Featured Image: a 1928 Image of The City by US Planner Harvey Wiley Corbett Published in Popular Mechanics magazine
We need a new deal that will unlock human and material assets so that new ideas, ways of learning, working, living and growing can regenerate our relationships, families, work, leisure and open spaces. We need to feel that the environment around us responds to us at every age and stage of life, to see the diversity of the lives of the people who live and work in our communities reflected in the buildings and organisations we work in and walk through.
We think we’re sophisticated yet look around us at the quality of our environment. Often it looks just as dirty, prefab, temporary and deprived as it did after the second world war.
I think this is because we have allowed a command economy run by one type of person to determine the landscape and environment for everyone. I think we need a rethink.
What we’re currently doing seventy years after the end of the second world war is still implementing military tools to run businesses: policing, controlling, surveilling, understanding success in very narrow gold, silver bronze performative terms that changes nothing. There are gold medals for voluntary and public service across all our charities and services that are really just gold, silver and bronze medals to put up and shut up about meaningful change by lobby or in their organisation or wider social representation and change.
The hostility around the NHS and the false discussion around who deserves care and who should be penalised and rationed makes staff and patients ill and less likely to feel well. Security guards on the doors of every A&E now man and woman guard the impact of privatisation and social distance and a different tier of access to our very poor and migrant citizens.
Gold medals for volunteering, honours for charity managers and local business leaders who sleep out once or twice a year do nothing to change the shocking system that leads people to become migrant, leads people out of work and home to food banks.
The way we currently run the economy, the workplace is bankrupt: dinosaur thinking masked by the latest technologies that have become weapons of control.
We’ve nurtured a smash and grab society where shock and awe has scorched our external and internal landscapes. Instead of a smarter society we now have a rigid, locked down, materialistic and exploitative environment that makes everyone miserable. Britain doesn’t just need to address its framework contractors who run the home office and the border agency and say “We’ve addressed the hostile environment”, because of the way Britain was reconstructed and managed after the second world war we created a hostile society that isn’t good enough for the people who live and work in it.
That needs to change. We need to allow different ways of thinking, being, living, making: we need to look at how relation, connection, warmth and learning can unlock new ways of relating to each other where we can use new technologies to change exploitative physical and social mining, change the economic balance here and across the wider earth. We need to allow everyone to have a full, connected, developing life. To do this we need to create ways of living and working that produce the resources to close social distance. At the moment wherever we are we veer between stories of rich and successful and a criminal underclass who need charity. We need to move on as much in frozen social media images as in work and life.
Noone should be stuck in a job because they’re afraid to move.
We need to feel alive, connected, with possibilities at every stage of life so we can move on from the authoritarian compliance models of the post war era: we need to feel free to create our own contribution from where we are and know we are safe here in this country to grow. If we continue with the culture we have now then all we’ll do is institutionalise more people from the top to the bottom of society purely because we can.
Now’s the time to say thank you to the military bureaucracy, its tools and mechanisms that were used to manage reconstruction, the new companies and technologies after the second world war. Now is the time to look closely at the bureaucracy that underpins our use of technologies andnow is the time to say, let’s have a different kind of economy that works to free our jobs and professions from uneccessary bureaucracy so we can use our talents at work.
Everyone has a vision of the land, the buildings, the environment, the people, education, what a business is and can be, in this country. Everyone has ideas about how to improve connections and relationships across society, so let’s listen to them.
We need to restore relationships between people who work and the people who employ. We need to consider human potential across the life cycle and how to develop new types of jobs and creative ways of earning a living with decent terms and conditions of employment. We need to reduce the social distance between people at every age, stage of life, background and gender.
Half of our population exist in the places scorched by over/underuse a surveillance of property, people as assets though, without care, attention and development. Neglect.The other half are drowning in the vacuity of consumer culture. Again, neglect.
The problem is in not caring enough about the mystery and wonder of life.
Rights are important for everyone at the moment we have cultivated a culture where citizenship and the history, the value of being alive, being a person has now become another asset belonging to the owner, rentier, professional classes not to people who rent or work in the agency economy, who have been discouraged from voting or even being able to stay in the area they were born. We need a sense of something that grows out of a reciprocal understanding of society.
The asset lock between owners of businesses, the rentier, agency, gig and gang labour economy and professionals who have been distanced from other social groups needs to be examined and opened to scrutiny. This asset lock has resulted from the military command reconstruction economy after the second world war where social, racial and gender gatekeeping was normalised in the construction and reconstruction of how military insights and personnel should take their experience into the new Britain.
The problem for me is that seventy years on we need a different settlement that can encourage and connect people and economies from the ground up, create new kinds of jobs that can rejuvenate relationships between family members, between people in a community from every background and stage of life.
It was reading about how psychologies, sociologies of trauma and suffering were instrumentalised into weapons of social gatekeeping and consumer control after the second world war that made me realise that we need to look at how the military command and control of our economy has led to the scorched earth in our inner cities and across the UK.
Reading and sharing Alice White’s PHD From the Science of Selection to Psychologising Civvy Street: The Tavistock Group, 1939-1948 A thesis submitted to the University of Kent for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty of Humanities 2015, made me and others realise that culturally, the command and control view of elite and mass that has been implemented over the last seventy years in reconstruction should only ever have been a temporary thing.
We now need to regain a sense that some of our economy needs to come from unique and creative new products across a landscape that needs to be re valued by the people who live in it. balance so that we can refind relation and connectivity between people, inside and outside families, education, learning, skills development