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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Capitalism, Socialism & Norway

Any form of extremism is wrong because it creates a state of expectation that can only be realised at someone else’s expense. Extreme atheism on the one side and extreme religion on the other compel the believer to deny the legitimate aspirations of the non-believer. They share a common dysfunction of intolerance.

As pure philosophies, Capitalism and Socialism are the two sides of the same coin; without compassion or respect for the society without which they would not exist.  Capitalism celebrates individual achievement at the expense of the collective; socialism celebrates the collective at the expense of the individual. Both deny us our humanity as they pursue their ends. Capitalism and socialism are self-justifying.  They are reliant on conspiracy and adversity to flourish; both have annihilated the other in the pursuit of power.  They fail to recognise that morality is the public expression of a personal if imperfect belief.

When I look at the collective I see a vision of the master race without a fixed point on the compass – neither left nor right. The masses as automatons, religious & secular fundamentalists wedded to a cause without thought and devoid of empathy.  And as clarity is their greatest strength, it is a paradox that it is also their greatest weakness because they cannot envision compromise.  If society cannot function efficiently without consensus, conflict ultimately debilitates society.

We have prostituted secular culture to the false deity of self abnegation, the indifference to complexity mistaken for diversity but which has created a spiritually impoverished society desperate for the tangible as if a mixture of material delights and sensory experiences negates the need to confront the ethical contradictions in our society. This destitution of the spirit is a product of modern societies desperate for stimulation and possession. The demand for instant gratification and acknowledgement of self worth has left us impatient, dissatisfied and frightened. Instead of creative dissonance we have chaos and fear. 

A return to less complicated simpler times is no more than an illusion for most people because those simpler times, if they did ever exist were times of terror and poverty, without hope and too often with even less purpose. Humanity has lived through centuries of extremism and we have hundreds of millions of human corpses to testify to our failure of compassionate insight.

The capitalist who demands ever greater returns on investment, inbuilt obsolescence that artificially inflates demand and creates privation; the socialist celebrating the social parasite and excusing evil, selectively, to salve his conscience for his intellectual indigence. The Norwegian model with its intellectual Quislings and its celebration of mediocrity is fuelled by hate to keep boredom at bay. The particularity of the individual expressed within the collective is masked as universal values; its facile universalism concealing a particular prejudice.  Without its wealth the Scandinavian nation would be exposed in all of its hypocrisy.

What do I want? Full employment and work for all those who want it. We could begin with a simplified education system that takes the educationally unsuited out of the school yard and into apprenticeship from the start of the teenage years.  A designated non taxable category of industrial non-competitive advantage which recognises that not everyone can be an office worker or an engineer, a scientist or a doctor but that everyone has the right to work even if the same job can be done at a fifth of the cost in a distant country.   Efficiency is not at issue. But in seeking to drive down costs we have sacrificed the labour force to fear and despair; greed and inhumanity.

The social contract, or a version of it states simply that no one is left behind; the state protects the vulnerable and provides an opportunity to everyone seeking it.   The consideration for this contract is that we agree to abide by the rules that govern society. We accept obligations that protect both ourselves and others.  We renounce a degree of freedom for the common good.  The social contract is disintegrating because it is ill-defined and lop sided.   The assumption that responsibility is defined by legality rather than morality has left society without a vision of itself. When a child has money to buy £70 - £100 Nike's but no money for the books he or she needs for his or her education they are simply aping the most visible attributes of our celebrity society.  The solution is to lower our expectations from top to bottom. And that means a return to a more civil society, a more reliable and less materialistic one where we equally respect each others differences and renounce the language of superiority and hate; where expectation is the mother of invention and not the father of fear.

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