• Climate Strike Leicester

Our Path to Victory

The following is the speech delivered by Anika Goddard at the September General Strike.

Today, we stand on the brink of an immense victory. It is a victory that will be felt in shockwaves over the whole world. Everyone standing here today understands the power that we hold in our hands, the power to bring ecological healing on a vast and all-too-necessary scale. The earth needs suturing: its ugly scars gape in our conscience. And now, collectively, the young and the old will unite over all the earth to close those wounds. The time has come to replace those who destroy the earth.

Hear us! We are furious. We are furious and we say no more. No more of this toxic apathy that we’ve settled into as a society, no more of this insidious denial. No more blaming poorer consumers for being unable to afford expensive sustainable clothing when there is a cheap alternative. No more pretending that if we all walk to school we’ll save the planet. What we need is anger on an industrial scale, to match the industrial scale of pollution in our natural world. What we need is to channel that anger into something that will actually, finally create that seismic earthquake of change. What we need is activism. These protests are the only remedy to the epidemic of globalism that has gripped the human race in developed countries for centuries.

It would take hours to list the crimes committed against the earth and its people under corporate globalism. Our planet’s lungs are crumpling in Brazil; we’re blowtorching icecaps; the coral reefs are withering in acidic seas. These sentences are so familiar that by now they feel stale and inevitable, like an unavoidable storm that we just have to ride out. Let me remind you: there is no riding out this storm. We are in the middle of it now, right now, and if we stay here we sink in it. All of us. So, I pose the question: do we unite in victory against global corporations and governments, or do we unite in death and suffering when we fail to act? Pay attention: We will rise. First in a gradual trickle, then a stream, then a great gushing flood which bursts the seams of disbelief. A tide of rage sweeps up the whole world in its thundering wake. And that is how we change.

Let’s remember the global South - that is, let’s remember the countries Britain has systematically persecuted in pursuit of the same system that is now destroying us all. As Asad Rehman says, “it’s a case of ‘welcome to the party’ - you are bloody late but it’s still good to have you join our fight.” Let’s remember that it’s not the fury of young western people raised under capitalism that underpins this movement. True, our privileged status gives us a vital opportunity to speak out and drive forward change. But let’s never, not for a single second, forget that every day for centuries, people in the global South have died resisting the corporations we fight against now. It’s true. We are bloody late. Let’s make up for it by raising our voices with theirs.

And so we march, with a fury and a passion that will change everything. We must be the defibrillator to shock an apathetic world to action. We, each individual person, must unlearn everything that our society has taught us about how we should live. Sustainable living is not using a paper straw; nor is it turning the tap off when we brush our teeth. Sustainable living involves digging this corrupt system up from its rotten roots. We will get nowhere if we accept small victories. The time has come to replace those who destroy the earth.

Friends, take up your swords.