05.02 A broken rhetoric

So David Cameron is at it again; a new rhetoric of meaningless powder-puff substance. His recent applauding of the ‘tough’ sentencing being handed down to those participating or in-sighting the riots of August were followed by a deluge of populist musings. More Knee jerk reactions – the plan to evict parents of rioters from their council homes – were top if this list.

This charge however pails in significance when compared to the repeated rhetoric of ‘a broken Britain’ like the antiquated notions as expressed by exponents of the literary ‘crumbling castle’ Theory; this viewpoint bases its logic on foundations which never existed.

For a society to be broken there has to be a point at which it was fixed, complete, whole. A society free from deviance, corruption, nepotism, demonization and the products if ignorance. This society has never existed. Often coupled with this narrow way if thinking is the notion that society on the whole is worse; taxes, health and safety, corruption and the behaviour of young people come top of the list or things which are getting worse.

Thus thought process of analysis is not a recent phenomenon; throughout the 20th, 19th, 18th centuries there is a consistent outcry against the emerging behaviour if those not (yet) in power. In fact the Romans and ancient Greeks complained with equal fervency in regards to feral youths. Every adult population believes that the next generation behaves in an inappropriate manner.

What all this lazy thinking creates is misplaced demonization. Yes Britain has a section of society which is disaffected and plays out their resentment in the public realm; and this is problematic. However, this is pre-existing and perhaps an imbedded reality of ‘society’ as we conventionally conceive it. It will not be addressed by alliteration, a perverse happiness index, a localism bill or tougher sentencing. However, this narrow minded ideology will create is greater disaffection as it polarises the discussion into over specific encampments.


This article was written in 2011 and as such is written in the context of the social and political conditions of the time

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