Gary for Lincoln Lib Dems

A blog following my political ramblings, for Lincoln and beyond

  • Lib Dem candidate for Glebe Ward. Involved in Mental Health Activism, Computing, Environmentalism and Gaming

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    Posts Tagged ‘John Stuart Mill’

    Why I’m a Liberal

    Posted by Gazbook on May 17, 2010

    Che Guevara (Jim Fitzpatrick's style)

    Image via Wikipedia

    I’m going to be honest: in the last few years I’ve been a member of more political parties than most people would in their entire lives. My still hopeful ideals have always been based on my moral compass; and I thought it’d be wise to explain where I’m coming from, and most definitely why I know the compass keeps pointing back to Social Liberalism.

    I apologise for sounding cosy with a utopian beginnings to my political “career”, as I fear this is what every politician has scribbled at the beginning of their auto-biographies (more likely by a ghostwriter than anyone else). However, I swear it’s the truth.

    It began around Autumn/Winter 2007, after reading leaflets on the Socialist Party. As Christmas came, certain news programmes made the daily struggle of the homeless and others around the world feel even more personal. So I got involved, and it was quite fun; regular Saturday stalls on the busy Lincoln High Street, intense debate every week. It was all incredibly fun.

    I got in touch with other parties with similar aims, and in all honesty I was shocked. They all had petty differences. They all had their reasons why their brand of “socialism” was the best. And this is where I came across my first major problem with the concept (or more accurately, how these parties organised): the arrogance that the world would be better with Socialism. Then what? Of course I understand it would be decided by the people. The Communist Manifesto goes into great detail about how 90% of the worlds population is exploited to provide wealth to the top 10%. And this was in the late 1800s!!

    But there is a very real “holier than thou” attitude. No one is right other than themselves. There was no room for compromise; evidenced by the huge number of left-wing parties that exist. So I joined the one united workers party: the Labour Party. However, this didn’t last very long. They treat their members as nothing more than a free advertising agency. If there is democracy within the party, it isn’t obvious.

    A world where class didn’t exist and everyone had access to the same wealth and land is, in all honesty, an image we should never leave from our heads. It should be the ultimate goal of humanity. However, the first lesson I learned was that a revolution couldn’t morally work. The second you take land, property and status from someone else by force, who’s to say you won’t become the dictators yourselves? Arguably, countries that have attempted to embrace socialism (although I don’t believe pure socialism has ever existed in the world) have been so democratic that certain forces such as Stalin and Mao, still obsessed with the trappings of power, were able to come to power and effectively turn their countries into even worse states akin to feudalism.

    It wasn’t long after this that I had a bit of a breakdown. People who know my mental health work will also know this breakdown fueled my desire to help others even more. There are serious inadequacies with mental health services in England that quite clearly need more people speaking out about them. Interestingly, Americans call our healthcare system “socialised”, though more accurately I’d say it’s actually more like a dictatorship. But anyway.

    My political leanings then shifted, initially to the Green Party. I never joined but I got involved in some discussions after being hugely interested in the Green, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth movements, and extremely inspired by the climate change protest march at the end of 2009, the Green Party arguably have some of the best policies this side of the political spectrum. Also, the Transition Town movement was in a way a form of local, voluntary socialism. Or rather, Social Liberalism.

    It was initially the policies on political reform, then readings on Social Liberalism that brought me finally to the Liberal Democrats. It is the writings of John Stuart Mill‘s “On Liberty” that probably best encapsulates the basic thoughts on liberalism

    “…the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

    I would argue social liberalism stems from this principle of harm. Rather than being what the Americans call “freedom” (which appears to include freedom not to help the worst off, and for those making a profit and working hard not having to carry the burden of the rest of society), Social Liberalism is based on the idea that the good and freedom of the community goes along with the freedom of the individual. Whereas Socialism arrogantly imposes its ideology on the masses in the name of equality, and capitalism arrogantly exploits the masses in the name of freedom, Social Liberalism provides a balanced education, health, justice, and social care system that provides the skills and ideas each person needs to live in this world, picks them up if they fall ill or through the gaps of society, then lets them make their own mind up.

    Wealth is one of the biggest killers in the world. There’s nothing majorly wrong with money as an incentive system for work and purchasing their goods. But wages clearly do not reflect the work people put into their jobs. For example, why should nurses be paid less than doctors, when they’re doing more of the work and cleaning more of the shit up? If nurses jumped ship, our hospitals would be in a very desperate state indeed.

    However, my sentiments are that the public deciding each other as equals cannot be dictated. We should do all we can to make it illegal for any company to hire any work in the world for under the British minimum wage. But my thoughts echo a man named Osho, who was a well known Buddhist who moved to America. That socialism and anarchism are the perfect forms of government; however humanity is not ready for it. It needs to come from the inside, as a choice based on ones moral compass. That’s why I’d rather call it voluntary socialism, as it would be a socialism where everyone offered to pool their resources to better the human race. It’ll take an eternity, but we can’t force it.

    And when it does happen, those who disagree can fuck off to some other planet.

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