Farage’s recent success exposes three blind spots and one fundamental weakness in XR that we need to reflect on.
Do you agree with any of the following?
Blind spot 1: Our superiority to groups that have loyalty to their tribe and nation over the world. We can learn from Farage to honour and defend this way of life, not just see it as problematic.
Blind spot 2: Communicating about climate emergency in a way that’s alienating to those outside our progressive tribe. We can build on how Farage tapped into the British instinct for fairness and betrayal by politicians over Brexit.
Blind spot 3: Our instinct to prioritise being morally right over being politically effective. How Farage ditched UKIP issues and made the campaign just about EU withdrawal. Should Extinction Rebellion focus on carbon emission reduction, rather than the entire left wing project of dismantling capitalism?
These blind spots speak to a core underlying weakness in XR, and the wider liberal left in general. A culture of shaming that drives a constant need to virtue signal and be validated by the tribe. This prevents well intentioned critique of left wing orthodoxy, for fear of being labelled a racist and being rejected by the tribe. i.e, your friendship group!
We can learn from Farage to care less about what people think of us, and be more okay with milkshakes being thrown at us. This ultimately comes down to collective inner work: becoming aware of our fragile egos and finding courage to act in ways that truly serve the movement.
Is this correct? What do you think?
Note: Even though this is a critique, it is offered in service to Extinction Rebellion, whom I really want to succeed. Also, even though I’m drawing lessons from Nigel Farage, it doesn’t mean I support his policies. Big thanks to Richard Dennis Bartlett for ideas and conversations that are reflected here. We’ll be exploring some of these ideas in greater depth in a podcast to be released real soon when we get around to it.
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