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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.

Categories of violence against women

The War Against Women and Girls in the UK

Adam Herriott / Deep Green Resistance UK

Preface

Many men have asked me why Deep Green Resistance is a radical feminist organisation. “Doesn’t it distract you from your main goal?” they ask, as though the fight against ecocide is unconnected to the fight against patriarchy and its cult of toxic masculinity, which dominates most women in the same way it dominates the natural world. “There are so many other problems to focus on! And anyway, I heard that one in three victims of domestic violence in the UK is male, so shouldn’t we also be talking about men as victims of female violence? Isn’t focusing on men as perpetrators in itself sexist…?”

The frustration I felt from questions such as these prompted me to write this post. I wanted to compile a catalogue of male violence against women and to debunk some of the most common myths used to derail discussions around male violence against women and girls. My post is aimed primarily at all those who question the need for radical feminism within DGR, wonder why we as men would wish to identify as pro-feminist, become defensive and argue that they have never been violent against women and so are not part of the problem, refuse to listen when women speak of their experiences, argue that men are just as much victims as women, believe a gender-neutral approach is a suitable solution to dealing with violence against women…

The following gives some indication of the scale of what we mean when we talk about the war on women. There are simply no comparable statistics for female violence against men. My focus is the United Kingdom, and while there are regional variations in how women are treated in society, there is not a single country in which women are able to live free from the control of patriarchy, for it truly is a global system.

Categories of Violence Against Women and Girls

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) can be broken down into the following categories: femicide; domestic violence; stalking and harassment; rape and sexual assault; forced marriage, honour based violence and female genital mutilation; child abuse; human trafficking, with a focus on trafficking for sexual exploitation; prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation; and pornography.

Under international human rights law, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines VAWG as “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately,” thereby underlining that violence against women is not something occurring to women randomly, but rather an issue affecting them because of their sex.

Femicide

The killing of females by males because they are female.

Current or former male partners killed seven women per month in England and Wales[1]. Men are known or suspected of killing 126 women in 2015; this is one woman dead every 2.9 days. Men are known or suspected of killing 150 women in 2014; this is one woman dead every 2.43 days. Men are known or suspected of killing 140 women in 2013; this is one woman killed every 2.53 days. That’s more women killed through male violence in 2013 than British troops killed in Afghanistan in 3 years of war.

Do women commit murders? Of course. Official figures for the UK show that, between 2002 and 2012, 6.1% of adults who were convicted of murder were women. Which leaves 93.9% of those convicted of murder as men.

And what about male victims? We know that about two-thirds of murder victims are male. But we also know that both female and male murder victims are most likely to have been killed by men. In both cases, the problem is male violence.

Domestic violence

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to: psychological, physical, sexual, financial, emotional abuse.

An analysis of 10 separate domestic violence prevalence studies found consistent findings: 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence over their lifetimes and between 6-10% of women suffer domestic violence in a given year.

Prevalence and administrative data based on single incidents fail to capture the pattern of violence women experience. This has resulted in the numbers of female and male victims increasingly seen as equal by policy makers, local social workers, the police, and other professionals who come into contact with victims. So a woman who is battered many times is likely to be seen as the same as a man who is a victim of violence from a female partner once. The figures of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experiencing domestic violence fail to identify patterns of abuse over time and the coercive control which typifies intimate partner violence. Using these statistics to establish a picture of the prevalence of intimate partner violence is therefore not recommended.

Notable statistics:

  • One in five people think it would be acceptable in certain circumstances for a man to hit or slap his female partner in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothing in public.
  • 43% of teenage girls believe that it is acceptable for a boyfriend to be aggressive towards his partner.
  • 1 in 2 boys and 1 in 3 girls believe that there are some circumstances when it is okay to hit a woman or force her to have sex.
  • Domestic violence has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime. Every minute police in the UK receive a domestic violence call – yet only 35% of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police. On average, a woman is assaulted 35 times before her first call to the police.
  • The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) have found a statistical link between the economic downturn and an increase in domestic violence. Domestic violence has increased by 17% over the period of the recession.
  • 33% of girls in an intimate relationship aged 13-17 have experienced some form of sexual violence from a partner.

What about men suffering from domestic abuse by women? The Government’s Office for National Statistics says “Women were also more likely to be a victim of domestic abuse, with 8.5% of women and 4.5% of men having experienced domestic abuse in the last year, equivalent to an estimated 1.4 million female victims and 700,000 male victims.”

Men may be living with women who hit, punch, slap, and bully them, but they are very unlikely to be living with women who rape and murder them. Not to ignore that women abuse men, but one cannot always draw clear parallels between the violence that men and women endure. We know from reliable data that women in abusive relationships are more likely to experience serious physical harm than men in abusive relationships – and domestic abuse against women is more often repeated, frequently begins in pregnancy, and is a significant cause of maternal death.

Stalking and harassment

Repeated (i.e. on at least two occasions) harassment causing fear, alarm or distress. It can include threatening phone calls, texts or letters; damaging property; spying on and following the victim.

20% of women say they have experienced stalking at some point since the age of 16.

Rape and sexual assault

Rape: A person commits rape if they intentionally penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with their penis without consent.
Sexual assault: A person commits sexual assault if they intentionally touch another person, the touching is sexual and the person does not consent.

  • According to a 2013 joint official statistics bulletin on sexual violence, approximately 85,000 women and 9,000 men are raped in England and Wales every year.
  • A 2009 Home Office survey found that 36% of people believe that a woman should be held wholly or partly responsible for being sexually assaulted or raped if she was drunk, and 26% if she was in public wearing sexy or revealing clothes.
  • An Amnesty International survey found that over 1 in 4 respondents thought a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than 1 in 5 held the same view if a woman had had many sexual partners.
  • It is estimated that only 10% of rapes are reported to the police.
  • Only 22% of serious sexual violence offences are brought to justice. The rape conviction rate in England and Wales is 6.5%. This is the second lowest conviction rate in Europe after Scotland. The police remain unaware of 87% of serious sexual assault victims. London Ambulance Service is called to approximately 450 rape/sexual assault incidents per year.
  • Over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year.
  • Marital rape was only criminalised in the UK in 1991!
  • Almost one in three girls have experienced unwanted sexual touching at school.
  • A significant minority of young women aged 17 to 21 (13%) say that a boy/girlfriend has made them feel frightened or threatened, with one in ten staying in a relationship in which their partner has made them feel unsafe (11%).

What about the common myth that many women make false claims of rape against men? The Crown Prosecution Service revealed that during a 17 month test period in 2011-12, there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape and 111,891 for domestic violence in England and Wales. Over the same time period, there were only 35 prosecutions for making false allegations of rape, six for false allegations of domestic violence and three that involved false allegations of both rape and domestic violence. That’s about 161 rapes for every false claim of rape, and 18,648 incidences of domestic violence for every false claim.

Forced marriage

Marriage conducted without valid consent of one or both parties, where duress is a factor.

  • The Forced Marriage Unit recorded 1,485 cases of forced marriage across the UK in 2012. Of these cases, 21% were identified in London. In 2012/13 there were 50 forced marriages offences reported to the London Met Police.
  • In 2015 the Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support in 1220 cases of possible forced marriage, with 80% of the cases involving female victims.
  • A study done in 2009 highlighted that there were between 5,000 to 8,000 forced marriages reported in England. It is also acknowledged that the actual numbers may be higher due to the ‘hidden’ aspect of this issue.

Honour Based Violence

Violence committed to protect or defend the ‘honour’ of a family and/or community. Women, especially young women, are the most common targets, often where they have acted outside community boundaries of perceived acceptable feminine/sexual behaviour. In extreme cases the woman may be killed.

  • The police estimate that nationally, there are around 12 so-called ‘honour’ murders each year. The Metropolitan Police recorded 256 incidents linked to ‘honour’ in the year 2008/09, of which 132 were criminal offences. This is a 60% rise for the year to April 2009.
  • 29 cases were reported in the media to have taken place within the UK from 2010-2014, with 11 attempted killings and 18 actual killings.
  • In 2012/13 there were 180 ‘honour’-based violence offences reported to the London Met Police.

Female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C)

The complete or partial removal or alteration of external genitalia.

FGM is thought to ensure virginity before marriage and fidelity afterward, and to increase male sexual pleasure. It is mostly carried out on young girls at some time between infancy and the age of 15. Unlike male circumcision, which is legal in many countries, it is now illegal across much of the globe, and its extensive harmful health consequences are widely recognised.

  • At least 66,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, in the main prior to arrival in the UK, with a further 33,000 girls and young women at high risk.
  • There have been no convictions for FGM since it was outlawed in 1985, compared to 100 in France. The London Met Police investigated 46 allegations of FGM in 2008/09 and 58 in 2009/10.

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

  • Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world, earning exploiters more than $150 billion each year, according to a report released by the International Labor Organization in May 2014.
  • 600,000-800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Approximately 80% are women and girls for sexual exploitation or domestic servitude. Up to 50% are minors. Men are trafficked to work on farms or in factories for no or little pay.
  • Between 1,000 and 10,000 women and girls are trafficked into the UK each year for sexual exploitation[2]. Many are trafficked to or through London. Around 6,000 of the estimated 8,000 women involved in off-street prostitution in London’s brothels, “saunas” and “massage parlours” are foreign nationals. It is believed that a significant number of them have been trafficked[3].
  • It is estimated that of 17,000 migrant women involved in off-street prostitution in England and Wales, 2,600 have been trafficked and 9,200 are vulnerable migrants who may be further victims of trafficking.
  • For 2012/13, there were 447 trafficking for sexual exploitation offences reported, up from 32 offences in 2007/8. In 2012, 1,186 potential victims of trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism of whom 786 were female. Project Acumen identified 2,600 female victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in England and Wales and 9,600 who are considered to be vulnerable.
  • A person does not have to cross a border to have been trafficked. There are known cases of women and men trafficked within the UK.

Prostitution and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Prostitution: The practice or occupation of engaging in sexual activity with someone for payment.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation: Achieving sexual gratification, financial gain or advancement through the abuse or exploitation of a person’s sexuality by abrogating that person’s human right to dignity, equality, autonomy, and physical and mental well-being; i.e. prostitution (on streets, in house, flats, brothels; escort agencies; massage parlours/saunas,) pornography and adult entertainment (stripping, pole dancing, lap dancing), phone sex lines, internet sex chat rooms, mail order brides, sex tourism.

  • 80,000 women work in “on-street” prostitution in the UK, with a female to male ratio of four to one.
  • Up to 5,000 children may be involved in prostitution at any one time. According to evidence submitted to the UK Government, between 50-75% of women entered prostitution before they were 18, with 15 years being the average age of entry. Up to 75% of women involved in prostitution began when they were under 18 years of age and most teenage prostitutes are involved in street prostitution, which is estimated to be ten times more dangerous than working from houses or flats.
  • 70% of those involved in street prostitution have a history of social services care. As many as 85% of women in prostitution report physical abuse in the family, with 45% reporting familial sexual abuse.
  • Women in street prostitution have a mortality rate 12 times the national average, and are 18 times more likely to be murdered than the general population. People are much less likely to be convicted of murdering a prostitute than of any other murder. The conviction rate of 75% for murder drops to 26% when it comes to killings of women in prostitution. More than half of women in prostitution have been raped and or seriously assaulted and at least 75% have been physically assaulted at the hands of the pimps and Johns.

Pornography

Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate sexual excitement.

There are abundant studies on the effects of pornography on those who view it. Researchers of a Rapid Evidence Assessment (REA) for the Children’s Commissioner concluded that “Pornography has been linked to unrealistic attitudes about sex, beliefs that women are sex objects, more frequent thoughts about sex, and children and young people who view pornography tend to hold less progressive gender role attitudes.”

Another REA, by the Ministry of Justice in 2007, found:

“The REA supports the existence of some harmful effects from extreme pornography on some who access it. These included increased risk of developing pro-rape attitudes, beliefs and behaviours, and committing sexual offences. Although this was also true of some pornography which did not meet the extreme pornography threshold, it showed that the effects of extreme pornography were more serious.
Men who are predisposed to aggression, or have a history of sexual and other aggression were more susceptible to the influence of extreme pornographic material. This was corroborated by a number of different studies using different methods and different samples.

The REA found no formal research studies of the effects on those who participate in making extreme pornography.”

Pornography is addictive like alcohol and drugs.

Conclusion

After reading all of the above, anyone still thinking that this culture is not at war with women and young people needs to think again, to put it mildly.

I share the anger, shame and need for men to do something about this appalling state of affairs that Kourtney Mitchell describes in “Escalate the Fight to End Male Violence“. An important way to start is by practicing the Feminist Solidarity Guidelines, developed by men in DGR with guidance from the Women’s Caucus. These guidelines help males change their behavior and better ally themselves with women.

Endnotes

1. ONS (2015), Crime Survey England and Wales 2013-14. London: Office for National Statistics
2. http://www.endviolenceagainstwomen.org.uk/data/files/resources/38/realising_rights-jul-08.pdf (page 16)
3. http://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/The%20Way%20Forward%20Final%20Strategy.pdf (page 17)

The Situation in the British Countryside

by Julian Langer / Deep Green Resistance UK

In Europe, we have conveniently forgotten the devastation this culture has inflicted (and continues to inflict) on the continent. In the USA and Australia, where the ecocide, specicide, and genocide committed by colonial forces are far more recent, people have a harder time pretending to be unaware of the effects. In Europe, we’ve lost the majority of (and are losing the last of) the primeval forestlands, once the face of this landscape and home to a diverse biotic community stretching across the bioregion. In Europe, we ignore this culture’s destruction of indigenous communities and those trying to live in truly sustainable ways.

In Britain, those in positions of authority are intent on decreasing rather than increasing institutional protection of our biotic communities. With so much at stake, we must take on the responsibility for protection ourselves. I describe here four examples which deserve support from people across Britain. These are local to my home in Devon; wherever you live, you can get involved in an important struggle to protect the remaining biotic communities in Britain.

Manning’s Pit

Manning's PitManning’s Pit in North Devon is an area of profound natural beauty. Developers, though acknowledging its high biodiversity, seek to build new human housing against the desires of the near-by community. Devon’s dominant natural features are grasses, broken up by hedges to mark differing areas of farmland, woodlands full of bird song and coastal areas whose faces are defined by the sea. As someone who lives here, it is personally saddening to witness increasing development and urbanisation. In a more politically relevant sense though, it is awful as this is the increasing encroachment of this culture on the natural world and the subsequent lose of biodiversity that results in.

It’s an area comprised of Devonshire grasslands and patches of woodland; one of the last remaining homes for the bat, hedgehog and other communities of local wildlife left after agriculture and now urbanisation have left their marks. I fear what will be lost if the developers are allowed to build upon this area or others like it. While local people have a petition going and are appealing to the government for protection, should these institutional means fail, it will become necessary to resist this development directly, be that through occupation of the land, through acts of sabotage or whatever will work.

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National ParkIn Britain the national parks represent the last of our natural landscape, before urbanisation, industrialism and other destructive effects of this culture. They are areas of beauty, where what is left of the natural biotic communities able to exist away from this culture. However, with drastic cuts to the institutional apparatus keeping the Dartmoor national park going and a 25% staff reduction threatened by the government, the future of this area is threatened. It is all too likely that Dartmoor will be sold into private hands, who will pay no heed to the habitats and biotic communities in their pursuit of profit. The woodland community that attempt to live on Dartmoor in such a way that takes responsibility for the environment are already under threat and face being removed. They’re hunter-gatherers attempting to live a way of life this landscape can support.

Clearly the powers that be are more interested in maintaining the status quo of this culture (austerity measures to support a collapsing neoliberal economy) than they are in the land-base. Dartmoor is home to frogs, toads, snakes, slow worms, lizards, buzzards, cuckcoos, ravens, skylarks, owls, peregrine falcons, song thrushes, salmon, trout, dartmoor ponies, foxes, badgers, rabbits, squirrels, hares, stoats, weasels and deer, as well as a huge array of flora, including endangered plant species. To lose this to further destruction would be to lose one of the last strongholds for the natural biotic-communities that covered the length and breadth of Britain. Like with Manning’s Pit, if the institutional measures fail, it is the role of activists to protect this area and areas like it, through both aboveground and underground measures.

Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station

The first new UK nuclear power station in a generation may be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The energy conglomerate EDF will soon make its final decision whether to build Hinkley Point C power station, and although the project has faced considerable delays amidst backlash from environmental groups including Greenpeace, a decision to proceed looks increasingly probable. Chernobyl and Fukushima gave us glimpses into worst case scenarios, but even without an extreme emergency the dangers around disposal of nuclear waste are reason enough to resist this possibility in the South West’s future.

High-level radioactive waste from nuclear power stations is primarily uranium fuel, and its hazardous radiation can take longer than 24,000 years to decay. None of the methods of storage and disposal are perfect, and some are outright dangerous. With EDF poised to finalise the decision to build Hinkley Point C power station, environmentalists and activists in the UK need to defend the land and resist the corporate-hegemony of this energy conglomerate.

Badger “Culls”

Finally, farmers covering up poor farming practices are fuelling an active campaign in specicide towards badger communities across the South West. These farmers, desiring removal of the badger’s status as a legally protected animal, are driving a scientifically invalid and barbarically cruel cull done in the name of protecting cattle against TB.

Badgers are an integral part of biodiversity in the region and in seeing their sets in banks and woodlands, you are reminded that, despite everything, there is still life on this island. This life represents the last of a multitude that were part of the community that characterised this land, before the dominance of this culture and human exceptionalism. Hunt Sab resistance groups are opposing this campaign and other acts of cruelty to animals, and need support if this supposedly protected animal is going to survive. The cull zone has been extended to right across the South West UK so resistance is highly needed, from both activists and those not politically active.

Conclusion

So this is the situation in the British countryside. This culture is destroying what is left of the natural world. Immediately, in the area I live in, there are four important grassroots struggles, with many others across this island. Campaigns such as Rights of Nature UK strive for institutional protection of the natural communities with whom we share these islands. These forms of protections are highly valuable, particularly as incremental means of resisting this culture. Unfortunately, the weaknesses of laws such as those banning fox hunting, or those granting badgers status as a protected species, show that institutional measures are by no means enough. Those of us who value the natural world must fight to defend the natural biotic community and to resist this culture’s violent onslaught, in all the ways we can.

Writings on climate change by DGR UK member

Julian Langer of DGR UK has been writing for the DGR News Service and for the main DGR Blog. You can read his recent pieces:

How many bright greens does it take to change a light bulb? How many dark greens does it take to smash one?

#EPICFAIL in Paris: COP21

Subscribe to the News Service and the main blog to stay up-to-date on DGR news and writing.

A Reasonable Labour Leader – Jeremy Corbyn

There is a lot of excitement about Jeremy Corbyn and that’s understandable, he’s certainly going to make UK politics more interesting and open up the debate. He has some sensible views for a politician, but is he electable?

According to his wikipedia page – he would like to renationalise the energy and rail companies. He has also suggested introducing women only carriages on public transport and a 24 hour hotline for women to report harassment, which sounds like a good idea to me. He would like the UK to pull out of NATO and opposes the replacement of Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.

He has some very progressive ideas on climate change and environmental protection laid out in his Protecting Our Planet manifesto.

He’s against fracking, wants to phase out fossil fuel extraction and is against any new nuclear power stations. He also wants to invest more in renewable energy and public transport to improve air quality.

What a nice surprise to have a reasonable human being leading a British mainstream political party. But hang on a minute! Didn’t lots of people get excited about David Cameron, Tony Blair and John Smith when they were elected leader of the opposition? Did they change anything? Did they reduce the number of species being murdered by this culture? Isn’t that what this culture does? Every so often it feeds us a new politician to get excited about. Someone that’s going to be better, greener, more skilled at managing the economy. What about Obama? Talk about a let down. Its a good distraction to keep us focused on the mainstream agenda.
So please don’t get too carried away and remember that civilisation is still the problem and we need grassroots, organised political resistance to bring it down and end the destruction of our beautiful planet.

Report-back on Himalayan visit

himalayan-culture-sDGR UK members Elliott and Rachel recently visited the Himalayan mountains, in part to see how traditional cultures live. Elliott shares an account of their experiences, describing the negative impacts of civilisation. He concludes:

My lasting impression was that if Western civilisation stopped tomorrow, after an initial period of readjustment, the people of Khati would experience a considerable improvement in their lives. Generations of people are still alive that possess knowledge that the younger generations seem unable and uninterested to receive. But those elders won’t be alive for much longer. Western civilisation must be stopped as soon as possible.

Read the entire piece at Deep Green Resistance Blog: Civilisation’s assault on traditional Himalayan cultures

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.

Questioning allegiance to renewables

windfarmDeep Green Resistance recently posted a new set of FAQs on the main website, addressing the myths of Green Technology & Renewable Energy. In that same vein, here’s a first-hand observation of the impacts of supposedly “clean” wind turbines on a Scottish forest fragmented by the machines and their access roads. The article makes clear the stark choice we face: industrialism or life.

I’ve recently been planting trees at a wind farm. Every morning, we’ve had to drive up a forestry road and top a large hill covered in hectare upon hectare of Sitka spruce. At the top of the hill, the spruce forest has been levelled and a giant construction project has taken place. Wind turbines twenty or thirty stories high spin with alarming speed.

Siemens headed the project, receiving the contract to build the turbines to be owned by Scottish and Southern Energy. The resulting moonscape, crisscrossed by individual access roads, reminds me of the areal shots I’ve seen of fracked well pads dotted all over the American and Australian landscapes. Twisted interconnected roads leading nowhere in a bizarre irregular grid pattern. I guess this is the signature of new and upcoming energy extraction projects: each productive unit, whether it be wind turbine or fracking well, is only nominally productive on its own when compared to industrial demand and ‘conventional’ power plant outputs.

Read the entire article: Reneging on the environmental movement’s allegiance to renewables

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.

Open Letter to the UK Environmental Movement from Deep Green Resistance UK

Deep Green Resistance UK (DGR UK) is the UK chapter of DGR International. We are an environmental and social justice organisation based on the book, Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet. The book identifies civilisation, patriarchy, and capitalism as brutal arrangements of power which need to be dismantled if there is to be any chance of future generations enjoying a habitable planet. DGR proposes a concerted, focused, and serious resistance movement to stop the murder of the planet before it is too late.

If we think of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring” as the birth of the modern environmental movement, then we have had ‘environmentalism’ in existence for approximately 50 years and yet every biotic indicator shows that the planet is not improving, not even stable, but in decline. Countless species went extinct today. The planet is being destroyed, and no amount of recycling or renewable energy is going to stop that destruction. As Derrick Jensen illustrates in his essay Forget Shorter Showers, the majority of water and energy is used by industry, agriculture and the military, not individuals. Personal lifestyle choices, whilst commendable, will not make any significant difference. If we continue to focus on marginal personal contributions instead of working together against the larger machine as a whole, there is little chance of success. It is going to take organised political resistance to stop the trajectory we are on.

DGR proposes taking a new approach. The key difference between DGR and other environmental and social justice groups is that we have a long term strategy, named Decisive Ecological Warfare (DEW). DEW has two main goals.

The first is to disrupt systems of power and to dismantle those systems. In other words, we wish to remove the ability of the rich and powerful to exploit the marginalised and destroy the planet. See here for examples of what DGR is advocating for in the UK.

The second goal is to defend and to rebuild, just, sustainable, autonomous human communities, and to assist in the recovery of the land.

You can read the Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy.

Our culture currently rewards behaviour that benefits the individual at the expense of the group. Acquisitive and insane behaviour such as denuding the landbase of living systems makes powerful individuals rich, and this is the behaviour we see from those in power. This will continue while there is still money to be made, in other words the destruction will continue until there are no more living systems left to exploit. A number of respected scientists are coming to similar conclusions.

Solutions which make no attempt to destroy this culture, or which postpone action until the distant future, are worryingly misguided. The current system is one of arrogance, sadism, stupidity and denial. It will not change of its own accord. The British government’s stance on fracking, despite massive public opposition, is a testament to this and an example of this culture’s insatiable appetite.

Many in the environmental movement advocate transitioning to a sustainable society with clean energy. Kim explains in this article why this is unrealistic. We do not have the time. See this recent report by James Hansen, who has been right about global warming for three decades. Any political party who seriously proposes what is actually needed (near zero emissions by 2020) will never be elected. Neal Lawson describes how the UK Green Party’s election success is going backwards and we think most people reading this would agree that their policies are nowhere near radical enough. The simple truth is that most people do not want to give up their industrialised ‘first world’ privileges such as driving cars, watching TV and going on holiday.

DGR UK is reaching out to the UK environmental movement to state that we want to begin an honest dialogue about how bad things are and what needs to be done about the situation we find ourselves in. Not simply what we are comfortable with doing, but what needs to be done. We would welcome all those who wish an end to the destruction to start thinking like a resistance movement for life, rather than an environmental movement hoping for the best. If we are to create a real resistance movement, we need this culture of resistance to germinate.

DGR UK, and the whole DGR organisation is very young. We believe we have a valid perspective, analysis and strategy. DGR members know that we do not have all the answers, and that we will need support from our allies to help DGR mature. DGR has a strategy, but this is only part of the solution. We understand that there are many different ways to work towards protecting our planet, and that these are all important in creating a larger political struggle.

As Derrick Jensen says:

‘We need it all. We need people to take out dams and we need people to knock out electrical infrastructures. We need people to protest and to chain themselves to trees. We also need people working to ensure that as many people as possible are equipped to deal with the fallout when the collapse comes. We need people working to teach others what wild plants to eat, what plants are natural antibiotics. We need people teaching others how to purify water, how to build shelters. All of this can look like supporting traditional, local knowledge, it can look like starting rooftop gardens, it can look like planting local varieties of medicinal herbs, and it can look like teaching people how to sing.’

What we propose is that people in the UK environmental movement begin to consider whether their activism- be it community, political or radical- is effective and commensurate with the scale of the problems we face. Community gardens and anti-fracking protests are all part of this resistance movement, but unless they are linked to a larger political struggle, those efforts will fail. Regardless of what our differences might be, we need to start working in tandem.

Horizontal hostility, a term coined by Florynce Kennedy in 1970 to describe the damage caused when oppressed groups fight amongst themselves instead of fighting back against the powerful, is among the worst enemies of successful systemic change. Even if you do not agree with everything DGR proposes, we ask that you not dismiss us entirely, simply because we advocate for a more radical response to safeguarding our planet. After all, we all share the same goal: a healthy, just world for future generations of all living beings.

It is for this reason that DGR also firmly aligns itself with radical feminism. We believe patriarchy is a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power, and we want to see it dismantled, along with its cult of toxic masculinity which seeks endlessly to dominate women in the same way that it seeks to dominate the natural world and its resources. Our feminist stance has caused a great deal of controversy in the US. DGR members have been attacked by groups and by individuals for wishing to abolish gender and to preserve safe spaces for women. We make no apologies for this. We do not think of DGR as a panacea. We believe there are many groups doing great work out there and that it will take many more working together to bring down the system we currently live in.

We in DGR understand that the DGR strategy will not be for everyone. We believe that every option should be on the table and that each person is entitled to decide which they support, without necessarily rejecting the usefulness of those they do not wish to become involved with. To be clear – DGR does not condone or support violence against any human or non-human living being. What we wish to stress is that if something drastic is not done, our world is not just going to be a little hotter, but will become uninhabitable. Please read up about us and our strategy, discuss it with friends and make up your own mind. The DGR strategy is very broad and there are a lot of details to fill in so we welcome all feedback from our allies and supporters.

As Ben Barker rightly states in his open letter to liberals: “Every movement for social change has understood that when a system of law is corrupt, we must turn instead to the laws of the universe: human rights, the living land, justice. These movements are always deemed radical—and that’s because they are. Hope and prayers do not alone work to change the world. We’re going to have to fight for it.”