Tuesday, 30 December 2014
Sometimes, as I tread this narrow defile twixt fact and fantasy we call life I am both amused and disappointed by how easily some walk on the wild side. Of course it’s tempting to don the pastel pink, soft-focus spectacles of Fluffy Land but what a bump it must be when you have to face the harsh light of earning a living. Yesterday’s subject of ridicule was a mere deluded bystander, an object of simple dupery with no intent to harm anybody except by way of accepting donations from the pockets of other faerie folk. But sometimes the delusion runs so deep and dodgy it needs a more serious look-see.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain Twitter account @OfficialSPGB is one such dangerous entity believing, as it appears to do, in a 1969 peace-and-love version of human nature which defies all known human history. In SPGB-world everybody cooperates and contributes and all is cosy and warm and safe and money isn’t necessary. (And there is no more war – aaah!) But what you’re actually describing here, fellas, is a family, or to put it nicely communism with a small ‘c’. A small number of mutually dependent and mutually connected people can do this, at least for a while, but under Big-C Communism the family unit is deliberately undermined. Families and communes can do the little things – tend the fire, till the fields and scrape a subsistence living – but they can rarely do the big things.
Communes can’t build roads, railways, defend nations and produce successful global technologies in cooperation with those outside its circle. This is exactly what you need capitalism for. So when you say that genuine socialism hasn’t been tried yet – despite the best part of two centuries’ worth of writing about it – you are really admitting it’s not compatible with a world worth living in. Wherever the closest thing has been attempted – coercive socialism, under dictators – you call it ‘state capitalism’ to try and kid yourselves that socialism is still nice.
As for ‘nasty' capitalism, acquiring all the wealth, well that is exactly what humans really do, no matter how much you deny it. They succeed and thrive and build and get fat and look after their own. But all dynasties fail in the end; they are relatively transient things and what they supposedly plundered they merely stewarded; it all gets economically recycled in one way or another. Yes there is some waste in holding wealth, but no more I’d guess than the sum total of tat hoarded by poorer individuals whose actions provide nothing positive by way of employment, vast redistribution by spending, or incentive. At least rich people act to encourage aspiration. Equally poor people can never do that.
It's true! One day we ALL could live like this!
Oh and that 1% versus the 99% trope? By whose metric? That is just an eye-catching way of making a trite and almost certainly meaningless point. If the world’s entire wealth were spread evenly today, the only real effect would be that half of the world’s seven billion people would be worse off, pissed off and looking for somebody to blame. Now that’s human nature.