I sent this to Extinction Rebellion just now.
My name is Paul Kulas. I’m writing from the United States. I’m writing because I care. Because I have children. I’m also writing because I think what your group did yesterday in Manhattan was wrong. I think it promotes violence. I think the net of such actions are set backs for what we both believe in.
I’m 60, I live in Eagle, CO.
I’m a Democrat, my parents were Democrats.
My mother was an activist. And she worked in government. She worked for former CO Governors Roy Romer and Bill Ritter.
My mother cared about politics, what was going on in the world. She always told me I should do the same.
From 1989, when I started in tech ‘till circa 2006, I was busy caring about stuff that doesn’t matter.
Then, I saw that Mom was right.
I started a blog. My wife and I; bought solar, gave money to progressive causes, went to marches and protests, started composting, planted wildflowers, stopped using pesticides, bought t-shirts and bracelets, went vegan, read books, blogs, and articles, watched documentaries and movies, attended events, bought a Tesla, and talked to lotsa people. And more.
But here we are. 31 states are under Republican control. We have a President who ignores our laws and constitution, who really could “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and it wouldn’t matter”. The United States Senate, Supreme Court and Justice Departments all do his bidding. We’ve gone from climate change to climate crisis.
In the movie “On The Basis Of Sex“, the character of Ruth Bader Ginsburg says “Protests are important. But changing the culture means nothing if the law doesn’t change”.
Watching the climate crisis movement, and your group, what I see are people trying to change the culture – “striking to disrupt the system”, as Greta Thunberg said.
S. David Freeman is an eco pioneer and author of All-Electric America A Climate Solution and the Hopeful Future. David was a guest on this week’s Ralph Nader podcast. David attended a climate strike march. His view was, “We need to go from slogans to proposing laws.”
Freeman is right. For the changes we want, laws have to be put into place.
Have you read Dark Money – The History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer? I think it should be required reading for activists in the United States. Because what this book does, is layout what people like us are up against. We’re literally up against a machine that was put together starting in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Dark Money shows how entrenched the forces against us are. How they’ve managed to take over most states and our government.
These books should also be required reading:
United States of Distraction – Media Manipulation in Post Truth America (And What We Can Do About It) by Nolan Hidden and Mickey Huff
All Politics Is Local – Why Progressives Must Fight For The States by Meaghan Winter
“Distraction” describes how social media is all but useless for anything other than driving directions or finding a phone number. The authors are right. I’m a tech entrepreneur, I was there in the late 80’s. Today’s Internet has been taken over by corporations. It is not, what we wanted it to be back then. It should be abandoned. Yet yours and every other climate organization centers on social media. I think it’s a mistake.
Listen to Professor Ugo Mattei, lawyer and activist who masterminded the campaign against the privatization of Italy’s water. Here’s what Ugo said when asked the role social media played in his successful campaign against the privatization of Italy’s water:
“People today after ten years of neo-liberalism and social media are not able to understand physical struggles. The social media are against social movements. It’s complete rhetoric and narrative that social media are crucial for the success of these kinds of battles.”
In “Politics Is Local”, Ms. Winter emphasizes the important of winning states, not, winning the White House. She’s right. Dark Money also takes the reader through a step-by-step, well thought out long game, built around winning states.
If we’re going to successfully fight them, turn our country around, while saving the planet, we have to understand them. The books I referenced thoroughly explain the opposition and how we got here.
On your website you write:
“Conventional approaches of voting, lobbying, petitions and protest have failed because powerful political and economic interests prevent change. Our strategy is therefore one of non-violent, disruptive civil disobedience – a rebellion.”
There is no precedent for this. I can think of no time in United States history when what you wrote amounted to anything more than activists ending up as martyrs.
In the 2018 mid term elections, 4 years after the People’s Climate March in NYC that my family and I marched in, overall voter turnout was just 50.3% Our country was headed towards the deepest divisions in our history, Trump was President. Yet 1 in 2 people, including fellow marchers, did not vote.
The 2016 United States Presidential election was decided by less than 78,000 votes. In the 2018 mid-term elections, our country was headed towards the deepest divisions in our history, Trump was President. Yet only half of the people voted.
The problem isn’t that voting has failed, what you wrote. In fact you couldn’t be any more wrong. The entire problem, is people aren’t voting. Maybe, because you don’t vote and you’re telling others not to vote?
When I take an objective view of your organization, I see people who’ve shown up to a gun battle with a butter knife. I see messaging that’s inconsistent, incongruent, and dangerous. I see plans that there’s no precedent for. I see people ignoring history, who seem to think these times are different and therefore the playbook should be different. I see good intensions, of course. But I’m reminded of the old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
I wish you’d see that you’re failing to accomplish anything other than drawing more people into the social media cesspool. I wish you’d see you’re getting your ass kicked, and you’re going to keep getting your ass kicked, until you show some humility. I wish you’d see the harm you’re doing.
Until then, I’m doing all I can to get people to ignore you. Because you’re not helping Mother Earth. You’re hurting her.