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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.

DGR UK Autumn 2016 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

In March we facilitated a workshop at Grow Heathrow. It was a lively and interesting debate focused on Civilisation. We talked about why DGR believes the murder of the biosphere is caused by civilisation. Although not all the participants agreed, there was some support, many good questions were asked and the discussion ended with everyone on friendly terms.

DGR UK members launched the Rights of Nature UK campaign in June. We are campaigning for nature to have legal rights in the same way as humans and animals. CELDF in the US has successfully supported 30 communities to get Rights of Nature laws enacted. Is a part of nature under threat where you live? If not would you like to help with the campaign? If so get in touch:  (campaign@rightsofnature.uk); website; facebook.

In July, Lierre Keith spoke in London at the long-awaited Thinking Differently conference (videos to follow soon). Lierre arranged to meet with Radical Feminist activists in London the day after the conference. About twenty women attended to discuss a number of pressing issues, including how the environmental and feminist communities can support each other more in their struggles. Lively discussion ensued with topics ranging from the US election to Teresa May’s swift decision to abolish the Department for Energy and Climate Change. There is growing recognition that environmentalists and feminists along with anti-racists, anti-capitalists and others share a common enemy. It is important that these varying groups build effective alliances. For this to happen, groups need to be open to radical feminist analyses. More joint meetings and exchanges of ideas will follow.

DGR Scotland launched in August. They have a facebook group with a website to follow soon. It is an exciting time for DGR Scotland to be taking off with hopes getting higher that we can break from our UK colonial status, from our role of providing a large part of our territory as hunting playground for the rich, with having no say over having UK nuclear subs parked near to our major city and our being dragged into illegal wars.

Finally, we’re making a change to how we post DGR UK news. For the last 3 years, we’ve been posting regularly to the DGR UK blog and then sending out very irregular e-newsletters. This is changing so that everyone on the e-newsletter list will get email alerts when we post to the DGR UK blog (which is about once per month) and there won’t be any more e-newsletters. You can of course unsubscribe from these if you wish using the link at the bottom of each notification email.

For the Wild!

The DGR UK Team

Deep Green Resistance UK Winter 2016 Newsletter

DGR UK attended and organised a few events through Autumn 2015. We’ve moved forward with two of the areas we decided to focus on at last years strategy meeting.

DGR UK members attended the London Climate March on November 29th. We spent most of the march at the front by the “’Wretched of the Earth’ bloc, representing communities of colour on the frontlines of climate change.” Read this damning report back of how this group was treated by the liberal march organisers. I’m sure most of you won’t be surprised by what you read.

On November 19th we organised a private event with Lierre Keith (author of the DGR book) in NW London. About twenty five attended and we had an interesting discussion about radical feminism and how it relates to DGR and ending industrial civilisation. Everyone seemed to get something out of it and there was talk of organising another similar event (without Lierre) in 2016.

On October 25th, Adam and Ben visited Grow Heathrow in West London. Adam gave a DGR introductory talk and Ben followed with a workshop exploring the problems of civilisation. Thanks to Grow Heathrow for the invite.

If you would like to host a DGR UK talk/event where you are, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing uk@deepgreenresistance.org

The Earth First Winter Moot 2016 is on February 19-21 in Stroud. Hope to see you there.

Love and Rage,

DGR UK Team

DGR UK Summer 2015 Newsletter

Dear friends,

DGR UK has had an exciting year so far. With numbers growing, DGR UK had a strategy meeting in May with an interesting discussion on where to focus our energy. We decided on three broad areas:

1. attending UK protests and marches to show our solidarity and support for the events

2. start brainstorming DGR UK campaigns and actions

3. contact allies and groups with a shared outlook to work together

We have started moving forward with all these areas. DGR UK members attended the London Anti-Austerity march on June 20th.

DGR UK members attended the Reclaim the Power camp in May and got involved in one of the actions.

DGR UK members attended and helped with the organisation/running of the Earth First Summer Gathering. It was a very well attended and enjoyable gathering and we look forward to next years.

Three groups in London have contacted DGR UK to request we attend their meetings to speak about Deep Green Resistance. Some of these will be public events so we will share the dates once they are confirmed.

DGR UK members will be at the COP21 London climate change march on November 29th, hope to see you there.

Love and rage,

The DGR UK Team

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

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.

Reclaim the Power – fossil fuel electricity generation in the UK

The 2015 Reclaim the Power camp will be from 29 May – 2nd June near Didcot powerstation in Oxfordshire. Didcot Power Station comprises Didcot A Power Station, powered by oil and coal until its closure in 2013, and Didcot B Power Station, a combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT).

Didcot power station stands as a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking out dirty fossil fuels from the UK’s energy mix. Although the coal-fired section (Didcot A) was shut down and part-demolished last year because of EU laws limiting emissions, the gas-fired section (Didcot B) is still running today. What sustainable alternatives exist for local communities living at Didcot – and how can we create a just transition away from fossil fuels?

While communities around the country have stood together against fracking, our government has been making plans to build a new round of gas-fired power stations, and wants to partly supply them with fracked shale gas. Despite the fact that we need to keep global gas reserves in the ground if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, corporate lobbyists are now pushing hard to scrap the EU legislation designed to reduce emissions across Europe. More fossil fuels will enrich the Big Six energy companies whilst bringing more fuel poverty and climate chaos.

In 2014 about 29% of UK electricity demands were met by coal, 19% by nuclear, 30% by CCGT, and 19% by renewables. The rest came from oil, pumped storage and from other European countries via their interconnectors. Of course included in ‘renewables’ are highly unsustainable practices such as burning biomass and mixed waste. (See the DGR ‘green’ technology and renewable energy FAQs for problems with these methods.)

One third of the UK’s coal power stations will close by the end of 2015, leaving ten still in operation. There are thirty three CCGT power stations in the UK with many more on the way, which will create a demand for fracked gas. This interactive map, though a bit out of date, shows the location of UK electricity power stations.

All of the UK’s coal power stations are due to close by the early 2020’s to comply with air pollution regulations (the Large Combustion Plants Directive (LCPD) and Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)). But based on a report from Imperial College London, many of these coal power stations will still be operational in 2030. What a surprise. It doesn’t look like Europe is doing much better, although of course, the UK is contributing to this predicted failure.

At last year’s Reclaim the Power camp thirteen decentralised groups carried out actions around the country. Deep Green Resistance UK members will be at the camp this year, to support it and take part in a non-violent direct action. Visit the Reclaim the Power Facebook event page for more details. We hope to see you there!

DGR UK Spring 2015 Newsletter

DGR UK members and supporters ran a day of talks, workshops and discussion on Saturday 22 November in NE London. It was well attended and we had a number of interesting discussions. There are plans to have another DGR UK event in October this year, details to follow.

There was a Resisting Together camping gathering near Frome on October 31st to November 2nd. For a report back on the gathering go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/resisting.together/permalink/361862587323496/

There will be a Resisting Together Gathering from May 15-17 near Oxford. It will be at a farm camp site near the ruins of an old manor house, close to a canal and woodlands, where we can spend some slow time close to the Earth, discuss what’s happening to our world and how to resist it.
Camping costs £9 for one night and £12 for two nights. There will be a fire pit to keep us warn in the evening. We will have a camp kitchen and plan to cater for everyone so need to know if you want to attend in advance. A farm tour is likely and we are hoping to organise a led foraging walk. There will be an extra cost for food and the foraging walk. Its easy to get to the site, a train to Oxford and then a bus will drop you 5-10 mins away. There are limited places so if you want to reserve one email Adam at resistingtogether at riseup.net (replace ‘ at ‘ with @)
Resisting Together website http://www.resistingtogether.org.uk/
Resisting Together facebook discussion group https://www.facebook.com/groups/resisting.together/

Love and rage,

DGR UK team

The Green Gathering 2014

From the 31st July to the 3rd August 2014, DGR UK had a stall at this year’s Green Gathering in Chepstowe.

As someone new to these kinds of festivals, it’s been an interesting experience for me. I arrived on Wednesday to meet our little group of people, and help with setup. The sun was shining, we chatted, put up tents and gazebos, pondered our stalls and watched the rest of the gathering being built. More traders, and public, arrived on Thursday, and bit by bit the fields were taken over by all manner of structures, tents and vehicles. We even got a quick talk about how a large marquee is set up.

But for all the material things appearing, a gathering is as much held together by the people and the causes they represent. And there were many; a physical manifestation of all that needs fixing in the world, but also of all the goodwill that is there to fix it. And there was a lot. Not only places and workshops to inform yourself and increase your skills, but also many spontaneous encounters with worthwhile, interesting and kind people, and unfortunately much too little time to explore it all.

For DGR UK this has meant a successful workshop, many people talked with at our stall, and many connections made and explored. After the gathering a website for the ‘Resisting Together’ group was launched, to supplement the existing Facebook group and provide information for people who aren’t on Facebook.

For myself, I have learned a lot about how such a gathering functions, about how to talk to people, and about a lot of the many problems civilisation causes, and the many projects that need help. I’ve also been reminded just how different life can be from the ‘normal’ civilised world most people live in. Even though it was just a very small patch of the world and just a short amount of time, and we still relied on so much of civilisation to make it happen, it’s far enough removed, and different enough, that going back home, sitting on the train, locking my door behind me at home, feels like a culture shock.

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.