Nation of Neglect?
The Mutterings of a Northern Socialist and Sheffield Fabian, Jonathan Marsden.
Sitting on my hammock in my one bedroom flat, walls painted white, unadorned of any decoration or carpet and listening to 100 Mozart Classics on my headphones I feel compelled to write you upon the subject of a future Britain.
After studying as a mature student, Genetics at York University and then Social Policy at Sheffield Hallam, I have an eclectic mish-mash of ideas and being an avid historical wargaming fan of H.G. Wells for over 30 years (Grandfather of modern wargaming and a Fabian) I wish to submit a few ideas. I went to the last Fabian National AGM. I was the bloke from Sheffield with the dragon tattoos on my head.
As a child of the 1970`s, I vividly recall Tom Baker as Dr Who quoting The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics from time to time. Thermodynamics “everything turns to poo/chaos when force is removed” which is how I explain it. I believe that the centralising tendencies of our Governments, both past and present, have always seen their role as one of maintaining order, and keeping chaos and bedlam (and poo) from the gates. Through the many establishments of our Society we maintain order through Law and Culture. (Or threat of imprisonment and Symbolic Violence.)
I believe this underpins our Socio/Political thought process and the Top Down structures we have created to maintain control of our cultures, societies and ways of life. I am now of the opinion that the “control” I refer to is akin to the force of violence which is external to the individual. And is generally seen through the prism of Law and the “Yoke of public opinion”(J.S.Mill).
I wish to offer an alternative to the use of force.
It is not the application of force that keeps an object together but the bonds between the molecules, even though tiny in strength these bonds when formed into larger objects can be as hard as for example a diamond.
Every citizen has certain potential “Bonds”. Said Bonds can be the natural Bonds between parent and child, Bonds of fraternity, Bonds between the individual and their God(s) Bonds of History, Philosophy, Playing Musical Instruments, Historical Miniature Wargames, Painting, Chess, Backgammon and Politics.(mine)
The more bonds an individual has, the happier the person and the more sociable and functioning society has the potential to become. I`m sure I read in one of Aristotle’s` books the Greek translation for a Private Person is an Idiot. And who am I to argue with such a mind?
If one looks at the structure of a protein molecule, one sees a 3D structure bound together with yep you guessed it Bonds. These proteins perform beautifully complex functions necessary for life. This example of a protein I use to show how the bonds between individuals are in my opinion just as important for society.
Social Bonds can break down barriers between cultures, religions, philosophies and class structures. Picture if you will a young lad meeting a hobby group comprising a socially diverse and eclectic set of individuals, whom whilst playing, chat freely about their own lives etc. In my case as a 12 year old casually chatting with an ex Oxbridge Medieval Historian and Philosopher amongst others whom I still meet up with 30 years later to wargame with.
Social Bonds can also provide what Nigel Keohane (deputy director of the Social Market Foundation) termed for me Durables. Durables are items which maintain their value in the same way as savings e.g. Paintings, coins, musical instruments, stamps, model trains etc.
In order to nurture these Social Bonds and to enable the decentralisation of Governments` centralised control, we must develop these bonds both internal (personal development) and external (community development). And more importantly for the Labour Party Intelligencia to recognise that local people do actually possess intelligence. I firmly believe that we must provide “physical spaces”(not playing fields but physical buildings with a roof) to allow these bonds to form “naturally”. I travelled to London earlier this year to make the case for more hobby/interest time with Professor Chris Husbands to be made available in all schools, which will require links with local people to be forged. Four and a half hours by coach to London for a ten minute chat and Four and a half hours back (as I am currently unemployed I missed 4 meals to make the journey.)
If you have made it this far, thank-you for reading and please let me know what you think.
You are dead on it is the only answer to the atomisation of society wrought by capitalism.
You are right it is the only way we can counter the atomisation of society wrought by our capitalist society.
Sounds familiar…anarchy’s “community of interests”?
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i totally agree, we are social beings and our lives often moulded by the bonds of development and evolution of our opinions and life enhancement. I think the current atmosphere put out by this ideologically self obsessed government, is to fracture all social and even economic bonds we hold dear and have faith in. It does take strong social foundations based on strong principles to restore hope and optimism. It took so much effort to build massive successes like the NHS and welfare state, cherished, loved and nurtured for the betterment of us all. It is taking this government so little time and thought to remove what we have loved and secured, all intentionally being dismantled and undermined by privileged few. This governments divide and rule phiosophy. the one they always employ, slong with their supportive press, fears the strength of social bonds, blaming the vulnerable and unemployed, sick and disabled, using lies to make them responsible for their plight Stronger bonds , stronger society and a clear recognition in the virtues of strong and encouraging society.
Socialising is good for mental health and the health of all communities, But it must originate with the people in each area. To quote H.G.Wells “The weaving of mankind into one community does not imply the creation of a homogeneous community, but rather the reverse; the welcome and adequate utilization of distinctive quality in an atmosphere of understanding…. Communities all to one pattern, like boxes of toy soldiers, are things of the past, rather than of the future.”
H. G. Wells – The Outline of History (1920)
I agree that people need to forge more bonds with others in society and therefore what you propose is positive. However, it is possible that in order to improve society needs more organisation rather than less. The idea that if the bonds that hold us in society are loosened we will somehow improve rather than end up like Lord of the Flies is debatable. I am a wargamer and a Fabian also by the way.
Hi David thankyou for your reply, I try to be positive whatever the dice roll, I simply worry that the more “top down” organisation we have the more citizens feel disenchanted, disenfranchised and isolated.
Forgot to mention Fabian WJ Bassett-Lowke of model trains fame too……http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2013/jan/23/the-joy-of-train-sets
and on iplayer at the moment http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01q9vhy/Timeshift_Series_12_The_Joy_of_(Train)_Sets/
I am not a Fabien nor an academic but this piece of writing is absolutely superb. The solution that you describe is without a shadow of doubt, the key to breaking down barriers and creating a society where individuals are able to be well, to have opportunities, to feel loved, wanted and needed and to have social mobility because by the very nature of forming bonds in communities that have been formed through common interest of communities where people life, ‘moments’ of natural peer support flourish without the need to do anything. There is no need for structures and services to ‘reconfigurate’ or ‘redesign’ what they offer as real change has little to do with them anyway. Communities are the place where these moments are created and ego, control and greed have no place in that process.
From the first sentence in which you mention a hammock, simple décor and Mozart… to a structured argument for a ‘better society’ that brings together genetics, politics, and popular culture… you write in a way that is as eclectic, as free-spirited and as socially conscious as you are…. I love love love the creativity you bring and your ideas are exactly what we need to break down unnecessary structures…. maybe if we colour outside the lines hard enough, those lines won’t matter so much? 🙂
This is a fantastic peice of writing me personally do agree that bonds are the key too happiness and self worth depression and mental health is all to real in the world and without bonds and breaking barriers we would be left with our own demons this peice has moved me personally.
Absolutely fantastic… I agree 100% you have covered alot of grey areas.
As I’ve worked in Mental health and i am personally passionate about this, its important that this particular subject should be mentioned more often and the wareness to be shared.
Socialising does play a big role in breaking barriers in communities and society. Nicely covered
But in the real world only afew would understand
Lol the hammock tops it like icying on a cake.
Very inspirational Keep it up and well done 😁
Very interesting and thought provoking. We cannot exist as a nation without society. We are socially dependent and need each other it’s how we thrive.
Bonding – good analogy because it alludes to local individual and base level interactions. Architecture as a crucible is useful too. Enjoyed reading that musing – you had me at hammock x H