Tuesday, May 21

White like me? – It’s probably time you got arrested

Psst – hey … yeah you… generation x. I know you probably forgot you existed but I am reaching out to you now. I am talking to you if you are a middle aged, middle class, privileged white male – like me. (If not, feel free to listen in anyway. Maybe you know one, you should send them this article).

We were raised in the days of telethons and “girls can do anything” and “jump rope for heart”. Born in decades when it was still illegal to be gay in this country.

We possess neither the wealth and wrath of our boomer parents, nor the desperate rage of the millennials, nor the love of the absurd and peaceful acceptance in the face of their own demise as our adorable zoomer kids.

Anyway – I am reaching out to you now dude. By now you probably realise it was all a lie – the dream of the 80s, the promise you could be anything you wanted. By now you realise that the machine is all powerful. Iconic movies of our time like The Terminator and The Matrix are comments directly about the world we inhabit. Not about Robots, AI, and virtual reality. No these stories are about the robotic power of the corporation and its ability and willingness to to destroy us to fulfil its objectives. They are about the fake and plastic nature of the political/economic/media system we were born into and brainwashed to believe is real.

Why am I bringing all this up? Because I am offering you an opportunity to stand up. To actually rage against the machine instead of just singing about it. Our granddads returned from war as heroes and wanted nothing more than a quiet life with their families and lots of beer. Our dads figured that what made men men was getting drunk, missing the point that this was an escape from the horrors their papas had witnessed and participated in. Most of us were raised by alcoholic or absent dads and many of us are too. Hey – I ain’t judging!

So now it’s time to do our bit. Here is our chance to make good on that promise from decades gone by to do something useful and meaningful with our pathetic pale lives… to acknowledge none of us really give a fuck what the best seinfeld episode was, or who’s the latest celebrity philosopher that is “really worth listening to”, or whether we’ll actually one day get good at chess or playing guitar.

We know deep in our hearts, our apathy has allowed our childrens’ futures to be ruined, destroyed by the greed of the system we inherited and have propped up ever since. We know in a world where 100 corporations produce 70% of emissions, that changing our light bulbs and doing our recycling are not going to cut it.

What I am asking of you is far less dangerous than going to war, but harder to actually do because we don’t have the endorsement of the state which is now under the control of the death machine. Now you’re under control. Now you do what they told ya.

Come to Wellington this April. Help shutdown the system which is destroying us.

I am part of a group of rebels which is striving to avert the coming apocalypse. Striving to avert a potential slide toward facism. In doing so we aim to bring about the possibility of a society that can withstand the coming decline and usher in a smooth reduction in consumption (flatten the curve) and avoid abrupt collapse.

We work to put real pressure on the government to implement changes that will tackle climate change in ways that reduce consumption of the natural world. We are part of an international network who are all working on similar goals. We have come to realise that personal change, writing submissions, signing petitions, even going on marches or shutting down and humiliating big polluters is not enough. We’ve tried – it hasn’t worked.

The rate of consumption of the natural world still increases along with greenhouse gas emissions. We slide ever closer to tipping points such as the melting of arctic sea ice and the collapse of the amazon (not to mention soil loss and alarmingly high rates of extinction).

Every fraction of a degree matters, but the more tipping points we cross the less power we have to do something about it. In other words if we don’t make big enough changes fast enough we will become powerless spectators of the crises we’ve created and we’ll have to face the consequences of our inaction.

It is now clear that our current political and economic system is not capable of making the changes required to preserve a livable future on this planet. At least, not without a fundamental feature of democratic systems which has been dormant in recent years.

We now turn to what has worked throughout history to bring about systemic change in democratic societies – direct peaceful civil resistance. Where civil rights are concerned, in the past, the act of resistance has simply been to exist, or to participate openly in the activities which our repressive society had banned. Such as freedom riders who sat together (black and white) on buses or the gay rights movement. However at this time we are not arbitrarily being denied a right to do something we are physically capable of. Our plight is more insidious – we are being murdered by ourselves and each other through an overriding system and infrastructure which is owned and run by the billionaire class.

We now have a responsibility to do something about it. Around the world there are groups such as “Just Stop Oil”, “Renovate France”, “Save the Wetlands” and here in Aotearoa we have “Restore Passenger Rail”. The demand is to restore a low ticket price, nationwide passenger rail network, and make public transport free.

I know what you’re thinking – hardly a flashy way to save the planet. Its true Passenger Rail won’t be the silver bullet that fixes everything. However, it will reduce emissions, reduce the cost of living and it will do these things by reducing consumption of the natural world. It is easy to implement then extend and it is very popular across the political spectrum. Along with our friends all over the world we employ the same fundamental tactic to get the attention of the government and the media. We shut down the life blood of the system which is killing us. We stop the traffic, sit down on the road, and wait for the cops to come and arrest us.

At this point you probably have loads of reasons running through your head for why this is a bad idea. I get it, it’s hard to consider something so confronting, something you know will be upsetting to the people stuck in traffic. I get it, and I agree its fucking crazy! But this is where we are at. Remember the time we shut down the coal mine? We stopped the coal train? We occupied the bank? Nope – because these and many other hard hitting actions were never picked up by the media. Remember the time millions of us around the world marched to stop the war in Iraq and it just went ahead anyway. Our voices don’t matter to the machine. Only actions which stop it from functioning do.

You have the power to do this. In this country a single arrest of this kind is unlikely to hurt your prospects especially if you happen to be white. You have an obligation to yourself, to your loved ones, and to every generation for the next 10,000 years or so. Today it’s hard to find people willing to take responsibility to do what must be done. In the future, if we succeed it will be hard to find anyone who says they weren’t part of it. C’mon buddy – you got this. Turn off the reruns of star trek, get off the couch and come join us!

To find out more come to a talk https://restorepassengerrail.nz/#meetings