But it leaves questions of belonging adrift. Does that matter? There\’s a middle-class mindset that stoutly proclaims a cosmopolitanism that \”we\’re all citizens of the world\”. We\’ve all been dazzled by an era of cheap, easy travel and it\’s made us greedy to see more and more places. We want novelty, not familiarity in a place; travel writing – with its self-aggrandising tales of adventure and discovery – has boomed. There\’s been a widespread assumption that in an age of mass tourism and mass migration, a sense of belonging is a concept which has passed its sell-by date.
But I think that is beginning to change, and different political and cultural agendas are feeding into a re-focusing on the geography of our lives. You can see it in every part of the political spectrum: both John Denham and David Cameron talk of localism as crucial to renewing political engagement. And these politicians are drawing on the work of many in local government who have been thinking and working on a \”sense of place\” to generate commitment, loyalty and neighbourliness.
The peasants are so much easier to control if they\’d just stay in one place, aren\’t they?
Why, under feudal law we even had the idea that if you could get out of your village, where you owed fealty (and a shitload of free labour) to the local Lord, made it to a town and then stayed there for a whole year, you were then free of your duties to your Lord.
Can\’t have that happening now, can we, people being able to throw off the shackles of \”community\” and be free.