In The Nation, environmental journalist Ben Ehrenreich talks to members of Extinction Rebellion, a climate justice organization recently founded in the UK, about collective action in the face of despair. The group started with small acts of civil disobediance around London, but soon thousands of people flocked to their events, and they now have dozens of chapters around the world. As Ehrenreich observes, the group’s tactics may have limitations, but Extinction Rebellion nonetheless teaches us that “collective action is the surest antidote to solitary despair.” Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
The lesson here is not that any one strategy is particularly efficacious. It’s that collective action is the surest antidote to solitary despair. This is something that Americans have largely forgotten. When I asked Clare Farrell, another founding XR organizer, how she managed to keep afloat despite the ever-rising tide of apocalyptic news, she answered by recalling an early XR slogan: “Hope dies, action begins.”
We act, in other words, on the terrain of hopelessness, and by acting we transform the terrain. Faith is not about belief. It’s a leap into action—despite it all, for each other, and for a future that we cannot yet see. Anyway, Farrell said, “to not act is surely hopeless.” So we might as well fight while we can.
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