William Davies, 2 April 2020
With Britain heading towards a shutdown, lasting who knows how long, it will quickly become evident how difficult it is to sustain society without everyday sociality. The triumph of the Thatcherite and Hayekian vision meant that we ended up with a ‘flexible’ economy in which a large number of people are entirely reliant on the near-term vagaries of the labour market for their day-to-day survival, with neither savings nor state guarantees to provide any back-up when that market crashes. Wages, rent, credit card repayments and everyday consumption are locked into their own ‘just-in-time’ supply chain, which is stressful enough even when it’s up and running. Having spent decades overhauling the welfare state to promote a more entrepreneurial, job-seeking, active populace, driven by an often punitive conditionality, Britain has little to fall back on when the most urgent need is for everybody to stay at home.