2 2080

The News

All the news, all the time.

12 January 2080

Press release

Trust is stronger than blood: An interview with Babylondon mayor Lena Lenin

Lena Lenin talks Marie Antoinette, the myth of the nuclear family and the power of exotic stimulants.

By Sophia Al-Maria

When Lena Lenin was in Year 5 at primary school in what was then Elephant and Castle, south London, a New Eden officer gave a talk to their class. She told the students that they had the potential to do great things in spite of the planetary hardship their generation would endure. They only had to work hard and dream big. Thirty years later and Lenin has done both of those things. The New Eden project that originated with her team when she was a young councillor in the borough that would become “the bubble” we see thriving today as it welcomes migrants and others displaced by climate disasters. And while the dome is being built to rival all previous civil-engineering projects in the world, Lena Lenin is still dreaming of what might be possible for the people of this old town and also what could be possible for those who decide to ignore government guidance and stay outside the biospheres being built around the globe today.

Born in a council estate, Lena Lenin was raised by a queer co-op that shared a floor inside the Skyton Terrace Estate, a sprawling warren of public housing completed in the 1970s at the height of what would later be known as the 20th century’s greatest folly: relying on middle-aged white men to predict and build the future. These “chambers of despair”, as Skyton was once described by a former MP from the area, are what prodded Lenin to seek change, heading up solar panelling for the council at an early age and pushing through legislation to allow her friends and neighbours (all of whom she counts as family) more agency and autonomy from the city government and the metro police, both of whom seemed both historically and in the early half of the century to actively want the inhabitants not only disenfranchised but in many cases dead.

But how things have changed. Now in the year 2080, Lenin is the mayor of a world-building project the likes of which few civilizations have ever known. And hers is a vision of universal basic income, of radically non-judgemental policies regarding everything from gender and sexuality and sexual health to drug use as well as spirituality, and all of this is funded by the new release of petro-dollars from the UK’s allies in Nigeria and Colombia and the Gulf Oil states.

We sat to have a chat with Lenin over her favourite new designer drug, a Guatemalan bird-picked snuff Membre power, and strawberry macaroons from one of the few antique heritage suppliers that will be continuing to work within the new Babylondon economic bubble zone (BEBZ): La Duree.

You’ve been keen to include certain “heritage” companies in the transition period. These macaroons are delicious, but why French pastry when it has been such a symbol for your detractors who say you have a latter-day Marie Antoinette attitude in spite of your humble beginnings?

“Let they/them eat cake” was an early jab my enemies liked to throw at me. And so I decided I wanted to just own it. The ideals of the French Revolution haven’t died in the 21st century. We believe in many of the Jacobin ideals for “the people”; we could just do without the terror. The brutality and ugliness and puritanism of its methods have left their warning. I want there to be joy and beauty in the future. I believe there will be both. And sometimes it’s the little things. Like a small sweet pastry that makes a big difference in morale. So yes, I thought it would be good to have a bit of old-world refinement alongside the new-world tech and sweeping legal and social changes we are implementing. No police and everyone gets a couture stipend and as much free time as they like to pursue their interests and joys as long as it doesn’t impinge or infringe on anyone else’s. With that in mind, we chose a few special products and companies to represent the old world. Think of BEBZ on closure in 30 years’ time as having been a sort of curated corporate ark if you will. We’re keeping Burberry but getting rid of Bentley, for example. No need for us to be driving long distance inside the BEBZ and let’s use those petrochemicals for other purposes like keeping our servers chilled. Amiright?

You grew up in a co-op. Many people mourn the loss of nuclear families. Do you think your background means you have less empathy for those who miss the old blood way of kin-making?

For me trust is stronger than blood. Any day. If I don’t trust you, I won’t turn to you in a crisis. If we share the same bloodfather, there is no reason I should turn to you for help. The kin I choose and that any one of us chooses on this planet are our true love and saviours. And that rarely comes in a heteronormative package. This is why my campaigning and life’s work has been to normalize what used to be considered deviant. That includes everything from identifying as asexual to having access to assisted suicide. I run on a radically non-judgemental platform. You can do what you want as long as you don’t infringe on anyone else’s ability to do what they want. It’s simple. It’s natural. It’s really really real.

Hardline anti-BEBZ campaigners have latched onto your open and public drug use and pro-synth policies in the face of GMO scandals as a sign you are not in a fit state of mind to lead. What do you have to say in response to that?

Do you recall when we used to call them Chads? There will always be a threat that these nutjobs will resurface, but for the most part they exist in the outer limits of chat rooms and live outside the bubbles. We have anti-xenophobic failsafes in place for future dreamers who want to join us, however there will always be a bad apple in a basket of home-grown fruit and that’s why we retain one ugly element of the old world: the death penalty.

I’m sorry but some might say you’re dodging the question about drug use, Mayor Lenin.

On the contrary. If in the old days, they were comfortable being led by the sober and senile rather than the compos mentis and high, then I ask you to consider simply where that led us. We’ve got to try something new. And if de-moralizing the social order and taking the stigma out of the things traditionally and wrongly believed to be “bad” doesn’t lead to an immediate and radical change for the “good” then I don’t know what will.

That is all.