I have had a long day of doing politics in Londres. It turns out politics involves a lot of walking. Now I am tired, but fairly satisfied. I spent most of the day in the Southern City of Londres, full of ugly towers and fading shops. To start with I joined a team of people going door to door in support of the only major opposition to our rulers that has happened in my lifetime. Initially I had not planned to do this, because the opposition is a troubling organisation full of people I do not trust. But I found myself defending their leader so often that in the end to stay out of such a serious battle I would have felt…not a hypocrite exactly, but perhaps a bystander at an attempted violent mugging.
On the doorstep many people are concerned about weak versus strong leaders, but they are not always clear about what this means. Often it doesn’t even seem to matter if a strong leader is taking them in the wrong direction, so long as she is strong. I can’t help thinking this is a product of low self-esteem. If you felt strong yourself, would you be so concerned about strength in your leaders? That is not what I said. Even I, not known for tact, can be a bit tactical.
We walked miles door to door, and only met a few of the enemy. It was more fun they I had been expecting. Next time I will take more food and snacks. Parts of Londres are a desert. At the start of our tour of the houses I failed to recognise one of my fellow walkers as someone I met last year. This often happens to me. When we all get augmented reality implants I will immediately install a Face Rememberer.
NextI went to a street protest, also in the Southern City, against a gang of racist extremists. Only eighteen or so of them turned up, and there were hundreds of us there to oppose them. Fortunately for them they had hundreds of police to protect them. It’s been a while since I pushed against an advancing police line, and as usual we lost, because we aren’t as well trained as they are. But it was invigorating. I asked some of the police officers, in a slightly ritualistic way, why they never make way for us when we want to go somewhere. As usual they didn’t reply. Some of my fellow protesters brought a sound system, which made for a festive mood. I looked at the gang surrounded by police and by us, and they had clearly lived hard lives, many troubled by alcohol. They were rather pathetic. I wished that someone had cared for them, so that their hatred had never developed.
Off now to a well-deserved barbecue in the Londres twilight.
Today I and a friend took our velocipedes for a brisk ride around the hills of North Cantia. As usual I cringed inwardly at the fate of the villages close to the city. The well-to-do long since began escaping Londres, and villages with attractively ancient architecture are their refuge of choice. This means they aren’t villages any more, or not in the sense they used to be. They are no longer economic communities, more a sort of series of dormitories. The cars parked outside the better houses say that this money was not made here. A passing driver leaned out her window and screamed at us for using velocipedes, ignoring the miasma of Londres on the horizon behind her.
There used to be two types of villages, the usually better-off tied villages, which were owned by one aristocratic landlord who ran them as their petty fiefdoms, even mandating what residents should plant in their garden; and free villages, where the residents could live as they wished, but were often underemployed and struggling to survive. Meanwhile across the southern part of the Continent the villages empty out, no longer sustainable. We could ask the question of whether it shouldn’t be possible to have a village both free and prosperous. History has answered that question by killing the villages entirely. This needn’t, I can’t help thinking, be the only answer.
It was a good day besides all this, and the beeches and bluebells couldn’t be faulted. Now I am pink from over-exposure to the sun, and my legs are tired in a way that suggests I’ll sleep well tonight.
I’ve just discovered a note in my calendar saying only ‘film night’. I have no memory of what this is about. Am I organising something with someone? Who am I going to a film night with? I’ve had a couple of memory lapses lately, a product of filling my time with so many tasks – including writing this journal. Perhaps it is hypocritical of me to rail against our failing civilisation’s obsession with work while constantly keeping myself busy. But then, a lot of my time is filled with things I want to do, rather than am paid to do. I am very fortunate to be in this position, but my ingratitude is limitless. All I want is more time.
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.
Spent the evening in the Bree Tavern in central Londres. Memories of the fight for free education, which we lost. I had to remind myself that no battle is lost forever, just as the end of the world is not entirely final.
I had the chance to discuss Old Latin America with someone who knows even more than me about it. It was a stimulating discussion, and good to hear a more positive tone from someone who speaks from knowledge rather than wishful thinking. A world of action is happening there, imperfect, often problematic, but with real potential to change things. The trick seems to be that people still know how to work together.
On that topic, I see today that the Vermin Party have made one of their cruellest cuts yet: cutting money to help young people who need to escape home. Their assumption is that young people can, and possibly should, always live with their parents. If the people who made this decision are ever at my mercy, I don’t know if I could show any. It’s so easy for a rich society to provide homes for all. It’s not like we haven’t done it before.
There is a path out of here, to a Londres where people can be supported through difficult times. But we have to believe it is the right thing to do, we have to claim it for ourselves, and above all there has to be a ‘we’. I was chatting to Power Fist today about the absence of collective action in fighting for a caring society. She didn’t have many words of comfort, but it’s good to have someone to complain to about these things. If in the end I find enough people to complain to, that would be the beginnings of the ‘we’ we need. Then perhaps we could get some power behind our rituals.