I haven’t commented before on Dale Farm because there was something nagging at the back of my mind. It finally connected when a couple of recent reports appeared.
Fortean Times (FT280, October 2011 page 20: I only have a paper copy) tells of alleged vandalisation of a historic monument. One of the Priddy Circles in Somerset has been partially bulldozed. These date to around 3000 BC and are on private land. The landowner, presumably to facilitate access to his property, levelled part of one of the circles.
The report is incensed that English Heritage have done nothing about this and the local MP, Tessa Munt, is one of those pressing for court action against the landowner.
In another report, this time in the Daily Frenzied Nutter, a woman has just succeeded in declaring her land off-limits to all and sundry. The problem is that her land includes Vixen Tor, a Dartmoor landmark, popular with ramblers. There is, naturally, Outrage that a landowner can buy land and then claim it’s their property.
In both cases, the popular view is that although the landowner has paid for the land, it’s not really theirs and everyone should have access to it whenever they feel like it without having to ask anyone for permission. On the other hand, if the landowner wants to do anything on their own property, they must have permission or they will be prosecuted.
In the case of Dale Farm, what was nagging at me was that the land belongs to the travellers. They built on part of it without first getting permission from someone else to modify their own property and now they are to be evicted from land that they own because other people don’t like the way they use it.
Yet if your land includes something other people like, then the same people who want the travellers ousted from their land also want free and unfettered access to your land whenever they feel like it.
It may well be that the travellers are doing criminal things in the area – in which case they should be prosecuted for those criminal things. I’ll bet they are not all doing criminal things so throwing them off their own land is collective punishment and that always ends badly.
Incidentally, those Dale Farm residents should use a very long spoon to sup with their ‘allies’ because those activists are not there to help. They are only there for the rumble and if there isn’t one, they’ll cause one. They will only make matters worse all round.
Throughout, the questions being asked are the wrong ones. Everyone seems of the opinion that since they can’t do what they like with their own land, nobody else should be allowed to do what they like with their own land either.
Rather than ask ‘Why should they get away with doing what they want on their own land while I have to get permission?’ try asking ‘Why do I have to get someone else’s permission to do something on land I’ve paid for?’
To insist that people can’t live on their own land and do what they like with it, while simultaneously demanding free access to, and control over, someone else’s land is doublethink. It sounds like such a small thing, doesn’t it?
It’s like the ‘legalise drugs’ groups insisting that legalisation of drugs will not lead to an increase in use because those who don’t do them now won’t take them up – while simultaneously believing that all children will immediately take up smoking if they see Popeye doing it. Doublethink.
Each instance seems so trivial, so inconsequential. Like learning to steer or to change gear. Little steps to the whole, and when it’s done you can drive a 40-ton truck at 60 miles per hour and you don’t even have to think about it.
People are being trained in doublethink without realising it. There are already advanced users of the technique out there and just like experienced drivers, it’s automatic. No need for conscious thought at each step. They don’t even realise they’re doing it.
How many of us are doublethinking now? Am I? I’m honestly not sure. When I saw the early reports of Dale Farm my instinct was to side with those throwing them out but then there was that little bit of doubt. It took this long, and those two later articles, to pin down what it was. It’s their land. I don’t like the idea of having to ask some pompous git whether I could build a concrete shed or a conservatory and having to go without if the pompous git says ‘no’. So how can I support the eviction of people, from their own land, for doing what I want the right to do with my own land?
I did, though. It was my first reaction when the story broke. It was the wrong reaction.
Doublethink training is slow and insidious and we don’t even realise we’re being trained. Once trained, we apply the training without having to think about it.
In many, the training has gone so deep that the little voice of doubt has been silenced. For the rest of us, it’s time to listen to that little voice when it says ‘Hang on a minute’.