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Looking after no 1

Updated on April 18, 2015

Aiming for a new social fabric

We are becoming more selfish in our approach to life, looking after number one rather than taking a wholesome approach of seeing ourselves as part of the big picture. The "we" no longer exists and is replaced by the "I myself" but with lots of contradictions to go with it.

As the economy and society strives forward, we tend to become more individualistic in our perspectives. If you want to see it from a linear point of view it started with the tribe, extended family of relatives and then the nuclear family underpinned by differing degrees of government changes and economic policies.

At this nuclear social unit, individual members are sharpened further still, and in time obliged to look after themselves where parents slowly disappear, and a whole cycle of reproduction and development takes place at policy and government insistence.

In the not-too-distant past we were told there was a "consensus" were society was ruled by "agreement", rather than political confrontation or schism about how to run social and economic policy. There was broad agreement on how society should function.

However this consensus started to be broken up, come the 1980s and 1990s when politicians started to look at the social fabric in an entirely different way. People were seen as lazy, increasingly dependent on the state and the social welfare system where jobs were virtually guaranteed and enforced by a strong trade union power.

There was a new philosophy, marked in the UK by the arrival of the conservatives and Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, and by Ronald Regan as President in the United States in a 1980s decade of upheaval but capitalist prosperity.

Thatcher said "no more the nanny state" and the role of the public sector would be turned back. Regan said a whole new economic philosophy based on Lasseiz-faire, market forces and supply and demand had to be instilled to recreate the spirit of enterprise and be more resourceful taking their bible from the thoughts of US economist Milton Freedman, the darling of the new right.

Thus this was the take-off point for social change, going after the very heart of a social consensus that has been built in say Britain after 1945 where the hallmark was to build a caring society based in greater public sector involvement and nationalizing major parts of industry and collectivisation.

Then was the age of "we-together", after the 1980s become the age of "I myself" that was characterized by the high level of home ownership which was of course made by the fact that building societies were encouraged to go into a lending spree mode coupled by the fact that credit was made widely available. This has actually continued ever since and proved a strong cause of the prevailing world economic crises that spurned into action in 2009.

Home ownership, which conservatives boasted was the highest ever, may have lead to the "I myself," and in theory allowing the bread earner to work hard, have more money, pay the mortgage and hope for a better life.

The bottlenecks occurred when the bread winner was laid off and couldn't pay the mortgage on the house, and leading to its repossession with him and his family thrown on the streets because there was no longer a social support net to rely on, as under the new economic philosophy the market was supposed to regulate and create boom scenarios.

Whilst this happened for the rich sector of society—it made them richer—the lower sections either stayed where they are or become poorer. With a state curbing its role in the economy and social system, people today are having to fend for themselves, and trying the best they can to make ends meet. Surely there must be a strong case for a new social fabric, more humane that goes easy on the less unfortunate members of society.


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      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      I agree completely with Tillsontitan. The US economy is doing better, but with Europe teetering on disaster, things could get worse everywhere quickly. Let us hope that wisdom and reason prevails.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      You are absolutely right. Its very hard to see a long-term positive trend for the world, but history has a funny way of working out.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      We can only hope that society takes hold of itself and realizes we need each other..families and community..not just to survive but to live well and prosper. It seems all countries are in a downward spiral and without some type of change there is no telling where we will wind up.

    • marwan asmar profile image

      Marwan Asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

      Thanks a lot both of you, picklesandrufus and Sanjog. What's happening is indeed sad. It seems we are on downward roller-coaster with nothing to look forward to than internal upheavals and bad news.

    • SANJOG MAHESHWARI profile image

      SANJOG MAHESHWARI 5 years ago

      We, in India, are also painfully experiencing the diabolical changes taking place in our social fabric with the rapid disintegration of our celebrated Joint Family System. The extended families and relatives, who once contentedly lived under one-roof, are getting separated; thanks to the economic & job-related compulsions. Continuous exodus of the rural population to the urban areas in quest of job-opportunities has resulted in grotesque urbanization. The trend has dealt a fatal blow to our traditional pastoral culture of sweet and unpretentious life. Diabolical materialism has been given a respectable nomenclature:' Economic growth'. Based on big and heavy industries, it has driven the last nail in the coffin of farm and cottage industries,pastoral culture, Traditional Joint Family system. Political considerations make it impossible for the Govt. to effectively check the burgeoning population which is considered as asset by the business tycoons, Industrialists, filthy rich and politicians, alike, for their varying entrenched vested interests. There is a huge attitudinal cultural change for the worst, as the term:'we' and 'ours' is getting replaced by 'I' and 'mine'. Thanks for the panoramic view of the phenomena. A good hub indeed.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      There IS a strong case for a new social fabric and I hope humans find it in their hearts to lend a helping hand to someone in need. There certainly is enough real need to go around. My guess is the sooner we remember our higher purpose of service, the sooner the world will become a better place in which to live.