Me versus XR “Global Support”
Hunger-striking with Radiohead
As some of you may know I’ve been having a bit of a ding-dong with Global Support. If you don’t know who these people are, then join the boat, neither do I. To my knowledge, I have never officially met any of them. But apparently, they claim to speak on behalf of the XR movement and recently took it upon themselves, out of the blue, to make a public statement about me (see below). The upshot of it was that I would never (ever!) be allowed to participate in GS, because I have done bad things. Or, to be more precise, the things I’ve done were not actually bad in themselves, but since the mainstream media distorted them to undermine me, GS decided, instead of responding appropriately, to capitalise on the situation by leading lots of people to think I should be ostracised.
If you think this sounds a bit messed up, then you’re probably right. That said, I have spoken to some “political” people recently who seem absolutely convinced throwing people under the bus in order to “support the movement” (i.e., to preserve fundraising) is an okay thing to do. I guess this is the big bad world of power politics, but what do I know? I’m just a Welsh farmer trying to save my kids from destruction.
What I do know is that XR was set up to get away from such crap behaviour. The plan was to be “beyond politics” and resolve differences with a bit of humane communication, not by Stalinesque dictates from faceless committees. Despite asking politely several times, I still have no idea who is in this group — they won’t even reply to my emails. Apparently, they have all been banned from speaking to me, publicly or privately. Nice.
This would be no big deal, but over the past few weeks I have been asked by groups to speak, but only “in secret”, and at other meetings people have not shown up because they are “forbidden from interacting” by Global Support’s ban. The joys of being blacklisted. The point here, of course, is that if a movement allows this sort of thing to become endemic, then in my scholarly opinion, it is pretty much fucked. What rebellion lives in fear of bad press?
By not supporting its members and weaponising the very propaganda we’re being attacked with against us, GS is not setting a unifying example that supports the radical action we need to address this crisis. So, I feel like I have to make a stand.
I am giving Global Support a deadline of the 30th of January to enter into a public mediatory dialogue, otherwise I will start a hunger strike— and for my sins, I will listen to a Radiohead album each day (apparently, the band stopped giving money to XR because the media says I’m a creep). Please let me know which albums are the best to listen to.
I would appreciate it very much if you could share this post and ask others, who feel Global Support are acting in a non-XR way, to email them and to suggest they have a public chat with me. Sounds reasonable — I hope you would agree. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
As we enter 2021, we all know we face the most important year in the history of humanity, where only mass civil resistance can prevent the carbon economy getting back into mass-death mode post-COVID. Whatever these people do, I will continue to work 12 hours a day, 6.5 days a week (I have a walk on Saturdays), in service to those around the world who want to get on with the job. Even if I have nothing to eat for a while but get to listen to Radiohead.
ps: The problem with “full transparency” is you end up with reams of paper to read. But for the record here are links to GS’s statement blacklisting me, and my initial response:
Following a review of the impact of Roger Hallam’s actions and statements on the growth, morale, and media coverage of our global movement, Extinction Rebellion Global Support is issuing this clarifying statement.Roger Hallam was one of the key founders of XR when it started in the UK. He no longer holds any formalrole in XR UK.Roger Hallam has never been a member of, or held any position in, Global Support. Additionally, he will neither hold any role within Global Support nor be involved in anycapacity with its future campaigns and strategy.
Roger Hallam has carried out initiatives in various parts of the world that, regardless of his intentions, have led to significant damage to our movement. For example:
In November 2019, after comments Roger Hallam made on the Holocaust, the Global Support Tech team witnessed mass account deactivations across its global services. The German team cited a particularly heavy fall in their membership base. This was the first time Global Support Tech had seen negative growth since our global communications platforms were deployed, with thousands of rebels leaving our platforms.
Radiohead, a major donor in 2019, indicated they would no longer donate to XR, citing Roger Hallam’s comments
XR Switzerland and XR Germany both reported that other local environmental groups sought to distance themselves from XR after the comments, with local Fridays For Future groups seeking distance from XR at German protests and indicating that the Extinction Symbol was not welcome at actions.
On more than one occasion in 2020, Roger Hallam “jokingly” suggested that leaders responsible for the climate and ecological emergency should be shot. Joke or not, these statements damaged our otherwise strong commitment to non-violence in the public eye, and increased concerns aboutXR being classified as a terrorist organization.
Roger Hallam helped set up “XR America”, which both complicated existing conflicts among rebels in the United States and created new ones. As a result, the Latin American XR movement dissociated itself from Global Support and has worked as a network of independent regional groups
Global Support’s Media and Messaging team maintains a Reactive team that monitors feedback and responds to messages on the global Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Reactive has often reported negative feedback and unproductive controversy in response to posts mentioning Roger Hallam.
Our highest priority at Global Support is to encourage the strong, efficient, and regenerative global growthof the XR movement. It is clear that Roger Hallam has become a highly divisive figure both in the global movement and within Global Support. While we recognise his groundbreaking early actions and extraordinary work in co-founding XR, we can no longer allow the controversy around his later statements and activism continue to damage our work.
We are issuing this statement in order to state our position clearly and transparently, and as a measure towards reconciliation.
Public Statement from Roger Hallam to XR Global Support
A request to adhere to Extinction Rebellion Principles &Values (Initial Response 21.11.2020)
17th January, 2021
“To pursue truth for truth’s sake is the principal part of perfection and the seed-plot of all other virtues” —John Locke, quoted at the beginning of the Declaration of Rebellion, October 2018.
I am extremely disappointed that the XR Global Support group felt it was ethical to put out an anonymous statement defaming me, without warning, and without checking if they had their facts right. On 21st November, I wrote a civil letter in response suggesting they be open about who wrote the statement, correct the errors, and engage in an open debate with me on the wider issues. I have written to two of the people involved asking them to join me in such a discussion but heard nothing back. I have heard that the group has decided to not to reply and barred its members from communicating with me, either publicly or privately. We all know this is not how things are done in XR, and it breaks with the whole ethical basis of the movement.
I wish to declare, contrary to what was put in the GS statement, that:
I am not anti-Semitic, but rather have a deep love for the Jewish prophetic tradition. I have apologised repeatedly for the mistake of making a comment about the Holocaust in an interview last year. It is cruel and vindictive to continue to punish anyone for a mistake for which they apologised for over a year ago. On top of that, there was a memo I’d written after the interview in question, suggesting truth telling be used to create social change, yet I am maliciously accused of having written it beforehand. I did not. I swear on my children’s lives I did not enter the interview with any deliberate intention to cause a media disruption.
I am completely committed to nonviolence and have worked for peace and justice in various social movements for 40 years, since I was 14. I have researched and advised on creating effective civil disobedience at King’s College, London, for the past five years. It is therefore another malicious lie to claim that I would wish to see violence done to those who are guilty of climate crimes against humanity. Making a prediction is self-evidently not the same as framing my concerns for the future as a good thing.
When activists speak truth to power about the Establishment’s betrayal of the Global South and future generations, of course the corporate media’s response will be to twist and manipulate what is said to try to destroy reputations — and make money while doing it. If they are to succeed, social movements need to support radical figures, not side with opponents in tearing them down and silencing them.
I have one demand of the Global Support group: that they follow the open, accountable culture of XR and agree by the 30th January to engage in a civil, and publicly broadcast discussion. If they do not do so by this date, I will begin a hunger strike to register my outrage at their behaviour. At a time of unimaginable threat to our societies and traditions from ecological breakdown, we simply cannot allow this movement to be run in such a cruel and dysfunctional manner.
Those who are aware of the closed culture and cowardice in the Global Support space are invited to communicate their views to them directly, not to support me — nothing will deter me from the ethical duty to speak the truth about the climate emergency — but because anyone demanding that others “tell the truth and act like it’s real” should be doing so themselves.
And to continue the theme of our communications, I will listen to one of Radiohead’s albums each day I do not eat.