One of my favourite bands is Fleetwood Mac. Their greatest album has to be the 1977 album Rumours that dealt with the personnel tensions in the band. My favourite track of the album and indeed one of my personal all time favourites is Dreams. The mercurial tones of Stevie Nicks float through the air as if part of some divine mystical entity emanating from a simple set of speakers. I am not particularly sure why that song comes to mind when I read all the print and posts predicting the down fall of the Progressive Democrats. Neither do I know why the opening line of the Dreams “Now here you go again” repeats over and covering my mind.
Socialism is great isn’t it? I know some of you who may read what I write might think I am taking the piss but I am genuine in saying that. The idea that everyone in the country gets to share in the countries wealth equally is really appealing. Karl Marx said “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” and this sounds like the foundation block for a utopian society. Alas it is flawed and will never come to pass because humans are fundamentality flawed. Humans are selfish. True, humans can give, commit acts of great charity but in the whole of our lives, humans will act for two reasons for their immediate circle of friends and families or for self. They will act for the betterment of their circle at the expense of others. That is why communism failed and socialism is moderating. Humans simply are not good enough to be socialist.
If one paraphrased Marx to describe Capitalism his above quote would appear something like “ From each according to his ability, to each according to his ability”. That selfishness that embodies capitalism is also the selfishness that embodies humans. Is also is that selfishness that drives our countries economy. When kids are young they have to learn to share it is in their nature to be selfish. Society has always tried to dictated what people should do even when they are not that. This is what I see socialism doing.
The object of society should be to ensure the best conditions for all. To do this need to harnessing human selfiness not deny it. Hence we only should only tax at low levels for what is needed, education for example not for what it is not need Aer Lingus for example.
Now I am sure you are all wondering what is the point of all of the above other then just to attract the ire of all those who disagree with me but leave your angry comment until the end I do have a point.
Many people still do not want to admit that humans are not the divinely pure creatures that true socialism requires and when a group of people who seem to symbolise all that is unpalatable about capitalism emerge people desire that they disappear again.
Recently many people have been sometimes gleefully other-times sincerely predicting the fall of the PD’s. This is not the first time this has happened. Since the parties inception they have been continually written off and yet they remain.
In the Irish Times on the 11th of April 2002 Mark Brennock is Political Correspondent of The Irish Times. wrote
The party says it has high hopes for former farmer’s leader Tom Parlon in Laois-Offaly, and the Attorney General, Michael McDowell, in Dublin South East. Neither can be ruled out, but the odds are against both. Party figures insist they have three other prospects in Ms Mae Sexton (Long- ford/Roscommon), Tim O’Malley (Limerick East) and John Minihan (Cork North Central), but their prospects are remote.
As we now know all save John Minihan won a seat and the PD’s increased their seat allocation. Yet again the talk is about the impendent doom of the PD’s. Much of this is centred around the fact that the next election is going to about “Quality of life issues not tax cuts” And thus the PD’s have lost their precieved main selling point.
In an Ireland were socialism possible then people would be motivated by the issues such as health, education and road deaths. Those issues would dominate people interaction with the government. Looking at the reaction to Brendan Gleason’s out burst on the Late Late about the state of the health service it would seem maybe we do care about society rather then our circle. However in the last year the biggest topic that motivated the people, that damaged the government and gave the opposition the biggest boast in the polls was not the health service or road deaths. It was tax. Eddie Hobbs came the peoples champion for highlighting the stealth taxes. The thing that got people was not that the money in the health service was not been proportioned to the people of greatest need it was that people were paying to much tax.
That is the issue that (pardon the pun) taxes people’s minds the most. We have a national emergency in the health service and one of the lowest tax burden in EU yet high taxes were the issue that vocalised the masses. Hence why only Sinn Fein are daring to mention the word raise and tax in the same sentence. It is rumoured that at the PD’s party conference over the weekend. The PD’s are going to unveil a series of tax cutting measures. Indeed looking at the conference schedule where after the Leaders address they have a “Press Briefing on Tax and Economic Policy”. It looks almost certain that this is the issue they are going to address. Many dismiss PD policy as Populism but is that not exactly what democracy is about popularity.
The PD’s policy of tax cutting has coincided with Ireland’s historically stellar recent economic performance. Is it merely coincidence? Can we discount the effect it has had on the economy? When business people talk about how the low corporation tax is a major if not thee major reason they do business in Ireland are they lying? I think this will come one of the debates of the next election.
Now I could go through the various constituencies and say who will win what and who will lose. From reading the media you would think that everyone hates everything McDowell does but listen to the text messages flooding into the Last Word they are often saying McDowell is spot on. While much of the Progressive Democrats policies are certainly not popular in the media on the ground they have a lot of support. Many attribute the rise of the Progressive Democrats to the fall of Fine Gael which presumes that people are following the economic policies which are similar. But their social policies are in some respects miles apart. Would a member of Fine Gael copy Liz O’Donnell and call for the end of church control in education? Some people seem not to realise there is a electorate that believes in the free-market and being tough on crime to allow people to live safely in a liberal society. No other party files this market?
The consensus in the media is that the PD’s vote is going to collapse. Yet this prediction is made every time and they are still here. Mark Twain was once (incorrectly) reported to have said “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. Will this be the mantra for the PD’s after the next election, write them off at your peril.