A civil war has broken out between Marxists and more mainstream Extinction Rebellion organisers as the group prepares for its largest series of disruptions yet. The more greenie-inclined Extinction Rebellion organisers seem to be increasingly looking sideways at some of their more radical “allies”.
The split came out into the open during a “drown in” protest held by the group late last month in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Northcote, when a speech was made by Tamil Refugee Council spokesperson Aran Mylvaganam.
Mylvaganam was an electoral candidate for the “Victorian Socialists” party as well as being a well-known associate of the revolutionary Trotskyist group Socialist Alternative. In his speech, Mylvaganam went a little bit further than the passionate environmentalists that make up the core of the Extinction Rebellion network were comfortable with, essentially calling for the abolition of borders, the closing of detention centres, a Marxist overthrow of the government and the confiscation of private property.
Some people present thought that perhaps he was getting a little carried away.
Leading figures amonsgt the more greenie Extinction Rebellion organisers brought their concerns up with their Socialist Alternative comrades, politely suggesting that in future speakers be vetted so that the overall message of climate change wasn’t lost in a call to recreate the October Revolution of 1917. The response from Socialist Alternative was to freak out and denounce everyone.
One particularly hilarious social media post from Canadian-born Socialist Alternative activist James Olley got decidedly heated, declaring that “the rich” don’t care about climate change because they can buy their way out, that the ALP and the Liberals are complicit in barbarity in not allowing open borders, that the Extinction Rebellion organisers in Melbourne are “overwhelmingly white and middle class” and that they can’t “dismantle the fossil-fuel economy and much of the rest of Capitalism while walking arm in arm with the police, the bosses, the political establishment, and every other layer of society”.
James was upset. As were many other prominent Socialist Alternative members. In the comments, Liz Walsh, a long-time Marxist activist and Socialist Alternative National Executive member stated that two leading Extinction Rebellion organisers had approached her to ask that Aran not speak in future since he had gone against the group’s ethos. Presumably these leaders didn’t feel they could get behind a man publicly calling for Australia to become a new version of the early Soviet Union.
Socialist Alternative founding member and Guardian Australia opinion columnist Jeff Sparrow also commented on Olley’s rant, declaring that, in his opinion:
“We urgently need a radical pole of attraction in the climate campaign, something that makes clear the strategic divisions involved. Hopefully the IMARC blockade might provide that”
So a journalist with a newspaper that holds press credentials across Australia is advocating for the Marxist faction in an internal struggle within a radical protest group while happily looking forward to an Antifa organised riot. Funny,hey?
In whole, this is a part of tension that has been visible inside Extinction Rebellion since it began. The drippy hippie types who formed the original core of the group have been increasingly swamped by the highly organised Marxist extremists of Socialist Alternative.
Extinction Rebellion groups in south-east Queensland, Sydney and Adelaide came to rely increasingly on the activism of the Socialist Alternative front group “Uni Students for Climate Justice”.
The Extinction Rebellion organisers in Mackay and the Whitsundays outright refused to co-operate with the Marxists and shunned them completely after they simply refused to shut up about how “so-called Australia”, the police and capitalism were evil.
On Monday, at the Extinction Rebellion “Spring Rebellion” event in Brisbane, the Socialist Alternative contingent led by prominent UQ Marxist Priya De (most famous for declaring “Fuck Australia”) gathered together with red flags in a formation they describe as their “Red Bloc” and started chants in favour of open borders and against the evil racist police.
The more environmentally inclined Extinction Rebellion organisers present asked them to stop, declaring that their chants had nothing to do with climate change and that the media could use them to paint the protest in a bad light (ha! if only).
The response from De and the rest of the Socialist Alternative types in Brisbane has been hysterical screeching. On the Socialist Alternative Brisbane Facebook page, they declared: “To save the planet, we need to build a movement that can confront Capitalist power”.
They further went on to rant that a billion people will soon be made refugees by global warming and that trying to stop these people coming to Australia is immoral and ethically equivalent to eco-fascism and the Christchurch massacre.
These conflicts are an outgrowth of an earlier disagreement over how Extinction Rebellion organisers should relate to the police. The greenie members think that they should be polite and comply since, after all, the entire point of their campaign is to get arrested as a form of civil disobedience and the police are helping them to do that.
Socialist Alternative and its Marxist and anarchist compatriots, on the contrary, believe that police are an oppressive and illegitimate force of coercion used to uphold a system of capitalist oppression built on genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing. “Politeness” to police is therefore not an attitude easily understood within their worldview.
Sadly, despite some signs of resistance (particularly from the Extinction Rebellion organisers in Melbourne including movement matriarch Jane Morton), the tentacles of the Marxists seem to have penetrated everywhere. When Extinction Rebellion leaders were arrested in Sydney this week, prominent amongst them was Socialist Alternative organiser Lily Campbell.
In Melbourne, the Extinction Rebellion protest that blocked trams in an attempt to disrupt the crowd attending the AFL football finals was led by Natalie Acreman of Socialist Alternative. That Melbourne protest was organised under the banner of Extinction Rebellion Students and Youth Victoria and RMIT Extinction Rebellion, both of which have Natalie Acreman’s phone as their contact number.
Just today, Ms Acreman was again the spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion protests in Melbourne and again the media refused to mention her membership in an extremist group that wants to overthrow the government.
All over Australia, our the nation’s largest political extremist group is infiltrating and attempting to take over what is currently the country’s largest radical protest group. You’d think that this was a huge story, that perhaps the media might want to mention it somewhere in the acres of newsprint and hours of televised coverage the increasingly disruptive protest group has gained.
But you’d be wrong, of course. If modern Australian journalists were interested in pointing these sorts of things out, they wouldn’t be modern Australian journalists. So it’s up to us to spread the truth, shake our heads and (of course) point and laugh as the crazies fight the slightly less scary crazies.