Sunday, 13 February 2011

Socialism - a dirty word?

This morning I started reading Naomi Klein’s book ‘the Shock Doctrine’. By page 7 I was so shocked, angry and appalled I gave it up, realising I was not in the right frame of mind to be reading it. Just that short amount however gave me a very useful, and very apt, phrase – ‘disaster capitalism’.

Disaster capitalism is what’s happening in the UK right now. With the people reeling from the recession at last May’s general election, the Tory Party was handed a golden opportunity – they could enforce their policies and blame it squarely on the failure of the Labour government. And the people would swallow it because it sounded right.
Freemarket capitalism is what led to the recession. The banks got greedy, and with little regulation, they did as they pleased and squeezed as much as they could from wherever they could get it. Then they burst. To prevent millions from losing everything they have, the banks were bailed out, leaving us with a large deficit. This deficit is now being blamed on the last government overspending giving the new coalition an excuse to start cutting. Sell off the forests, privatise the NHS, close public services, get rid of educational subsidies. Anything that smacks of socialism is to go.

Make no mistake, this is done with a purpose, it has very little to do with cutting the deficit. The capitalists hate anything to do with socialism, so much so that they do everything they can to make it a dirty word.

But what’s so scary about it? Take away the –ism and you’re left with ‘social’. This is who we are, it’s what we do every single day. That’s where the word comes from. If you went out with a friend to a pub and he didn’t have any money you’d buy him a drink yes? Because he’s your mate and you know that if the situation were reversed he’d do the same for you. You wouldn’t tell him you would only buy him a drink if he signed a piece of paper promising that for every drink you bought him he’d buy you two back would you? Of course not. But this is what capitalism does. It treats people as money making commodities as opposed to real human beings.

If someone is in need you give them a helping hand. You treat them as a person and you make no conditions about it. If you’re a capitalist you start thinking about conditions because people are selfish and they might run off with your money. That’s usually because capitalists are selfish themselves and they expect everyone to behave the same way they do. But if you treat someone as selfish, act as if they are selfish, is it any surprise when they turn out selfish? If you mistreat a dog are you surprised if it bites you? But if you treat it with kindness you are rewarded with loyalty.

I prefer to think of my fellow human beings as people. I don’t think money should be made from their pain, I don’t think money should be made off their backs. I don’t think that a privileged few should be able to run roughshod over those who have less. And free market capitalism ensures that it does.

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