Heathrow expansion as an enclosure of commons in guise


Not every normative outline of development realistically reflects on the growth and the sustainability of the common person on the street. The British government’s intent to expand Heathrow could be seen as an enclosure of the commons/common ground, which deprives the commoners of their right of privacy and their ability to frequent the commons. The government, at this stage, looks at developments from the perspective of trade which is calculated by the GDP per capita without considering the interest and the wellbeing of the commoners. The government wants to maintain London’s leadership and reputation in the international business arena (international financial centre) with the notion that the present airport capacity is inadequate to meet the travel demands for a city like London with its reputation of being a global market powerhouse.
The government has marshalled enough evidence to substantiate why the expansion is important; for example, it is said that the city will lose income if the capacity of the airport remains unchanged because many businesses will decide to move elsewhere to avoid travel congestion. This will have a negative bearing on the UK economy. It will also create extra jobs to reduce London’s unemployment. Therefore, the government sees the prospects for expansion as economically outweighing its demerits.
The drafters of the expansion did not consider the commoners’ concerns and wellbeing which include air pollution and the excessive noise which will result from aircraft taking off and landing regularly during daytime about which the residents have serious concerns, especially regarding their comfort. On this note the government has defended its move on the grounds that technology will be used to solve the commoners’ problem (air pollution and the disproportionate noise). However, this pollution and noise problem have been with the residents of southwest London for some time now who ask that, if there are ways of using technology to deal with it, then why has the government not done so; is this a way to persuade the residents to stop the rebellion and in consequence nothing will be done about it? Or, perhaps, the government has just developed technological solutions for the problem.
A whole community has to give way for the expansion which it is estimated will result in the decanting of seven hundred residents from their comfortable residential zone. Not only will this have an effect on the residents of the locality, the excessive air traffic will culminate in increased CO2 emission.
The Heathrow expansion move resonates of the enclosure of the commons in the Sixteenth Century where the common property (arable land) was enclosed by the landowners (owners of the means of production) as a result of the high demand for wool which persuaded the aristocrats to opt for the rearing of sheep rather than growing crops http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUDagriculture.htm
Civil society organisations demonstrated at Heathrow in August 2007 to show their disapproval of the expansion because they saw it as a threat to their health and disregarded empirical evidence showing that the current state of the airport would not encourage business relocation. Some European countries had already expanded their airports yet companies did not move from London to those place. Alternatively, it could be argued that China and India do not have big airports like America and Britain yet most of the British and American company call centres have been outsourced to those countries. If the government is looking at the expansion from the perspective of maintaining business in the city then it must see as illusory that the main concern of outsourcing businesses is focused on the excessive tax on businesses and some difficult corporate laws which impede the convenience of business owners making profits not the expansions of Heathrow.
To this extent, it could be argued that the expansion is underpinned by the capitalist motive where the ruling class will do anything to impose their will on the working class who have little influence. Therefore, the options available for the commoners are to continue with their commoning (resist) or device a strategy to discourage the government (bourgeoisie) by distractive measures (rebellion) or else, if the commoners relocate to a more conducive environment, a time will come when the ruling class will attempt to encroach on their new found environment. To this particular government, the notion that people come first in social and economic terms seems to be a redundant truism. Development is measured in terms of the growth of GDP per capita income, not on the quality of life and the wellbeing of the citizens. There is no justification regarding the government interest in the development of its people. Even with economic growth as development, it is obvious that few people will accrue the corresponding surplus value. If such enclosure of the commons is allowed to go ahead in this century, then our children and grandchildren will live to encounter this unabated encroachment and enclosure of the commons. Whilst the Sixteenth Century rebellion of the commoners resulted in the death of some 3000 peasants, this time there have been no deaths but there were several casualties and injuries. The commoners must unify and stand up against the capitalist oppression.


2 Responses to “Heathrow expansion as an enclosure of commons in guise”

  1. ngoziokei Says:

    For any development to take place, the government should always involve the participation of the commons, commons values, commons wellbeing, sustainability of commons livelihood, by seeing to it that any project prospect should be carried together, which yields expansion and increasement in economic growth should not outweigh its demerits. Development should be measured not only by growth of GDP per capita income also by quality of life, social responsible wellbeing of the commons and the sustainability of the commons pool resources.

  2. annesternchen Says:

    The expansion of Heathrow surely is an interesting and relevant topic. Thank you for pointing it out, Theo.

    This matter also caught my attention. I was pretty shocked when I studied one of the countless advertisements which currently can be seen throughout the London Underground promoting the airport’s, and with it Britain’s, economic growth. The world is divided into customers and opportunities according to this ad which shows a world map from the perspective of the expansion proponents (http://www.heathrowairport.com/). I am somehow reminded of the time of colonisation… Of course, using exaggerations is effective in advertising. Nevertheless, capitalistic intentions can hardly be displayed better.

    The debate about Heathrow‘s development is nothing new. For instance, when the fifth terminal was opened and the third runway already planned, an almost identical discourse existed (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=14964). With the slogan “Future Heathrow. Supporting sustainable growth”, in my opinion including an antithesis in itself, the expansion was promoted (http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://cached.imagescaler.hbpl.co.uk/resize/scaleToFit/427/285/%3FsURL%3Dhttp://offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk/news/OKM/55BA1D3A-DA15-D19B-32E99417199CA0CC.JPG&imgrefurl=http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/news/929453/ASA-rules-pro-Heathrow-ad-misleading/&usg=__CujDLWdPfC-42r6k_AudVIBXsQY=&h=212&w=325&sz=15&hl=en&start=5&zoom=1&tbnid=bqRCDDQSL7I2CM:&tbnh=77&tbnw=118&ei=V2KxTt0byYHyA9iDzPUP&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dheathrow%2Bexpansion%2Badvertisement%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1).

    Back in 2008, critical voices which mentioned consequences like noise, pollution and climate change were more or less ignored (http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/climate/stop-heathrow-expansion-rallies-flash-mobs-20080222). Whether the commons have to accept even more enclosures depends on the government and if it rethinks its decision of last year, when the plans for a third runway were cancelled.

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