Elsewhere (134)
It Will Only Encourage Him

He’s a Fan of Laurie Penny, You Know

You could argue that New York City after the Occupy movement experienced a positive change in social atmosphere, a democratisation of artistic space, and a revival of its radical mojo.

So says Paul Mason, a fifty-something former Trotskyite and Workers’ Power enthusiast, who, despite his advancing years, is still aroused by mob thuggery and driven to high drama by the state of Twitter. Mr Mason is imagining his ideal city, his own urban utopia:  

I will describe the city I would like to live in. First, it is near the sea, or another body of water warm enough to swim in. Second, it has entire neighbourhoods designed around hipster economics. Though currently maligned, hipsters are crucial signifiers of a successful city economy. Their presence shows it is possible to live on your wits even as neoliberalism stagnates. Such neighbourhoods… are home both to hipsters and ethnically diverse poor communities, who refrain from fighting each other.

I suspect a classic sentence may be lurking in there somewhere. 

The bold envisioning continues,

It has to have theatres. Not just big ones. 

And, naturally,

political unrest.

It being a “measure of aspiration,” something for our Guardianista to write about, gushingly, and practically fellate. And who wouldn’t want their neighbourhood enlivened by rioting and the odd burning car? 

And also,

bicycle lanes and trams. 

You see, “bike supremacy” is a thing all cities need.

Equally important to trams and bike supremacy is a heavily regulated taxi system, as efficient as Uber but 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.

This heavily regulated taxi system, in which class and gender consciousness would be ascendant, would allow people to explore a “massive ecosystem of gay, lesbian, transgender, BDSM and plain old sleazy heterosexual hangouts.” And any slums, should they exist, would be “self-policing and non-chaotic.” As slums so often are. 

Mr Mason’s urban utopia has other conditions too:  

It must be ethnically mixed and tolerant and hospitable to women.

Sadly, our visionary thinker doesn’t linger on how such “mixing” would be enforced and made tolerant, or on any possible tensions between ethnic vivaciousness and the embrace of feminism. If the above criteria are somewhat boggling, our dreamer of sweet dreams provides a helpful thumbnail of his metropolitan paradise:

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.

When not imagining how millions of other people should live - and when not hoping to “overthrow capitalism” with communist computer games about collective farming - Mr Mason is the economics editor of Channel 4 News