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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Being with like minds is not an escape

Last year my article ‘A city that we shall never find’? The search for a community of fellow progressive spirits in the UK between the wars was published in Family and Community History (and it's open access...). In that article I was considering some UK organisations from the 1930s in which progressive spirits of the day got together. Their influence upon matters of politics and governance has largely been considered at best negligible.

What I argue in that piece is that perhaps these organisations, with their meetings and lectures and social events and country rambles and summer schools, provided a place where individuals who were fighting the good fight on a range of fronts against considerable odds could get together with a community of other people who had similar thoughts and feelings, and that this itself was not a negligible thing.

If I was writing this today I might be more emphatic about the virtues of not feeling oneself alone and not being the only person who could envisage things being different and be both critical and creative about alternative solutions. Who could think of different stories.

I've seen a fair amount, over the last months, about people being in 'bubbles' that give them an entirely false sense of the generality of the world.

Surely the thing about bubbles is that they are transparent and that you can see what's outside them?

I don't think anyone in any of the bubbles I might be in myself is unaware of what's going on outside. those bubbles, But there's such a thing as putting oneself in unnecessary pain and distress to a counter-productive degree. Comfort is not bad. Looking at pictures of cute animals can be a restorative reminder that there are small pleasures in the world. Communicating with like minds or just knowing that they are there is a source of strength.