An Open Letter to the Climate Strikers
First of all, thank you. Thank you for giving a shit. For deciding that there are futures worth fighting for, even when the future being imposed on us looks increasingly bleak.
The good news is that you are here, with your body, along with so many others around the world.
Today we have a chance to acknowledge that we are connected to each other and to the living and non-living beings on this planet, in ways that are far more complex and beautiful than any #hashtag could express.
This sign from the #ClimateStrike is everything pic.twitter.com/Wv2sqLPOwe
— Midwest Unrest (@MW_Unrest) March 15, 2019
Every few days, another horror story, or another prediction, reminds us that we’re facing an existential threat.
Experts no longer study how to prevent climate change, instead they discuss how we might mitigateits effects.
We already know that everything is going to change. The question for 2019, for this generation, is: change towards what?
The vultures are already circling.
Corporations ask, “How can we profit?” Whether it’s tapping new oil reserves under the melting glaciers or marketing a ‘green’ product to make us feel comforted, their goal is always profit.Governments ask, “How do we stay in control?” Whether it’s expanding surveillance programs, or encouraging ‘democratic dialogue’ so long as nothing gets out of hand, their goal is always to consolidate power.
The most advanced governments today will do this in the name of combatting climate change. Here in Canada, the government isn’t quite so sophisticated, and still pushes for massive expansions of fossil fuel infrastructure and mining projects, forcing them on indigenous people at the barrel of a gun if they can’t be bought.
Politicians, including some aspiring ones who call themselves ‘activists,’ ask how the growing fear and discontent might be exploited for personal gain.
History clearly demonstrates that if we allow these people to lead our movements, they will pull the plug at precisely the moment that we become a real threat to the existing order.
Those in power rely on funneling our rage towards dead ends. Let’s get organized, but not behind politicians trying to sell us the latest Hope™.
Students are shutting down downtown San Francisco for #climatestrike. ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻 pic.twitter.com/aMiNe0sSyg
— DSA San Francisco (@DSA_SF) March 15, 2019
We don’t know exactly what a ‘better world’ could look like. But like you, we feel that we have to try. We don’t want to just feel like we’re on “the right side of history,” a narcissistic trap.
We want to be effective, within an ethical framework that values freedom, autonomy and solidarity. Let’s start taking seriously the idea we might actually have an impact.
To that end, we propose a joyful, strategic, and fierce resistance that might include these ingredients:
Transformation, not reform.Capitalism is killing the planet. It is a system based on endless growth, and only serves the rich and powerful.
No lifestyle change or government reform is going to touch that. It’s gotta go.
Those in power will not simply be persuaded to change their ways and give up the wealth and power they have accumulated through centuries of patriarchy, colonial plunder, and mass exploitation.
The police stand in our way. Maybe you already hold your breath when a cop drives by. If not, remember that even the friendliest cops have to follow orders or get fired. Police are the violent defenders of this rotten system.
To even make a dent, many people will have to break a lot of laws, and not just in the “arrest me for the cameras” kind of way.
Let’s build lives worth living. We’re cynical, but we are not hopeless. When we refuse to resign and instead build lives worth living now, we see glimpses of a different future, and start to feel compelled to defend ourselves.
We want collective lives rife with empathy, creativity, and openness.
Thank you, again, for showing up. This is the beginning of a long road, or maybe a tightrope. Let’s walk it together, trying to avoid the traps that lay ahead.