Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Camp For Climate Action and Reaction

The Camp For Climate Action has been achieving media attention beyond what the organisers could have reasonably hoped at this stage, due in part to the over-reaction of BAA and the Police and also to the topicality of the issues around climate change, aviation and holidays in the mainstream media. The media spokespeople for the camp have done an excellent job in countering the attempts to present the events as a killjoy attack on once-a-year-holidaymakers. The message that it is about BAA, their expansion plans and the corporations driving emissions targets-busting aviation expansion has been getting a better hearing than might have been suspected, and his has been largely due to the effective media handling.

The response from some sections of British society has revealed something of the unpleasant authoritarian underbelly and (to be frank) vicious bigotry and fascism that lay beneath thin layers of Daily Mail respectability, social conformism and Clarksonite "laddishness". The comment sections on BBC and British newspaper websites have been filled with bile, hatred and wishes for violent retribution and repression to befall the climate campers.

Remember, the Climate Campers are people from different backgrounds and viewpoints who have come together to take a stand on what is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, risking arrest and possible victimisation in work or in the community for daring to be different and express a controversial viewpoint. The bigots who post on the Daily Mail and other sites see only "workshy hippies" and can only think of calling for benefit snoopers and police repression, and in some cases "shipping them off to Guantanamo for an extended stay" Nice......not!

Most rightist posts are more concerned with stereotyping and spewing out their resentment that they are at work in crappy, boring jobs ("so why should anyone else get off lightly?" - they demand equality of misery, if nothing else!) than seriously debating issues around climate change, social change or anything else. Spattered amongst these posts are the posts of the usual corporate bottom-feeders of the climate contrarian ilk spouting about "eco-fascism". Methinks they should look closer to home for far right views.

The Guardian's temporary Climate Camp blog linked to a very tasteful armed forces discussion board where posts discuss 'clusterbombing' the site or 'crashing a plane' into it. So, different ideas about dress, food and economic priorities, and daring to protest about something are now a pretext for "jokily" advocating mass murder? It is somewhat ironic that the peaceful protesters have been subject to harassment under anti-terrorist legislation while members of HM Forces advocate terrorist acts against them.

Of course this is nothing new. It is just rare to see such concentrated outbursts of fear, hate and resentment in Britain. ITV4 is currently running the 1970s Nigel Kneale Quatermass sci-fi serial starring John Mills on Sunday nights. In the 70s the British right and the establishment really thought they were losing to the forces of anarchy/communism/whatever other bogeyman they imagined over G&Ts at the golf club. Kneale, by then a rather paranoid and bitter old man, envisaged a society where the old order had collapsed into chaos and gang warfare. Their are similarities with "A Clockwork Orange" (incidentally, the name given to one of the 1970s para-political plots) In the 1979 Quatermass along comes an alien power (that has been responsible for turning all the kids bad), lures all the young and troublesome elements (thinly disguised caricatures of the left, punks, hippies and skinheads called "Badders","Planet People" and "Blue Brigades") into large gatherings in stadiums and stone circles and incinerates them with a death ray. Old Prof. Quatermass of course saves the day and the world returns to 'normal', minus all the inconvenient people, of course.

Now one does not have to be a psychologist to see the bourgeois reactionary wish fulfillment there! We are talking about a time when right wing regimes were actually rounding people up and "disappearing them" in sports stadia in South America and elsewhere, a time when private armies and coup plots were being considered by significant elements of the ruling class. The threat of authoritarianism or fascism in Britain have not gone away, and will likely re-emerge with renewed crises. The responses to the Climate Campers bear witness to this.

All this reveals that the climate issue, but also any attempts to protest or take action on any issue that upsets the status quo raise far more issues than are at first evident. They raise issues about the control of media (where do the vast majority of the hate-filled bigots get their stereotypes and misinformation from?)- but ultimately about power in society and where it lies - chiefly with corporate entities and financial institutions, with elites and "armed bodies of men".

These are the issues which take us beyond environmentalism or civil liberties into the discussion of ecosocialism, anti-fascism, broad struggle and social change.

Let us hope that after the media circus has died down, the civil disobedience is carried out, and the impotent rage of the reactionaries is moved to the next convenient scapegoat, then those participating in and sympathising with the viewpoint of the Camp will continue and expand the debate about how we move forward to build a movement equal to the challenges.

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