Arguing About Socialism, #6: The Apathetic

Posted: August 8, 2012 in politics
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March 24th, 2012. The National Boxing Stadium, which has a maximum capacity of around 3,000, is packed out for a mass meeting. Hundreds have to spill over into the car park for a second, simultaneous meeting. But, aaahhhh, the Irish people are too passive, they’ll never stand up and fight…

1. People are too worried about dealing with their day-to-day lives to worry about politics.

When new taxes and charges are ripping people off, when there’s barely any jobs, when there’s overcrowded, understaffed hospitals and schools; then it’s mad to say that “politics” and “day-to-day life” are somehow separate.

People’s options are closing off as the crisis deepens, and if we give a clear lead and outline a clear alternative, they will enter into the struggle for a Socialist society.

 

2. But the Irish people will never stand up and fight for themselves. We’re too apathetic in this country, we’re not like the Greeks.

In Ireland the dizzying heights of the boom and two decades of Social Partnership have turned the trade union movement into cynical defeatists, which has held back the movement. In other countries they have big problems too but not to the same extent.

As well as this people are still hoping beyond hope that a recovery is on the way. The government and the billionaire-owned media encourage these vain dreams.

Another problem is a lack of a mass working-class party that’s ready to put forward a clear Socialist alternative for people to fight for.

All these conditions are temporary. They were saying the same thing about the Egyptians.

 

3. It’s terrible the situation the country is in, but there’s not much we can do about it.

There’s actually loads you can do, and it would make my life as an activist a lot easier if you did.

The relatively small number of Socailist activists in Ireland plays a vital role in mass campaigns like the Household Tax boycott. Over the years we have given valuable help and leadership to workers in struggle. We have struck blows against racism, war and the corporate theft of our natural resources.

We were warning about the property crash for years, and at every point since the austerity drive began our analysis has been correct and that of the government, the media and the right-wing economists has been wrong.

 

4. Yeah, fair play. But what do ye want me to do?

If five hundred, a hundred or even fifty of the people who are right now just ranting in front of the TV or suffering in silence were to get active with us, it would be a massive boost to the work we do.

We don’t want admirers or voters. We want comrades- we want activists who will stand beside us and help us fight for a better world.

When huge sections of the people become actively involved in the struggle for a fairer society, that is a revolutionary situation. When the majority become actively involved in the running of society and the economy on a day-to-day basis, that is Socialism.

 

5. You’re crazy to think you’re going to change the world.

Most of our ancestors in medieval times lived in squalid huts growing food and raising livestock for parasitic, violent aristocrats. They had short, dreary, painful lives, vulnerable to hunger, disease and war.

Our species has clearly achieved massive change for the better since the Middle Ages, even if progress has brought with it new problems. Everything is in a constant state of transformation and the only thing that is certain in history is change.

But the lesson is that revolutionary changes in social systems are possible, that a vast improvement in living standards for humanity is possible. In fact they’re not only possible, they’re a recurring feature throughout history.

 

6. Hang on, sorry, are you defending Capitalism now?!

Capitalism transformed the world, bringing huge benefits to the majority of people. Obviously this came at a massive price and as a system it creates its own terrible problems. It’s become obselete, an obstacle to further progress. Today the Capitalist class is not an enterprising, progressive force but an entrenched, decadent class of speculators and exploiters that’s dragging down the world economy.

 

7. But no alternative has ever succeeded.

The 20th century saw Stalinism, Social Democracy and statist regimes like those of Perón or Nasser. These systems all had massive problems, as we’ve outlined before. But all of them demonstrate the same thing: the massive potential of the planned economy and the possibility of achieving a more equal society.

These victories were not given to us by wise politicians or enterprising bosses, but by mass struggle and the militancy of working people.

As HSBC point out in their London underground ads, of all the people who have ever lived to be 65 years old, two thirds are alive today. What this financial company does not point out is that this was achieved by the welfare state, the planned economy and the victories of the workers’ movement. Another statistic relating to life expectancy spells out this point: the biggest peacetime rise in mortality of the century was in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

8. Have you not noticed the last forty years? The collapse of Communism, the end of Social Democracy and the victory of free-market Capitalism.

There have been terrible reverses and setbacks in the last thirty to forty years which demonstrate the hideous bankruptcy of Stalinism and the impotence of Social Democracy. Nothing, however, has discredited Socialism itself, the idea of an economy democratically planned by an equal society.

All the free-market era had to offer us was massive speculative and credit bubbles. We’re now living with the consequences of that.

We are determined that the massive changes in store for our generation will be for the better, that we will establish an international democratic socialist society.

We will build a world where everyone has access to a well-paid job with good hours and fully-funded, efficient public services; where we have democratic control over the economy; where we can save the planet from climate change by a planned transition to a green economy.

If you’re sick of paying through the nose for other people’s gambling debts; if you’re being pushed around and exploited at work; if you can’t find a job; if you owe piles of money on your house; if you’re sick of the tyranny, injustice, poverty, disease and hunger in the world, join us today.

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