Source: Flickr by Enokson

Who would have thought that in 2023, we would be talking about more and more people using food banks, the introduction of warm spaces, and poverty increasing?

Yet this is the reality for a growing number of people.

Western society is currently experiencing its biggest crisis since WW2, and there is no sign of things getting better any time soon. Life in Britain, for many people, is starting to resemble that of a dystopian novel.

If we listen to media or government narratives, they suggest a number of reasons why we are currently going through this crisis.

The pandemic, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the pressures of an invasion of immigrants are all being used to explain why poverty is now rising. Whilst there may be some element of truth in this, it really isn’t the full picture. These convenient excuses all fail to recognise how structural issues, that have led to this point, have been putting many of our vital services under immeasurable pressure.

Oh and let’s not forget the elephant in the room.

Brexit, which has undoubtedly caused additional damage to the British economy, whilst promising to do the opposite. However, I won’t linger on this, as I wouldn’t want to be labeled as a remoaner; or worse still, be called a ‘looney leftie’.

Yet we can see, through the number of sectors that are now striking, that people are starting to call out on the madness that we find ourselves in. People are shouting out, that they have had enough.

It is vital to look at our modern-day history, to appreciate the origins of many of the public services that we take for granted- to see how we got into the mess we are in now.

In 1948 Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan were instrumental in giving us the wonderful NHS. An institution that was recognised, as being vital to building back Britain after WW2.

Yet it is important to remember, that, in the lead-up to the NHS’s inception, the Conservative Party had done all it could to block this ground-breaking public service. It was only through the Labour party, of that time’s, persistence, that ensured we got this fantastic, and once, world-leading health service.

Yet, this post-war consensus, as it was known, was a vital component for rebuilding the British economy, and its slow demise sees Britain weaken as a nation.

How did this demise happen?

Well, unfortunately, the switch to a neoliberal free-market capitalist economy has led to an erosion of this post-war consensus. This is because successive governments have all been on a mission to shrink the state, and they have sold many of the, once, public sector services to the private sector.

Margaret Thatcher, prime minister, in the 1980s when neoliberalism started, sold it to us, as being just what Britain needed- to make Britain competitive on a global scale.

The government of the time, sold off council houses- creating a right-to-buy scenario, designed to attract more voters at the next election. They also privatised our vital utilities, to create a race to the bottom competitive deregulated free market economy (which is unfortunately central to the woes we have now). Because privatisation was meant to result in trickle-down economics. In which, wealth would be distributed evenly throughout society. However, instead, it has become nothing more than a profit-making machine- one that’s designed to grab public attention and win successive elections.

We have ended up with a system of corporate greed.

Wealth has been hoarded by a tiny percentage of our population: creating millionaires and billionaires, at one end of the spectrum, and leading to poverty at the bottom.

However, the pandemic highlighted all too clearly the priorities our current government has, in which people are treated as if they are commodities.

The mere fact that our hospitality sector was opened up before schools, proved that the economy is prioritised over the needs of people.

Yet surely education should have been more important!

Mixed messages and late decisions, during the pandemic, also added to this narrative of people being a commodity. Their value is, under this premise, linked to their Labour. Those who do not create wealth for the economy can be seen as a burden, and as disposable members of society.

This narrative, unintentionally, fed into conspiracy theories that took off on social media. Conspiracies that suggested that the Pandemic was a plandemic, and not a natural occurrence.

Obviously, I am not suggesting that this is true.

I am merely demonstrating how conspiracies can take hold- and before you know it, they seem more real than life itself.

Conspiracies are very much akin to dystopian novels that have gained popularity of late. As Finley Jackson described, in his article: DYSTOPIAN LITERATURE: A TRANSGRESSIVE WARNING FOR THE FUTURE, society seems to be mirroring the despair felt by the characters of these dystopian novels. Media really doesn’t help with this idea of dystopia, with their narratives of fear. Such narratives, highlight issues such as war, conflict, and corruption in our political system, as well as the flagrant greed of large corporations.

How are we to navigate around such a minefield of information? And how are we to distinguish between fact and fiction? Or propaganda and truth?

Yet the truth is really something that is very subjective. It can often depend on someone’s political persuasion or even their particular worldview.

The most popular of these conspiracy theories that got spread, across much of social media, suggested that this crisis is part of some big WEF (World Economic Forum) plan.

OK, even though, some of the links that conspiracists made are plausible; much of the details, in these theories, are like something taken out of a science fiction film.

It really seems unlikely that all the nations in the world would unite in such a way- let alone organise themselves in a way, to make it look like it was not a deliberate population cull.

Although it is unlikely that there is some conspiracy to kill us all off.

However, we cannot fail to notice that this crisis has already led to an increase in deaths (above what is normal for this time of year).

But, I hear you say, there have been many times in history when population numbers have contracted. Yes, this is true, but it almost feels like we are now dialing back on some of the human progress that has been made. This brings us back to the subject of inequality, and what it is that has led to it increasing in more recent years.

Although many people may disagree with me, depending on their own situation, structural issues have led to the crisis we are now in, and this is undoubtedly down to the persistent push towards privatisation.

Where this will all end is anyone’s guess!

Whether people believe in conspiracy theories or not, it really isn’t difficult to see the chaos that Britain is in at the moment. One can only hope that life starts to calm down, sooner rather than later, and that the next government has a plan to calm this storm.

Published by Karen Burns

A 50-year-old mother of 3. Graduated from Warwick University in 2021 (with a degree in Social Studies). I have chronic illness, which affects my mobility. However, I love writing and I am a prolific writer of poetry as well.

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