The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

Right to Life

This world does not belong to any one person; you cannot own reality, you can only use some of it, some of the time. When another human being acknowledges your right to eat a piece of fruit or sleep on a bed they acknowledge the oneness; we are all a part of the same universe realising itself and we should take no more or less from our experience than is necessary for our happiness. Nothing should be considered more important than our shared right to a happy existence.

I have never felt entirely comfortable with ‘the system’ that I was born into. I thought I had a problem and from some peoples’ perspectives I suppose I do; for some people the system works. I don’t necessarily want to ‘tear down the system’; I wouldn’t want to assume that I could provide a One-Size-Fits-All alternative. There is something I want though.

I want the people who are happy to work more than forty hours a week doing a job they hate for the sake of earning money to pay for their house and car (and all the other things that I don’t want) to stop treating people like me as lesser. From my perspective those people have the problem; they assume there can be a One-Size-Fits-All society and that it is right that we should all work to make it live.

Well, I don’t Work to live, I live to work, and work can be fun. 

Building our long house in the summer.
Building our long house in the summer.

Not having a job doesn’t mean not having a life and not owning a home does not mean not having the right to live. Some of us don’t want to be part of a system that provides ‘everything’ for us in return for specialising in one, often very time-consuming and stressful, role in society. Some of us believe we can travel and find food and work and everything else that can help contribute to a happy life, along the way. Some of us just want to be happy and can be when we are being left alone; if that isn’t the simplest definition of a victimless crime, I don’t know what is.

Land ownership and use is not a black and white issue and property law does not always protect the righteous; when our species has supposedly reached a pinnacle of achievement, why have we lost the right to simply find a piece of land and  live on it? It must have stopped being acceptable at some point in human history…ironically, that point in history is still considered by many to have been a great victory for freedom; the signing of Magna Carta was anything but that.

You could leave your home right now, find a piece of land that is not being used by anyone or for anything, which could not be used by anyone or for anything (except sustainable living) and set up a home on it but if you do there is nothing to stop a rich person, or an organisation of rich people, from taking it away from you. You can build a home for yourself and the people you love, people who perhaps cannot be happy living in a One-Size-Fits-All Society, but they can take it away from you whether they intend to use the land or not.

I know this because it is happening right now.

Runnymede Eco-Village

Runnymede Eco-Village has existed for three years. It stands in woodland, on the side of a hill, atop which crumble some listed buildings. The slope is extreme and where the land is dented or plateaus, it floods. The forest is home to several protected species of animal, including bats and rare spiders. A public right of way goes through the land and the surrounding area belongs to the National Trust. In three years, the Village has never caused any problems for the surrounding towns but has lived peaceably with the people of Egham, Old Windsor and beyond. Locals visit the site regularly, often bringing gifts for the villagers, who always treat them with love, kindness and respect.

Some people come to Runnymede to stay when they need a break from their hectic, inner-city lifestyles. Others come to Runnymede to live when the stress of work or illness or family strife forces them to ‘run away’ from ‘everything’. Everyone is welcome in Runnymede and as such you can pretty much find at least one person who has experienced similar suffering to your own; it is an amazing place to heal.

Runnymede villagers share Christmas with the people of the Vineyard, Richmond.
Runnymede villagers share Christmas with the people of the Vineyard, Richmond.

It is not possible to build permanent structures on top of the land where Runnymede Eco-Village is currently situated; development will occur atop the hill on the flat areas surrounding the listed buildings but the woodland will never, can never, be developed.

So, I ask you, if the local populace support the existence of Runnymede Eco-Village and the land is useless to anyone else, why is it currently being evicted?

Magna Carta

This year will mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, often lauded as one of history’s most important documents, supposedly protecting the rights and freedoms of human beings.

The Magna Carta was simply a treaty forced upon the king by rebellious Barons in the 13th century; it was written to limit the power of the Crown and protect the power of the Barons.

In the modern-age we do not fear the tyranny of the Crown; most countries do not have a royal family and in England the Queen is more-or-less a figurehead, with very little real power.

In this age, the world is ruled by the rich and the rich are ruled by the banks. This is not conspiracy but fact. It is plain to see; whoever has the most money has the most power. The banks have the most money. The banks have the most power. The most powerful banking families are very open about how much power they wield:

“Give me control of a nation’s money
and I care not who makes the laws.”

Mayer Amschel Rothschild

So the Magna Carta is as important a document as it has been claimed to be, but not for the reasons often given. It marks the turning point in history when we stopped worshipping the Crown for being God’s chosen representative on earth and we began instead to worship wealth, and those who have been chosen to monitor that wealth.

Is it any wonder that this year Runnymede Eco-Village is facing the threat of eviction?

When the festival at Runnymede occurs and the Queen and Barack Obama meet at the Magna Carta memorial, mere metres from the home I built for myself from recycled materials, will they want to be reminded of true freedom? Runnymede Eco-Village would prove that you can live without money if you love your fellow human beings and seek only to live in peace, without harming another living thing. That is not the spirit of Magna Carta.

Magna Carta is about protecting the rights of the rich. It is about property. It is about saying: ‘Even should I die and my land be left to rot, protect it, for it will always belong to me, even when I cannot use it, and the rights of the living poor should never overturn my rights as deceased rich’.

If this was an issue about squatters taking over someone’s home while they were on holiday, or travellers destroying wildlife before moving on and leaving the forest decimated, then I would understand the motives behind the eviction, but this is just about the wrong sort of people being visible at a time when the right sort of people want to revel in their own selfish success.

The Queen was born into wealth; since the day she was born she has had no freedom. She and people like her will never be able to understand the desire for freedom for it has been bred out of them; maybe to her freedom is abhorrent, for her gilded cage has always been well-stocked with all the essentials for survival, and more besides.

As long as you do not hurt another human being, you should be free to feel how you want to feel. If you know a certain situation is causing you misery, you should be allowed to leave that situation. That situation is your own gilded cage.

By saying I do not want to work for money, by saying that I do not want to own property, I do not believe that I am saying I do not want a life but, sadly, that seems to be the prevalent attitude of those who run our system.

Living in Runnymede, in any eco-village, you have to give up a lot of creature comforts: you have to work a lot harder and wait a lot longer to make a cup of tea on an open fire; you cannot afford to be fussy or wasteful or greedy when the food you eat is what the super-markets throw away every day, you make the most of what you find; you have to walk a lot more when you can’t afford a car; you develop stronger friendships when you work together for survival, sharing everything from food and clothes to beds and fireplaces.

We are not lazy. We are not selfish. We don’t want something for nothing. We work hard, but we work for ourselves. We live in the real ‘real world’. All we want is the same rights as people who do want to live in the money system, the world that is a human construction. We want the right to the same quality of life, we just don’t want to be forced into trying to achieve it through the same methods.

I will never be happy owning property. I will never be happy working to pay rent. In truth, all I need to be happy is food in my belly, warmth, and love. I don’t need money for any of those things, or I wouldn’t if those in control of the money system were not so determined to stop the self-determined from seeking those things directly.

My home…

The ‘Real World’

It’s very easy to claim that you ‘need money to live in the world’. It’s also very easy to point out that no other animal uses money but they all seem to get by just fine, until human beings kill them, often for money.

We only ‘need money’ because if we try to grow our own food, to live sustainably off the land, we get evicted.

I don’t have children but if I did I would be expected to provide them with food and shelter. I would want to as well.

What if I demanded that my children draw me a nice picture every time they wanted to eat? They would grow to think that you ‘need nice pictures to live in this world’.

The child best at drawing would probably grow fat and lazy and start bossing the other children around, in return for giving away a few of his less-valuable works. If I had a blind child or a child with a disability affecting their fine motor skills, that child would probably die or become entirely dependent on the fat and lazy child. If I had a child that always tried to do the right thing, according to what I had told him, but who found drawing a challenge, that child would most likely end up a permanent nervous wreck, constantly struggling to reach the pinnacle of success that came so easy to his rotund, slothful sibling.

What if one child just decided the whole thing was nonsense, and went out to find an apple tree and eat the fruit directly from it?

Ideally, that should break my system. The child should come back to his siblings, tell them that they don’t actually need nice pictures to live, they should listen, and together they should go to the apple tree and eat for free.

But then, what if I told them all that eating from the tree was a crime and the apples were mine? What if I picked all the apples from the tree and stored them away then started exchanging them for nice pictures? What if the majority of the apples rotted and the children who decided to oppose my system starved to death?

Currently, the system demands that we give it pieces of paper with nice pictures on in return for food. The huge surplus of food the system creates is thrown away. People starve.

Currently, the system demands that we give it pieces of paper with nice pictures on in return for a place to live. The huge surplus of buildings means that our country (and others in Europe) is littered with abandoned and/or derelict constructions. People die on the streets.

I can’t think of a simpler allegory; the system is an insane parent homogenising reality so that instead of thinking about food, warmth or love, we  think of money, which supposedly represents all those things but isn’t actually integral to the creation of any of them.

Runnymede Eco-Village is a place for people who want to be happy, healthy and safe and have access to all the wonders of reality without needing to exchange nice pictures in return for things that the planet either gives us for free or gives us in return for real work.

Making the things you want, that is real work; travelling to the places you want to go, that is real work; forming relationships with people you care about based on their actually personalities, that is real work. The best thing about all these real forms of work, they are also fun!

Again, if you are lucky enough to be really good at drawing nice pictures, I mean making money, and you enjoy the job you do, then by all means carry on. For those of you that don’t, just think, if you had the forty hours a week back every week, what could you achieve?

What do you want from life? Money itself or the things money can buy? With forty hours a week to dedicate to your goal, what could you achieve?

Maybe, instead of flying to that exotic holiday destination, you could go by land and experience everything along the way too. Maybe, instead of buying that new computer, you could learn how to build part of a computer or how to create your own software, team up with a bunch of likeminded people, and build your own computer; or car; or house; or anything!

Everything that has ever been created by a human being was made from the stuff of the universe. Human beings adapt reality to their wants and needs. Money is not necessary unless we choose it to be.

The Real Reason for the Runnymede Eco-Village Eviction

Runnymede Eco-Village is a statement. It proudly declares ‘we see the hypocrisy inherent in the system and we oppose it’. This is a dangerous statement.

Clearly, the man who ordered the death, by drone attack, of Anwar al-Awlaki (former Muslim anti-terrorist preacher and American citizen until persecution at the hands of the US government turned him against the US and converted him into a ‘hate-preacher’) and his sixteen-year-old son, will not want a bunch of hippies on a hill overlooking the festival that will celebrate 800 years of global-domination by the most-wealthy. If al-Awlaki, an American citizen living outside of his society and speaking out against the tyranny of the US government, was a terrorist, then what are the villagers of Runnymede Eco-Village? We live outside of our society and speak out against the tyranny of the UK government and, by association, the US government also.

Read here for more on the murder of al-Awlaki

I suppose we should feel lucky that we have not been blown up by drones…yet.

On that note, let’s just remember how the land was divided up all those centuries ago: war.

The major land owners today inherited their land from their ancestors, who won it by force. To say that it is right for the rich to protect their land from the poor is to say it is right that some human beings take from other human beings by force. If that is the case, what is to stop the elite from growing in power until the day comes when they have no more land to grab? What will they take from us next?

Is it still okay to take land by force? If not, should all the unused land owned by the Crown be given back to the people as common land? Or was there a cut-off point in history when it became no-longer acceptable to carve land up according to martial prowess?

Was that point of the signing of the Magna Carta?

I think it’s time to stop accepting the lie of Magna Carta. It does not protect you. It does not represent freedom.

We have a chance to make this another cut-off point in history, the point where we stop allowing some human beings to take far more from nature than they could possibly need to survive, in terms of land and food, and insist upon every living thing on this planet having the right to live as he she or it wants to, providing they do not infringe on anyone else’s right to the same.

To some this may sound a terrifying, unworkable, anarchic system, but it  can actually work. Surprisingly, when people are happy, they don’t seek to outdo each other, they seek to help one another. People who have little share a lot. In truth, if we weren’t forced into a greed-focused, competitive capitalist dystopia, we would take care of each other.

How do I know? I was part of a community of people who proved it: Runnymede Eco-Village.

The defence tower built by our sister community, Yorkley Court.Still resisting after nearly two months. Please sign their petition here.

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