We are sometimes told that Britain remains a fundamentally social democratic country.
I\’ve said it before and will no doubt have to say it again. I simply don\’t think that Britain is fundamentally a social democratic society. It might be possible to persuade me that the Celtic fringes are, but not I think England.
We simply don\’t have, as a social or cultural bedrock of the society, that belief that the men with clipboards know what they\’re doing or have our interests in their hearts. That belief being the necessary underpinning of the sort of deference to government that makes social democracy work.
I really don\’t think it\’s a surprise that the lessons of public choice economics are more readily heeded in the so called \”Anglo-Saxon\” economies. For I think that to a large extent they\’re just the formalisation of what the culture itself already believes, in a way that isn\’t true in places like Germany or the Nordics.
It is of course hugely dangerous to start talking about \”race memories\” and the like: doing so brings accusations of BNP style stupidity in 3…2…1…
Similarly, Whig style history, it\’s all been getting better and better until we ended up in the enlightened times (which can be variously placed to suit prejudice) can be rightly derided.
But a huge amount of English social and cultural history has been kicking against the pricks who purport to rule us. In a manner very unlike a lot of other places. If you like (and this edges eerily close to that race memory rubbish) it could be characterised as the Anglo Saxon fighting back against the imposition of Norman rule over the centuries. It wasn\’t until, oooh, say, the 1850s, 1880s, that men of property (but not of course those of none or women of course) had the same say in who ruled them, how, and what the law was that their forefathers had enjoyed pre 1066.
Yes, of course that is laughably silly, pretentious and broad brush. But if you look at the Parliaments of other places, Iceland say, or other Nordics, the power struggle simply hasn\’t been the same. To a much greater extent than we were, they were ruling themselves over those centuries.
So the handing of power to the State is less of an issue: it\’s \”us\” dealing with common problems while handing power to \”us\” while in England there\’s a great deal more of it being \”us\” handing back power to \”them\”. The them we\’ve just spent a millenia wresting power from.
OK, OK, take off the rose tinted historical glasses. But I still don\’t think that England is a naturally social democratic country. Mutualist, communitarian in parts, even voluntarily socialist at times: but not willing to agree that government is the solution, for government has been the enemy for most of our history.