Direct Action Will Become Reality
Today Activists closed all the BP petrol stations in London. Over 50 petrol stations were closed with signs stating ‘closed. moving beyond petroleum.’ A dig at BP’s attempt to remarket itself as beyond petroleum several years ago and the way that it could actually achieve the slogan. The activists realised the dream of beyond petroleum for a few minutes. So why the need for direct action and what does it actually do?
Direct Action allows society to imagine another reality albeit brief. The strength and weakness of this type of protest is its impact. It ignites a small flame of hope that the world can change but it also shows the futility of the current situation: the petrol stations were soon reopened, the banners of BP’s logo as a sun setting in a black sea were soon removed revealing the greenwash green flower petal logo.
The power of direct action does outweigh its briefness by showing that an alternative reality exists. The public are reminded or made aware of something that is hidden, something that should be changed and the possible way of changing the world for the better in their daily lives.
It also challenges the company on its record. BP is not beyond petroleum. It continues to lobby hard to encourage dirty forms of oil production such as the oil shales of Canada, the rights to drill in natural reserves or the amount of oil allowed to be imported from especially dirty forms of oil such as the oil shales to the UK. BP and other firms are lobbying at every level of production and demand so that they can continue with business as usual.
Direct action causes an upset in the ability of firms to carry on polluting and its disturbs the public in their daily routine so that they also wake up to what they are consuming. Direct action will become reality, however the speed at which this occurs will depend on political change. What political activists achieve in a few hours will take longer but slowly the BP garages will close. The more people want them to close something that direct action enforces the quicker the closed signs will appear for good.
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