Thoughts on Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice 2018: Has the Dominant Materialism Killed Some Magic in the World?

21.6.18

A photo of the summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge on the morning of June 21, 2018. In a very modern manner, it was taken by a police drone.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist, commentator and activist.

 

So the sun shone this morning, and it looked like a lovely sunrise at Stonehenge on the summer solstice. According to the BBC, however, the number of attendees was just 9,500, considerably less than in some years since Managed Open Access to the great temple on Salisbury Plain was reintroduced in 2000, after 16 years in which access to Stonehenge on the summer solstice was prevented through the existence of a military-style exclusion zone.

In part, this was due to the solstice dawn taking place on a Thursday morning. Attendee numbers are highest when it falls on a weekend, but other factors may also have been involved. It now costs £15 to park a vehicle for the solstice — “£15 per car, live-in vehicle and non-commercial minibus (up to 19 seats)”, as English Heritage describe it — and security has been ramped up in the last two years, primarily, it seems, because of the government’s delight in keeping us in a perpetual state of fear — and racist fear, to boot — by pretending that every aspect of our lives is subject to a potential terrorist threat, even the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

“As with last year’s event”, the BBC explained, “Wiltshire Police confirmed it had stepped up security with armed police on patrol.” Yes, that’s right. Armed police at Stonehenge. What a horrible and unnecessary policy. Supt. Dave Minty, Wiltshire Police’s overnight commander, conceding that there had been no trouble at all, and that “behaviour at the stones was ‘brilliant’, with no arrests made”, nevertheless said of the security situation, “People seem to have adapted really well to the heightened level of security and they’ve been really patient with it.”

I have to say that personally I would have found it hard to be so patient, but that’s perhaps one of the reasons that I wasn’t at Stonehenge this year. I attended Managed Open Access every year from 2001 to 2005, and enjoyed the odd sunny solstice like this morning, an experience that does genuinely provide some sort of connection to the temple’s long-lost makers, as well as having some good times with various travelling companions, selling my books Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield, and on occasion consuming quite alarming amounts of brandy coffee.

Overall, however, it was difficult to reconcile the Managed Open Access experience with memories of where it had come from. Back in my youth, Stonehenge — or, more particularly, the fields opposite Stonehenge — were the site of an extraordinary manifestation of British counter-cultural impulses — the Stonehenge Free Festival.

The festival, which began with the vision of a young man who took the name Wally Hope, and occupied land by Stonehenge in the summer of 1974, with friends who all called themselves Wallies, grew year on year, and by the time of my visits as a student in 1983 and 1984 was a month-long settlement that was the size of a small town.

The festival was many things — an open-ended acid rock extravaganza, and a place of hash and hot knives and magic mushrooms — but primarily it was an anarchic gathering of the tribes, featuring an extraordinary collection of old coaches and commercial vehicles, transformed into mobile homes, which were the core of a travelling community that, from May to September, held free festivals at numerous locations in England and Wales.

Under Margaret Thatcher, who took office in 1979, unemployment increased massively, and life on the road was seen by many young people as the only way out of dead-end nothingness in the many towns her economic policies were destroying, as she set about decimating British industry, empowering the banking sector and encouraging individual greed. Through a combination of the dole and grass-roots entrepreneurship, the festival scene provide some sort of viable alternative, but it was, of course, seen as a threat by Thatcher and the British establishment.

As well as providing an escape route from dead-end towns for spirited young people (a process that had a tendency to create new recruits wherever the travelling convoys went), those on the road also included veteran social agitators, largely informed by the 60s counter-culture, but also seizing potently on land rights issues going back, for example to the Diggers and the Levellers of the English Civil War. On the road, the agitators were joined by anarchists, and by a particularly potent sub-group — former military personnel who had seen through the lies the state had told to recruit them, and who were, with good reason, regarded as genuinely dangerous — and there were also environmental activists, opposed to Britain’s embrace of US nuclear weapons, opposed to the existence of nuclear power stations, and committed to an environmentally aware future that was at odds with the oil-guzzling dinosaur of late 20th century capitalism.

One traveller group, the Peace Convoy, had spent some time at Greenham Common in Berkshire, where a group of extraordinary women set up a renowned Peace Camp to resist plans to base US cruise missiles on an RAF site, and some of them later became involved in another peace camp outside the proposed second base for cruise missiles, Molesworth in Cambridgeshire. This camp was actually evicted in February 1985 in the largest peacetime mobilisation of troops in modern British history, and from then until the Beanfield the evicted convoy was harried from place to place before meeting their destruction at the Beanfield — very clearly revealing that, while a narrative of protecting Stonehenge from so-called “dirty hippies” might work with the public, it was the convoy’s political and environmental impulses that had the war-mongering polluter Margaret Thatcher most rattled.

While Thatcher’s brutal assault on travellers brought the festival to an end, and was enormously destructive of the travelling community that was set upon at the Battle of the Beanfield, dissent as a whole was gleefully undiminished. From out of nowhere, an Ecstasy-fuelled rave scene developed, and was followed by a road protest movement that saw the land as sacred, and, prohibited from travelling freely, instead took root in the landscape, resisting road expansion plans with extraordinary passion and bravery, involving dining tunnels, living in tree houses, and locking themselves onto heavy plant machinery.

Looking back on those days, I find myself now thinking that they are like some sort of ancient history, too far off to touch, like events viewed through the wrong end of a telescope, and largely brushed away by the turbo-charged neo-liberalism of the last 20 years, the cannibalistic exploitation of western countries’ populations by their own governments, in cahoots with property speculators, and the triumph of a smug landlord culture, in which the exploitation of tenants by astonishingly greedy and self-centred landlords is portrayed as some sort of marker of success — as of course, it would, when money is the only arbiter of any value, and the lack of any kind coherent and communal belief in the future has led to society degenerating into nothing more than a bunch of well-dressed, braying jackals preying on those less fortunate than themselves in a competition to establish whose sense of self-entitlement is the most dominant.

Of course, resistance still exists, as the anti-fracking campaigns show, and as numerous examples of dissent show, from the protests against the DSEI arms fair in Docklands, for example, to the weekly vigils against US spying at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, to the regular Grenfell protests, and ongoing opposition to austerity, to Brexit, and, imminently, in support of the NHS on its 70th birthday.

However, over the last 20 years, some crucial aspects of life have, I fear, been lost. I often hear, for example, that festival culture is thriving more than ever before, but while this is demonstrably true in some ways — there are more festivals than ever before, demonstrating that the hippies’ dream of people escaping the cities to enjoy themselves in the countryside with music and freedom has, on one level, had an enormous resonance — on other ways a strangling, suffocating materialism — and a culture of surveillance and self-obsession — runs through almost everything we experience these days, including much of our supposed leisure time.

An aerial photo of Stonehenge and the free festival in 1984, as taken from a police helicopter.Take Stonehenge, for example. The irony, of course, is that in the festival years only a few hundred committed people made their way to the stones from the field across the A344 for druidic rites and nakedness and worship of the stones and the solstice, whereas, since the Law Lords ruled in 1999 that the exclusion zone around Stonehenge was illegal, and English Heritage was required to open it up via Managed Open Access, the temple itself has now become a one-night party site that, in many ways, is an open-air rave, albeit without music, for the youth of Wiltshire and the surrounding counties. Or, looked at another way, the solstice at Stonehenge has become just another spectacle in our “100 things you must see before you die” culture, in which empty spectacles masquerading as something deep and essential — and which also generally involve endlessly forking out money for tickets, for merchandise, for parking, for catering — define so much of what passes for an actual culture.

It also disappoints me that the pagan year that so many of us seized upon in our youth — in which the solstice, the equinoxes and the quarter days (at the start of February, May, August and November) seemed to provide a genuine alternative to the commercial corporate year — has also become debased by the commodifying culture that monetises everything, and tries to infantilise people into being mere consumers.

I also can’t help wondering if, in general, most of the types of paganism taking place today are anything more than a form of Cosplay, sadly reflecting, yet again, how almost everything in modern society had been commodified and de-politicised. More darkly, I also worry whether, as the kind of class consciousness that very much existed in the free festival years has been hunted down, and replaced with something troublingly selfish and atomised, the very notion of a pagan Englishness, originally conceived as an effort to be in touch with the land beneath our feet and the changing seasons, and a counter-cultural statement, is now more likely to be infected with nationalism, racism, xenophobia and the malignancy of Brexit isolationism.

I don’t know the answers to all my questions and musings above, but I do genuinely fear that we are being deliberately debilitated by a crushing corporate culture that wants us only to be endlessly diverted by empty spectacles, and to spend, spend, spend with our every breath — and although I know I have, and always have had a tendency to over-think things, and to constant question everything, I am regularly assailed by the sense that our current society has, at its heart, a complacent vacuousness that both bores me and depresses me.

It doesn’t help that I was at the O2 on Greenwich peninsula last night for a gig — by the New Zealand musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, my son’s favourite band — which was a very good gig, but only after we’d first endured the fake streets and fake palm trees of the O2’s corporate mall, and had then made our way through layers of airport-style security to get into the O2 arena, where, having arrived implausibly early, we had discovered that there was literally nothing to do — if you didn’t want to buy overpriced burgers or overpriced alcohol sold by prominent multi-national brands, whose advertising was also plastered everywhere — because the entire infrastructure of the O2 is like being stuck in the world’s most boring airport.

Moreover, despite the evident creativity on display on the stage, I found it impossible not to mentally calculate how much money was being made from the 10,000 or so people in attendance, each of whom had paid £65 plus £9.50 in booking fees per ticket, and to end up feeling like I had basically spent an evening being milked by an endless swarm of corporate predators.

Of course, Managed Open Access at Stonehenge doesn’t have corporate sponsors to go wth its heightened security, and, as I note above, not all festivals have taken conspicuous security and the wall-to-wall fleecing as consumers as the model for a positive and memorable experience, but too many have, because the security apparatus of modern life, and the requirement to extract the maximum amount of cash from consumers at every possible moment defines us here and now.

I not only don’t want this, I actively want to resist it, in as many ways as possible, and I want others to do so too, because, after all, all those things that we were fighting against in the 70s, the 80s, the 90s — structural inequality, systemic unemployment, the establishment’s complete contempt for the environment, and, let’s face it, the dullness of the prevailing culture — are even more prevalent and corrosive now than they were then.

Note: For my previous reflections on Stonehenge and the summer solstice, see Stonehenge and the summer solstice: past and presentIt’s 25 Years Since The Last Stonehenge Free FestivalStonehenge Summer Solstice 2010: Remembering the Battle of the BeanfieldRIP Sid Rawle, Land Reformer, Free Festival Pioneer, Stonehenge StalwartHappy Summer Solstice to the Revellers at Stonehenge — Is it Really 27 Years Since the Last Free Festival?Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice: On the 28th Anniversary of the Last Free Festival, Check Out “Festivals Britannia”Memories of Youth and the Need for Dissent on the 29th Anniversary of the last Stonehenge Free Festival30 Years On from the Last Stonehenge Free Festival, Where is the Spirit of Dissent?Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice, 30 Years After the Battle of the Beanfield and Summer Solstice 2017: Reflections on Free Festivals and the Pagan Year 33 Years After the Last Stonehenge Festival.

For more on the Beanfield, see my 2009 article for the GuardianRemember the Battle of the Beanfield, and my accompanying article, In the Guardian: Remembering the Battle of the Beanfield, which provides excerpts from The Battle of the Beanfield. Also see The Battle of the Beanfield 25th Anniversary: An Interview with Phil Shakesby, aka Phil the Beer, a prominent traveller who died six years ago, Remember the Battle of the Beanfield: It’s the 27th Anniversary Today of Thatcher’s Brutal Suppression of Traveller SocietyRadio: On Eve of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Andy Worthington Discusses the Battle of the Beanfield and Dissent in the UKIt’s 28 Years Since Margaret Thatcher Crushed Travellers at the Battle of the BeanfieldBack in Print: The Battle of the Beanfield, Marking Margaret Thatcher’s Destruction of Britain’s TravellersIt’s 29 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield, and the World Has Changed ImmeasurablyIt’s 30 Years Since Margaret Thatcher Trashed the Travellers’ Movement at the Battle of the BeanfieldIt’s Now 31 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield: Where is the Spirit of Dissent in the UK Today? Never Trust the Tories: It’s 32 Years Today Since the Intolerable Brutality of the Battle of the Beanfield, and, most recently, It’s 33 Years Since the Battle of the Beanfield: Is It Now Ancient History, in a UK Obsessed with Housing Exploitation and Nationalist Isolation?

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (click on the following for Amazon in the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US), and for his photo project ‘The State of London’ he publishes a photo a day from six years of bike rides around the 120 postcodes of the capital.

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of a new documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

30 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    On the summer solstice, after what looked to be a radiant dawn at Stonehenge, I reflect on the meaning of the solstice, and of the counter-culture, paganism and dissent, triggered, as ever, by my memories of the anarchic Stonehenge Free Festival of my youth, its violent suppression at the Battle of the Beanfield, the bizarre and surreal 16 years in which a military exclusion zone was established at Stonehenge every summer solstice, and the access to the stones that has been provided since 2000.
    I speculate on why it feels to me that something of the magic of life has been lost, and suggest that it is because of the dominance of materialism in the modern world, in which everything has been commodified, and we are now little more than passive consumers in a kind of fantasy world of empty spectacles, overlaid with a layer of fear that has been cynically and permanently maintained since 9/11.
    The corporate dominance isn’t overt at Stonehenge, of course, but it is there (you can now buy summer solstice at Stonehenge hoodies in the gift shop instead of being truncheoned by police at the perimeter fence), and the solstice is in many ways now a commodity (paid for with a £15 parking charge). Oh, and the security state is there too, with armed police deployed to prevent those phalanxes of suicide bombers who are, in the security services’ frankly alarmist assessment, intent on staging a terrorist attack at England’s most celebrated ancient pagan monument.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Arthur Lowbridge wrote:

    The fact that photo was taken by a police drone says a lot in itself 🙁 x x Pay to ‘pray’ and be spied on whilst you’re at it…how very gracious of them x x

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Arthur Lowbridge wrote:

    30 years ago today i was watching Culture Shock in Cholderton Woods…last night and in the early hours of today, right past sun-up, it was RDF, The Sporadics, The Blunders and loads more playing on a makeshift stage (tarp off the side of a truck) in the same spot off the 303. Buzzing!!…no cops/high viz, just us. Bought back loadsa memories 🙂 x x

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Very glad to hear about the Cholderton gig, Arthur. I wish I could have come. Perhaps next year, with my band The Four Fathers: https://thefourfathers.bandcamp.com

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Paul Whitehead wrote:

    Bang on, we’ve been moved from a society of participators to one of passive watchers. In the 80s attending the solstice was an act of resistance, now it’s more like entertainment.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Paul. Glad you got where I’m coming from.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Karen Stonestreet wrote:

    A good summary of the situation, but there are still signs of life with the resurgance of the recognition of quality over quantity don’t you think? Pockets of people trying hard to create worthwhile and meaningful lives. I admit I would rather stick pins in my eyes than pay mega money to go to any of what are now termed “festivals”, but there is authenticity still to be found.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, there are definitely good events out there, Karen, and they’re definitely where the hope lies. But it’s the absolute hollowness of what the mainstream promotes that’s been eating away at me …

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Rachel Rawsthorne wrote:

    Nice article, with some very valid points! Thankyou!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Rachel. I’m glad you appreciate it. I’m on a bit of a journey to try and articulate what’s troubling me so profoundly about the direction our society – and our culture, or what passes for our culture – have been taking over the last few decades.

  11. dale lambert says...

    hi after sid hope produced the first live band to play live electric music on the drove since 1985 kara maven and the harry munk band and the continuing success of the woodhenge gigs the heart of stone henge is still beating strong 0nelove stone henge free festival campaign c/o sid hopes dub bus crew

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Matz wrote:

    I think the crux of what we’re talking about here, Andy, with the changing nature of music concerts and festivals is ‘recuperation’. It’s a concept that accurately describes the means by which capitalism misappropriates to its own ends all and any opposition to it (The Radical Tea Towel Company, anyone?). A dialectical process by which something is first negated, then assimilated, and finally transformed into something else – something new, something in which an opposition eventually becomes an integral part of what it originally set out to oppose. It’s a key concept in understanding the internal dynamics of the Labour Party, past, present and future.

    I went to the Free Festivals at Stonehenge and elsewhere in the 1970’s and remember the sheer sense of freedom & release being in these unsanitised, illicit and anarchic spaces. My own Paganism (founded in a rural East Anglian Essex childhood) remains an integral frame of mind, rather than something expressed on a T-shirt, and I tried to capture it here:

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155803599261448&set=p.10155803599261448&type=3&theater

    “Dawn at Avebury, Wiltshire. September 2003, 7am, a strong rising sun was licking at the mist, forcing it to scurry into the undulating folds and shadows of Avebury’s earthworks. A flickering light dances amongst the stones, inflaming the moss and the grass. The stones resemble Galápagos lizards sluggishly arching and stretching their cold craggy bodies to catch the first warming rays of dawn.

    For me, Wiltshire is the vibrant pagan heart of Old Albion. The numbers of ancient historic sites in the county are an indication of its importance as pre-historic centre of human civilisation. The land has a dark, damp, brooding pre-Christian fecundity (full of moist dank browns, lush throbbing greens and ripe pregnant yellows). The small hursts of trees that crown so many of its rolling hills were a later Victorian addition to provide shelter for sheep, but their silhouette against a low sun are now a recognisable characteristic of the county.

    Avebury is a cathedral of and for the natural world, and it evokes feelings of an imminent, feminine, earth-based spirituality rooted in the world pulsing under our very feet (as opposed to the cerebral, distant, masculine and other-worldly spirituality of later monotheistic religions which demonised nature and denigrated the female principle).

    However, it would be naive to be overly romantic about the short harsh lives of the original Neolithic inhabitants and architects. Theirs was a world without basic medicine, of relentless physical toil where nature untamed held the absolute power of life or death – arbitrarily giving bounty or famine, health or disease, warmth or perishing cold. Mother Nature as the fickle bitch queen from hell – hardly an innocent or idyllic paradise on earth, even through the most rose-tinted of New Age spectacles. This makes the imagination and determination of our ancestors to look beyond their hard and mundane daily existence (and the number and scale of the monuments to their vision that they consequently erected) even more remarkable.

    The eventual overthrow of nature’s random cruelty, the orderly simplicity of monotheism and the rise of agricultural technology must have been as overwhelmingly attractive and irresistible as they were simultaneous. But now that we have acquired the whip hand with which to threaten nature herself, the earth-based spirituality of our forebears echoes loudly from megalithic cathedrals such as Avebury with a new relevance to a new congregation.”

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you so much for your comments, Richard. This process of negation, assimilation and transformation is absolutely central to a project I’m trying to get off the ground – a study of the counter-culture, how it disappeared and why we need it back!
    I love your Avebury photo. Avebury was something of a magnet for me in my sacred sites days – basically from 1996 to 2006, when Guantanamo came knocking to take me somewhere else completely.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Brilliant, Dale. Arthur Lowbridge was writing about it earlier. Sounds excellent!

  15. Gareth says...

    Great article.

    The problem is that ‘modern’ society is so banal. The fight seems to have gone from people.

    Every time the government steps on us we meekly accept and ironically write a grumpy Facebook status.

    Having lived in a van I now run festivals but there is no crazy freedom there just a repeat prescription to keep the kids happy.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Gareth. You seem to be having the same feelings I do – a banal society, with no fight left in it, and entertainment that goes through the motions. People in a dream, sedated.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Matz wrote, in response to 13, above:

    Interesting stuff, if you think about the rise of Punk in the 70’s, the Peace Convoy in the 1980’s, and the Rave movement of the early 1990’s. Punk was quickly and bloodlessly assimilated into the mainstream music industry, but with the convoy and the free rave scene (the convoy in particular which represented a real ideological threat & alternative to state-approved orthodoxies), there was massive state suppression involving (often brutal) police intervention and legislation. The process involved in all of these events was facilitated by well-orchestrated ‘moral panics’ right across the mainstream media. Stan Cohen documented this key aspect of the state’s response to counter-culture in the 1960’s with his seminal book ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ (a study of ‘deviant’ subcultures and the moral panics they generate in the media and in public debate). So any genuine counter-culture that may emerge has to avoid the risk of harmless assimilation and recuperation on one side, and brutal state opposition on the other. We also have to consider these issues in the context of the pivotal political conflict that we lost in the mid-1980s – the Miner’s Strike.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Richard Matz wrote:

    Perhaps a current example of these processes is Momentum’s current misappropriation & hijacking of community action, street protest and its misdirection into the ineffectual electoral politics of corrupt, compromised, whipped Councillors, Mayors and MPs..

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    More food for thought, Richard. Definitely agree about the narrow space between assimilation and suppression. The Momentum example also looks to be pertinent.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Corporate Domination by Buddy Tabor
    https://youtu.be/czz8gogf5rI

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Tashi. Great song!

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    Ya, he was a great artist. You should check out his other songs too.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Alan Dearling wrote:

    Many festies are now gentrified in various ways – even against their will and wishes. Sad, but true. Likewise the complex ‘free spaces’ like Ruigoord and Christiania. Many old squats and intentional communities are likewise very middle-class now as the artists are forced to leave and are replaced by a more yuppified groups. Plus the need for income generation, rules, health and safety, security requirements. It is quite complicated. Some of the most radical festies are the psy-trance ones and EDM parties – and often very eco-conscious as well.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    I need to do some more research on what’s under the radar, that’s for sure, Alan. Clearly there is some great stuff going on. But it’s sad that so many obstacles have been raised to spontaneity, and that there’s so much dull breadheadedness these days!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Helen Hatt wrote:

    i felt it was flat and misunderstood this year……it was hard to connect and cohese our disparate gathering of hungry souls this year….and when we were closing the sacred circle with horn blowers a security guard talked right over the sacred moment asking us repeatedly to leave the stones NOW! ffs!

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for the assessment, Helen. Good to hear from you.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Lisa Mead Iwrote:

    I went to castlerigg stone circle in Cumbria, it was a lovely experience, everyone is camping in the National Trust field, we are still hear now, no police no sequraty no mega egotistical druids, trying to take control, just lots of happy smiley people, celabrating, and being free.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Ooh, that sounds lovely, Lisa! 🙂

  29. Tom says...

    The fact that your concern about and the will to fight against this is there shows that’s not completely lost. But to a degree, this is about human nature.

    Through past jobs, travel, etc., I’ve met and been around many rich and powerful people. Politicians, news presenters, actors, bands and others. If all politicians were 100% honest, they’d admit that they like having and being around money and power. A list actors say they deserve to make $25 million a movie because that’s the going rate. If the BBC decided to bring Paxman back (at 100 million pounds a year), does he deserve it? He and his agent could say damn right I do. Why? Because if they don’t sign me, I’ll go somewhere else to somebody who will. Many of these people like the money, power and various perks that go along with it.

    Now, what if one of them said you know what? Instead of going for more, I’m going to sign for less. Less because in today’s predatory capitalistic world that’s the right thing to do. If they did that, that would be THE TOP STORY for weeks. Innocent little immigrant kids being held in cages in the US? Forget that! Paxo’s signed for LESS MONEY! Is his career over? Weeks of massive hype just to get ratings.

    All you can really do is never lose your empathy and self respect.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    I’ll try for that, Tom. Empathy is a massive thing. Self-respect may be more subjective, but without empathy there’s nothing to derail the powerful. Religious leaders used to try and shame the rich and powerful, but I think nowadays most of them are so godless that they’re not even susceptible.

Leave a Reply

Back to the top

Back to home page

Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
Email Andy Worthington

CD: Love and War

Love and War by The Four Fathers

The Guantánamo Files book cover

The Guantánamo Files

The Battle of the Beanfield book cover

The Battle of the Beanfield

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion book cover

Stonehenge: Celebration & Subversion

Outside The Law DVD cover

Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo

RSS

Posts & Comments

World Wide Web Consortium

XHTML & CSS

WordPress

Powered by WordPress

Designed by Josh King-Farlow

Please support Andy Worthington, independent journalist:

Archives

In Touch

Follow me on Facebook

Become a fan on Facebook

Subscribe to me on YouTubeSubscribe to me on YouTube

Andy's Flickr photos

Campaigns

Categories

Tag Cloud

Afghans in Guantanamo Al-Qaeda Andy Worthington British prisoners Center for Constitutional Rights CIA torture prisons Close Guantanamo David Cameron Donald Trump Four Fathers Guantanamo Hunger strikes London Military Commission NHS NHS privatisation Periodic Review Boards Photos President Obama Reprieve Shaker Aamer The Four Fathers Torture UK austerity UK protest US courts Video We Stand With Shaker WikiLeaks Yemenis in Guantanamo