…but it appears you can be too thin. Giles Fraser in the ‘Guardian’:
The old Labour party HQ used to be in my parish, on the Walworth Road, just by Elephant and Castle in London. In 1997, Tony Blair moved the centre of operations into a swanky glass tower on Millbank. And from then on Labour began to lose touch with the communities it was set up to serve.
It’s hardly Blair’s worst mistake, but it may be the one that’s the most lasting…
A thick community is one with a high degree of social solidarity and a low degree of diversity. This is the sort of community where people are similar in language and culture, and where, as a consequence, there is a high degree of trust among people. It’s a relatively stable place – not a lot of coming and going. You grow up where your parents grew up. You die near where you were born. People leave their back doors open and know their neighbours’ business. The best thing about a thick society is that people look after each other and have a high degree of civic pride. The worst is that it’s often not good at dealing with difference, or with outsiders.
A thin community is one with a high degree of diversity and a low degree of social solidarity. In this community (which often isn’t really much of a community at all) you can be as different as you like. Nobody cares. People come and go all the time – “citizens of the world but citizens of nowhere”, to paraphrase Theresa May. You don’t always have much in common with people living next door, and often you don’t even know their names. You shop online. Loneliness can be a problem. But diversity is celebrated.
Is there a German word for preferring the destruction of your culture so you can sit in the ruins and say ‘But at least I was diverse!’..? If not, there ought to be…
Since the 1960s we have been getting thinner and thinner. Much of that is to be celebrated. The old inward-looking Little Englander mentality, with its bad food and curtain-twitching moralism, has been transformed by the energy of diversity and difference, by immigration. Nowhere has benefited more from this than south London. I must have one of the most multicultural congregations in Britain, and I love it.
Of course you do.
Brexit and the new mood in politics is misunderstood as a hostility to outsiders, though it is easily purloined by racists. Rather, it is a cry for community, for togetherness, for the local, for mutuality, for social solidarity. Theresa May, the vicar’s daughter, wants to find all this in a return to the past. That’s the wrong answer.
Do you have the right one, then, Giles? Because I can’t see where you let us in on it in this article…