Socialism: The Politics of Envy?

How many times have socialists been dismissed as just being envious of the rich? The statement belies the truth and reveals the mind set of the speaker. They, the super-rich and their supporters, (let’s be real the Tories would never get elected if they were not able to persuade non-affluent people to vote for them) make a flawed assumption if they think ours is the politics hey have. Well, yes we do, but not in the individualistic way they assume. Our argument is that the huge disparity in wealth is an unhealthy condition for a society, as well as being morally and politically wrong. (read The Spirit Level). The problem is they come from a standpoint from which they are unable to see the consequences of their wealth and their actions for the non-affluent, or else they simply do not care. Dorling does make the point that the richest 1% may have more than its fair share of psychopaths (read Inequality and the 1%). To dismiss socialism as the politics of envy is a convenient soundbite, bereft of argument. It shuts down the need for further thought and debate. They fail to see that socialism is about using the common-wealth to benefit the many insated of the few. There is no reason the UK should be adopting austerity politics. The super-rich have trillions of dollars stashed away in tax havens (read Treasure Islands and Tax Havens). A fraction of that wealth would wipe out the deficit in an instant. It would also restore the NHS to a universal service, free to all at the point of need, as Aneurin Bevan envisioned it (read In Place of Fear). That wealth could be used to provide well resourced, universal education, including the abolition of fees and the restoration of maintainence grants. With the resources currently in the hands of the super-rich those in need of financial support to improve the quality of their lives need not suffer the indignity of living in poverty, hardship and having to budget for the basic life essentials.
Socialism is far from being the politics of envy; it is however the politics of hope; the politics of justice; the politics of what it means to be human.


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