28th March 2017

Yesterday I walked about in the spring air and pretended the world was not ending. It was very nice. Only slightly compromised by the smell of traffic fumes, since I was working on a busy road. I wonder how much diesel fumes have shortened my life by at this point?

I’ve been writing about why the urge towards collective action seems so faint in Londres. Years of hyper-individualism mean that nobody imagines collective solutions any more. They don’t know how to work together. Even, I would say from talking to people, many are scared of other people, would not trust them as partners in any enterprise.

It’s not quite true of everybody. Dynamo Sparkle has been taking action against the border regime. She may have prevented some expulsions. Since her phone is unresponsive I conclude she may still be in prison, or perhaps has been released on bail and her phone impounded. I’m hoping the latter.

Violence by the state is another reason people don’t take collective action, but violence by the state is an expected constant.

Gallery

26th March 2017

FELLOW COUNTRYMEN

How long will ye quietly and cowardly suffer yourselves to be imposed upon, and half-starved by a set of mercenary slaves and Government hirelings? Can you still suffer them to proceed in their extensive monopolies, while your children are crying for bread? No! Let them exist not a day longer. We are the sovereignty, rise then from your lethargy. Be at the Corn Market on Monday.

The above is from a leaflet handed out in Londres in 1800. It was followed by six days of unrest at the Corn Market. It is quoted in the utterly excellent ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ by EP Thompson, which I have realised is the prime text available on the future of the island. It made inspiring reading material this morning as I recovered from last night’s excesses.

One of the most barefaced but enduring lies told by PPE graduates from Oxford who love violence and death, is that historically residents of the island have not been drawn to protests, uprising and so on. The purpose of this lie is twofold: to try to make us forget the extreme violence with which their forefathers suppressed such protest, and to try to reduce the chances of it happening again in the future.

Further amazing texts I am reading on the future of the island and of Londres include Samuel Bamford’s ‘Passages in the life of a radical’ and Decency & Disorder by Ben Wilson.

As someone with an interest in the future and – as people who know me are aware – full of a boundless optimism, I am today more interested in reading these than going out and enjoying the sunshine.

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24th March 2017

Yesterday was a full one. I went to a depository for ancient objects, where I watched someone break a 5000 year old wooden artefact. He just picked it up, having been told not to. So it broke. In the light of everything else going on in Londres I found it weirdly funny.

After that I went to the Russian Café. I used to hope that cafes would provide intense political and philosophical conversations. Now I realise that in this country it is pubs that do that. Cafes provide instead some time, leisure time, in which the bustle of your ordinary life is not around you. The Russian Café provides food and drink, and space to think.

In the afternoon I went to see the Oracle, who talked about fear in childhood. There was plenty of it. Strange to think what it did make me fear and what it didn’t make me fear as an adult.

Then I met up with Dancy Meditator. She has sad things happening in her life, the type of things that happen all the time but are difficult to deal with when they happen to you. It’s interesting that we’ve developed a society that gives very little preparation for ordinary life. We are prepared, I think, for a fantasy version of the world.

Later

Those rulers who drive us merrily towards the end of everything are obsessed with work, specifically the idea that other people, those below them, must do more of it. In the Palace of the Princess today I spotted some tapestries, an odd presence surrounded by luxuries. They showed people working in the field, peasants, looking happy and well fed, some of them taking breaks. It is an interesting quirk of history that it was largely not the kings of our violent land who objected to leisure time, but the merchants and industrialists who rose later and imposed a leisureless life by force.

I can’t help, then, associating leisure with life. Leisure is not simply pleasure, though I hope we can all get plenty of that too. It is time in which one can decide what to do, with no compulsion. It is, I suspect, a very important element of an actually functioning democracy – by which I mean rule by the people, rather than weird electoral systems. Perhaps to claim that we need more leisure is another way of saying we need more freedom, but it is more specific than that. The demand for leisure makes clear that higher wages, less work, more time to be together, are necessary elements of freedom.

24th March 2017

22nd March 2017

A strange, mixed day for me in Londres. I finally planted some trees I had been planning to get in the ground for the last two months. Well, I say ‘I’: in fact others did most of the work while I stomped around in the mud giving directions. The workers implied, if subtly, that they were sceptical about the worth of planting in parks in poor parts of the Londres. And people say I’m negative.

In the afternoon I was in the office, the dull, dull office where nothing ever happens. The boss of the Public Tree Service told me there is talk of hiring us out on the private market. Just the way the world is going, but we will try to resist, for the sake of preserving what we already do. Elsewhere however, things were happening: an attack on the Palace of Power. It was somewhat amateur in execution but the attacker managed to take three people with him. Twat.

I rode back home on the tube through silent station beneath the Palace. Everyone on the tube was as unfriendly and unengaged as usual. Back home my father rang to see if I was okay. The call ended with him ranting against the decline he sees across the nation, particularly in public services. He seemed to think there is genuinely no money available to reverse the trend, making him despair for the future. I tried to persuade him that The Island is still one of the richest places in the world, it’s just that the money gets pumped out the country through massive pipes to reservoirs across the sea where it does nothing but sit and accumulate and give power to those who hold it. He wondered why nobody is in the public eye explaining this. Some people are, but nobody is listening.

The end of the world is a sort of highly trained deafness, and one question we should be asking is who is doing the training, and another question we should be asking is whether this type of deafness can lead to death. A harsh thought for a day like this, but what better day to try to understand the world?

22nd March 2017

19th March 2017

I went for a tour of the neighbourhood on my velocipede yesterday, ending at Dockyard Market. In a short ride I moved between luxury and the most basic standard of living. To imagine there is some magic key to the future that can appeal to all these people would be overly optimistic. But it’s not always clear which people are most likely to fight for the future. By the end of the morning I decided that I spend too much time wondering what should be done, and not enough time wondering what I want to do.

One thing I do enjoy doing is pruning fruit trees. Yesterday I did some work on a few pear trees this afternoon, dwarfed and cankered though they are. Today I pruned a friend’s apple tree, though he does not want the apples it will produce. It makes me feel good to sneak this rural life into Londres.

This evening I spent a long time on the phone to the Dancy Meditator. We talked about years ago, when Londres was young and it was possible to have fun, before the rentiers won. It all seems a long time ago now. Remember when there were squats everywhere? Remember when half the drugs were still legal? Remember when you could get four pints for ten pounds? It’s a sign of age of course, but the statistics show we were objectively better off then, before the house prices went stratospheric. We are now in the age of the rentier.

19th March 2017

16th March 2017

Today I have been listening to outlandish pop from the era when people believed culture could stir up the world and incite the change they wanted to see. They were wrong, perhaps catastrophically, but the belief did create better music than the many bands today who believe only that they have a right to be successful. It has also been a weirdly satisfying soundtrack to the work I have been doing over the last two days, trying to help expand co-operative housing in Londres.

The music of the 70s is a satisfying soundtrack to these acts of belief in the future precisely because it is so inappropriate. The rebellion sub-cultures of the second half of the 20th Century had no interest in economic structures. They rarely proposed alternative worlds, or only as hypothetical utopias. The hard work of believing in the future and building new worlds was not for them. That is one of the reasons we are facing the end of the world now. So it struck me as deliciously ironic to listen to this music while meeting with the money men, as I did today, and while plotting project management, as I did yesterday.

Londres is the toughest place in the country to do this kind of work, but Londres is where I want to be. I am not ready to give up on it. Today I ran down to the Tamesis and looked at its grey-brown and gloomy waters. There is rarely anything beautiful about the river, but it is our river. It runs over Roman bones and clay pipes and slave chains , haunting the city as our pasts haunt us. As individuals must face their pasts, so too must Londres if it is to live again.

16th March 2017