When talking to friends and relatives about Jeremy Corbyn and particularly his miss-reported statements yesterday, one theme kept on appearing. People were saying things like “I know that we are living in an unfair world and I know that most of the wealth is held by very few people and that this is wrong…. But I think that Jeremy Corbyn’s idea of wage caps will kill all the hope and aspirations left.”
I then got the rhetoric that ‘perhaps their child would be a footballer, or a rock star, or best selling author, or ‘something big in the city’, or….’
The vast majority of children will not end up in these mega-high-earning careers, but it seems that the tiny ‘hope’ that they might (and perhaps give some of their wealth to mum and dad?) still prevents the average left-leaning person from committing support to a policy which would actually be much fairer for them and for their families.
So it seems that the idea generated in the Thatcher era, that we all ‘have the chance to achieve’ (and now being pushed again under May’s ‘sharing society’ where everyone can achieve if they have a vision and determination….) has penetrated and stuck inside the brains of most of the population, even those who say they are ‘unaffected by media hype’.
This is still in some ways the selfish ‘me’ society – one where we are encouraged to look down on those worse off than ourselves, because ‘they obviously didn’t work hard enough, have the right vision, have the talent, etc, etc…’.
But tell anyone that their world view has been affected by the times they have lived through or grown up in and they will accuse you of insulting them and saying they do not have free will and free thoughts when they most obviously do.
So how the hell do you get it through to people, that even though we definitely need hope, we don’t have to be ‘achieving’ in line with some neoliberal model in order to fulfil our hopes and needs?
‘Aspiration’. What exactly does it mean? To what should we aspire to?
What about ‘aspiring’ to creating a fairer world?
Aspiring doesn’t have to be all about earning lots of money. But the problem is that living in a capitalist society requires us to spend money and therefore to earn it. Therefore it insists that we aspire to earn more of it…
So, an easier way would be not to deconstruct the term ‘aspirations’, but to ditch it altogether and start thinking about what society and the people who live within it, really need.
That’ll take some work to ‘achieve’ too…