In Londres, as everywhere else, politics lurks around every corner. Yesterday I went to a meeting of tree services across Londres. One of the presentations was about how to marketise ‘green infrastructure services’, which is to say those elements of nature necessary for us to live and have a good quality of life. The idea is that individuals and businesses could pay for such ‘services’ near them. A surprising number of people in the room seemed on board with the idea, even though I know in practice they will hate the customer-provider relationship it would establish. There was a strong attitude of ‘this is the way the world is going and we’ve got to get on board with it’. After listening for a while I felt the need to name what I was hearing. I pointed out that this was a political presentation, that the reason marketisation is seen to be right wing is that it benefits primarily the rich. If you can afford to pay, you benefit, if you can’t, you are nobody.
A couple of people came up to me afterwards and said they agreed. I noted that they were not supporting me publicly. Others simply acted as though it were inevitable that we marketise the environment, and seemed mildly amused by my taking offence at the idea. No doubt these people see themselves as ‘non-political’. As though taking the path of least resistance is non-political. It’s at times like these that I realise how few people would really stand up to a truly violent authoritarian government. So many pragmatists, and it makes me feel lucky that we live in a time of relative peace; if we didn’t they would be pragmatically dobbing me in to the security services at the first opportunity.
I met Power Fist and her sister for lunch. It was good to chat in the middle of the day, a nice little luxury. We got to talking about how easy it is in Londres to be doing Too Much. I suspect I have been doing too much the last couple of months. The new year may require a re-assessment of the time and energy available to me. But it is hard when I really do want to pick a fight with the landlords, and I really do want to beat them. How can it be done without overworking? There is a certain type of vulnerability that comes from engaging in a difficult fight. But there is another type of vulnerability that comes from not engaging enough.