On Sept. 23, Kai Bartlett lit himself on fire to save the planet. His blazing arm was quickly extinguished, but a large audience witnessed the attempted self-immolation at the Laver Cup, a London tennis tournament. According to his T-shirt, Bartlett was acting on behalf of End UK Private Jets, a group that was once again in the news last week when Maddie Budd, wearing a similar shirt, dumped a bucket of excrement on a beloved London statue.
As twitter researcher @echetus has discovered, End UK Private Jets—a group that appears to comprise only Bartlett and Budd—is the latest in a chain of successively more radical groupuscules that have split off from the already radical Extinction Rebellion. Extinction Rebellion avows a commitment to nonviolence, and emphasizes photogenic stunts like sweet grandmas gluing their hands to Picasso paintings. But the splinter groups seem to be tipping into “extremist” territory as tactics escalate toward destructive and potentially violent confrontation.
Bartlett’s and Budd’s collaboration appears to have begun this summer, when they formed Sacrifice for Survival. The Sacrifice for Survival Web site (now deleted) demands we face the terrifying “truth” of climate emergency: “global war, global famine, global rape,” “hell on earth.” Their project was to document repeatedly lighting themselves on fire in what they described as “an act of self-love, one extra strategy to try and protect life on earth.” They pledged to continue until “the UK Cuts CO2 emissions by banning domestic flights.”