Thursday, 1 October 2009

Why I'm not a fan of Socialism

I see south of the 49th parallel that a certain slice of the populace appear to think that Socialism is a good idea. I would beg to differ. I think it's a terrible idea, an idea of such monumental intellectual naivete that it totally fails to appreciate who and what humans are.

My reasons for the dislike are both personal and practical. I'll deal with the practical reasons first before citing my personal experience of a personality free political activist from my student days. This is a long post and may bore the arse off you if you have the stomach (and patience) to read it. So be warned, but I want to get this one off my chest as it doesn't fit anywhere else in my list of writing projects.

Practically speaking, Socialism can't work in a free society. This is a fact. It requires closed borders and closed minds to work even in the most inefficient manner, not to mention super efficient cloning technology because it can't work when all people are different. It is a top down philosophy (If I may be permitted a Pratchettism) that holds a mirror up to nature and chops off all the bits that don't fit.

Socialism is based on the premise that all people are born equal. Ah, sorry chaps, another big no there I'm afraid. The incontrovertible proof is all around you. Taller people, shorter people, smarter people, dumber people; in fact all people are different. Nature and nurture will always find a way to rise to the top. If you are born in a supportive family with a track record of intelligence, you are far more likely to be a high achiever than if born to an indolent welfare case forced to live in poor neighbourhoods by their penury. There are of course exceptions, where those from good environments turn into complete wasters and poor children whose drive propels them out of the ghetto right to the top of their profession, but that's down to personal attitude more than anything. Imagine not having those choices. That is the road Socialism leads you down.

Pure Socialism is the politics of the ants nest, a socially stratified method of organisation where original thought does not truly exist except where the 'state' dictates. Where the individual is subservient to an all powerful state, unable to rise or fall by their own effort. It is the organisation of the single product production line. The death of dreams and aspiration. Why? Because Socialism takes from those who can and gives to those who can't, after first siphoning off the cream of those efforts for the enforcing hierarchy. "From each according to his ability - to each according to his needs" is a central tenet of this flawed philosophy. Essentially this means you, the productive, work your patootie off all week so some idle bugger can live high on the hog on the fruits of your labour. Is that 'fairness'? No? Well who would ha thought that one, eh?

The short conclusion here has to be that if Socialism is the answer, you aren't asking the right question in the right way. It is the dream-politics of the Lotus Eater, who takes from those who can and gives nothing truly beneficial by way of return. There are those who argue that Socialism brings security, but when that security means that ordinary people can be locked up just for disagreeing with those in authority, because those in authority can't organise a piss up in a brewery, then that level of security isn't worth having. Ergo, my view is that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would have better spent their lives learning to be Doctors, Architects, or some other useful profession. Maybe even learning to play the Saxophone. Who knows?

Now to the juicier part of the post; my personal experience with an avowed Socialist class warrior. This event, and some of the people I mention are around where I used to live in England. I have done them the courtesy of not giving out their names, but they know who they are, and with a little effort might remember me as a minor bit part player in the drama's of their lives; or maybe not. It was almost thirty years ago.

Now as a first year student I used to live in the same house as a self confessed ‘class warrior’. A political activist and agitator, who was, and I say this in the light of specific experience; a crashing bore. An obsessive compulsive crashing bore at that. Let me quote a specific example;

Making scrambled eggs and cooking in general has always been a contemplative experience for me. A way to unravel my cares. Something to do with my hands. A pleasing little bit of Zen. Don’t always do it the same way, but it is the task that is important, not the method. The task is a distraction to discipline my hyperactive grasshopper mind to focus on important matters, such as in this particular case, an important examination I had coming up on the following day.

Upon this particular morning I thought I had the large communal kitchen to myself, and was simply sorting through the kitchen tools I wanted. Whisk for the eggs, small mixing basin saucepan, spreading knife, salt, pepper, three eggs, real butter, and two thick cut slices of bread for toast. Minding my own business. Dreeing my own wyrd. Immersing myself in the preparation of a hearty breakfast to fuel me through a hard revision day. Using a practical task to put myself into precisely the right frame of mind.

To obtain optimum results making really good scrambled eggs is a time critical process, and I had just about got the hang of the timing in our kitchens various student-battered appliances. Slices of bread in old but serviceable toaster, lever down, and we’re off! Egg in hand, knife in the other, a swift tap to break the shell and tip yolk and white into mixing basin, repeat twice, add pepper and salt to taste before whisking into a smooth, lightly frothing liquid yellow. Hands on automatic, mind running through revision topics. I was actually quietly enjoying myself.

Until of course bozo the self important clown enters the kitchen and decides that he wants to exercise his vocal cords. He enters the kitchen like he owns it, plants himself down at the big kitchen table and demands; “What are you doing?”
“Making scrambled eggs.” I responded distractedly.
“Make some for me.” He wheedled. Huh? Cheeky sod. Get your own.
“No.” My curt refusal was based upon Mr Mememenow’s track record of being an unpleasant git who was never known to get off his arse to do anything for anyone else. When challenged about this behaviour he always went into complete denial, and unfailingly attempted to blame his accuser of the very same wrong that he himself was guilty of. A refusal of this nature on my part was therefore a foregone conclusion.
“I said please.”
“No, now go away.” What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand cuntface?
“You’re a selfish bastard.” Mister Kettle, we have a Mister Pot paging you.
“Fuck off, I’m busy.” I was in my early twenties then and not as reluctant to use profanity as I am nowadays.
“Why won’t you make me some scrambled eggs?”
“Why should I?” Come on arsehole, answer that one.
“Why won’t you?” This from the most selfish twat in the household.
At this point I clamped my lips together and began to whisk the eggs. Generous pinch of salt.
“No salt for me, it’s bad for you.”
“You can make your own later.” Newsflash! You’re not getting any. Couple of quick twists of black pepper into mix, pan on heat, small knob of butter to melt in pan.
“You’re not using butter are you?” He said in cod-horrified tones.
“Yes.” Go away, you’re boring me.
“Want a heart attack do you?”
“Go away.” At the time I was in my early twenties, ran (Not Jogged) two miles every day and weight trained at the gym three times a week. Then there was the Judo. At the time I was in really good physical condition. Heart attack? What a bozo. What exercise did he do? Bicep curls on a pint glass twice a week? Twenty leches down the barmaids low cut top? Give me strength!
“I’ve got some low calorie stuff.” No doubt packed full of unhealthy junk like starch and filler. Go away.
“Which tastes awful. Look, quit bothering me I’m busy.”
“Why won’t you do it?”
“What did your last slave die of?” Butter melted, add egg mixture and begin to whisk.
“It’s only scrambled eggs.” No, you’re trying it on. Piss off.
“You can make your own later. This is for me.”
“You never wash the pans after you finish.” Lie. Jesus this guy is a prize twat, no wonder nobody really likes him.
“Shut up and leave me in peace.”
“You’d do it for a friend wouldn’t you?”
“I’m not your friend.”
“That’s not very nice.” Neither are you, now piss off. Yet he wouldn’t take the hint. “Do me some toast while you’re there.” Cheeky git; do your own.
“No. Get your own.”
“Those are far too thick.” He eyes my two doorstep slices as they rattled out of the toaster.

This went on until I sat down at the table to eat. Then he tried to stick his fingers in my breakfast and snatch some of my eggs. Well he tried, but I slammed my knife point into the table top between his fingers hard and fast enough to throw a proper scare into him. In the end I simply picked up my plate and marched off to my room, locking the door behind me. This event ruined what would normally be a pleasant breakfast, and put me in a foul mood. To cap it off, I was so busy being teed off with the pillock that I only just passed what should have been a breeze of a test for me the following day. The eggs weren’t as nice as I usually did them either.

This sort of event characterised our daily interactions. Somehow this guy had the egotistical talent of befouling every single thing that came near him. I knew what he was up to of course. He liked to push people’s buttons, put them off balance, confuse them and trick them into being his ‘friend’ before suggesting that his philosophy (Socialism) was the answer to all their problems. You had to share his philosophy or you could not be his ‘friend’. It was disgusting. The whole guys life was warped by his politics.

Likewise the same poison tainted all of his usually very brief relationships with the opposite sex. He was a fanatic; and do you know what? I have met a number of people with the same belief system and they all use the same tactics. You know what else? Unless they find a female of the exact same ilk as themselves, or a complete convert, their relationships do not last. I base this statement on first hand knowledge. Girls I knew from school and college who got mixed up with such men all ended up in the divorce courts after short stormy marriages. One such girl whom I fancied from afar; once deputy head girl at her school, a couple of years younger than me, nice body, nicer mind - until she met her left wing idiot. After divorcing said idiot, or even possibly before that, she found her inner Lesbian. Last we talked back in the early 90’s she had piercings all over and some fairly freaky tattoos (and I’ve seen enough of those in my time on this planet). Ten years later I saw her again. It was from a distance, I was working on contract at her place of work. I don’t think she recognised me after all those years; she was in a steady job and putting her life back together. Kids, husband, hearth and home, the works. Her Socialist fanatic ex was still up to his old tricks, but was learning the gift of solitude because word between the ladies where he worked had got around and no one with a functioning brain cell would date him.

Bedsit land is full of his ilk. As are the online chat rooms and forums where these ageing Che Guevara wannabe’s often live. Where they pontificate endlessly about ‘crushing’ their political opponents and generally talking a good talk, but in reality being sad buggers who should really be looking at a front of queue situation at Dignitas to cure their inner confusion and pain. None of them, except belatedly, ever understand that politics can’t take the place of real people, and that most of the ‘people’ they are soo convinced they stand for couldn’t give a bent penny for politics. There’s important stuff to do like pay the mortgage, feed the kids, see the match, and spend some quality time with friends over a drink or two. This life is way too short to waste it all on politics.

This is just my experience talking, but most ordinary folk just want their own place, some space to feel comfortable, occasional stimulation and to see the next generation off the blocks and running. Oh, and as little interference in these matters as possible from officialdom. Most people are ‘good’, for a given value of ‘good’, if sometimes a little deluded and self-centred, but that’s the human condition and we’re stuck with it.

The political philosophy espoused by these class warriors is both their motivation and punishment. Otherwise intelligent people who paint themselves into ideological corners and wonder why they’re Billy no-mates, despite being socially hyperactive. Ageing would-be revolutionaries who endlessly wibble on about ‘seizing’ power so they can break the world then build it anew with their own hopelessly blinkered vision. Graveyards are full of ‘em, but sometimes my darkness murmurs seductively in my ears, reminding me of how many millions have been slaughtered on behalf of blinkered left wing doctrine, not full enough.

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