Monday, 4 May 2009

'Social concentration camps'?

This is the verdict on council housing estates from the Fabian Society, reported in the Independent newspaper. No doubt this has a lot of truth to it, but why are the Fabians denying their own paternity?

The Fabian Society represents the worst aspects of socialism; control-freak social engineering, un petit pas from Fritz Lang Metropolis-style scientific dictatorship. If the housing estates are indeed 'social concentration camps', they have achieved their purpose, as envisaged by earlier Fabians.


Anonymous said...

The Fabians are interesting because of their support of eugenics in their early days. A 'progressive' policy at the time.

As for social engineering of housing I'm not so sure. look at Barry Parker and the Garden City movement that brought about Wythenshawe in Manchester (my old home town). The housing pre war was of good quality and the community was created by the people living there not by the modern 'out reach workers' etc. it all went to pot in the 1970's onwards and is now a social disaster area.

Trooper Thompson said...

Thanks for your comments.

I think fabian socialists share a belief that society can be scientifically managed and see the rest of us like bacteria in a petri dish. This is why I think they share the blame for the prior housing policies they are criticising now - and labour governments are always riddled with fabians.

The slum clearances of the 20th century look to me like a classic 'throw the baby out with the bathwater', wherein communities were destroyed along with the unsanitary housing, sometimes cast to the four winds, other times transported miles away.

The main reason, I think, that housing estates descend into slums is their design. It is usually the case that they are separated from the rest of the town/city, and without the flow of life, turn stagnant, like water cut off from a river.

Adam said...

Trooper, this is one of the reasons I support a federal system. One region can cock-up big time (slum clearances etc) but its unlikely they'll all do exactly the same thing at once (unlike Fabian corporatism).

Plus - one region can learn from another's mistakes.

Plus with federalism no one gang of politicians have total control.

For what it's worth I see the 21st century as the west's "corporatist" century: Americas, EU and others.

Trooper Thompson said...


I very much agree with what you say, and I guess you're using 'federalism' in its American sense (?)

Centralism is like everyone going to a restaurant together and having to order the same meal, therefore they have to argue about what's the best thing on the menu, some of them will choose to go hungry, and if the one meal sucks, everyone suffers. Far better that everyone chooses what they want themselves.

As for the century of corporatism - unless we stand against it, I fear you're right. For this reason I am very attached to the notion of national sovereignty as a bulwark against transnational corporate power.

Adam said...

Yep, in the American sense.

We are all going to have to get used to living under communitarianism. The era of liberal individualism is coming to an end.

Trooper Thompson said...

I don't think we should give in yet!

When you dig into history, you find the same battle of ideas constantly raging.

The technological advances of our times could bring about an era of individual liberty and enlightenment or could be turned on the people in the form of a hellish scientific crossbreed of 1984 and Brave New World, and I guess that is the default direction of travel, because freedom has always needed to be fought for.