There are perhaps two main systems of political governance – dictatorship and democracy. Democracy insists on the principal that the governed govern themselves – in general through the election of representatives. In a dictatorship one group or person usurps political power and rules – without asking anyone’s permission. Continue reading “Democracy”
Christianity and Buddhism have two completely different outlooks. It is misleading to say that both religions have some kind of shared essential message.
Having reified everything (Russia reified as the devil; schooling as a natural process; psychiatry as science; and so on) the liberal capitalists of the West are now engaged in a curious re-inversion. In this new gambit of mystification and alienation subjective feelings are given the same status as objective facts. In policing this finds expression in new laws which define the crime in terms not of what was done measured by an objective standard, but in terms of how the “victim” felt. It is enough that someone felt harassed for a crime to have been committed. This then develops further; in this world once allegations have been made the accused is automatically guilty. – If someone was upset enough to make allegations then, by definition, they have in fact been abused.
This new standard comes out in a recent poll (much trumpeted by the Guardian) which makes, at least in its treatment in the Guardian, dramatic claims about the extent of racism in the UK today. This is some of the twisted logic:
The survey found that 43% of those from a minority ethnic background had been overlooked for a work promotion in a way that felt unfair in the last five years – more than twice the proportion of white people (18%) who reported the same experience.
Of course this finding in a poll does nothing to show that racial discrimination exists in the workplace. It could equally show that those from a “minority ethnic background” are more likely to interpret not getting a promotion as being unfair. People reporting an “experience” of how they felt is not an objective or meaningful measure of anything other than itself; more people felt it to be unfair. One can extrapolate anything one wants from that but there is no logical connection to the claim – that this reflects actual racial bias.
Ironically; it would be perfectly possible to conduct a study, valid in social science terms, in the UK. Data on ethnicity is often gathered in employment situations and could be gathered in internal promotion applications. Some kind of a study which compared promotion outcomes with qualifications and experience could produce something at least approximating to a meaningful result. (Since much of this data probably already exists we are talking here of a meta study).
But this poll shows nothing – at least relating to promotion at work. That the claim is made based on subjective feelings simply reflects a cult of the subject which is very much promoted by liberals in the West at the moment.
In capitalism (in contrast to socialism or communism) what people earn depends on the quality of the work they produce.
Nothing could be further from the truth. A tiny fraction of people in capitalism are craftsmen who will earn more if they produce better quality work. For the majority of workers there is no big difference between producing standard work or work of exceptional quality. Their employer will likely hardly know the difference and at any event will be too focussed on dragging work out of the mediocre to notice that some of his workers are producing work of great quality. (If they work in the bloated government sector workers can usually get away with producing work of sub-standard quality without any loss of earnings due to the system of mutual cover-up in operation).
More to the point; the people who achieve economic A1 status in capitalist systems do not do so because of the quality of the work they produce. These people in reality rarely work at all in any meaningful sense of the word. Rather; they have learned, perhaps, how to pull a few levers in the systems of finance in such a way that they can be showered in money – regardless of the real world consequences for other people. Or, again, they act as some kind of business or marketing executive who knows how to make large sums of money out of large user bases of captive customers by implementing manipulative and cynical financial and control systems. In reality the economic A1’s get there not by producing work of higher quality but by realizing that work is a fool’s game. They get rich by having no ethical constraints.
The main aim is to reverse the idea of private wealth being the main agent of social and economic initiative and replace this with the idea of planned running of the economy. At the same time permit private initiative on a smaller scale – up to the level at which it does not become a private political force.
A socialist country will be overall less wealthy than a capitalist one. We accept this and believe that the values of socialism more than compensate for this.
Economy: Nationalise all the natural monopolies. No need to pay shareholders compensation. Nationalise the banks. A new nationalised bank lends on the basis of social benefit not return on investment.
Health: Massively cut NHS funding. Shift spending to long-term disease prevention via Health Education. Re-orientate NICE away from promoting the interests of US pharma and towards health. (Launch an audit of drug prescriptions to eliminate unnecessary ones).
Education: reduce the number of hours of compulsory schooling. Reduce the reliance on certification. Make education more interesting. Eliminate University fees, but make entrance more selective. Re-introduce Polytechnics.
Welfare: aim to make massive cuts in the welfare budget. Move towards a model of subsidised employment in the state sector. Promote the idea that the family is the primary source of help in times of difficulty.
Defence: fund defence using nationalised domestic suppliers (not US ones).
Foreign Policy: stop imperialist, capitalist, foreign interventions. Use Britain’s influence to promote ‘democracy and human rights’ by argument and example.
Media: regulate the media in such a way as to prevent it being used to promote the interests of large-scale (foreign) capital while at the same time permitting measured criticism of the authorities. (This is a difficult balancing act. It could be that one way is to create a body composed of academics to have an oversight role).
Political engagement: promote the idea and practice of democratic involvement at all levels of society including schools and factories while accepting the reality that most people are willing to take a lead rather than lead. Make state officials more directly accountable to the population. For example; require that they meet with groups of citizens when those groups require. Regulate this so that such groups represent citizens with genuine concerns not private lobby groups.
Political parties and democracy: start a national dialog aimed at producing a consensus model of government. Once this is produced require that all political parties subscribe to it. The aim is to prevent a permanent ‘debate’ about major ideological questions. At the same time this is an ongoing process and ideological questions can continue to be raised. This requires political mechanisms which act as a steadying influence and brake on endless political change while at the same time avoiding a situation of pure dictatorship. A model is the Iranian model of giving significant power in the constitution to a body of clerics. This particular approach would not suit a secular country such as Britain. But a similar role could be played by a panel of academics based in a rationalist and humanist tradition.
Religion. The state actively supports and promotes the Christian Church (all denominations) and Islamic institutions which firmly set their face against political violence.
And the name for this movement? It is called ‘self-help socialism’.
Does this look like Russia? Yes; there are some similarities. We can learn from others and maybe it is time to do so – and stop lecturing them from the position of a decaying and degenerate Western capitalism.
When challenged that it is unjust capitalism will typically point to the extent to which in capitalist countries the people enjoy “free speech”. Capitalism can also point to the fact that the people can form political parties at will. And people can vote for them to be elected to a national assembly. This is a stumbling block for those who suspect that this is a con. Evidently the people are not free. Owning no land or capital, the majority have to work for someone else who extracts a portion of the value they create as his profit. As a result, even in successful, advanced, capitalist economies there are significant numbers of people barely managing to get by. But you can’t complain it seems. There are free elections in which anyone can stand, and free speech. If there was anything wrong with the system there is the mechanism to change it.
Why is this not true? Anyone seriously wanting to criticise global capitalism has to be able to answer this challenge. The following is just an outline sketch of where I think the answer lies.
The way capitalism works is pretty straightforward. You deprive the masses of any land / resources / property / capital and then you invite them to work for you. They have to since you own the land / capital on which they have to work. Under capitalism then you can choose your master. This is called freedom. (Obviously lucky or strong individuals can break away. Being self-employed to some extent also represents a break-away. So being enslaved in this way is not an inevitable fact at all