I keep hearing the slating of socialism around everywhere and well, its getting on my nerves. See the majority of the hate against socialism isn’t hate against socialism itself, its hate against dictators and tyrants who ran “socialist” countries and did bad things. The firing squads of the recently deceased Castro always seem to spring up in the discussion. However that’s not the socialism I’m familiar with at all.
I’m British, and my country, when I was younger, was a socialist country. In recent years of Tory rule its swayed somewhat away from socialism, however we still have some really core socialist ideas in action here. The biggest one being the ever under threat NHS. One of the crowning achievements of my country.
Socialism is a tool, much like capitalism, or science. Yes, all three of these things can be used in a way that is bad and has negative affects. However all three can also be used for greatness. I would argue Bill Gates and the Gates foundation are a great example of capitalism being used for greatness. As Bill uses the massive wealth he created to help other people – it would be amazing if capitalism, as a whole, could be trusted to do this. However history has proved it can’t. Capitalism, by in large, is generally used in a way that is purely about driving profits up with no regard to the effect on people. Things such as the Nestle baby-milk scandal, the Coca Cola water scandal and the world economy crash of 2008 spring to mind. All of which were problems created by capitalist ideology.
I’m not saying socialism doesn’t create problems too, though the point of socialism in a world so filled with such heavy capitalism is to reign in those problems above. I personally believe we can’t trust the rich and powerful to help your average disabled person. I don’t think we can trust the rich and powerful to fund legal proceedings for people who can’t afford them. I don’t personally believe that its okay for medical assistance to only be given to people who can pay for it. I don’t believe that if you lose your job and cant find another that you should just starve until you can. I don’t believe that not being able to work is a reason to give up on someone, we should always try to get people into work. All of this takes money, and its really hard to believe, given past evidence, that this will be done without government intervention.
Without socialism; employers would be able to unfairly dismiss you and you’d have no chance at appealing your case. You’d be out of work, so wouldn’t have an income, you wouldn’t be able to pay for legal proceedings, there wouldn’t be unions on which to rely on for help and support. If you fell ill and couldn’t afford the medication – even with a terminal illness such as cancer, or something as mostly benign as diabetes – you’d likely die. Not because you had to die, but because you couldn’t afford the price of life.
To me socialism isn’t a dirty word, its just… the government stepping in to help people where nobody else was. I’m fairly proud to call myself a socialist. Because what’s to be ashamed of?