Last night I walked over the Tamesis, on the Bridge of Defeated Frenchmen. As always the view was spectacular, one of the best in Londres. I thought about how much it has changed over the last few years. Office towers in one direction, residential towers in the other, and none put there to make Londres better for those who live here. The city feels colonised, but in truth this is nothing new. The open secret of the river is that it was the centre of theft and colonisation for a long time, starting with the violent impositions on the population of The Island itself, who were regularly kidnapped by the state to work the ships that stole people abroad. This goes back hundreds of years.
I suspect that even if we can make a warmer, more caring society, we cannot do so indefinitely. It would not be a stable state. Too many people are too keen to inflict their traumas on the population. I am not talking about the idiot who got arrested near the house of our rulers’ chosen leader yesterday. I am talking about the occupant of the house and all who put her there. What this means is that we will always have to fight for a better world, even when we have a better world.
Talking to The Curious Brewer the other night about why so few people are actively fighting the rulers right now, as they head towards the end of the world, he said that people aren’t desperate enough yet. On the surface this does appear true of some people, yet the other night I went to a presentation of interviews with people with housing problems. They are being bullied by state agencies, being thrown out of their homes, their cities, being told to live on an amount of money that can’t even feed them. When I wonder aloud why these people aren’t fighting harder, I’m often told they are busy just surviving. There is something wrong in this picture: comfortable people don’t fight because they are too comfortable, and oppressed people don’t fight because they are too oppressed.
There is something else going on, and I’m not interested in pinning blame on individuals. At the same event last night there was a discussion on the debts built up by local authorities, debts with private banks that in some cases mean the councils are spending more money on debt repayments than on housing. The local rulers don’t understand finance and get screwed. But the reality is, no one person understands how the world around us is constructed. It is too complex. How did the Tower of Sauron at the Original Bridge get where it is? Few people could explain it to you. The view from the Bridge of Defeated Frenchmen is spectacular, but difficult to decode. Some general tendencies can be understood, but even those are obscured by myth.