Occupy History

An Occupy History Postscript on Climate Change, with Matthew from @StopMotionsolo: Strike.

(Following an interview in HTR’s Occupy History series earlier this week with photo/video journalist Matthew from @StopMotionsolo, who participated in the occupation of Liberty Square in New York City from the early days to the end and has continued his activism and journalism around the world in the decade after, I ask about his greatest concerns going forward. The question leads to a broader discussion about climate change and the implications of the climate crisis for direct action movements and the nature of political change in the future.)

In your view, what are some ways everyday working people, perhaps becoming concerned about climate change for the first time, can start getting involved to take action?

Start working to educate yourself. Read the science. Educate yourself on the science and the different ways different groups are addressing it. That’s the biggest thing.

But, this is one of the shittiest parts of it all:

As much as it sucks, there’s a serious limit regarding what anyone like you and me can do about climate change. I mean, we can try to use less water, less air conditioning, try to eat less beef. But, in the end, the real change needs to happen systemically, legislatively. You and I can work individually, but things like city power grids take the most energy and we need to find a way to transition away from those pretty fast.

Unless you’re going to have people going to oil rigs and blowing them up, which I don’t expect to see happening, we need to put maximum pressure on the shift to renewable energy and eliminating fossil fuels entirely. That is something world leaders have to do.

Unless you can get billions of people across the planet to simultaneously start taking action against fossil fuel productions, which would require an insane level of coordination, probably impossible in such a short time, it’s really something world leaders just have to do.

And some world leaders are doing it. Some governments are trying to address it, but it needs to be done faster, and the U.S. needs to take on a serious role in addressing it, because we are one of the world’s major producers of it. But, governmentally, that has to be done by getting people into office, and there’s so much money being pumped into that against you.

So, I’ll rephrase the question a little. What can everyday working people, who want to get involved, do to help pressure world leaders to take action?

Economic boycotts, worker strikes, harassing politicians with emails, in the short term. I mean, a lot of economic boycotts and worker strikes happening at once can have a serious impact.

What do you think about the possibility of a general strike in the U.S.?

I’m totally for it. That level of solidarity is hard to get in the U.S., because there is so much revenue poured into anti-worker organizing, but I would totally support a general strike.

There’s so much to strike, so much to boycott.

So, a general strike in the U.S. would be fucking awesome.