Written by Adriana Dorsett
To cut a long story short, this Summer I found myself watching a film in a sweltering hot tent with about 5 dozen wet wipe washed campers; collectively emanating a whiff of Olympic intensity. I love festivals for that. The plot of the film was a classic comic book chronicle: the world as we know it on the brink of immanent collapse. Two self styled protagonists, after having successfully launched their careers in the big smoke, burn-out – becoming broken and soul destroyed before giving it all up in search of permaculture, self-sufficiency and pastures new. The film was a remake, but it was both sweet and moving.
The next day I awoke in my tent at 5am, sweating and with a bright light in my eyes, but more than that, a vision was taking shape before me. Perhaps, underneath this tale of white people trying to unearth personal freedom there was deeper Matrix style story lurking. Do you know the way each eye sees a single image and it’s when both eyes see together that a 3rd dimension is formed? Well it felt like that.
You see the Afro-Caribbean slave trade ended between 1750 and 1865, more or less the same period that the Industrial Revolution kicked into gear. Can you imagine, a new mechanical metropolis and all the forced labourers set free to walk away. Anyway, with one eye I could see white and black people united in their crusade to end slavery, and with the other eye I could see poverty-stricken, uneducated workers driven from the countryside into a brutal, exploitative, industrial hell.
It was like the Fat Controllers of that era had been informed by a system of bloody exploitation, and that was condemned, they simply switched their inhumanity onto their own people. In wiki it spells out the trajectory between slavery and the modern workplace much more succinctly. It describes Sharecropping, which largely replaced slavery, as having more than a passing similarity to serfdom or indenture. This is associated with large living costs and debts that effectively tie down the workers into wage slavery. Sound familiar?
I don’t mean to depreciate racism by saying this – racism is an ugly jostling war for status and dignity, it’s hideous and it’s heartfelt; but I now wonder if there is more to it. Maybe the catalyst for racism was that it provided a convenient system of carving a social divide; and our current racial conflict is the guilt and grief, shame and blame of a historic psychic wound that wont close together enough to heal. With the the crux of the issue, which seems like it could be more about the labour market than skin tone, continuing to fester within. This idea is not new, The Black Panthers put equality forward, calling on Peace Through Unity. This included women, gays, transgender: even joining forces with red neck hillbillies; and when you read about the prejudice and “culturally transmitted traumatic stress syndrome” the Appalachian people experienced it’s not surprising why.
This version of our reality has all kinds of connotations. Most horribly that social mobility might be just a way to offer ‘the clever ones’ a chance to escape deprivation, rather than being disgruntled and disrupting the status quo by initiating social change. …and of course that racism might have been induced and aggravated in order to distract the masses from consolidating – internationally – and securing constitutional and human rights.
Okay, I’m aware that I’m sitting here quaffing a latte, and I don’t actually feel like a slave. But, as Brexit drives foreigners out, college fees rise to £9k P/A. Wages are almost at a standstill, while rental rates are on the rise; I feel a bitter twist might be in the making. I can’t believe the Brexit backlash will end up offering disillusioned anti-EU voters a way to ‘get their own back’. With the current race war consuming the West’s freedom fighters, no more Unions or EU, the press no longer free to serve the public’s interests; Corporate business’s capability, once again includes, but is not limited to, recreating modern slavery and causing major ecological destruction, with an insatiable appetite. I think we know this. However, who is out there to help, that’s the question? So when I saw the film WeTheUncivilised: A Life Story (2015) by filmmakers Lily and Pete Sequoia, I was touched. I know not everyone wants to knit their own carrots, but perhaps, dare I say it, the ‘get off the grid’ permaculture movement is really a race-blind, modern day, anti-slavery movement; and a place where all open minded people can unite, not only with each other to form an international civil rights movement, but with our true nature. Just a thought…
NB. I should mention that: I’m mixed race. The Festival was Green Gathering and the time is now.
Try these clips, and ask yourself ‘were these people chosen because that are black’, or was it more to do with their lack of legal representation?