We Ought to Live in a Society, not an Economy by BaldKnobber123 More Pasta
It’s important to state though, particularly since our current economic structure has pushed that “there is no such thing as society”.
That might sound insane, but it is not hyperbolic. In 1987, Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the UK, said that “There is no such thing as society. There is [a] living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”
It was supposed to be on the people: they look to themselves, they help their family and their neighbor. Aid is individualized, then can be reciprocated. But, at the same time as “individuals” were supposed to be stepping up, Thatcher’s policies were stepping on them, especially the most vulnerable. This all making it harder to even look to oneself. Is it on the child to look to oneself? The child whose development was stunted by environmental pollution exacerbated by a history of systemic factors?
That has become one of Thatcher’s most famous quotes, this rejection of society in favor of individualism, a backbone of ideology that drove her move towards deregulating the British economy, towards privatizing the British services, towards turning the commons to the few, towards “tough to swallow” austerity measures. Meanwhile, today, Republicans meet with Biden to “compromise” by proposing relief 1/3 the size of the Democrats proposal (which is arguably lower than needed as is). The ever fading in, fading out, debt concerns rising again. Austerity does not work, but it is slow to die. An idea slow to die, but fast to kill.
Is it any surprise then that Thatcher turned on unions as well? They are not individuals, they are society, they are collectives. That she would work to disband the unions in the name of “economic growth”. A “growth” that she handed to the individuals - no not those individuals that needs it, but those at the top. Inequality took off in the 1980s under Thatcher, much like it did in the US under her buddy Ronald Reagan. No surprise. They both used economic theory crafted by the same bundle of Neoliberal economists: Friedman, Stigler, Hayek, Buchanan, etc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_the_Universe_(book)
A week after Thatcher won, Milton Friedman sent a letter to her saying “The battle has now begun. We must win.” Friedman would be an adviser to both Thatcher and Reagan, pushing his economic view of “freeing the individual”. Out of the tax cuts, the deregulation, the privatization, there was to arise the “free” market. A market that was never free up to that point, and has not been free since. Just transformed. What “individual” was freed?
Since then, there has only been a growth in the Precariat - a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which means existing without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare.
The promise didn’t deliver, except to those that knew they would be made richer. They all knew the rich would get richer. That’s why the basis was “trickle down”. Sure they would get rich, but it would eventually come down. It didn’t. Even in Thatcher’s own terms of “saving the economy”, it did not deliver..
Now, we are dealing with the fallout of that, the precarity of a society that denies itself. The failings of which, whether in Brexit or in Trump, were made material.