The Nantyglo Round Towers and Gated Communities
The Nantyglo Round Towers in Wales were the last castle-style fortifications to be built in the UK.
The Round Towers at Roundhouse Farm in Nantyglo, Wales, were built by industrialists Crawshay and Joseph Bailey, who, by the early 19th century controlled much of the iron resources in the region, including the massive iron works at Nantyglo located about a mile south of Brynmawr. Fearing that their workers would one day rise against them, in 1816 the Baileys built the last fortified tower in Britain as a place of refuge against a potential worker’s revolt. Today these ruins stand as unique and important reminder of the region’s industrial strife.
When I first visited the Nantyglo Round Towers, I was very struck by the way in which, rather than realising that the unrest among the iron-workers in their employ was caused by genuine grievances resulting from their ill-treatment of them, they decided that their workers were merely “uppity”.
Rather than deciding to address the workers’ grievances and treat them better, they provided themselves with a fortification to strike fear into the hearts of the workers, and to ensure that in the event of another riot, they would have somewhere to retreat to.
I was also struck by the parallels with gated communities, which had recently been introduced in the UK. These “communities” are based on the rising fear of crime, violence, and the othering of the urban poor.
Across America, middle-class and upper-middle-class gated communities are creating new forms of exclusion and residential segregation, exacerbating social cleavages that already exist… While historically secured and gated communities were built in the United States to protect estates and to contain the leisure world of retirees, these urban and suburban developments now target a much broader market, including families with children … This retreat to secured enclaves with walls, gates, and guards … threatens public access to open space, and creates yet another barrier to social interaction, building of social networks, as well as increased tolerance of diverse cultural/ racial/social groups
Rather than redressing the injustices which lead to the disaffection of the urban poor, caused by the austerity agenda and the increasing divide between rich and poor, the middle classes retreat to these urban enclaves where they can enjoy their unearned wealth and privilege without having to look at the increasingly distressing vision of the have-nots crowding at the gates.
Similarly, as migrants, displaced by wars fomented by the West, clamour at the gates of Europe, there are calls for them to be forcibly ejected from our midst. They are locked up in prisons, treated in an inhuman and degrading manner, and forcibly deported.
From the Detained Voices blog:
We have witnessed the worst treatment immigration detainees receive at two detention centres (Brookhouse and The Verne). We have witnessed officers dressed in full riot gear (shields, helmets and baton) coming to remove a detainee who have refused deportation. Such brute force is used early in the mornings and also late at night or sometimes midday when everyone is banged-up. We are not allowed phone cameras, so we can’t video the brutality that is hidden from the public eyes.
Other detention centres that use brute force are Colnbrook, Hammondsworth and Yarlswood. In most detention centres, there are two detainees per room. The room has bunk beds, a sink and toilet with little or no ventilation. The majority of detention centres have no openable windows and the air we breathe is not fresh. Detainees are locked behind doors from 9pm-8am and again between 12:30-13:30 and also between 16:30-17:30. That is clearly a prison regime being practiced by the Home Office on detainees.
If anyone doubts that migrants are displaced by wars fomented by the West, consider that many migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean from Africa and Syria are fleeing DAESH / ISIL, and that the West has been interfering with politics in the Middle East for more than a century.
We, the powerful, must stop this vicious cycle of destroying others’ lives and livelihoods, and getting annoyed when they rise up and demand justice. Instead, we should promote justice and start the process of restorative justice. Without justice, there can be no peace.