I was 10 when Thatcher took office. That means my entire conscious life has been taken up with people using the rhetoric of that era, how you have to ‘get on the next rung of the ladder’ and ‘social climb’.
It has always done my head in.
Possibly because I was a child when I heard it, and a child sees things in brutal black and white.
It’s a good question.
“…well…..to the top!”, comes the answer.
“What’s at the top?”
Another good question.
It usually ends there. The subject is changed.
See the ladder analogy is a good one. From THEIR perspective it suggests to the less questioning mind a means of escape, a chance to get away from those who hold you back- an opportunity to excel!
Sounds ace! Where do I sign up?!?!
Yet, to anyone with an enquiring mind The Ladder also contains the lie of Thatcherism….in fact of Capitalism in general.
See there IS no top. You never get high enough. Those up there always want more. They will always want to be higher and richer and further away from those on the rung below them, because those on the rung below them are trying to get there too, to be higher and richer than you.
So if everyone tries to get on the ladder, what you end up with is a bunch of ambitious people with their head up the arsehole of the people above them and a whole load more people jostling to have THEIR head up YOURS; and of course, a clamour at the bottom to not get left behind.
What Thatcherism encouraged too, was the idea that you look down at those beneath you and gloat about your new-found wealth and social position, meaning society becomes a mass of people fighting to get on to a ladder to a place that doesn’t exist with those on its upper rungs sneering at those lower down, and those left behind looking up and seeing nothing but arseholes.
And that is Britain today.
Yet as neo-liberal policies have continued, so the bottom rungs of that ladder have been removed. We at the bottom can no longer hope to clamber on there, and the arseholes above us are rapidly disappearing into the distance.
A tragedy then?
But then we all know what happens to a ladder that gets too top-heavy now don’t we……