See no unaffordable homes, hear no profits, speak greenwash
Our ‘Cornish’ Independents’ unwillingness to confront powerful interests and indeed their unseemly haste to ingratiate themselves with those who own and control our destiny, is an unfortunate symptom of our own dilemma. Hicks and Kazcmarek are merely the representatives we fully deserve, actually more representative of Cornish communities than I’ve previously implied.
They spring from an ethnic group that exhibits the classic symptoms of inferiority. The Cornish are not so much disadvantaged as disparaged and dissolved within the political and social life of England. Our very existence is repudiated or if reluctantly recognised given a humiliating and patronising status as a peripheral margin of a once great nation.
We are allowed to be a bit ‘different’. But not on our terms, only on other folk’s. It's fine to be harmless Jethro figures who can poke a finger of fun at ourselves, the domestic ‘exotic’ that poses no threat. We’re permitted to appear as characters in a leisure zone consumed as a paradise by some but producing a psychic hell for the rest of us.
We’ve all been there. A lifetime of patronising and casual insults affects us as surely as the dripping tap eventually wears away stone. The result? We lower our expectations. We despair and give up, hide our ethnic affiliations. We frantically conform in a desperate need to be accepted. We seek the condescending approval of the colonialists and their local lackeys in a home-grown ruling class who pretend to make decisions on our behalf. In order to do this we adopt their values and internalise their contempt.
Because what’s the alternative? The option is always there to get up off our knees, and restore our pride by rejecting the colonialists’ assumptions and exposing their exploitation of our land. We could confront those who get rich at our expense, who belittle our history, who consign us to irrelevance. But Bodmin is no Bahrein, St Agnes no Syria. That road involves a long and arduous struggle. And probable defeat as we battle on a playing field that is most definitely far from level.
Much easier to adopt their assumptions. If the regeneration class in Cornwall views the Cornish as inferior and pathological then so do we. Locals are a problem, as we’ve seen so starkly at the Heartlands project in Camborne-Redruth. Or in reactions to the well-founded suspicions about the so-called Truro Eastern District Centre (of what?) Or in the plans for massive but greenwashed settlements around St Austell.
They’re backward, holding outmoded ‘traditional’ views. They’re a stubborn barrier that holds up ‘progress’. Never mind that ‘progress’ is narrowly and unimaginatively defined as the capacity of those with money to make even more of it. The project class and their dupes among local politicians can’t allow themselves the luxury of listening – really listening or actually consulting – real people who live in real places about what they really want.
Instead, they employ a battery of PR devices to befuddle and mystify. They gull the gullible with airy and meaningless promises about the utopia that is always, tantalisingly, just around the corner but never seems to arrive. Just a few more supermarkets. Several thousand extra houses. The odd new road here or there. And then the ringing in your heads will stop. Trust us. Meanwhile, people and places have to be ‘shaped’, for which read obliterated, people’s roots torn up and tossed in the skip alongside their places - no longer fit for purpose.
Such offhand treatment – and a letter in the West Brit only this week illustrates how the project class contemptuously ignore local mining experts in favour of their own myths – serves to reinforce a sense of victimhood and worthlessness. We might resent this but we don't dare challenge it. It’s far easier to toady up to them, to become a ferocious defender of ‘change’ at all costs, an eager lap dog for the exploiters.
Receiving the occasional pat on the head from the great and the good and the likes of the Duke of Cornwall makes it all worthwhile somehow. Repress the lingering doubts, dull whatever critical faculties your brains once possessed. Let’s be more pro-‘development’ than the ‘developers’, more English than the English.
Kaczmarek and Hicks therefore shouldn't be despised for being turncoats with no principles. On the contrary; they need our pity and our help. For the truth is that they’re only all of us writ horribly large and given access to the sounding board of a dumbed-down media. They’re only trying to transcend their own sense of powerlessness (and where better to realise this than on Cornwall Council's Cabinet).
The answer for them (and us) is simple. We need to show our sympathy for their terrible plight by relieving them of their responsibilities immediately. This would allow them to undergo a period of monastic reflection and re-education where they might consider the damage they’re causing both to themselves and to other people.
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