Bread and Roses or Bread and Circuses?


Emily Trahair

In a joint editorial-exchange in 2020 with our founding editor Ned Thomas to celebrate our 50th anniversary I wrote ‘I felt quite melancholy reading this sentence from your first editorial [in 1970]: “Second generation Socialism, which has solved the most urgent questions of welfare, should be capable of some imagination in its treatment of the Welsh language and see that cultural rights are one kind of human rights.”’ I put forward that this is striking to read now, as so many of the advances in welfare and redistribution that Labour governments had introduced have been reversed by UK governments of all hues since 1979 and that ‘a greater swathe of the population is now expending too much energy on meeting their immediate financial needs to fulfil the kind of cultural self-realisation envisioned by socialists as flourishing once a more egalitarian economic system was in place’. Since November 2020, more energy, time and anxiety than ever is being expended on meeting immediate financial needs with the cost-of-living crisis leading to spiralling bills, for rent, energy, fuel, and what’s pretty much the most urgent welfare need of all: food.

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About the author

Emily Trahair is Editor of Planet.