Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bluewater Torture

I usually resist the temptation to link to anything by Michael Collins. He writes about many of the same things I do (oh, the new acceptability of classism, council housing, etc), although as a rent-an-ex-prole making endless apologias along the lines of 'well, you think we're racist, thick and nostalgic - well guess what, we are, and we love it.' He's also better at this than a dilettante like Baggini, his writing having a trenchancy that almost takes you along with it until you remind yourself that the working class is an economic group united by common interest, not a fucking tribe. This is as a preamble to linking this piece on Ebbsfleet, suburb of Bluewater - satisfaction of true working class desires, as opposed to all those guilty bien pensant lefty attempts at urban social reform (which were all subterfuges of their real aim: to keep us from consuming, obviously). Eric Kuhne provides what the Smithsons or Ebenezer Howard wouldn't.

So I was planning on giving this a bit of a kicking. Thankfully, Simon Sellars says a lot of what I was going to on Ballard and Bluewater with some style, saving me the trouble. A more general point though: what irritates me here is the notion that the middle classes, when they're in the guise of reforming utopian socialists, or aesthetes or artists, are to be utterly distrusted, but when building shopping malls or editing tabloids they suddenly become the friend of the working man, with an unambiguous desire to give us what we (always, already, with no mediation) want. Intellectuals want to foist temperance and socialism on us, while business just wants to shower us with all the joys of consumer capitalism. Once again, the idea that the working class itself might have been utopian, or socialist, or interested in something other than entertainment technologies and sport, is totally abandoned.


Blogger mario b. said...

political charge has to be dissociated from class. particularly in our dazed days of the near-total rule of bread and circus minus the bread sometimes.

12:21 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

I beg to differ.

5:43 pm  
Blogger roger said...

Hatherley Mansions is your new signing sign? This conveys much too Georgian a profile. Surely Hatherley Rubbishing & Konstructo-Kit Services or something in that vein. More against the odds Militance, less Nostalgia.

1:53 am  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

If Hatherley Denunciations existed I would use it, but alas it does not...I like 'Mansions' as euphemism. I have a relative (non-Hatherley) who used to live there, and I assure you it was far from Georgian...

10:49 am  
Anonymous Lang Rabbie said...

I think there is great potential for a Photoshop homage to the sometime ubiquity of that typeface [Festival of Britain Egyptian???] and the Fawlty Towers credits.

Although some of the anagrams are unfortunate, I thought there were a couple with potential:
Shoreline Hasn't May - has an appropriate Beckettian bleakness for a connoiseur of the Weston Shore

Analysis Month Here for when the personal is political

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11:11 pm  

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