One in Love

One of my photographer friends came up to see what was happening while I was taking pictures of the ‘Reclaim Love‘ party at Piccadilly Circus on Saturday and talked to me briefly before turning around and making for Oxford Street, where he was going to photograph what he called “the real world.

In so far as the world has gone mad, of course he was right. Spending money we don’t have on goods we don’t need is what keeps our economy expanding, generating ever-increasing consumption to fuel global warming. Cheap clothes and consumer goods have proved far more effective than bread and circuses, and the new religion of the masses is a far more potent opiate than Marx’s old foe.

Of course it can’t continue for ever. Exponentially increasing consumption is not in the longer term compatible with a finite planet. As someone who has been talking about such things for 40 years – and in some ways as least living as if it mattered (though I have a fairly comfortable hair shirt) I find it heartening that a few more people now realise this too, although it may be too late to save civilisation – and certainly if it has a future it is not as we know it.

But the good news is that it might be rather better. It could be much more centred around people (though very possibly less of them) and less on profit. Events like ‘Reclaim Love’ are perhaps a small foretaste of one possible future.

(C) 2008, Peter Marshall

Of course as well as things like this, we also need the kind of more obviously political actions – such as those I’ve photographed in London that were the subject of my show for FotoArte in Brasilia. And the kind of practical things that were also included in the example of the Manor Gardens allotments, another place were people mattered.

But there is also bad news. Although those of us in the wealthier countries cause most of the problem, our wealth also insulates us to some extent from the consequences, as too does our geography. Sea level rise and the perturbation of climate through global warming will cause more frequent and harsher catastrophes, in particular the flooding of low lying countries without the protection of expensive sea defences.

On a much more local scale, the Manor Gardens allotment holders are now sadly having great problems with their temporary accommodation on the Leyton Lammas Lands. The soil was taken there from the highly contaminated Olympic site, has been treated – which may have removed contamination, but has also removed the living elements, including worms which are vital to a healthy structure. It also appears to have been put on top of a barrier which prevents proper drainage and is currently waterlogged.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.