Was watching that new program on the ABC last night about the Brits in Aden back in the sixties … and one of the characters was talking to his obviously fading father and he started to sing that old Andy Stewart standard; “There was a Soldier, A Scottish Soldier … ”, and it was about the “green hills of Tyrol”. I didn’t know that … Tyrol … that’s where my old man came from. You might have read that piece I put up about him in “Willie Wilson’s ferret”.
Anyway, the old man got homesick … and that’s what that piece about the ferrets was all about; Home … or at least that feeling of home … of a place to belong, where one could roam freely as a child and have adventures and discover things with other kids. And when grown up, could point to a geographical location and say; “That’s where I came from”. Identity … that’s what it gave you. Identity … Home.
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Enclosure, also spelled Inclosure, the division or consolidation of communal fields, meadows, pastures, and other arable lands in western Europe into the carefully delineated and individually owned and managed farm plots of modern times.
This enclosing of public land, the locking off of access to open field and meadow to allow private property to flourish in a capitalist society is a terrible thing, a demeaning situation. This is a deliberate policy to diminish and to corral people into a crush of suburban town limits … to shut down “community” and replace it with limited access property … private property. To reduce all persons to nothing more than an identifiable commodity to be constructor, consumer, and then consumed ourselves. To take our identity away and replace our need for “national home” with some generic, jingoistic “homeland”.
The original confiscation of Indigenous land and renaming it “crown land” reduced the native peoples to allocated strips of territory and took away in one fell swoop their claim to right of wandering … all other was private property. This “right of ownership” extended to water and wildlife, so that the Indigenous peoples could not even maintain their hunting culture. It was a deliberate action designed to genocide the native population.
The same philosophy is now being actively pursued by the right-wing elite of our country to shut down any large-scale projects that would extend the politics of community … which could encourage a more inclusive social order..perhaps even socialism as a political reality itself. There is a driving imperative within the current political right to with-hold from the general populace a sense of “community belonging” … any developing coherence of neighbourhood so that a cluster of like-minded people could form a block of mutual interest that could stop speculative development. Like the “Shut the Gate” farming community … the “Stop Ardani” … and remember the “Green bans” of the seventies?
This deliberate policy of debasing community and promoting private property could be the driving force behind certain elements of racism and bigotry so apparent now in the nation. The fact that many recently arrived ethnic groups cluster together and form a community for both identity and security, much like the old Greek and Italian communities, and from within these suburbs arise those familiar community projects like a religious worship building, a club, sporting grounds with an ethnic team … and so on.
These early start communities show a natural loyalty to culture, and ethnicity that can create a suspicion of exclusion to the dominant culture..that looks like a rejection of the dominant culture, when all it is, is the desire to create a feeling of what it was like where they came from: home.
There is a distortion of public understanding of what constitutes community ownership when you have politicians like Margaret Thatcher claiming that there is no such thing as society and Ayn Rand refuting any identity in “public”, because that grouping is made up of many individuals, thereby reducing everything of value to the rights of the individual. And that includes all property, community or otherwise. The recent allocating to Packer’s group of public land for his Barangaroo casino complex, demonstrates this. Public land becomes “private property” and we are locked out of more free-space.
Richard Epstien wrote a set piece for the rights of private property; “Takings : Private property and the power of the eminent domain”, where he claimed the “owner” of private property was entitled to compensation for the “takings of lands”. But this claim seems only to be the right of those individuals who by one measure or another claimed ownership of that land..hence no recognising of compensation for indigenous peoples, but much compensation for the “fortuitous purchase” of land that could be essential for transport corridors of mining operations … (anyone we know?). And one could note that the exchange rate in value of land from the individual to the government is in marked contrast to that sale price that the government gets when certain land/utilities are transferred to private ownership.
Yes, it is the essential ingredient of right-wing policy to reduce community constructs of a feeling of belonging … of an identity with a location we can call “Home” … and the relentless displacement through transitory employment, high rental, low socio economic assistance of large swathes of the population, always on the move, seeking low-cost housing, a modicum of permanent employment … if just for a couple of years to save for a deposit on ridiculously expensive houses..that will for a long time stop many children from being able to point to a name on the map and say..as I can and many of you can. ”There! That’s where I grew up … and that’s where Willie Wilson had some ferrets …”
A SCOTTISH SOLDIER
There was a soldier, a Scottish soldier
Who wandered far away and soldiered far away
There was none bolder with good broad shoulder
He fought many affray, and fought and won
He’d seen the glory, he’d told the story
Of battles glorious and deeds victorious
But now he’s sighing, his heart is crying
To leave those green hills of Tyrol
(Chorus) Because those green hills are not highland hills
Or the island hills, they’re not my land’s hills
And fair as these green foreign hills may be
They are not the hills of home …