Of course, older cities had been built both close to the shore and to fertile land. They proved the least of problems – They had ease of trade and a source of food from rings of market gardens and from accessible orchards, arable fields and dairy pastures. Market gardens also flourished in every space within cities in the Havana manner. A renaissance of vegetable and fruit gardening seemed a natural pleasure. Those old towns and cities made full advantage of both the sea and the fertile river valleys, which had been their original call to settlement in the Bronze or Early Iron Ages.
However, those manufacturing and mill towns, which had been built inland and close to wherever coal or iron lay, faced severe problems. It is notable that in the microcosm of the UK that they lay exclusively in England. For instance, Welsh mining communities had sent their coals for export to English manufacturing towns, and not to support a local manufacturing. Welsh mining towns were thus of a manageable size. Mining communities had dispersed to a sadness of skill-less call centres and development-money, opportunistic companies. Basic Income, New Deals and the excitement of Welsh independence, more easily revived old local ingenuities, by joyous escape from lives without purpose.
All major roads, railways (and reservoirs!) had led to England from Wales. And so it proved that Scotland, Ireland and Wales, which had once exported their wealth, had paradoxically exported their future problems. Today it irritates many that Welsh main roads, canals and railways head east, whereas travel through Wales from North to South is by a slow network of disconnected and winding minor roads. Ah well, exiting times engage us with more than such irritations and the Easterly roads (built for pillage) became known as the Baggage Roads. Since world-wide changes were afoot, shallow nationalism seemed a part of such baggage. Curiosity for the cultural ingenuities of others became contagious. As I say, civilisation is in its methods – not in its states. Enough of the state and more of the method!
Poor England kept the baggage, along with (for a while) an anachronistic politics of baggage. New Labour and Tory politicians who had lived by the revolving doors of big business found it hard to abandon the “support” which big business still threw at them to hold off the end point of its decline. Moreover, reactionary thinking of a lost Great Britain supported what was big in the face of tin-pot, banana republic, socialist, green, away-with-the-fairies and small. Fortunately, even in Tory and New Labour heartlands, laws of physics would eventually prevail. Fairies (of course) always win in the end.
My listeners will know of the great events and innovations which occurred in India and China, but they are beyond the scope of this narrative. Let it be sufficient that throughout these times, they provided a backdrop to the imaginations of all. No doubt, you have seen that wonderful series of paintings, hung in the National Museum of Wales, depicting the first voyages under sail of the New East India Company? Dystopian writings today most usually depict a wild rapine as nation states and their corporate bosses fight over the last drops of oil. Well, fortunately they proved wrong. American decline signalled a decline in the doctrinaire cult of neo-liberalism and its militaristic “democracies”. It seems that cults and ideologies have been the major disruptive causes of the Twentieth and Twenty First centuries. It is also apparent that American and British evangelical and violent imposition of the cult of consumerism on the rest of the world proved both their undoing, and in that undoing, the source of an ensuing (and surprising) peace! Let’s consider an untarnished meaning of the word company.
Don’t forget that this is a tale of Nowhere told at night and that all manner of daylight perversities will distort a perfected backwards reasoning – in which societies become reflections of the orderly stars. But also, don’t forget that the ways we live today are utterly implausible fantasies based on the one hand, on an infinite supply of oil, and on the other the delusion that human monocultures can survive on their own ingenuities through wild climate change and a pillaged Earth.
Fireside tales set the records straight, while daylight adventures bend them – So it is.
What seems impossible to listeners today is the completeness of the change in people’s lives. But it was the drama of the times which completed it. What’s more, it was the great social sigh of relief in returning to normal after the fantasy of a century, which propelled the change. Ordinary laws of physics; of nature; of social justice became apparent. The wonder of economic growth from a finite supply; of ideas replacing resources; of educated hierarchies replacing the common sense of the many became false. The despicable wage gaps of today became similarly false. An ordinary GP, dentist, lawyer, or elected politician has more than three times the wage of a teacher or academic, who in turn has twice as much again as a domestic worker, who in-turn has double the wage of a vegetable grower. Meanwhile, the rewards of those at the head of departments in the cess pits of banking and of “the brands” – service, retail and transport – are off the scale of unpleasant adjectives.
Ordinary common sense knows these things are wrong and common sense was the common propellant of the Great Revolt.
Ours is the briefest of perversities in which unskilled power has come to run the common realm. Some post-modernist apologists for the powerful have proposed that history has ended. In my tale, history returns with frailties, follies and adventures.
Though the trades have run the kingdom, they have never held the throne. And so it was again – Bottom the Weaver and Snug the Joiner provided all that was needed for the idle court of Theseus, but had no thought to take its power. One day in my story, trade’s-people may well take power to make the world a better place, but history will do to them as it has done to all others – Cromwell, Lenin – or that county councillor – what’s his name. Anyway, power occupied parliament and council office, but with its power constrained. It settled disputes, took and redistributed taxes, managed the common realm and in reward had a bigger house than the rest and also the prized dignity of office. It had no tools and no knowledge. Dependency on today’s great providers: Monsanto, Cargill, Tesco and so on, waned, as people came to depend on their wits and on each other. Ingenuities and observations must always pass through solitary brains and solitary senses. The great mono-cultural tools of Monsanto and co are devised by absentee brains and transcendent senses.
In short, dramatic change became possible because those who held tools had entered the drama. My refrain: civilisations are methods – not states shows that states can change nothing which changes their state.