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Racism in the UK

by Ben Warner / Deep Green Resistance UK

“The first thing you do is to forget that I’m Black. Second, you must never forget that I’m Black.”

Pat Parker, For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to be My Friend

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The UK has never stopped being a racist country, but the vote to leave the EU has given more confidence to many racists. Racist attacks are on the rise. Now more than ever, “white people” like me need to use our privileges to support groups like Black Lives Matter.

A friend of mine who was born in the UK and is of Pakistani origin, was surprised when the “nice” old white lady he had escorted out of the hospital where he works said “Ohh, you’re such a lovely boy, almost makes me wish I hadn’t voted out.” We laughed about it. Her comment displayed so much ignorance it was scarcely believable, but as you peel away one layer, another becomes visible. This casual comment helps to reveal the truth that racism is based on ignorance.

There is no scientific basis for a categorisation of humanity into races of any kind. The commonly used nomenclature of black and white is particularly troublesome and unfounded. It is physiologically unfounded because in the entire history of humanity no human has ever been born with black or white skin. It is troublesome because in the English language white has almost exclusively positive associations, whereas black has largely negative ones. Humans have been arbitrarily labeled by the lighter skinned males who have held power in our culture since its inception. This labeling has been done as part of a “divide and conquer” strategy, a trick which has served the powerful well for millennia. We cannot let this process continue.

For those who doubt that the UK remains an institutionally racist country, a quick look at the statistics may help to change your mind. In 2015, 3000 UK police were being investigated for alleged assault against members of the public. Only 2% of them were suspended for these actions. In the West Midlands, black and Asian police were four times more likely to be suspended than their white colleagues. In the same region, black and Asian people were 3.5 times more likely to report being assaulted. In London, 55% of the victims of police assault were people of colour.

Across the UK, people of colour are 3 times more likely to be tasered by police, at least 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched, and more likely to be strip searched. Since 1990, over 500 black and Asian people have died in police custody – over a third of the total – yet only 14% of the British population are people of colour. Not one police officer has been successfully prosecuted for any of these murders, though many of them were a result of excessive force or negligence. Police officers have said that little has changed in the mindset of the police force since 1999, when it was found to be institutionally racist by the white judge Sir William Macpherson.

People of colour are twice as likely to be unemployed than whites, and black people are almost 3 times more likely to be unemployed than any other population in the UK. Black people are also 44% more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than whites. Compared to their white counterparts, black people are 17 times more likely to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness. Despite there being no evidence that black people are more aggressive than whites, mental health staff are more likely to perceive them as being potentially violent, more likely to prescribe drugs (and at higher doses) or other physical treatments, as opposed to psychotherapy or counseling. GPs are also more likely to put black people into the hands of the police rather than the hands of mental health service providers.

Additionally, black people are more likely to get cancer at a younger age and more likely to die of it than the rest of the population. Not enough research has been done to uncover the exact reasons for this which, is indicative of the lack of concern that our society has for black people. However, if we accept that the UK is institutionally racist, one reason becomes obvious. Why would a black person go to a GP if they know s/he is likely to refer them to the police and that the police are a racist institution? Is it better to ignore a symptom of cancer or risk being handed over to the police by a doctor who will most likely be a white middle class male? Bearing all this in mind, it should not surprise anyone that rates of depression are 60% higher for people in ethnic minority groups than for whites.

These statistics should be shocking for any sane person. However, being shocked is not enough. We also need to act. White people are not immune to the social programming that is a part of our culture. I want to end racism, but I have been taught to be racist by the white supremacist society I was raised in. White people should work through education and direct action to dismantle the racism, in themselves and in society. We should work to respect, listen, support and encourage the voices and leadership of people of colour.

We should work to counter the efforts of white supremacists and fascists groups, whether by challenging racist individuals whenever they make racist comments or by resisting racist organisations which continue to encourage or practice racism. We need to educate ourselves about the long history of the struggle against racism. We need to work to dismantle the racist institutions (housing, education, criminal in-justice, banking, culture, media, extraction, and so on) that help to maintain white supremacy. We must remember that when we choose to fight racism and imperialism, we are joining a protracted, centuries-old struggle, which indigenous people and people of color have always been on the front lines of. As white people, we must allow those who have experienced these histories first hand to inform our resistance.

Why voting won’t save Life ― and what to do instead

By Ben Ludd

On the 7th of May the UK will hold a special ceremony to help the populace decide exactly how the last remaining bits of flourishing, diverse, living communities will be torn apart and turned into dead commodities. No matter which party is elected, soils will not stop being eroded, forests will continue to be turned into lifeless deserts or shopping malls, dams will still imprison rivers and destroy ecosystems, global CO2 levels will continue to increase and white men with illusory power and no love will continue to subjugate the masses. In short it will be business as usual for the industrial economy.

On that day I will honour the people who died for the right to vote by deliberately spoiling my ballot, not out of apathy, as I am politically active in numerous ways. I spoil my ballot because I am disgusted by the choice that a cross in the right box would indicate. I am appalled by the culture we have created, where people barely notice the most horrifying statistics. How many species went extinct this week? How many people are still in slavery? How many women were raped today? How many fish are left in the sea? How many trees still stand?

I doubt the political candidates know the answers to these questions and if they do, that they have any wish to end the culture of abuse and occupation that causes these shocking figures. For sadly, this is the reality of our civilisation. Through the belief that the “Earth belongs to us,” our culture has made a mess of it and continues to poison and destroy the living communities that we rely on for our existence. How many litres of polluted water do you need to drink before you die? How much radiation will cause birth defects? How many bees need to die before we start running out of food? How much poisoned air can we breathe before our lungs collapse?

There are other ways. We could think “We belong to the Earth, this is our home and we will do anything to protect it.” This is what we believe in Deep Green Resistance and this is one of the reasons I am a member. We also have a plan to save life from the monster called industrial civilisation.

It doesn’t involve voting.

It involves creating a culture of resistance that uses the effective methods of previously successful resistance movements. We call it Decisive Ecological Warfare, and we invite you to read it, think about it, and then join us in action.

Lessons From the Luddites: Strategically Smash the Machine

luddites-resist
“if we don’t break’em, our lives they will take’em.
Our croft, our cottage, our village as wello.
No freedom or laughter for those who come after,
But a servant and master in a factory hell.”

Seize the Day: General Ludd

Essay by Ben Ludd

Resistance is fertile. It strengthens. It works. It never dies. We are taught to accept progress as if it were inevitable and always desirable. The relentless growth of cities is neither: a quick look at history shows why.

While the dominant culture uses the word “Luddite” negatively to describe people who are against progress, I use it as a compliment to describe those who fight back using the tactics they deem most effective. We are told that Luddite means “One who is opposed to technical change.” However, the Luddites were not opposed to all forms of progress. They did not destroy labour saving devices indiscriminately. On the contrary, they chose their targets carefully, smashing only those machines harmful to the common good, while leaving others in the same workshops untouched. Today we face larger machines harmful not only to the common good of humanity and the natural world, but to the very possibility of future life on earth.

Two hundred years ago the Luddites saw the threat to their livelihoods and lives more clearly than most. Skilled workers being replaced by steam-powered machines, they were early casualties of capitalism’s shift of rewards from workers to the owners of capital. The merchants who owned the new mills broke the law by employing non-apprenticed unskilled workers in their factories. For ten years the weavers responded with non-violent tactics, appealing to the government to enforce the law. They were ignored and, under pressure from the merchants, the Government changed the law.

With no further legal recourse available to them, the weavers, guided by their mythical leader General Ludd, warned factory owners to remove their machinery. When these final warnings were ignored, the ‘machine breaking’ began. The Luddites used sledgehammers made by Enoch, the same legendary blacksmith who had helped to create the machines they wished to destroy. A Luddite slogan was “Enoch made them, Enoch shall break them.” Thus the Luddites proved you can use the master’s tools to destroy the master’s house.

Despite the Luddites’ actions already being illegal, the government introduced new laws making it a capital offence to destroy the particular machinery which had been targeted. Even with machine breaking now being punishable by death, attacks on cotton mills continued throughout 1812. Many Luddites were captured and executed or sent to Australia. They died protecting their livelihoods and the work their communities relied upon. The Luddites were ordinary people acting with the support of ordinary people. Those who were captured were caught in the act of sabotage; there were no informants. The law enforcers struggled to find anyone who would even admit to knowing a Luddite. With the identity of their leader shrouded in myth, even when some were caught and hung, others were able to continue the resistance. Valuable lessons about the importance of maintaining good security culture and strong relationships with your local community can be found in this example.

Unfortunately, their actions did not stop the industrial revolution. In the years that followed, carbon parts per million rose from 285 to 400, and continue to rise exponentially towards irreversible climate change. However, some people, perhaps inspired by the Luddites, are fighting back. A growing list of examples of modern-day actions similar to those carried out by the Luddites includes:

  • The March 2013 group sabotage of critical equipment, machinery and vehicles belonging to Scottish Coal at Powharnal open cast coal mine in East Ayrshire, Scotland.
  • The November 2008 incident at Kingsnorth coal power station in Kent, when someone climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading “no new coal”. This person walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence.

These actions alone did not significantly slow climate change, but they show the vulnerability of industrial infrastructure and serve as blueprints for the types of actions that will stop the destruction of our home. Civilisation is a fragile monster. All that is required to stop it devouring our planet are a few motivated people capable of identifying its weaknesses.

Are you ready to act? The Luddites never lost. Their battle is and always was ours too.