Ok, so now to deal with the train of thought that led to my last post.
I used to be a Stalinist. Have I mentioned that before? I believe so. Not in the way that we on the non-left usually mean -some poor deluded fool who doesn’t really appreciate the ramifications of what they think- but a proper, considered, Stalin-was-right-all-along-and-here’s-why Stalinist.
I arrived there from the best intentions, as most socialists probably do, wanting the best for people. A wouldn’t-it-be-lovely school of socialism, if you like… the magical end-stage of communism (that has mysteriously never ever been achieved would be lovely… but people naturally stop it from working… so therefore they should be forced along the way! After all, once the magical land is achieved all resistance will disappear, and those that fight are holding up the rest of humanity!! Surely a few years out of the way mining salt is nothing compared to a crime of that magnitude! Looking around me, I could see that many, many people made poor decisions… there are lots and lots of stupid people who can’t run their own lives, and so naturally I was of the opinion that wise people should run the lives of stupid ones, for the sake of the happiness of everyone.
In short, I fell into an intellectual trap. Socialism of the wouldn’t-it-be-lovely variety is the preserve of idealistic youth, and such I was. As cynicism sets in, aided not only by historical examples like the Soviet experiment but by the constant parade of the feckless on television and in daily life it is easy to have such a poor view of the common man that one can start to believe all kinds of crazy, extreme things. Eventually of course, just as travelling far enough west will land you in the east, I came far around and back to the idea that people are best left alone, and piling government upon government is never going to lead to paradise.
The key here though, is that I was led up the garden path because of a faulty view of people. The nation is truly full of reckless and irresponsible people but this does not mean that people are naturally reckless and irresponsible. We’d never have gotten past the hitting tigers with sticks stage otherwise! An excess of government has created a situation where people are not merely shielded from the worst consequences of their lack of responsibility but in many cases are actually rewarded for it. People, while not naturally selfish, greedy and workshy have nevertheless been trained to be so. Whether it’s the third-generation baby-benefits mother, or the well-to-do young man who walks straight past the homeless guy or the old lady getting mugged because “the government” (not him!!) “should do something about it” society has been destroyed, and grasping, greedy, fearful individuals have been set in its place. The effects of this are there for all to see but unless you venture away from what you are taught at school and what you read in the papers you could easily believe that far from being the cause, more welfare, more police and above all more State are the cure. Every time a child born of welfare parents (little more than overgrown children themselves) dies from neglect we are told that we need more welfare, more social workers and more State. Whenever the so-called feral youth torment an old dear to the point of suicide the faces on the news demand that things be done, and we get community wardens and ASBOs.
Strangely, though, how ever many new behaviour-improving measures are brought in, the situation never seems to improve. Whether this was deliberate from the start or whether -like my own journey- the Welfare State was started with the best of intentions until cynicism set in I will leave up to the reader to decide, but it must be apparent that a vicious (or virtuous, depending where one stands) is now in place where every further outrage born of the society socialism has made leads to more socialism.