XR Hackney

Extinction Rebellion are of course right in their analysis of the situation, that we face an unprecedented challenge to the future of human life on earth, and that governments around the world are failing to take this seriously enough. The scientific evidence keeps stacking up but politicians either deny or let themselves be diverted from real action by the lobbyists from companies still making huge profits from polluting.

What is less clear is whether the actions they are taking will lead to the drastic changes which are clearly needed. They face huge opposition from extremely wealthy and powerful companies and the many ultra-rich who are doing very nicely thank you from our status quo and have yet to realise that there is little point in laughing all the way to the bank in a dying world.

Clearly too, as my pictures I think show, XR’s appeal is still largely to an educated middle class (though my apologies to the minority who will be insulted by this description.) The crowd that gathered on Kingsland High Street for the protest was very different from that thronging the adjoining Ridley Road market.

XR have attracted much flak from parts of the left, particularly for their attitude to the police and arrests, particularly for encouraging people to be arrested and to cooperate with the police, to treat them as friends. For many on the left, ACAB is a matter of faith, and sometimes of bitter experience. Certainly the police seem too ready to act as agents of the state, even where this means perverting justice – and parts of our legal system encourage this.

But at least XR are doing something, and their activities in recent months have begun a shift in the media and perhaps even in our currently Brexit-obsessed politics. While their keyboard critics have nothing to show. The Hackney Street Party may have been just a pleasant event on a nice day causing a little congestion as traffic was diverted by police around it, it was a small step in raising awareness – and part of a much larger campaign, aiming to build a wider movement. Perhaps XR will at some point be overtaken by other more radical actions, with backing from political parties, trade unions and the working class, but at the moment there is little sign of them even putting on their running shoes let alone coming to the starting blocks.

More about the XR Hackney Street Party and of course more pictures.

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