Reflections on the Global Climate Strike! Friday September 20th Brisbane

I was just one of the crowd in the Brisbane leg of the 20th September Climate Strike. I have no privileged insight into the inner workings, debates or mechanics of the day. These reflections are offered to help to understand where we are at and where we are going inspired by Noel Ignatiev’s readings of CLR James’ practice: ‘As a person who had decided to devote his life to revolution, my job was to Recognize and Record the new society as it made its appearance…’

The task of revolutionaries is not to organise the workers but to organise themselves – to discover the patterns of activity and forms of organisation that have sprung up out of the struggle and that embody the new society, and help them grow stronger, more confident, and more conscious of their direction. It is an essential contribution to the society of discipline spontaneity, which for James was the definition of the new world. (2010, 16-17)

  1. The rally was huge. Numbers are hard to estimate but it was easily in the tens of thousands – probably around 20,000. Which for a Friday lunch time is remarkable. Perhaps the largest rally in Brisbane since the anti-war movement?
  2. Whilst a noticeable minority were in organised contingents: a few trade unions, Socialist Alternative etc, even work-place, the vast majority of people came self-organised with classmates, friends and family. The vast majority of signage was home-made and humours. The meme is the genre of the movement.
  3. Whilst there were a few Greens politicians the political class was absent (or at least wasn’t drawing attention to itself).
  4. There was a clear organisational infrastructure: people in high-vis directed the procession of the rally, someone had organised the legal and the stage, selected the speakers etc. Thus there was a politics in action. But they didn’t clearly promote an overt politics beyond the three demands of the strike.
    1. These were:
      1. No new coal, oil and gas projects, including the Adani mine.
      2. 100% renewable energy generation & exports by 2030
      3. Fund a just transition & job creation for all fossil-fuel workers & communities.
    2. The good: they provided a stage for the masses in the sense of facilitate an event people could fill themselves.
    3. The bad: it wasn’t obvious how you could become involved in the organising, and deciding, the next step forward.
  5. There was a noticeable ideological commitment to the importance of Indigenous Peoples and theirs struggles.
  6. Whilst there was a diversity of people and viewpoints, I would say the ‘consciousness’ of the event was still calling for politicians to do ‘something’. This is impossible. The state cannot work on the mode of production that sustains it in a way that fundamentally shifts how that mode of production operates.
    1. How the movement encounters this limit will be of crucial importance.
      1. Will it lead to demoralisation as it hits the limits of capitalo-parliamentarianism or will it push people to go further and address the problems at the root? Here revolutionaries, that is those that can see this limit coming, can make ourselves useful. ‘We shall not say: Abandon your struggles, they are mere folly; let us provide you with the true campaign-slogans. Instead we shall simply show the world why it is struggling , and consciousness of this is a thing it must acquire whether it wishes or not.’ (Marx 1992)
  7. The three demands of the strike give it a consistence. However, they can be read in a number of different ways and could be part of techno-liberal, Green New Deal Keynesian or radically anti-capitalist approaches. The direction is undecided. I have no knowledge of the internal debates over what comes next.
  8. The three demands could take form in location and site-specific struggles

Ignatiev, Noel. 2010. “The World View of C.L.R. James.” In A New Notion: Two Works by C.L.R. James, by C.L.R. James, 5-17. Oakland, CA: PM Press.

Marx, Karl. 1992. Early Writings. Translated by Rodney Livingstone and Gregor Benton. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books in association with New Left Books.

2 thoughts on “Reflections on the Global Climate Strike! Friday September 20th Brisbane

Add yours

  1. regarding 4c, at the last rally, I’m not sure about this one, after texting that number they were talking about you were invited to an event being put on by the organisations who ran the rally (AYCC), the event was basically a mass recruitment.

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