“It was the first time a government has been so aggressive. When I was in the USA, I had a constructive conversation with them accepting some things and arguing with others. They did not react like this.”
UN Housing investigator, Raquel Rolnik, slams the ‘aggressive’ behaviour of the UK Government towards her.
“Ideas are more powerful than guns.”
Tony Benn, August 2007
The working class of the past were very aware of philosophical thoughts and argument. They came from a system of education and a society in which thought was valued just as much as employable skills. Men down the working mens clubs might not use high academic language, but they knew how to discuss and debate the issues. They would also have listened to union and labour speakers teaching about these things, building on the thoughts and knowledge that was developing out of the social revolutions of the late 19th century.
In the pursuit of skills for employability, tangible qualifications and testable learning, the idea of thought and philosophy for self enrichment has been totally lost. But ideas are powerful. More powerful than weapons, as Tony Benn put it. And ideas, once they take hold and grow roots, become the powerhouse for change.
”The root of socialism is democracy, and only a society that is truly democratic could also become truly socialist.”
‘Socialism? Socialism is a democratic idea. The most socialist thing we ever did was the most popular thing we ever did, the NHS.’
“It is a social-ism. It’s about trying to construct a society round production from need and not just for profit! Around meeting people’s needs, that’s what it’s about!”
“I regard democracy as the most radical and revolutionary idea of our time. The powers that rule us talk about it. But they resist it with all the wiles and techniques at their command. ”
(of the current recession) “In this sense the present economic crisis is actually a crisis of democracy as the market has taken from parliament the power to shape the policy of the nation. Elected leaders, such as George Bush and the prime minister, have been left the role of commentators on the crisis and suppliers of endless cash in an attempt to save a system that failed us.”
“It used to be clear that the ruling classes had the wealth, authority and power while those underneath did not. This started to change when the right to appoint our rulers moved from the wallet to the ballot. Now they are doing everything they can to preserve their power. This is why democratic rights and civil liberties are so important and essential. We must now preserve our right to speak, to assemble, to organise, to move around freely and protect our identity, and not become crushed by the state.”
“Democracy is not just voting every 5 years and watching ‘Big Brother’ in between and wondering why nothing happens. Democracy is what we do and say where we live and work”
“It seems to me that the most powerful religion of all, much more powerful than Christianity, Judaism, Islam and so on, is the people who worship ….money! That is really the most powerful religion and the banks are bigger than the cathedrals, the headquarters of the multinaional companies are bigger than the mosques or the synagogues. Every hour on the news we have the business news?! Every hour! It’s a sort of hymn to capitalism….the idea that money is what it is all about!……and with it comes this extra ordinary cult of management consultants.”
“Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.
“In a civilised community, although it may be composed of self-reliant individuals, there will be some persons who will be unable at some period of their lives to look after themselves, and the question of what is to happen to them may be solved in three ways:
- they may be neglected;
- they may be cared for by the organised community as of right;
- or they may be left to the goodwill of individuals in the community.
“The first way is intolerable, and as for the third: Charity is only possible without loss of dignity between equals. A right established by law, such as that to an old age pension, is less galling than an allowance made by a rich man to a poor one, dependent on his view of the recipient’s character, and terminable at his caprice.”
[Emphasis and formatting added.]
Clement Attlee served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951, and as the Leader of the Labour Party from 1935 to 1955. He oversaw the setting up of the welfare state and the National Health Service during the post-war austerity period.
And the sheep bleated loudly and repeatedly, “private good, public bad!” And Squealer triumphed how much better it was than in Brown’s day.
Squealer listed their achievements: unemployment was down! Welfare reform worked! Growth was up! Inflation might have been up, but it had all been much worse under Brown.
Stalin’s Communism, Cameron’s Conservatism. I looked from one to the other, and back: but it was impossible to say which was which.
After George Orwell.