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How we forgot the collective good—and started thinking of ourselves primarily as consumers

A new movement seeks to shift attitudes forwards

By Julian Baggini  

Shoppers in Oxford Street, London, as the Christmas shopping month of December rounded off the worst year for consumer spending since 2012, according to an index.

Some time in the early 1980s I remember seeing a senior conservative politician on the news talking about “UK plc.” The phrase jarred. The United Kingdom is a nation state, not a private company, and to brand it as one seemed grubby and belittling.

Thirty-odd years later, “UK plc” has become part of the ordinary lexicon. If anyone finds it objectionable, few say so. No one announced that from now on we should conceive of our country as a business, but gradually, imperceptibly, it…

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