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'Nepocide' coined by Cambridge professor


By Mike Scialom


Extinction Rebellion on Parker's Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion on Parker's Piece. Picture: Finlay Cox

A new word to describe the willingness of the current generation to sacrifice the wellbeing and even survival of future generations has been coined by Professor Tony Booth, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge.

"Nepocide" takes the word "nepotism", which is defined as "any favour granted to relatives in various fields, including business, politics, entertainment, sports, religion and other activities" and splices it with genocide, which is described in Article Two of the UN Convention on Genocide as "acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group".

"Nepocide is the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations for current convenience," said Prof Booth, speaking at an Extinction Rebellion event outside Parkside police station yesterday (January 31). "I originally started thinking about the dynamics of cross-generational responsibility during the Thatcher era. Back then I called it 'grandchild murder' - the conscious willingness to sacrifice future generations to poverty, but with climate change it's become literally a reality for everyone, so I coined a name for it."

Extinction Rebellion is a movement which began in October. Its aim is to galvanise governments and councils to declare a climate emergency. Some UK councils have already done so, including Cornwall. A petition to request that Cambridge City Council declares a state of climate emergency is due to be handed in this month.

The protest at Parkside police station centred on campaigner Angela Ditchfield, who belongs to King's Hedges Green Party. Ms Ditchfield was requested to attend Parkside in connection with events at Shire Hall last month when graffiti was sprayed on a wall.

"They watched while the spray painting happened and didn't arrest me," she told the Cambridge Independent before entering the police station. "They then contacted me a couple of days later to ask me in for a chat and I had an interview under caution. Accepting a caution means accepting criminal guilt and that didn't happen. They've called me back in to charge me."

Angela Ditchfield of King's Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom
Angela Ditchfield of King's Hedges Green Party with Professor Tony Booth. Picture: Mike Scialom

When Ms Ditchfield went in she was accompanied by a group of campaigners who also enquired as to who else would be arrested for criminal damage. They spoke to the officer at the front desk.

"Criminal damage against property is a crime, but what about criminal damage against the planet - who can I talk to about that?"

The officer replied: "I agree with a lot of what you're saying but this isn't the platform to express those views."

One of the group then read out a statement which included the following: "We would like to plead guilty to criminally damaging the world by living a privileged western lifestyle involving flying and driving, eating the products of the meat and diary industry, using plastic products and consumer electronics and buying unsustainable supermarket products. All of these practices have caused irreparable damage to the world's ecology. The glittering wealth grown in Britain's economy is built on the extraction and theft of resources from countries in the global south. It is built on the endless extraction of fossil fuels, a resource for which we have hideously violated human rights, started brutal wars, and killed millions. The wealth and privilege has caused loss of life and irreparable damage to the world's ecology, and we have benefitted from it. We have enjoyed the fruits of the destruction of others. Charge us with all of that."

The officer explained that there would be no charges. "We've just taken in a lot of people and it's full now."

Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox
Extinction Rebellion campaigner reads statement at Parkside police station. Picture: Finlay Cox

"Can we come back later?" the spokesperson asked.

"No."

Another officer then asked: "Why don't I just have a chat with two of you?"

"Well we're all guilty," was the response.

"OK," the officer replied, "but if there's two of you who you trust I can listen to them."

Two campaigners then stepped forward and were taken through. The officer later reported that the chat went "very well".

Angela Ditchfield was also released, and said: "I thought they were going to charge me but they're doing it in a different way. Technically I've not been charged yet but I've just been notified that I've reported to be charged."

Ms Ditchfield awaits postal confirmation of the next stage of the case.

Angela Ditchfield's homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom
Angela Ditchfield's homemade armband. Picture: Mike Scialom


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