Sunday, 24 August 2008

Moving on from Climate Camp

I wasn't too happy that there was going to be another big camp this year. Having helped make the first two happen, as did many others, I thought it would be much more effective now to have regional actions - an intense week of direct actions all over the country. The police couldn't pig such diverse and widespread activities in the way that they were able to focus all their resources on the single site at Kingsnorth. The week ended up as a battle with the cops rather than the power companies, which is what the cops intended - to absorb the anger directed at a corporation.
We have to ask ourselves what the purpose of having a big camp is. The numbers are already there. The Heathrow camp last year brought a whole new load of people into the movement. So is it going to become a liberal media spectacle or are we really serious about taking action against climate criminals and making change happen? People knew they wouldn't be shutting down Kingsnorth for more than a day at best, so the action was symbolic. Seeking symbolic action at this stage is depressing!
I read an interesting posting on the lovely Wagglesmudge blog about George Monbiot and cluttered up their comments box with a rant I should have saved for here! Monbiot represents for me, the turning point of Climate Camp. It may become liberalised (the eternal problem of widening a movement which has to happen if it is to grow) whereby people say "yeah, let's make some noise, only let's not disturb anyone". This may have already started. The first banner put up at the site had an anti-coal message and an anti-capitalist message underneath. After a while, the anti-capitalist message was removed. Or it can stay radical, grass-roots and meaningful and refuse to get into bed with corporations, media and politicians. I know which way I want things to go.
I was at every meeting for the first camp's preparation and the energy and fire and determination was exhilarating. It will be difficult to maintain this with the large numbers now coming to camp meetings, so I hope the movement will go towards affinity groupings and regional groupings that won't get watered down into ineffective co-opted 'pressure groups'.

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