Bandwagon Blockadia

I don’t know if Naomi Klein coined the term, Blockadia, but it is, it seems, the new name for universal protest.  And it is growing.

Before we get into what that term means, this post is a small diatribe about the pathetic excuse we refer to as the media, a mild condemnation of BIG GREEN (Sierra Club, WWF, etc.) and a note of optimism regarding the way we all work together when faced with threat.

Seems we don’t rely on the BIG LIE MACHINE as much as I thought.

OK…Blockadia (the term for protest Klein employs for resistance all over the globe) is a grass roots, local and disorganized force for resistance to BIG INDUSTRY beyond the local level.  It is (mostly and currently) protest against the petroleum based economy in essence and, while likely a bit hypocritical (in that protesters drive to the protest site), the protesters are totally aware that petroleum AND BIG BUSINESS is the root cause of global warming and that they have to do something about it.

Seems the first thing they are doing is stopping the petro projects before they get off the ground.  In BC (where I live) popular anti-petro sentiment has grown to the extent that the Northern Gateway project is likely dead-in-the-water.  Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion into Vancouver is also facing overwhelming resistance.  After the disaster that was Mount Polle, a mine with open holding ponds will likely be severely resisted, too. The hoi poloi is protesting BIG industry all over the place.

The news is that this is coming from local people, disorganized except for the fact that they are the local and most directly affected by whatever it is they are protesting. Basically, Blockadia is NIMBY grown large. And NIMBY doesn’t do press releases or fund raise.

I write about it because Naomi did.  But the shock in her writing is that this kind of thing is a local phenomenon everywhere.  From rail-lines carrying toxic sludge through small communities to refinery expansions in big cities, people all over the world are organizing locally and saying NO.  Even Mongolians are protesting coal mining in China!

And there is no well-funded, well-known BIG GREEN MACHINE behind them.  These are local people resisting BIG INDUSTRY simply because they are against any more earth-poisoning at any level. It would appear that green consciousness is alive and kicking hard all over the world.

Ironically, fracking seemed to be the straw that broke the dam.  Even tho oil is the big bogey-man, it was fracking being done close to affluent neighbourhoods that turned mainstream system supporters into radical freaks.  Behind every cloud…..

‘Course, you won’t hear any of this from the media.  “Who cares if a group of neighbours blockades a pipeline extension in New Brunswick. Lead the news with the puppy stuck in the well and cut to the weather!”   But it turns out that particular local protest in NB did make the news after all due to the RCM Police over reaction at the time and their snipers aiming rifles at moms and tots.  But BIG media is generally NOT covering the BIGGER story of quiet, locally-based but international resistance to BIG OIL.  And it is happening all over the world.  Even the Nigerians are starting to fight back despite the Niger Delta being likely the most polluted-but-still-populated place on earth!

The real story is international resistance to BIG institutions.  You get puppies on your local news station instead.  But somehow the people are getting the message.

Does that mean they will win?  Who knows?  In lesser countries protesters go to jail for years simply for protesting.  Some are disappeared.  Hundreds if not thousands have already been killed by police and even we in the supposedly freer countries have had grannies carted off to jail and youth gassed and beaten.  BIG INDUSTRY pays for government and government pays the police.  Conflict is likely to escalate before it ebbs.

“Dave, why tell me this?”

Well, two reasons: people should know that their local protest, if not part of a larger organized movement is part of a larger consciousness movement.  If you are protesting the removal of mountain tops in Appalachia or fracking in Greece or pipelines through Wyoming, know that more and more people are doing what you are doing except they are doing it in their local area.  Resistance is universal and international and you should know that others are on your side at least in spirit and sentiment.  And all this on a scale that you are not likely aware of.

And secondly, I suggested in the last blog that conflict will escalate not only because police actions foster resistance but because people the world over are fed up with the BIGGIES and they are resisting.  That one of the BIGGIES is their government and the corrupted party politics system has yet to be openly resisted may just be a matter of time ….or it may never come to that if government ever gets a clue and starts doing the right thing.  Regardless, everything else BIG will feel the increasing resistance of the people.

Somebody had to point that out to us.  And Naomi Klien did (THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING). She makes a compelling argument that the revolution has begun in some small but growing corners of the world.  And, implicit in her message is an invitation: you might want to consider getting on board.

10 thoughts on “Bandwagon Blockadia

  1. I remember about 20 or so years ago when Burnaby city council decided to expand their bicycle route to run from an existing bicycle route in North Burnaby that ran west into Vancouver. The new bike route expansion would run south past BCIT and then Metrotown.
    Seemed like a cheap, common sense idea.
    Out came the NIMBY’s
    God forbid the bicycle route go through THEIR back yard. Didnt Burnaby city council know that bike route increased CRIME? (no I’m not kidding, they actually said all that at a city council meeting…). Then one of the Nimby’s held up MacDonalds wrappers and other assorted garbage that they had found on the existing bike route and came to the conclusion that cyclists were wanton litterers….. My God in Heaven. When was the last time you saw a cyclist eating french fries while riding? Maybe never?
    While I admire people’s questioning nature and dsibelief about anything spewed forth from beaurocrats, businessmen and politicians………
    I cringe at the NIMBY knee jerk reaction to ANYTHING new or different.
    It reminds me of Luddites smashing the automated weaving machines to save their weaving jobs.
    Aint gonna work.
    Oh, and the bicycle route was built and is a grand success

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    • I don’t think there is anything inherently right or wrong about NIMBYs. Sometimes they are opposed to pollution in their creeks or sexual predators in the neighbourhoods but other times they reject schools and hospitals and even bike routes. But we ain’t talking about their intelligence, knowledge or their biases, we are simply talking about their proliferation. We have more NIMBYs-against-BIG-anything than ever before. The particular issue they fight is secondary to their almost universal lack of trust in the system, the spin doctors and the ‘the experts’. Or the police that enforce all that. And most people (Nimby or otherwise) don’t trust BIG OIL. People really don’t trust any of their institutions anymore and that distrust seems to be going international at a larger nimby level and Klein calls it Blockadia. .

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      • Blockcadia is a term that I hope never takes hold. For me it’s like finger nails on a chalkboard. A more apt expression is, ‘informed self interest.’ I notice a trend towards major party aversion. Many Canadians are pledging to vote for some one expressing an idealistic vision for Canada. Canadians WILL in future vote their best interests which does not lie with the major parties. We need informed change.

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      • I confess to a word-bias against Blockadia, as well. I just don’t like it. It doesn’t say the right thing to me….but (and this is a BIG BUT) it is not my word. Naomi has coined it and I would simply have chosen different semantically speaking. Sadly, I disagree with your view that Canadians will vote…at all…..I see the party aversion you are talking about but I don’t see them ‘looking for alternatives’. They are just wandering off. If the GREENS do hugely better this next time around, I was wrong, you were right and all things really are possible. Until then, I am a cynic, the people are sheep and only personal revolution is possible….one person at a time. Gawd, I hope you are right!

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      • You might be correct but I hope not. Some younger folk are choosing to vote for the other guys. The Greens got about 5% averaged across Canada. What does that mean very little I guess unless one notes it is mostly young people.

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  2. Ya gotta love Ned Ludd. He saw the future impact on cottage weaving and the rise of what Blake described as the “…Satanic mills…” despoiling the land. We are starting to reject an attitude that regarded BC as a hinterland to be harvested with little regard for the future. Baby steps are happening to restore salmon streams in Vancouver and elsewhere. Slowly environmentalism is awakening with folks recycling, repurposing and trying to leave a smaller foot print. The Satanic mills served the interests of the industrialists of the 18th century just as pipelines serve corporate interests today. But the real the underpinning is economic. The concentration of weaving in factories was very destructive to the common folk just as a society dependent on gas and oil is a burden to the environment. People recognize when they are getting a bad deal and as of late the rich are getting richer and the average person is on the gas pipe. People reject change when it costs more and they benefit less. I think growth as a premise to further enrich the already wealthy is an ideology that is quite offensive. Voters that get so little benefit will start voting their best interests.

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    • I agree except for the last sentence. I think fewer people will vote and more people will tend to act on their own OUTSIDE the system – whichever one they reject. It would be better if they all became educated on the topic, the politicians acted ethically and morally and we all voted to ‘do the right thing’. But, given the effects of cynicism and experience, I am thinking they will opt out before waiting for Peter Pan to become the leader of the Conservative party (mind you, we have a pretty-boy spokesmodel for the Liberals….so maybe Peter Pan is a possibility).

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      • “At the outset of her book, [This Changes everything,] Klein asks the obvious question: Why haven’t we, in the face of existential danger, mobilized to lower emissions? There are lots of reasons, but one stands above all others. We have not mobilized because “market fundamentalism has, from the very first moments, systematically sabotaged our collective response to climate change, a threat that came knocking just as this ideology was reaching its zenith.” In other words the climate crisis came with spectacularly “bad timing.” The severity of the danger became clear at the very time when “there-is-no-alternative” capitalism was rising to ideological triumph, foreclosing the exact remedies (long-term planning, stricter government regulation, collective action) that could address the crisis. It’s a crucial insight, …”
        [into a failing economic system.]

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      • That may be so…….but…it may be that modern capitalism was needed to make the shift..? I traveled behind the IRON CURTAIN in the late 60’s. It was a horror show. Industry had run amok and there was no dissent on anything. Even our corrupted capitalism has generated solar panels and the environmental movement. If it isn’t capitalism, it is competition and innovation and free speech that gives us a chance. Imagine what a Natural Capitalist movement could do?

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      • Klien questions the motives of the business class which appear ready to offer the claim that Communism would be worse. If you excuse the pun that is a red herring. What gives the business class a special status not enjoyed by their fellow Canadians? We hear that the business class creates jobs but when they are flourishing they have no incentive to create jobs. This has been the case since our latest so called economic crisis which has been bad for the average guy but great for the stock market. Not much trickles down these days. Are the business guys afraid of Klein’s thesis?

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