When David Cameron announced "The Big Society" (a name nicked from the American President LBJ who used it in the ’60s) during the election, most people laughed and assumed that would be the last we would hear of it. Tory spokespeople said that they had no idea what it meant and one Tory MP described it as "Bollocks." Indeed. However, now safely inside Number 10, Cameron has brought up it up again.
What is The Big Society? Well it turns out to be the following. All your public services get cut and instead charities take up the slack. Evidently, Cameron thinks this will reinstall the wartime spirit and we will all be singing songs in the street and giving three cheers to the Queen. In some strange way communities, he tells us, will be "empowered" to take control of their lives. Now we should be clear here – Cameron is not suggesting that we set up soviets to run our affairs. In fact in truth when he talks about empowering people he means business people.They are the ones he will be empowering!
Oddly enough, one of the first casualities of the cuts has been those charities reliant on local government funding to keep going. Already, many voluntary groups who provide support to the old and needy are struggling to stay above water. But Cameron, like it must be said Blair and Brown before him, is very keen to give support to quite a different sort of charity. These are charities in name only and to all intents and purposes are actually private companies. They are usually called the Third Sector by government advisors.
The aim of the Third Sector is to undercut and replace public services and provide alternatives that are cheap and quite lucrative. They are also looking at what can be gained from Gove’s rush towards Academy Schools – Blair’s great idea which has floundered on the fact that most of these schools are rubbish but provide their owners with a nice little earner. Even outside the Third Sector we are seeing firms who concentrate on providing privatised services to local government rubbing their hands at the "opportunities" coming their way. So once again it is cuts for the many and "good deals" for the few. Cameron’s Big Society is really The Cheap Society or maybe just The Profit Society.
The Big Society scam is a Tory con which should be opposed as a smokescreen for the brutal cuts being pushed through to fund the bankers baillout.Marxists understand that the real " empowerment" (a rotton phrase by the way which seems to mean as much or, more usually, as little as the user intends) comes through taking economic and politcal control from the rich and powerful who currently have it and putting it in the hands of those who produce the wealth of society but do not benefit. Socialism is about the masses having control over their own lives as part of a planned economy run for the benefit of all not the grabbing of profit. Cameron and his gang are in favour of capitalism and all it stands for. They have no real interest in Big Society or any such society at all. At least Thatcher was telling the truth, as her class saw it, when she said that "there is no such thing as society." What she actually meant was – there are workers and there are bosses and one works for the sole benefit of the other.This is the nature of class society that we as socialists should be fighting to get rid of and replace instead by a real society, a socialist one. Now thats a big idea worth struggling for!