We have arrived at a defining moment in history. Our planet is dying, and we’re dying with it. Electoral politics have failed us and protests seem to fall on deaf ears. Extinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.
In April 2018, fifteen UK activists gathered to draw on their experience, broad research and a blueprint for social movements called “Rising Up” which some had been working on since 2016. They asked themselves why the actions of the suffragettes, Gandhi and the American civil rights movement had dramatically improved the lives of millions, while so many other movements failed to achieve their goals.
They observed that, in general, successful social movements: involve large numbers of ordinary civilians (an estimated 3.5% of the population), are organised, strategic and creative, threaten the interests of the powerful, and are strictly non-violent.
The group proceeded to contact local grassroots organisations, organise training sessions, raise awareness, hand out leaflets and work social media platforms to kickstart a movement known as the “Extinction Rebellion” or “XR”.
XR UK major actions so far:
- 31 October 2018: “Declaration of Rebellion” demonstration in London’s Parliament Square.
- 17 November 2018: Blocking of the 5main bridges across the Thames for 24hours, leading to multiple arrests.
- 15 April 2019: Two weeks of mass action, occupying 4 key thoroughfares in London: Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square, Marble Arch and Oxford Circus.
These actions resulted in over 1000 arrests and significant publicity. on 1st May Parliament declared a climate emergency and Theresa May’s last act as PM was to commit the UK to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Extinction Rebellion South Africa
XR groups in South Africa began to take shape in December 2018 and have carried out several small, self-organised actions so far. At present we have minimal structures, strategies or plans. We are simply a group of activists and enthusiasts who got word of this a little before you! We are basing our structure on XR in the UK for now, but we will adapt as we learn and grow. What’s most important is that everything is transparent, and every member has an equal voice in decision-making.
At the core of Extinction Rebellion’s philosophy is nonviolent civil disobedience. We promote rebellion because we think it is necessary. We are asking people to find the courage to do collectively what is necessary to bring about systemic change.
We organise in small groups. These groups are connected in a complex web that is constantly evolving as we grow and learn. We are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised and inclusive.