haven’t smashed windows. Do you think MLK & Gandhi should have just sent letters & petitions? Do you think that would have changed the way black Americans were discriminated against and improved the appalling way they were treated? Wonder if the suffragettes would have got the vote if they’d just gone on the odd march or complained to their husbands. Digging up a lawn maybe not their best move but it’s hardly gratuitous violence, that’s a huge mangle of meaning.
Please stop equating yourself with Gandhi and MLK. The Suffragettes used some violent methods but they suffered in prison in a way that nobody in XR ever will. They were also fighting for social justice for half the adult population. XR are “fighting” for a theory which is not totally accepted by everyone, although it is fashionable. However the Earth has warmed and cooled over eons, whatever part of it we may be causing, it is doubtful if puny humans can completely reverse any of it.
And only non conservatives believe that their right to protest trumps everyone else’s right to go about their lives. Blocking roads to prevent others from exercising their rights is gratuitous and people are rightly arrested for it. All they to is hack people off which sets them against anything XR says. It’s self defeating.
The aim is to get arrested, it’s a strategy.
They’d be lucky if that’s all that happened to them. People prevented from going their way in peace have every right to push back with force. And most people would cheer them on. Do what you want to but do not interfere with others rights.
Nobody has the right to physically ‘push back with force’ against peaceful protest. There lies the way of madness. Violence is not an acceptable way of communicating.
They certainly do if you are blocking their way. That is not communication, it’s aggression. Protest anywhere you want as long as it’s not in others way. When you violate others rights, you are the aggressor.
Roger Hallam is a dangerous fanatic. Freddie was more interested in his claimed’ cultural conservatism’ – a laughable claim – and did not focus on taking up him up on his lies – 6 billion people will die etc. I am not a climate sceptic but this is simply not based on any science at all.
Hallam and his ilk profess endless disdain for our still relatively free and open society and for other people’s lives – we are all mindless consumers with no higher purpose in life. He seems to think of himself as some sort of r religious leader. So far I have encountered their all too hippy-ish demos on Waterloo Bridge (blocking mainly buses and cycles), and their grotesque and dangerous one on the London Underground.
How can you go through an entire interview – this happens a lot – and not mention ‘China’ building huge additional coal power station capacity ? Why are there no demonstrations outside the Chinese embassy, or that of India for that example?. I am certainly not saying that China is more ‘guilty’ (on this issue) than the West, but it doesn’t matter to the environment where the CO2 is coming from and the selectivity and partiality is revealing. A bit like those people accusing protestors against covid restrictions of being tantamount to killers but exempting any BLM protest.
And after all the extreme claims the bathos of making your own policy platform the convening of a ‘Citizen’s Assembly’. In fact we already have one, focussed on the UK government’s commitments to net zero in 2050, which is challenging but not crazy:.
What happens though when this fails to come up with the necessary measures in the opinion of XR? It will be delegitimised by the self-styled leaders of XR – yes they do exist whatever they say – as indeed they arrogantly decide that the UK Parliament is illegitimate.
XR are in the line of a long historical series of single-issue fanatics, from Jacobins to Marxist-Leninists to Islamists, and we need to wake up to the fact.
I think that Roger has a valid point.
Setting aside climate change, it’s surely wrong to use the air we breathe and the water we drink as sinks for our waste products. Conservatives supposedly laud thrift and efficiency; however, we are hugely profligate with our energy usage. How many people really need a large urban 4×4? Do we really need to go to Cyprus for a hen-do or Las Vegas for a stag-night? Surely, true conservatives should embrace rather than eschew the bicycle – which is incredibly efficient, directly rewards individual effort and provides personal freedom.
However, I won’t be joining XR anytime soon; inded, I think that their campaign is counterproductive. For me, the type of activism that XR indulges in places environmental concern, wrongly, on the political fringe. Moreover, it’s been partially hijacked by anti-capitalists who have an entirely different agenda.
What do you suggest would be a better way of addressing environmental destruction?
I’d start by finding an effective way to persuade as many ordinary people as possible, not just governments and corporations, to change their lifestyles and consumption patterns.
XR’s time-rich protesters, demonising them for using cars, disrupting their journey to work, and using super-rich globe-trotting celebrities to lecture them is arguably counterproductive.
I work full time and engage in XR activities when I can. XR don’t condemn the populations use of energy or consumption habits – one of their ‘values’ is to not blame the populace.They argue that the *system* is toxic not the people that live in it and it is the *system* ie aggressive neoliberalism that needs to change. Even if millions of people changed their lifestyles (which is unlikely to happen and even if it did it wouldn’t sufficiently address the problem – Google for a video called ‘Shorter Showers’) it wouldn’t be enough. We need structural, systemic change that reforms the way things are produced (or not produced if they are unnecessary things like Christmas cracker toys to name but one example, amongst a multitude of rubbish) Most of the energy used is used by big business selling us crap we don’t need but have been persuaded to buy. Agree rich celebrities virtue signalling whilst jetting about on their jollies is most unhelpful but the behaviour of a few shouldn’t blind people into not seeing the bigger picture.
I think we would probably agree on many things – but not on how to achieve the type of systemic change that you allude to. You blame ‘aggressive neoliberalism’ and ‘the toxic system’ for our ills – but it’s the millions (perhaps billions) of ordinary people who buy the latest iphone, the Christmas cracker toys, the latest 4WD/SUV, factory-farmed food, cheap Chinese electronics etc. We (almost) all buy into it. Nobody is actually forced to buy this stuff; we are told we want it…and for some reason we believe it. This applies to young people too; despite the school strikes etc, they (by-and-large) still want the latest fashionable phone/trainers/clothes/electronics etc. However, if the world’s ‘ordinary people’ could be convinced that they are falling into a trap, and as a result changed their behaviour, the ‘toxic system’ would surely be forced to reform. Perhaps this change wouldn’t be as rapid as XR would wish, but it would avoid the probable catastrophic consequences of an imposed green revolution. Also…it might just be achievable.
Excellent post. An effort to convince the public that Christmas crackers and iPhones are unnecessary and damaging would be a reasonable way to make XR’s case. But it seems to me that they must know that it would not be successful.
But making everyone mad is also unlikely to help XR make their case. Perhaps modeling the behavior they would like to see, giving up their own computers and iPhones and cars and home heating systems would be a good first step, calling out people like John Kerry would also help. Be the change you want to see in the world.
We do try as individuals in XR to do what we can on an individual level – many of us don’t drive, buy recycled stuff etc… etc…. but it’s never going to be enough and there’s not enough time to wait for individual behaviour to change. Some environmentalists have, for decades, been living low consumption lives and it has not prompted the rest of the world to do the same (they were / are often called loons, hippies and crusties for doing so too) The way our society is organised makes it difficult. I am trying to be the change I want to see (a Gandhi quote) by using the strategies Gandhi employed to provoke change.
I don’t think you do. You do have a computer and likely a cell phone as well. You don’t walk or bike everywhere and your home likely uses fossil fuels. You likely own totally unnecessary home and holiday decor and unnecessary personal adornment. Gandhi did and had none of that. When you don’t walk the talk and yet demand others do so, it’s hypocritical. Yes, society makes it difficult for you to stop others from living they way they choose. But that’s by design. No one is forcing you to consume what you don’t want so give others the same courtesy of deciding for themselves. Live the level consumption life you want and leave others in peace.
And if all of XR lived as Gandhi did do you think that would change the hearts and minds of the population or do you think they’d suspect we are even bigger nutters than they already think we are? I know where I’d place my bet! ðŸ¤£
I don’t think you’re nutters, theres nothing nutty about proposing to live a certain way while failing to do so yourself. That sort of hypocrisy is as common as house dust.
But you are authoritarians. Which Gandhi, of course, was not. I’m sure it’s never occurred to you, but you might want to ponder if it’s your hearts and minds that need changing. Have you ever considered that asking people to do what you are unwilling to do yourself is maybe not a good persuasive tactic? Have you ever considered that angering people is an equally bad idea?
Done my best to explain what XR is about and why we’re not authoritarian or hypocrites – if you’re interested in further explanation regarding that Google ‘Jonathan Pie, Extinction Rebellion’ – he’s funny as well as adept at making good points and I find him rather dishy too! ðŸ¤£ I’m over and out now, got plenty of Coronation Street to catch up on. â˜º
Of course you’re authoritarian, you want people to live the way you want them to. That’s the definition of authoritarian. And since you don’t live the way you demand others live, you’re also hypocrites. Now you are perfectly welcome to be hypocrites and authoritarians as long as you don’t cross the line of trampling the rights of others. That’s when we have a problem. Until then, live exactly how you want to.
Agree Simon, nobody is *forced* to buy stuff but advertising is very persuasive and we have developed an ideological system whereby material belongings are very much tied up with status. Advertising is designed to appeal to our insecurities and desires and much of it is subliminal and affects us subconsciously – this makes it hard to resist as individuals. This is why changing the system and the products available to us requires a collective political response. If useless crap isn’t *available* to buy then it can’t be bought.
Katie, I certainly agree with your point about our obsession with (perceived) status. Yes, advertising is a massive influence but, largely, I fear that it pushes on an open door. However, it’s not just our habit of purchasing of ‘useless crap’ that needs to be addressed – we also need to change our consumption patterns of some things that are very useful indeed, such as gas, electricity, transport, drugs, food and water.
Governments and corporations make easy targets for XR but, ultimately, we live in a relatively free democracy. It’s ordinary people who vote in governments that promise rising growth, better health care and rising ‘living standards’. Even the Citizens’ Assemblies that XR promotes aren’t guaranteed to produce the results that it wants. It’s ordinary people who willingly, often enthusiastically, consume the products of the corporations.
Hence, we need to persuade those ordinary people to rethink their lives and consumption habits. Blocking their way to work, glueing people to (electric) commuter trains and aligning with anti-capitalist movements is, in my opinion, an ineffective and perhaps counterproductive way of doing this.
Spot on. They most hurt working people so they can preen about how noble they are. They also don’t understand that other people have rights.
Of course XR understand that people have rights and as a member of XR I certainly don’t preen about how noble I am! If you knew me you’d know how laughable that is and how aware I am, as many are, of the numerous flaws I have. I’ll repeat: Do you think MLK, Gandhi and The Suffragettes waltzed around banging on about their fabulousness? Do you think you would have the vote if The Suffragettes hadn’t inconvenienced a few people? – they were fighting for your right to be part of a (flawed but still) democratic process. Many of the members of XR work too – in hospitals, schools, as artists and we also have an Olympic medalist! (there are subgroups of XR one of them being ‘doctors for XR’) It is important to see the bigger picture and not get swamped in detail and examples of, admittedly, occasional folly, that don’t really encapsulate what XR are trying to achieve. Much of the positive social change we have achieved historically involved struggle and some inconvenience but it was worth it wasn’t it? I understand why people get upset and annoyed about XR activity but let’s get it into perspective.
You are not Gandhi. Do whatever you want to but do not trample the rights of others. That you do not have the right to do. Your rights do not supersede the rights of others. Expect push back with force if you attempt to do so.
‘You are not Gandhi’ ðŸ˜‚ Thanks for that, best comment on the board, really tickled me.
It tickled me to have to point it out. Good to have a laugh.
And thank you for spelling Gandhi correctly as I have been spelling it incorrectly throughout so will now make corrections. ðŸ˜‚
Bicycles are efficient if you only have to travel a short distance, and don’t have to carry much.
To make bicycles really usable we’d need to reorganise society back to the old days where people lived within a mile or so of work.
Do we really need to go to Cyprus for a hen-do or Las Vegas for a stag-night?
Almost certainly not but why stop there lets go back to the factory shutdown and ship everyone to the nearest resort for a weeks holiday rather than wandering around the world enjoying themselves.
You’re right of course – but I only referred to the bicycle as an example. I agree it’s not a solution to our transport requirements.
The trouble is that people don’t use them – even when they could.
Did yacht and private jet owner John Kerry really need to go to Iceland to accept an environmental prize? Climate change inconvenience for thee but not for me.
The problem is that Hallam, Thunberg etc all choose to ignore the size of the population. Their solutions would be great if there were less than a billion people; but there aren’t. Their solutions would condemn millions, possibly billions, to starvation, poverty and disease. We should crack on with ways to reduce the population (education, property rights, independent judiciary, etc) and set about improving (aka industrialising) agriculture and food storage and distribution. The rest is all nice to have, but isn’t going to solve the problem.
The climate catastrophe will condemn millions of people to starvation (it has already condemned a fair few) Some people appear to think that XR claim to have the solutions or propose that their suggestions are solutions that everybody should adhere to. That isn’t what XR are about – see my comments on citizens assemblies.
Roger speaks sense, there is a wealth of information and decades of scientific data from all over the world from scientists working in a range of disciplines that supports the argument that humans are destroying their habitat through unnecessary over consumption. His references to historical movements such as MLK, Gandhi & The Suffragettes illustrate that, with hindsight, populations accept that their methods, whilst inconvenient at the time, were necessary to prompt meaningful change. I liked Freddy’s question regarding the idea that the changes we need to make could actually be beautiful – our focus on wealth, materialism and economic growth have, in many ways, had negative consequences for our spiritual and psychological well-being and a return to values rooted in community and public service would be beneficial to our collective psyche. XR grew out of a frustration that all the petitions being signed, all the emails being sent and all the other various non disruptive methods of trying to engage the political class with the most significant crisis facing humanity were not working, therefore a more radical approach needed to be adopted. I am a working class woman who has been very active in the movement for knocking on 2 years (Covid has put a stop to that to some extent but I am intending to re-engage soon) I am old school ‘left wing’ and find some of the Social Justice movements that much of the far left are engaged with at the moment disappointing, regressive, ideologically rather that empirically driven and divisive and had started to become concerned that XR may be becoming too aligned with them. XR has always been insistent that it is an apolitical movement, I hope it holds on to that. Thank you so much Roger, you have squashed some of my doubts and re-ignited my passion. Thank you Unherd for having guests on your show that your readers / viewers might not agree with. Journalism should be about reflecting a wide variety of views not pandering to a readership, hence the name ‘Unherd’ I don’t want to be stuck in an echo chamber I want to hear all sorts of voices and then make my own mind up.
the most significant crisis facing humanity
I didn’t realise we were going to become extinct. I thought it was all the other animals. I’m pleased to hear that you’re concerned about humantity.
It’s about all life. I don’t want successive generations to have a rubbish one because I was ‘living the dream’ – not quite living the dream but… ðŸ˜ I appreciate what my grandparents went through (WW2) so I could have a good life and I feel duty bound to try and leave a world that the children I work with can enjoy and thrive in.
I’m concerned about all life. I feel duty bound to try and leave this mortal coil in a reasonable state – to honour the sacrifices my grandparents made in WW2 and so the beautiful children I work with have the opportunity to live and enjoy a good life.
Brilliant! RH views totally resonate with mine. I often think of the crappy world we are leaving for our children. We have tended to make short term decisions ( like lockdown for Covid ) in recent times and the enormous carelessness of how 20th century has been lived by us will be left behind for our children to reap. We bemoan Covid which is not even a real threat and ignore the environment which has in the past & will sustain us and the future.
We talk about the economy and lower growth because no one wants to have a smaller portion of the pie. We have indulged in the past and refuse to take personal responsibility for our careless activities. I think Hallam is right . There is no point confusing Climate issue with ‘the Left’. I am NOT Left but I do care about the soil we live on and a sense of deeper truth that he talks about. A sense of respect and responsibility that I feel that goes beyond me and beyond my time here.
Climate change has indeed been happening throughout Earths past but it seems a getting exponentially worse due to human activity. We all need to acknowledge and limit our wants and desires and play our responsible role in this crisis.
Freddie, you missed the chance- when your interviewee mentioned the 60% increase in carbon emissions being an emblem of the failure of the ‘conference approach to fighting climate change’ –
to point out that those increases come from China and other places exempted from the provisions and commitments not from the UK which has already met the targets.
I’d recommend ‘Climate Change and the nation State: The Realist CAse’ by Anatol Lieven as a good place to start. He can’t stop himself from being snide about Brexit but, other than that, it’s a pretty good read.
Just Googled that, it looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation.
There is a reactionary shade to many greens, and for good reason: de-growth is incompatible with the internationalism and cosmopolitanism that has grown out of industrial society. At worst, the green agenda dovetails with a ‘blood and soil’ politics. The neo-Malthusian stripe is particularly questionable.
Greens are often accused by the right of being Marxists, which is ridiculous as Marx was a champion of growth, modernity and internationalism, his only complaint being that growth was being restrained by the capitalist imperative to create profit.
I think it strange that right nativists and greens are at each other’s throats. The best prescription for the green agenda of de-globalisation would be strongman nationalism, and by ending free movement the populist right would be doing their bit to undermine global capitalism.
As someone who, unfashionably, doesn’t see globalisation as a bad thing, I know which side my bread is buttered on. But others, of either political camp, fail to acknowledge the contradiction at the heart of their position.
XR is Marxist in the sense that it believes in force and coercion. I don’t think anyone minds if XR fanatics want to give up public transportation and personal autos, computers, home heating, anything really. They have the right to do every bit of that. It’s the force they use to try to prevent others from living the way they want to that’s the problem.
The second point is that the right does not want to end free movement. Believing in national borders and controlling who enters one’s country is not ending free movement. It is simply a recognition of the rights of sovereign people to determine their own national interests. There will always be movement among peoples.
XR doesn’t use force or coercion and they are not Marxist.
Yes, it does. Which is why it’s sometimes met with the same.
Since when was a belief in ‘force and coercion’ sufficient definition of Marxism? If that were so, feudal monarchs, the British Empire, Vladimir Putin and George Bush would all be Marxist.
I’m not necessarily defending Marxism here, the merits or faults of we can debate if you like, only making it clear that XR are not Marxist, and are only termed so by people who know little or nothing about Marx beyond culture war cliches.
Since when did I say that force and coercion were sufficient definition of Marxism? Force and coercion were significant characteristics of Marxism, as was authoritarianism. Certainly the British empire was authoritarian, no argument there. But you seem to be confusing Marxist characteristics with Marxism as a whole. Think faults if you like.
But yes, XR is authoritarian and uses coercion and force. It shares some of the same characteristics as Marxism.
What exactly do you mean by Marxism?
Are you arguing that coercion and authoritarianism were not characteristic of Marxism?
You need to answer my question before I can answer yours. What ‘Marxist’ societies are you referring to?
None. I referred to characteristics of Marxism. Are you arguing that coercion and authoritarianism were not characteristic of Marxism?
‘Were’ not? The past tense implies you are referring to historical examples. To clarify, are you referring to Marxism as a theory of history, or as a political system with real-world examples? Btw I’m not a Marxist and not interested in defending Marxism, just unsure what you’re on about here. It seems like you might be guilty of a syllogism: people who call themselves Marxists have employed coercive means 1), XR use coercive means, 3) therefore XR are Marxists. This doesn’t work as the implementation or attempt to implement all sorts of political belief systems relies on coercion. Pinochet was not a Marxist was he? Maybe your assumption is that all political radicalism is Marxist? This is manifestly untrue. For one thing, revolutionary politics predates Marx.
Were or are. Either works. I’m not implying anything. I’m referring to specific characteristics of Marxism. Including authoritarianism and coercion. Do you not find either to be characteristic of Marxism? Time for you to say.
We can do the same thing using democracy. Consent of the governed was and is a characteristic of democracy. Is that unclear in some way?
I don’t know what you mean by Marxism. Dialectical materialism? China? What?
You don’t need a full blown discussion of Marxism to understand my comment anymore than you need one of democracy to understand that consent of the governed is a bedrock principle of it. You don’t need lists of democracies to agree or disagree on what I call a bedrock principle of it.
What I said was that authoritarianism and coercion were and are characteristics of Marxism. You have been asked to say whether you find them not to be, several times now. Time for an answer. And if your answer is that you don’t, well then we simply disagree, and that’s fine.
“Consent of the governed was and is a characteristic of democracy.” According to Schmitt or Agamben that’s debatable, as amply demonstrated in the current context of the pandemic restrictions, but let’s not start from the Marxism debate. 🙂
Disagreement with policy (as in your pandemic restriction example) is not the same thing as consent of the governed (or lack thereof). In any democracy, you will find policy dissent. Consent of the governed does not mean that everyone agrees with every policy, surely that’s obvious.
We are not having a Marxism debate. You simply didn’t like my comment which is your right.
What if the environmental/climate crisis is a hoax, as many claim, and we make our planet a better place for nothing?
Hope the average XR member is not as brain-dead as the locals near me. Example, flying is bad, but OK for them to drive a filthy old diesel Land Rover to Spain and back instead.
If we in UK turned off every light, every engine, every factory, our contribution to world pollution and climate change would be replaced within a year by China and the USA industrial growth. The main case is extinction for Extinction Rebellion, a pointless waste of everyone’s time.
XR/ROGER HALLAM are radical left and are in no way social conservatives. They are of the left anarchist woke brigade, anti-democratic, anti-conservative and and anti-free-market. Their remit is to destroy civil society as we know it even if the U.K. is a minor contributor to global emissions. If they had courage and a real case they would take their argument and methods to China.
They are cowardly thugs.
It is impossible to take these lunatics seriously. No mention of downsizing the military and foreign wars. No mention of the liberal “tech” elite and their high power consumption big data server farms they are using to create a spy state and a new digital currency and tracking system. They are only interested in destroying small businesses and small farms and making everyone dependent on them. This is the main purpose of XR. To serve the powerful.
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