Dysophia – the many worlds of green anarchism

  • Categories

  • Archives

Climate Camp Reader

Posted by dysophia on January 8, 2010

Dysophia and Shift Magazine have joined forces to put together a Climate Camp Reader, “Criticism without Critique”, published in January 2010. To download it follow this link:



In January & February 2010, the Camp for Climate Action will go through a period of introspection as it works out where it shall go next.  While in some ways the Camp has been a success, it has also come under a barrage of criticism from some quarters within the radical movements that spawned it.

To help this debate we have put together a set of resources and relevant articles to inform and spark discussion relating to this criticism.  Our bias is obvious, though the opinions expressed are those of the authors alone.  Whether you agree with them or not, we believe they are worth taking on board. We hope at least that you feel confident answering their challenges, rather than just dismissing them.

Now is the time for the Camp to examine its politics in more depth, to work out just what it stands for.  This is a cross-roads in its development, to continue down a path of ever increasing liberal, reformist approach, or to be the noisy radical, pointing out all the white elephants in the climate change debate. The future of the movement around the camp is being shaped here.  The decisions being made now will have profound impacts on who is and who is not involved in the future.

The Camp for Climate Action grew out of the radical anarchist and environmental movements, a synthesis of the organisational skills developed at the Anti-G8 protest camp at Stirling, and the ecological direct action movements such as Earth First! The perception that emerges from these criticisms is this has been lost along the way.

We accept that this booklet makes challenging reading and that we offer little in the way of solutions. These, we believe, must come from within the camp itself. However, it is apparent that there is a need for two things. Firstly, a greater visibility for the anarchist roots within the day to day life of the CCA process and proposals. Secondly, and just as important, a more open and explicit critique of capitalism and how it is the root cause of climate change.

If we do neither out of fear of a mainstream media backlash, then we are reduced to being another NGO.   Yet, the power of the Camp has always been the promise of a genuine alternative action in the face of prevarication and obstruction from governments and corporations – now is the time to spell that critique out and use it to build real alternatives, not legitimising the system we complain of. It was the strength of the Camp’s founding critiques that gave it the boldness its subsequent successes have rested on.

Ultimately, the message of the Camp is a very radical one – that radical social change is needed, especially if we are to tackle of the root causes of climate change. The answer is not to water down our actions and our messages, but to be bolder than ever. That is the excitement and power that gives the Camp its life.


One Response to “Climate Camp Reader”

  1. Merrick said

    [Before I begin, I should just set out my involvement: I was involved in climate camp from the first public meeting, organising the first two climate camps. After Heathrow I’ve largely stopped going to meetings, though still attended the camps, as well as the G20.]

    I simply don’t recognise the dilution of politics you speak of.

    The first camp’s mass action was to go for the fences at a coal fired power station with the intention of occupying and shutting it down. This year’s one was the same. Hard to see the dilution of politics there.

    The first camp had one affinity group action. The last one had a dozen or more.

    The first camp’s programme unironically says that one of the ten things we can do to effect change is to change our lightbulbs. The movement now uses that as a short-hand for ‘action nowhere near proportionate to the problem that shifts the responsibility on to consumption rather than corporate power and the prevailing economic paradigm’.

    The first two camps allowed police on site. This year, the neighbourhood I was in put a block on the very suggestion. It was a block used in the correct way, that such action contradicts the fundamental principles of the group. We had created an autonomous space and were not going to cede control or seek permission from the state.

    Meetings for the first two Climate Camps found the idea of squatting land contentious. This isn’t even a consideration any more.

    At Blackheath there were 500 people in an plenary about economics, all of them engaged and intelligent, all of it overtly anti-capitalist; it was utterly extraordinary and beyond anything achieved at Drax. Ditto a thousand people tearing down the fences of Ratcliffe.

    The Blackheath camp was the most overtly anti-capitalist of them all. You rubbish it with quotes about the kind of people who went culled from a blogpost written by someone who – punchline! – wasn’t there.

    Quoting such twaddle doesn’t help you any. It suggests you’re looking for evidence to fit a preconceived idea. Of the dozens of people I knew there who I spoke to, and the dozens more I didn’t know, not one of them had ‘gone with the express or primary intention of taking photographs’.

    Yes, people are turning up whose ideas aren’t well thought-through. But they are not the people whose ideas direct the movement. The only people I spoke to who thought we should compromise and let cops on site were newbies who’d not been to a previous camp. Once they saw how well it worked, they agreed they’d been wrong. The others had seen the cops in action at previous camps. Add this up. What’s happening is that the camp is – as it was always intended to do – having a radicalising effect on people.

    Many of us old guard began our political life waving placards and signing petitions. We were brought on board by people talking to us, making it clear that the radical perspective is the only one that is reasonable.

    It is a shame that people don’t all come along ready-radicalised and with a great historical knowledge, but that’s never happened for any movement. Carping about that being the case is a poor substitute for actually having the conversations that change people’s minds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: