All 4 entries tagged Activism

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May 03, 2009

Lyrical Mayhem

West Side Story - Green Song (Jet Song):

If you invest in the carbon exchange,
The long-term environmental future looks bleak,
A sustainable world, depends on less consumption (GO GREEN!),
So profit short-term, is a contradiction (GO GREEN!)

- By Owen

The Jungle Book - I Wanna Be Like You:

Coal Giant:
Now I’m the king of the financiers
The business VIP
I’ve reaped quick profits from the climate’s losses
And life has been pretty sweet
I wanna carry on my business
And roll my debts back down
And pedal my quick fix for economy misfits
Let the cash wipe away my frown

Oh, oobee do
I wanna finance you-oo-oo
I wanna talk with you
Walk with you
You’ll see us through
A government like me-e-e
Can save the economy
With you-oo-oo

Gee Mr Dirty Energy
We’re on our way to prosperity

Now here’s the deal, sir
Lay the secret on me of a sustainable future

Coal Giant:

Now don’t try and kid me fossil fool
I made a deal with you
I gave you money and you’ve had it real sunny
To see our targets through
Give me a greener option
Did you think you could grow and grow?
There’s not the resources
And the natural forces
Will be the end of you

- By Martin

The Beatles - It's All You Love (Can't Buy Me Love):

It's all you love, oh, love, oh
It's all you love, oh

I'll buy you a carbon credit card
So you can offset burning coal
Destroy the world with no regard
Because you've got no self-control
'Cause you don't care a-bout the climate
Money is all you love

It's all you love, oh
Money is all you love
It's all you love, oh
Yeah yeah yeah, yeah

You spend spend spend on your climate card
Until the fossil fuels run dry
Your children's world is burnt and scarred
And when you're dead they'll see your lies
But you don't care a-bout your children
Money is all you love


We've got no homes or jobs to do
All we've got is you to thank
If we put our climate's hope in you
It'll end up like the banks
So I don't care too much for markets
Money is all you love

It's all you love, oh, love, oh
It's all you love, love, love

- By Tim

Leonard Cohen - Everybody Knows:

Everybody knows the warming’s coming
Everybody knows we’re heating fast
Everybody knows that the carbon trading
Is just a fat cat covering his ass
Everybody knows the targets fixed
But the earth gets poor while the rich get rich
That’s how we flow
Everybody knows

Everybody knows the states are meeting
Everybody knows that it’s change they cry
Everybody knows that they’re just hoping
Old strategies will do just fine
Everybody’s filling up their pockets
With money steeped in oil and rockets
From the earth’s death throws
And everybody knows.

Everybody knows that you care for the climate
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve measured targets
And even done a graph or two
Everybody knows when you guys meet
The climate makes a good aperitif
If you’re thus disposed.
That everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how things goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows, everybody knows
That's how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows the banker’s blue
Everybody knows that you live forever
When you’ve got another loan or two
All the pyramid schemes are rotten
And it’s not all plain sailing when the country’s gotten
From its short-term woes
And everybody knows.

- By Martin

West Side Story - Brown (Cool):

Brown, Brown, Gordon Brown
Go Green Brown!
Got renewable energy in your pocket
Why don't you use it?

Invest a lot
Of your fiscal stimulus in green Brown
Real Green.

- By Owen and Jess

West Side Story - Change (America):
How are you combating climate change?
How are you combating climate change?
How are you combating climate change?
We need results to fight climate change.

- By Owen

West Side Story - There's a place for us

There's a place for us
A greener place for us
Peace innovation and clean fresh air
Take all of us there

There's not much time for us
But we have the power to act
Work together sustainably
Create a green world economy

The facts
Are clear
Act now with fossil fuel reduction
Or wait for environmental destruction
Go Green

- By Owen

The Jungle Book - Green Sustainables (Bare Necessities):

Look to the ... Green sustainables
The long-term green sustainables
Forget about your gases and your coal
I mean the green sustainables
Of Mother Nature's recipes
That bring the green sustainables of life

- By Martin

Statement of Intent and Leaflet

Statement of Intent:

"We are here because we believe that climate change is the most serious
threat facing our planet and business leaders and governments are taking no
real steps to tackle the problem.

We believe that climate change cannot be dealt with within a system that is
based on unsustainable and unregulated economic growth and consumption.

We are calling on the world’s leaders at the G20 conference to take climate
change seriously and scrap false solutions such as carbon trading. We reject
carbon trading as part of a dangerous logic which allows the richest to
pollute while the poorest suffer.

We reject the false logic which puts the economy first and climate change
second. The recession and climate change are part of the same problem and
need to be addressed together. That’s why we are protesting in the financial

We will be joining a grassroots potentially thousand strong movement the
day before the G20.

We began our discussion by talking about what we would like the world to be
like and our protest will be informed by these ideas. The Warwick group will
complement the climate camp through street theatre in the tubes, in cafes
and in spaces that we find on the day. We will try to create a dialogue with
passers-by about alternatives both through theatre and through direct
communication and free food!"


*Climate change affects you.* Don’t let governments and business speculate
with our climate in the same way they speculated with our homes and jobs.

Climate change and the economy are part of the same problem and need to be
solved together. That’s why we are in the financial district!

World leaders at the G20 need to look at meaningful solutions to climate
change and stop spinning their way out of it with carbon trading. The
solutions exist yet the UK currently spends 0.0083% of its GDP dealing with

Fossil fuel companies and trading firms are churning out global warming
gases and reaping huge profits whilst doing it. The UK government wants to
bulldoze people’s homes and build a *third runway* at Heathrow. Meanwhile
the first *new coal power station* in twenty years is planned for

Today we are joining a *grassroots movement*. Diverse people all over
London are calling on business and world leaders to take their concerns
seriously. We are taking theatre, food and discussion to the financial
district and starting a dialogue about the world we want our children to
live in.

*A sustainable future is a green future*. Take a look at the alternatives
such as *http://www.zerocarbonbritain. com*

April 30, 2009

Attack of the mutant, post–modern kettles of death

Q. What’s worse than being stuck in a kettle for five hours?
Police kettles are meant to stop different groups of protesters rallying together and taking over the world. It creates what the police call a ‘sterile’ area or group of people, which they can supervise and control. However there is another kind of kettle being used much more effectively against protesters all the time, and we hardly even notice. Constantly updating news services, always on the look-out for the next story, seem at first to be a perfect opportunity for representation; but there’s no better way of being sterilised than by being treated like a protester on News 24.
A. Never getting out.

Any protest is essentially a desire for representation, and is crucial in any healthy democratic society. However, the protests at the G20 illustrate a growing phenomenon whereby our ability to represent ourselves has been usurped by rolling news channels, whose representation of events turns them into items on a news programme (or in a newspaper), rather than real-life occurrences that have a real-life meaning. War, disease, weather, traffic, protest, celebrity, climate change, expenses, sport. Events do not seem real unless they are awarded airtime; however, once in the news, they become part of a predetermined news script and lose their originality and ability to represent anything. This, at least, is the analysis of Jean Baudrillard, the ‘pop’ philosopher who was famously misinterpreted in The Matrix. According to Baudrillard, rolling news channels broadcast “the realm of perpetual change, of a ceaseless updating, of an incessant succession in real time which produces this general equivalence, this banality that characterizes the zero degree of the event” (Baudrillard 2005, 122). Wars become video games, the House of Commons turns into a soap opera and politics becomes a drama, crime becomes thriller, genocide becomes horror, and, by the magic of the media, events become non-events.

Baudrillard writes that the rolling news channel is “a space where everything is pre-neutralized, including war, by the precession of images and commentaries” (2005, 123), and if this is the case, what chance do protesters have of getting their message across? “Information, news coverage, is always already there…the best thing being to invent or cause the event so as to be the first with the news” (2005, 123), and this is exactly what, in the days leading up to the event, the special reports in newspapers predicting slaughter and riot were attempting to do. Even if they avoided the (tellingly named) “special demonstration pen near the Excel Centre [which can] accommodate a few hundred protesters” ( BBC para. 11), the police physically ‘kettled’ protesters into a carefully controlled, ‘sterile’ area. In the same way, but more efficiently, the rolling news channels ‘short-circuiting’ the representation the protesters are trying to achieve until “it is the event of news coverage that substitutes itself for coverage of the event” (Baudrillard 2005, 133). The continued coverage of police brutality and abuse of power against the protesters (whilst in itself important) only adds to the impression that the ‘story’ was that of protesters vs. police, or at best free speech vs. censorship. The tragedy is that this kind of legitimisation of protest (whether through putting protesters in pens or writing them into pigeon-holes) is a much more effective form of censorship than a secret police would ever achieve.

As protesters, we even pigeon-hole ourselves on occasions, through waving banners with nothing on them other than the name of the organisation we are representing, through chanting “what do we want? [insert cause here]! When do we want it? Now!”, through becoming systematically obsessed with the police response, and by generally acting like protesters. We act like protesters ought to act, and so do nothing to change the story that we are a part of. Even getting arrested is sometimes just part of the whole ‘protester experience’. We are like stock characters in a fairy tale. The evil stepmother, the innocent child, the wise old man, the chanting, flag waving protester. In Baudrillard’s terms, we are “events in a system that has put an end to history” (Baudrillard 2005, 126).

So far, so sceptically unhelpful. Of course protesting is necessary, and of course protesting is often fantastically successful and has brought about the most amazing change against the worst odds. I shall be going to more protests. However, as people wanting to make a difference in the world, we must always fight against the forces of legitimation that seek to make us fit into their narratives. We must stop caring about being so “media-friendly” at the expense of making a story. The crucial thing for us to learn to do is to stop being satisfied at being heard, and demand (somehow) to be listened to.

I don’t think we should be afraid of calling some protests a failure, even if there were some good outcomes. We ultimately failed on the 1st of April to do any more than make our indecipherable voices heard. Perhaps protesting as we know it is an out-of-date technique, an inadequate method of achieving political representation, but that doesn’t mean that this desire for representation is futile. Baudrillard’s big mistake is to believe that old lie, that history ended in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, when ideology ceased to be a battle-ground and the neo-liberal agenda became the world’s only meta-narrative. If the world is now ruled by game theorists, it is Baudrillard who treats everything as if it’s a game. We’ve got to find a real-life way of representing ourselves; it is, after all, not us who are living in the fantasy-world.

Works Cited

Baudrillard, Jean. Impossible Exchange. Trans. C. Turner. London : Verso, 2002.

---. The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact. Trans. C. Turner. London : Berg, 2005.

“Police warn of G20 protest scale.” BBC News 20 March 2009. 10 April 2009. <>

April 20, 2009

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