Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Exploring the political paradox

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I’m pretty certain that our political leanings are formed at an early age and are conditioned by the preferences of our parents. I was given two choices; my liberal mother voted Labour and my conservative father National. Back in those halcyon days there were only two choices. It was a source of constant amusement to my sister and me when our parents used to get dressed up on a polling Saturday afternoon to walk around to Lansdowne School to cast their votes. We would point out the futility of the exercise given that they were going to cancel out each other’s suffrage. They just shrugged and still made the pilgrimage.

In my early twenties and not long after I was married I was invited to join Haddon Donald’s campaign committee. Mr Donald was the aspiring National party candidate after the incumbent Wairarapa MP Bert Cooksley retired. The campaign committee was made up of men much older than me, many of them the captains of local industry and I was flattered to be asked. Apparently the committee members admired some of the quirky advertising I was doing for our family business and thought they needed a less mature person to join them to design strategies to attract the younger voter. Mr Donald won the election and subsequent ones, but this was more to do with the fact that he was a successful businessman, had a distinguished war record and Wairarapa was a National stronghold than any contribution I may have made to his campaign. Nevertheless for me the die was probably cast at that time and I have been a conservative voter ever since.

Incidentally, sometime before then my father had been able to convince my mother of the error of her ways and she too was now voting National.

And so by accident or design I’ve been right-leaning and I have absolutely no understanding as to why some people actually believe that the true pathway to nirvana is socialism. Collectivism’s failings have been well-documented and were sagaciously signalled in George Orwell’s best-seller Animal Farm.

Socialism looks fine as a concept, but has failed in reality and has caused widespread misery and the death to millions wherever it has been introduced.

Let’s start off with the most horrendous example. Hitler’s National Socialist party of the 1920’s was born out of the German Workers Party (DAP). Today’s socialists will want to deny the Nazis were socialistic despite their title and will claim with some justification that in fact they were an extreme right wing party. And in the end they were. The National Socialists knew that a mass base existed for policies that were simultaneously anti-capitalist and nationalistic and the party was formed to draw workers away from the more extreme Bolshevism that had taken hold in Russia. Their political strategy nonetheless focused on anti-big business, anti-monarchist, anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist rhetoric.

However once Hitler had secured absolute power he tended to change tack. The party became racist and anti-Semitic. A bit like the pigs in Animal Farm.

Socialism/Communism was a disaster in Eastern Europe. This was brought home to the world when the Soviet Union built the Berlin wall to stop its citizens from escaping to the capitalist West. Chinese communism didn’t work either until state capitalism was introduced, but despite the ensuing economic success there will be human rights issues, a typical characteristic of a one party state.

Cuba and North Korea speak for themselves. One of the greatest 20th century tyrants along with Stalin, Pol Pot and Hitler was Che Guevara. He helped free Cubans from the repressive Batista regime only to enslave them in a totalitarian state worse than the last. He was Fidel Castro’s chief executioner and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of his fellow citizens after sham trials that he oversaw and yet today we see people in this country walking around in tee-shirts proudly displaying his image.

But last week I think I found out why, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, socialism is still an idyllic form of governance for a specific section of the community.

I read a sobering new study that said that scientists have discovered a powerful new strain of fact-resistant humans who are threatening the ability of Earth to sustain life. The research was conducted by the University of Minnesota and claims to have identified a virulent strain of humans who are virtually immune to any form of verifiable knowledge, leaving scientists at a loss as to how to combat them.

“These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information” Davis Logsdon, one of the scientists who contributed to the study said, “And yet, somehow they have developed defences that, for all intents and purposes have rendered those faculties totally inactive.”

More worryingly, Logsdon said “As facts have multiplied, their defences against those facts have only grown more powerful.”

While scientists have no clear understanding of the mechanisms that prevent the fact-resistant humans from absorbing data, they theorise that the strain may have developed the ability to intercept and discard information en-route from the auditory nerve to the brain. “The normal functions of human consciousness have been completely nullified.” Logsdon concluded.

I presume Mr Logsdon and his research team were referring to those who deny climate change, but his findings could equally apply to those misguided souls who consider Karl Marx’s jottings to be more appropriate for mankind than George Orwell’s.

“Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of opinion - how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.” - John Maynard Keynes


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