The Saturday debate: Let’s just admit it – our society actually is broken

by Stephen Tall on February 6, 2010

Here’s your starter for ten as we experiment with a new Saturday slot posing a view for debate:

Here’s what David Marquand had to say in a recent issue of the New Statesman:

The truth is that the left commentariat’s default position – social permissiveness combined with economic regulation; toughness towards bankers, but softness towards cannabis hawkers – was always incoherent and has now become disastrous. Of course, the right’s alternative – economic permissiveness combined with social regulation – is equally incoherent. But for the left to rely on that kind of yah-boo retort only deepens its current malaise. After all, the right has been out of power for the past 13 years; and however unfair it is for David Cameron to blame our “broken society” on the present regime, his charge rings bells with large parts of the electorate. The truth is that our society is broken, and by pretending that it is not, the left merely proves that it is in denial.

The beginning of wisdom for the battered and bewildered left, as it approaches what may be an electoral disaster, is to acknowledge openly that casino capitalism, family breakdown, asset stripping, binge drinking and welfare dependency are all part of a single web; and that the crisis of capitalism which has overwhelmed the global economy is part of a wider social and moral crisis.

Is Professor Marquand right? Are we in a social and moral crisis? Or is this an hysterical over-reaction? After all, for every family breakdown and boozed-up teen drop-out, we can point to a more racially tolerant and less homophobic society.

Agree? Disagree? Comment away …