Levent Kerimol & Fiona Davies

So what do we do? I have no ideas, but I can be brutally honest. If this were an academic paper analysing the problem, the whole thing would be like a mad professor lecture. The lecturer will use the blackboard to draw connections, or reveal an expansive wall drawing articulating an argument, which insight reactionary voices and gives rise to active discussion.

Financial districts are not falling apart or becoming redundant. The financial crisis does not demonstrate a failure of capitalism. Recession is a normal part of capitalism. Capitalism is crisis.

The brilliant thing about capitalism is its ability to adapt and survive. New products and services emerge by turning dissatisfaction into new market share. Bureaucratic hierarchical business models change. The market expands into new areas [carbon trading etc].

Much has been made of the local social enterprise as an antidote or alternative to the perceived failure of capitalism. Its potential to dismantle state control suggests it is a seed for the future. But this has to happen in parallel with the dismantling of corporations. Instead the local social model will be adopted by capitalism to avoid failure.

The localism ticket will have helped the Tories to power [open source planning etc]. Their support for local entrepreneurship and ingenuity is a form of enlightenment politicians are not capable of. Social enterprise and charities have gained a lot of popular trust, which shift the emphasis from the inadequacies of politicians. For the state this is a tactical reduction of responsibilities. Charitable donations and volunteers are used to cover for a lack of investment.

Every council wants a "cultural hub" and regeneration. Socially minded people are willing to be co-opted in exchange for the credibility of their fellow professionals at having done something worthwhile. Although real local groups have a greater tendency to disagree with the council, they are easier to deal with as single interest groups.

Civic empowerment means nothing without financial equity, but the two are separate discourses. Who cares about climate change, dance and DIY journalism? This has all been done before and it still rumbles along at an acceptable level.

In its ultimate form, local social acts would undermine centralised state or corporation control, so those in power want to keep it in check. Local Exchange Trading Schemes are supported in so far as they occupy the unemployed, but are attacked when they begin to question the existence of money. Street parties are made easier for events where the state needs to generate national public spirit. When the poor use the street for enterprise this is unregulated crime. Streets are a place of leisure not work. Social enterprise can only be lead by philanthropic middle class types.

So we are all hypocrites - those with the money and leisure to plant poppy seeds on council estate lawns, and patronise afterwards. And I’m definitely no better. So what do we do? Does anyone have a proposal?

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