Saturday, February 25, 2017

BEGGING FOR A LAST CHANCE (1992)

From the April 1992 issue of the Socialist Standard

BEGGING FOR A LAST CHANCE
"How do you know when politicians are lying? When you see their lips move”. Politicians have failed us so many times it is a standing joke. But it's not a very funny joke. They cruise comfortably through disaster after disaster while in power, but when elections loom they panic completely, lose all dignity and promise anything they can think of.

And what is unfunniest of all is that we believe them. Each election they beg for another chance. Each election we give it to them. And the starvation and misery in the world, the poverty, the pollution, the stress in our lives and the despair of so many, all of these get worse instead of better. In spite of "greening" themselves politicians can do almost nothing to stop the immense destruction caused by pollution, basically because it's cheaper to pollute than to reprocess waste.

And what could they do about poverty? Abolish it? If they do that then they must also abolish riches, surely, because you can't have one without the other. And what will the rich have to say about that? Can they abolish homelessness, perhaps by giving people free houses? Again, what would the rich building contractors say? Can they abolish hunger by making food very cheap? Not if they want the support of rich food producers. Politicians who are smart know this.

They know exactly how helpless they are in the face of problems which defy any attempt to control them. But they know also that to admit defeat is political suicide. Somebody else will make the same promises and get all the votes instead, as we've been seeing with the Greens. So instead they always beg us for one more last chance.

But there could be a better way.


NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
We are going to make some proposals. They are not "common sense" proposals, so "realists" won't be interested. But that's all right, because they have all the rich and clever ideas of ordinary politicians to choose from. We think, however, that it is time to think big. The proposals we make are ambitious. Probably more so than any you will have heard before.

Because the problems are world-wide, we think that the solutions have to be world-wide. First, we are going to propose that the world organises itself democratically. It is not so at the moment, because we rely on leaders. We put people into positions of power, where they can control vast fortunes and vast armies, and then we expect them to act in our interest. That's like putting children in charge of a sweetshop. We should not be surprised when they let us down. But the world is no sweetshop, it is a matter of life and death. If we cannot trust leaders, we must learn to stand on our own feet - without leaders. We are not children, however much we are treated like children. We do not have to be helpless and weak. If we decide to make our world into a democracy, we are well able to do it.

If we decide that we should not be ruled over by tyrants and masters, we are well able to do that too. If enough of us organise together, we can accomplish anything. Which is just as well, because not everyone would welcome more democracy. In fact, there is a tiny minority of people who would not be at all pleased if we decided to run things ourselves. And that's because they happen to own nearly everything on this planet.


SMILE, THERE'S A GUN AT YOUR HEAD
Imagine what life would be like if someone discovered how to stop you from breathing without their permission. That person could charge any price they liked, and you would have to pay. Just how free would you be then? Fortunately, no-one can do that to you, but consider this - can you eat without anyone's permission? If you think so, think again. You will be arrested if you try it.

You must pay the owner first - for permission. It's the same with everything else - heating, clothing, housing, travel, communications - we have to pay for permission to have these things. And what happens when they can't pay because you have nothing to sell? Then you must sell your time and your skills - you must find a job. If you can.

There's nothing wrong with owning things. We all do. But when somebody owns the food you need to live on, it's as if they are holding a gun to your head. They can make you do almost anything. The world we live in is so arranged that a small minority of people holds that power over a very large majority, simply because of what they own. And this affects everything we think, feel and do.

Rich people don't have to wait in queues. They don't have to swallow their pride, or shortchange their kids at Christmas and birthdays, or buy cheap clothes, or take abuse from bosses. They don't go red when policemen look at them, or worry about being late, or avoid people’s eyes. Rich people are beautiful people with beautiful lifestyles. And what, then, does that make us? If we want a real democracy, we must face the fact that property stands in the way.

However huge a step it is, we cannot ever be free until we have abolished the ability of people to hold such terrible power over each other. Property and money are worldwide institutions. To uproot them would mean turning the world as we know it virtually upside down. We do not propose such a change lightly. The implications are so enormous that they cannot possibly be covered in a few leaflets.

We know how much is against us, and we know what the rich and powerful might try to do to stop it.
Yet we believe it can be done, that it can be done quickly, and that it can be done without violence of any kind. In the next leaflet, we'll explain how.


Taken from a series of leaflets produced by our Lancaster branch.



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