The quote “There is no such thing as society” comes from Margaret Thatcher. The full context of this statement can be read on this link. Her theory is simplistic, false, and fundamentally wrong. The problem is that this is also “conservative philosophy” as though such a contradiction in terms has any right to be in the English or any other language.
The basic idea is this:
Societies (which don’t exist, remember) are made up of people. These people must look after their own needs first, then those of the non-existent society. She goes on to say that “…society was not an abstraction, separate from the men and women who composed it, but a living structure of individuals, families, neighbours and voluntary associations.“
Nothing like a bit of self-contradictory drivel if you need it. She can’t even keep the word “society” out of her sentences, let alone her basic ideas.
Human society, the fact
Humans are invariably described as “social”. It wasn’t a group of individuals who came down out of the trees and colonised the world and built civilizations. The most efficient societies, the original tribal societies (on which later societies aren’t based anything like enough), didn’t waste people or resources. Everyone had a use, which added to the overall health and strength of the societies they formed.
It wasn’t a few stray architecture enthusiasts who built Greece, China, India, and Rome. It wasn’t occasional hobbyists who invented the entire history of technology, trade, the arts and more. It was a social effort. Explore, innovate, adapt, etc. The most successful creatures on Earth are social. Ants, bees, termites, wasps, wolves, dolphins, killer whales, etc. and even herds of cattle are social.
Most of the great individuals in history were social leaders. Without a society, who could they be? What use would they be? Alexander may have conquered the known world, but he didn’t do it on his own.
Societies underpin human achievements. It’s that simple. They amplify and evolve those achievements. They develop and continue them, too. Imagine if fire had been lost simply because people were too busy to learn how to make it.
The fallacy and failure of “no such thing as society”
Nobody ever exists in a social vacuum, although god knows I’ve tried. You are born into a society, you live (to whatever unavoidable extent) in a society, and you contribute to that society, whether you like it or not.
The pity of it is that thanks to this “no society” theory, many people are now major anti-contributors. They seem to think this thing they say doesn’t exist is their enemy.
That’s ironic. It was their society which made them, and/or their ancestors, rich. So they tear it down on the basis of the theory that it doesn’t exist, so they don’t need it.
Exactly how stupid can this be? It’s all around you, every second of every day.