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By Merekat (Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 08:41:23 AM EST) (all tags)
For the first time in about 3 weeks, I've managed to finish my lunch. I hope this means that my appetite is back and I'm finally recovering.

During my malaise, I was too tired to focus on books (not even David Eddings) so took to audiobooks instead. Finally finished Flat Earth News, an overview of the decline of journalistic standards particularly focussed on the UK. Now, the author does have a particular agenda and ideology but that doesn't really invalidate his more significant points. Not least that there is no global right wing media conspiracy - it is worse than that. It is just populism, crowd pleasing and cost cutting. I'm not sure who comes out worse - The Sunday Times under Andrew Neil and afterwards, or the Daily Mail. I think the Mail just edges it for operating a racist, sexist agenda not because they even ideologically support it (both Tories and Labour can be hung by the Mail) but because it panders to their readership and sales win out over truth to the point that they had 3 times more upheld complaints against them than any other paper. Also, the Press Complaints Commission is a travesty of a watchdog, with its guard face in the wrong direction so you can only beat a false claim in a newspaper if you can afford to take them to court and not blink even once on the way.

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?

< What is happening in UKia? | The Wire: Season 3, Episode 8, "Moral Midgetry" - wait for it those who doubt >
i ated it all | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
In order to not piss you off further. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #1 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:20:23 AM EST
This is the last comment I will make in this diary, and thank you for explaining your beliefs.

:( by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 09:25:13 AM EST
Not my intent. Indeed, let rip if you like. I've put my side so it is ok now.

[ Parent ]
I thoroughly believe merekat's description by garlic (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Nov 15, 2010 at 10:28:23 AM EST
of you as a top bloke.

[ Parent ]
Appetite by duxup (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 12:18:31 PM EST
I have extra if you need some.

Me too! by StackyMcRacky (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 04:21:42 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Scroungers, thugs, junkies and whores by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #4 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 12:51:57 PM EST
I was told socialism was the grand safety net that would cure the human condition, yet there you were -- immersed in the rabble. Fat lot of good it was there, eh?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Except by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Nov 12, 2010 at 01:10:51 PM EST
Ireland is not socialist and hasn't had a leading left wing figure since James Larkin. There was no safety net in the 80s.

[ Parent ]
Don't waste your breath. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Nov 14, 2010 at 05:33:01 PM EST
Many think that people with Socialist views (and hear I am afraid we would have to exclude our dear US friends from the discussion, they are so far to the right that they have no real notion of what socialism is anymore, the use of "Socialist" as a term of abuse in the US political discourse is an authentic embarrassment) advocate all kind of sinister nonsense only because they are in a position of comfort,  which is patently untrue.

Socialism is not charitable giving, it is an insurance policy: the rich can be safe in the knowledge that social disparities have an appropriate valve that lets steam of the system, the poor have a safety net.

Where those provisions are not in place societies devolve into authoritarianism or chaos.

No wonder the Nordic countries do consistently so well in all indexes of human and social well-being. I have heard many times that people that dislike Socialism remark as a bad thing about Nordic countries how egalitarian they seem to be, which makes clear they are entirely missing the point (while ignoring the massive problems that ever growing social disparities will bring back home).

When somebody has put his feet firmly in ground of Socialism=evil there is no rational argument that will drag him to an enlightened position, from a political point of view they are irrecoverable, becuase they have become what they think they are criticizing: dogmatics.

Left wing people accept now the market and free enterprise as a given, some times far beyond what they should (notice UK Labour shameful pandering to the financiers in the City of London)  while at the same time there are lots of nutcases that advocate the abolition of pretty much all functions of a centralized state (except "Defense" of course),

 Like in Somalia, Afghanistan and any other of those paradises of freedom of the individual, where the government has shrunk to nothing.

i ated it all | 8 comments (8 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback