Yesterday I got very pissed off with Mr. Breaker. He is, for those of you who have not met him, an absolutely top bloke, a gentleman and an excellent human being. Based on what he espouses on site though, you might be hard pressed to come to that conclusion so I think it is worth stating. As some background to the offending discussion, I thought it might be worth explaining a bit why I think socialism is a good thing and where my particular flavour of it comes from. Clue, it is not manifestos of extreme right parties, nor of populist vaguely left-labelled middle grounds.
What my socialism is not - it is not born of envy. How could it be from envy? I am one of those who has made it.I don't have to worry about money, a roof over my head. I can eat out when I want, take multiple holidays, buy designer clothes. I have a successful career in which I run a project of over 150 people and budget of 8 figures over 4 years. I am the embodiment of the urban Celtic Tiger. But not exactly.
I choose to work in the public sector. I choose to work at a fraction of my market worth. I choose to do it because I believe in public service, making a difference and doing my job on behalf of my fellow citizens.
I do not have a middle class marxist rose-tinted view of poverty. The school I went to between age 5 and 12 was overwhelmingly attended by people from council houses whose families had not seen work in 3 generations. They were illiterate and violent. For merely having a 'posh' accent I was left bleeding on the floor more than once. Many were chancers and dole scroungers when things got better economically. Some died of overdoses, one was arrested for armed robbery, one was kicked to death by his mates, two became prostitutes. Most didn't even make it in schooling to age 16.
Even with that 1st hand knowledge, I would prefer society accept the risk that people like this will exploit a system than exclude accidentally people on the borderline who would not. I would prefer that opportunities remain open for those who might want to get out of poverty, especially in countries like the UK and Ireland where the gap between rich and poor is such that most people of my social class can't even visualise poor. Even if this means I must pay more tax.
I would also prefer that our rights as citizens are not constantly handed over to corporations and businesses for the sole reason that 'big govt is bad, big society is good'. Big society is good. But it is best implemented on certain core things by use of the more accountable structure of the state. Leaving some things to charity (like support for demobbed soldiers for example) is a moral anathema. I believe that the state is the only societally organised body available to us as citizens that we can ever hope to hold accountable and therefore the only one that can be trusted with certain core things that benefit us in society.
Does it work like that yet? Nope. Will it ever? Probably not. Does that mean I will change my views? Not on those grounds.
Socialism is not inherently authoritarian.
Socialism is not inherently wasteful.
Socialism is not mind control/nanny stateism.
Socialism is not about making everyone absolutely equal, just working to remove harmful inequality because it damages both rich and poor.
It is about not making anything any worse than it needs to be, about accepting that there are costs to living in a society and benefits too, about applying the benefit of the doubt to fellow human beings.
Is that really such a bad thing?
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