Parallel universes

For the vandal to spray something on a wall to achieve some sort satisfaction is one thing. For a business leader after flattening a community to build private houses and looking at his bank balance to achieve satisfaction is another. I would call them both vandals, but i would be more inclined to fear the latter than the former, in the damage that could be inflicted and the social cost of corporate vandalism. Why do we vehemently castigate one end of the vandalism spectrum and practically allow free reign to the other

Despot /Seleb

I was listening to the radio. It was David Blunkett announcing he will be doing a cookery program with one of his favorite chef’s or something on Radio 4. How easily, I was thinking, that the tyrant of despair can slide smoothly from creating some of the cruelest legislation against human rights, straight into the roll of radio personality to entertain the chattering classes in the culinary obsessed parallel world which they inhabit.

I don’t expect Blunkett or perhaps even the listeners to such programs will give a thought to the misery hunger and destitution he helps to create. Maybe Blunkett should have his own show helping asylum seekers – cook up delights on their tokens he allocated them, that is if they are lucky enough not to have ended up destitute due to Blunkett’s oppressive legislation.

Back to the other parallel universes.

On the one hand we have the young, who are still baring much of the brunt of “vandalism” And on the other the cost of vandalism in economic and social terms as perpetrated by corporate business.

Vandalism is usually only ever seen as the actions of bad people destroying what is good in society and is mostly never comprehended as an outlet of frustration in young people. Vandalism is used to maintain the status quo of “we are right [government, business, media] they are bad [poorer people mostly} “. Vandalism is almost always interpenetrated in the Manchurian sense of good and evil. Never as possible creative, frustrated, energy, looking for a way of expression or direction.

The common perception of vandalism is used only to cover the generic sense, in terms of what is happening to communities, rather than in terms of the wanton development for profit vandalism, at the behest of profit seekers in destroying community infrastructure.

Any critique of what is and is not vandalism in this sense is often met by vitriolic condemnation, by the sponsors of the destruction of the public estate, by the super vandal developer, the media usually with council participation.

Retail vandalism is advertising as graffiti. Covering buildings with vulgar advertising, screaming at the public for attention, is business, therefore, OK. So we must protect business vandalism, it’s for the common good and everything else for whatever reason as bad. As is dole fraud. Dole fraud is bad, go to jail, pay your fine. Multi million £ fraud by business and tax evasion seems to be OK. Go on vacation, enjoy your tax subsidy, at the publics expense – It’s legal!

For the domestic vandal to spray something on a wall to achieve some satisfaction is one thing. For a business leader after flattening a community to build private houses then looking at his bank balance to achieve satisfaction is another. I would call them both vandals, but I would be more inclined to fear the latter than the former in the damage that could be inflicted and the social cost of corporate vandalism. Why do we vehemently castigate one end of the vandalism spectrum and practically allow free reign to the other.

Vandalism is in the eye of the beholder. The vandalism perpetrated by the spray can and the destruction inflicted on the community by the – mostly middle aged business hothead are one and the same – But vandalism, it would seem, is only vandalism until money can be made from it, then it becomes respectable.

How we frame vandalism, is important in how we should judge what it is, and what affect it has on us and what we should do about it. I would rather see the frustrated in the community taking things out on a wall, rather than on someone else.

We go on blaming crime and vandalism for destroying our communities and to an extent this is true. But we need to widen the frame in which we perceive vandalism, to include business interests

It’s odd that almost every part of Glasgow that sits under the shadow of the encroaching developers seems to be suffering an upturn in vandalism and anti social behaviour . It’s that parallel universes thing again. On no account would vandalism be put up with in the yuppie flats up the road. But taking vandalism off the streets down at the council house end would take money, imagination and democratic decision making – and a need to deal with the root of (all) the vandalism, including business.

In a “normal” community this wouldn’t be an issue.

Why don’t the kids in more affluent areas run around their streets till all hours of night and spray paint their walls – Different circumstances – We can spend money on our community to create different circumstances, or we can build more jails. We can create circumstances where the very young are engaged in useful and fulfilling activities in their community, or we can watch them slide into the mature boredom of the street teen.

The official vandal and the state sponsored vandal, are one and the same thing and unless they are, dealt with democratically, the jails will win. What I’m saying is. Beware of the vandal who comes in a suit and tie as well as the one donning a spray can. The latter could be encouraged to stop, by a community resource and a change in circumstances. The former is much more difficult to reform, as he or she performers the vandalism that carries an official stamp and usually believes it is carried out for the public good.

Many ideas that create these parallel universes are instilled in the young by education systems, privilege and an undemocratic process, At one end of the spectrum we have kids growing up with all the pampering money can buy and at the other end they are wandering the streets aimlessly.

There must be somewhere in here and between the institutions of jail and university, that would allow young people to develop ideas of independence and democratic principals. Somewhere that young people could be part of decision making and learn to understand the responsibility that decision making entails. These are things that are learned, not in bias institutions, but by free association.

If we are looking to produce good and responsible citizens, we need to create spaces for the young to exercise responsibility in their community. Not institutions planted there from “above” but places created by a process of consultation with those that will use them. If we don’t listen to the kids, they will never listen to us.

And we do all live in the same world. There is not one for them and one for us.

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