One of the biggest challenges that we are facing in the here and now is, how do we create a mass movement for change in this era of catastrophic environmental destruction? How do we create a united front that has the potential to connect every group in a way that enables the work that we are doing at the micro level to feed into a much needed shift in paradigm at the macro level?
The environment movement has largely been ineffective because there has not been enough interconnection between localised grassroots activism and the broader movement for systemic and behavioural change. Holistic Activism is helping to tackle this by pursuing what is referred to as a ‘movement of movements’. This acknowledges that we can each bring our unique skills, knowledges and insights into a growing interconnected web of change.
That way, we can ensure that the very important reactive stuff such as fighting to protect old growth forests is intertwined with the proactive stuff too. This means that our activism will also be about working towards creating a system that does not regard old growth forests as an expendable resource.
By joining a movement of movements, groups do not lose any of their autonomy, but they do become part of something that is greater than the sum of its parts. We have created five principles for a movement of movements that is centred around systemic and behavioural change. The first three principles are the three principles of Extinction Rebellion (XR). It is really important that we intersect and share common ground with such a massive movement for change, but we want to go further.
This is why the fourth principle is all about utilising social permaculture, eco-psychology and holistic activism principles, so that we can develop long lasting systemic and behavioural change.
The fifth principle builds on that need for systemic change by working towards some form of post-growth or de-growth society or Steady State Economy. How this society looks will in part be determined through the citizen’s assemblies (as highlighted in principle three). These assemblies will be a platform for rational and nuanced discussion that seeks to find a common pathway forward. Crucially, the assemblies should utilise the social permaculture, eco-psychology and holistic activism approaches that are outlined in the fourth principle. That way we can ensure that they do not succumb to ideology and vested interests.
The good news is that groups can join a movement of movements without everyone having to agree on every issue. As emphasised earlier, we will not ‘save the world’ with one set of values and opinions alone. What matters is that we connect on a common desire to see systemic and behavioural change with the understanding that we are part of a wider ongoing conversation.
For example, vegan groups and ethical omnivore groups could both join, despite having different ideologies (though they share more in common than many realise) and both would have a platform to discuss their perspectives at Citizens Assemblies based around food ethics and farming practices.
This is why the four steps of Holistic Activism can play an important role in making this happen. By working together, groups that may oppose each other in certain areas could help to create a world where discussion around food ethics and the absence of industrial animal farming is central to a de-growth based society.
Of course the conversation doesn’t have to end there and it does not mean that all conflict will or should go away. However, developing an understanding that there are certain forums where stepping out of conflict is the right thing to do is something that can be developed through the behavioural change that is inherent in holistic activism.
In summary, the principles that we propose for a Holistic Activism based Movement of Movements are:
1) Tell the truth
The government must tell the truth about the scale of the ecological crisis by declaring a climate emergency, by “working with other groups and institutions to communicate the urgent need for change”.
2) Net zero emissions by 2025
The world must drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions, hitting net zero by 2025 or as soon as possible after.
3) Citizens’ assembly
We will create citizens’ assemblies to hear evidence and devise policies to tackle the climate crisis. Citizens’ assemblies bring together ordinary people to investigate, discuss and make recommendations on how to respond, in this case, to the ecological emergency.
4) Recognising the need to change our behaviour
We recognise that we will not overcome the climate and ecological emergency with the same mindsets that led us into it. Therefore, social permaculture, regenerative consciousness and holistic activism need to be integral to whatever we do both at an individual and a group level.
5) The need to transition to a form of post-growth or de-growth society
We recognise that the current system works around the premise that there can be infinite growth on a finite planet and that this is a major cause of the crisis that we are facing. Therefore, we must transition to something different. This will be determined by the Citizens Assemblies (as outlined in the third principle) using the approaches as outlined in the fourth principle.