Extinction Rebellion Should Target the System, Not the People Caught in It

By Paul Messersmith-Glavin (October 8, 2019)

Extinction Rebellion is a necessary and vital response to the climate crisis. They are forcing the issue and helping us focus on what’s important. But they are mistaken in targeting people caught up in a larger system by blocking traffic and disrupting everyday life, rather than aiming for instance at the 100 corporations and governments changing the climate: it’s the system, not the people caught up in it.

Through this disruption they seem to hope to pressure governments to act to stop climate change, but this assumes that the very system responsible for changing the climate can somehow stop it.

In this sense they are militant reformists who hopefully will take the next step and locate the climate crisis specifically in the drive to accumulate wealth by a minority of the population, and all its manifestations in racial and gender domination, colonialism, and class society.

To solve the climate crisis we need a new society, one that doesn’t by its very nature change the climate and destroy the natural world. The sooner we set that as our aim the better.


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