Of all the dreadful syllogisms that could be used Owen Jones has picked a right stinker here:
Thatcherism – or neoliberalism, whichever you want to call it – tried to bulldoze every last remnant of solidarity we felt – and it failed. “We have to move this country in a new direction,” Margaret Thatcher declared after her first election triumph, “to change the way we look at things, to create a wholly new attitude of mind.”
I wonder how she would feel reading a new survey by the European commissionasking EU citizens whether, by 2030, they would prefer a society that gave more importance to solidarity or to individualism. She would undoubtedly be heartened to find that Britain comes joint top of the individualism league table. But she would probably be dispirited to read that only 29% favoured individualism, with a solid 52% hoping for more solidarity.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t formidable challenges to building socialism in modern Britain.
We are not straining this point, he really does mean it:
As a dogma, this form of individualism is a formidable obstacle to socialism.
Neoliberalism, Thatcherism, right wing baby eating, call it what you will, is not opposed to collectivism in any manner whatsoever. It's simply a difference in who decides upon the cooperation. Is it, in the form Jones is advocating, something imposed by the Commissars? Or is it something arising out of the actions of free people?
David Cameron did have one thing right, there is society it's just not the government. As did St Maggie, the no society part should be fully quoted along with the there are individuals and families and.... All of which is a calling back to Burke's point about the little platoons.
We humans do cooperate, a market economy is exactly such solidarity. The farmer, miller and baker are all cooperating to provide our bread. The competition part is in who they decide to cooperate with to do so. So too is solidarity encapsulated in the pub quiz team, that voluntary nature and funding of the lifeboats, doing the shopping for the elderly neighbour and the existence of the Boy Scouts.
You know, the sorts of things that millions of us do every day? Even Friendly Societies, mutual insurance companies and all the rest. They're solidarity and they're not socialism of this form that Jones is defining, where it has to be something done by government?