Why We Need To Understand The Stories And Detail Of The Post War Period To Transform Our Economy In 2020 and Beyond

Featured Image: Jacob Lawrence: The Prisoners From The Migration Series

We have socialised prisoners to believe they’re not worthy of a vote/representation/a job even when they have served their time. We have shamed ex-prisoners into accepting that stigma as the reason why they can’t work, build skills, opportunities that will address the reasons why communities and businesses are ignoring their responsibilities.

It’s the notion of ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ in the economy that is blind to the detail of how change in the local can change the regional and international and back again. We’re all colluding with a stasis created by supply chains that need to evolve, be challenged and addressed from top to bottom.

We’re all colluding with a de-capacitating and exclusionary dementia capitalism: it encourages lack of memory and reflection and even conceptualising our society beyond our marketing silo. You must know how Experian’s marketing segmentation works in health, education, policing but do you know how Experian evolved? 

The local story of how methods of selling expensive furniture to working class people after the second world war (led by the reconstruction class of ex Sandhurst military) is instructive when we try to understand where, how, why massification has been a harm against representing the diversity of opinion and aspiration in the UK after the second world war: how the working class who’d fought, travelled, met so much diversity in their war service, how migrants, prisoners of war returned believing they deserved better and instead they got a second class version of everything, instead they were given a view of themselves that was regressive and presented to them for example, in terms of ‘the rebel’ the ‘jack the lad’ as in the work of Alan Sillitoe: white, gambling, drunkard, untrustworthy. 

This was propaganda but people don’t realise the impact of this propaganda in social control of self worth and social acknowledgment. The building of the council estates was on military principles but not simply for surveillance but to control how the working class worked, spent, could use their leisure. Experian came out of this council estate surveillance and control: initially creating a company that was based on a community based furniture company: copying it to create a simulacrum: (in its first iteration it was called The Old Colonial Furniture Company), the company then ‘took’ the name of a company called Cavendish Woodhouse selling mass produced furniture (expensively) to working class people on hire purchase. 

What was interesting about this company is that the money it made from this exploitation evolved into the Great Universal Stores catalogue group which again used the money from the council estates to cream off the value for purposes that weren’t simply ‘business’. What they were doing was redefining what ‘business’ was and could be. Not this architect/designer led dream of fashion, beauty, peaceful evolving democracy this, the intention was to continue war in peace.

Small is beautiful was always in a battle with this process but not for the reasons we think: the small meant ground control and capacity. Without a supply chain structure that was meaningful between the small and the large we’ve arrived in a place where we have to, like detectives, work out what’s missing, what we’ve lost, what we need to put back.

Blaming an amorphous ‘mass’ or ‘mob’ is completely wrong, as we’ve realised.

Out of the profit of the catalogue company came a business information company that would exclude the very people who’d provided the money to create this company. The company was called CCN Information Systems: CCN Information Systems evolved into Experian which itself evolved into creating the data ‘mosaic’ of structured confusion around income, wealth and life chances that is used in all aspects of policy making and understanding social problems today.

The Mosaic though, is really an active tool of a kind of social apartheid that existed in South Africa: it has proliferated into all aspects of local government, education, health, policing, work. In the detail of the evolution of the post war scene in Nottingham and how the military control and steering of our local economy you can see and how the opportunity supply chain was disconnected from the local communities and their aspirations that supplied the wealth. 

They were really conned and this is why all prisoners need rehab, a job, skills, education and to be able to vote.

When you think about how this pipeline that drains working class value away from the people who created it it makes you see how we responded to american pressure after the second world war to rebuild on a mass scale. 

We’re in the same position now. 

At the end of the second world war instead of evolving the political representation that people aspired to it was a decision to build motorways, close down the mines, build housing, infrastructure, education, health, communications, technologies, all built by hierarchical, dinosaur companies like Tarmac Roadstone that evolved into the Carillion that crashed. 

Serco is another example and desperately needs to get to a sense of community connection, responsiveness rather than supporting the hollow misogyny, racism, classism of drink, drugs, distractions away from meaningful work and ways of living in its culture. These organisations are feeding recidivism: they’re actually a pipeline into prison and other forms of social dysfunction. 

These hollow corporate spaces need to be reinvented and brought back to life. The mosaics we need are the deeper, richer stories of who we were after the second world war and who we are. We’ve created phantoms in the prison service that simply echo all the prejudice of the crime and punishment abuse of a privileged class. We need to reconnect and revalue the detail of the local with the regional, national, international and pay for it, acknowledge it, circularise it: believe in reversible reactions, perhaps?

We’re all under privileged eyes and it’s killing us.

We all know it must/should change. We need to encourage representation everywhere to address this continuing harm from top to bottom in society and the world. We need a new political class, we need representation of the ‘underclass’ issues that have been manufactured to justify this kind of exploitation supported by locked in/up privilege and underprivilege and charity.

The model for regeneration is a connected supply chain from the bottom to the top: locally, regionally, nationally, internationally that makes us feel we can innovate, can change things.