The true face of productive Britain
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
I had a long chat to my mother yesterday. In 1972 she went back to work having got the last of four kids (I'm the eldest) safely into what was then called Junior School (We had real schools back then with only the earliest glimmer of the notion of holding everybody back on account of some misguided egalitarian nonsense) She took a job as a representative for the Empire Stores home shopping catalogue company and largely touted their wares to exactly the kind of working class family we were.
She was shocked to discover, lurking in the teeming council estates full of the genuine working class, a new kind of denizen; families who managed to survive entirely without regular work. No, not the lovable Barbaras and Toms of the self-sufficient Good Life model, but the prototypes for the ‘unwaged’ underclass now under the protective custody of the Labour Party and its apologists.
Narrowly avoiding the all-too regular occurrence of the limited-to-140-characters Twitter-spat last night, my interlocutors were demanding I furnish them with examples of the harm done by socialism. Actually they were mostly critical of my apparently wanting to lay the blame at the feet of Karl Marx, which I absolutely wasn’t doing. I was however, suggesting that the origins of the widespread take-up of socialism lay with Marx, Engels and other young Hegelians and the whole class-struggle, means-of-production malarkey.
As it turned out, I didn’t need to point at the many examples of murderous socialist regimes corralled under the various versions and nomenclatures of Communist or Socialist, collectivism, such as those of Soviet Russia, Nazism, North Korea, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and so on. All I had to do was suggest they watch Channel Four’s new documentary Skint, filmed on a Scunthorpe estate; the real life version of Shameless.
On a small scale there is absolutely no doubt that some form of social collectivism must exist in order to prevent us tearing each other limb from limb. We used to call that ‘the family’ – remember them? You know, where children were brought up in nurturing environments and taught the rules and given aspirations to better themselves while the government’s role was to provide educational and legislative structures to make that possible. But as the scale of government intervention grows, control is lost.
Socialism maybe doesn’t intend to impoverish people but it always does, as opportunistic and resourceful humans adapt to their environment and choose, if regular work is not available or pays too little, the kind of lifestyle seen on Skint. Black marketeering, petty theft, casual acceptance of dangerous drug use and gross, anti-social behaviour all become normalised and accepted modes of living. The answer to the doomed life cycles thus created by the good intentions of big government surely can’t just be more big government. I have a sense, at least, that the coalition knows this, just as Labour desperately tries to ignore it.
What’s the solution? Short of a brief and deep humane cull, I have no quick answers, but neither do those who seek to rule us. But at least Skint answered one question that has long puzzled Britain’s social philosophers. Much of the programme centred around the unschooled, uncontrolled, fifteen-year-old jailbird-in-waiting, Connor, as he made his mother’s life a misery. If you’re looking for a contender, then I propose Connor as the real c**t in Scunthorpe.