I’m guessing you mean the welfare state?
In which case, kind of. I mean, even if the Minority Conservative administration manage to push through all of its plans, we’ll be left with a shadow welfare state. Not run by the state, and with only the faintest control from government. Private forces will operate the things that build up our insitutional welfare, with a capitalistic efficiency that has nothing to do with the best interests of the people needing the services in question.
On the other hand, I think it’s a bit of a duff question as I’m suspicious of us having had anything resembling a social democracy in my lifetime. New Labour were centrist enough that they weren’t representing a genuine left wing movement, just another ghost of one. A lot of initiatives (some fantastic, some dreadful) that gave the appearance of a booming public sector, but actually represented a much more slow motion sell off than we’re currently seeing.
So everything seems ghostly, and I reject the notion of even a true democracy in this country.
That’s another way to take it, of course. The democracy will still be functioning to some extent if this government loses an election, because an election will be being held. Is this enough? Is this really democracy? I mean. It sounds like hyperbole, but essentially, a very small percentage of the country voted for what is currently happening. Minority Tories, smaller minority Lib Dems, adds up to a majority (and an actual one in terms of voters, which is rare) both of whom were talking a different talk to the walk they’ve walked. Some more so than others.
So where does democracy itself stand in this? Voting starts to feel increasingly meaningless. I got all excited about being able to vote for something I almost believe in and for it to actual count, but of course, what I’ve won for that is one lone voice of something resembling reason in a big shouting chamber of thuggery.
And there in lies the real problem. We have a system whereby one single group claims to represent everybody. Even though at best it represents that small segment that voted for it. And often it doesn’t even really do that.
The problem is that even our most social democracy is founded on an equation of democracy with capitalism. And it’s the money that gets represented. By building a political system around an idealised system of economics, and then shoring that up so aggressively to fight the ‘sepctre of communism’ we’ve created a destructive monstrosity.
Currently we’re watching a government sell off it’s welfare state in a desperate bid to ensure that business can survive. Prop up the economy by selling the only things left that it can. This is justified by the trickle down metaphor. Or just greed. It is hard to tell.
Soon all we’ll have left is all of these ghosts, trying to comfort us about the future.
I’m not particularly happy about this.
Illustration by Adam