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Camp for Climate Action - Some Thoughts

Annon | 05.09.2009 13:51 | Climate Chaos | Energy Crisis | Social Struggles | Birmingham

Despite what some people are saying about climate camp i.e. it’s full of middle class students who only do fluffy actions, my impression was completely different.

Just from being in some of the workshops and debates it was possible to see that there is still a radical element at the heart of climate camp. OK there is an element of the middle class image portrayed in the media present at the camp but it doesn’t represent the whole camp. The Green Authoritarian workshop was a good example of how the camp is split between the sides, one side advocated the use of lobbying the government to fix things while the other realised the government aren’t capable of fixing anything and advocated getting on with it and fixing the problem ourselves. (The transition movement is a good example of this).

The difference was also apparent in the actions themselves ranging from fluffy first time actions to more serious direct actions such as the blockade of RBS and the naked protest at the PR firm Edelmann.

There have also been criticisms of the camp not being as confrontational this year because of no mass action at the end. I would actually argue that this format is better, symbolically the camp was more openly anti-capitalist in its location, and it’s tackling the cause (capitalism, unsustainable growth) rather than the symptoms (power stations, airports) and arguably all the actions this year have been far more successful than previous years. This year there were loads of actions happening all over the city (some more high profile than others) and only 1 arrest for the whole week. Compare this to previous years where there was a mass action at the end that was doomed to fail from the start due to the fact it was announced to the world that it was happening months beforehand (the swoop will suffer the same problem).

One of the more interesting ideas that came out of the Where Next workshop (a workshop that lasted the whole day on Tuesday where people could critique and suggest improvements and new ideas for the camp) was for Climate Camp as we know it to no longer exist but instead to decentralise control into each neighbourhood. Then each neighbourhood could put on a camp in their own region, it’s not a totally new idea and is already happening with the Scotland and Wales camps.

The “Middle Class” more “fluffy” element is an inevitable part of any movement that becomes a popular movement. Climate Camps biggest strength (and possibly its weakest) is its ability to build that popular movement, which is needed if mass social change is to happen. It won’t happen if we rely on the small group of “usual suspects” to change things for us, they will need mass support from the wider population as well as new blood and new ideas. The crucial point will be weather that non-radical element can be radicalised or weather it will remain as it is.




05.09.2009 14:09

Camp for Climate Action
Camp for Climate Action

Poo with a view
Poo with a view


All Photos Copyleft



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05.09.2009 20:54

In reply to your last paragraphy, I agree that the "Middle Class" more "fluffy" element is an inevitable part of any movement that becomes a popular movement, and that the Camps strength is it's own weakness. However I don't agree the 'popular' movement helps to make that change, as it has always been a small group of radicals who have made social change. This is the liberal idea that public support makes change, instead of the force of the people.

A popular movement merely shows that change is coming and the radicals were/are right. In regard to whether it will become radicalised, some will, but most obviously won't. I think CC is going to be more the 'popular' side of the movement, rather than the radical movement, and there's not much anyone can do about this but slow down the process. Moreover, I don't think this is much of an issue as there is a lot of radical direct action to save the Earth going on (since climate camp infact) that is helping to change social conditions.

Things just NEED to get more militant, otherwise current conditions won't change.
When I mean militant I mean insurrectionary actions like on