When I was younger I identified with Marxism in it’s purest sense. A explanation of society in terms of those that owned the means of production, and those that did not, fuelled by a pursuit of profit. Was this a good way to run a society? I wondered. What about the sick, the unemployed, the poor? Why should those that “own” something be the only people to reap the rewards? Was capitalism the only way forward?
Obviously different models had been tried. The centrally controlled economies in Chinese and the Soviet backed countries were still strong, and seemed more egalitarian. At least, as long as you agreed with the political doctrine. Societies could be controlled within borders through news media and the police. Stay true to the Marxist ideals and you can be as happy (or perhaps as miserable) as anyone else.
Thatcher (and Reagan) said “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families“, and so we became a nation of shareholders in British Gas, British Telecom and other British Institutions. We put up boundaries between us and our neighbours. They were not us, therefore we did not need to care for them.
It’s a far cry from when National Insurance was devised after WWII. From the founding days of the NHS and the “world fit for heros”.
I’ve spent my entire life thinking differently from those around me. For those that espouse “Free Markets”, I see the destruction of towns and cities because coal is cheaper from Taiwan, and there is no consideration of the effects of unemployment and poor health. For those that decide that we need a “War on Terror” I see the underlying “War for resources” that America is really waging to keep the country’s gas-tanks full of Iraqi oil.
And so we come to Brexit. It’s not about whether we should be “in” or “out” anymore. It’s not about “the will of the people” or “honouring the result of the referendum“. I ask myself “what sort of society do I want now?” Is it one where we collaborate, we seek solutions, we agree to disagree, or is it one where no MP is safe from being assaulted at their place of work, or no person is safe from being labelled a “snowflake” or a “remoaner” by a narcissistic pseudo-journalist on breakfast television.
British society cannot be controlled within borders anymore. Nor by news media. We’re free to believe what we want, but all we hear is soundbytes of anger, snippets of rhetoric and the carefully crafted marketing terms of shadowy political spin-doctors. Imported new-speak from people who want to “break” the existing structure, before imposing a terrifying new one.
When I was a 16 year old writing essays for my O-Level exams I was encouraged to “compare and contrast” viewpoints. I had to assess arguments for “coherence and consistency”. Later I learned to assess “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunites and Threats”. A failure to recognise and understand an alternative point of view was marked down.
We don’t do that anymore in our society. We should.