From September 20 to 27, tens of thousands will take to the streets to denounce the causes of climate change and call on governments to address what may be the most drastic crisis facing humanity in the 21st century. These mass actions will showcase the growing anger of a new generation that has known nothing but crisis, war, and the threat of environmental collapse. We have prepared the following text as a flier encouraging climate activists to consider how to interrupt the causes of climate change via direct action rather than petitioning the state to solve the problem for us. Please print these out and distribute them at climate protests and everywhere else you can.
Finally, people are filling the streets to call on governments to address the climate crisis, the most serious threat facing humanity in the 21st century. This is long overdue. But what good will it do to petition the same sector of society that created this problem? Time and again, we have learned that the state does not exist to serve our needs but to protect those who are profiting on the causes of this crisis.
The most effective way to pressure politicians and executives to address the climate crisis is to show that whatever they fail to do, we will do ourselves. This means moving beyond symbolic displays of “non-violence” to build the capacity to shut down the fossil fuel economy ourselves. No amount of media attention or progressive rhetoric can substitute for this. If we fail to build this capacity, we can be sure that the timeline for the transition to less destructive technologies will be set by those who profit on the fossil fuel economy.
Several examples from recent social movements show that we have the power to shut down the economy ourselves.
In 2011-2012, the Occupy Movement demonstrated that tens of thousands of people could make decisions without top-down organization, meeting their needs collectively and carrying out massive demonstrations. On one day of action, participants shut down ports up and down the West Coast, confirming that coordinated blockades can disrupt the global supply chain of energy and commodities.
In 2016, people converged to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline, a corporate project threatening Native land and water. Tens of thousands established a network of camps to block construction, demonstrating a new way to live and fight together. The Obama administration canceled the pipeline, causing many occupiers to go home, but the Trump administration reinstated it—confirming that we must never count on the government to do anything for us.
In France, occupiers blocked the construction of a new airport at la ZAD, the “Zone to Defend.” Farmers teamed up with anarchists and environmentalists, establishing an autonomous village that provided infrastructure for the struggle. After years of struggle, the French government gave up and canceled the airport.
We have seen train blockades in a variety of struggles. In Olympia, Washington, anarchists blocked trains carrying fracking proppants in 2016 and in 2017, forcing the company to stop transporting the commodity. In Harlan County, Kentucky, coal miners have blocked a coal-carrying train after the Black Jewel company refused to pay wages they owed to workers. It only takes a few dozen people to shut down a key node in the supply chains of the global fossil fuel economy. Imagine what we could do on a bigger scale!
Governments serve to protect the economy from those it exploits. The state exists to evict, to police, to wage war, to oppress, and above all to defend the property of the wealthy few. The perils of climate change have been known for years, but governments have done little in response, focusing instead on fighting wars for oil, militarizing their borders to keep out climate refugees, and attacking the social movements that could bring about the sort of systemic change that is our only hope of survival.
The capitalist economy is literally killing us. Let’s begin the process of shutting it down.
Another end of the world is possible!