The Social Distance Between Us

Writer and rapper, Darren McGarvey, argues that the pandemic has laid bare the contours of class inequality.

But this crisis has also shown us that if the will is there, political and economic mechanisms do exist to solve poverty and inequality.

Host, Ross Ashcroft, met up with McGarvey to discuss some of the issues that the political response to the pandemic has laid bare.

- Broadcast on 21 May 2021 -

7 key points

1. The potential for radical change in society is nullified by the working class in circumstances when they are dependent on the state for their well-being during periods of crisis. The ruling class in society tend to make concessions when they feel that their instincts or power is threatened. This has been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic.

2. Professional care industries that have flourished as a result of rising poverty, have minimal connection to the actual impoverished communities they claim to advocate for. Although care professionals have a theoretical grasp of the everyday issues such as depression and isolation the poor are faced with, they don't understand, in a practical way, how the said issues are inextricably linked to compulsive negative social behaviours.

3. The market builds in 'supply and demand' stress management 'solutions' to structural problems which are registered within the system as GDP success stories. Unhappy people are more likely than happy ones to spend more in the consumptive parts of the economy.

4. Although solutions to negative coping strategies can be found in the economy, dealing with the harmful aspects of these issues is complex and the response of the state, often contradictory. On the one hand, society organized around the free market system is about individuals acting rationally within a marketplace. And yet the companies who sell us products work very hard to undermine our rationality by appealing to primitive impulses, fears and insecurities.

5. Inequality in Britain is structurally embedded into the fabric of society. It is associated with both a growing underclass and an historical, antiquated and opaque model of land ownership derived from the unearned income of a wealthy and largely anonymous class. The economic future of everyone depends on the whims of these people.

6. Land inequality speaks to, and necessitates, every other form of inequality. It's this outmoded conception of landownership tied to power and inequality that is central to an understanding of Britain that is both politically insecure and undemocratic, while on the world stage, its political class are trying desperately to resurrect notions of empire and to manage the country's decline.

7. From a social and grassroots point of view, in order to reverse the decline, there needs to be a greater emphasis on the scientific method as the guiding principle that drives policy, as well as major reforms both to Britain's electoral system and its outdated media, public politics, finance, education and criminal justice institutions.

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