Youth and the ‘big-society’: Phase 2!

The ‘Big Society’, as promoted by Cameron, his Tory handlers and Lib-dem followers, was at first rather slow to get off the ground, but now it is gathering pace, if not in the form some people had naively hoped. In the early part of 2011, reports appeared in the news media, that very few people in the UK, particularly those under 20 years of age, had actually understood the concept. I doubt that is the case now. For, it soon became crystal clear that the Cameron-inspired rhetoric of a ‘caring’ post-Thatcher Toryism, was simply an electoral façade. And ‘big’ was not necessarily going to mean ‘better‘ – especially for young people. As Phase 1 of the Con-Dem ‘big society’ unfolded it was revealed to actually involve the following;

1. Big cuts in Public Services such as Libraries and Advice centres.

2. Big redundancies from local government employment.

3. Big increases in student tuition fees.

4. Big increases in petrol and food prices.

5. Big increases in interest payments for loans.

6. Big gaps in anticipated pension funds.

7. Big increases in the re-possessions of peoples homes.

8. Big increases in profits for big businesses in industry, commerce and banks.

9. Big (very BIG) bonuses for bankers and city speculators.

10.  Big bull-shit from Politicians and their minders.

So much for phase 1. However, as the summer progressed, phase 2 of the ‘big society’ has been revealed to be again something in stark (and dark) contrast to the earlier rhetoric of ‘we are all in this together’.  Despite dubious arguments about the need for austerity those in power and those in ‘waiting’ for power have managed to find the means for a ‘big’ military involvement in Libya, ‘big’ interest payments for government ‘bond-holders’ (guess who those are?) and of course now we have  ‘big’ sentences for mild misdemeanours. Six months for stealing a bottle of water and four years for suggesting a riot – but not actually carrying one out. It is at this point that middle Britain, Tory, Liberal and Labour, has nudged us a little nearer to the type of ‘zero-tolerance’ so beloved of totalitarian forms of elite governance. The ’thought-crime’ so eloquently depicted in George Orwell’s fictional rendition of Stalinist Russia is more than a little pre-figured in this latter dangerous development. It seems now that we don’t have to actually do something, we only have to think it or say it to be categorised, and treated as a criminal. Middle-England’s suggestion during the post-riot discourse, that we should ‘betray’ any of our neighbours, friends and family who were in any way involved in riots, is not too distantly reminiscent of the Nazi inspired obligation to do the same in matters of state concern. One of the clearest expressions of leanings toward this tendency was reported by the Independent newspaper as follows;

“Let us leave the EEC, abolish the Human Rights Laws, take the TV sets [and] pool tables,  out of prisons,  Bring back both corporal and capital punishment, slash benefits and put single mothers into hostels instead of giving them council flats. Finally if we chucked out all the illegal immigrants and asylum seekers there would be enough jobs for everybody.“ (Ken Bates, chair of Leeds United Football Club. Independent 18/8/11)

Note that this tirade, as with others of a similar content, is not levelled just at the hardened serial criminals among our communities, but at all the present systems victims. In this regard, it is a recognisable fact that the dissatisfied middle-classes in 20th century Germany, Italy, Spain and Latin America, were the strong leadership constituencies pressing in the direction which led to eventually to ‘strong’, ‘resolute’ governance in the form of fascism. For this reason we should not underestimate the membership profile and potential trajectory of those in the 21st century English Defence League and the British National Party.

The contrast between a position of ’zero-tolerance’, adopted toward the underclass of youth created by middle-Britain and that of indulgent tolerance to those from the ’upper class’ has also been starkly revealed. It was finally revealed that ‘big’ cases of phone hacking were kept quiet by the police for years, and ‘big’ bribes received in these ‘establishment’ quarters have been allowed to fade into the background. ‘Big’ miscalculations in military requisitions has led to the deaths of unemployed youth, recruited into the armed forces, and sent on the various ill-conceived ‘crusades’ of death and destruction around the world. The ‘big’ (hugely ‘big’) problems for the environment and the resources essential to life caused by pollution and over-production of ‘big’ industry and commerce hardly registers on the Richter scale of middle-England’s opportunist sensitivities. There is undoubtedly a ‘big’ silence by some parts of middle-England on the massive wealth differences in the UK and a ‘big‘ denial by others that it has anything to do with contemporary social tensions. There is also notable ‘big’ silence over the political, economic and military support for Israeli atrocities on youth and adults in Gaza and the ‘occupied’ territories of Palestine. Middle-England, if allowed, will be prepared to overlook, these ‘big’ problems for the rest of us, because they think these offer no threat to the form of society they benefit from. In this they are wrong. In a bizarre parody of George Orwell’s ‘Newspeak’ dissimulation (ie War is Peace) middle-England’s war against the youth, they think means peace for their system. The battle by middle-England against the uprisings and protests of white and blue-collar working class youth of today, is one in defence of a system of anarchy and privilege which is in fundamental and irresolvable crisis. The very wealth they wish to invest and protect is the creator of the problems we all face in the areas of finance, commerce, production and ecological destruction. The unemployed youth of today are just the victims of a system in decay and the systems middle-England upholders have a long, self-serving, track record of  ‘blaming the victims‘.

R. Ratcliffe (August 2011.)

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