Interesting blog from Adam Curtis (admittedly published in November of last year). Here’s an excerpt.
I am fascinated by the group David Cameron has set up in No.10, called The Behavioural Insights Unit. I think it is evidence of a massive shift that is just beginning in British politics which will change the way politicians govern and manage the rest of us.
Tony Blair believed in a consumerist idea of democracy. He used focus groups to try and find out what people wanted as a way of shaping policy (except, of course, over Iraq). Like Mrs Thatcher, he believed that the people knew best. They expressed their desires and wants clearly through the market. And politics, he believed, should imitate this.
The Behavioural Insights Team believe the opposite. That in many cases you can’t trust the people. That if you let them just follow their desires they will often do things that are bad both for themselves and for society.
You can read the rest here. Thatcher’s idea that the people “know best” comes from Hayek. But it is a flawed notion since it expects people to have an intimate knowledge with how markets operate. Most people have no idea nor are they particularly interested.