The newspapers for several weeks now have been full of stories about the abuse of children. On the one hand there have been all the scandals about the Catholic church, paedophile priests and bishopal cover-ups, on the other of children killed or damaged by terrible parents, guardians or authorities that should have been alert and active instead of turning a blind eye to whatever got in the way of being well-paid for doing as little as possible, and, in the wider world, there are tribal massacres, suicide bombings and terrorist acts that effect all ages at random, and in abundance.
What is perfectly clear, although un-admitted, is that nearly every country has become ungovernable, that democracy is an out-of-date failed system and for almost exactly the reasons that Plato described 2500 years ago, and also that the British educational system at every level is producing a level of incompetence that is almost unmatched except by the poorest and most backward third-world countries. The lack of competence, general ignorance about the state of things and of what can be done to alleviate problems, is not only true of most of the population, which only knows what the tabloid press feeds it, but of nearly all our politicians as well.
What we are facing, as the few thinking, honest and well-educated economists, historians and savants know well, is a long slow descent of all standards of living, except for a few unscrupulous exploiters and bandits, down to the depths of the last depression in the capitalist regimes and to famine, misery and slow extinction in the tribal and arid areas. We are not going to come out of it, as Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner for economics in 2001 and one-time Chief Economist at the World Bank, clearly states in his recent book Freefall. Every politician who says anything else is either lying or totally ignorant. The coming misery, which will become more evident as 2010 advances will lead to ever more violent protest, often ending in revolution, and elsewhere to a lawless anarchy, which the imagination does not want to contemplate.
There can be only one civilised and humane solution, but it will not come about, except in a very few places. This is because civil war, often on the Northern Irish urban level, is much more likely, especially in the United States, in parts of South America, Greece and Africa, and perhaps some Eastern countries, while in Britain we can expect violent protests countered by military and police suppression on a very brutal level, and the same in Germany and parts of central Europe, while bloody revolution will evidence itself elsewhere. If you want to imagine a future street scene, look at Haiti in January. The unlikely civilised alternative, unlikely because of ideological fundamentalism and the power still wielded by the big financial institutions, which are the only ones that politicians listen to, is what I shall now describe.
It is socialism, pure and simple. A regime, supported by force if necessary- though it may not always be necessary- and of law and order, based on the following.
–Nationalisation of all large-scale industry and commerce, and of all public services. Small industry, shops with under a dozen employees, and certain small services such as plumbing, cleaning, repairs can remain private, but there must be also publically owned ones under local council administration.
–A national incomes policy, controlled by taxation, which gives spendable incomes a one to fifteen differential.
–All housing, shelter, except on a very modest level, supplied and regulated by the state. Rent to be a proportion of income.
–Agriculture, food distribution etc to be under state control, although small retail can be private.
–Universal education at all levels to be available to all who want it and are willing to make the effort. Exams to be replaced by staff assessment, based on performance and conduct.
–A competent National Health Service run by Medical professionals, not bureaucrats.
–An independent judiciary, a non-commercial, but independent civil service, an independently hands-off press, state-owned, but run by highly qualified individuals.
–Strong state support for the arts with individual subsidies available for approved outside initiatives.
There should be a parliament, perhaps two houses, the lower peopled by those who earn their way by academic achievements and successful administrative experience, the higher by appointed older people from the age of fifty-five who have distinguished themselves in the arts, sciences or learned professions and are known to and trusted by the public. With all education open to those willing and able to take advantage of the lower chamber could be directly elected by those with certain educational qualifications, graduates only. Life under such a socialism, with no one in a senior ministerial position for more than five consecutive years, which would prevent a dictatorship from forming, and with careful checks on accumulation of wealth (to be kept down by heavy taxation to within the one to fifteen principle) or of power (five years in should be followed by at least a year’s compulsory retirement) would create an egalitarian, cultured, non-acquisitive society. It would be pleasant, providing a few other caveats were followed. They are the following.
Discrimination on the grounds of class, race, colour, background or religion would be banned. Technical advance should be carefully watched and controlled. Religion should be for the home only, except that places of worship should not iconic in terms of appearing inviting or threatening. All education should be secular. Dress should be within generally accepted norms. Adult sexuality should be tolerant, but commercial exploitation should be heavily forbidden. Human nature is varied and hard to control and there will always be incidents of abuse, criminality and extremism but hopefully not much. A powerful ministry, staffed with people who are educated and trained to understand extreme cases and behaviour should have the resources to understand, foresee and deal with child murder, exploitation and abuse, family problems, extreme behaviour and anything that leads to crime.
The population must be kept within the limits that a state can afford and the Chinese experience should be studied and followed. Immigration should be discouraged and every effort made to make it possible to live well where you are born. Trade should be regulated by the State which should own all banks.
If this sounds like a manifesto, so be it!
John Calder 29/3/10