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Outstanding diary.

I think you're absolutely correct. Cultures are built on narratives and mythologies, and changing the culture means offering a new narrative.

But - I don't agree about this myth. There are two problems. The first is that the people who claw their way to the top of the heap and not a few lower down the pole do not care about the poor and weak. Many of them seem to have no concept of or interest in social responsibility. I can easily find ten people who believe that all taxation is bad, and don't see why they should have to pay any - usually while ranting about welfare mothers and immigrants living on hand-outs. Now - these are potential swing voters. But 'We are only as strong...' really isn't going to reach them.

The other problem is that the great mythological success of the right wing has been to persuade the poor and disenfranchised that they're either on the inside already, or they could be if only they worked hard enough. A successful replacement myth has to break that identification, so they realise that in fact this will never happen - except possibly for a very small minority.

In terms of self-interest, it means putting across the realities of globalisation in personal, not abstract economic terms:

Increased prospect of unemployment
Increased job insecurity
Increased personal debt
Increased working hours
Rapid inflation of the cost of basic necessities, including heat, light, housing, water and food.
Increased oversight of personal time by employers
Decreased pensions and benefits

...And so on.

These are all direct and personal outcomes of the right wing 'reform' program that even those who lack the empathy gene should be able to understand.

The sub-problem is that currently this issue is misdirected with a platitude - Higher Taxation Is Bad.

So an important job for a media program is to explain how taxation is almost irrelevant now in the bigger picture. Because the strains on personal budgets are coming from elsewhere. A tiny increase in taxes is not an issue when you can't afford to buy a home, or heat it after you've bought it.

I think this is a winnable argument, and - perhaps more importantly - it's winnable without traditional old-left abstractions or terminology. Those are two legacy reasons why the left isn't heard much. Left-leaning media points tend to be about abstractions like freedom and justice. In the world of realpolitik, these either mean nothing to many people or they're not interested in them.

Maybe a generation or two from now this will change, but today the Thatcherite poison runs so deep that we have to work with what we've got. Which is self-interest. So setting out a stall that says 'These reform policies don't work for you' seems like a good way to start wedging the door open and undermining the identification that drives popular support for the financial oligarchs.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Apr 13th, 2006 at 02:28:04 PM EST
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