The tower block has been seen (probably correctly) as one of the worst excesses of the post-war socialist era, initially sold as a wonderful thing, getting people out of the slums and tenements, destroying and seperating the organic communities of those places and becoming the new slums of the 20th and 21st centuries. These things are true, although new communities can (and have) grown up in those places.
I choose to live in a tower block. It was the easiest route out of my mother’s house (not that my mother’s was an uncomfortable place to live; quite the contrary, and I am forever thankful to the short-lived girlfriend that dragged me here as I would have stagnated otherwise) and I have chosen here to remain. This place has been my home since the time I counted myself as an idealistic young communist, and remains my home as an rather-less idealistic libertarian pragmatist. I could, by now, have got myself a mortgage or a rented house, and indeed have struggled with my wife to prevent this happening. I could see the current housing market crash coming, once I was awake to what was going on, saw the trap that was set for the aspirational and chose to remain in social housing. This I cannot apologise for. Although I disagree with the social housing model in principle I have to put myself first and at the moment I believe I inhabit the best of all posible worlds. My landlord is a large, faceless corporation, unlikely to default on it’s mortgage as a buy-to-let landlord would, possibly putting myself and my wife out in the street. I myself do not own the property and do not owe money secured on it, also to not have us put out on the street. One thing has given me pause: the coming Endarkenment. I had (and have) the choice: A plot of land, able to support (if it comes to it) myself and my family, or this place. This place has many advantages, as well as disadvantages. As my recent experiments have shown, there is no way I will ever be able to grow enough food here to live on and although this is a major disadvantage it is also an advantage. A large country house with acres of land, as well as being beyond my means is a would-be magnet to bands of people searching for food, as well as being isolated enough to allow anything to happen should the worst come to the worst. Here, the place is easily defended. There are only two entrances at the bottom of the tower (this is the equivalent of the gated communities of the rich) and beyond them there is only one stairwell, much easier to defend. My flat itself has only one entrnce, the balcony being too high to climb up to and no matter how many mad-max style villains there are, they can only come in one at a time. There is also the thriving community here. While these flats at the time of their construction were part of the dissoloution of communities, they have now been built long enough and have people that have lived here long enough to have formed a community of their own. There is a residents association that organises events, petitions the landlord and the local council for improvements and resolves disputes between tenants before anyone official needs to get involved. This is A Good Thing and is quite different I am sure from the aims of the original rabbit-hutch builders.
I do not really consider a total endarkenment happening within my lifetime, barring nuclear war or similar catastrophy, but I believe a partial endarkenment is not only possible but likely, state actors securing government installations etc, police actions, and a gradual breakdown of society a la A Scanner Darkly. The UK’s electricity generation facilities are getting older, and a government obsessed with Global Warming (or whatever they have rebranded it to this week) puts off any replacements that can cope with demand, preferring instead to build low-yielding windmills out in the sea. The power may not go off, but it is likely to be rationed. The financial crisis is getting worse by the day, and is being made worse by borrowing (isn’t that what caused it in the first place?) to get out of it. There may well be a crash, and like 1929 all that is needed is one event to set it off. Nobody can predict when or if this will happen. Communities like this are likely to become important, sharing the burden of finding work and providing food (division of labour at its most basic and vital level).
They say an Englishman’s home is his castle, and in our case it may well be true.