Comments for en-gb 30 Sun 04 Oct 2015 17:22:22 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at aristotles23 No comments since 07 Apr? Come on people,surely you have all got more to add,argument to set forward..Its so dispiriting having the last word..Someone,anyone,please disagree..... Wed 14 Apr 2010 18:31:01 GMT+1 aristotles23 At 8*48 pm on 22nd Mar 2010 Trainee anarchist wrote: You cannot be civilised and a capitalist at the same time..Wrong...The definition of civilised is "The result of organised URBAN living,as a response to the political and cultural endemics inherent in the URBANISED STATE"In other words it really just defines the attributes of a society accustomed to living in towns and cities and all that that entails,including but not exclusively confined,to expected behavioural norms.Capitalism is defined as pursuing personal or group gains by the application of the theory and practice of profit.Profit as a concept is dependent on the ability of the pursuant to realise gain by the sale of goods or services for more than production cost and/or more than the considered value.The two are by no means inextricable or even combinatory as principles or results of "civilised" living.The word civilised only indirectly infers some kind of moral probity as result of,or prerequisite to,urban living.Words mean specific things and we need to use the words we really mean.Civilised behaviour only really means "The behaviour of those who live in urban environments."I hope this is clear enough. Wed 07 Apr 2010 13:17:56 GMT+1 aristotles23 This idea ,if put into action,would return us to a form of feudalism in terms of service provision.Forget the red-herrings of "civic pride","engagement" and self-reliance.These are just phantoms of an idealised society.This is really all about cash-strapped central government paving the way for smaller, under-funded councils,which will have almost zero responsibility to provide services.What will community volunteers do when someone in the community needs expensive professional care or services that they themselves cannot provide and that their community budget cannot afford?Does anyone seriously believe that local government will leave the local population to take over the infrastructure and run services?If the councils do not accept this change,how will "the community"provide anything approaching adequate services? If the proposal was that we could return to a form of Borough Councils,as opposed to district or regional councils,I would support that.All this rubbish about restoring civic pride is just a smokescreen of emotive,propagandist tosh,aimed at obscuring the reality of such ludicrous and dangerous proposals.Wake up!,for goodness sake, and see through this blatant, trial-run of abdication by government,national and local.The great work done by people volunteering just needs recognised and rewarded,dont add to the workload,just make legal provision for any given community to oversee the work of and policies of their local council,to scrutinise budgets and set ceiling levels on top-layer salaries of council leaders.All this other stuff is just obscuring the truth of the situation.There is no way that volunteers can provide equality of services across the entire country,impossible!The disparity of the national demographic makes that last assertion a certainty.The disparity of needs makes service provision problematic,to say the least never mind continuity of resource availability.What a stupid idea!Sometimes it seems that sense is not so common,it seems quite rare at the moment... Mon 05 Apr 2010 12:06:26 GMT+1 aristotles23 How can we "come together" in any broad,national sense,when our "communities" are made up of such disparate groups,each with their own agenda,each vying for funding,each convinced that they are truly "representative"Cohesion is a function of the bonded group or population,one which already has common bonds,usually of family,culture,language,religion etc.When "diversity" is the norm we find that only small sub-sections of a given local population come forward as bonded cohesive groups.Are the councils of the future to be limited to these kinds of "community groups"Almost exactly like the Gauleiter system I posted a comment about on "Camerons neighbourhood army"?That system was unfair and led to councils opting out of their responsibilities,because the communities were "doing it for themselves" We cannot allow tax-funded councils to withdraw service provision in the name of small government.The pitfalls inherent in such a ludicrous idea are so obvious that I wonder why we are debating it at all.Do we want to find that,for instance,care provision for the elderly.disabled and invalids has to rely on donation funded charities who may or may not be able to provide the levels of care needed?Relying on individuals in the "community" to provide "out of hours" services?If councils are going to be allowed to abdicate their responsibilities,then it follows that the people will have to withdraw funding from their council and form a council themselves.Why? When the councils are already there,should we dispense with them,only to have to form our own?This is a very bad idea and will only lead to more disparity between those who can afford,and those who cannot.Further polarisation of our nation and our "communities" serves only to make the problems worse and even less resolvable if we take this route.Using the past to develop foresight is something we seem to have forgotten how to do.The word soviet means "peoples council",do we want to have the "soviet" system as the way we conduct our relationship with the state?I dont think so..I hope not..It was a disaster for the economy of the USSR and millions suffered and died because of it.It did not do the Germans any good either,creating lots of little fiefdoms for those who had got themselves in charge of local"community work groups"(Arbeit Gemeinschaft).See where this madness leads?....lets not do this,please.... Mon 05 Apr 2010 10:11:14 GMT+1 Cyclops1000 How interesting your 'Blog' Mark. How refreshing to read a sensible reflection about 'Civilisation'. I read your disclosures about the disgraceful treatment of the 'Children' in the Governments 'Immigrant Detention Centres in England; Christmas morning 2009. If my own experience regarding getting this disgraceful Government Policy ........Institutional Child abuse .......'STOPPED'. I'm afraid I have to tell you.'Where ignorance is 'bliss' It's folly to be wise!. I believe that'the Pen' is mightier than the sword (all beit, a word processer). So all power to your elbowMark.There are 'Kindred Spirits' abroad!Cyclops Fri 02 Apr 2010 19:12:14 GMT+1 Ionium "When the big freeze hit parts of the UK earlier this year, I remember watching a lawyer on the local news warning viewers against clearing ice from the pavement outside their homes. The message was that the street was the responsibility of the council and private individuals could face an action for damages if they interfered."Your not alone in watching this news report and feeling horrified that some fool "official" actually made that remark after the previous news reports were all hinting at the blitz spirit and people working together.We need more responsible reporting if we are as a country to get back to that community spirit I see far too many hyped news stories that do nothing but cause fear, inaction and prejudice. Sun 28 Mar 2010 19:45:23 GMT+1 wrongsteeple This sudden interest in the 'civic' presumably reflects parties considering the most economic way to perform politics - by having people do the work of the paid state for free. Millions of people have plenty of time on their hands due to the great social and economic policies of successive governments. So this is a timely return to the 'civic'. If you could just show a bit more interest, calm down at the back, and do a spot of litter picking, everything will be fine. Sat 27 Mar 2010 22:53:47 GMT+1 David Gale I'm not sure I really understand the full implications (or possibly even the intented thrust!) but it something to do with Society as a whole versus Groups and Individuals. If I've got that right how does it square with Individual Human Rights since it seems to me inevitable that if responsibility, rights, accountablity are to be devolved then variation is inevitable, a post code lottery if you like. Is that acceptable? Or is the growth of "Big" Government, responsible for delivering everything, including absolute fairness, to everybody, and goaded by the insatiable and increasingly massive media appetite for sensational and individually emotion driven stories, the inevitable result our society's demand for fairness. Sat 27 Mar 2010 20:03:13 GMT+1 totallyunbiased Looking back at when I was about 14 to 20 (in the 1980s), my mind's ability to think about subjects such as this appears poor. I used to experience this vague feeling in my mind that there were certain powerful adults in my near and far society that basically just wanted to exploit me, make me believe their arbitrary or dubious thoughts or lies, and generally follow their ways. I felt they had no interest in what I wanted, or what might be true or decent. It was difficult for ideas such as personal obligation to really drive my being at the time, because part of me was in a confused state of rebellion. I see this in some young people today, but by no means all. It doesn't mean these youngsters are bad people, but it does sometimes contribute to them doing bad things(bad for themselves as well as others). I came from a comprehensive school background, and I feel my schooling generally left me ignorant and ill-equipped in terms of becoming a high functioning adult sooner rather than later. The wider society also seemed to be designed for thugs and established power groups to get what they wanted, so this didn't help my prejudice. I've forgotten where I was going with this... :] Sat 27 Mar 2010 17:50:59 GMT+1 ace riley A civil society? not in britain,im 60 years old and ive worked in night clubs and ive known theives and gangsters but none of them were animals like we have in britain now?We have children killing each other pensioners being attacked and killed (This isnt a civilised society)The only way that we can civilise these animals is to reintroduce control of our school children by using the so called draconian measures (corporal punishment)this would instill control back in our schools.And we need the death sentence reintroduced in britain,and i know what the bleeding heart liberals all scream? "What happens if you kill a innocent person?"But that also goes for all those innocent victims we have each year.pensioners by the dozen are being targetted each month "What about their human rights" nobody is standing on their side shouting enough is enough.SICK AND TIRED OF SITTING BACK AND WATCHING INNOCENT VICTIMS BEING IGNORED BY THIS USELESS SYSTEM WE HAVE IN BRITAIN (NO JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS,ONLY HELP FOR THE CRIMINALS). Sat 27 Mar 2010 13:47:08 GMT+1 Ageofreason All based on the best of Western liberal thinking"do on to others etc. But we are a diverse society with many cultures. Unfortunatley not all are friendly to this hard won ethos. Bonding and bridging is fine, however trying to build a bridge from one side of the bank, is asking for problems Fri 26 Mar 2010 18:04:28 GMT+1 confusus In order to be a civil society you must first be civil! We are not; we are forced to be PC, this is not civil as its function is to contain, increase and highlight differences and privileges, whether real or perceived! Disadvantaging the majority in favour of the minority (who have it tougher)!Comply with the laws, not our laws, but the laws of the land! Do not like them, change them through the same methods we do, at the ballet and by protesting. Not through screams of discrimination and fanatics! Or go! This is one land where freedom of entry and leave are quite clear, particularly the entry.Community come when groups work for an agreed common good! Not when govUK gives a grant to this, that or some other group for their project! Caring politicos, local faced councils and community leaders (all a group of oxymorons in reality) do not like this approach it removes power and, therefore removes, more importantly budget!Community will only come when they get one with it, not those from outside try to impose, or some groups have priority! The community has priority not the “leaders”. That is the end of logic and compassion, “community leader” has pay and no other worthwhile function! Where is the income to come? The evil ones’ want them to work – like the common plebes! Thu 25 Mar 2010 17:14:42 GMT+1 SnoddersB Since this government came to power the lawyers have had a field day lead by Cherie Blair. The fact is that you can be sued for injuries to a person who breaks into your house had hurts tham selves let alone is injured while defending yourself and family. This is why the people of the country do nothing to help others. Just stopping to help someone who is injured will result in a day in court if the person or their relatives think that what you did made the situation worse. This country is coming apart at the seame due to multiculturalism and other isms imposed by Blair, Brown and Brussels. Wed 24 Mar 2010 07:05:33 GMT+1 John Ellis Seagull been thinking about the reality of this event.we have, as a society just raised £29m for good causes.generosity via guilt trip does not make for a functioning merely replicates Ibid's 'Someone else' someone else ran a thousand miles someone else water skied the channel someone else did a lot of other things and full credit to someone else on these awe inspiring feats, its just a pity it takes someone else to get everyone else involved for the few seconds it took to text a £5 or a £10 donation.For 7 whole hours of entertaining guilt WE became a community. Still leaves 4373 of the 4380 before the next guilt trip is humorlessly started to make us all feel better about ourselves.Don't get me wrong its fantastic that this happens but look at the feats undertaken in order to get Us motivated to do something... Tue 23 Mar 2010 13:18:18 GMT+1 pandatank #16. bluntjeremy wrote:MarkWe the general public have been disenfranchised over the past 13 years. The Police have told us not to intervene when we see something going wrong, but to call them. Usually totally ineffectively. When we did interfere, often we ended up being charged, not the original perpetrators. It's called hitting targets rather than using old fashioned discretion whan applying the law.Our community is markedly less cohesive: many immigrant groups fail to integrate. Whenever there is a problem, Labour have said the State will sort it. It hasn't.P.S. Why no comment on last week's utterly damning report of Labour's failure to deal with anti-social behaviour and bullying? OR the fact that fanatical muslims have allegedly forced conversions and taken control of our prisons? Aren't these issues more germane to your readers' everyday concerns than some pretty weak sophistry? No sublime, just the absurd."We were actually disenfranchised when the first quango was formed.Fortunately, (or unfortunately if you believe the tabloids), the BBC still has to report factually when calling it the News. This means that they can't peddle the agenda of a "Broken Britain" by making stories up to 'prove' (by anecdote) how this country is going to hell in a handcart held back only by our fearless and tireless crusaders at News International. The sheer numbers of "fanatical muslims" in prison must show this to be non-story even if forced conversion was occurring. The Police haven't told us not to interfere, the media have, by making "heroes" out of vigilantes who went too far (reasonable force?). Our "compensation culture" makes the lowest proportion of claims in Europe. Perhaps our many immigrant groups find it difficult to integrate because alongside our "feral kids" they seem to be #1 Boogie Man for trash journalism (and are only terrorists who haven't committed an atrocity yet, [emoticon for sarcasm needed here])Daily Parliament writes laws in response to (largely made up) media 'outrages & scandals' where "something must be done" (namely, apply the existing laws and let the law take it's course) These largely have the effect of undermining the perfectly adequate existing law and occasionally applying to situations unenvisaged during drafting e.g. Making employers responsible for out of work "harassment" of colleagues, but utterly failing to prevent Celebrity stalking or modify papparazzi behaviour. Tue 23 Mar 2010 13:17:13 GMT+1 D British soceity is in declien beacuse of two facts the first the frise of fascism and secodnly the blame culture, fascism is now widely accepted in this country which is funny when you consider that Europe is doing its best to bring fascists to court, and Brits are protesting to remove the rights from non whites, and are willing to use liberals and ethnics to blame for thie own prejiduces and failings, every city up and down the UK has civic draining estates of predominantly white 3rd 4th generation unemployed and violent groups. and yet the media and government choose to pander to that demographic over the ratio stronger ethnic communities who are working harder under the threat of increases violence and reduced opportunites. The brit has sunken to a new low where being upwardly mobile involves attacking others! Tue 23 Mar 2010 12:07:34 GMT+1 kanchman If the elected government of the day spent more time working in favour of the people instead of facilitating big businesses then we would indeed have a fairer society to live in. This in turn allows people to live their lives in a more civilized manner. As things stand, how many people actually trust the government ( regardless of lab/con/libdem ) to behave in an altruistic manner? Tue 23 Mar 2010 08:23:42 GMT+1 Trainee Anarchist You cannot be 'civilised' and a capitalist at the same time.A civilised society would not have bankers etc awarding themselves obscene bonuses whilst we have an underclass of poor people.A civilised society would have nothing to do with MP's who have abrogated morality for money.A civilised society would be concerned for society as a whole....and do we see this in our society when the last 30 years has been dog eat dog which is a capitalist virtue? A civilised society would not be killing kids and others in far off lands.As Maggie once said "What society?" Mon 22 Mar 2010 20:48:41 GMT+1 spreadbetter Same old, same old. We wont get anything like the social cohesion sought while there are armies of interfering council non-job 'experts' pestering the rest of us to obey, note, not discuss, but OBEY - their every petty fogging rule and regulation. This labour Gov can harp on all they want about choice, opportunity etc, we all know the mantra, and we all live with the results of their ill considered ideological drivel. Why cant they all, I mean every so called expert, either put up or shut up. I for one am completely sick of the lot of them. Mon 22 Mar 2010 16:01:56 GMT+1 Seagull Well yes there is a still alot to do to improve our society and we should never let the politicians rest until it is all done...BUTwe have, as a society just raised £29m for good causes.I live in a small town where we have a bonfire society, a beach clean up society, a marine society, a coastal watch society, a summer festival society, a street dance club for kids...well the list goes on.All that work is voluntary. We can't be the only town blessed with kind people who give up their time for others.And isn't that what a civilsed society is all about? Sun 21 Mar 2010 19:55:50 GMT+1 stanilic 44: Good on you, Tony! That's the way to do it: look out for each other!41: Daisy Chained. I know how you feel but the 4X4 is on HP and the restaurant bill is on the credit card. He actually has less than you. Sun 21 Mar 2010 17:36:04 GMT+1 Tony Pearce I think that Governments in general are now less and less important in our fact they may never have been that important anyway.The Internet has uncovered anything the Government wants hidden...soldiers abusing captured enemy...banning bibles and books...I run a small Community Cafe serving about 600 people a week. We give each others lifts, we hug each other, we loan money, we celebrate births, we discuss everything..nothing is off limits..we don't use terms such as Racist, Sexist, Homophobic...everyone's ideas are valid whether we agree or not....we discuss the meaning of Christian Doctrine but the teachings of Jesus and other well known religious leaders often form the basis to get us going..We discuss how to avoid new Government initiatives for raising tax..We survive and look forward to seeing each other again tomorrow. Sun 21 Mar 2010 17:18:42 GMT+1 ajollygoodriddancetoall So, according to the comments on here:-1) Blame Mrs Thatcher (0xdeadbeef...) and/or2) Become bl**dy patronizing in the process (Whistling Neil...)Pretty much sums up most if not all BBC blog comments. Sun 21 Mar 2010 10:14:47 GMT+1 iNotHere 28. At 3:22pm on 19 Mar 2010, Whistling NeilExcellent post. Sat 20 Mar 2010 16:50:47 GMT+1 Daisy Chained Here is a tiny example of what a divided society does for us. I have just finished my weekly shopping carrying two very heavy bags of shopping home from my "local" mega-store, twenty five minutes away and no buses!I am crossing a side road when some trench-coated idiot in his expensive new 4x4 roars around the corner driving past me and almost knocking me down. He obviously represents our great nouveau rich, more money than brains, and similar exhaust gases emitting from either end of his person. "My time and my life are more important than your time or your life could ever be" his shiny engine roars at me.Now when he comes to use the local upmarket restaurant, which he will do, I will remember him, and his wonderful clothes will look even better with a cream of tomato hue added to them. It'll be worth getting the sack for. Sat 20 Mar 2010 09:12:23 GMT+1 Neal C You note in the article"It also risks infantilising people with the belief that the quality of their lives is the responsibility of someone else."Something of a paradox then that, in a democracy, those who a perceive a nanny state will always lay the blame for this with the government. Fri 19 Mar 2010 23:52:51 GMT+1 John Ellis Seems the EU is to get a little more civalized. drug policies in the European Union have done more harm than good. That is the conclusion of a Public Hearing on EU’s Drug Policy that took place in the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday 23 February.Why did we not here so much as a whisper of this.? Fri 19 Mar 2010 23:34:19 GMT+1 BobRocket # 18 DaisyChainedA powerful post, all the more impressive for 5 to 7 in the morning.Having read all the comments it seems that most respondents are not all that impressed with those that we have given authority to.Take it back then. Fri 19 Mar 2010 22:23:42 GMT+1 Will P Very interesting and thought provoking article, although I'm left slightly unsure what Mark's point is about encouraging civil society. If the point of civil society is that its grassroots in nature, surely it isn't for "our political masters" to push, pull or cajole us into being better citizens? Individually we'll either see the mutual benefit of helping others, or we won't. Some of us are great citizens and socially active, others aren't. Most of us probably somewhere in the middle. I see no real problem in the UK, as the report uncontroversially found. But having lived in both the countryside and city, I must say I felt far more social cohesion in the village than I ever did in the city. Maybe our gradual shift towards citylife has ebbed away our sense of civil society? Its only a hunch...On the example of sweeping away the snow from the streets, and in response to #6, having just spent the entire winter in Poland - I have a few observations which might be interesting. In Poland, its the responsibility of the owners of the property facing the street to clean away any snow. Anyone slipping on ice caused by uncleared snow could theoretically sue the owner, as I understand the law here. The result, clean pavements, even during the most inclemant weather. Whether this is a by-product of the communist era or something else, I like to think its just a simple solution to a rather simple problem. We walk our streets, you walk outside your house every day, why not make it safer for yourself, your guests and any passer-by? As a meerkat has been saying recently - Simples!Finally, one word on the phenomena of Polish "milkbars". In the UK I think we'd probably call them glorified soup kitchens. Simple, very cheap, hot food served canteen style. They are a way of life for your average Pole. And they are a total and utter delight. I find it truly heartwarming that I can dine well for the equivalent of a few pence and see all walks of life sharing the same food. For the old, especially, they are vital places where they can enjoy a community spirit and be well fed. Everyone has dignity, no-one feels like they are poor or living on handouts.Yes, they're a communist relic, but the fact that they are still Government subsidised and always busy makes me think they have a great future. I'm certainly not glorifying Poland as the model of a civil society. But I am suggesting that there are modes of community behaviour and structures which do seem to offer something better than the current UK fare. But I do believe that we, as inviduals, you and me, are the ones who really drive civil society. If we backseat drive those in power, we'll get nowhere, fast! Fri 19 Mar 2010 20:07:43 GMT+1 John Ellis LOL Ibid_ i like that 'Someone else' usualy Me or the Mrs is the someone else. Fri 19 Mar 2010 18:50:16 GMT+1 John Ellis cdsnhf Very nice and it does make life so satisfying for everyone involved when one does things for ones self and suddenly discover that actually its what a lot of people want but didn't know how to.We started 4 years ago doing things differently for ourselves we have won an award and have achieved a great deal with a lot of effort. It would be nice if more people had the time to get involved with each other, it would certainly get the councils of there bums to keep up with the civic improvements that people like us engage in. We the public have become to dependent on this nanny state and blame them for our own failings. Fri 19 Mar 2010 18:48:03 GMT+1 Ibid #28. Whistling NeilAbsolutely spot on. *We* need to take responsibility and stop using excuses. We have what we deserve and are all as bad as each other. If you want it to change, do something.I heard this recently. It's pretty familar but seems apt here:SOMEONE ELSEI know that all of you will be saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our most valuable acquaintances; Someone Else. Someone Else’s passing creates a gap that will be difficult to fill.Our friend had been with us for many years, and for every one of those years, Someone Else did more than the normal person’s share of the work. Whenever leadership was called for, this wonderful individual was looked to for inspiration as well as results.Whenever there was a job to do, a problem to tackle, a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s lips. “Let Someone Else do it,” everybody would say. It was common knowledge that whenever the need arose, Someone Else was one of the biggest contributors of time, spirit, self and resources. Whatever the shortfall, everyone assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was an extraordinary person, almost superhuman. But a person can only do so much.Were the truth known, everyone expected too much of Someone Else. Someone Else set a wonderful example for us to follow. But now, Someone Else is gone.Who is going to do all the things we expected Someone Else to do? We can’t depend on Someone Else anymore. Fri 19 Mar 2010 17:54:05 GMT+1 John Ellis Kit there a strange bunch I wrote to My Mp asking her to sign an early day motion about Dave Nutt she wrote back saying that she would not and that she supported Mr A Jointson, that cannabis has nothing to do with street crime. That the doubling in price would not have an effect on street crime or other drugs.I wonder if Ms A Eagle still feels the same. Fri 19 Mar 2010 17:53:22 GMT+1 0xdeadbeef Big or small, laissez-faire or social-engineered, in a supposed democracy you get the state you deserve in the end.Civil society has a simple root, no matter how ill-defined it is in it's totality - it is respect for one's neighbour.The buck stops with the traitorous, authoritarian Thatcher and her familiars in industry. Fri 19 Mar 2010 17:36:39 GMT+1 cdsnhf We have found that by chosing to educate our children out of school, that we have almost perforce, but actually very willingly, become much more active in a civic sort of a way. For example, we organise classes of all sorts and various social meetings for our children where we find ourselves picking up the rubbish outside village halls and scrubbing these halls clean because we care that the children can have a nice time in a nice space. We clear rivers of rubbish. We grit the roads because the children need to get out to see their friends. Our children volunteer for all sorts of stuff, in UK and abroad. Taking full responsibility for something we care about so much, ie: the education of our children, means that we are highly motivated to sort out their/our world!I am quite sure that had I sat back and simply sent my children to free-at-point-of-delivery school, we wouldn't have found ourselves nearly so busy in a civic sort of a way. Fri 19 Mar 2010 17:27:48 GMT+1 Kit Green 27. At 2:41pm on 19 Mar 2010, CommunityCriminal wrote:"The constituents can suggest things but they are wrong and ill vote and move policy n the direction I want even if its against the wants and needs of constituents......"-------------------------------------------------This is where a real democracy is needed. There will always have to be guidance for the people but it must be both honest and realistic. This is all part of the fine line between mob rule and democratic society. Fri 19 Mar 2010 16:16:44 GMT+1 John Ellis Mark this must be a hard week for you all these drugs and no blog... slipping there.. Fri 19 Mar 2010 16:00:35 GMT+1 Whistling Neil 25 Doctor Bob:You miss the problem entirely - society was not taken away from the us, we gave it away as a society by general apathy. We have a democracy, we elect representatives to a parliament to govern the state on our behalf. And yet what did we do time after time, line up behind one of two parties almost religiously whether they were any good or not. The Labour and Conservative parties of today are totally unlike their forebears yet we have a majority of constituencies where being voted in for one of them is a lifetime job guarantee and has been for 60 years or more in some cases, there is just reasoning to a view than many of our countrymen would vote for a donkey provided it wore the 'right' coloured rosette. When it dawned that voting for one of two main parties was pretty pointless what did 'we' do , well many just stopped bothering rather than actually doing something about it. We have local authorities yet the majority cannot even be bothered to go out and vote at all - this leaves the way open for engaged ideologues to take over the asylum. They then do what they want safe in the knowledge that the electorate will not bother doing anything about it. They run things like their own private fief with little reference to local desires.We deferred to red top media calls for do something whenever they chose to have a campaign - bans this, do something about this on every topic. Papers have 364 days a year to get in a tissy over something - too much time is wasted in parliament pandering to their false indignations. Never once did anyone seem to stop and think, why should the government be the one to do something about this? Kneejerk vox pop something must be done - well guess what if a representative government hears that the public want something done , they do something. Apathy is contagious - Marks comments on the snow thing encapsulates this - becuase we cannot be bothered to go out in the cold to clear snow we invent some spurious reason why we cannot be bothered as it is someone elses responsibility. Well it can be provided we pay for it - but that strikes the other facet of modern society - we all want something for nothing (or provided someone else pays) and resent paying for what it is we actually wanted. If we want the council to clear the snow from our pavements within hours of a fall well guess what it will cost a fortune and then we woudl complain about that.Society is us. If we wish to lead grossly over consuming lives solely focussed on what we can get out of others, worrying about my money and my car and my house etc etc then you know what - this is the society we created for ourselves. It is not what governments were created to do but we pushed them into it.An echo of Kennedys famous speach "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" - if society spends it's time asking what the government can do for them rather than doing for themeselves, democratic representatives are only too happy to oblige.No one, genius or not is going to "give society back" we society must take it back by taking responsibility for it. You are echoing the problem - by asking for someone to do it for you. Take responsibility for it, join a party, set up your own, stand on your own platform as an independent - engage in the debate for the betterment of society.Leave it to others or the government - and nothing will change. Fri 19 Mar 2010 15:22:52 GMT+1 John Ellis I think Ann Widdecombe MP said it all the other day in 'The People's Politician'.The constituents can suggest things but they are wrong and ill vote and move policy n the direction I want even if its against the wants and needs of constituents......There to serve ones self and not her constituency, then has the audacity to blame the voters for being disconnected with her. Fri 19 Mar 2010 14:41:55 GMT+1 thtone There is the challenge. If WE are serious about empowering OUR POLITICAL MASTERS, encouraging and trusting them to take responsibility, THEY must be able to spot the difference between "bonding" and "bridging" and also between individualism and communitarianism.IF WE GET it wrong AGAIN WE WILL DESTROY civil society ???? Fri 19 Mar 2010 14:29:25 GMT+1 Doctor Bob I'm afraid that society has become simply a mass of individuals who no longer share orientations in a way that builds a society. Behaviour is engineered by the media and government. We're all consumers. We work so we can earn money so we can consume. Recall the almost desperate demand from the government in these hard times to "buy more stuff!" - the car scrappage scheme: "buy more cars!" People no longer have a role in this mess other than to consume.But as the State has taken over organising our lives it has made a hopeless mess. It introduces legislation so loose that abuse is inevitable. It procures IT projects at the lowest bid that just don't work. Remember the SATS marking fiasco, the Student Loans system that was virtually untested; the NHI system so gargantuan it never got off the ground? They really don't know what's what. They can't co-ordinate, they've reduced every function to a tangle of bureaucracy (which is by its nature almost entirely defensive: "Have we followed the procedures properly?" "Yes." "Good, then we're covered".) Except their bureaucracy does is riddled with internal conflicts. They watch us every moment of the day: CCTV, ANPR, Council snoops, monitoring our phone calls, internet communications and so on... Next they'll want to outlaw cash so they'll know just what we're spending our money on and where...But what have we got for it? A country that's economically and socially out of control. We have stress-laden workplaces, anarchy on our streets, very weird demands on drug prohibition. We've been stripped of parental powers; schools are unable to exercise corporal discipline. There is no solution to the trouble brought on by low-life criminals. Social Services are inadequate, the Police can't cope with their workload. The gov stockpiles data about you in systems that are as watertight as a collander... All that data about you. What, you might ask, would happen if a new Hitler came along?Well, it's going to take a genius to DO SOMETHING about giving society back to us. I'd love to see a lot more direct democracy: more referenda so us lot can decide whether we want this or that banned, whether we should go to wars that aren't ours, etc., and what to do about low-level, drink-fuelled crime on our streets, etc, ad naus. Fri 19 Mar 2010 13:09:58 GMT+1 stanilic Talking about `bridging' reminds me of a speech made by the Reverend Doctor Ian Kyle Paisley almost forty years ago in which he declared `that a bridge and a traitor have one thing in common: they both go over to the other side.'Ah, joys of times long gone! The delineation between civil society and the state got badly messed up in the war due to the mobilisation of labour. Then rather than allow everything to quietly return to some semblance of normality afterwards the British state embarked upon a huge social experiment of an activist state organising the lives of the people. This is how it has largely stayed since apart from token localistic noises from a certain famous female Tory leader who actually managed to centralise the state far more than before whilst articulating the idea of rolling back the state. I can recall in the Fifties and Sixties the destruction of streets of perfectly good houses which just lacked proper plumbing and their replacement with huge tower blocks, destroying the social networks which had permated the former steets and alleys for a century or more. Then there was the dispersion of people from the old town centres to the new towns: a further destruction of old relationships.Then as society's natural disciplines degraded the police abandoned the streets for the comfort of their cars and their nice new offices, leaving the public defenceless. Then when the public hit back against the criminals they harrassed and arrested the public. This is the state at its most destructive, as now the public is fearful of asserting its proper role as the true arbiter of social discipline for fear of imprisonment.The state has now gone too far. It is too big and too expensive. It is too remote from the ordinary people in their everyday life. Politicians talk condescendingly of `local' people: no, we are not local people we just haven't got your inflated ego. We are all equal, we are all the people and there is no other.It is not a case of rolling back the frontiers of the state or reducing bureaucracy, it is about making the state the servant of the people. The simple reality is that if the state does not serve the people then what is the point of it? Fri 19 Mar 2010 12:31:24 GMT+1 John Ellis megan yes very true DIM do It Myself.Our community has been for a while.1 community garden 1 community allotment and now a community centre.All government and councils say is NO to this and NO to that.DisgustedofMitchham2 yup PMQ's are nothing more than playground bulling and name calling. Respect starts at the top, and there is no Respect to be found. Fri 19 Mar 2010 12:31:02 GMT+1 LippyLippo For a civilised society to work, you need to feel like part of something. To feel part of something, you need to have something in common with other members of the society. All the time that we preach individualism, rather than collectivism, we only emphasise our differences and not our similarities. We've seen the gradual erosion of everything that makes us feel part of something. Religion, family, stable jobs... all the things that push different people together and form the bonds that bind communities, are loosening. Us Brits have always been insular - and proud of it! We couldn't abide Johnny Foreigner but at least we had each other. But the last 30 years of unbroken monetarism have tempted us all away from the inconveniences of religion and family etc., and we have become much more fractured and mistrustful - even of each other. We fill the void with hedonism and the pursuit of money, and big businesses (who stand to benefit from this view of things), encourage us all the way. The more divided our society becomes, the more money they make, and the more they have to convince us to continue. The complaints about 'Nanny State' and 'Big Brother' Governments are miles wide of the mark - banks and businesses run our country and successive Governments have basically just stood back and let us get on with it. Dog eat dog. It was always going to come to a crashing halt, and maybe it's a good thing, however painful it might be. Money has only made us jealous and mistrustful of each other. It's time for the Government to actually start governing, but they'll only do this once train has crashed into the buffers and we're all reeling about in search of guidance. Fri 19 Mar 2010 11:58:04 GMT+1 DisgustedOfMitcham2 There's something deeply ironic about politicians telling the rest of us how to be "civilised".Have you ever watched PMQs? Most primary school playgrounds are considerably more civilised than that.Still, the underlying idea is an interesting one. But like jon112uk (#19), I rather suspect that nothing much is likely to happen to improve social cohesion. The activities of recent governments have been moving firmly in the opposite direction, and I don't sense any appetite among the main parties to reverse that trend. Fri 19 Mar 2010 11:07:11 GMT+1 Megan It is becoming clear that the way forward is for communities and individuals to step up and take control of their own lives. The shabby behaviour and mediocre performance of 'national' politicians (of all parties) shows them unworthy of being hired to run things on our behalf. Central government is an expensive luxury conferring little benefit and it is not value for money.Local and accountable control of public money being used solely to benefit the community is what is needed. Political rhetoric does not help in the slightest, it's bereft of the vision needed to move forwards - we need people to represent our interests, not those of whatever party they happen to support.We need to be more demanding of anyone who sets themselves forward as a representative, insisting that they do our bidding and empower our voices to be heard. Anyone who does not want to comply is not fit to be a representative. Fri 19 Mar 2010 09:11:43 GMT+1 jon112dk Nice theory but long gone in the real world.All working together? A sense that you were putting yourself out a bit due to a sense of duty to something more important than yourself? I think I was a big believer in that at one time.Thatcher started the destruction with the idea it was every man for him self. Labour finished it off by Balkanising the country into a series of special interest minorities with the majority (on any demographic) excluded. I think this sort of 'society' thing is pure nostalgia. Fri 19 Mar 2010 08:55:29 GMT+1 Daisy Chained The inglorious Seventies, a decade of industrial and political mismanagement, beginning with a three day week, power cuts, petrol rationing, industrial relations strife, strikes, and the appearance of the middle class bully, or should I use the expression, middle management bully.A decade in which a new kind of "professional" appeared, university educated, letters tripping off the end of the typewriter. The decline of "jobs that worked", and the growth of work measurement, and top heavy organisation.A force met by another force, the working person, to be disenfranchised and marginalised in the political processes, the work environment, in the market place and in the bringing up of their children. A strike too far, and a disastrous election victory for a tyrant. Workers pummelled into oblivion by their own kind, banished to a corner in the dark. Thirty years later the beast is peeking out, daylight piercing their eyes for the first time after such a wicked sentence. Even heinous evil doers do not get such a painful sentence. They breathe cool, fresh air for the first time in three decades, limbs shattered and emaciated from being in the same position for 110,000 days.And what do they find in the warm sunshine? A party that has disavowed them; a ruling class that has committed mass fraud without so much as a slap on the wrist but with huge golden handshakes; mismanaged companies with humiliated and demoralised workers; a high street full of the same brands as every other high street; companies who think customer service means a robotic and barely audible voice at the end of a telephone.Oh yes. Unions are for the Luddite, okay? Fri 19 Mar 2010 06:56:55 GMT+1 clamdip lobster claws Now that the Wall Street Mafia has bankrupted the world and the ordinary citizen jumped on the get rich quick bandwagon by doing all manner of illicit things, the government wants to change the rules and bring back "civility" because the competition was too great. They always change the rules just as the game is heating up. Fri 19 Mar 2010 03:35:04 GMT+1 bluntjeremy MarkWe the general public have been disenfranchised over the past 13 years. The Police have told us not to intervene when we see something going wrong, but to call them. Usually totally ineffectively. When we did interfere, often we ended up being charged, not the original perpetrators. It's called hitting targets rather than using old fashioned discretion whan applying the law.Our community is markedly less cohesive: many immigrant groups fail to integrate. Whenever there is a problem, Labour have said the State will sort it. It hasn't.P.S. Why no comment on last week's utterly damning report of Labour's failure to deal with anti-social behaviour and bullying? OR the fact that fanatical muslims have allegedly forced conversions and taken control of our prisons? Aren't these issues more germane to your readers' everyday concerns than some pretty weak sophistry? No sublime, just the absurd. Thu 18 Mar 2010 21:43:24 GMT+1 John Ellis The police community involvement is a tough on and how to increase awareness and trust between the two is a delicate subject.To a vast sway of people they are there to impart injustice for minor issues on them this fast builds a wall of resentment, god knows I have enough reason as a cannabis user never to trust them but I do, we have thanks to a very kind member of our community taking the lease on an old sure start building been given the opportunity to open some kind of community centre in the next few weeks. How involved with the police should the centre be in order to attract all members of the community.? Taking that the activities of a minority of the community would be considered criminal or anti social at some point putting them on the judicial side of the police by today's standards and laws. I suppose it makes it clear that at then end of it all the police are just hired henchmen for the civilized world and should they encourage the behaviour of society or merely act when it gets out of hand as they used to before passing noxious fumes out of a bodily orifice was a crime and everything we do is watched and scrutinised, that you don't feel like a criminal just talking to a random person in a uniform. Thu 18 Mar 2010 21:41:10 GMT+1 Bob I don't agree with this article whatsoever.To create a decent society requires equality.Equality will never be achieved by devolving decision making.As for the part about clearing snow, this has nothing to do with state intervention but more to do with the culture of suing anyone for anything that becomes prevalent in a free market capitalist society that encourages people to persue their own selfish interests often at a cost to society. Thu 18 Mar 2010 21:01:58 GMT+1 Dave H I've been on the receiving end of attempted government interference over the past year and because of that, have learned an awful lot about how Parliament works, how to lobby MPs and Lords and how to submit evidence to committees. I have come to the conclusion that not only does the Man from Whitehall not know best, he hasn't got a clue in many cases. He reads from the Manual of Current Dogma and is deaf and blind to all reasonable input that doesn't agree with the manual. A huge response rate to a consultation of 95% against was described by a minister as a majority in favour. The number of responses was about a hundred time greater than the typical response rate for his department as well, but no, he's right because he's in power.The state has a lot to do to get things back on track, much of it entailing getting out of people's lives and letting them get on with it themselves without having every little detail prescribed and monitored. Thu 18 Mar 2010 19:53:52 GMT+1 DevilsAdvocate It depends, do we have to have yet another CRB check before we are allowed to be civiliseed, or a Risk Assessment document plus insurance etc etc etc. Thu 18 Mar 2010 19:19:15 GMT+1 John Ellis Never happen to many divides on to many fronts to bring the concepts of society back together. To many druggies causing crime to many yobbos causing anti social behaviour to many laws making to many people criminals.The government may run the country but they have controlled society to the point were everyone is paranoid about each other. Thu 18 Mar 2010 18:01:01 GMT+1 Paul D Smith Nice article but why didn't you mention the party which has "lived" localisation for years, the Liberal Democrats? Labour and the Conservatives are well behind the curve on this one. Thu 18 Mar 2010 17:02:04 GMT+1 JTomlin They might start by starting to behave CIVILLY THEMSELVES. The spectacle of the LibDems shouting down MP Angus Robertson with some silly chant about a retired actor when he had a serious question on the relations of Downing Street with the now thorougly discredited Steven Purcell showed them for the schoolyard bullies they are.And is this that much different from the day to day behavior in this supposed "mother of parliaments" where beahvior tends to look more like toddles in need of having their noses shoved in the corner than people carrying on the serious business of a nation?Has ANYONE told these people that their behavior is seen across the world? AND they are judged on it--NOT kindly nor positively I assure you.The LibDems may have thought they were being "cute". I thought they were there to carry out the business of the UK. Apparently not. So why ARE they there? Oh yes, to fill their own pockets apparently.They might take a few lessons in civility from the US congrss by the way. You in the UK like to get really snotty about Americans but it will be a cold day in hell such behavior in the legislature is condoned over here.Bring about a civil society. They'll have to learn some civility THEMSELVES first. Thu 18 Mar 2010 16:46:21 GMT+1 Rogerborg Here's how you hand power back to individuals: stop stealing half of the fruits of their labour.Without tax money, government can't interfere.You can't ask big government to pretty please, go on a diet, you can only starve it. Thu 18 Mar 2010 16:19:32 GMT+1 Andrew Meredith This is all part of the Nanny State phenomenon. When the so called "Liberal Fascists" take control, like they have, their creed is that they must do good *to* us, using whatever means necessary, whether we want them to or not; then the people having good done to them feel that they no longer have any responsibility for anything, even their own lives. However, in order for the high handed dogooders to ensure they do an equal amount of good to all of us, they need to know who we all are and what we are doing for as much of the time as possible. They need to poke their noses even further into our lives and interfere at will, for our own good; apparently.We need to decide. Do we want freedom, which means taking back responsibility for ourselves; or do we want to snuggle up to Big Nanny and cede the last vestiges of self determination to those who know better than us what is good for us.For my part, the answer involves the phrase "cold dead hands", along with a few choice Germanic words that I doubt the Beeb would publish. Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:47:50 GMT+1 Andrew Z A very thought-provoking article, Mark.Has much work been done in this context with the state of affairs in the former Soviet Union? My layman's eye sees some disturbing similarities. . . Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:37:46 GMT+1 virtualsilverlady Government interference in everyone's day to day lives has become so obtrusive it is taking away everyone's initiative to do anything at all.In every walk of life trying to organise something or take part in something or volunteering to help someone is thwartwd by an entanglement of rules and regulations to the point where no matter what you want to do there is some rule or another that you have to adhere to.This leaves society in a chaotic state and we need the government off all our backs so we can start in our own small way to try to bring back some organisation to all this mayhem and confusion.Society can never be perfect but we can all do much more if left alone to make it a lot better. Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:26:47 GMT+1 SSnotbanned Civil Society...hmm.It's about attempting to make things ''bettter''. For that, you would think people have some kind of aspiration(s).I.E. ''path/way to go''.Here the politican says ''vote for me''.''Follow My Way''.Unfortunately, time and time again, you vote/agree with the politician on one/some/all things then something else/new comes up and they go and do something really stupid. [Unless you believe/delay participation during that short period of time called the ''honeymoon'' period.]In the meantime people get on with their lives through their actions. Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:11:44 GMT+1 EuroSider It is nice to talk about 'society' in a modern democracy and how the U.K. has moved towards a more 'civil society'.This is great in a country which is at ease with itself. The U.K., as a country, is not at ease with itself.Let us be honest here.The only thing that matters to people - are themselves.The electorate only vote for parties that will serve their aspirations - not society's.The greater the pressure put on society, the more marginalised, and self-seeking it becomes.In this forthcoming election it is "the economy, stupid!"Cuts in public spending; rising un-employment; social discontent; bankers bonuses. That is what will matter to the public.Civil society is already damaged. Now it is every man/woman for themselves. Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:08:19 GMT+1 Shaunie Babes Social capital - the scientific measure of community cohesion - has been divided into two types: one is about bonding within social groups and the other is about bridging between social groups. As the social scientist Robert Putnam told me a few years ago: "A society that has only bonding social capital and no bridging social capital looks like Beirut or Belfast or Bosnia."A society that doesn't have to worry about bridging social capital looks like Japan. The problem isn't having radically different communities reaching out to each other, its about forcing them to coexist in the first place. Thu 18 Mar 2010 14:07:06 GMT+1 Peter Galbavy Civil ? Society ? Hmm. From where I sit the problem is that our society has becomes one of entitlements and not obligations. One of rights and not respect. The PC brigade have made it impossible to critise others without being accussed of an "-ism" while failure in education and public services has been relegated to "deferred success".If we cannot restore a national culture of respect, respect for others and ourselves, then sadly the only way to control society is through fear. Look at out civil liberties being eroded, CCTV and plastic police there to intimidate us, the real police confined to paperwork and targets. Fear is the misused tool of the ignorant control freaks in our present administration and it doesn't look like much will change even if we get a different ruling party in place.Let's get respect and social obligations back on the agenda and lose the culture of spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.Oh, the BBC is as guilty as any of our overarching public organisations. Thu 18 Mar 2010 13:50:33 GMT+1