UPDATE: Police in London said they had made 209 arrests. In Edinburgh around 1,000 protesters blockaded the North Bridge bringing one of the main routes in the city centre to a standstill and half a dozen arrests were made.
Two things are predictable about the Extinction Rebellion's “rebel for life”. The first is that the police will do their best to intimidate all present. The second is that most people will come away with a new sense of purpose and meaning in their lives – awakened and invigorated, full of the collective joy that spontaneously arises when human beings get together to show their strength of feeling or merely their urge for festivity. People will come home at the least relieved that "I'm not alone". That's the positive side. The inspiring struggles for action to be taken against climate change we are seeing emerging around the world have a common cause and shows that people can come together and organise in order to resolve the climate crisis in our way. And given the extremely serious nature of the ecological catastrophe we are all facing, this is not just a nice idea. Increasingly, it's a matter of survival. On the streets while promoting the case for socialism, Socialist Party members often encounter jibes from self-appointed experts on human nature to the effect that “humans are selfish and aggressive and not capable of co-operating in their own interests'. How those taking part in the Extinction Rebellion protests prove them wrong.
Central to the conceptions of Extinction Rebellion is the belief that the state can slow down and reverse global warming and save humanity. It advocates working within the framework of capitalism with a series of green reforms. The state is not a neutral, institution, which might intervene in the economy to solve the problems of the environment. The state serves capitalism. Holding a belief that the state can solve climate change is to be complicit with catastrophe. Occasionally, at times, the state may enact some palliative measures but it cannot be used to consistently and permanently defend our interests. It is simply not on our side. Extinction Rebellion regard socialism as unrealistic for the brief time there is left to save the world. We must act swiftly, they tell us, with proposals that most people can accept, such as calling on the state to take pass regulations and enforce legislation. What the Socialist Party can state with confidence is when the consequences of climate change impact popular opinion will not be what it is today, tomorrow. The climate crisis will interact with an associated economic crisis, and with continuing turmoil over migration as people flee their impoverished lands. Not to mention endless wars over resources such as water.
The Socialist Party can sympathise with sincere struggles for reforms engaged in by Extinction Rebellion. But must always point out the limitations and focus them upon the socialist goal, the only society capable of ecological harmony and freedom. Capitalism is incompatible with ecological balance, ending climate change and avoiding global warming catastrophe. This argument determines our attitude towards Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, Sunrise and many other green movements.