George Walford: Quality and Quantity

Harold Walsby used to speak of the economic collectivism of the left and the economic individualism of the right. The terms are accurate and comprehensive, but also polysyllabic and highly general. When these general tendencies appear so to speak on the surface of social life they always do so in particular forms and direct mention of these, although less comprehensive than the technical jargon, often carries greater impact. One instance of this arises with the phrases “quality of life” and “standard of living.”

Quality of life is advocated by the reformers and revolutionaries, who use the phrase to mean self-restraint in consumption, concentration upon the spiritual, aesthetic and intellectual, low living and high thinking. Quality of life is a concept that comes together with restraints upon industry for the sake of the environment and restraints upon industrialists for the sake of their workers. It also entails the removal of restraints upon intellectual activities such as education and freedom of public speech.

Standard of living is a term used mainly by the traditionalists, claiming it as their objective to provide people with more of what they already have. It entails removal of restrictions upon industry and greater freedom for employers to command their workers, together with greater restrictions upon intellectual activities such as education, freedom of speech and the exposure of misbehaviour by the authorities. These tendencies have been shown very clearly by the Thatcher regime, deregulation of economic life going along with greater State control over teaching, research and demonstrations.

from Ideological Commentary 42, November 1989.