Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Alfred Dawes | Socialismc***t

Published:Sunday | November 24, 2019 | 12:27 AM

When I am teaching my foreign friends bad words, I explain that the root word is made incrementally worse by adding the suffix “c***t” to it.

And so, by appropriating the latest international bad word, I present to you the most vile of curse words: Socialismc***t.

I predict telling someone about dem socialismc***t would be the cause of fights and petty fines in the near future. But how did socialism, a word that was a call to action but a generation ago, become such a dirty word?

BALANCE

Throughout the history of the modern world, there has been a balance that kept order. Whether it was because of rivalries between the priestly, ruling, and warrior classes, the world has always been prevented from going too far in the direction of one ideology or the other. Creating a balance amid tyranny, unbridled warfare, or religious hegemony over state affairs.

About 170 years ago, a new way of economic and state craft was popularised by Marx and Engels. Although lacking in sound economic principles, it sowed the seeds that the vulture capitalism that dominated the latter half of the nineteenth century in the form of the robber barons and monopolies on industries held by a few titans was never in the interest of the masses and that the State ought to limit how much greed and ambition in capitalism should be allowed to thrive.

This experiment in socialism was born when the Germans secreted an exiled Lenin into Russia to create discord and end Russian involvement in the Great War. Although the subsequent revolution went according to plan, it was not enough to save the Kaiser’s army.

The hijacking of socialism by the new elites for their personal gain occurred wherever this experiment was established.

The Orwellian maxim, “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”, was on point. With economic stagnation and poverty-stricken masses, it was only a matter of time before the socialist governments would fall. Of course, their collapses where hastened by the covert and often open warfare on their people and economies waged by the bastions of capitalism, the Western democracies.

POSITIVE BENEFITS

Although the socialism experiment failed spectacularly, even here in Jamaica, there were some very positive benefits. For one, there were vast improvements in the lives of the ordinary man. Access to education and healthcare cut death rates and gave opportunities to many who would never have had a chance otherwise. But the greatest achievement of socialism was that it offered a balance to unbridled capitalism.

Capitalist governments knew that if they squeezed the proletariat too much then they would face violent overthrow because socialism promised the very thing that they were denying. Social spending and safety nets had to be built into capitalism as long as the threat of socialism was present. But socialism works until you run out of other people’s money, and it all but disappeared by the mid-nineties. Capitalism was left unchallenged.

TOO FAR TO THE RIGHT

Without any balance, the pendulum continues to swing too far to the right. The form of capitalism we currently enjoy is one where as much as possible is extracted from the workers with as little returned to them as possible. The aim of the mega-corporation is to maximise profits by cutting costs and squeezing consumers as much as possible with the sole objective of increasing shareholder value. Competition is eaten up and ‘mom and pop’ shops are crushed.

The result is that relatively speaking, we now have more employees of large corporations and fewer small-business owners. There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one per cent. Less of the world’s wealth is distributed to the bottom 99 per cent every year while the wealthy get wealthier on the backs of the poor.

And what do the governments do? The world governments and financial institutions have bought firmly into Thatcherism and do nothing to stop this madness as long as the economy is growing. But who really benefits from this growth? Are we to be satisfied with the crumbs from the table while we trade our lives for the illusion of success bought by material things?

NO PROTECTION

The State offers no protection for the little man. Small businesses are cast aside to make room for big businesses. Street vendors are relentlessly hounded while large wholesalers are allowed to change business registrations periodically to avoid taxes.

Financial institutions record mega profits every year while their workers barely get a share of the bonus pie because their targets become more and more impossible each year.

We are full speed ahead in the expansion of BPO centres providing barely livable wages for the drones employed by these hugely profitable entities. We boast about tourism growth, where the average worker lives off tips while the money from the booking websites never even reaches Jamaica to circulate in the economy.

Yet the economic indicators are heading in the right direction as they are for every country experiencing this boom in uber-capitalism.

But while the chasm between rich and poor widens every year, socialism has been made into a dirty word so that there is no need to fear it anymore.

There is only capitalism. But any student of physics knows that when a pendulum swings too far, it must swing back. Students of history know that for this to happen, it is usually a violent, bloody event.

Until then, just gwaan enjoy yu socialismc***t life.

- Dr Alfred Dawes is a general, laparoscopic, and weight-loss surgeon; Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; former senior medical officer of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital; former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association. @dr_aldawes. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and info@islandlaparoscopy.com