For me, Twitter has been a useful place for getting some news headlines but a lousy mechanism for discussion. With over 11,000 followers I thought I should keep sharing some news and views, despite the restrictive format. So for the first time I tweeted a couple of threads, to give a bit more of a substantive view on a topic that is alive right now… whether authoritarianism is a growing concern in general and might even come with the excuse of environmental necessity over the coming years. Reading it in blog format, below, it’s hard not to have a robotic Dalek voice in my head.
The first thread is here:
My paper in a #psychotherapy journal is generating some discussion on social media. I explore why & how to talk publicly about anticipated disruption & societal #breakdown
The issue of why it is time to speak out about the worst case scenarios as becoming likely, and to allow that to transform us and radicalise us, is well explored by @AndMedh, former finance lead of @ExtinctionRebellion
I look at the poor theoretical & empirical basis for arguing such an outlook is unhelpful #doomism. I invite attention on whether emotional avoidance leads some to demonise people with bleaker outlooks. Something picked up on by XR founder member Skeena
I explore the extensive social & pyschological research on how emotional avoidance in response to anxiety can lead to support for authoritarianism. A theme picked up by this ecologist in a warning that says fascism would itself be an aspect of #collapse
Although sociology says much on the dynamics of authoritarianism, this paper arose from inquiry with psychology research over 3 yrs, since the #deepadaptation paper came out & I realised (unaknowledged) inner states influence scholarly & policy discussion on topics like #collapse
I have mostly focused on improving different ways of relating that could avoid some of the emotional avoidance that limits topics & the depth of our discovery. For instance, #deeprelating #facilitation, which I explained in a peer reviewed paper https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/11/6280
I also worked on enabling the articulation of many views on how to positively engage in reducing harm if one anticipates societal disruption & collapse, which is why I edited #DeepAdaptation with
@RupertRead that includes many experts e.g. @jongosling
It was a change of tack to analyse closely the veracity of arguments of scholars who say that the range of collapse-anticipators (e.g. @scholarswarning) are somehow ‘bad.’ Strident critique of others is normal in academia, but felt unfortunate in the climate arena. So why now?
My reason is the psychology research doesn’t support their view. Instead it points to a concerning process where #ExperientialAvoidance (esteemed in some academia) can lead to aggressive & authoritarian views. Thus, within the #EnvironmentalMovement we can be clearer about values
In the next years some climate scientists will back techno fixes, oppressive rules & censorship, not because of science but from their personalities & anxieties. Others will centre rights, justice, accountability & changing the systems pushing us to compete, exploit & denigrate
The establishment, backed by capital & presented to us by compliant politicians, bureaucrats & media will sell us the technoauthoritarian fraud of safety & success. They won’t push for freedom from exploitative & oppressive systems. Grassroots radical environmentalism does that
Therefore, in a situation with vastly unequal power relations between different persons within the environmental and climate fields and movements, calls to avoid arguments & collaborate might actually enable a technoauthoritarian dystopia in the name of climate safety.
Instead, it’s time for #agonistic dialogue, where we are keen to identify differences of opinion, expecting either shifts of perspective or confirming views. Can that happen on social media? I’ve seen scholars blocking, virtue signalling & shaming in response to @AndMedh
Therefore, if you have just come across this on social media, it’s worth knowing that 500+ scholars & scientists from around the world signed a public letter that explicitly addressed this need to have better dialogue on collapse risk & readiness
My next thread was in response to the main Extinction Rebellion twitter account promoting the report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue on the right wing conspiracy theories about a #climatelockdown. Slightly less Dalek…
A thread on this in reply. The report on conspiracy theories about a future #climatelockdown has been promoted by environmental campaigners and experts. That might seem sensible, as the way some Covid-lockdown critics then pivot into climate change denial is a worry. However…
Focusing on conspiracy theories can undermine legitimate and needed discussion of substantive issues and our undermine scrutiny of public policy and those seeking to influence it. Promoting conspiracy theories is even a tactic of elites to disable criticism #hypernormalisation
Many scholars and activists I talk to or read from are advocating forms of authoritarianism as what they see as a needed response to climate crisis, and pointing to experience from Covid policies as proof there can be such action. That view needs serious questionning.
If someone doesn’t understand how the environmental crisis is the result of wrong dis/incentives that drive exploitation, consumption, destruction, etc, then they might wrongly conclude that unrestrained humans are the problem that need stricter rules by a parent-like authority
By focusing on a rightwing conspiracy theory, rather than the actual issues, like what is authoritarianism and whether it is growing and would be counterproductive or not for efforts on the environment.
Ive heard some climate experts wishing for a day when there’s a climate equivalent of a Fauci to ordain what “science says” are sensible policies. A different starting point to respect human nature & try to liberate us to look after eachother & nature isnt an instinct of elites
Instead we need clearer articulation of rights-based environmentalism, like #XR works on with #coliberation processes & calls for participatory democracy. How do we uphold rights during a necessary bold policy agenda on emissions, drawdown, adaptation, restoration & reparations?
…and a coherent response to #bigtech hegemony. Any report that advocates more unaccountable forms of bigtech censorship rather than the following is not pro-democratic:
i) breaking up bigtech
ii) compulsory publishing algorithms & the editorial decision systems within bigtech
After these threads, I am left with the obvious insight that defending support for human rights and democratic accountability is going to require more than tweets (or blogs). At some point more of us will need to recognise that organising is required and that complaining is not organising. Dalek or not, words won’t ‘exteeeerrminaaaate’ authoritarianism. If you know of any relevant initiatives please leave a comment below. Or if you just want to join the noise on twitter, you can find me here. I have uploaded a picture to prove I am not a Dalek.