The Crude Awankening

They say prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.

Well, on Saturday October 16th there is a ‘Crude Awakening’ in London. Here are seven predictions.

A lot of people in local groups around the country will commit a lot of time, money, energy and bandwidth which they COULD have spent on local campaigning, local activism. They will schlep down to the Capital to take part in a series of set pieces or ‘running engagements’ with the police.

Most of the people observing these running engagements etc. will think “what’s going on there? Is it a film? Is it a publicity stunt? What’s going on?”

The protests/actions/awankening will either be largely ignored by the mass media (In the newsroom; “hippies protesting climate change? So 2008! Old news is no news.”) except for/until a small ruck with the forces of law and order happens. (If the Campers do not provide one, the Met will be happy to oblige…) Then the usual “violent thugs who don’t really care about the planet” line will be trotted out. That story may in fact already have been written.

Regardless of what actually happens on the day, a breathless press release/announcement will be posted on the websites of the sponsoring organisations proclaiming victory, “an important step in building a mass movement against the fossil fuel industry.” That announcement may in fact already have been written.

The blogosphere will fill with recriminations and accusations. Rather than doing productive work to educate themselves and others about local issues, the most literate and committed activists still within the movement will waste time and energy in flame wars, troll-bashing etc.

Some new activists will be put off by the cliquyness, the atmosphere of intimidation in big set piece public disorder situations, or if they get arrested and not supported. Crucially, they will not admit that they have been intimidated (who wants to publicly brand themselves a ‘coward’. That’s not what they are, but it’s what they may mistakenly think they are). They will simply not be there for the next meeting of the group.

There will be various sententious observations from hard-line Marxists chiding the participants for confusing Oil and Capitalism, pointing out that exploitation and pillage can continue with solar panels and wind-turbines. Someone will inevitably drag out the line that Capitalism is not (just) a set of institutions but a social relation. I’m de-bord already.

On October 17th, when Capitalism and the Oil Industry stagger to their feet after the near-mortal blow dealt to them, the question will remain: what should be happening in the year 2011?
Should the soi-disant NVDA movement… (Please turn over)

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7 Responses to The Crude Awankening

  1. leavergirl says:

    See? Seeing into the future ain’t so hard after all! 🙂

    Gadz, the tedium…. the poor newbies… the pointlessness of it… it just breaks my heart.

  2. leavergirl says:

    Oh say…. there actually are some hardline Marxists still in existence? That is truly hard to believe.

  3. dwighttowers says:

    Oh yeah, they are still around, selling their papers with the tiny circulations. Did you ever read the Cointelpro papers? It turns out that several New York socialist papers were kept afloat by subscriptions via the FBI – to keep themselves in a job (gotta have a domestic threat, be able to point to a local tentacle of the International Communist Conspiracy…)

    I haven’t done any research or serious thinking on this, but that’s never stopped me pontificating before – I think with the collapse of the Soviet Union and then the final takeover of the UK Labour Party by people who weren’t even Methodists, let alone Marxists (UK Labourism much more inspired by Fox etc than Marx and Engels), then these little groups have no “entryism” to do, no “real existing socialism” to point to (with the exception of Cuba. Many of them are down on Cuba for reasons other than the tyranny thing. Deformed workers’s state? Adventurist bourgeois reformism? I neither know nor care about their analysis).

    In my experience they are also INSANELY jealous of the public support for environmentalism, be it the electoral “success” of the Green Party, and of the media coverage that things like Climate Camp (used to) get. It aggravates them greatly that a bunch of (in their eyes) naive or middle-class hippies and trustafarians can generate so much interest and sympathy while their own Correct Analysis languishes in nowheresville. The cartoon here helps explain a bit of that….

    Thanks for commenting!!

  4. dwighttowers says:

    Via facebook –

    “The paragraph about the cliquyness / intimidation thing is interesting as he suggests that new activists may well not bother again. Implication: Climate Camp is struggling to become a truly mass movement. The author ought to expand more on it, as it is a very interesting discussion to be had.
    The rest is bollocks.”

    For more on how potential new members are scared away/bored away etc, well, there are a bunch of youtube videos on the Dwight Towers youtube channel.

    Three of particular relevance
    Meetings from Above

    Diary of a Newbie

    Newbie in a parallel universe

    And a blog post

    Just saying “it’s bollocks” does not, usually, advance a discussion. It sheds more heat than light. Why are these predictions so obviously wrong?
    Number 1 is based on current observations.
    Number 2 is based on multiple past experience – it is supremely difficult to get observers clued up about what is going on, even if what is going on is a simple and tedious as a march. It will of course be virtually impossible – methodologically speaking – to confirm or deny.
    Number 3 – Climate Change is no longer of much interest to the media, and the ‘protesting hippies’ story has been done more than enough times. But it is easily checked.
    Number 4 – based on the build up to the Swoop last year and what actually got said afterwards in the press release.
    Number 5 – well, that’s based on previous events like this. (I may have over-reached by claiming experienced activists will waste time on trolls etc.) We shall see. Or not – I won’t be bothering to check whether that prediction comes true. Lousy scientist, eh?
    Number 7 – see number 5.

    It might be worth reading the little Climate Camp Reader that came out earlier this year.“a-climate-camp-reader”

  5. dwighttowers says:

    Also from Facebook;

    “Hey Jake. Dwight Towers is a genius

    DT – er, as Jason Bourne told Noah Vosen “I doubt that.”

    and one of the founding fathers of the amazing Climate Camp,

    DT – er, as Jason Bourne told Noah Vosen “I doubt that.” Never in the Land Group, never an “elder”.

    and he hates the police as much as the next Anarchist. So if Climate Camp must have a critic then i suppose it should be him.

    DT – “if Climate Camp must have a critic”? That’s a pretty terrifying formulation, frankly.

    Sadly it does all read rather like the script for a William Joyce radio show :’-

    DT – Er, you are either calling me a fascist or a fascist collaborator here. I’m gonna let that one slide though…

    ( One thing Dwight wont yet accept is the concept of strength in numbers

    DT – For the second time, you assert access to my thoughts. Just for clarity, I DO accept the concept of strength in numbers, but millions, not thousands. If the climate camp “movement” had, instead of going down the national every year route, devoted some time to proper action (not two local one-offs a year, for example, as we have had here) instead of spending all its time on national, we might have more numbers.

    and at the moment that means the Camp has to be national,

    DT – until when? How many more “just-one-more-push-and-we-will-break-through” camps can we expect? Do you ever suspect that maybe you’re going down this path because it is comfortable, and meets other needs besides the stated ones of “building a mass movement”? This is PRECISELY the thought process of the Trots. “One more march comrades, and we will be there!” How about watching the Smugosphere video. You know, this one….

    just look at the Welsh camp this year, that was small and local and got bust up by the police and sent packing.

    DT – well, I’m sorry for them. The same repertoire won’t work everywhere, and after a while the State and corporations figure out how to deal with it. You get stale, you get eaten.

    As for cliquishness, Drax was probably the cliquiest Camp and Heathrow the 2nd most, and its been becoming progressively less cliquey ever since.

    DT – not qualified to comment personally. I have heard differently. But I am far more worried about the cliqyness in local meetings, which is something you yourself have mentioned on several occasions. If someone is committed enough to go to a national camp, in face of all the media hysteria about baby-eating anarchists, they’re probably going to be mentally strong enough to deal with the cliquyness. It’s the ‘might go to that meeting down the road to check it out’ ones who I worry about…

    Edinburgh was a smallish camp compared to previous years, but this had nothing to do with the movement dying and everything to do with the camp being held in Scotland. If there was ever going to be a camp targeting RBS then it simply had to be in Scotland, it would have been impolite to have it anywhere else.

    DT – you’ve begged a question there. You are assuming that there is a movement. What I see is a bunch of people drawn from a very specific set of demographics (student, semi-employed in the Public Sector, unemployed, on a return-to-work wheeze, usual suspect greenies) with enough retireds and “respectables” for people to protest vehemently that it is actually a broad mix of people.

    I think the Scots appreciated that and next years camp will have a big Scottish barrio as a result. Anyway, see you at Crude Awakening dude.

    DT – why on earth would I go to the Crude Awankening?

    Dwight might not like it but MLK would love it -“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” Martin Luther King, Strength to Love p27″

    DT – Here it gets tricky, because any disagreement looks like I am dissing MLK. But I suggest you read “And We Are Not Saved”, a fabulous book about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States between 1960 and 1966, and how it quickly imploded. Written at the time by a young female participant. You want to throw the word genius around, that’s where you should throw it. It turns out there was a lot of criticism of the national media stunts/hunger for publicity for the Leaders, and the endless marching by the SLCC etc, which made the work of grass-roots organisers much much more difficult. You are also begging a question in labelling the Crude Awankening and its ilk as “creative”. I believe it is just a stale stale retread, and meeting needs other than the stated ones. But I could be wrong.

  6. dwighttowers says:

    A reply on facebook again.

    “Ahh James, you see I never knew that about him, so was coming from a purely blank context. That’s a shame he won’t accept the strength in numbers concept. I accept it only takes a few strong-willed determined individuals to achieve big things but considering we’re up against the entire system (media, business, government etc), as Dwight suggests, we need numbers and we need to keep them.
    It was right to do the last one up in Scotland, though not sure about the timing, and a lot of my initial reservations (which is why I didn’t go) were totally unfounded. It did seem to gain a more diverse and less cliquey crowd, which is good, but the last mass action was farcical and I didn’t feel the general media perception was anywhere near as good as in the past. (I read a LOT of different media that week!)
    I agree that Climate Camp has got to remain national until we get the numbers. Perhaps that might mean changing a little of how it operates and certainly a more centrally located national camp catering for both a mass nvda a la Kingsnorth and more introductory workshops a la Blackheath.
    Yep, I’ll be down in London hoping that there’s a good turnout and it doesn’t piss it down. A day dry of other news would also be pretty handy as well :-)”

  7. dwighttowers says:

    Elin Carlsson, via the facebook discussion, writes

    James, are you saying that climate change can be turned around by a creative few and doesnt need a mass movement?

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