The news that two young female “climate activists” have been arrested for hurling a tin of Heinz tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s famous 1889 “Sunflowers” painting in London’s National Gallery should come as little surprise. For Just Stop Oil, the low-level green terror group apparently responsible, attempting to ruin an $85 million masterpiece is a blow against both Western capitalism and the wider cultural inheritance from which it sprang, both of which these people openly despise.
The philistines argued unconvincingly that today’s “cost of living crisis is driven by fossil fuels” and that, as a result, “millions of cold, hungry families” could not “even afford to heat a tin of soup.” They did not explain what, precisely, the starving millions would be easily able to afford to heat their gruel with should these very same fossil fuels be taken away from them. Blazing piles of degenerate art torn down from gallery walls for firewood, perhaps?
“Is art worth more than life? More than food? More than justice?” asked junior revolutionary Phoebe Plummer. But what, precisely, is justice for these people? It’s a euphemism for imposing a form of apocalypse communism upon humanity by making a spurious appeal to willfully misinterpreted “science” instead of actually persuading people to their cause by rational democratic means — a path they eschew largely because their cause is neither rational nor democratic.
Green or Red?
Just Stop Oil is an offshoot of another millenarian organization, Extinction Rebellion (XR). To many members, Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate at all. We know this as one of the group’s British founders, Stuart Basden, helpfully wrote a 2019 essay entitled “Extinction Rebellion Isn’t About the Climate.” So what is XR about, then? Destroying the West in its entirety, sunflowers and all. For Basden, the worst toxic environmental pollutant is not CO₂, but white people:
The climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system [capitalism] that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence. … Their cultural myths [Christianity and science] justified horrors…
Basden himself is white, by the way — unlike many nations that have become today’s worst environmental polluters, like China and India. But other races’ contemporary sins are the fault of white people too, as European empire-builders cunningly imposed a false consciousness upon other races during colonial times, making them psychologically conditioned to accept “dangerous delusions” such as the idea that the vastly higher living standards and life expectancies cruelly unleashed upon humanity by the Britain-born Industrial Revolution were in some sense desirable.
What has to be dismantled are thus not merely our power generators and factories but, more fundamentally, the moral obscenities which allowed Europe and America to develop these horrors in the first instance, namely white supremacy, patriarchy, Eurocentrism, class hierarchy, and hetero-sexism/heteronormativity (which “propagate the idea that heterosexuality is ‘normal,’” primarily because it is). Basden thinks these delusions produce environmental “insanity,” and describes his essay as “a call to the XR community to never say we’re a climate movement. Because we’re not.”
Climate of Stupidity
Not every XR acolyte agrees with this agenda. In a 2020 interview with Basden, a fellow cultist named only as Matthew recounts an argument he had with Chit Dubey, a co-founder of XR India, who objected to this obsessive focus upon woke issues to the detriment of actually combatting real problems like pollution, complaining how “white people are obsessed with race.” For Matthew, “I don’t quite know where that came from, so I need to talk to him further.” That’s right, Matthew, let the white man educate the primitive native about what his correct opinions on matters should be — maybe the real person who needs to decolonize his mind here is Matthew himself.
Like the Scientologists and Moonies, XR has over 1,000 local chapters worldwide but hasn’t yet caught on as well in the U.S. as in Europe, perhaps because other antinomian mobs like Black Lives Matter and Antifa provide stiff competition for recruits. Another problem is a schism between XR U.S., which demands “a just transition [towards a fossil fuel-free world] that prioritizes the most vulnerable people … [and] establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice,” and the splinter group XR America, which perceives that arguing for the creation of a climate dictatorship led by black militants is strangely unlikely to gain universal support amongst the wider American populace.
Even original XR co-founder Roger Hallam — who prefers trying to scare people into compliance by spreading lunatic “scientific” prophecies of people being forced to watch the gang-rape of family members before having their eyes burned out with cigarettes if we don’t all immediately go green — thinks this is a tactical error. By definition, identity politics “can’t appeal to everyone,” Hallam has said.
But perhaps this is the whole point. Digging into the data, only 7 percent of Republicans would be personally open to pulling disruptive stunts like dousing paintings in soup to save the planet, while 30 percent of Democrats might. Thus, to appeal to the only major constituency willing to join their crusade — i.e., leftists — perhaps it proved necessary for XR U.S. to frame the debate in terms of racially skewed “climate justice.” Of course, “justice” here is just an evasive euphemism for dismantling the West wholesale. These so-called “conservationists” do not wish to conserve anything at all, merely destroy it, even up to and including the works of Vincent van Gogh.