Though not particularly politically active, I’ve long believed in the core principles of socialism as a political path. On a personal level the concept giving within your needs to those whose needs are greatest (the old, young, infirm & yes, even, the jobless) seems to make sense – whether on ethical, moral or political grounds.
As a young man I read one of the key socialist pieces of literature, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Robert Tressel, a political novel which paints a story of capitalism & factory owners greedily exploiting the working man (a little didactic & bludgeoning for me, but gets the idea across; well summarised in the cartoon below). I also remember staying round Jimmy’s in the NW of England & waking up the morning of May 2nd, 1997, when Tony Blair & Labour (left UK political party) came into power: there was genuine sense of relief & excitement that the right, Conservatives, had been deposed & with it the avarice & selfishness of 80s Britain under Maggie Thatcher was behind us.
But the left-wing Labour transmogrified into the left-centrist New Labour. Across Europe, too, the left political parties & regimes had fallen (the most notable examples being the break up of communist USSR & the fall of the Berlin wall, separating communist East Berlin from West Berlin) or continue to decline & edge towards the right or bland, vote-winning centrist politics (Nicolas Sarkozy for the centre right UMP in France or Angela Merkel for the right CDU party in Germany – including the trouncing of the left political party, the SDP, in the most recent German elections, last Sunday, 27th September, 2009).
Even communist China & Vietnam though espousing communist ideals & politics, actually appear to work on a strange communist/capitalist hybrid dictatorship, where communist rules exist but allow for capitalist style business practices. Cuba seems to be the last bastion of truly left-wing, communist politics & governance.
Having said all that, America, the biggest world power (still, just) & probably the most successful symbol of capitalism has a free-thinking president in Barack Obama, & is finally addressing the needs of its people for universal healthcare (as discussed by another contributor Lib – wanted to link but can’t find it? anyone care to add Lib’s Obama healthcare piece?), one of the most obvious & necessary policies of socialist doctrine, & only 60 years after it was implemented in the UK as a right of anyone needing healthcare.
So is socialism going the way of the dinosaurs? Do people care (obviously not, since socialism is based on care & consideration)? Or are all politics just melting into one single, centrist, vote-grabbing, grey form?