The Jewel In The Mud Award
This issue’s Jewel in the Mud Award goes out to a visiting fellow of Green College, Oxford, an anthropologist and cultural analyst for his respect.
Squall 7, Summer 1994, pg. 22.
George Monbiot was indeed a runner up for the Jewel in the Mud Award in the last issue of SQUALL for an earlier feature he had published in a newspaper.
In this issue however, he takes the crown of laurel leaves for his article: “Lament for the Common People” published in an environmental supplement of The Guardian (2/6/94). The article was subtitled: “Before the Norman conquest, most of Britain belonged to communities. Today 75 per cent of the land is owned by one percent of the population. George Monbiot explains why the dispossession of commoners has been disastrous for the environment and looks at how some of us are fighting back.”
“The progression from sitting around a fire to sitting in front of the television is best described as enclosure. Resources in which we all had a stake have been annexed or enclosed by a much smaller group of people. The rest of us - those who are not the programme makers or millionaires - are kept out....
Today 75 per cent of the land in Britain is owned by one per cent of the population.... With this change in ownership comes the loss of accountability to the community....
The dispossessed commoners end up in the cities where they lose both their understanding of the land and their self-sufficiency. In Britain where 92 per cent of people now live in towns - the dispossessed become dependent for their raw materials on colonisation and international trade, exerting massive environmental effects of the decision they make.
Political enclosure is reinforced by the enclosure of tastes and interests…. Television re-focuses our interests.... Thus speculation over a political party’s leadership or the relative merits of two brands of coca-cola can come to seem more important than the quality of air we breathe....
It is often hard to see what is happening, let alone fight it, as we are of course, all participants in our own enclosure. But ever since enclosure began, there have been attempts to usurp it. The various peasants’ revolts, the Diggers and Levellers movements, were all responses to the enclosure not only of land but also of power and culture…. Having held on to power for so long, leaving further enclosed power by reducing the scope of local authorities, the Government has so successfully alienated ordinary people from the political process that it has finally alienated itself from ordinary people…. While many have simply thrown up their hands and turned their back on the political initiative.
Significantly, the protests have so far crystalised around the road building programme. This is classical enclosure: new roads take up communal space and drive people out of the surrounding spaces, as noise pollution make them unbearable…. Among them (the protesters) of course are the scruffy looking so reviled by the government…. Their movement is attractive because, as well as fighting enclosure, they are simultaneously trying to release themselves from it. Instead of getting their stories or their music out of boxes - the TV or the cassette case - they sit around the fire creating their own....
Perhaps most significantly, they have broken out of the enclosure of the psyche. In their camps you can dance, skip, howl like an animal or cry like a baby, and no one will recommend you for psychotherapy.....
The government appreciates the importance of this movement. It has drafted new laws prohibiting its chosen forms of dissent. The Criminal Justice Bill is strikingly similar in intent to the old Riot Act, drafted to control the angry people resisting earlier enclosures.”
AND FOR A FINALE
“We, the social incasts living under the lock and key of enclosure, are looking to the social outcasts to lead us from our prisons. The first is out of the box. It will take more than the Criminal Justice Bill to force it back in.”
LURVELY - WE'LL TAKE THAT
or rather he’s right -
WE WON'T TAKE IT.
The Jewel In The Mud Award - This issue's selected media gem, featuring positive commentary from one Guardian journalist about the Exodus Collective. Squall 6 - Spring 1994.