I haven’t posted here in a long time. I’m reluctant to close the blog though. There is a lot here that I am proud to have written and don’t want to see it simply vanish into the ether. My reasons for not posting are many. I‘ve retired – again and many of the topics I used to write about no longer have the same relevance. I’m still interested in planning and the environment of course, but in a more general, less focussed way. I certainly have no need to be quite so up to date. The political scene is very much changed – less interventionist than under Blair and also significantly less informed as demonstrated by what passed for a debate over Brexit and the parallel upheavals in US politics with the election of Trump. It has now got to a point where whenever I attempt to think about the future in political terms I am not energised but driven to despair.
I still have interests, especially the visual arts. They were generally covered in a different blog which formed part of my web pages as an artist. Unfortunately that site fell victim to hackers and I had to take it down, As here, there were many posts I was proud to have written, but in that case most of these are now inaccessible. I still hope to recover them but so far I’ve been unsuccessful and I may have to pay a specialist to do it for me. If that proves possible I then have to decide whether to build a complete new site, with blog and shop or simply to republish the posts in a parallel blog to this one.
I’ve lost energy I suppose and I’m finding it hard to restart. I enjoy the craft of writing, and I have things I want to write about, but I need a core focus to drive it. I also have to consider time. I’m now only a week or so shy of my 71st birthday. My health is OK with some minor niggles, but I have to think about best use of however much time is left to me. It was in part probably the time issue that led me to Facebook. It takes a significant effort to write the sort of posts you find in the blog archives. However discussion on Facebook and Twitter – and indeed in most online forums – is usually unthinking, often acrimonious and sometimes downright disturbing (see any discussion of gender issues for example). At best it is candyfloss and at worst it is positively poisonous. I think I probably need to step back from social media except as a way of promoting the posts.
So – where next?
- There is potential contradiction between the ideas inherent in this blog’s current title and my belief that we should, even now, still try to stay within the EU. The idea of self reliance, of operating outside or without the state comes well to the fore in the writings of the late Colin Ward, but also influenced figures like Ebenezer Howard, the father of New Towns via writers like Kropotkin and Tolstoy. The same idea is also built into the Maastricht Treaty as ‘subsidiarity’, - the principle that a central authority should perform only those tasks which cannot be delivered at a more local level. Related to that and coming from anarchist thought is the idea of Confederation as distinct from Federation.
- Housing, education and health all have very local impacts but at the moment are subject to strong central direction, I’ve written on some of these topics already and there is still much to explore I think.
- Some aspects of public policy are more difficult to reconcile with local or non-state actions. The most obvious is Transport but aspects of energy policy also need considering beyond the immediate locality.
As a starter I’m going to review and revisit some previous posts on housing matters.