‘Big Society’ vs ‘Great Society’?
It is sometimes suggested that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s concept of a ‘Big Society’ is a label desperately looking for a meaning. It might be thought that its title is very close to US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘Great Society’, which was announced by LBJ on this date (May 22) in 1964. In fact, there is a major difference. The ‘Great Society’ was a programme of social reform, in particular in areas such as health, ageing, discrimination and welfare, and its purpose was to end social exclusion (as we would now term it). The much less tangible objectives of the British Conservatives’ ‘Big Society’ could gain a lot from a closer study of Johnson’s policies. Indeed it is worth mentioning that Johnson, sometimes remembered more for his role in the Vietnam conflict and for his pithy (and sometimes crude) phrases, was perhaps the President who carried out the most ambitious social reforms in the history of United States politics.
Perhaps there is some interesting reading material here for today’s would-be social reformers.