There was a time, long ago, when Socialist ideals were very similar to my own beliefs. Then the Labour Party started to call themselves Socialists, and before too long, there was the Socialist Workers’ Party to contend with too. Others have jumped onto the socialist bandwagon, notably the Nazis in the1930’s. Adding ‘National’ and ‘Socialist’ together, they tried to combine the ideals of one, with the cachet of the other, keeping a foot in both camps, and to avoid being called Fascists, which of course, is what they actually were.
In Europe, since the 1950’s, we have seen ‘Democratic Socialists’, as well as ‘Social Democrats’. It seems that adding something else to the name, avoids comparison with the extreme left associations from the past. Even the Soviet Union called itself a ‘Socialist Republic’, when it was obviously a hard-line Communist state. In more modern times, we have seen Socialism become watered down, to something it never was, or had intended to become. It now represents a generalised Liberal attitude, and the original ideas of complete state ownership of capital and industry, have been surrendered. There also seems to be an ongoing trend, where a good Socialist is expected to support worthy causes in any country in the world, whatever the reason, and to back any workers’ action anywhere, against anything. They become involved in matters as diverse as Abortion and the Fur Trade, and are for and against regimes and countries in turn, dependent on swings in the political climate.
At home, our few remaining Socialists are good at turning up for any demonstration, whether it be about unemployment, fox-hunting, or student fees. They will sell their newspapers, distribute their banners and placards, and be proudly seen as agitators. The Labour Party has a (claimed) membership in excess of 60,000, but how many of them are Socialists, or even want to be considered to be? They are very different to the SWP, yet both groups claim Socialism as their creed. This is a Socialism that doesn’t understand itself. It has run off with the idea that anything it supports deserves that support. This can be Travellers, the Unemployed, benefit recipients, asylum seekers, and anyone with any grievance against the Police, however unjustified. The things that they support are good, and everything that they oppose is bad. They work from the laughable premise that everyone is equal politically, and that everyone has a right to be heard, however inane their thoughts and ideas.
This unfortunately presumes equal intelligence, something that just does not exist, however desirable it might be to fantasise about it. It is considered to be political sacrilege to state the obvious, that there are many, probably the majority, who have little interest in, or understanding of the political process. They just cannot be trusted to participate in important issues, like running a country, deciding foreign policy, or dealing with International Capitalism. Unpopular as it may be to say so, there are leaders and thinkers, and others who do not think, and must be led. The mainstream Socialist policies seem to centre around a kind of maternal state, where millions do not work, and are spoon fed by those that do. They would be left trying to run a modern country, along the lines of a gigantic nursery, actively supporting those who do not contribute anything to the society that they expect to keep them in comfort. They would tolerate those living here, who actually despised the country that they lived in, and actively worked to kill and injure its citizens.
The so-called Socialists of New Labour even thought it correct to indulge in foreign wars, supporting right-wing countries in their quest for worldwide influence and power. Those who remain firmly on the Left, would seek to help regimes whose avowed intention is to introduce fundamentalist religious doctrines, and remove the rights of women, and other religious beliefs that are not the same as their own. Once established, they vow to wage a religious war on those same countries that helped them achieve power. Friends one day, enemies the next, and that is all OK with the ‘New left’. They revile the Police, yet I am sure would ring them if they had their mobile phone stolen, their house burgled, or their wife was raped. How do they expect society to function, without a Police Force, Border Controls, and a reasonable influence over the activities of its citizens? That would be Anarchy. So, are the Socialists really Anarchists? I doubt that. Do they actually want to live a life like we saw in the street riots in 2011, on a daily basis? This would be the consequence of the multitude of freedoms that they fervently advocate.
No doubt they would disagree. They would trust in the inherent goodness of people, sure in the knowledge that this sort of thing would not happen. The trouble is, most people are not good. They are selfish, aggressive, and avaricious. We may not like to admit it, but this must all be controlled. Things cannot be left to chance, in the Libertarian dream that all will be well, and a barter system will operate; and of course, nobody will steal, assault, or kill.
So, I am not a Socialist, because it just doesn’t work. Life is hard, and you have to be hard to live it.