The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that’s currently going through Parliament will place further restrictions and constraints on what protesters can do: The police, crime and sentencing bill explained. This will inevitably make street protests and actions considerably more fraught affairs. It will also make it tougher to occupy sites in order to protect them from the ravages of developers, road and rail construction.
Obviously, a fair few activists will do what they can to get around these restrictions, albeit knowing they will be taking more of a risk than ever before. However, it’s inevitable that a number of activists will, for various but understandable reasons, be deterred from going out on the streets or occupying a site. Does that mean the end of the kind of activism that can challenge and subvert the system? Far from it as we’ll briefly outline in this piece…
If the government think that keeping us off the streets will eliminate any threat to a system that’s increasingly dysfunctional, they’re very much mistaken. A lot can be done in the here and now to start building the kind of world we want to bring about. What we’re talking about is starting to set up parallel systems and where possible, move off grid.
The consumer treadmill is one place where we can make a start. Rather than constantly upgrading, disposing and renewing, how about repairing and making instead?
Do you really need to upgrade the smartphone? Given the growing possibility of digital vaccine passports and eventually digital ID, will you even want a smartphone that will keep you plugged into a system of increasingly ubiquitous surveillance? Would a so called ‘dumbphone’ or ‘burner’ phone be a better and safer option?
Rather than be a slave to the latest in computer technology, why not forget about the latest shiny iMac and opt for a second hand desktop or laptop where’s it’s possible to repair it yourself? Heck, why not get a typewriter and go back to analogue? If as an activist, you want security of communications, typed missives are a lot safer than hackable computers!
There is a growing repair movement where people meet up, bring along the items and appliances they want fixed and are either shown how to repair them or matched with someone who has the skill and expertise to fix them. Not only does this extend the life of your items, it’s social and a way of forming a collective of like minded people.
Assessing your real needs and cutting down on unnecessary consumption is a way of undermining an economic system that’s dependent on you staying plugged in and buying. What can the government of the day do about it? At the moment, absolutely nothing!
We’ve written about this before but it bears repeating – the more control you can gain over your food supply, the less reliant you are on the system. Previously, we’ve drawn attention to increased food self sufficiency offering protection against the consequences of the finely balanced ‘just in time’ food supply chain we have being disrupted. What’s equally, if not more important, is the independence it gives you from the government.
Through your own efforts, individually or much better collectively, you can start to provide more of you’re own food. Should a future government move towards a system of Universal Basic Income (UBI) that’s tied in with a social credit system in a cashless society, at the flick of a switch if they deem you haven’t been a model ‘citizen’, they can cut you off from the means to buy food. If you think that’s conspiracy theory, just take a step back and think about what has already been done to us over the last year, and what’s in the pipeline in the coming months and years, just to ‘contain the virus’. Frightening isn’t it?
This kind of food growing can range from a few window boxes on a balcony topped up with micro-greens indoors, through to re-thinking what you really want from a back garden and onto getting an allotment or even guerilla gardening. When you start to look closely at many neighbourhoods, the amount of land that could potentially be brought into cultivation is staggering. Obviously at this level, it’s something that would have to be done collectively.
Longer term security can also be secured not just from growing your own food but also from saving and nurturing seeds for the following seasons. This is how a wider variety of crops can be ensured. This can be enhanced by collectively starting up a seed bank with like minded people. This is not just to save and conserve seeds but also to exchange expertise and to learn.
A lot of this could be done at an individual level. If enough individuals do what’s suggested above, sure, it would start to dent a consumption based economy and the tax base. Would it be enough to challenge the system? No it wouldn’t…
What would not just be a threat to the system but also offer the glimmer of what a new world could look like is if we organise collectively. Basically, we’re talking about putting the principles of mutual aid and solidarity into practice. Granted, this will not be easy after a few years when the divide and rule merchants have done their best to split our communities firstly over Brexit and now, over lockdowns, masking and vaccines.
Once you recognise that the government benefits from us being at each others throats over these issues, it’s easier to see the game that’s being played, take a few steps back from it and realise that we lose if we carry on this way. Once we start to work collectively at the neighbourhood level to meet our needs, the government and the dysfunctional economic system it props up start to lose and we start to win. What’s not to like about that?
All we’re doing with this piece is throwing out a few ideas in a bid to inspire people. If you’re involved in an initiative that’s achieving a degree of collective independence from the system and the government, we’d love to hear from you. The whole point about Alternative Estuary is to link the points of light and build a network of not just resistance but also of bringing about the world we want.