Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Snazzy and Shabby

Here is a solid analysis of the perpetual fight between those who believe in individual freedom being the only way a society can develop and those who believe that we cannot manage without the wise guidance of the state. David Solway starts with
a pair of small, wooden, humanoid counters, resembling those effigies we see on TV commercials advertising a cure for aching joints. One was called Snazzy Guy, the other Shabby Guy, and they would engage in furious battles which, after immense exertions and much thunderous pounding into one another, Snazzy Guy would invariably win. Shabby Guy would lie prostrate on the floor for some time before slowly reviving and preparing to enter the lists again.
Snazzy guy is the representative of those who love freedom, the true liberals (this nomenclature whereby liberals are the equivalent of socialists is truly confusing and misleading) and Shabby guy is the statist. Personally, I would say that it is Snazzy guy who gets knocked out and comes back again and again. By the end of the piece, David Solway takes the same view:
Snazzy Aristotle and shabby Plato are still banging heads. But the outcome of the conflict remains undecided although the shabby guys, it must be admitted, appear to have the upper hand, at least for the time being. The sorry fact is that in the actual world, befitting sequels are reversed and Snazzy Guy finds himself rather more often on the floor than his shabby opponent, both in the current scrimmage and the larger historical context. But his native resilience should not be underestimated as he picks himself up once again for yet another round in the brawl of ideologies.
Meanwhile, we have our own Shabby guy, otherwise known as the Boy-King of the Conservative Party or the Leader of the Cleggeron Coalition. His idea, which is not exactly new, of the Big Society is rooted precisely in the notion that people cannot organize anything for themselves. Far from being power to people, which would be a relatively easy thing to do, the Big Society sees local groups and communities being organized with the help of civil servants, appointed community activists and other suchlike statist regulators. As the official document explains:
Building this Big Society isn’t just the responsibility of just one or two departments. It is the responsibility of every department of Government, and the responsibility of every citizen too. Government on its own cannot fix every problem. We are all in this together. We need to draw on the skills and expertise of people across the country as we respond to the social, political and economic challenges Britain faces.
Read the rest of the document to see how the government is going to organize us all and create new jobs for community organizers to ensure that we are organized the way they think we should be in order to build that Big Society.

So, errm, how is this rather large piece of government expenditure going to be funded, given that the Cleggeron Coalition is faced with a huge deficit already? Easy. Dormant accounts as the BBC story explains. Perish the thought that the public sector be really cut and taxes be reduced so people might be able to fund voluntary organizations themselves. After all, if they are funded by the state, they are not exactly voluntary, no matter what they say.

When did we last hear about those dormant accounts the government was going to raid and use to its own purposes? Yes, indeed, it was a certain Gordon Brown who said that the money would be used " to fund youth and community projects". That was in 2005 and despite legislation in 2008 stealing the money from those dormant accounts has not proved to be easy. But worry not: Shabby guy Cameron is on the job.

1 comment:

  1. "Building the Big Society" is not his job, His job should be to run the Country in the interests of all it's people, he may then be able to claim the label "conservative".
    In addition to all the epithets linked to Cameron he now has an additional one "hypocrite". Having attacked bankers for paying bonuses that he didn't agree with, what do we have....big bonuses for "civil servants".