“Samfundet findes ikke.” Sådan begynder et af mine yndlings Margaret Thatcher-citater. Desværre er det bare ikke korrekt; eller, rettere sagt: Det er taget ud af en sammenhæng. Lad os lige se lidt nærmere på dét.
Ofte hører man citatet i denne form:
There is no such thing as society.
Fuldt stop og intet mere. Andre gange hører man dog citatet i en lidt længere udgave, hvor synspunktet mildest talt er modereret:
There is no such thing as society; only individuals and families.
Citatet kommer fra et interview, som Margaret Thatcher, mens hun var PM, gav til Douglas Keay fra Womans Own og som kom til at bære titlen: “Aids, education and the year 2000!” I en sammenhæng lyder det:
They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation”
Desværre, som med så meget andet, er dét citat resultatet af journalistens sammenkog af Margaret Thatchers holdning til samfundet og “udsatte”. Margaret Thatcher Foundation, der har til opgave at udgive taler osv., har fået fat i en afskrift af interviewet, som Sunday Times bad 10 Downing Street om at udlevere tilbage i 1988. Af den afskrift kan man læse, at Thatchers holdning til “samfundet” langt fra var så karikeret, som ihvertfald det første citat giver udtryk for:
If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society. There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate. And the worst things we have in life, in my view, are where children who are a great privilege and a trust—they are the fundamental great trust, but they do not ask to come into the world, we bring them into the world, they are a miracle, there is nothing like the miracle of life—we have these little innocents and the worst crime in life is when those children, who would naturally have the right to look to their parents for help, for comfort, not only just for the food and shelter but for the time, for the understanding, turn round and not only is that help not forthcoming, but they get either neglect or worse than that, cruelty.