Big Government to “The Big Society” in the U.K.

Prime Minister David Cameron may be articulating a vision that has escaped previous generations of reformers.

In a speech given to the Conserative Party, he distinguishes between government and civil society.

“We are the radicals now, breaking apart the old system with a massive transfer of power from the state to citizens, politicians to people, government to society,” Mr. Cameron declared. Gone will be the “the old ways of doing things: the high-spending, all-controlling, heavy-handed state,” he said. In its place will come a total transformation, he said, “from unchecked individualism to national unity and purpose, from big government to the big society.”

Whether this emerging philosophy is Toquevillian or Ostrom-esque it is too early to tell.

One possible interpretation among many: Mr. Cameron ascribes individualism (radical self-interest) to those who drive the unchecked growth of government and intimates that decentralized individual action, (or perhaps subsidiarity) is what sews together and supports the fabric of a community-based, dynamic and responsive civil society.