Underwhelming crowds have gathered in Brisbane’s city centre for the Extinction Rebellion group’s much-hyped “Rebellion day”. Despite almost a thousand people declaring that they would attend on Facebook, it appeared as though the 7am start may have dampened their online enthusiasm somewhat, as a crowd of only a quarter that number (at most) answered the call.
The lack of attendees didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of some of the organisers or their friends in the media, however. Cameras whirred and chanters chanted as designated “arrestable” activists blocked roads in front of Queensland police members in order to force the officers to arrest them. The police obliged, with at least 27 of the “rebels” being taken into custody.
Interestingly, one of those arrested appears to be Socialist Alternative (SAlt) activist and “Uni Students for Climate Justice” convenor Catherine Robertson. The SAlt contingent stood out in the small crowd with its red flags and a large banner which read: “Socialist Rebellion, Burn Borders not Coal”. Being deliberately arrested is an interesting decision by Ms Robertson, as at previous Extinction Rebellion events she and her SAlt comrades have been happy to allow the more naïve ER activists to get the handcuffs while they just watched and “supervised”.
Another of those arrested was Greens Brisbane Mayoral candidate Ben Pennings who, after hilariously crashing Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner’s press conference and whining incessantly in front of the cameras, was gently led away by uniformed officers.
Extinction Rebellion had vowed to shut down the entire centre of Brisbane. They didn’t come close. All they really achieved was fawning publicity from friendly journalists who were, as always, willing to overlook their extremist associations, even when said associates were waving the red flags of Marxism practically in said journalists faces.
Which was probably the point. Unlike the Socialist Alternative front “Uni Students for Climate Kustice” with which they often co-operate, Extinction Rebellion doesn’t really have the ability to bring thousands of people to the streets (and certainly not early on a Tuesday morning). Today’s effort was about gaining as much publicity as possible while getting arrested heroically, before being given a slap on the wrist by a judiciary from the same class and educational background as themselves and, as such, largely sympathetic to their aims, if not their methods.
For the Marxists, today’s effort was about promoting their own much larger nation-wide “University walkout” event on Friday. The young (and not so young) Extinction Rebellion numpties are the flag that the far more experienced and well connected extremist activists are prepared to wave around to get the attention of the media and wider public.
What’s astonishing is that such a small group, with almost no wider connections to the more established Australian environmental movement, has been so fluffed up into something far more significant than anything its meagre numbers would justify, by a media seemingly desperate to do everything they can to help them look like the rebels they delusionally believe themselves to be.
These poor people genuinely think that believing everything the establishment tells you while being cheered on by the mainstream media is somehow rebelling against something. Their views haven’t been controversial or edgy since Ted Turner commissioned Captain Planet, yet they’ve somehow managed to convince themselves that they’re “rebels” fighting the “system”.
This sheer self-delusion is ultimately the only thing about their protests this morning which is in any way impressive. Which in itself is a little bit sad.