Citizen or consumer – command and control?

In re-reading David Marquand’s excellent small volume (168 pages) as I continue to write up my dissertation, I ‘ve extracted a few choice quotes. I’d love to know if anyone can present reasoned responses why they are not nuggets of truth?

Marquand, D. (2004). Decline of the Public, Cambridge, Polity Press.

Page 135

“The goods of the public domain must not be treated as commodities or surrogate commodities. Performance indicators designed to mimic the indicators of the market domain are therefore out of place in the public domain, and do more harm than good.”

“By the same token, the language of buyer and seller, producer and consumer, does not belong in the public domain; nor do the relationships which this language implies. People are consumers only in the market domain; in the public domain, they are citizens. Attempts to force these relationships into a market mould undermine the service ethic which is the true generator of quality in the public domain. In doing so, they impoverish the entire society.”

Page 140

“[Yet] if the history of the last century has one sure lesson, it is that change imposed from the top, measured and policed by procedures contrived at the top, rarely produces the desired results. Command and control destroyed the Soviet Union, inflicted untold damage on Mao’s China, and went badly adrift during the post-war Labour Government’s planning phase.”


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