It has been a turbulent time in Londres and I am pleased to be having a quiet weekend. It gives time to reflect on what I am putting time into (and not). Last night I pruned some trees, because they needed it but also as an act of faith that we will have a future.
I have been thinking about what the oracle said recently: that it is worth examining your felt position over your lifetime, and whether emotional and intellectual reactions to things get confused. I suppose in theory this could clarify what you want from others, from yourself, from life. The thought trails off in a mess of complexity…
While my bread was rising I went along to a local radical book fair. I was open to finding something new but in fact bought books I had been planning to buy anyway, and one by an author I already know. They were all about cities, in particular land. This is a theme worth focussing on now, and it seems to me that it has been neglected for a long time.
The division between those who believe in private property and those who believe in state ownership of property has often looked absolute. In fact it was never quite so clear cut. There were those who thought that use should give rights, and those who believed in collective ownership outside of the state. What is also often forgotten is that most systems, including the one we live under, give some version of mixed property rights. Yes, the property is yours, but you cannot do as you wish with it: the state claims some rights over your property. When you put in a planning application it may fail, and it may be affected by the comments of your neighbours. I think it is a shame we don’t recognise the reality of our property system. The same failure to recognise reality is evident in the division between market economics and state control. In reality every system uses some mixture of both. To begin to work out how we should change things we should recognise what we have.
Perhaps these aren’t very original thoughts. No doubt there are many obscure academic papers that discuss these matters. Yet in politics what so often matters is the public narrative. I’d like to see a public narrative that addresses the reality of our property system. Neither the Vermin nor the Opposition would see much mileage in it I suppose. As for the billionaire press, it is impossible to discuss property rights without being drowned out by cries of ‘communist!’ Thus discussion is suppressed, even when Londres is afflicted with a clearly evil property regime.