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Rupert Read suggests development of a 'moderate flank' to climate/ecological activism.


In an article written for the Green House Think Tank, Extinction Rebellion founder member and frequent spokesperson Rupert Read suggests that the time has come to pivot "climate movement strategy from the radical flank effect to a ‘moderate’ flank."


The initial gloss for this piece reads: "The rapid, system-level change required by the pressing nature of climate-reality necessitates mass mobilisation. XR’s great success in driving climate action up the public agenda is not matched by public appetite to participate in its methods. As ever more people are jolted into awareness of climate realities, they need a relatable space within which to take action. As such there has opened up a fertile space for a mass moderate flank — whose energy can be channelled most consequentially into far-reaching activism in the workplace."


This, he emphasizes, is not a criticism of XR and its methods, but a suggestion that there are limits to what it alone can achieve, as shown (to some extent) in the decreasing number of people participating in its actions since 2019. He is looking for ways to change public attitudes that are comparable to the growing acceptance of LGBT rights. He sees potential to involve those whose interests lie in nature and conservation, people in their workplaces, and the possibility to set up 'parents' movements' to match existing youth movements.


He goes on to point out that the climate/ecological struggle is not like some that were previously invoked by XR, such as the Civil Rights movement or that of the Suffragettes. It is not a struggle for self-liberation but for selflessness. "Change," he adds, "requires that a far larger percentage of the population understand and feel the bitter truth - that no-one in authority is planning to do enough to save their kids; their world. That this issue of issues cannot be outsourced any longer; that Governments, let alone scientists (who are increasingly let down by a policy-making system out of tune with them and with precaution), are not ‘on’ this in a manner that will amount to enough. More people need to feel their vulnerability, and that of their children. Doing so will be painful - but also transformative. "


This thought-provoking and carefully argued essay seems very much in line with what we in Planet Shaftesbury have been trying to establish locally. It can be read at:



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Arthur Simmonds
Arthur Simmonds
Sep 16, 2021

I agree with the published article. Thank you Richard for bringing it to our attention.

In Tuesday's Guardian under the headline "Climate activists block M25 to demand better insulation of homes",it quotes one activist who said "It's a no-brainer. insulating Britain' will reduce emissions,provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and stop our elderly dying in cold homes each winter. So stop messing about Boris and get on with the job."

We can all supprt that. But then he goes on to say "As soon as a statement is made that we can trust and is meaningful we will get off the roads"

This is where it gers contentious. One white van man's reaction was :"Get out of my fucking way!"…

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Richard Foreman
Richard Foreman
Sep 16, 2021
Replying to

Thanks for your comment, Arthur, certainly a case in point. Your thanks also remind me that I should thank Robin Walter for bringing this piece to our attention in the first place.


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