“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.
I have been following the saga of the “120,000 troubled families” since it was first mentioned in speech by PM David Cameron last May. I first reported here in some detail that this number and the rational behind it was at best dubious. And finally after some pressure form others in the field, Louise Casey, the author of the original report in to this, finally admitted that the “120,000 troubled families” number was simply made up.
”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.”