Thursday, 30 October 2008

Spread the wealth like Obama

With socialism and communism discredited, liberty and democracy conflated, the USA is imperial in her ignorance as she foists upon other nations words that she doesn’t understand.

Tell your population that the enemy eats babies. That’s the start. They did that in the First and Second World Wars. And they did that with the Covenanters in Scotland. They told us that they threw babies up the air and bayoneted them. First casualty of war is truth and all that – end justifies the whatsit. But sometimes when you daemonise the enemy, sometimes, it sticks.

There was a chap I knew. A communist. Smart lad. Once he went on holiday down south. Met a girl eight months pregnant. And in his tenderheartedness he married her; to save her the social opprobrium and ostracism that went with a baby out of wedlock. They had a nice life together. A radical opinion doesn’t mean you’re evil or after blood -- nice fellow; big heart; happy life. Progressive views: he’d have “spread the wealth”. But no piano wire, no backs to the wall, no blood in the gutters

Communist can be good people. So can priests. Clergy may be closer to God than many but under their cassocks they are only men.

Our local priest enjoyed a drink. He’d be there on a Saturday evening after mass – he never paid for a drink in his life – drinking with the coppers. Most of the constabulary would have one with most evenings after we kicked out the Sassenachs. If they didn’t turn up you knew there was going to be a raid.

One night Father M. and I got to talking and he asked me about communism. I closed my eyes. I tried my best to get into it, the spirit of the thing. And I told him about Marx, global communism, world peace. Opened my eyes to see him nodding sternly; “What you’ve just described, that’s Christianity”, he said.

And it’s certainly true that in those days, before the Soviets went kaput, it was held by some as a religion. But it’s also true that, if realized, communism couldn’t be much different from the early Christian visions of ideal society. Thomas Moore’s original Utopia, with all its promise and all its problems, was a Christian socialist paradise.

Together back when, Christianity and socialism couldn’t be further apart in modern America, as adherents to the former crucify the latter on the altar of a broken Soviet Union. With socialism and communism discredited (mere synonyms to the ilk of Fox News) and liberty and democracy conflated, the USA is imperial in its ignorance as it foists upon other nations words that it doesn’t understand.

If Obama is a socialist (that he ain’t, and more’s the pitty), maybe that is what America needs. But whatever he really thinks he must distance himself from the word, and the debate suffers as a result. That perfectly functional political terms are rendered defunct and publicly unutterable by ignorance must dismay any scholar.

The main point, and this the one that the materialist aspirations of a universal self-defined middle class will always misunderstand, is not about money. If there was a bit more socialism in America then the lowest common denominator would not be so low and when presidential candidates condescended to appeal to it their stooping would not so appall the rest of the civilized world.

1 comment:

LadyFi said...

Hi. I can only corroborate your statement that the opposition always says the enemy eats children. When I lived in China back in the 1980s, deep in Mao territory, there was a lot of resistance and mistrust of foreigners, and they used to broadcast it throughout the college where I worked that we Westerners (we were two 20-something volunteer teachers, female) ATE children... No wonder some of my students (professors, highly-educated men) were petrified of me!