At the heart of western politics is a simple divide: Left and Right. Amongst other things, the Right believe that competition will drive society forward, while the Left believe that by working together the sum total of our achievements will be greater.
The Right thrives by dividing people, and then saying ‘look, we told you that humans are inherently selfish! The Right is the only system that fairly reflects the real way that humans are. Capitalism is only natural and fair.’ This is the world we live in. And if we’re not careful, advances in technology combined with an unstable environment will make those at the top of the system powerful to the point of being totalitarian.
And yet, the left is dying at the moment.
The problem is that in the past, the Left – in Russia and China – has tried to enforce a cooperative environment. This was forever doomed because you can’t enforce equality – simply because, by definition, whoever is doing he enforcing isn’t equal to the rest. Unfortunately, a lot of the current Labour party still believe that the only way for the Left to succeed is by enforcing their beliefs rather than demonstrating them.
But the truth is that the only way the Left can succeed at the moment, and it must – we are currently threatened by the Far-Right in a way that hasn’t been seen since the ‘30s – it must lead the way by displaying the cooperative, socialist values that it holds at its heart and, before anything else, this means proving that people can work together.
The Left would have us believe that bankers can give up their bonuses for cleaners they’ve never met and have no personal connection to; they want the rich to share their wealth with the NHS, a place where smokers and non-smokers are received equally, while regular joggers and the chronically obese are treated without judgement; they want us to pay for the education of other people’s children, and put their own children into classes with them.
In a nutshell: the Left wants us all to get into bed with each other, and trust that, as a group, we will be stronger together.
But at the moment Labour party isn’t even prepared to get into bed with the Greens, a party who have repeatedly shown more of the kind of Left wing values that many people traditionally voted Labour to support! And they won’t countenance cooperation with the Liberal Democrats after they betrayed everyone by working within (arguably taming) the Tories during 2010-2015 coalition. And don’t mention the SNP…
I’m not disputing that some Green party members are fanatical (perhaps with good cause,) or that Tim Farron’s views on Homosexuality were retrograde, or that working with the SNP would lead to all kinds of challenges in Scotland, but learning how to work with other people – despite their flaws – is exactly the challenge that Socialism must overcome if it is to ever prove that its most basic philosophical belief is even possible.
If the Labour Party can’t learn to work with other political parties then they’re really just proving that Socialism itself doesn’t work.
In their defence, behind all this is a party who are hell bent on dividing us. The Tories will divide parliament and then use a weak opposition, combined with a First Part the Post electoral system (that is designed to only work with an effective opposition,) to tighten their grip on power. They will divide us all and then introduce oppression to maintain social order in a society they divided.
If there is a future for us all it relies on society learning to be social, and if the Labour Party can’t learn to work with those with whom it shares its house then they can’t display the kind of values that we need, and, what’s more, they have no right to call themselves socialists.
You can’t enforce cooperation. You can’t enforce respect for other people. But you can display it, and, have faith, others will follow…