I’ve just read a leaflet from The Socialist Party, punting for the European Parliament Elections in two weeks, as part of the World Socialist Movement. I loved what I read. But it’s not a solution.
There are a lot of disenfranchised people in this world, looking for ways to make their lives count for something. This is relatively new in human history; a dramatic change from people being totally absorbed in the business of survival.
We now come together on social media, commenting beneath worthy slogan pics or posters vilifying political leaders. Now we’re not directly oppressed by invasion, famine or the violence of kings, we can blame our leaders for the meaninglessness of our lives.
I’m sometimes irritated by these threads. In those moments such discussions seem to me to be creative energies being wasted on complaining, rather than striving to create change.
.But it’s incredibly difficult to force any sort of change; even at the minuscule sort of scales at which I make my own efforts. It’s not just the inertia of everybody else’s resistance to change (most people just jog along with whatever’s established), but my own pessimism which is far worse.
Like many other entrepreneurs (as one might describe change-makers in a capitalist economy), I never truly think anything I’m trying to do will actually succeed. It’s not even possible to gain confidence from my previous successes. And when there is some success, it’s usually at such effort and with disappointing restrictions, that one has to work very hard to take any sort of satisfaction for it. So I understand the hopelessness of my disenfranchised FaceBook “friends”.
The The Socialist Party leaflet us offers the answer: in a world with no money, leaders, war, or rich people, where all decisions and responsibilities are shared. “Instead of competing to survive, people cooperate to live.”
“You now have no bills to pay, no rent, no mortgage, no debts. Everything is free, nothing for sale, and neither are you. But you want to help, just like others do. There are a hundred things you could do, a thousand more you could train to do.” You chose what you want to do, then do as much of it as you want – “a life on your own terms, a life worth living.”
This is my kind of world.
But how will this Utopia be organised, especially given that we’re humans rather than ants – or bees. The Socialist Party of Great Britain say that “together we” can do this by forcing referenda and voting to take control of nations states, then abolish all the laws that restrict ownership so that “We take control” and “We take our lives back.”
The resulting “new Earth” will be organised through “cooperative management”. This they say “solves the problems as arrogant leaderships never did”.
There’s no point arguing the naivety of this. If you’re a paid-up SP of GB member, then you’ll have to be satisfied with my endorsing this as a lovely pipe dream.
But it does illustrate the need to do something to lessen the feeling of inequality that leads to the feeling of disenfranchisement. Some of the world’s poorest nations are the least unequal, and are where people are the happiest.
We have to find ways of enabling people to strive for their dreams. Attaining these dreams is not what it’s all about; you get to understand that once you’ve recovered from making a couple of attempts. But it’s the journey that counts, and people need to be able to embark on that journey in the first place.
But the SP of GB’s “New Earth” isn’t the answer, simply because we’re humans. Individuals will emerge from their socialist goo to be ‘the first among equals’ – the Piglets ruling the rest of the farmyard, followed by purges of non-socialist enterprise, some animals being made more equal than others, until we’ve got North Korea all over again.
But that possibility ought to get the rest of us thinking hard about how we can reduce and eventually prevent inequality. What’s new(ish) about the 21st century is that inequality starts wars, and kills more people than regimes, tyrants and weapons of mass destruction.
Inequality is the asymmetric threat that causes the asymmetric wars that have prevented us from sending men back into space. To graduate into space, humans need to overcome equality. Come back David Bowie.