A recent reading on the French economy mentioned the development of a social anaesthesia state since the 1980s, within France, paralleling movements towards decentralisation, marketisation and the replacement of a statist mentality to more neoliberal framed constructions. Ironically, such a movement actually saw increased public spending, as they grappled with the various interests effected by the switch. Therefore, increased spending on welfare, for instance, helped with the formation of a social anaesthesia state, in an attempt to dampen the pain associated with cuts in services, and the inadequate transfers of funds between state and local authorities whilst functions from the centre to the decentralised zones were carried out more in theory than practice.
In a similar vein, the UK government’s plans, especially in line with constructs such as the ‘big society’, will result in higher spending on many social support services like welfare as people lose their job, and search for any sort of assistance they can. However, charities are being merged, destroyed and cut back whilst the government preaches about a ‘big society’ (well Cameron, seeing as many within the government are fastly distancing themselves from the vacuous rhetoric). Therefore, whilst spending will increase on things such as welfare through people being effected job, health wise etc., the venomous way the Tories are attacking our welfare system and services will mean that a social anaesthesia state is not implemented. Implicated within many of the government’s policies is a destruction of services and support for people, as marginalised groups are marginalised even further. With a continual declining slope towards neoliberalism, internationally as well (see recent blog on this), alongside the state being destructively attacked and dismantled, there is a lack of actual protection against the growth of dissent.
With the government only a year old, it is clear they are one of the most regressive governments to exist. The economic, political and social direction is worse than Thatcher. Our systems of support are being torn down beneath our eyes. As the cuts become more engrained, as more people’s lives are dismantled the stronger apathy – but also political resistance – will become. Without an anaesthesia construct, with the big society attempt rapidly failing apart, resistance will grow. The problem is translating this resistance into real change, given the corrupt international political system we find ourselves within.