There’s a line in “The Wild Ones”, a film featuring Marlon Brando, in which he’s asked “Johnny, what are you rebelling against?” To which he replies, “Whaddya got?” What a great line describing, as it did, how the generation that preceded my own felt about some of their offsprings’ attitudes. The result, in our case, was the social and cultural explosion that was the 1960’s; a period that I recently heard described as “A golden age, the like of which we are unlikely to see again”. So, how is this relevant today?
Well, “The Big Society” that was the former Prime Minister’s slogan for a while, has been replaced, along with him, by the “Shared Society”. A little like “Brexit means Brexit” all three actually mean very little. Unless, of course, you address the root causes of our problems and actually do something about them. Now, in this respect, although we live in times of economic conservatism, our social world, in many regards, reflects the ideals that my generation would have hoped for. Which is why many of us find the ignorance and bigotry, that we witnessed during the referendum, so upsetting. To me, these represented none of those liberal values we feel are central to what makes this country what it is. Values, I might add, that the generation that preceded mine fought a war to preserve.
So, why today’s blog? Well because, according to a recent report from Oxfam, the world’s eight richest people control the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population. That’s so startling, that I feel that I need to repeat. Just 8 individuals compared to 3.6 billion of them! Some sharing that.
What’s even more interesting is, what the report identifies, as the root causes, issues such as rising inequality, aggressive wage restraint and the fact that businesses were too focussed on delivering ever higher returns to wealthy owners and top executives.
So, today “Whaddya got?” is very obvious. Moreover, we owe it to the next generation to, at least, provide them with the opportunities that we had. They, too, need the chance to create their own golden age and that won’t happen unless the causes of our current ills are dealt with. That doesn’t require a slogan. It does, however, require action.