The ideology of competition and superiority permeates our culture, and the cult of privatisation is at the root of sub-standard, expensive railways, electricity, gas and water; miserable prisons; inadequate care; decreasing legal aid; and failing mental health services.
Personal success and the creation of wealth are goals in a wilderness of private interests. ‘Success’ has widely come to be defined in terms of superiority over others.
Our system of knighthoods and damehoods – the invidious use of ‘Lord’ and ‘Lady’ – symbolise a power structure where outsiders are tolerated, and often quietly absorbed into a corrupt environment.
People motivated by greed, like the authors of devastated pension funds, suddenly and mysteriously reappear in positions of authority. It is as if history has ceased to exist. Those with the courage to expose them are vilified.
Recent media expositions relating to the House of Saud and the huge-scale laundering of the ill-gotten gains of oligarchs and dictators through the City of London, for example, portray the corruption. Empty luxury flats are more desirable than homes for people.
Armaments, for some, are more important to our wellbeing than the lives of underprivileged Yemeni families.
This presents a challenge. Condemnation is not the way to tackle the cult of success. We need successful artists, business people, musicians, actors, social workers, doctors, scientists and engineers – and we must find ways of stimulating and supporting them.
A redefined concept of success will lie in focusing on the huge potential of every single member of our society and not just those with the existing resources – physical, mental, economic – to realise themselves.
Edited from an article by Roger Iredale in the Friend, 23 February 2018