The dark truth behind Earth’s biggest climate movement.
In one year, Extinction Rebellion (XR) has become a global movement. Their professional branding and seemingly infinite funding have attracted the interest of legions of idealistic community organizers, who are now being offered salaries to work as paid protesters. This movement seems to be the preeminent climate activist group in the world and they appeared overnight. Where did they come from and what is their goal?
The XR movement claims to be focused on averting extinction by forcing governments to cease greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. They assert that non-violent rebellion is a viable strategy and that tactics like street art, community marches, and brief occupations will force governments to their knees in time to save Earth from global extinction. They appear to believe that governments will be more influenced by their spectacles than by the fossil fuel industry’s endless money.
But what if that’s not really their objective?
According to XR the movement has no leadership, but when you delve into their history a startling pattern emerges; a handful of people have been guiding the structure and policies of the movement from the beginning. The central thesis of XR is based on a research paper titled Why Civil Resistance Works The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, which is written by Maria J. Stephan and Erica Chenoweth. Ironically, the research paper about nonviolence does not include a definition of nonviolence. Worse still, the research paper only uses a tiny, cherry-picked sample of conflicts. The paper is so comical that the only definition of “violence” as opposed to “nonviolence” is a conflict wherein at least 1,000 people are killed; in other words, their research would classify a conflict with 999 death as nonviolent.
How in the world did the authors get away with this level of sloppiness? Worse, why is the world’s largest climate movement based on such poor research methodology? Were the authors incompetent, or did they have an ulterior motive?
To answer this question let’s look at Maria J. Stephan, one of the authors, who has a shady background. Stephan has a long history of working for the U.S. State Department where she specialized in subduing political movements in Afghanistan and Syria. Additionally, Stephan is a recognized authority on authoritarianism and co-led the Future of Authoritarianism project at the Atlantic Council, a think tank primarily funded by the United Arab Emirates, several billionaires, and interests from the military, financial, and corporate sectors.
In other words, Maria J. Stephan has made a career out of being a government operative where she has become an expert in modern authoritarianism and subduing populations. She sounds like the perfect person to task with controlling populations in the face of catastrophic climate collapse. What better way to do this than to launch and tightly control the world’s biggest climate change movement?
Imagine for a moment you’re a fossil fuel propagandist. You know that climate collapse is inevitable and that there’s going to be public backlash, which could easily become violent. Fossil fuel executives, government officials, and anyone else who contributed to greenhouse gas emissions would be at risk of violent reprisal — imagine a scene like the Bolshevik Revolution, except motivated by climate collapse rather than class dynamics. As the propagandist, your first priority would be to subdue public resistance movements, to minimize their effectiveness, and to stop them from using violence. If those were your objectives then Extinction Rebellion would be the perfect structure: they strictly oppose violence, require consensus rather than regular democracy, and they even have a rule against publicly naming fossil fuel executives.
These limitations may come as a shock to some, but let’s review them:
Strict opposition to violence includes all physical violence, all defensive violence, and even all signicant property damage. In other words, Extinction Rebellion members are even banned from sabotaging fossil fuel infrastructure; absurd if they really believe global extinction is imminent.
Consensus over democracy means that even if 8 people support something, 2 people can consistently overrule them. This gives more power to the fringes of the group and specifically to the overly cautious fringes. It’s a perfect tactic for preventing climate activists from organising effective actions.
Naming fossil fuel executives is also strictly forbidden, which is probably the most telling of all of these structural restrictions. They prioritise the privacy and safety of fossil fuel executives over, supposedly, averting extinction.
All of this paints a dark picture: a government funded political movement designed to control the public and prevent revolution. If you can keep them busy with street art, peaceful marches, and the occassional sit in, and keep them arguing with each other about the need for pacifism and politeness — well, it obviously goes a long way in preventing them from being effective.
What do you think? Is Extinction Rebellion just a poorly conceived phenomenon, or is it a well engineered effort to control the public?