I often point out that defeatism and lack of imagination are pretty much the only thing holding back ordinary people from changing the world for the better. And the lack of imagination is largely caused by defeatism. The rich and powerful always win, and the ordinary people are powerless. That’s the lie that keeps us powerless. We need to smash that lie to smithereens.
Why not try BIG things? Things that SEEM impossible? I mean, we’ve seen “impossible” things happen year after year — some bad, some good. But really unexpected. Instead of sitting back and watching the impossible happen, why not ATTEMPT the impossible?
What if, instead of simply making noise about the climate, and protesting oil merchants and the politicians they own, we took aim directly at one of them? Say, Chevron?
What would this look like?
Well, it would be a blizzard of activity, all of it labeled as simply protest and dismissed by the media and other pals of the fossil fuel industry. But it would be relentless and would form the basis of a new, unavoidable narrative.
It would change the conversation and the focus. Even if the media and pundits ignored or ridiculed or dismissed this activity, it would be the NEW thing. And it would be OUR thing, not theirs. THAT is how power is taken.
Activities might include:
- Daily small but photogenic protests in front of Chevron HQ and even Chevron gas stations.
- Dozens, and maybe hundreds of fresh TicTok videos of people saying WHY Chevron must be shut down.
- Protests against Chevron in front of local TV stations, insisting on coverage.
- Letters to representatives, demanding introduction of a new bill to censure Chevron for climate abuse.
- Street theatre protests — women and men pushing strollers with signs saying “Chevron threatens our children.” And, of course, repeated protests against Chevron BY children.
This is just a smattering of ideas. People with better imaginations than mine can come up with more.
Oh, let’s use the hashtag #goodbychevron
Just One Idea
This is just one idea. But who will make this happen? Do we need a giant group, an organization, a national mobilization?
Not at all. This is an idea that can be started and supported by a small affinity group or a number of small affinity groups.
I’m introducing something called Virtual Climate Parties. These are climate-focused online social events to build relationships and strategies and inspire them to take collective action.
Read about them and the first scheduled events here and here. Maybe you’ll want to create and run your own Virtual Climate Parties.
What “Failure” Looks Like
Just as Occupy was dismissed by media and pundits and others (even participants) as a failure because it didn’t result in meaningful legislation, so would efforts to close down Chevron.
But who cares what they think? Maybe they need to start worrying about what YOU (and WE) think. And THAT is the underlying change we are truly aiming at. We know they already fear us, which is why they work so hard to distract us and dismiss us. They KNOW that ordinary people produce everything, that the “powerful” are powerless without our active cooperation and our downright submission to their demands.
Once we refuse, the illusion dies and ordinary people CAN save the planet and everyone’s children. And deep down, even the failed “leaders” will be grateful. Because they and their children live on Earth and won’t be able to continue on a ruined planet. When the powerful lose, everyone wins.
We have no enemies, only adversaries with respect to certain actions. Planet abuse is the enemy, and we intend to STOP people from doing that. We do not want or need to dehumanize and attack them personally. That would be wrong and a terrible mistake.
If we take BIG actions at major targets — like attempt to shut down Chevron — even “failure” moves us in the right direction.
- With whatever attention these actions get, we establish our power to change the conversation.
- We introduce the possibility of success.
- We draw further attention to the climate crisis.
- We put fossil fuel companies and their proponents on the defensive.
- We promote the idea of affinity groups and Virtual Climate Parties.
I think of these kinds of activities as a kind of proto-Solidarity. The Polish group Solidarity challenged the communist government in the early 1980s. The leaders were arrested and the movement was crushed. But a few years later, that same group sent the dictator packing and freed Poland.
“Goodbye Chevron” could be something like that. Immediate success is unlikely but with persistence, EVENTUAL success is entirely possible. And most of our actions would be unlikely to result in arrest because they are primarily street theatre, not violation of actual laws.
If they make protests illegal, of course, we will carry them out anyway. And arrests will look bad for the authorities — like using water cannon against black civil rights protesters in the 1960s. We WOULD, of course, violate ridiculous laws that outlawed protest.
I am not specifically promoting this idea here. I am offering it as a possible action to be adopted by an affinity group. Think about it.