It\’s all the fault of markets. If we\’d remained in our cloth caps huddled around the mine or factory we worked in, grateful for the annual day out on the charabanc to the seaside, this would never have happened.
Yet the terms on which the better life was granted did involve the undermining of collective communal values. The growth of the market was at the expense of society. If the market has favoured individuals, it may also have injured society, even "broken" it, as Conservatives claim. How is the connection to be traced between perpetual economic growth and the social fracturing everyone deplores? It seems the social cost of things does not appear at the point of purchase, but manifests itself slowly, insidiously, over time.
In order to sell more and more to people in the 1950s and 60s, inner, psychic spaces had to be cleared so that we would be receptive to whatever was on offer. This required the dismantling of older ways of answering need, which involved dependency upon others. Networks of kinship and neighbourhood had to be swept away in order to create markets; just as in the colonial era, "undiscovered" lands had to be "opened up", so that "natives" might learn the value of a handful of coloured beads in exchange for the ruin of their cultural traditions.
OK, let\’s be very crudely reductionist here. There are something like 1200 murders a year in the UK (rough number). We\’ll also assume that in that golden age there were none.
Hands up everyone who would rewind the clock: back to a 1950s standard of living, back to a stultifying society (the 60s really were rebelling against something) but 1,200 people a year not being murdered.
Or is the collateral damage worth it (obviously not to the 1,200 of course, but to the 60 million of us)?