The way we have been living, spending and behaving – combined with an overweening state – has led to a diminution of human potential and to operating in ever decreasing circles. We seem to value ourselves by what we do and what we buy (or cannot buy) – rather than whether we are good, kind, thoughtful or have other personally admirable and altruistic traits. We follow prescribed routes from centralised diktats where thinking, personal responsibility, professionalism and non-conformity are driven out by targets and tick boxes.
In 2007 I wrote a chapter for a book ‘Reinventing the State: Social Liberalism in the 21st Century’. This starts from the basis that New Liberalism was the outcome of a process of inventing a new kind of state a century ago and that after decades of over-centralisation we need to reinvent it now along social liberal lines.
Much of what I wrote was to do with how we adapt to the ending of the old order, where state, church (or other religions), family, schools, the judiciary and other pillars of society that governed our ‘norms’ no longer held their previous sway or respect.
An increasingly authoritarian approach to almost everything under Labour moved us towards a population controlled by legal parameters rather than social ones.
Change has to come from within – and it is about the behaviour of the people who are part of those structures. This is not about morality – but more about engagement – where consideration for others and the common good comes as high at least on out list as simply our own well-being.
There is a genuine and urgent need to radically reform and change the balance between the state and the people – that is now under way and part of the answer. The even bigger challenge is – how do we change behaviour?