He's been given such a hell of a kicking on all this that I thought it might be fun to try to sketch out some ways he might, inadvertently, have stumbled on something. Not, obviously, in terms of crime. The local Manc paper dealt with that :
"[Baltimore], home to about 600,000, was blighted by 234 murders last year. That compares to 35 in Greater Manchester, which has a population of around 2.5m."No, the real comparison is about how our lives - like the lives of The Wire's drug dealers, police, dockers, politicians, schoolkids and journos - are haunted by an imbalance between agency and structure. Or just by structure, actually.
The whole series could have been written by Talcott Parsons or Louis Althusser: no one, or almost no one, escapes their circumstances for any length of time. Structures call forth successions of individuals - Avon, Stringer, Marlo - to fulfill essentially the same roles. People change in all-to-predictable ways: just as Daniels, who makes Commissioner, has a guilty secret from his time on Narcotics, so Carver, originally a kind of joke, puts his days of petty corruption behind him and rises up the ranks as a reliable officer. But you just know he won't leave his past behind, any more than Daniels manages too. Individual initiative is, ultimately, crushed, be it Bunny's Hamsterdam or Carcetti's new broom in City Hall. Even the great symbol of individualism - Omar - loses, and I reckon we see in Michael's trajectory a proto Omar in the making, so even the individualism at the heart of the American Dream is structurally produced.
Yeah, that strikes me as being quite like Britain today - even before one gets into in business of 'public service reform', performance targets and the near universal 'gaming' of these things. There is no real social mobility, no real opportunity for individualism. Chris Grayling is right, inadvertently.