The New Colonies

It’s just the same old show on my radio so I decided to try another flavour and today it’s been talking to me (or at me) about gated communities. We have one that’s sprung up a few blocks away.

They strike me as an oddly divisive status Gated communitystatement that points to the potential for greater social apartheid than we currently experience and an attempt to lock out the big bad world whilst advertising the fact that the residents there-in think themselves worthy of and able to afford a certain exclusivity and advertising their potential wealth perhaps to the very undesirable elements they wish to avoid.

Some UK councils are trying to stop these communities from being physically gated whilst one man has written in via email that he regularly goes round and locks his local gated community in with a sturdy lock of his own choosing as a way of making a statement against the growth of what are sometimes referred to over in America as new ‘colonies’.

Photo by Dean Terry under this restricted creative commons license

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3 thoughts on “The New Colonies

  1. I first came across this concept some years ago when on holiday in Cornwall. There were, as far as I could see, two ways to go from where I was staying to the beach, a rough road and a nice broad easy one. Guess which one I took.

    One day I was shouted at by a woman who lived there. “This is private property,” she declaimed. “Keep out!”

    I am not sure what I think about such apartheid. On the one hand, just because there are several dwellings rather than one on a piece of land, does that make it wrong to close it to “trespassers”? Presumably not. Does this indicate a worrying trend of social division? Probably but, then again, the wealthy have always tended to separate themselves from us, the great unwashed.

    In London, if you are rich enough, you can live in an apartment whose entrance is guarded night and day by a security guard. These too are “gated communities” but vertical, rather than horizontal.

    In theory, I think it is better that people mix rather than draw themselves apart. That promotes understanding and lessens fear. On the other hand, there are people I would rather not mix with so maybe we should just accept that society will form itself into layers whether we will or no.

  2. The residents of one gated community that spoke on the radio wanted to remove themselves from paying council tax but the homes use public services (sewerage, refuse, street cleaning, lighting etc) and local authorities are trying not to give the green light to sealed off estates under their jurisdiction. It seems like the thin end of the wedge to opt out of an idea of a common ‘society’ but things seem to be going that way anyway. I don’t have a problem with wanting to live in a secure area but once you start sealing yourself off from the world in a cold war Berlin kind of way and wanting to opt out of local taxes then it seems you’re just abandoning the idea of a common society or even the idea of society (Maggie T was right after all).

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