Democracy is based on a process of dialogue between the public and government, ensuring that the public are represented: that governments are responsive, shaping policies that address identified social needs. However, Coalition policies are no longer about reflecting citizen’s needs: they are all about telling us how to be.
The idea of libertarian paternalism was popularised around five years ago by the legal theorist Cass Sunstein and the behavioral economist Richard Thaler, in their bestselling book Nudge. Sunstein and Thaler argue that policymakers can preserve an individual’s liberty whilst still nudging a person towards choices that are supposedly in their best interests.
But who nudges the nudgers? Who decides what is in our “best interests”?
That would be the government, of course.
Nudge philosophy is dressed-up as libertarian paternalism, which in turn dresses-up Tory ideology. Another phrase the authors introduced was “choice architecture”, a concept implying that…
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