There’s been a change in my politics recently, particularly in recent months. A very sharp change in fact. After my country’s recent decision to leave the EU that’s become all the more apparent. There was once upon a time I dreamed of the UK leaving the EU and seriously hoped that would happen. Yet ironically when it came to actually voting, I chose to Remain and was similarly depressed by our democratic decision to leave. So how and why did my politics change so much and what was my politics in the first place??
I only really got into understanding politics about 5 years ago and you can even see a post from me on the subject from 4 years ago on Underground Hip Hop and Capitalism. During that time I tried to see what my politics was just based on my own personal bias without trying to question why I had those biases in the first place and whether they’re in anyway justifiable. At that time I basically had the view that you can make life however you want it to be regardless of the situation you’re born into or any external factors. If you’re poor and live in the slums, you can still pull yourself up by the boot straps and become a multi-millionaire. Similarly I used to think that there is an abundance in the world where everyone can be a billionaire which is actually better for society. With that being my initial (and I’ll admit now, flawed bias) you can see why I naturally gravitated towards ‘laissez-faire’, right-wing style economics. Conversely I’ve probably always gravitated towards being socially liberal and have always been inherently sceptical of western Government foreign policy. So with those biases it’s no real surprise I would have described myself as Libertarian, erring on the alarming dystopian ideal of anarcho-capitalism.
Although I still have remained relatively the same as far as my social views are concerned, albeit having a slightly more realistic version of the same stance, it’s my economic views that have changed most drastically. This has come from a questioning of my own bias. Some of the big flaws in my political views were that they take the assumption that what you do in life and our choices have no affect on other people. Which of course is not true. What we do and the choices we make genuinely do affect other people and similarly just because someone has said yes to something, doesn’t mean they were genuinely free to do so. As has well been said before, the Mafia specialise in making offers you can’t refuse. And as the Eddie Izzard joke goes, you don’t really have a free choice when it’s a choice between ‘cake or death‘ or ‘work here at this job despite the lack of workers rights OR starve!’ Another flaw in the Neoliberal model of capitalism is the ‘Private enterprise GOOD and drives economy/Public BAD and hinders economy’. When you look at your iPhone something which is considered the darling of the free-market you will find the majority of the components were created through research programs that were funded through Government grants. The same can be said of numerous other technological advances. In other words this wasn’t done entirely through free-enterprise. It turns out collective tax-funded research was just as (if not MORE) important. The tax payers essentially have been the ones that have invested in technological breakthroughs, but then the profit that comes from making these newfound technologies goes to the private sector! The complete opposite of the neoliberal view put forward!!
When posing these kind of left-wing arguments one has to be careful to maintain a sense of balance and understanding the massive flaws that came from the left too. Looking at the devastation and smashing down of civil liberties that came from the likes of the Soviet Union and Maoist China in the name of ‘equality’ where it was probably far worse than what we have now. This equally can debunk arguments for a ‘command economy‘.
My basic shift can be said to a change in view from saying ‘It’ll all be fine if we could all have the freedom to do whatever we want when we want.’ To instead being something like, ‘We need democracy for all aspects of human social life so it can be decided fairly rather than through maintaining the most benefits for a few, or through coercion.
For this reason I personally like some of the traditional libertarian views put forward, i.e. any form of authority and domination has a burden of proof to bare. Much like the burden of proof that comes from the axiom, ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence‘. It has to demonstrate it’s legitimacy. If it can’t demonstrate it’s legitimacy it ought to be dismantled, then rebuilt from the bottom up. Similarly I like the idea of a system that leads to democratic choice in production, consumption and distribution which is something that is fair to say we don’t have now.
But these ideals in my opinion are things that should be brought about gradually rather than through revolution. Removing capitalism and the state immediately would lead to disaster because there is nothing in it’s place. To this end I tend to be somewhat of a social democrat albeit libertarian leaning one. A moderate if you will, because in my view just removing the state would lead to corporate tyranny. At the same time agreeing an ‘entrepreneurial state’ is better than a ‘command state’. The difference is I now view state intervention as a ‘widening of the cage’ against corporate tyranny rather than seeing it the other way around.
I still accept the present need for business, enterprise and the need to negotiate. And I accept the present need to be ‘capitalist minded’ to a degree as it is a necessary means to make it this world. Even Noam Chomsky sells books through a publisher and to that end it is no different for me to sell my music through the help of a label and being willing to help them as much as they help me. This perhaps to some degree makes me a ‘champagne socialist’ and is why I still may hold to many of things put forward in my post on capitalism.
So the big question I ask myself regularly is how does an anti-establishment, socialist, libertarian make it in a pro-establishment, state capitalist world without being a hypocrite? I guess the answer is by arguing a case for transparent democracy across the board. Aiming to be as rational and openly critical as possible and not dampening down my opinion in an attempt to get paid more. It’s fine to get paid, to be successful and to make myself and other people money, (especially if it means feeding family). To be a capitalist to that end. As long as it comes speaking my truth! (….Oh yeah, and pay taxes!!)
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