I really went to look at ships. And took a copy of James Bird’s ‘The Geography of the Port of London’ with me. It’s an interesting book, particularly as it was published in 1957. I can’t remember where it was bought. But it’s lovely, it was once part of Norwich library until it was sold, and it has all the library stamps (including many from 1969, 1970 and 1971 which were years of immense class struggles in the docks). There is a great deal in the book about costs. This we will need to return to.
Housing was there on the periphery of my vision, and churches, and electrical power supply networks. It’s a little like visiting an art gallery. One can only absorb so much and if the visit is for paintings by Albrecht Dürer it can be difficult to suddenly switch to the paintings of Renoir. And this was only a first visit.
Housing near Northfleet station with mobile phone mast. I wonder whether the residents were ‘consulted’.
Earlier forms of capital accumulation
The expansion of capital is characterised by concentration and centralisation
Housing at odd angles to itself. Do all these apartments get sunlight? Wedged between petrol station and car sales showroom.
Individual units of capital previously often had their own power supplies. Hence boilers, boilermakers and boilermaker unions.
Dock work has changed from labour intensive to capital intensive. Containers are filled by hand labour. But the cranes have replaced masses of dock labour. And the power of dockers’ unions has been broken in most of the ports of the UK. A great mass of production and distribution in the Thames industrial area is carried out by non-unionised workers.
The old Northfleet Dock. The wall was built as part of the Thames flood defences in the 1990s. Climate change is creating rising sea levels and stronger winds and storms. This is putting increasing pressure on the existing sea defences.
An industrial landscape which expresses the power of capital. This needs a socialist response – but how?
The problem for the capitalists is that they need the workers. What the workers lack is organization. And coherent, unifying ideas. The idea that ‘we created it, let’s take it over’. For example. It needs a response which is highly philosophical, sharply political and with utopian imagination.
More land for redevelopment. There is plenty of land. The problem is not a shortage of land but of how land is used, who owns it, in whose interests it is used and whether it is a public utility or a source of profit.
This looks like reasonable modern housing. But too often this type of housing is denigrated by right wing voices, property speculators and developers. Better to live here with protected, cheap rents than be at the mercy of the private sector. The football pitch is a positive statement of what a community can be.
There’s a small play park here. Most of the land is about to be ‘redeveloped’. I would suggest that kids playing here, with that view, have a great deal of stimulation to the imagination. That’s going to be lost. Or rather, it’s going to be taken away from them.
Casual workers living in temporary accommodation. It stretches up the road.
I saw the Union Flag first and wondered what it might be. Identity is never just one thing.
Local kids have created a mosaic on the wall.
Half a mile away from major port infrastructure the Conservative government have created an Inland Border Facility.
Beautiful Riverside Homes. But what’s the quality like? What are the surcharges? How much do they cost? And what about the kid’s play park?
There was plenty to think about while waiting for the train.