Monday, April 09, 2007

Social contracts

Oh dear. I'm going to criticise one of the bloggers I most enjoy reading, again, for the second time in as many days. Chris Dillow argued, in the context of the Iranian hostage crisis, that:

the implicit contract that encouraged previous POWs to behave so stoically has broken. They kept silent because they believed their commanding officers (which includes politicians) would bust a gut to free them - and if they didn't do so, it was only because there were greater, nobler, objectives to pursue.
I suspect the reason the Navy 15 blabbed so appallingly was that they didn't believe there was such a contract. They felt that their COs, and Beckett and Blair, didn't give a toss if they rotted for years in an Iranian jail. They thought it was every man (and woman) for himself. So they did what they thought best for themselves.
Of course, I don't expect them to corroborate this hunch. But could it be that what the hostages revealed was not merely the Dianafication of Britain, but the individualization of Britain, and the collapse of collectivism?
1940s society was collective? 1980s society was collective?

A better word might be "conservative". "Traditional", even. The social contract has broken down, yes, but its been broken down by a set of mores that denounce individualism. What has happened, quite simply, is New Labour.

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