At 2000 Trees Festival, Manx Stef and I had lunch with a bunch of Gloucestershire guys. Inevitably conversation slid its way around to last year’s floods. The issue the lads wanted to make clear was how poorly their local community had responded to the disaster, especially in terms of cliched assumptions like ‘pulling together’ or ‘uniting in the face of adversity’. Mains water was switched off and everyone suddenly relying on huge water containers placed in the street. Instead of polite queues and convivial atmosphere of Brits under duress, there were a lot of rows and fights about where the water should be, and how much water each person/family could take. They said a lot of people stole more than their fair share, without any media coverage, until an Asian bloke took too much, at which point he was plastered across local press and scapegoated. They also said people were very thuggish, some posting ‘guards’, some even pissing and throwing rubbish in the water containers. Their account chimes with other things we’ve heard around the UK about the flooding.
The other day, I saw an internal email which had been sent around a small company in Lewes, warning people to keep the door shut and on latch when they went out for lunch, because of the annual visit of travellers to the area. Transient people have a negligable effect on crime rates in that town – just as many crimes take place when they’re not there. Meanwhile, the company in question trades with multinational corporations selling arms, oil and pharmaceuticals, that make thousands upon thousands of peoples’ lives drastically worse across the world in the name of profit. Sometimes, when their suppliers (designers and web programmers) find out who they’re being asked to work for, they back out on ethical grounds, despite the loss of income.
I think the people who shout about the ‘broken society’ – the right-wing media and its frightened readership, socially conservative pricks and anti-immigrant fact benders – are the very people who caused it in the first place, with their money-grubbing, greed-oriented divide-and-rule sleight-of-hand strategy where money is more important than people.
Anything to distract from the Grand Evils of the multinationals and corporations, manipulating this unsustainable oil economy to make as much personal profit as they can, before the whole thing collapses.
On Mauritius, variants on the phrase “You eaten yet?” are standard greetings, as commonly used as “Hello!” because, during historical periods of extreme poverty, it was a way of making sure your neighbours didn’t go hungry, without them having to beg. It’s obvious that what we’ve lost through the rise of Greed Culture and Debt Culture is far, far greater than what we gain by being able to watch a massive television or drive a landrover around the city.
We all deserve to be stabbed by a hoodie.
I realise I’m struggling to be coherent on this issue but I’m trying to write something more useful and it’s not coming together yet.