The Big Society swindle

I have to do a lot of reading and writing these days… and far too many advanced Google searches. This is, I’m told, to feed that old oxymoron ‘business intelligence’. Mostly it’s because of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ with its focus on ‘localism’.

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Cameron’s idea is to decentralise power back to local authorities, and even further down to community groups. To do this, he’s steadily dismantling old local government structures. ‘Quangos are bad’, and many of these are going too.

I have a life-long interest in politics, though I now see it as a crude and rather primitive beast. After all, it isn’t about what’s good or reasonable – only what people believe is good or reasonable. These are two different things. The fact that people don’t know the difference, and are prepared to argue to the death about it, explains why we have such complex political structures. We are highly evolved apes, and we like to squabble over our bananas.

The Big Society apparently supports mutualism: for example, housing co-ops, community banks, workers co-operatives and the like. Cameron says it’s about smaller, less intrusive government. Sounds okay… until you look more closely.

We are in the middle of a global economic crisis, and perhaps we should ask ourselves, ‘Would these ideas be touted if things were different?’ The state will always try to save itself, even if this means sacrificing its own citizens on the altar. What’s the welfare of a few million people, compared to the wellbeing of a few bloated, corn-fed state brigands?

Statist governments want to distance themselves from responsibility, devolving this to local authorities. Then when things inevitably go wrong, because there’s no money being pumped through the economy to deliver essential services, local government can take the blame. We can take the blame too for not doing enough. And David Cameron can walk away with an oily smile and an extra quiff in his hair.

Don’t get me wrong. I love co-ops, and I love the idea of local activism. But if the ConDems are serious about it, why don’t they go the whole hog and abolish themselves too? Could it be because they have imported state controlled libertarianism from America? Or is it because they are simply power hungry?

I believe so. The Big Society is a Big Brand Name, and it really means, ‘You are free to do exactly as you are told’. We are free because our governments have granted us permission. How nice of them… Who put those bastards in charge anyway? Ah yes… it was us. It always comes back to that, doesn’t it?

The real Big Society wouldn’t have a brand name. We would indeed form co-operative groups for the good of us all, and we would be in charge of our own lives. The state would have nothing to do with this process. Who needs to be granted permission to be free? Why do so many people fail to connect? Because that’s how modern capitalism works.

As long as we see ourselves as alone – and treat each other this way – struggling through the world towards some foggy, unreachable goal, we will remain powerless. Do not be divided. Unite, unite, unite!

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