The Gypsies and the Olympic Stadium project: Is maintaining or reclaiming the Commons anti-Developmental?



The London ultra-modern Olympic Stadium has been built as a developmental stride aimed at projecting the image of the UK both during and after the Olympic games. The intended positive externalisation of the UK’s national image has not gone without criticisms.  People have argued that this was against the backdrop of abusing peoples’ rights (by displacing/dislocating the gypsies) while others have maintained that the UK has to keep up with the ‘developments’ taking place elsewhere in the modern world.

Let me comment first on the pro-development theorists. Beijing made it, yes she did! We are living in a world of image projection of the country, not the people. Yes, a gigantic stadium of this magnitude is the third in the UK after Wembley and Twickenham and therefore an electrifying spectacle for the visiting world. Development, as understood by most of the (capitalist) ‘developed world’, is about things and not people. So the pro-development theorists would believe that London, being one of the modern cities of the world, should display infrastructural might and architectural advancement. If ‘communist third world’ China could do it in 2008, why not ‘democratic Great Britain’? After all, development is all about economic and infrastructural growth and that would eventually (as the capitalists believe) trickle down to the masses.

These pro-development theorists suggest that if the gypsies were permitted to stay on the site it would seem a campaign against development. The stadium is for the whole of London, and may be, the UK and not just the gypsies. After all, these are ‘illegal occupants’ and should be evicted (and go back to Ireland where most of them are believed to come from) to allow development for the legal residents of the country to take its course. Gypsies are meant to be travellers and travellers should always be on the move not permanently resident in one locality for eternity. Their once unsightly shacks have now become a sparklingly flamboyant spectacle of ultra-modernism, hence, face-lifting good old London which the gypsies themselves would want to see. Their refusal to vacate the site could therefore be seen as anti-developmentalism as the Olympic Games would help exhibit English products.


Who owns the land? Is the earth for sale? Who or what the stadium is built for? Human beings or some reified concept called capitalism or ‘show-off-ism’? Does the UK have something to prove to the Chinese? May be to prove that what communists can do, democrats, sorry, monarchs can do better.

The Pro-Commons argue that the land is for the people—human beings, and not for property. The twisted economic meaning capitalists always associate with development could not be disconnected from the act. Coming to think of it, does one have to interfere with human rights just to satisfy one’s capitalist tendencies? The overarching insatiability of the capitalists’ wants would always rear its ugly head to swallow the basic needs of the non-capitalists. The gypsies were basically clamouring for a piece of land where they could at least shelter together with their women and children. They did not ask for any factory-manufactured commodity—all they asked for was what they thought, and rightly so, had been given to mankind by nature (or God): a piece of land. They are somewhat reclaiming what had been ‘confiscated’ from them (humanity) by a few (capitalists) through enclosures.

Development should be meant to be people-focused and therefore any developmental plan that ignores this basic 21st century development principle should bury itself in the out-fashioned capitalist abyss. All the authorities now care about is national image projection and ignoring the fact that human rights may be compromised in the process. Gypsies though they are called, many of them would have taken the UK as their ‘home’ and displacing/relocating them to an entirely different habitat carries many problems including adaptability issues and additional costs. Moving them from their habitats could have cost livelihoods as petty businesses and valuable social connections could have broken down.

Of all the development in the ‘developed’ world where is the happiness indicator? The slavish surrendering of one’s humanity and totality to materiality could only have one fate—unhappiness! Poverty is the least enviable of states and with all the horror stories, there can be happiness in it.

Because 21st century development is more well-being or people centred, any ‘development project that ignores this basic principle would then be seen as anti-developmental and pro-material.


One Response to “The Gypsies and the Olympic Stadium project: Is maintaining or reclaiming the Commons anti-Developmental?”

  1. ngoziokei Says:

    Project Development should involve the image world projection of any country and the image/values/believes of that same community that resides in that country. Development should also involve things, along with the people togethe,r in participating for any infrastructural advancement. The Gypsies are meant to be travellers, therefore they should not settle premanently in one locality for eternity. No one has the right to interfere with human rights, just to satisfy one’s capitalist tendencies. Think about it, the land is a natural gift from God to every human being, but international or local law must govern any person or individuals who resides in a place, for peace, respect and love to manefest in any locality. There is always a rule of law, laid down to govern certain people living in a place.

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