Monday, September 01, 2014

His dream is not my dream

Paul Mason has written a Guardian piece about his dream city. He appears to be serious in setting out what would make up his utopia. So what does he want?

He says he wants neighbourhoods designed around hipster economics, and goes on to add "In the ideal form, these areas are home both to hipsters and ethnically diverse poor communities, who refrain from fighting each other."

In reality, they are usually just home to hipsters (that's true for Melbourne anyway).

He also wants a taxi system "under the control of old-style London working-class cabbies, who've been persuaded to give women and ethnic minorities equal access to the trade" (what a strange thing to think about when designing a utopia).

He also wants sleaze: "a massive ecosystem of gay, lesbian, transgender, BDSM and plain old sleazy heterosexual hangouts: clubs, bars, dancehalls, cabarets and all the dim-lit alleyways and grassy knolls inbetween."

Here's something I've noted already. The left is congregating in areas given character by historic, traditional architecture: "it must be happy with its Victorian and Edwardian architecture, and with anything salvagable that used to be a factory or warehouse. Harlem in New York, Fitzroy in Melbourne, Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin all derive an intangible positive atmosphere from their combination of brick, ornament, renovation and re-use."

Maybe modernism in architecture has lost its lustre for the artsy left.

Then there's this: "it must be ethnically mixed and tolerant and hospitable to women...The city of Gijon, in northern Spain, has a government that plasters the streets with ever more inventive propaganda against sexual harassment, domestic violence and general sexism. Stuff like that."

Right, plenty of sex war in Paul Mason's dream city.

Another oddity: "any slums have to be what UN Habitat calls "slums of hope" – staging posts for upward mobility, self-policing and non-chaotic." Is this supposed to add a bit of vibrancy into the picture?

Then, despite his initial support for microbusiness he writes that his utopia "indispensably, is a democratic political culture the inhabitants are proud of, that calls them regularly to the streets, to loud arguments in small squares, keeps their police demilitarised and in check, and allows them to assimilate the migrants that will inevitably flow inwards, and to self-identify as products of the city as they themselves navigate the global labour market."

So the city is to be borderless and subject to the global labour market but still think itself as having a unique identity with a strong level of civic commitment.

He finishes with this rousing call to arms: "If you could cut and paste everything east of Bondi Junction on to London's Soho and Barcelona's Raval, giving the whole city a feminist government recruited in Scandinavia, you might come close. But you can't so you have to dream."

They're not the same as us, are they?


  1. "They're not the same as us, are they?"

    I wonder if they're even the same species.

  2. It's just the deranged rantings of a left-wing fruitcake, barely even worth spending your precious time reading let alone analysing.

  3. Australia has chosen her future -- election by election. American decline will be hugely consequential, don't you think, when Asia will be asking what colonials are doing ruling a continent far from Europe. For a century Australia conspired with Britain and bullied the Boers -- the circle has now turned, and Australians will find out, over the next century, what it is like to be on the receiving side.

  4. The preference for traditional architecture is important to note. They want to pervert and desecrate the traditional.
    Here is an exercise for people. List every single cause leftists support including the most immoral. Now try to imagine that world.
    What you see is a demonic vision of hell.

  5. So much for the hipster/ethnic harmony part?

  6. Hahaha the slums and diversity are mere decorations...the equivalent of living statues to dot the landscape for entertainment value...But the underlying point he's making is "I'm In Charge"

  7. Here's another thought: Mason can choose to live in areas not too dissimilar to what he wants (e.g. enclaves in inner Melbourne). But he's still not happy. In other words, his class have helped to transform urban areas along the lines they desire, but he is still discontent and believes that what he really wants is just a dream.

  8. No mention of families or children at all in the hellish cesspool he envisages.

    As one commenter said,

    Simpson9087 Ollio88
    25 August 2014 2:47pm

    "Brilliant piece. Perfect city."

    I disagree. This hypothetical city appears to have no room for families. I see nothing about schools, playgrounds, children, home life, etc. It just seems like a hedonistic single person's paradise, which may be fine for the hedonistic single person, but frankly not so great for society, which really does require healthy families.

  9. Personally I'd keep my wife and kids as far as possible from the hell-hole he describes...

  10. I'm pretty sure he's looking for San Francisco. Problem with that is that it has enough charm, natural beauty and simply being an ideal spot for a large city that it might remind people to aspire to something besides sexual license.

    1. San Francisco has become noticeably less "diverse" since 1990, black percentage has dropped (mostly due to the closure of the military bases) and the recently Mexican (formerly Italian/Irish) Mission District has been gentrified.

      SF certainly hasn't inspired Gavin Newsom to something besides license.

  11. I'm not sure if you guys are being sarcastic about his sarcasm...
    Please tell me you didn't take this seriously?

    After having just read most of the piece, I'm really quite confused over the sincerity of this. Perhaps you have a point.