Analysis, Action and Climate Camp

Wednesday, 10th February 2010 at 9:00 UTC 1 comment

I think everyone who knows me gets that I love Climate Camp. I haven’t been as involved as I might have been lately, but there’s a lot gone on during my time away that I want to celebrate. But right now, Climate Camp is essentially on hiatus, figuring out what it wants to do with itself; a great idea, but one that could soon lead to tragic naval gazing.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the fact that Climate Camp is based on very solid analysis of the situation, that it always starts from what is necessary and makes it achievable rather than figuring what is achievable and campaigning for that. I love being part of something that holds integrity in the face of power, and that has gone for so long without fixing itself into many of the boxes that kill the dynamism of many campaigns.

But right now, its month 3 of what feels like an interminable period of reflection. Reflection is worthwhile as long as you have new things to reflect upon. The last five years have created amazing tales of people standing up to state and governmental attempts to prevent action on the climate that targets the big emitters and the places of corruption that prevent long term action. Right now, none of that is happening.

The hiatus was, in some ways, inevitable; who doesn’t take a Christmas/New Year break? And with Copenhagen so close before Christmas, stalling through January would make sense, just so people can recuperate. But as much as some recuperate, others lose interest. One of the best things with Climate Camp has been the openness for those who want to get involved in taking decisions to get stuck in, but it has also been big enough to allow those less certain of themselves, or less happy with taking initiative, to still come out and take part in something. Not everyone wants to be part of decision making, initiative taking, etc. Many of these people are at risk of getting lost in the process.

During the day of discussion in Manchester that I managed to attend, it was clear that a lot of agreement on politics existed. It showed there were many people with much to contribute. But as a day of reflection and analysis, it was necessarily limited in its usefulness and now the only remaining question is what to do next, how to act, what interventions to make…

As well as an overarching concern that the camp is going into atrophy, I also have a personal concern, though I’m sure others are similarly affected. By going for months without any agenda for action, not only do we loose our focus as the Camp for Climate Action – we loose the positive coping strategy that having a plan of action brings in the face of the pressures of Climate as an insurmountable crisis.

The message of Copenhagen is rather different depending on who you listen to, and some have tried to put out the analysis that it proved Western Elites were happy to doom entire countries to extinction if it was helpful for them to stay powerful and get richer. In the face of such analysis, filled with utter doom and gloom, there are many coping strategies. One is to find another analysis. If this is to be useful, the analysis must not just state how things are, but must offer a plausible path to action. Another is to simply get on and strike out against the dark. Both ultimately require the same thing: activity beyond endless talking.

I’m sick and fed up of endless discussions of who collapsed Copenhagen, why the government won’t create chance, how the rich have vested interests. None of this is in any way a solution to Climate Change. Either people believe there is a solution and want to actively work through a solution, or they need to step back and let others take the reigns. Not necessarily myself, mind; I’m getting rather too filled with gloom to do the bootstrap routine any more times for climate camp. Anyone can discuss why any given course of action won’t work. Real active mass-leadership involves a bunch of people getting out and creating more active leaders to get things moving. Until then, all we’ll have is a Camp full of doomsayers sat staring into the fire, as though grounded by inertia or facing atrophy on the eve of battle.


Entry filed under: Activism, Climate Change, Environment, Politics.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. climateslamdown  |  Saturday, 13th February 2010 at 7:44 UTC

    Climate Camp pursued the “logic” of mass actions for years, without putting down any local roots that I have heard about – not ones that weren’t there before, IMHO.

    And after drinking for years from the keg marked “media attention and prancing about on the (inter)national stage”, now comes the hangover. If the “camp” movement had had the courage and smarts to realise that more camps wasn’t automatically the best way to grow networks and movements, it wouldn’t be in the entirely avoidable (and therefore tragic) mess that it is now in. Make. Bed. Lie. In. It.

    Oh, and navel, not naval.


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