Tuesday, 26 November 2019
An Act of Faith
Who remembers the Ronco advertisements from the nineteen seventies and beyond? Miracle gadgets at giveway prices that invariably didn’t work anything like as claimed and were quickly relegated to the shed or the loft, icons of an age of innocence and naivety. You can almost imagine future archaeologists trying to decode these symbols from a time of false hope, just as they have done with the totems of ancient religious beliefs.
If Ronco were to return today the denizens of the internet would be taken for rides every bit as precarious as those of yesteryear. Social media would be awash with tales of disaster visited on the gullible, swiftly followed by merciless mockery. “Who would fall for that?” would go the cry, only to fall silent when the mocker was, in turn, taken in by another, different-yet-still-the-same scam. YouTube would have a ball.
Even when you knew that the chances were your Ronco all-in-one jar-opener, dishwasher and personal groomer was bound to fail you still parted with your hard-earned in an act of faith that this time it would be different. And much like the holy church of Ronco, religions require the wilful abandonment of rational thought; logic and learned experience go out of the window as, with beatific smiles, we open the packaging to reveal the next disappointment, yet keep the fixed smile beaming as we vigorously defend our choice against all the evidence.
Perhaps a moment of quiet reflection before hitting the ‘buy’ button would be prudent, a short examination of reality. Why do I want this, and will it really do what it says it will do? Much better in the long run to stick with what you know, but the promise of something better, more miraculous, more satisfying urges you to suspend your critical thinking skills and buy yet another potato peeler that just doesn’t peel potatoes.
So, what makes more sense; a belief that government should have as little impact on your everyday life as possible, should leave you to make your own decisions while protecting you from the worst excesses of egregious humanity, or a government which will intervene in every nook and cranny of your existence in return for fanciful promises of riches in the afterlife? Because to believe in capitalism requires only to accept that the world does not owe you a living, while to believe in socialism requires an enormous act of blind faith.
Just as with all religions, with all cults, with all outlandish fictions, in order to accept socialism as a viable system you have to suspend disbelief and reject the evidence to embrace a narrative so convoluted, so contradictory, so hypocritical that it would require the abandonment of all reason to adopt. Were the current Labour Party a Netflix box set most viewers would have ditched it after season one. Those who continued to watch, who bought the tee shirts, who dressed up to attend conventions would be labelled as dangerous extremists and placed on various lists.
What seems most likely?
Once again, William of Ockham comes to the rescue. Ask yourself what seems most likely; that government is powerless to oversee every aspect of your life and it is up to you to make the best of it. Or that there is an all-seeing, omnipotent, Magic Granddad in the sky who can make the heavens rain money and bring freedom and happiness and prosperity to all… if only you will bend your knee at his altar. Marx said that religion was the opiate of the people. Between you and me, I reckon he was on drugs.