UKfilter: Too jaded for Socialism? Help me rediscover the ideals...
May 21, 2013 8:34 AM Subscribe
I'm an ex-Leftie who now works as a money man in the UK.
I'd like to rediscover Socialist philosophy and ideals. Problem: 10+ years of economic analysis of public spending and government fiscal policy has left me thinking that Socialism is unrealistic, ill thought out, and well, a bit...silly. Help me turn myself around before it's too late! ...much more inside....
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (14 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
In my youth, like most folk, I flirted with Socialism. Not in a particularly politically active way, but I was NUS rep for my VI Form College, regularly went on marches against this or that issue, and generally held left of centre fairly 'right-on' views. The world, it seemed to me, was full of injustice caused by corporate malfeasance and greed; monoculture and homogeneity were invading our high streets and our lives; and we, the proud and beautiful few, were keepers of the truth and the keys to the future. The enemy? Capitalism and the fuddy-duddy Tories.
Then, like most people, I spent the following 20 years embarking on a career and having a family. Having started as an IT developer, I drifted into finance and now work on the trading desk of a fairly big UK bank. I'm not a 'banker' - if anything I'm a researcher - and I've no regrets about where I've ended up; I work hard and I provide well for my family whom I love dearly. Oh if my younger self could see me now.
So what's the issue? Well, there are limits to my hypocracy.
My work means I've been very focussed over the past 10 years on how fiscal and monetary policy affect national finances. I've become widely read on the 20th century's economic thinkers, from Keynes and Hayek, to Rehn and Krugman via everyone in between. I've learnt to read the bond markets and I've had a ringside seat at the Eurozone debt crisis.
Now, when I go back and reread some of the pamphlets and other material I used read to as a young adult, it just seems like tubthumping rhetoric from the embittered dispossesed rather than reasoned argument and realistic policies.
I know socialism was always about being idealistic, but I've just realised that I can't remember a single Lefty describing to me, in detail, what they actually want. Yes, we all want a fairer society. Yes, we all want an end to proverty. Yes we all want to retain personal freedom and liberty. But how to achieve all those things? What policies and structures to put in place and how to finance them? How to maintain a welfare state and improve standards of living? Aye, there's the rub.
There are grand visions and there are actionable, relevant policies. The Lefties that I've met seem to be very much focused on the former.
All this makes me sad though. Loss of idealism is tantamount to world-weariness. Am I a lost cause? Too jaded to believe that a fairer and more equitable society exists (details TBD)? Has Socialism had its time? Are we all Centrists now...free healthcare & free markets? Is there no idealism left any more? Is there no Left any more? Is there such a thing as an economics-literate Socialist?
What books/resources can I digest to reignite some Red zeal? Who are the most relevant modern Socialists out there that can realistically apply Socialist philosophy to today's Britain? Is it still a relevant ideology or is it now philosophy only? Who can talk to the detail as well as the grand visions?
Stop me before I start voting Blue. Please.