Tag Archives: Conservative

There’s No Such Thing As Markets

Back in 1987 Margaret Thatcher very famously made the following comments in an interview with Woman’s Own magazine.

“I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

Well, surely the same argument applies to the concept of ‘markets’. If the concept of ‘society’ is not legitimate because ‘society’ is just made up of millions of individuals making their individual choices, then surely ‘markets’ don’t exist either?

Indeed, Neoliberal economic theology rests on the proposition that our combined individual choices will inevitably bring about the common good. Which seems to contradict Thatcher’s assertion that our individual choices and decisions remain individual and don’t have collective outcomes. Continue reading

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On Harmony, Conflict And Class

I read an interview with George Lakey in this month’s. Peace News. Lakey is a life-long activist who re-imagined the nonviolent revolutionary strategies of Gandhi & Dr Martin Luther King for the modern era. In the interview he had some interesting things to say about class and conflict and it really got me thinking. Take this section for example:

“The function of the middle-class is to manage, and nurture the working class on behalf of the owning class. So it is bred into middle-class people from when they are little itty bitty people that management is key…..So, do you know any managers who have moved ahead in their careers because the people they are managing are constantly in conflict? No. The sign of a good manager is conflict resolution. The sign of a good manager is to have people working cooperatively together in a harmonious way.

Middle-class political pacifism similarly has a very strong interest in the common ground, in reconciliation. ”Let’s find a way to come together,” that’s very strongly the concern. So that is hugely a value in the middle-class, harmony and common ground.”

This seems bang on the money but the problem for me is that although in many ways I am middle-class, certainly by education, i.e. Prep school, Grammar School and University, I was never successfully socialised into this middle-class, ‘harmony above all’, disposition. As a result I have always found negotiating the British class system very difficult. To me it seems self-evident that conflict is inevitable, and indeed, in democratic discourse to be highly valued – “No dissent, no democracy!” Continue reading