Everything Flows: ideological cartography

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“Tory, Tory, Tory” was a great three part documentary on the rise and fall of Thatcherism. You might still be able to grab it from uknova.com with any luck. These stills are taken from a moody reconstruction of a diagram drawn by John Hoskins- at the time a computer systems analyst. He applied a logic gate diagram technique to mapping out how the whole of 1970s Britain worked. You can see isolated frames here reading: “fear of further inflation”, “industrial performance taken for granted”, “confused attitudes towards capitalism” and so on. The diagram came to the attention of the Tory party, and became the basis for the “Stepping Stones” report, which set out the strategy and targets for the 1979 general election and established the Thatcherite programme.

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I’m sure you’re not here for accurate political history, so you’d probably be better off Googling if you want a more informed view of Tory machinations.

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Instead, you could join me in wondering what other kinds of diagrams of Britain one might draw up. What if one attempted a giant picture that connected together all kinds of dispersed attitudes, phenomena . What if Hosykns’ diagram were to be remixed by Jeremy Deller or Simon Patterson? What if the ideology it supported wasn’t free market privatisation, but something less specific. Perhaps it could be the format for JG Ballards next novel? (Incidentally – was Thatcher’s vision of dystopian Britain any different from Ballards?).

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What’s interesting from a design point of view is that it lays out the machinery of a society as something that can be designed. That processes, relationships – even hopes fears and aspirations can be managed, manipulated and moulded in the same way as designers traditionally use material and form.

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