Practically speaking what is nonviolent direct action (NDVA)? Why does XR emphasise this so much?
NVDA is a technique that has been used successfully throughout human history to put pressure on governments to bring about change when there is a moral imperative to do so. It is difficult for a government or a police force to respond with moral superiority when groups of people protesting are not responding violently. Although every moment in history is different, some of the most famous NVDA actions – for example the civil rights movement in the US, protests against the Vietnam war, protests against nuclear weapons in the UK, some of the actions in India leading up to Independence were all successful without violent actions.
Do I have to get arrested? What’s that all about?
Absolutely not. Having some people who were prepared to be arrested was a key part of the Rebellions in 2019 but this was never the main or only way to get involved. Most people were not planning to get arrested, and didn’t! But the fact that there were a lot of people – many of whom had never been engaged in anything illegal before – prepared to be arrested helped to bring XR’s demands to the centre of public debate. Following the April Rebellion, Parliament and a large number of Local Councils declared a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’, and it’s unlikely such steps would have been taken without the media coverage mass arrests created. No-one involved with XR is ever put under any pressure to be arrested, and anyone thinking about it has access to a lot of training so they can weigh up the pros and cons, and understand the personal implications.
What do you do with the money you raise?
All sorts of things is the simple answer. In H&F we have raised, and spent about £5000 in the last year – the majority on printing (posters, flyers, cards) and on various Actions (making things). No rebel is paid for their time.
What’s the relationship between XR in Hammersmith & Fulham, XR UK and XR in other countries?
What holds us together is a shared vision of what we want to achieve and how we want to go about it. Any group can do what it feels is appropriate as long as it follows XR’s core Principles and Values. XR is decentralised and permits anyone to act in the name of the movement if following the values in order to achieve the Demands. We are a self-directed part of the movement.
How do I join XR?
XR is not an organisation you join in a normal sense – there is no membership process. All you have to do is to agree with the demands and the Principles.
I need to fly for my job. Does that mean I can’t join XR?
Some of us have to fly occasionally for business or family reasons. If you can avoid flying that’s obviously the best thing to do; but if you have to fly then try to take a direct flight, and don’t fly business class.
Public Transport where I live is non-existent. I have to drive and sometimes take taxis. Where does that leave me with regards to XR?
If it’s not possible to take public transport, or to cycle or walk then driving may be the only alternative. People have all kinds of reasons for needing or using a car, and many people involved in XR do drive. But we’re generally in favour of better, cheaper, greener and more flexible public transport, as well as making it easier for people of all abilities to cycle and walk safely as much as possible.
I am a member of a political party. Can I also join XR?
XR is not party political. The issues we care about are political ones but XR is not aligned to any particular political party. Nonetheless many people involved in XR are also members of political parties as well as other campaigning groups. Our 3rd demand – for a citizen’s assembly – recognises that our current political systems are not organised in the best way to bring about the radical changes we need if we are to avoid Climate and Ecological disaster.
Why does XR demand zero carbon by 2025 when no government in the world thinks that?
The 2nd of our demands is for the government to act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. So 2025 is a proxy for URGENT and ACT NOW. We have seen in the current health crisis that governments are capable of the most incredible things in the face of emergencies; we simply want the government to recognise that the ecological and climate crisis is worthy of similarly dramatic and interventionist approaches.
What do you think about the action on the tube in Canning Town in November. That seemed to alienate a lot of people?
Any group or individual in XR can act in a way they feel is appropriate if it is in keeping with our Demands and Principles. The action on the tube followed this principle. However, many other people involved with XR felt the action was not advisable to further our objectives; an online poll circulated in the days before the action was overwhelmingly against the action. Afterwards there was a lot of discussion throughout XR about the action, and we think important lessons were learned. One of the key things to come out of that process was general agreement that actions affecting ordinary people on public transport were not appropriate.
Is Greta Thundberg a spokesperson for XR?
Not in the sense that she is the leader of XR. She is an individual who shares beliefs and approaches with XR. She is best known for initiating the School Strike movement. She has often shared a platform with other well-known people – for example David Attenborough and Naomi Klein, and they all have important things to say.
Why does XR have lots of yoga / meditation / massage at the events?
A central part of XR is something called Regenerative Culture. We believe full knowledge of this crisis and a wise way to deal with it can only be found by understanding the situation with your whole being – not just your intellect. At all XR events there are activities which support this discovery and also provide support to people who are finding the reality of the situation difficult or upsetting. It’s perfectly possible (and OK) to participate in XR events and not take part in yoga or massage if it’s not your kind of thing.
I work in the evenings and can’t come to the meetings. Is that a problem?
Meetings in H&F are held on Tuesday evenings. We know some people can’t come to the meetings for all sorts of reasons – work, childcare, transport. We are always looking for other ways to enable everyone who is interested to join in – if you can’t make it on a Tuesday please email or send us a message through WhatsApp and we will be happy to see what we can do. We have discussed having some meetings during the day or at weekends and have had some very successful meetings on ZOOM during the current lockdown.