It is throughly apt that there are calls for the resignation of G4S head Nick Buckles at the time of this article’s writing as it is a complete justification for the conclusion of the argument to come. It would appear that the insurmountable turmoil of modern society has made the common British citizen, the perpetual target of the British media, rather paranoid. Paradoxically, people seem quite willing, and in many cases quite eager to let a government, that is at least partially responsible for the current state of affairs, have more control over public life.
It is no longer acceptable that consumer culture and market forces are left to reward success and punish failure. Capitalism as we once knew it is dead.
There are also calls from a similar subset of the population for what can only really be described as a form of social justice. The ongoing recession and media-proliferated betrayal by the bankers has left in its wake a culture of finger pointing and false accountability. It is no longer acceptable that consumer culture and market forces are left to reward success and punish failure. Capitalism as we once knew it is dead.
Take for instance the recent O2 network outage which left customers without coverage for a number of days. Capitalism as we’ve come to know and love it should punish O2 for this mishap through lost patronage and thus a reduction in future profits; however, this is not enough for the blood thirsty masses. No, there were plenty of suggestions that the company should receive some sort of fine from the government for the mess that they created.
The rules are inanimate, can’t defend themselves, and, upon a certain process, can be easily changed without protest.
This is by no means an isolated incident. It is no exaggeration to claim that there are calls for the resignation of bank chiefs such as Barclay’s Bob Diamond that come weekly from certain media sources. In fact it was the case with Diamond that the Prime Minister himself would not comment on his suitability to continue as head of Barclay’s. Diamond’s position was put at risk through no direct action of his own but instead the unlawful actions of his employees. With this, the underlying problem with society, one that has been ever present, is exposed. People are not prepared to accept responsibility for their own failings. When people lose or cheat the game it is not considered the fault of the player but instead a fundamental flaw with the rules of the game or their enforcement.
Criminals exist because of inequality and lack of opportunity. Kids are fat because of the school meal system. The recession and banking crisis happened, fundamentally, because bankers let high risk clients take out loans, the same clients that are now calling for resignations. There is no notion of individual responsibility because it is too easy to blame the “rules” of society for any problems. The rules are inanimate, can’t defend themselves, and, upon a certain process, can be easily changed without protest.
It is crucial at this point to acknowledge that there are certain failings that are exposed through this aspect of human nature. An example of this is the tax loophole exposed through the condemnation of Jimmy Carr and the various members of boy band Take That. The problem in this case was not with the individuals, they were technically acting within the law to a point, but with the loop hole that existed to allow them to evade tax. It is ironic in this instance that the media saw fit to lay most of the blame on Carr and the others for, what I would term, smart money management.
Thus it is apparent, through an empirical study of modern society, that there is a fundamental flaw in the attribution of blame for any failings. This is what has created the thirst for social justice within society and tainted the capitalist dream. The underlying systems that humans have created for fair interaction, i.e. the concept of economics, should be enough to regulate the justification of successes and failures. Any perceived market imbalances can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to the existence of emotion and sentiment in human judgment which is why our behavior and actions will never truly be rational. While emotion and sentiment will never disappear enough such that there are no perceived market impurities it is certainly something to think about in cases where there may be scope for media-fueled overreaction.