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Mark McCaw ~ twitter's @bigpicguy

Author of "Insights Inside a Mind" ~ blogging the big picture

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Why they call me socialist.

     I went most of my life without ever having been labelled a socialist. It's only been the last decade or so that partisan politics, which used to be fought over policy differences, has fallen to the level where people no longer have a point, they have an ideology. They don't want to hear your ideas because theirs are always right and you are stupid because you don't realize. So since you don't agree with idealogues, they resort to name calling.

     More than any other tag, I have now largely been labelled as a socialist. Don't feel bad for me, I can defend my positions very well. If I couldn't I would not have a firm position. I thought I'd run through some of the reasons I've been called a socialist and I'll allow you to decide what label you want to put on me, if any. I actually have a name, you're welcome to use it, or call me whatever you wish, that's out of my hands.

     The first time I was called a socialist, I remember well. I had been engaged in a discussion at a party, a group was discussing a fundraiser for local food banks. I join in, since I've seen this stuff first hand and if I can help I will. In the course of the discussion, I remarked it was too bad food banks exist and I wish we could use all our energies fighting to ensure no one needed a food bank. One of the participants looked at me and said: "You're a socialist. It's because of people like you we're in such a mess. The government can't take care of everyone.". I was taken aback. So I replied, "If government is not for the people, all the people, aren't we going against the exact thing government is supposed to do?" . The answer? "Government isn't for all the people, just the winners. You can't make everyone happy.".

     I immediately withdrew, in order to avoid what surely would have become a nasty disagreement. I'm passionate about what I believe to be right and I don't wither under any attack, intellectual or ideological. I am as comfortable in a fight for the moral high ground as I am in a knock-down drag-out gutter brawl. If you choose to lock horns with me, I have no problem with whatever tone you set. Bring it on, may the best person win.

     This was my first experience in Canada with what I prefer to call the "republican" attitude. I've watched it in the states for a long time, it's a very mature process there and was actually picked up on by Harper and his backers a decade or more before I was first called socialist.

     Here, for your own judgement, are some of my core beliefs. If you wish to label me that is your choice. If you identify with me, great, I'm sure we'll be great friends. I don't mind if people have different views than I do, that's how we are supposed to learn from one another. Happy reading. I really appreaciate those willing to comment below, it helps me improve this blog. Again, thanks for reading.

     These are things I believe in:

     I believe in justice for human beings. Not just criminal and civil justice, but social justice as well. Not because I need social programs for myself, but because I recognize there are people who are neither as lucky as I am, or those, for whatever reason, who are either unable or unwilling to care for themselves. I am not here to judge others, whether it is due to their success, or their failure. That is not my place.

     I believe in the equality of all people. I do not believe any person on this planet is any better or worse than myself. I bow to no one, nor do I ask anyone to put me on any kind of pedestal above any other human being on this planet. We all have our own merits and demerits, some similar, some different, but in the end, If you cut any human they will bleed. If a human loses their mother, almost universally they will feel pain, and they will cry. We all feel happiness, sadness, love, and the myriad of emotions that make up the human spirit. These are the unalienable ties that bind us all, regardless of skin colour, country of origin, choice of personal beliefs, sexual orientation, political views, Language, religion, none of that matters for one simple fact. One truth. There exists only one race, that is the Human Race.

     We live in an incredibly wealthy country. On an annual basis, in the 21st century, we still allow people to suffer on the margins and in poverty. We have continually watched our own lives go from liveable to the point where we need to obsess over our personal spending in order to maintain our standard of living, not luxurious by any extent. Meanwhile, we don't realize that just considering the staggering amount of annual profits for only the top 50 companies in Canada, a portion of those funds could be used to give every Canadian a better life, a better education, better health care, better infrastructure, and most of all, a better future.

     I am not anti business, I am not against wealthy people. I have no problem with those who are successful, however, very few business or wealthy people succeed alone. Business' depend on workers, on consumers, stars of stage, screen and sports depend on fans. I'm not asking anyone to give everything up, just to share enough so no one is in need and so we all have a better society.

     I believe if people weren't abjectly poor and uneducated or under-educated we would have less crime. That if all of society, people, business, and government, were kinder and more considerate of the feelings of the lesser among us we would be more peaceful. I believe if we wanted to we could easily have a better society, not utopian, never totally equal, but one in which everyone is secure in the knowledge they won't go hungry, that they will always have some place to live, that they don't have to worry they won't have heat or electricity or clean water, that they have a right to an equal education, and should they desire to improve themselves and our society by furthering their education they should not need enter working life saddled with debt. That no one person is more deserving of the opportunity to enrich all of us than any other, regardless of social standing.

     I believe proper health care is a basic human right, applicable to every man, woman, and child residing on Canadian soil. If we set our priorities for the betterment of society, for a better Canada, we will make the biggest contribution to mankind any country ever has in history. We could prove that people can still get rich without the misery of having people who are poor. The more we educate ourselves and our children, the higher standard of contribution we give to the future of our country. If we could change the mindset from whoever has the most, wins, to something more kind and rational such as I have more than I need so I can give up a portion so others don't need to suffer. It's still capitalism. There will still be the rich and very rich, successful and very successful, but by taking an edge off that to go toward building a better society with a brighter future, we become the capitalism we should strive for. I truly believe this is possible, and rather than hurt anyone, it will help everyone and society will actually advance. Others will see the sense of this approach, as happier people are more productive and cause less problems to society.

     I just want to leave with a bit of an example. You can check published sources for the profits of the top 50 or more Canadian corporations. I know the total was actually higher, but for my purposes, I'm going to use 100 Billion dollars as the profit number for last year. Knowing how economies work, let's say it's fair to assume some years in the last decade they made less, others they made more, so I'll say in the last decade, corporate profits in Canada have been one Trillion dollars. An impossible number to grasp in your head. I see nothing unreasonable in saying to corporations, as you have the right to do business in Canada, you too have a responsibility to share with citizens a portion of the profits for the betterment of society. In return, you will receive more educated, healthier, happier, more well adjusted people working for you. Threats to your person or business will be greatly reduced when people are not angry or hungry or unable to get the medical treatment they need. We, as a society, want just 25% of what you take from society after all the bills are paid. You still get 750 billion excess dollars, and society has 250 billion to invest into the health, education, and the well being of an entire nation. This year alone, corporations could have taken 75 billion dollars in profits, and what benefits to society could have been had with 25 billion dollars to take care of health and education and ensuring at least basic dignity for our fellow man. The rich still get rich. The only difference between rich and super rich is the numbers, there are a few on earth who could never possibly spend all the money they have in 1000 lifetimes. They accumulate wealth neither they nor their families nor all their friends will ever need yet people starve to death ever day. It's wrong. Rich people are people too. People run corporations. The shareholders who demand ever more profits are people. We need to appeal to the humanity that exists somewhere within all humanity. Only then will we truly move forward as a species.

     If those things make me a socialist, or any other label you want to put on me, so be it.

     I'm comfortable with who I am and will die with few regrets.


  1. Labels are merely a device we use to define who is one of us or not. I personally try to eschew their use as in the end they are meaningless.

    While I tend to see myself as more closely aligned with those labelled socialist,I also hold views that could be described as capitalist in nature.

    Also while I virulently oppose our participation in the Af/Pak war thus have been labelled as antiwar,I believe that there are times when it is necessary to fight.

    It's true that I enjoy playing with those who use "Socialist" as an epithet by thanking them for the compliment,however I choose not to place labels upon myself,I'll let other do it for me if it makes them feel better. In the end as I said it's all so meaningless.

  2. I could not have said any of this any better. You have my vote. I will spread this as far as I can. thanks for being a great human being. Kim

  3. You certainly fit the profile of a "decent human being."

    It's a good label, I think.

  4. Thanks. I don't want to impose myself on anyone, nor do I wish to judge others. I have plenty of faults of my own, most I know of, some I'm sure I don't.

    There's an advantage to everyone if we could all just learn to accept ourselves and if we have good fortune, share a bit of it with those who don't. It has never hurt me to go a bit out of my way for others.

  5. Socialist has been made a dirty word and the meaning skewed by those whose self-servitude may be threatened by a conscience. It's why Harper and his merry band of assholes promote the big lie of the poor only being poor because they are too lazy to work (in other words they want to be poor). The sick are sick because they're slothful people that eat at MacDonald's (but not Timmy's). The uneducated are uneducated because they like being uneducated (it has nothing to do with lack of opportunity or anything beyond one's control). Handicapped are basically shunted to one side, not to be discussed because they haven't figured out a way to blame the handicapped for their handicaps.

    Caring and compassion wouldn't even be under discussion if Big Business didn't run the country. Big Business doesn't leave stray pennies behind for anyone; if you're poor/can't afford to invest/work for a pittance, you are nothing. And you should remember that. It is your station in life.

    This attitude toward "socialism" will get worse as time goes along and Harper has time to reinforce the idea that you should serve you and nothing/nobody else. Oh, and while you are absorbing that message note how liberalism (progressive) is now the new nasty. Stay tuned.

  6. I'd like to believe there are more people like me than people like him. The key is for people like me to realize we must come together and be more aggressive in our demands for social justice.

    I don't condone violence against anyone, but that doesn't mean I can't find ways to fight for things that are just right. For matters of human dignity. I just can't do it alone.

  7. Interesting points. This "socialist as an insult" mindset is new to Canada - where we used to pride ourselves on our social safety net for all - and is a very discouraging marker of things to come.

    I used to work on Bay Street. I did well. But there came a time when I couldn't tolerate the Masters of the Universe attitude. I remember the day I wrote my resignation. Some of my co-workers were looking out the window down to the sidewalk, where a little old man was playing a tin whistle. He was very dignified, always wore a tie, brought sheet music for little classical pieces. Clearly he had once been someone different from a person who plays a whistle for spare change.

    My co-workers were jeering. "Get a job!" What a loser - get off our street!" This was their mantra. All who were broken were losers who got what they deserved. I asked if anyone knew the man's story. "Aw, who cares. Loser go home." On that day, my world shifted. I wrote my resignation and signed up to do volunteer work. I continued on that new path and didn't look back. It cost me materially, but I had the peace of mind of doing what I believed in.

    I believe in health care and education and looking after the weak and the marginalized. I believe it's a mark of an evolved civilization when the society as a whole cares about these things; cares about its weakest members. If that makes me a socialist, then please, call me a socialist!

    What saddens me is that we used to be that civilization. What I see now is a gradual eroding of all the things that made us good. The current Harper government is on a course to make us Republican by slow increment and they're farther along the path than we realize. As I see the public apathy towards the increasing negativity and mean spirit promoted by our Republican-loving government, I worry for the future of our once-admired society. Does this make me a socialist? I hope so!

  8. Reminds me somewhat of part of my history. I worked in the media for the best part of two decades. I made plenty of money in advertising and PR and broadcasting and journalism. Had I stayed with it I'd easily have been pulling down 6 figures for years.

    One day it hit me. I just couldn't do what I was doing and be true to the person I really am. I left the industry on principle. I still earn a good living, recently spearheaded a 25,000 dollar fundraiser for Japan and was part of a team that raised 6 1/2 tons of food for local food banks. That doesn't make me any better than anyone else, it just gives me a bit of peace in an ugly world. That's me. I like people like me. I hope there are lots more of us.

  9. This has been coming for a while. We are on the verge of becoming an official corporatocracy. Those with money and power rule, and they have only two goals. More money, and more power. And it is not just us in Canada. It is the entire west, the entire world. We are seeing the decline of western civilization here. And I am sorry to see it go.

    I am very much afraid that there is nothing we can do about it. I don't know where the apathy comes from, but people arent' getting involved. Only about 30% of the voters voted for harper, yet the 70% who did not are in the main, silent.

    Another problem, is even if we did come together, there isnt' a lot we can do about the situation. The gov won't listen, the corporations won't listen. About the only way I can see to change things is throw the whole system out and start again. But those in power won't want to give it up. It is their drug, and they are addicted.

  10. I'm not prepared to give up on humanity. I may be frustrated, but I use that to fuel my determination.

  11. I'm not prepared to give up either. I know what to do to fix things. But we are fighting a rearguard action. And there is the inertia of apathy to overcome. I fear it must get worse before it gets better. But the worse it gets the more people will wake from their slumber.

  12. Here here call me a socialist then- thegirlwhois

  13. Hi,
    I don't think you are a radical socialist (because that is what the "republicans" mean when they say socialist). You just don't like the whole: the rich are winners, the poor are losers motto. I am the same.

    I love it when people recount the ridiculous reactions of people they meet Lol. Harper is so a republican. What I hate is that he is diverting funds from government employee salaries to invest in the private sector. e.g. F-35 jets, private contractors, etc. So-called privatization. I fear that we may end up like our neighbors from the south, i.e. stuck with profit sucking HMOs and such.

    Thank you for the post

  14. Thought provoking post. You care. Thanks

    We must take care not to become a cruel and uncaring society who disregards anyone who is unfortunate be it in wealth, education, mobility, intelligence etc.
    Too much emphasis these days on what we have, instead of what we are.

    Labeling is a tactic to criticize and demean. It is lazy and cheap. Why label? To appear superior? To appear right?

    Re doing nothing: No apathy here. I am not remaining silent-have never tweeted prior to Fed #elxn. Had never contributed to a political party. Have written so many emails lately...
    Retirement has freed me to become involved in what matters and fight what is wrong. Let's go boomers!

  15. I guess you can call me a socialist too. This article pretty much proves it I guess.

  16. Mark I think you are a caring decent Human being. Putting labels does nothing but drive wedges and allows one group to attempt to assert superiority over another. Recognizing our humanity and our likeness is more important. Helping each other should be our goal , not harming or judging anyone.