A civilised society?

There’s a lot of emotive talk on the radio at the moment as we criticise our own response to taking care of the needs of the elderly and disabled in our society. It’s probably on the telly too, but I haven’t watched that much this week.

I caught the end of a discussion on the Today programme earlier wherein AA Gill, he who we are pre-disposed to hate on account of his meanness to our favourite Clare Balding, bemoaned the fact that we just don’t seem to understand that most old people are very nice and interesting people.

Is it just me or is this just a nonsense? Some people are ok, most are ok. Some are not. Age has nothing to do with it. What we are actually dealing with is not an outbreak of disgust for elderly or disabled people, we are dealing with the consequences of a capitalist society. Old people don’t just ship up, all infirm and demanding. They come through the ranks of families. And they are, presumably, for the most part loved by their families.

The problem, as I see it, is that families no longer have the capacity to look after their own elders because most families have their noses to the grindstone trying to make ends meet. After all aren’t two incomes needed to run the most basic of consumerist households. What are you going to do when your parent becomes ill? Give up your job to be a full-time carer? What if you live miles away – what then? Don’t worry though, in steps the capitalist society offering care homes for you. These are businesses you know, not just philanthropic concerns. Old people, the disabled, people requiring residential care have their existences reduced to a business proposition. But as we live our lives that way, why are we complaining?

Well we complain because it is clearly wrong. But it is the end product of a society that only has value for people’s money and not people themselves. We seem unable to accommodate people once their economic usefulness is at an end. It is not as that ridiculous AA Gill wailed that we have somehow gone off our grandparents or parents as they age. It is just that we have trapped ourselves in an ultimate hiding to nothing, distracted by many worthless baubles along the way.

Posted on June 3, 2011, in Consumerism, Politics, Radio and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. family values? they’re fast disappearing in this mememe society:
    help, advice, parenting and life skills normally passed down through the generations is fading fast:
    I once heard an article stating how local council moves to house ‘problem families’ {read young single mothers} has enhanced this lack of family values: the area worst hit? Pitsea:
    love this post ~ you got it spot on:
    there’s no hope for me in my dotage, so I’ll just be the mad woman with all the cats who refuses to go into care

  2. why the love for clare balding?

  3. As a communist feminist or a feminist communist how do you feel about those who say if women hadn’t become ‘capitalised’ (So the half the population who weren’t being taxed could be) would we still have this problem

    And before you start I don’t mean to be sexist it’s just a possible explanation, the breakdown of traditional family values led by the womans movement. And before you chastise me, please ;), When women moan about how men are you have yourselves to blame as for the first 3 years of their life, if you’re lucky, it’s you who mould them into ‘modern men’.

    Oh and welcome back Diva I’ve missed you!

    • Of course Mr DaftBurger, this is a thorny issue. I believe in women’s right to choose of course, but families need people at home some of the time. It doesn’t have to be a woman but it usually was in the past. The problem, as I see it, is that many households are predicated on women having to work whatever their circumstances in terms of family. I have colleagues who return to work with babies who are very young because their wages are essential. I have colleagues who are working and caring for elderly relatives and they are really, really struggling. The right to choose has been removed as Mammon has had his way with us and I don’t want to regress in terms of women’s ‘rights’ but it would be nice to restore some balance. I can ask questions, but I don’t have the answers I’m afraid.

      I do believe that families – and I don’t mean just parents and young children, I mean elderly parents and children and grandchildren and so on – should be supported to exist and function in a way that means we don’t have to farm out our children and parents to commercial concerns for care-giving, although they will always be part of the care landscape. I am a realist, not entirely in lala land (well not all the time…).

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