This article was submitted to autonomy news.
Ive sat on this for a while, knowing just how defensive the organisation can be, and that speaking about this wil probably end up being a lot of mental labour. I’m feeling the need to say ~something~ about what Just Stop Oil are up to in the hope that others who have concerns will speak up to.
🚩 Something i overheard in a Just Stop Oil talk recently (one of many red flags to follow) was the sentence “We aren’t here to talk about interesting ideas or to have conversations.” Firstly, I’m trying to work out if this is something written into the standard JSO recruitment (yikes) talk, or if this person in particular is just a bit boring? And more importantly, the attitude of not wanting to learn, or to improve, or to hear feedback is actually a bit dangerous, and this is reflected through the experiences people are having in the organisation.
🚩 To position yourself as uncritiquable and unquestionable, as an organisation, is dangerous. Yes, it means that, as an organisation, you can pretend to have the moral high ground. But JSO dont have the moral high ground. None of us do. We are all learning. We all need to learn. We are an ecosystem, we are connected, and we need to network, share ideas and build communities to support each other. If your goal is ultimately to send activists to prison, it is extremely irresponsible to alienate them from theor communities.
🚩The rest of the talk was mostly about their tactics (which we can talk about another time) and an info dump about the severity of climate breakdown. “This bit of the talk is designed to scare or guilt people into action. We need people to join us.” – overheard this directly from someone in JSO walking someone else through the structure of their talk.
🚩JSO have purposefully neglected to inform people participating in actions about injunctions that are in place (meaning minor crimes like crim dam, or supporting and encouraging an action can carry higher legal risk and potential prison sentences).
🚩They have put (mostly young people who are new to direct action) in very dangerous positions. The power dynamics surrounding age and experience in the organisation are really worrying. I’ve seen older men who are notorious for picking up youngsters and throwing them into direct action they aren’t equipped for try to do exactly that. When you’ve not known a great deal of stability in your life, theres not a lot you can say when a man from JSO vaguely offers you a flat in London, and all you have to do is get nicked a few times over.
🚩I’ve heard rumours of them purposefully excluding more experienced activists, and those who raise concerns about well-being or consent. If anyone can build upon this, or has differing experiences then say please say hi (get in touch at email@example.com if you feel like I’m wrong about this!)
🚩 After the talk, the individuals who had spoken seemed pretty disappointed that they hadn’t gotten as many recruits as they’d expected. We heard them criticising the folks who they’d spoken to for not being willing to risk their liberties for the organisation. “She’s a mum, how can she not care about her children’s future?” is a pretty grim misinterpretation of someone saying no thx to joining an organisation that uses the scared general public as cannon fodder. Shame is not a good motivator. Pressuring people into actions they don’t want to do is bad consent.
🚩 The sheer amount money that has been thrown at this organisation is ridiculous. Actions with 70K budgets?? Just think what communities could do with that money ten times over?? Not saying they should give their cash away, but whoever is calling the shots on how it is spent clearly does not have their priorities in order. Roger Hallam’s strategy of begging millionaires for money so he can use to pay for the traumatisation and imprisonment the next generation of activists is working better than any police infiltration we have seen in the last decade.
None of this is to discredit the hard work of individuals trying to move JSO in the right direction from inside. We are all scared about the state of the world. We are all doing what we think is right, but this doesnt override our responsibility to keeping each other safe, and our responsibility to be accountable when shit goes wrong.
If you’re getting involved with direct action, if fatalism is your vibe, if you think you can withstand burnout then power to you, but please be mindful of power dynamics, of your own health and wellbeing, and of your responsibilities. If you think you’re too busy, or important, or theres not enough time to read about burn out, then that is a big ol’ sign you need to do some reading about burnout and to look after yourself.
So can we please get some dialogue, some education around basic consent, and some accountability culture in this organisation before anyone gets any more traumatised, or someone literally gets killed?
Sorry theres no photos or flashy artwork to go with this. I’m tired. I just got off the phone with a friend who has been royally fucked by Just Stop Oil. Rant over.