Good evening! (or morning, afternoon, etc. depending on where in this world you are...)
So, I hope you've all been well! I was just doing a bit of work when it hit me that I hadn't blogged in so long, (slap on the wrist!), so it seemed appropriate to do so now. This post is fairly linked in to something I was researching as part of the work I was doing, but it seems important. Something that definitely needs more awareness raised.
The title of the post gives it away: what do we owe to socialism?
Every single one of us at some point has benefited from the principles of the National Health Service, free at the point of use as a Human Right. The free market capitalist economy of the United States has 40 million people without access to health care, and the rest have to pay a great deal for it. We owe our health care system to socialism.
Where did these socialist ideas come from though? Did they come from some extremely benign, very wealthy person or were they the dreams of people who saw their mothers dying in poverty, saw their wives dying in child birth, or saw others suffering grievously because they could not afford the medical care they so desperately needed? They wanted a communal system that protected everybody from illness and disease. We owe the compassion prevalent in society to socialism.
Today, some 21,000 children will die. This happens every day though, around the world. And the statistic is rising. This is the equivalent of one child dying every 4 seconds. This is the equivalent of 14 children dying every minute. This is the equivalent of the 2010 Haiti earthquake disaster occurring every 10 days. Some 92 million children died between the years 2000 and 2010. That’s 7.6 million children a year dead because of the silent killers. And what exactly are the silent killers? Poverty. Hunger. Lack of medical care to treat easily preventable diseases and illnesses. These statistics, believe it or not, affect us all. In the UK, infant mortality is 10% higher for those in the lower social group than the average. But, a different world is possible.
In 2012, (this is a particular example that touched me!), 17 year old Layla Smith would become a single mother. She gave birth to a premature baby boy, who she’d go on to name Mark. Layla was hospitalised for several weeks: as a young girl she was still growing herself and needed help with her deprived nutrition intake and her smoking addiction. As the health of her and her child improved, they were released from hospital. However, in 2012, 3,000 babies died under the age of one. Baby Mark would be one of these who perished as a result of the socio-economic deprivation. Even if Mark and the other 2,999 babies who died alongside him that year had made their 1st birthday, they still wouldn’t have had the same chances at something as basic as living in comparison to those with a higher income. In the poorer communities, the streets are not as safe, there would be nowhere near and secure to play, but above all, the children would be discriminated against in the education and health system. It’s evident that the system in place today just isn’t working for everybody. But, a different world is possible.
And we could go on to discuss many other things that are profoundly socialist, such as access to food banks, such as the development of council housing in the 1920s by the Labour Party particularly, but by those who believed there should be decent housing for all. Surely this is more beneficial than those who are presiding over an explosion of free market, privately rented flats which now make up at least 1/6th of each parliamentary constituency. People are therefore being socially cleansed by these high rents, and by insufficient benefits and the refusal from the government to bring in any form of rent control. Again, better quality housing leads to better education achievements, leading to better health. There are many things that we owe in our welfare state to the ideas of socialism.
And so, if we are therefore able to consider the moral case of socialism, bearing in mind those people who of opposite ideologies will indoctrinate so you believe there is something normal and natural in living in a society where the dog eats dog, the poorest go to hell and the richest do well. This isn’t normal. This isn’t natural. It could be said that in everybody, there is either an ounce of socialism, a pound of socialism, or in many other cases, kilograms of it. Socialism is surely about the kind of society you want to live in. Do you want to live in a society where there is no public provision of any kind of service? This being where there is only private provision, where the only thing to worship is money and getting wealthy at the expense of others. Or do you want to live in a society where there is universal health care, where there is a protection against total destitution and poverty, where every child gets to go to school? Because in many parts of the world, they don’t. I’m sure the majority of us would rather live in a place where there is that distinct, collective principal about it. We owe the freedom we have to socialism.
I also think we should bear in mind the national environment in which we live. We live in a free market society, to some extent in Britain and to a great extent in the United States of America, and certainly in the domination of the world’s multi-national companies and banks which is very, very powerful indeed. Are they really caring about what happens to the environment? Are they really caring about the level of exploitation of oil and other mineral resources? Are they really caring about the damage they are doing to the environment? It’s only if you live in a society and a set of principles where you take from people what they can afford in order to give that to people who need it. So, in other words, “from each according to their means to each according to their needs” is surely a very sensible, very basic principle in life. This different world is possible.
The point here is that if we want to survive on this planet, we cannot go on polluting and exploiting at the rate we are. We cannot ruin our environment, destroying an eco-system and expect to survive. If you live in a free market society, a free market capitalist society, each piece of resource with the ability to be used will be grabbed, with no thought spared to the environmental damage done. A collective principal where we care for everybody will spare this thought, where we care for everybody does give us that opportunity to protect the natural environment. We owe the consideration for the natural world to socialism.
If you want to live a decent world, is it then right that the world’s economy is dominated by a group of unaccountable multi-national corporations? They are the real power nowadays, not the nation’s state. It’s the global corporations. And if you want to look at the victims of this free market catastrophe that the world is faced with at the moment, visit the small towns on the fringes of so many big cities around the world. Look at those people. Migrants are dying in the Mediterranean, trying to get to Lampedusa. Why are they there? Why are they dying? Why are they living in such poverty? It’s when the World Bank arrives and tells them to privatise all services, to sell off state-owned land, to make inequality apparent and a virtue. That is what drives people away into danger and poverty. But, a different world is possible.
I will conclude with this final thought: think about the world you want to live in. Do you want the dog to eat the dog, or do you want us to all collectively care for each other, support each other, and eliminate poverty and injustice? A different world is possible.
I hope you all have a good 2016 too!