Democracy or Philanthropy? How can we combat poverty and injustice?
The Collective Voice of Labour
Think tanks, philanthropists, charities, celebrities and lobbyists are shouting from the wings the answers to an impoverished world. Joseph Rowntree, Barrow Cadbury, Bill Gates, Russell Brand, Oxfam, and NSPCC are just a few. All these are undoubtedly good deeds and with the best intentions, and yet poverty prevails. We can go on, but where where is the place for charity and philanthropy in a democratic society? Do we have a real democracy at all? Why is Russell Brand’s voice any more valid or interesting than yours or mine?
For whom do the rich and powerful speak, and should they?
When rich people make a decision to spend money on supposed good deeds, they abuse power. The media abuses power. Is charity a quick fix to alleviate stresses in a crisis? Do they address the injustices or reinforce them? It is a quandary which I have struggled with and blogged about. In a true democracy each vote should be equal. Whoever we elect, it seems that the resultant politicians abuse that power we give them.
Caring deeds are admirable, helping one another out on a day-to-day basis comes naturally, and the spirit of ’45 is something our society needs to recapture. That caring society is exactly what Thatcher denied existed, and that has been eroded. On the other hand having to depend on charity is degrading and humiliating. I think this is why people become suspicious of one another, and fear anyone who’s different to them. We need to learn to trust again. We need honesty, not smoke and mirrors.
What is wrong with everything is capitalism, competing consumers clambering over one another and anything to get to the top of the pile – whatever that is. To throw crumbs from above (philanthropy) cannot justify the means taken to get there. When we build a society whitch satisfies everyone’s needs, and eliminates poverty, spend time alongside one another we have society. Tony Benn believed in a real democratic movement. He said Labour should say what we mean and mean what we say. Tony Benn encouraged me, and now Jeremy Corbyn stands to encourage new generations and rejuvenate our Labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn also stands apart in that belief. With Greece, where democracy was born, now on its knees, is our species doomed?
It is the collective voice of Labour which must be heard and formulate policies for Labour – a leader needs to facilitate and encourage this voice to be heard.
Every voice matters, but that does not take away the responsibility for education, and we should use our influence to change minds and put the Labour Party back at the heart of the people. The party should be formulating policy through a renewed internal democracy. First we must put in place a clear statement of our aims and objectives. These must be SMART and agreed by the party. We should be brave and honest. If we are not, no one else will be.
Straight talking Labour is what we need to be.
From “In Place of Fear” , Ch.2, Aneurin Bevan (1)
“As we fumble with outworn categories our political vitality is sucked away and we stumble from one situation to another, without chart, without compass, and with the steering wheel lashed to a course we are no longer following. This is the real point of danger for a political party and for the leaders and thinkers who inspire it. For if they are out of touch with reality, the masses are not. Indeed, they are reality. For them their daily work is an escapable imperative. While those who are supposed to be doing the theorising for them are adrift like passengers in an escaped balloon, the workers are tied to reality by the nature of their work. In the absence of clear theoretical guidance, they make empirical adaptions and formulate practical categories. So far as these are incomplete, and therefore unsatisfactory, the first result is a distrust for those who have demonstrably failed them.”
We failed as destruction and divisions of the Labour Party over the last three decades has left an impotent voice, where Labour politicians are frightened to speak out in the media or alongside workers taking industrial action against austerity, and yet continue to agree with policies cutting public services. Our public services should not be available for breaking up for pickings for profit seekers. It is scandalous that a Labour government supported private finance initiatives breaking up our health and education – echoing the Tories. Is it any wonder people did not back Labour?
This is why we have to recapture a true democratic socialist movement. The Labour Party, and our politicians should stand alongside ordinary people who call for justice on picket lines, and marches. Together we must defend human rights, and our trade unions and fight austerity. We must call for tighter control on banks, oppose TTIP and other supposed “free trade treaties”. We must support renationalisation – of the railways, energy, utilities – and democratic control of money, as a tool. All this is what ordinary people know and call for. Why aren’t our politicians?
Our politicians should not be frightened to stand with us against all these injustices and above all expose the truth about capitalism which is driving the world in a downwards spiral, and to stand up for the collective good for all which can be brought about by socialism.
I am backing Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, and the people’s democracy.
- Left Futures – Can Jeremy win?
- Jeremy Corbyn – Voice of the Labour Party
- BBC – Ethics – Charity Arguments against Charity
- Straight Talking Labour
- Let’s have Tony Benn’s Democratic Revolution Now!
- Tony Benn and the idea of Participation, Gresham College Lectures
- Are we already in the post-democratic era