By Martin Boddy, Colin Fudge
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Extra info for Local Socialism?: Labour Councils and New Left Alternatives
As the state has assumed an increasing degree of responsibility for an increasing range of provisions, so its organisation has become ever more complex. The specific focus of this chapter is on just one aspect of this complex organisation - the relation between central government and elected local authorities. It is important to remember, however, that the modern state apparatus consists of much more than simply elected agencies of government. Nobody in Britain elects the civil service mandarins in Whitehall, the military chiefs, the High Court judges, the Chief Constables, the heads of the nationalised industries, or the chairmen of the bewildering array of boards, commissions and authorities which are today responsible for developing and implementing many aspects of economic and social policy; yet all of these people occupy crucially powerful positions within the state system .
The first is that the popularity of private or individualistic modes of consumption provision cannot be explained away as the product of some dominant ruling-class ideology. Such private modes of consumption are now financially viable for increasing numbers of people, and their popularity reflects the widespread desire to escape from dependency upon the state and to extend personal control over one's life through, for example, a 'home of one's own'. In this context, defence of collectivistic values by local councils is only likely to generate support among the increasingly marginalised sections of the population who cannot afford private provision, and on those issues such as education where private sector provision remains at present beyond the reach of most people.
The obvious example of this concerns the attempts by Labourcontrolled councils to hinder and obstruct council tenants seeking to purchase their homes. In cases like this, local authorities' commitment to collectivism flies in the face of the individualistic goals pursued by many working-class people. Two points should be made about this. The first is that the popularity of private or individualistic modes of consumption provision cannot be explained away as the product of some dominant ruling-class ideology.