The UK is in a state of crisis : how about a National Government as in 1931?

Published on May 17, 2017

It doesn’t feel like a crisis all the time — but it’s simmering just below the surface. Our schools aren’t turning out numerate and literate citizens in anywhere near sufficient numbers to allow them to either contribute to society or draw on their cultural heritage. According to two recent major studies around 30% of 16 to 18 year olds are barely literate and numerate! How can we expect our society to thrive when so many of its young are so disabled intellectually? That this does not provoke rebellion and mass protests is itself a symptom of the crisis. It’s a crisis of a form of narcolepsy. The country keeps falling asleep at inappropriate times and lacks the ability to think clearly and to concentrate on the matters at hand.

Wherever I go in London I am confronted by desperate souls begging for money. Is it just me that finds this very upsetting? I realise what’s happened — we have just got used to it. Our social fabric is fraying before our eyes every day and we just don’t notice it. The begging is responded to by our local leaders with fines of up to £100 and media stories of how these unfortunates are really wealthy home owners living in the suburbs. We find these stories comforting as we doze through our days.

Our politicians, of all stripes, seem to have overlooked the basic features of a healthy society that were known to the ancients. Perhaps they don’t read them anymore. The first basic fact is that the individual household is the foundation of everything else. Aristotle pointed this out in the fourth century BC. Plutarch, writing in the 1st century AD, noted how Lycurgus the Spartan legislator recognised that the helpless, homeless and poverty stricken citizen was a greater menace to the commonwealth than the one who was rich and ostentatious. Plutarch added that the public realm only has vigour to the extent that its citizens prosper in their private lives. Here our politicians ignore the ugly contradictions of these fundamental factors : real wages decline and beggary increases. Despite the Marathon, obesity engulfs more and more of us as we wobble along our consumer colonnades. Watch ‘Gogglebox’ on Channel 4 to gauge the degenerate state of our households. There is, of course, a very small minority who prosper greatly and it is they, it seems, who insinuate the somnambulant soma into our drinking water — even Labour forgot, in their manifesto launch yesterday, to mention the vital need to lift the cap on benefit payments.

The ancients of old recognised that society is an organic whole — it needs its energetic creators and risk takers and they need their rewards and honours but it needs everyone else as well ( the rich must be saved from themselves ) and everybody needs to have one eye on their contribution to the commonwealth as well as on their private realm. If our politicians won’t encourage every one of us it’s time for us to say ‘here comes everybody’ and demand a voice and a hand on the tiller.

Mrs May is a mediocrity and Mr Corbyn is a dreamer. For the time being all we can do is hope that they will pool their limited talents and hope for some synergy. As they begin this co-operative venture we can demand a form of democracy which is centred around an informed and deliberative electorate. Such a democracy requires a root and branch reform of our tired and corrupt system with its electoral charade. These things will only come about if we wake up and admit the crisis that confronts us. It’s time to stop putting so much faith in our leaders.

Mark Rapley Co-founder of The King James Consultancy