We are living in very dark times in which our right to be informed and to choose how we want to live and be, as human beings, is being repressed and stolen from us by those who believe they have the right to impose their will on us without our permission. This is a crime against humanity, in which people are forced to live by coercion. Nothing better demonstrates this than the DWP sanctions regime, forced compliance by deliberately depriving people of the means of survival. In our first world country that means money, which we are almost universally dependent on to survive.

We quite rightly protest the unnecessary hardships imposed, the unbelievable suffering and resultant deaths, but there is an underlying, deeper crime being committed by our ever more authoritarian government. We are being deprived of choice and our decision making process, intrinsic to our humanity, is perverted into forced obedience/compliance. What is happening is a psychological assault which is purposefully designed to cause intense suffering. That assault begins a process of breaking down our self determination, giving rise to self doubt, terror, hopelessness and helplessness. Even obedience requires resources, deprived of those resources we are reduced to abject misery, fear, suicidal thoughts and death.

There is something commonly called ‘brown envelope syndrome’, which I am very familiar with, feelings of overwhelming terror when an A5 brown envelope falls through the letter box, such brown enveloped letters are almost exclusively from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and have become a symbol of Tory oppression.

Theresa May was the architect of Britain’s ‘Hostile Environment’ [1], which was initially aimed at immigrants, but which has extended across social policy under the Tories. Sajid Javid recently said he ‘disliked’ the term ‘hostile environment’, preferring to talk about having a “compliant environment”, as if that’s better, as if that isn’t further down the Orwellian rabbit hole leading to ever greater oppression. [2]

We make much of the importance of consensual agreement, especially when it comes to our most intimate sexual relations, which should serve to highlight its importance, because the name for forced sex is ‘rape’. So what do we call it if the government deprives us of consensual agreement in its policies? It is too easy to simply call it fascism, but that depersonalises the appalling intimate effect of being deprived of choice and the impact it has on our ability to function. Ask anyone who is trapped in an abusive relationship, ask anyone who struggled to eventually escape but remained a prisoner of terror for years, a slave to violence.

There is more to violence than a beating. Poverty is violence, its continued existence is a matter of political will. They say that Britain is one of the richest nations of earth, yet Britain has more than 14 million people living in the violence of poverty. [3]

The importance of choice and consensual agreement cannot be exaggerated, its presence or lack is central to our existence. It remains the greatest difference in nature between humankind and all other creatures. We have the power of self determination and, as history should have taught us, it’s denial is the cause of the vast majority of suffering in the world, the ultimate expression of which is genocide which the Tory government has embraced in its treatment of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain. [4]

Thankfully there is a converse side to all this. The more people are oppressed, the more people get active to counter state terrorism. In every community there are people quietly doing good and also people who are conduits (organisers) for good. So many of us are unsung heroes and genuinely prefer it that way, but are still driving the tide of goodness that is innate in us as caring human beings. The astronomic rise of food banks in Britain to over 2,000 [5] is both a damning indictment of government policy and a symbol of the care and consideration for the well being of others made possible by individuals choosing to get involved. Caring for others is intrinsic to our humanity and demonstrates the very essence of choice, to engage, to be motivated to act, to ease pain and suffering imposed from above by the most right wing government in modern times.

The number of people in Britain organising and doing unpaid care work is vast, and it is on the increase as a direct result of a brutal, authoritarian government which is doing everything it can to suppress the power of the people. The enormous escalation in food banks and their countless volunteers and donors, those feeding the homeless, those offering advice and comfort, like Charlotte Hughes and friends, who’ve offered advice, support and food parcels for over 5 years outside Ashton-under-Lyne Jobcentre. [6]

Exercising choice is becoming an increasingly revolutionary act that is only going to grow now that the Tories have a majority in which they are free to do whatever they want, which, overwhelmingly, means abusing their power and ordinary people who they pretend to serve when in reality they serve only money and the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, either individuals or corporations.

When, after much thought and consideration, I decided to write a letter a day to number 10, I consulted no one and asked no ones permission. I knew I wanted to do something more than the odd street protest (excellent though they are), and my decision to write the letters was taken without a single clue how or for how long I would be able to do it. That decision kept me writing for 4 1/2 years, until I was too exhausted and mentally drained to continue, and I finally decided (chose) to stop. The letters were one of the better decisions in my life in which I have made too many bad ones and I am proud of the achievement. Even though David Cameron chose to completely ignore them, thousands of people drew support and comfort from them.

Choice is everything and self determination is the only way to a truly fulfilling life. The ability to choose is innate, deprived of choice we are oppressed but it can never be eradicated, even in the most horrendous circumstances, even in the death camps of Germany there were choices motivated by kindness.

History will remember our oppressors, but it will also remember how we got through and that, my friends, will be because of you and me, ordinary people, the same people the government regards as their enemy and are seeking to eradicate. We have the right, the moral authority, the ability to choose and kindness, in that lies the life blood of our survival.

Keith Ordinary Guy

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/27/hostile-environment-anatomy-of-a-policy-disaster

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2018/apr/30/theresa-may-new-home-secretary-amber-rudd-quits-politics-live

[3] https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2017

[4] https://fearandloathingingreatbritain.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/this-is-genocide/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/29/report-reveals-scale-of-food-bank-use-in-the-uk-ifan

[6] https://thepoorsideof.life/

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