What makes a respectable, wealthy, middle class, middle-aged woman climb up and try to smash a window in a government ministry? What brings more white, middle class academics and children of professionals on to the street to block the traffic, vandalise buildings and run countercultural camps in the streets? It is not the environment.
The end of the world! There were once eccentric men walking the streets with placards announcing “The End of the World is Nigh!”, and how we chuckled at them; now they wear beads and flypost ominous stickers on the Tube. I would laugh, but they are scaring children half to death with their unhinged eschatology.
If your stomach was turned by some of the displays available on YouTube it may be the sight of people dressed up as hippies or students doing ‘interpretive dance’ in the street or tents with signs for mindfulness sessions. That tells you more about us outside, really. It is a culture-clash: these are the people we do not want to be like, and we are the people they do not like because we do not appreciate their way of thinking.
(There is nothing wrong with interpretive dance on the street – in fact it is positive as it identifies the people I can ignore.)
Extinction Rebellion is wrong in just about everything they stand for. Having made that point, I have to look at the attraction they have for many, and why there is anger when I ever doubt them.
The cause they claim is saving the world; every comic-book hero’s quest, and who can doubt that? It is what we are brought up with. We try to ignore the incongruity when Batman destroys a city just to save a girl, because he is just a comic fantasy, and so is Extinction Rebellion’s rhetoric.
So what makes a respectable, wealthy, middle class, middle-aged woman climb up and try to smash a window in a government ministry? That answers itself – the stifling social constraints of respectability. Bursting out of the constraints, liberation like a fly escaping from a bottle – that is what it is all about. There are hammers and spraypaint and free-form dance, and at least the latter harms no one. That ever-present voice inside says ‘settle down, be good, do your homework’;, but then a new ideology is available that says ‘all those things you never dared to do – do them!’
The rest of us look askance at the chaos that denies our learnt, ordered pattern of the world, but maybe with a hint of jealousy.
The odd thing is though that this gathering of thousands of likeminded or easily misled souls is itself a quest for respectability.
There are others. There are grannies suddenly finding a purpose for their time. There are junior clergymen losing their purpose. There are academics from ex-polytechnics with books and little imagination, resigned never to rise to the height that demands actual intellect. They are powerless, and here they find some semblance of power. Their works will never be cited at Oxford, but here their voice can be heard for a moment, whatever unscientific rhubarb they speak, and if they can persuade the government to act, as they sincerely desire, then that is power indeed. No wonder they respond so viciously when doubted: we are stealing their last chance for power.
For the rest of us, who may be doing more for the benefit of mankind and its environment than the whole parcel of the ‘XR’ mob, this is an annoyance to be cleared up like any other. What to do about it – that must be another article.
- No, XR, I don’t believe you
- Tempestuous climate on QT
- 4IR: understanding and fear
- Rules for conservatives?
- On the Natural Condition of Mankind as concerning their Felicity and Misery, and from that:
- Liberals, conservatives and the Jordan Peterson thesis
- Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe
- Hard Green: Saving The Environment From The Environmentalists A Conservative Manifesto by Peter Huber
- Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock
The Revenge of Gaia by James Lovelock
- Green States and Social Movements by John S. Dryzek, David Downes, Christian Hunold, David Schlosberg, Hans-Kristian Hernes
- Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
- The Elements of Law Natural and Politic, Parts I & II by Thomas Hobbes
- Behemoth: The History of the Causes of the Civil Wars of England, and the Councils and Artifices by Which They Were Carried on from the Year 1640 to the Year 1660 by Thomas Hobbes
- Thomas Hobbes – Behemoth (Clarendon edition)
- By others:
- Philosophy, Rhetoric, and Thomas Hobbes by Timothy Raylor
- Thomas Hobbes: Political Ideas in Historical Context by J P Sommerville