Sunday, 1 May 2016

Socialism A Great British Tradition

Just as a fish does not see the water, so we do not always realize that we are living within a political system.  The laws that govern society are created by whichever political party holds power.  These laws govern the way we live our lives.  Laws are based on ideology, the underlying beliefs held in the mind.
There are only two kinds of politics - the politics of sharing and cooperation;  and the politics of greed and division.  From the need for people to work together and share the World’s resources fairly, evolved left wing politics.  From the need for workers to demand a fair wage for their labour, evolved the Trade Union movement, one of the foundations of the 'left' and a constant target for the 'right wing'.  Who would be against a system of equality and social-justice, where people actually have an opportunity to thrive?  Only the tiny minority of people who actually own most of the wealth and resources.  The desire of this very small class of super-rich property-owners to exploit the great majority of people gave rise to right-wing politics. Although the details have changed throughout history, essentially you have the same picture.  The only group of people who would not benefit from an equal distribution of resources and political power, are obviously the ones who have somehow acquired more than their fair and natural share.  
Although these facts seem simple and self-evident to most of us, they are extremely bad news for the capitalist or plutocratic class.  Way back in the nineteenth century, when the idea of socialism started becoming extremely popular, it seemed that it would sweep the World and replace the old order.  There is not space in this article to look too deeply into the tragic history of the twentieth century, but for many reasons it was not a good century for the left.  The popular revolution in Russia in 1917 was hi-jacked by the Bolshevik Party, who instantly abandoned all the democratic principles of socialism and set up a brutal tyranny under the appropriated banner of communism.  By insisting that the Communist Party was the only legitimate force for social progress in Russia, the party assumed all power to itself and excluded the possibility of evolution by debate and consensus.  Because people were taught that ‘communism’ as practiced by Russia, China, etc. represented the ultimate development of left-wing policy, it was very easy for the authorities in the capitalist countries of Western Europe and America to use communism, and socialism in general as a kind of scarecrow to frighten their citizens with.  By the late twentieth century, in Britain the press was largely bought up by notorious strike-breaker and plutocrat Rupert Murdoch.  Once he owned The Sun, The Times, The Daily Mail, etc. he could exert a massive influence over the minds of the public and keep us all living in holy terror of any kind of social-equality.  
Here in Britain, the World’s first industrialized nation and the birthplace of unionism, some of our finest writers have been staunch supporters of socialism - George Bernard Shaw, H.G.Wells, George Orwell… Ever the open-minded sceptic, Orwell was deeply critical of the terrible things done in the name of the ‘left’.  Unlike a lot of intellectuals, he didn’t spend his whole life sitting at a desk, but went to Spain in the 30’s to fight with the socialist P.O.U.M militia against the ultra-right fascist armies.  Fighting for Free Speech, Orwell took a bullet in the throat and was nearly silenced for ever.  After his recovery, he went on to write Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four - two books that brilliantly describe situations where left-wing revolutions go horribly wrong and lead to further tyranny.
Globally, there have been many leading figures who have been dedicated socialists, including Angela Davis, Pablo Picasso, Helen Keller, Bertrand Russell, Oscar Wilde, Isaac Azimov, Woody Guthrie, Malcolm X, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Robert Owen, John Dos Passos, Pete Seeger, Harry Houdini, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein.
When socialism has been applied in Britain, within our traditional democratic parliamentary system, it has given us such things as the National Health Service and a Welfare State that seeks to protect our most vulnerable citizens.  This would never have happened under a conservative or right-wing government - these types of regimes believe that medicine should be a commercial commodity, rather than a human right.  Conservatism tends to see everything as an object for sale to make profit, whereas socialism sees wealth as a public resource.  In Britain now we have a right-wing plutocracy - a government of millionaires - telling ordinary people to work harder.  The myth that conservatives always spin is that ‘you too can have a share of the good life’ - implying that anybody can succeed in the capitalist system.  But these people are lying - most of the Cabinet are multi-millionaires - they didn’t start from scratch, with nothing, like most of us.  They appeal to people’s wish for financial enrichment, but lie about the realities of getting rich under capitalism.  If capitalism was such a great system for making people rich, presumably our ancestors would all have got rich a very long time ago and we would all inherit millions at birth.  
Conservatism is selling off everything that belongs to the people of this nation, from the National Health Service, to the schools, to the Post Office.  Once these assets are legally in the hands of the capitalists, or 'corporations’ as they call them these days, it is very hard to get them back.  The left-wing mentality is that the institutions of society should be run for the benefit of all, with maximum efficiency and not sold off for the profit of the few, the 1%, the greedy.  
Meanwhile, striking workers and union organizers are still being murdered around the World, still dying in the attempt to make a fairer World.  A great deal of human blood has been spilled in the struggle for social-justice and equality and many have given their lives for such things as the eight-hour day, the ‘week-end’, the right to organize a union and a fair wage for a fair day’s work.  If you’ve ever wondered why left-wing types are called ‘reds’, now you know.  The red flag is a vivid memorial to all the murdered workers throughout history who gave you your worker’s rights.  

The Origin of the Family, Private 
Property and the State, 
by Friedrich Engels  
(A fascinating book that investigates the very roots of this culture)

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists 
by Robert Tressell:

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair:

Organize!  - a playlist of films on 
Unionism  and the Worker’s Struggle:

Bal - a playlist of mining films:

These flyers can be printed, cut and distributed  -  share The Limpet:
Power To The People!

No comments: