‘He’s used the ‘S’ word’.
He’s a commie. A red. He has a chip on his shoulder. He thinks people who run their own business are greedy and exploitative. He’s just jealous of rich people. He wants to bankrupt the country. He’s no patriot’.
There are many accusations thrown at socialists. Accusations thrown by those who are scared by what they believe a socialist is.
I can’t speak for other socialists but I can give you my interpretation of what it means to me. a few observations:-
‘A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole‘. – Oxford Dictionaries ( http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/socialism )
Keir Hardies speech to the Independent Labour Party in 1895 – http://labourlist.org/2014/04/keir-hardies-sunshine-of-socialism-speech-full-text/
“We are paying a heavy political price for 20 years in which, as a party, we have played down our criticism of capitalism and soft-pedalled our advocacy of socialism.” On socialism – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26575258
”Socialism without public ownership is nothing but a fantastic apology” – in the Daily Herald, 1956. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/7359583/Michael-Foot-most-memorable-quotes.html
“Although socialism is widely held by the establishment to be outdated, the things that are most popular in British society today are little pockets of socialism, where areas of life have been excluded from the crude operation of market forces and are protected for the benefit of the community”
“Democracy is not just voting every 5 years and watching Big Brother in between and wondering why nothing happens. Democracy is what we do and say where we live and work”
Robert Tressell wrote a ground breaking novel in 1911 but was only published posthumously in 1914. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist centres around the lives of workers in a firm of painters and decorators based in Kent, their struggles and how poverty and injustice deprived so many of their basic human rights. One character Owen is very politically active worker who argues with his fellow workers about exploitation, poverty and society. One chapter in the book describes the ‘Great Money Trick’.
Tressell’s book has had a profound affect on me like generations of others before. The themes of injustice and how capitalism ultimately brainwashes workers into believing it to be a philanthropic force for good. The wealthy capitalist becomes ever wealthier but the working class remain static and in some cases, destitute.
Socialism is for me a force. A force for change. A force for equality.
I am not a marxist who believes in the total state ownership.
I am not driven by envy. Envy is the poison of the working class or indeed any part of society.
I am not against private enterprise and the creation of wealth. I am however a believer in the fair distribution of that wealth. Those with wealth will tell you that they have worked hard for it and deserve to spend how they see fit. They often see those without wealth as lazy or jealous. Social democracy for my part argues that having wealth requires you to use that wealth for the benefit of all and not to hide it away and just make more.
That helps no one. There is no trickle down effect. The top 1% spend within the top 1%. They do not invest in the activities of the other 99%.
For example, Socialism for me suggests that having national boards to standardise the prices of basic commodities was and could be again a force for good. The milk marketing board set up in 1933 to control the price, production and distribution gave stability to dairy farmers. A guaranteed price for their product and control of over production. How many dairy farmers would wish that now 30 years after Thatcher disbanded it?
Energy suppliers once state owned and ran for the benefit of all not for the benefit of foreign companies and investors.
Water, coal, railways all privatised because of the free market dogma of Thatcherism. When the free market crashes in 2008, the labour government is blamed not the capitalists who greedily gambled. Reliance on the free market is as irresponsible as the dogma of total state control. The polar opposites of economics often fail because they fail to see fairness as a factor. There is nothing wrong in having a mixed economy that allows private enterprise to flourish but ensures that it is not entirely reliant on it.
Socialism for me means equality and fairness.
Taxation is about accountability. Those who avoid taxation of their income through the use of clever accountants should be pursued with the same vigour that those who claim benefits illegally. Fairness is treating deception with equal contempt. Socialism would not vilify one section of society for its dishonesty whilst congratulating their polar opposite for the same. It believes in fairness to and for all.
That is why socialists believe in the NHS because it should a service for all and fair to all.
Social democrats do not deny those that choose to have private health insurance. For me however, they should not use NHS services or staff purely because they pay for it. The finite resources of a publicly funded service, free at the point of use is not there for private insurers to abuse by taking beds and staff away from those unable to afford it. Those with private health insurance who choose to use the public service must wait in line like the rest of us.
I do not deny the rights of those who wish to educate their children privately. Many of these schools are fabulous centres of educational excellence with first class facilities. Do not however allow them to hide behind bogus charitable status and avoid the same scrutiny that state funded education has to endure. Education for all means accountability for all.
You might be a self employed plumber, a council worker, writer, teacher or financier in the City of London. Everyone has a value in socialism. Everyone is respected for their contribution to society. Everyone also has a part to play in society’s success. The unemployed have rights to assistance but a responsibility to find work. They should not be condemned for being unemployed but helped to become employed. Socialism works best when people work. Socialism has fought for living wages and decent conditions for over century in the UK.
In the end it comes down to two factors.
Socialism means believing there is such a thing as society and we all prosper when work together for the benefit of that society. The more people full employed and paying taxes, the more revenue we have to fund our public services. Wealth creation is not the exclusive right of the 1%. It is also the responsibility and possession of the 99%. Decent living conditions, decent education and decent healthcare helps us all to be more valuable members of society.
A man that works fourteen hour days in an insurance company in London is equally valued as a nurse working a twelve hour shift in a hospital in Bristol. Value should be based on what you put in to society and not take from it. The unemployed are not taking from society but need help to enable them to give something that values their contributions. The disabled do not choose to be disabled. They should however be helped to be enabled. Society works as a whole not a collection of parts.
I’m a writer of fiction, poetry and blogs. I volunteer with my local council. I have worked in the public sector for many years. I am a newly signed member of the Labour party but a labour voter for 30 years now. I have lived in both the south east of England and the North of England. The world is no different in either place. It is very different depending on what you believe when you look out.
I don’t expect you to agree with everything I have talked about. I do hope it gives you something to think about.