Authors note: The following are my observations on how Society has changed during my lifetime. I make no judgements as to right and wrong but simply ask a question about the direction in which we are now headed.
As a kid growing up in South London in the 50’s, Society was getting over the war but was also fairly settled. As I look back it described the nature of our Britishness as a people, with a monarchy at the helm of that identity.
We left our keys in the few cars that were available then and homes were rarely locked and bolted. Even our criminals had a code of ethics that ostracised anyone convicted of taking a gun, or worse using it, whilst committing a crime.
Napoleon once described us as a “nation of shopkeepers” with the proliferation of family businesses that competed for our individual needs. To them we were ‘Customers’.
In the 60’s foreign businesses, particularly from America, brought their methods of trading to our shores. ‘Super’ markets and ‘Warehouse’ traders selling everything in volume, from toys to carpets appeared and slowly replaced our intimate family businesses.
(Churchill struck a deal with Roosevelt in which, in exchange for US intervention in WWII, American business would be allowed free access to our people.)
These changes saw the demise of the customer as the new businesses, with their endless aisles of goods sold purely on price, slowly but surely changed our identity into consumers and ‘units of profit’. Napoleon, I’m sure, is grinning down at us now!
These new business methods demanded cheap labour and so, over the ensuing decades governments encouraged many immigrants to travel, sometimes thousands of miles, to enter an alien Society in the hope of improving the quality of life for them and their families. Naturally they had a different culture to ours and so they gathered together and formed their own communities to find a sense of identity and belonging.
As the numbers increased so tensions grew, as British values were challenged by these different cultural beliefs and values that our governments had ill prepared us for. Their priority was to meet the demands of employers for more workers, particularly to do the mundane jobs we did not want to do. Their reactive solution to this growing problem was endless ‘anti-racial’ legislation, which sought to insulate the differing cultures and which, sadly, challenged Social integration and cohesion.
Knife crime grew, as did gun violence and our values were again moved from a ‘Bobby with a whistle and a truncheon’ to fully armed and protected squads on constant call and alert. The settled Society that I knew as a kid had disappeared, replaced by an environment that breeds stress, rather than contentment.
Even the flagship of our British values, our monarchy, is under attack from foreign owned media. The purpose is to remove this global icon as the bedrock of our identity. It is a part of a strategy to take away an important aspect of our self-sufficiency as a nation, making us easier to control, a subject I have touched upon before. If this critical institution goes the same way as our shopkeepers it will be like stripping a Rolls Royce of its iconic Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. Our iconic global Trade Mark would be gone and an important part of our Britishness with it, with nothing to fill the void.
Our way of life has undergone a vast change in a relatively short space of time, caused by the demands of an increasingly dominant business culture. This culture seeks to destroy national values and replace them with a global sameness that will bend to the demands of their market place. It requires not only consumers and cheap labour but also vast quantities of cheap natural resources.
It is here that I come to the nub of my concerns about life in this 21st century. Britain is not the only country being stripped of its identity, as debt and migration become the norm and MacDonald’s appears on every high street and back street across the globe. In losing our national identities we lose our uniqueness and the ability to teach and learn from each other.
The very differences that were misused to create endless wars in our past are also the means by which we can come together, as the internet now shows us the inherent qualities each nation has to offer.
As I write TTIP is being bulldozed into legality and will see the final destruction of our sovereign democracies and identities. It will create a ‘MacDonald’s World’ where everywhere you go on this Planet you will find the same burger, same retail outlets, same consumer culture and same abuses. We are now in serious danger of allowing the Global Village we are headed towards to be shaped and destroyed by the corporate world, as they pursue their own narrow goals.
Life is too precious and so are we, for abuses of that scale to become a reality. We need new leadership that will again fight for the people.
Until the next time.
Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to The 99% . . . If They Want It! By J T Coombes