Friday, 10 July 2015

The State we are in.

Political parties differ according to the philosophies which guide them. A fascist state requires total submission to centralised control. A communist state would be run by the people, acting collectively. For the last 35 years or so, this country has been governed along what has become known as neo-liberal lines, in which individualism and market forces are set above collective good or planned communities. Even the Labour Party, founded to promote "common endeavour", has acquiesced in this tendency, acting merely as a brake on its extremes rather than promoting an alternative philosophy.

The evidence of history, even within recent times, shows that markets and enterprise, Gods of the Right, cannot function effectively without State input, to invest in both pre-commercial research and infrastructures; and to bail them out from the consequences of their wilder behaviours. Freeing individuals and corporations from paying taxes both deprives the State of the wherewithal to fulfill its role and creates a society of greed and inequality, where those who can, thrive, but those who lack the emotional, intellectual, physical or economic resources flounder without a safety net.u

The society resulting from the Small State is thus unequal and nasty, with it's individualism an obstacle to a shared culture. The happiest society in Europe is widely acknowledged to be in Denmark, which has high taxes, a benevolent State and low inequality. Our current government seems to value money above the happiness or even the well-being of its citizens. Labour needs to spell out much more clearly the sort of society which can be built on its true philosophy; a society in which payment of reasonable taxes is not belittled but welcomed; in which the State has a clear and laudable role, not so much in managing resources as in planning and directing them towards society's priorities; setting and policing standards and expectations. Above all, a Labour country will foster mutually supportive communities rather than self-seeking individuals. Without a strong State working with others, how will we be able not only to care for all citizens but also share in investing to address those macro-issues which transcend borders: climate change; migration; multi-national corporations and conflicts? Selfish individuals and corporations, no matter how financially successful, and tooth-and-nail competition offer little interest nor any means of doing so.

With thanks and apologies to David Burrell
Tom Serpell

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