The politics of material wealth

by Peter Rose 24 days ago in opinion

Political ideology has been replaced by economics

The politics of material wealth

The politics of material wealth.

Political ideology has been replaced by material possession.

While most democratic nations have a party political system and while in most of these nations, one party is often perceived as being for the wealthy while another is for the poor; these distinctions are no longer valid. With the small number of tragic and horrible exceptions, the terms poor and wealthy are now more relative than absolute. There is not mass starvation in western democracies. There are those with far more wealth than the average but even that average have more material possessions and a greater level of materialistic living standard than all but a very few had 100 years ago. Is this an improvement? The answer must be a positive yes, since real starvation and abhorrent levels of deprivation have been largely eradicated, in modern western democracies.

The Edwardian and Georgian periods of English history are often described as ages of elegance, of refined good taste. The Victorian period is said to be a period of innovation and wonderful expansion. All these may be true but within these periods the poor were really in a bad way, destitution and early death was normal. Outside of the wealthy, there were no signs of good taste and refinery, no hint of innovation or wealth. The homes of the very early Victorian wealthy, may have had servants, in fact they depended on them to function, but they were generally cold, every room chilled by drafts and had no plumbing or modern sewage systems. The wing backed chairs were not a style introduction but a necessity to shield the occupant form the cold drafts. The fans and scented herbs were to hide the stench of human and animal effluent that was a constant in every urban environment. There was inequality and abuse of privilege, but there was also a tolerance that has disappeared from our modern lives. Education was limited, the introduction of the “board schools” gradually started to bring about universal education and this was such a good thing. Modern education, and the welfare state is supposed to have eradicated the degradation suffered by the Victorian lowest stream of society. So why do we have beggars in the streets? why do we have child abuse?why does paedophilia still seem to flourish? Why do criminal gangs still flourish? Why is drug use so common? we have closed the gin palaces and opened crack houses. Have we simply raised the material living standards of the lowest in society but still left them bereft of understanding and tolerance? When we have universal education why do we still have young people who appear so ignorant of logic and reason?

Now we have an era of relative material equality, the poor have TV sets and indoor toilets, but good taste and refinement are now discarded and vilified. Our celebrities and fantastically well paid “entertainers” are people who glory, at least in their public presentations, in rudeness and abusive bad behaviour. Is it any wonder that the underprivileged youth consider the only way out of their deprivation, is to copy the language and behaviour of these wealthy idols. The rock starts of 60's and 70's may have behaved outrageously but they did so within their own lives, they may have taken drugs and generally lived to excess, but they did not pretend to be political or philosophical leaders of the world.

We now live in a period of hypocrisy, where political correctness demands vilification of anyone who refers to the colour of another's skin in any way, yet condones the vilest abuse heaped on anyone who voices opposition to unproven views adopted by a self elected elite. The spread of universally available education and the saturation by TV, means every disadvantaged person now knows there are others with greater material possessions. They may not know or care, why, or how these “privileged” people have what they have; but the dissatisfaction of not having material things, is great. It is wonderful when a person lacking wealth, focuses on effort and work, study and persistent endeavour, in order to change their own situation. All to often those with little are told it is not their fault, it is due to others preventing them having opportunity, it is others taking their rights. This is socialist propaganda at its worst. It is also fascist recruitment rhetoric.

Wealth is now the main focus for politics in democracies. The economic policies are the main election battle grounds. Voters vote according to what they expect to be the outcome of those economic policies. The average voter may not understand the intricacies of global economic theory but they form an expectation of the economic capability of a party and vote accordingly. Personalities of political leaders play a large part, but not in the conventional way of personality approval; the part they now play is in helping voters believe in promised economic outcomes. If the leader is not wholeheartedly positive, about the expectations of his own party's economic policies, then it does not matter how “honourable” or “nice” they are; they will loose the election.

This is a bigger problem for the socialists than for others, since universal education has allowed huge numbers of people to be able to access history and so they have learnt of the economic failures of communism. People may still wish for the ideology of all people are created equal, etc. but they know that extreme socialist economic policies have failed the populations they were meant to improve. The Fascists have been reduced to trying to gain membership based on grievances, they seek to claim that an individuals lack of something, is due to an “enemy” taking it from them. This has limited appeal and while it can, just as extreme socialism can, raise small numbers of very committed activists; it does not have mass voter appeal and will not win honest and fair, secret elections.

The socialists will claim all the evils of poverty still exist; they have to claim this or they have no reason for existing themselves. They still claim that the wealthy still grind down the poor. To a socialist all the problems of the world, every bad facet of human nature, can be overcome by bringing down the wealthy to the levels of the poorest. What does seem odd is that many of the most vocal advocates of socialism are from relatively privileged and wealthy backgrounds. Despite all the evidence, socialist still believe that if you take wealth from the wealthy, all the problems of society will disappear. Look at history. This does not work. Now we have largely reduced the privileges of birth with inheritance tax laws and universal sufferance, we now have rights for all but seem to have lost all notion of the duty that automatically comes with rights. Giving everyone rights without explaining and expecting the duty, has betrayed generations of people. Religious and social ideology, of whatever stance, are no longer majority vote winners.

A political party; who can show, even with only a little justification, certainty in expecting their economic policies will be successful and who have a leader who has no doubts at all, about the virtue and righteousness of their chosen economic policy, will win elections.

Peter Rose
Peter Rose
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