On the Riots and the Need for a New Commons by MATT WILDE
The Middle Class Optic
Plainly, the reverse is true. We live, in essence, segregated lives. As much as middle-class Londoners like to believe that they live in a multicultural and mixed city, most of us actually share precious little with those who face un- and underemployment, dependence on shrinking and strained public services and police harassment. Even those of us who live in ex-council properties do not, in truth, share much beyond the spaces we temporarily inhabit. In most cases we will move on and out, send our children to private schools or quiet comprehensives outside of the city and reproduce the distance over and over again.
If we want to live in a society in which everyone feels they have a stake, we have to find a way of getting beyond the social othering that renders our ‘communities’ largely notional. Undisputedly, political struggle is vital if we are to challenge the gross inequities and that are foisted upon more and more people in our society. We should strive for political and economic systems – for social relationships – that are genuinely equitable and inclusive. But without a real community base underpinning it, any political movement will remain similarly notional, relying on moral impetus rather than lasting community structures that could genuinely offer an alternative. Thirty years of neoliberalism has eroded our capacity to generate social movements with an enduring social grounding.
Will he change his tune if he is mugged by reality?