The Pitfalls of Climate Blockades


04-07-2022: Under the slogan of “Resist Climate Inaction”, Blockade Australia (BA) are in the midst of carrying out a week of intentional disruption throughout Sydney and the state of New South Wales (NSW) which they hope will force the powers that be to finally take decisive measures to combat the devastating climatological effects of runaway biospheric collapse. “Disruption” conveys BA’s primary tactic of road and traffic blockades, often in peak hour commuting times. Yet even before BA could enact their week of action, the NSW police tracked and arrested BA blockaders at their homes, and raided BA preparation campsites on the outskirts of Sydney. At some of these raids, police refused to answer questions about why they were detaining people and were accompanied by a media and camera team from a major commercial television channel.[1] Under legislation passed by the NSW government in April, those blockading roads, railway lines, tunnels and bridges can be fined $22 000 or be thrown in jail for two years. This legislation may be used to prosecute 10 BA blockaders who shut down the Sydney Harbour Tunnel during morning peak hour last Monday.[2]

BA replicates XR

BA are correct about one thing, and one thing only. That is, anthropogenic global warming is an existential danger closing in on the Earth’s ability to sustain human civilisation. In May this year, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide were measured as 420.99 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.[3] Prior to the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1700s, atmospheric concentrations of carbon were around 280ppm. In the late 1800s, the mass burning of fossil fuels for energy began, and has led to approximately 375 billion tonnes of carbon being dumped into the clear blue sky.[4] This has accelerated the generation of extreme weather events which themselves are now dangerous to human lives – droughts, fires, floods, hurricanes, cyclones, storms and more. While it is true that not every weather event can be attributed directly to climate change, it is all but certain the frequency and intensity of the weather disasters which have been experienced over the last 10 years are just some of the effects of the accumulation of greenhouse gases over the last two centuries.

Yet the tactics of BA replicate those of the seemingly now defunct Extinction Rebellion (XR), which burst on to the scene in late 2018. XR launched the tactic of road traffic and rail blockades and used them throughout 2019. As we wrote at the time, these tactics are profoundly mistaken, and based on acutely misguided politics. They are also deeply anti-working class, regardless of the intentions. The tactics in fact threaten the democratic rights of working people, as the reaction from the capitalist state could well be to ban all protest altogether.[5] The NSW government has already started this, as the pre-emptively arrested BA blockaders can attest to. Moreover, it is not just irritating to be blocked on a road by a climate protester when one is trying to get to work or pick up your children from school – it is infuriating. It is also unconscionable to block someone who may be travelling to a funeral or seeking emergency medical assistance. Inevitably, some motorists will be incensed and attempt to run down the climate blockaders out of frustration, as has already occurred in Sydney this week.[6] The blockades thus have the effect of turning many people against a cause they may otherwise wholeheartedly support. They are socially and politically counter-productive and give the capitalist state an almost justifiable case to reduce or ban protest on any other issue which also may be of dire importance.

For or against the system?

XR vanished at the start of the nonsensical “Covid” lockdowns in March 2020. This was largely due to the fact that XR, along with almost all environmental activists and much of the ostensible left – capitulated to the very system they claim to be opposing on ecological grounds. Some BA supporters claim to oppose “the capitalist system which has caused the climate emergency”[7], yet many of them have no qualms about enforcing non-scientific and illogical Covid compliance on others in order to save a floundering capitalism. In fact, Covid repression combined so-called liberal democracy with whole dollops of fascism, as liberalism was the political vehicle chosen by the Western ruling classes to champion its lockdowns and shutdowns of numerous economies.[8] As long as BA and the Covid left remain within the sphere of liberalism, even that of the most radical variety, they may be used to enforce capitalist state repression. Almost universally, BA and the so-called left enabled lockdowns, forced facemasks and vaccine mandates – but now they claim to be radical rebels?

This crying contradiction has triggered vast climate denialism amongst the freedom movement – those that bravely defended workers’ jobs and basic civil and democratic rights against the states abolishing them in the name of “healthcare”. As the very same political forces imposing destructive lockdowns are the same ones warning about the need for “climate action”, many in the freedom movement thus conclude that therefore, excessive carbon emissions are not a problem, and could even be beneficial.[9] Yet at the same time, they would accept that pollution is a problem which needs urgent rectification. They currently don’t accept that carbon emissions are a form of pollution, however, and so climate change is allegedly a fraud in the same way in which the Covid “pandemic” really was a fraud.

Between the liberalism of climate blockaders and the synthetic left on the one hand, and the climate denialism of much of the freedom movement on the other hand, genuine Marxists must chart a path forward. The exploitation of the natural environment (in all forms up to climate distortion) cannot be separated from the exploitation of the labour power of the proletariat which is the lifeblood of capitalism. Covid bio-fascism was and is a reflection of the fact that the working class has not yet superseded the system of private production for private profit, at least in the centres of the imperialist West. As history has taught, any form of fascism can only be dealt with by the direct overthrow of its guarantor – finance capital. What is required is the forging of a Leninist vanguard party which fights for a workers’ government and guides the toiling masses in the administration and defence of its own state. The immediate extension of socialism internationally is the basis on which climate disintegration, and many other serious predicaments, can be rationally addressed.


[1] (02-07-2022)

[2] (02-07-2022)

[3] (02-07-2022)

[4] (02-07-2022)

[5] (02-07-2022)

[6] (02-07-2022)

[7] (02-07-2022)

[8] (02-07-2022)

[9] (02-07-2022)

Photo: Climate blockaders shoved by police on a busy Sydney street.

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