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Brexit, a Momentous Non-Event

By Arthur Sevestre / Deep Green Resistance supporter

Walk the line

“If they give you lined paper, write sideways.” ~Daniel Quinn

The UK is to leave the EU. The world will never be the same. Many feel that this will make many matters much worse in the UK. I agree. But I also think that matters would have been getting much worse in the UK if they would have stayed.

There were only two choices in the referendum: leave the EU, or remain. These options may seem quite fundamentally different, unless you take a few steps back and look at it from a bit of a distance.

Almost all the arguments for and against were framed around the economy. The leave campaigners said that leaving would be best for the British economy, and for trade and jobs. The remain side claimed it would be better to stay for the very same reasons.

When people are given a real piece of lined paper, literally or figuratively, then most will write neatly on the lines without much thought. This is what happened in the case of Brexit. If the paper was the full range of possibilities for people to react to the referendum, then the lines were a way to control and limit peoples’ minds and actions without them noticing. The lines drawn for the referendum suggested that only voting for or against Brexit was possible. Nothing else. Leave or remain, but no qualifications possible, let alone distinctly different options.

Sliding premises by people

“The first rule of propaganda: if you can slide your premises by people, you’ve got them.” ~Derrick Jensen

To say the above in a different way, the lines on the paper are what you might call premises. Author Derrick Jensen argues that if you want to make people accept opinions as fact, there is almost no better way than by using language to slide these things by people unnoticed.

When both leave and remain campaigners framed their position as being best for the economy, they slipped through the premise that a strong economy is desirable or even essential to live well. Citizens accepted the premise as a matter of fact, not a proposal needing consideration.

How could one even write sideways on this lined paper that was handed out? Not by ticking one of those boxes. Both boxes offered by the political and economical establishment were about growing the economy, increasing trade, and creating more jobs. This meant that every vote in this referendum effectively was a vote for growing the economy, increasing trade, creating more jobs In other words, every vote in this referendum was a vote for growing the economy, for increasing trade, for more jobs, for… hold on.. when was the last time a growing economy was about making things better for ordinary people? When did they get more money to spend, and better jobs which paid better? And what about the rest of the living world?

Hasn’t recent economic growth been the result of squeezing the last bits of money out of the poor classes to further fill the bank accounts of the rich? On a EU-wide scale, hasn’t it come from squeezing the last bits of money out of the likes of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, only to make the bankers in the richest countries richer? Hasn’t the EU as a whole squeezed empty other parts of the world, such as Africa? Despite its claims to virtue, the EU is not about fairness and making things better for all.

More importantly, a growing economy is at its very basis a measure for how efficiently the rich few manage to force the middle class and poor masses to work away health and life (jobs) to convert ever more of the living planet ever faster into dead products for the profit of the few (economic growth), and into toxic waste and a dead planet.

These are some of the very most fundamental lines on the paper provided to voters in this referendum. The leave and remain campaigns weren’t the first to draw them. These lines have been around for an awfully long time, which makes them seem even more set in stone. We’ve gotten so used to them that while they constrain nearly all our political discourse, they are more or less invisible. We notice them perfectly, or we couldn’t write neatly on them, but we are unconscious of our acceptance. What a trick.

Tick outside the box

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” ~Noam Chomsky

The referendum allowed voters to influence some issues. For example, travel within the EU may now be severely impaired for UK citizens. But the real matters – those determining whether we have an inhabitable planet for the foreseeable future, and thus whether we have anything to travel to – were not on the table. Their absence doesn’t mean the vote had nothing to do with them. Instead it means that every vote, leave or remain, was a vote against a planet still being able to support life.

Some suggest EU environmental regulations force the UK to greener standards. Others argue that an independent UK might set stricter regulations than one limited by EU rules. Voting with this in mind might be called a form of writing sideways on the lined paper they gave you. You were supposed to vote for a stronger economy, but you used your vote to try to say something you weren’t supposed to be able to say. You were trying to, if not bring about actual change, at least change circumstances so that real change can be more easily achieved.

So maybe, just maybe, it can be argued that writing sideways was possible. But the time and energy spent trying to do so could have been spent more effectively on other routes to change. The problem is that the rulers of neither the UK nor EU show any sign of putting the living planet first. Even if voters care strongly, the elite divert, convert, and pervert that into care and support for slightly different corporate industries, such as those which profit from “green technology.”

Industries such as Renewable Energy™ attempt, quite successfully, to slide premises past us. They call technologies “renewable” even though they depend on mined minerals and fossil fuel for their production. They limit us to lively debate about whether we will power our gadgets, tools and machines on fossil fuels or on these “renewables,” never allowing the question of whether we should use these tools at all. It doesn’t matter whether the chainsaws cutting trees run on petrochemicals or on water. It doesn’t matter whether the fighter bombers dropping depleted uranium on poor brown people living on top of “our” resources fly on kerosene or on biofuels. It doesn’t matter whether the mining equipment ripping holes into the earth runs on diesel or on hydrogen fuel cells. If you use technology to kill the planet, the planet will be killed. We need to be having that discussion.

Thinking outside the box so far that you realise that there is no box

“Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible–it’s to dismantle those systems.” ~Lierre Keith

If we want meaningful change, it’s useless to accept the paper we’re handed and spend our energy trying to write on the lines with integrity. Even writing sideways won’t achieve much; not only the lines, but the very pieces of paper on which they’re drawn, constrain our thoughts and actions. To obliterate the limits they impose, we must throw away the paper altogether.

Consider the game of Monopoly. A player playing to win has no choice but to amass as much money as possible at the expense of the other players, with an inevitable outcome of one player ending up extremely rich and, because of that, the rest reduced to beggars. (A player indifferent to winning will simply become a beggar more quickly.) If the players feel the game isn’t going well, they might vote to replace the current banker. But the new banker is constrained by the design of the game such that nothing significant will change. The players cannot change the outcome unless they completely change the nature of the game. Effectively, they must replace the game with something else. We should keep this in mind as we evaluate the dominant culture.

We have more than just a vote. We are not limited to marking an X on a piece of paper to decide who rules us while we continue playing the same game. We can use our voices without the constraints of the lines or the papers. We can use our hands, arms, legs, feet, knees, elbows and hard heads to wipe the monopoly game off the table and replace it with a game which benefits all. Such a momentous change would expose Brexit as the non-event it is.

Deep Green Resistance UK on the Brexit

Julian Langer / Deep Green Resistance UK

As a radical environmentalist group defending the living world, Deep Green Resistance UK (DGR-UK) advocates that activists consider any and all means available in our fight. This includes institutional means such as voting. While it is questionable that either Brexit option will significantly impact this culture’s relentless assault on the living world, or its treatment of other cultures, DGR-UK asks that you consider the following aspects.

The EU’s main “mission” is the formation of a centralised superstate, the modern manifestation of the empires throughout history. Who benefits the most from this superstate? The multinationals of neoliberal globalization, the industries and corporations destroying and polluting the living world. While being part of this “community” provides individualistic benefits for British people, these don’t justify our remaining part of this abhorrent institution. Rentier monopoly corporations and tax dodging elites freely flourish within the political body of the EU. And though Boris Johnson’s Third Reich comments were completely moronic, EU nations such as Hungary, France and Austria are seeing significant rises in their right-wing and ultra-nationalist parties. Being part of this “community” does not present the progressive prospects argued by many in the “remain” camp.

Greece gives a clear picture of the problematic future we should expect if the TTIP era of politics and economics continues unchecked. Anyone from a broadly left-wing anti-capitalist position will oppose such developments. Remaining in the EU would mandate our inclusion in this “partnership,” whose sole purpose is to make it easier for American and European businesses to conduct the practices we as activists resist. Do we really want to be included in this undemocratic and tyrannical trade agreement?

The EU is little more than a new form of colonialism. This is apparent in activities such as the “Pan-African initiative”, which continues a long history of violence and abuse in the continent. These Eurafrican policies put African people in extremely vulnerable positions of racial stratification and violence, directly rooted in Europe’s posturing. The resulting corruption has a huge impact on the lives of Africans and on the lives of African wildlife. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Africa’s poaching crisis, with its links to the ivory trade and cartels colluding with corrupt African officials. Do we want to be part of and support a political body which is worsening the situation in Africa? Corruption, sustained by Eurafrican political arrangements and neoliberal globalization, is worsening poverty and decimating species central to African bioregions. Consider this as you cast your vote.

Finally, consider the environmental effects of a Brexit. Deals that the EU are involved with, such as the Paris Climate Deal are completely worthless, with just promises, no action. With the world in a “now or never” situation, can we really afford promises without actions? Will promises halt global warming? Will promises protect the habitats and species at risk from climate change? Clearly, they wont. We are likely to see the same responses to environmental issues within the EU in the future: promises, with no action. Brexit would enable the UK to set stricter environmental legislation, improving UK ecology, which needs to be at the forefront of all political decisions. We need to act in the best interest of the flora and fauna with whom we share these islands. We are not hopeful that if we leave the EU, the Tories or Labour Party will take needed action, but we question remaining part of a political body which restricts the very possibility.

Neither a remain nor a leave decision will have a drastic impact on any of these issues: the establishment at any level won’t allow changes which undermine the status quo of this culture. But in our work as activists, we need to do all we can to support the living world, including voting for incremental improvements. To remain in the EU has obvious benefits for British people, but are these reasons of capitalist-ideological-individualism good enough? Regardless of whether you vote in this referendum, DGR-UK ask you to consider what it really means to be part of the EU.

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.

Ticking a box on a piece of paper is never enough

By Suzanne Williams, originally published at Elephant Journal

This morning I woke to a newsfeed full of despair.

Today—May 8 2015—marks the first full day after the UK voted for the government we’ll have for the next five years.

The results weren’t good news.

The Tories—the party that seems determined to dismantle our National Health Service and get everyone on benefits working in coal mines—is in power again. (At least, they would have people in coal mines if they hadn’t dismantled them as well during the 80s).

When I first heard, my heart sank just as much as everyone else’s. We’d all hoped that the lesser of two evils would have won the race. But once I’d gotten over the shock, a realisation began to form. Perhaps this wasn’t such bad news after all—in fact, it could be one of the most transformational moments in the history of this country.

I addressed the Facebook feed of doom with this post:

“People of the UK. Don’t be disheartened. If Labour had won we would have all sat back and relaxed and continued to believe in the illusion that these bunch of toffs— including Labour—have a clue about what they are doing. They are all bonkers! Whether red or blue.

So it’s up to us, the sane and powerful public to take charge of our communities.

Ticking a box on a piece of paper was never going to be enough.

(Most likely, Labour would have found legitimate a plausible reasons to do very same things that the Tories may do).

If they take away disability allowances then let’s kick up enough of a fuss enough that they don’t. And if they still let us be the ones visiting our disabled neighbors and helping them out instead. If they dismantle the NHS then lets strongly let them know that we don’t want that either…hint: signing a petition won’t be enough.

And if that doesn’t work, then simply refuse to pay or set up our own hospitals instead.

It’s up to us now. We’re on our own. But what a great chance to make some real changes.

This broadcast was brought to you from the I’m a human and I’m in charge of the welfare of my community, not some weirdos in some fancy building somewhere Party.”

An excited flame of hope grew in my heart. Could this be the moment in history that the British Public finally realize—en masse—that the political system is a totally unreliable entity, and that if we want really change in our communities then we need to do more than tick a box every five years?

From a radical activist point of view the lining couldn’t be more silver. We now have the chance to galvanize a despairing population and make real changes in how we view our roles in society. We can no longer rely on the government to protect our best interests so who else can we rely on but ourselves.

The messages of my friends on Facebook this morning were ones of powerlessness and hopelessness, but by the end of the day the words of activists such as myself and others had hit a chord and the mood was growing stronger.

We are the people of the UK and we will fight for the protection of the vulnerable.

Ultimately it is up to us now to create a kinder and fairer society and to design those systems ourselves and stop waiting for some potty posh people to do it for us.

Power to the people.

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.