Victory to the Dongas
First published in ELPAN No.1
The Dongas are a tribe of about 40 people who have settled in Twyford Down.
They have named themselves after the ancient trackways which converged on
Twyford Down. Some of these were up to 20ft deep. They have gradually come
together over a year, are mostly under 25 and have few possessions beyond
a goat, an axe and some bits of canvas, bedding and rudimentary cooking
utensils. One of them told a reporter "Call us indigenous Albion, if
you like. We have chosen this. We are passionate about Life." (Guardian,
On 9th December, the day of the Lunar Eclipse the Ministry of Transport
and Tarmac joined forces mounted a vicious attack on them in pursuit of
that notorious piece of vandalism known as the Winchester Bypass. After
successfully took the Dongas to court (the college
made a cool £300,000 by selling land given to them to protect from
development), 80 security men with bulldozers steamed into the pathways
ripping up trees. The Dongas resisted as much as they could, throwing themselves
in front of bulldozers and climbing trees.
As Professor David Bellamy said: "I have been in many protests around
the world in some very hairy countries and have never seen such unreasonable
force used, especially on women. These boys were putting the boot and fist
in and they didn't care if they were men or women. There were ministry people
there but no one tried to call them off. The security men went completely
over the top." (Guardian, 15th Dec)
While David Bellamy adopted the pose of 'outraged observer', the Friends
of the Earth washed their hands of the matter. Eventually seventy police
were drafted in to mop up the last of the resistance on 12th December. It
is clear that such reformist organ-isations will always back off even before
push comes to shove.
Meanwhile the "War against the Hippies",
is a part of a major propaganda effort to isolate and destroy some of the
most intransigent elements who refuse to subordinate their lives to the
latest money-making schemes of big business.
The danger of trusting such reformist groups can be readily seen in the
revolting Glastonbury Festival, whereby the Free Festival at Stonehenge
was diverted up the garden path. At first an entrance fee was extorted on
the grounds that it was going to charity, but the travellers were allowed
in free. Word got round, so others felt they also had no need to pay. Last
year the travellers who had created the festival were driven away by the
organisers. Security was organised to extract money from anyone attending.
Meanwhile, the money so raised gets distributed around various local landowners
and a whole host of entrepreneurs have been encouraged. A small amount trickles
down to green 'charities', whose social practice ends up encouraging complacency
and denying support to such as the Dongas. This is a stitch up.
A festival which you have to pay to attend is not a festival, but a money
making business. There has been a struggle for free festivals now for over
twenty years. In that period, whether through a conscious choice or in consequence
of the draconian housing and benefit laws concerning young people, the number
of travellers in Britain has increased from 3,400 in 1965 to 13,500 in 1992.
The government is planning more legislation against travellers. This is
part of a policy to increase homelessness, particular when seen in conjunction
with their plans to make squatting harder.
What appear as gross stupidities to the liberals, make clear sense when
seen in terms of the class interests dominating society. The attack on council
housing, squatting and the travellers means that private landlords will
be able to extract higher rents for more and more cramped living quarters.
Of course the notion that anyone can own land is simply a justification
for robbery. No-one can own land anymore than they can the sky. The notion
of land ownership simply serves to cover the brutal oppression exercised
first by feudal lords and now by the capitalists.
The LPA is planning a study
of the "War against the Hippies"
which as far as we can see certainly goes back to the struggles to make
the Isle of Wight a Free Festival, and the plans of the London
Street Commune to open up mass squats in London. We would welcome any
assistance in this by participants in these struggles, or people who have
any leaflets, articles etc., that may have appeared over the last twenty
five years or so.
Squall, the magazine for Squatter-Homeless is available free from;
2 St. Paul's Road, London N1 2QN
Traveller and Gypsy Action Group can be contacted at:
16 Greenhill Close,
Tel: 0962 861 685
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